Monday, March 24, 2014

Ranga Custom Clipless Acrylic Pen

by Tony Thomas

I ordered a Ranga custom acrylic pen several weeks ago from India.  I decided on a clipless pen in "blue cracked ice" acrylic.  It is an eyedropper pen with an ebonite feed.  It is about 5.5 inches long and weighs a mere 18 grams when full of ink.  The price was under $50 with shipping.

It arrived last week fitted with a Wality nib that wrote as a medium.  The nib was not terribly smooth, although Wality nibs can usually be improved by using a bit of micromesh.

I decided to replace the nib with Nemosine #6 Fine nib from  I was able to install it quite easily and it writes perfectly.  However, when I replaced the cap, I felt a bit of resistance.  As a result, I used a small pocket knife to remove some material from the inside of the cap to give the nib some extra room.  I am very happy with the pen and the way it writes.  The Nemosine nib is a big improvement over the Wality nib supplied.  (You actually get an extra Wality nib and feed with the pen as well as a little bulb syringe to load ink).

I highly recommend Ranga pen company if you are looking for an inexpensive acrylic or ebonite pen.  The pens are well made and they provide great service.  And you can't beat the price for a handmade, custom pen!

Ranga Pen Company

Article About Ranga

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hero 616 Doctor Review

by Tony Thomas

I bought a Hero 616 pen several years ago and was unimpressed.  The construction looked shoddy and the aerometric filling system would only hold a very small amount of ink.

Years passed and I decided to try the larger 616 "Doctor" version (also called the "Jumbo"pr "Regular").   When I compared it to my old 616, I immediately noticed a difference between the two pens.  

The 616 "Doctor" did not have the cosmetic flaws of my original pen and seem to be built better.  The aerometric filler worked flawlessly and held a generous amount of ink.  It is a different pen.

After doing some research, I discovered my original 616 must be a counterfeit.  (See link below.)  Buyer beware.

The pen is around 5.5" long and it weighs 18 grams when filled.  A very light pen and comfortable to hold.  How does the "Doctor" write?  It has a very smooth fine nib that is one of the best I have ever used.  Just what the doctor ordered!

I have never used a vintage Parker 51 (the pen that the 616 design is based upon) but this is one great budget fountain pen.  You can find it for less than $5 on eBay (even less if you buy in quantity) and it is well worth the price. 

More info on counterfeit 616s here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cleaning Inky Fingers - Part 2

by Tony Thomas

After recommending Lava soap as a great tool for cleaning inky fingers, I decided to check out another one: Gojo Pumice Hand Cleaner.

It is much more expensive than a bar of Lava ($3.99 at my local store) but I found out a little goes a long way. While Lava is great for casual cleaning, when your hands are really full of ink, a dab of Gojo Pumice works wonders.

The only downside is that Gojo Pumice seems to be a truly industrial-strength cleaner and is very abrasive.  You can really feel the really tiny grains of pumice exfoliating your skin.

Give it a try next time you are all inked up!

Rhodia and Me

by Tony Thomas

I love Rhodia pads!

As you can see, I have a nice assortment of them handy most of the time.  I used the graph, lined and Dot Pads for various daily tasks including note taking, lists, testing pens, capturing ink samples and more.

Why do I love them so much?  Two words: Paper quality.  They use "superfine vellum RHODIA paper 80g" that is wonderful to use with fountain pens.  It generally doesn't feather or bleed (unless you are using really wet or broad nibs) and you can usually write on both sides.  In addition, it is very smooth and my pens just glide along the smooth surface.

Highly recommended! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Airmail 444 with Chesterfield Archival Vault Ink

by Tony Thomas

I loaded up my Airmail 444 eyedropper fountain pen sporting a FPR flex nib with Chesterfield Archival Vault ink.  Reportedly, it is custom branded Diamine Registrar's ink sold exclusively by

As it is an iron gall formulation designed for fountain pens, it can be used safely in many pens with a bit of extra care.

I think that the Airmail 444 is a good choice for this type of ink for the following reasons:
  • It is an eyedropper and there are no metal parts that can corrode other than the nib.
  • The nib can be replaced easily and inexpensively even if corrosion occurs.
  • It uses a very simple ebonite feed that can be cleaned easily.
  • The pen can be disassembled completely for thorough cleaning.
  • The 444 has ample ink holding capacity so that the pen will not dry out quickly.
Even though iron gall ink is known to be very dry, it flows very well in this pen and nib combination.  The color change from blue to black is also cool to watch and the ink is waterproof.

Cleaning the pen requires a bit of extra effort since the ink stains the clear barrel quite a bit.  I just used mildly soapy water, some cotton swabs, tissues and a bit of elbow grease .

I purchased my Airmail pen and FPR flex nib from in India. I think it is a great combination!

For more information on the pen and the ink:

For more information on iron gall ink:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hero 780 with 10K Gold Nib

by Tony Thomas

I decided to order this Hero pen with a gold nib from China.  The price was less than $35 shipped so it seemed like a good deal.  It is only 10K gold (about 42%), but a fountain pen with any type of gold nib at that price point is very rare.

The fit and finish of the pen are very nice and it has a smallish fine nib that writes like a western extra fine.  The nib has the Hero logo with a 10K inscription and they did a great job of tipping the nib.  It comes with a good quality international converter. The arrow clip is reminiscent of a Parker pen.

How does it write?  The Hero 780 writes much smoother than any other Chinese pen that I have used.  Even though the nib is gold, it is firm rather than springy.  That should come as no surprise since it is over 50% alloy.  The grip section is small and made of smooth plastic and a bit slippery.  I was able to alter my grip to compensate.  In any case, it is a great pen that is well worth the price.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Jinhao X750 Shimmering Sands

by Tony Thomas

The Jinhao X750 Shimmering Sands is an amazing looking pen!  Coated with appears to be automotive sparkle paint and clear coat, this pen shoots out pinpoint colors of the rainbow when exposed to light.

The fit and the finish of the pen is pretty nice and it sports a large #6 silver-colored nib with matching furniture. Out of the package, it wrote pretty smoothly with more of a broad (rather than the advertised medium) line.

I decided to do a bit of grinding to turn a ho-hum nib into something a bit more exciting.  The writing sample above shows a bit of line variation.  I will regrind it a bit more to make it into a crisper stub.  It comes with an international converter and sells for between $8-10 making it a remarkable value.  I bought mine off of eBay for around $8 shipped from China but Goulet Pens has it for only a bit more with a much shorter wait.  Highly recommended!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Tip: Cleaning Inky Fingers

by Tony Thomas

Ever get ink all over your fingers?  If not, you aren't a real fountain pen lover!

I have found something that removes ink pretty well.  Good old Lava soap.  It is embedded with pumice particles (a by product of volcanoes) that acts as a mild abrasive to remove stains.

One bar of Lava generally sells for less than $2 and will last you quite a while.  Give it a try!

For more information:

Pilot Petit 1 Mini Fountain Pen

by Tony Thomas

I picked up one of these tiny beauties on my latest order from Jet Pens.  It was less than $4, so I decided to give it a try.  It has a clear, injection molded body and a nib that is very similar if not identical to the one on the Pilot Varsity.

It posts easily and has a plastic clip that seems usable even if a bit fragile.  The Petit 1 is comfortable to hold when posted (and I have very large hands).

It came with a black cartridge and a pack of 3 replacement cartridges will set you back less than $2  (other colors are also available).

How does it write?  Very smooth with a fine line and  just a touch of feedback. Pretty amazing for such a tiny and inexpensive pen!  It is a decent little pocket or purse pen that won't put a dent in your wallet.