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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ink Review - Diamine Syrah

Now this is an ink that is a must have for everyone! I've wanted this ink for a while, and I was not disappointed when I finally got it. It's a fabulous color, and it's also well behaved too. Prepare you wallet as you read this review. - You may end up buying more than one bottle. ;)

Again, I'm going to keep saying this for a little while, so bear with me: All the reviews will now include a typed portion for those who cannot read my handwriting. This allows me to make changes and/or add information to my reviews after I'm done with them. Any part that has been changed or added on will be underlined for your convenience.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ink Review - Diamine Marine

Well, on a lazy summer Saturday, what better thing to do than review an ink! Today's ink is really in the "spirit of summer". It has a clean, fresh, cool feel to it that I just love. I only have a sample vial of it right now, but this ink is one that has made it to my "must-buy" list. It's a fabulous color... Stay tuned, for Diamine Marine!

For those who haven't been following my blog recently, I'll explain the review "text". I provide the review in a typed format for those who cannot read my handwriting. This format also allows me to add edits to whatever I said in my review. Any part that is edited, added, or otherwise changed is underlined for your convenience.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ink Review - Noodlers Black Swan in English Roses

Here's another ink that was given to me as a gift, and therefore, I decided to review it!

This is a fairly new ink from Noodlers, and I think it's going to be quite popular with the release of their new "flex pens". This ink is made for flex pens, providing lots of shading with the variation that comes from a flex nib.

As a normal thing now, I'm going to add a text version of the review since my handwriting is so bad. :) The underlined parts are afterthoughts. Things I may have forgotten, or changed my mind on since the original review.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ink Review - Private Reserve Purple Mojo

Here's an ink that was given to me as a gift by a very kind person. I thought I should do a review of it for this reason, and because I really like it. The ink I speak of is Private Reserve Purple Mojo! This is a really pretty ink color, and is fabulously vibrant.

I've decided to "translate" my handwriting into computer text for you. Mainly, since it's pretty unreadable at times. :) The parts that are underlined are notes that have been added to the review since I wrote it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A new and improved Esterbrook nib changing tutorial!

So, a while back I made an older tutorial for changing Esterbrook nibs. While it was a nice tutorial and all, it had some little flaws with it. After talking with a friend of mine, I decided to do up a video tutorial, making it even easier to explain and understand! Here you go:

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Let me know if there is anything else to change on it. Just drop me a comment below and tell me what you think. :)

777 - Tyler Dahl

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Have lots more fun - With Google +1!

What is Google Plus One?

You've probably seen it lurking around... You're probably guessing what it is... You're probably wishing someone would tell you...

Today I'm going to try and help people understand what the new Google Plus One button is. It's been out for just a little while now and it's growing rapidly. Now it's getting bigger and making its way to blogs, and other such personal websites. It's a really handy feature but like anything else, it's only useful if you know how to use it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Have an old boring Esterbrook Nib? Check this out!

Check out this custom buttery-stub grind from my workshop. This nib began as a boring, scratchy, dry 9968 (broad) Esterbrook nib. Now it's a smooth, delicious, wet, buttery-stub! Great for everyday writing providing the smoothness of a ball-nib but giving lovely variation for extra-fun handwriting!

Do you want a grind like this on your pens? Visit my pricing & services page for more details!

777 - Tyler Dahl

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Another Parker 51 Vacumatic comes back to life!

Here is one of my favorite Parker 51 models. A Cedar Blue Vacumatic with a sterling-silver cap and gold clip. Gorgeous is a fitting way to describe it! Check it out, and be sure to click on these pictures for a super-size view!

The customer seemed very pleased with his pen after it had been restored! This pen has undergone my scratch-removal treatment making look even better than the day it was made! The nib has also been tuned for a smooth and luxurious writing experience.


I just received the pen.  It looks beautiful and writes with ease.  Thank you for a professional job start to finish."

-Jack M.

Do you need a restoration job like this? My turn-around time is excellent at only 1-2 weeks maximum. Just send me an email anytime!

777 - Tyler Dahl

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Parker Duofold Jr. writes again!

Here is an awesome Parker Duofold Jr. that came in the other week for basic-restoration. This pen is a button filler which I love! They're a lot of fun to work on and use. This pressure bar in this pen was very wrinkled and bent but luckily with time, patience, and skill I was able to get it back in working-order again.

