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TWSBI Talked me Out of a Pelikan

Saturday I decided to do a little shopping. It seems January is always the month of art for my, and it usually lasts into the late spring. this is the time of year where I get into music, drawing, letters, or similar stuff. If I’m going to switch from ballpoint back to fountain pens, it’s the time for it to happen. For whatever reason last year was a bust, but I digress.

So I went Artist & Display, a nice local art shop, whose shelves where unfortunately still bare from Holiday shopping, for some watercolor stuff. A bust.

On to Daly’s Pen Shop. I tend to forget they are there, but after receiving an email from them saying they now carried TWSBI, and since my first TWSBI showed up that same day from Goulet Pens, I was on the hunt for an additional Diamond 580 in fine.

The fountain pens that I’ve ended up relying on have all been German piston fillers, Pelikan and Lamy. They’re very reliable. You can stick them in a drawer for a year and they’ll still write. They hold enough ink that you can actually take them on a trip without bringing a bottle with you. But both tend to be broad. Pelikan does have some understanding of the word fine, but Lamy’s version of extra fine could still be used to put a centerline on a highway. I know the Germans have always favored wide nibs. I figure their interpretation of nib size is related to their autobahns, bier steins, and sausages – all are wonderfully excessive and a joy at times, but not for every day. I decided that I wanted to get a fountain pen that was basically a Pelikan, but with a Namiki medium nib. Maybe also something narrower for drawing.

I had been looking at shelling out some big bucks for a gold nib for my M200, or perhaps even springing for an M600. I’d been hesitating because I was worried that the nib would still be too broad, and I’d either have to grind it myself or pay someone else to do it. I’d considered that the minimum price for a piston fill pen with the nib I wanted, and the question was whether I wanted to pay it. Then I saw the TWSBI Diamond 580 for fifty bucks at Goulet Pens, and, well, it was worth a shot.

I’d settled on the TWSBI Diamond 580 and it shows up and I unwrap it expecting another no-name-plain-jane steel nib pen with a shluffy body from an eastern factory. The packaging was better than expected and the instructions caught me with their completeness. What’s this? A fountain pen company acknowledging their pen can be disassembled? Even suggesting that it should be from time to time?

It took me a while to figure out how to lube the piston on my M800 when it got sticky a while back. I had the silicone grease, but without some clear understanding of the inner workings I wasn’t going to disassemble it. I know I could have spent some time researching to learn how, but not being interested an getting an ad-hoc degree in Pelikanology at that moment, I went in through the other end with a q-tip and got the job done. However I felt a bit like the loser guy changing the oil on his Ferrari himself but who, lacking the correct spanner, ends up using a Vice-Grips.

TWSBI not only shows how to do it but provides not only the tool required but the (*$^&^*@ silicone grease. With the pen! Not even in a separate $14.95 repair kit. For FREE. The Engineer in me swoons.

Ok, steel nibs aren’t as smooth as gold, but this is smooth enough and few minutes with some chromium oxide made it smoother. And for the price of an M600 I can afford to buy a TWSBI in just about every nib offered.

The pen feels solid, writes well, and holds enough ink to be a faithful sidekick. Plus, I can see how much ink is left. Sold. So off to Daly’s for another one in fine.

I know I’m pretty late to the party on TWSBI. I’d seen the mentions on the other blogs (I’ve been away, but not THAT far away 😉 but hadn’t paid much mind. All I can say is wow – the price of entry of a good high-use fountain pen has dropped a bunch.

Meanwhile, Pelikan is as expensive as ever and still very stylish, but one knows that if their pen shows up with a bad nib (assuming they didn’t buy it from a nib-miester) you’re in for a bit of a saga getting it fixed. Pelikan has evidently assumed that no one writes with their pens, or that the pens are all sold by folks who can make them work. It’s the old model, and it’s failing.

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