Here's what this customer had to say when he got this pen back:

"I finally loaded the Parker Duofold with Noodler's Midway Blue and I am loving it. I brought it to work today and it will be put through the paces of a work day. So far, awesome job getting that Dufold Junior back in the race!"

-I. Romero

Do you need a restoration like this on one of your pens? Just shoot me an email, I'm always more than happy to help and/or answer any questions you might have!

777 - Tyler Dahl

Sunday, July 17, 2011

New! 777 Pen Repair service form!

This is going to make things a lot easier for all for us! I finally got around to making a printable service form for my customers. This will save you time in trying to figure out what you need to do to send me pens. It will also help me finish your pens faster as I will have the information I need to get started working on them right away.

You can check out and download the form right here!

Please print out one of these for each pen that you send me. Simply include it in the package and I'll take care of the rest. This helps to ensure that I never "mix up an order", and I can get your pens done quicker this way. This means less time sending emails back and forth, and more time for you to actually use your pens!

Let me know if you experience any issues with the form. I'm just an email away if you're ever in need of assistance. :)

777 - Tyler Dahl

Friday, July 15, 2011

A big, big order of talc...

First off, for the uninformed: talcum powder is used in the restoration of pens. It acts as a dry lubricant for the inner working of filling systems such as Parker Vacumatics, lever-fillers, button fillers, and most sac pens.

Now, I was running low on this stuff and needed more. I wanted to buy in bulk, both to save on shipping and get a better deal. I found this great guy on ebay who will sell you 4 1lb. bags and give you a fifth one free! Great deal! The stuff arrived in record time too. I ordered it on the 12th, it got here on the 14th!!! Superb customer service and a pleasure to deal with. Go check him out if you need 100% pure talcum powder!

Now, for some pictures of this massive amount of white stuff!

Now I'm quite well stocked to say the least. :)

777 - Tyler Dahl

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The ultimate TWSBI review! Part 5!

We're starting to wrap things up here. Part 5 is pretty much the last important part of the review. Not that part 6 will be unimportant. It just won't be as much so. I don't have as many pictures for this part of the review. What I do have (and why it took me so long to do part 5) are two full video tutorials for you!

As I will continue to do - Here's a re-cap of the 4 previous parts of the review:

Recap of Part 1:
  • How did the TWSBI come about?
  • What is the TWSBI is all about?
  • What exactly is the TWSBI Diamond 530?

  • Packaging
  • Presentation
  • Appearance and design
Recap of Part 4:
  • The nib
  • How does it write?
  • Writing samples
I highly recommend you go back and read these if you haven't. The rest of the review will make a lot more sense if you do. Also, be sure to subscribe so you don't miss the next part!

Today's part of the review is:

Part 5:
  • Filling mechanism
  • Mechanics/functionality

I'll waste no time in moving right in. :)

The TWSBI, in my opinion, is once again the best functioning pen ever made for under $100.00. It utilizes a piston filling mechanism almost identical to those found in the Pelikan M800 and M1000. Since getting my TWSBI I have become a piston filler addict! I love how they work, especially in a demonstrator. For me, a piston filler is basically ideal, but I thought I'd give a pros/cons type of thing on it anyway. I'm going to compare it to the most common type of filler in this price range ($100.00 and below): a cartridge/converter (AKA c/c filler).

Pros of a piston filler:
  • Holds a huge amount of ink. Especially if you're used to c/c fillers.
  • In the case of the TWSBI - It is fully serviceable by the user! No need to send your TWSBI off for routine maintenance. :)
  • Again in the case of the TWSBI (a demonstrator pen) - The piston filler is a lot more fun/cool then a c/c filler.
  • Can be cleaned extremely easily and quickly. This is a huge bonus for me.
Pros of a c/c filler: 
  • Easy and cheap to replace.
  • You can change inks more often in them as they run out quickly. This is not a plus for me but it is for some...
Cons of a piston filler:
  • If you like to change ink often, you may not like the large capacity.
  • If the mechanism were to break, it would be more expensive to buy a replacement piston than a c/c filler. Then again, it's a lot less likely to break than a c/c filler.
Cons of a c/c filler:
  • They will eventually fail and need to be replaced. Usually much sooner than a piston.
  • They do not provide as much fun/enjoyment as a piston filling system does. To me, c/c fillers are a bit boring...
  • They hold (especially some like the pilot VP varieties) very little ink. This means that you'll be filling more often and getting inky more often. For most users this is a downfall. Don't get me wrong, there are some big converters, but most that you'll get in a $150.00 and below pen are the small kind.

That's all I can really think of. For me, the good of a piston filler far outweighs the bad. I personally have a distaste for c/c fillers. I've never liked them and never will. This is why the TWSBI was such a welcome pen in my "flock". A pen for under $100.00 that's not a c/c filler!?!? TWSBI got it right on this one! Some pictures of the piston mechanism just for fun:

Piston fillers are just really cool looking. Especially in a demonstrator.

You can see the piston head, the piston rod, and all the other cool parts up at the top. To me, having a lever filling a c/c filling demonstrator is sort of a waste. I tihnk demonstrator should be reserved for interesting filling systems such as: pistons, vacumatics, lever-fillers, and button fillers. I think those pens have enough of an interesting mechanism to deserve a demo body. Also, all of those fillers, if you'll notice, have the filling system incorporated into the body of the pen.

Here's the piston nob with the piston rod coming out into the knob chamber.

Overall, piston fillers are cool, fun, interesting, and work extremely well too!

Now, another huge feature of a piston filler, specifically on the TWSBI, is the ability for the average user to service it without assistance. The TWSBI comes with all the necessary tools to take apart, and perform routine maintenance on the piston. This feature completely won me over to this pen.

One small problem however, is that there is some slight confusion on how to take apart he piston. There is in fact, a right and wrong way to re-assemble the piston. I decided to make an entire video for this part of the review (Actually two videos. See the part on filling.). I hope it will solve any problems you might encounter while re-assembling your piston!

I think that's about it for the filling system. I'll give it again a solid 100/100 for its price range. For what a filler could be, I'll still say 80/100. This version of the piston (the 530 version) is not perfect. Apparently if you're rough on it, you'll experience leaking. I've never heard of a case of this but speedy says it's true so I'll trust that. Also, I prefer a brass piston mechanism (like the Pelikan M800). It adds some nice weight to the pen and has a longer lifespan. Still, I don't think you'll ever have any problems with the TWSBI piston. Plus, I'm certain that if it ever failed, TWSBI would replace it free of charge. Overall, I love this pen's filling system. Even more so than ever, I really dislike c/c fillers. I've rid my collection of all of them... Did I forget to tell you that I love piston fillers. ;)

Now on to:


This will cover all of the little details of the pen. Things like: how the cap screws on, what's the clip like, how tight is the piston, how do the nibs unscrew, etc. I'm going to inevitable miss some stuff so bear with me. I will do my best though!

First thing I want to do is show how to fill the pen. This is the second video I made for this review. This is why it took me so long to make part 5. Two videos!

Now I'll talk on some specific details, and in no particular order...

The clip: I think the clip on this pen is great. It's a bit tight but certainly not to much so. It a steel folded construction though it will be solid brass in future versions of the pen. I do wish it had a little less play side-to-side. It's not much at all but I wish there was none. Also, I'm a fan of spring loaded clips like vintage Sheaffers or some modern Watermans.  Overall though, an excellent clip.

The cap: A pretty decent cap if I do say so myself. :) It takes exactly 2 full revolutions to remove or replace the cap. This a bit much but it's most certainly not unbearable. Near the end of the last turn it really tightens down with a rubber-gasket type of feel. I hope that makes sense... :) Some really dislike this as they use the clip to open/close the cap. They fear it will pop the clip right off. I do not fear this for two reasons: 1 - the clip is stronger than that. 2 - I don't sue the clip as leverage to close/open the cap. I like the firm closing as it really seals it against ink spills. If ink ever did leak out, it wouldn't leave the cap, that's for certain. Again overall, a very nice cap.

Piston function: The piston functions very well. I can't say completely flawless but near perfect. No problems even worth reporting. I have found it get's tight, not stiff, but tight after a while. It's not the piston gasket that causes this but the piston knob. Some silicone grease would do the job. An easy fix thanks to the included TWSBI wrench and silicone grease bottle.

The changeable nib units: An excellent touch for this pen. I love em'. I have a M nib that I ground to a stub and a B nib that I ground to a CI. Both lovely and I can now change them anytime with great ease. It's very nice to be able to swap nibs so easily on this pen. I've already talked about the nib in Part 4, so go back there for more detail on that.

The gripping section: Again, not to much to note here. Comfortable to me. Thinner than my Pelikan M800 but not too thin. Some people think it's big. I call it medium sized. It slightly flares out near the nib to prevent your fingers from slipping on to the nib. I like this feature. Pens that don't have this always leave me with inky fingers... :)

I can't think of any more little details for now. If I do, I'll add them on later. Let me know if I missed something vital. As far as ranking goes: probably 90/100 for a pen of its price range. There are some other pens withing this price range with a few better features. They also have many worse features. For what a pen could be: probably 70/100. It has faults, but I've never had a problem with any of them. Overall I love the function/mechanics of this pen and wouldn't change much even if I had the opportunity to.

That really sums up this part of the ultimate TWSBI review. I hope that once again you've enjoyed this thoroughly. It's been challenging but we're almost done now. Just one more part to do after this one! Please leave me a comment and tell me what you're thinking. I really want to hear! Did I miss something? Did you love it? Hate it? Do tell, I'd be more than happy to answer questions too. You can always send me an email anytime.

Keep your eyes open for part 6 of the review! Subscribe today so you don't miss out!

Part 6:

  • Overview/re-cap of previous parts
  • A conclusion/thoughts on the TWSBI Diamond 530
Keep watch for that last part. It's not going to be as picture heavy as previous parts but it will be just as important. Again, subscribing will keep you informed on when the next part comes out and all of the other cool new things coming up soon.

777 - Tyler Dahl

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The amazing Ester-Moore nib. A fun little project of mine...

Here's a fun little project that I've been working on for a good friend/customer of mine. I call it the "Ester-Moore" nib. I came up with the idea when I was sent an old Moore pen to restore a few months ago. It was a decent little pen, with a wonderful nib, but sadly the pen didn't pull through. (a moment of silence for its remains...)

So, I was stuck with a hopeless pen and an awesome nib. 'What to do?"... After thinking about it for 5-10 minutes I got this great idea! This particular friend has a few Esterbrooks that I restored for him a while back. I knew he liked his Esties so this was the idea I came up with:

The amazing "Ester-Moore" nib! It's a Moore flex nib in an Esterbrook threaded collar. This means it'll screw directly into any Esterbrook fountain pen.

After testing it out however, we discovered that the feed was to large to allow full flexing of the nib. It kept dragging across the page, which makes it terribly difficult  to write. :)

See how far it sticks out above the nib. Obviously, I had to do something about it. so, after thinking for a while, I decided on something a bit unconventional. I chose to modify it with a high-speed rotary tool to the exact size I wanted.

Now take a look at this picture! compare it to the above picture and you'll see the difference! The feed is now slim enough to allow full-flexing of the nib without dragging across the page.

I also shortened the feed which can be seen here and in the next photo. This also helps with the dragging issue.

I must say, I think it turned out pretty nice!

So, what do you all think of that? I was very happy with the results and I'm sure the owner will be too once he gets to try it out! I'm thinking of maybe getting a bunch of vintage flex nibs and making a few of these to sell here on the website... It's a bit hard to find the old nibs though, and because of the feed modification it would be a bit pricey. Drop me a comment and let me know if you'd like something like this.

Oh yea, and for those who are awaiting patiently for the next part i the TWSBI review - Fear not. I'm still going to do part 5 and 6. I've just been really busy. Part 5 is coming soon though. Subscribe now so you don't miss out!

777 - Tyler Dahl

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A new "service" - 777 Pen Repair "tune-ups"

Hello again to all of you who read my blog. :)

Today I'd like to introduce you to a new service I'm going to start running. It's going to be called "Tune-Ups". Obviously, you'll want to know what it's about, so I'll tell you. I'm going to use an analogy to make things really easy to understand.

A fountain pen is like a car in many ways. You need to keep it filled with gasoline (ink) to run properly. And occasionally, you even need to change oil (flush and clean). Sometimes however, there is routine maintenance that you just don't want to do yourself. Things like replacing spark plugs, changing the oil filter, changing tires, etc. A fountain pen has routine maintenance jobs just like this. This is why I'm going to create this new "service". Sometimes your pen doesn't need a "full-restore", it just needs to be tuned back into a factory fresh state.

I've used, as an example for this post, an amazing Pelikan M1000 which was sent to me for nib adjustment. After examining it carefully, I asked if the owner would like a tune-up as it was in need of one. He said yes, and things proceeded as follows:

Here is the amazing Pelikan M1000. This is a pretty big pen. :)

Uncapping this pen reveals it's monster nib!

What we have here is what appears to be a fairly nice Pelikan nib. You'll notice the slight bit of grime right at the base of the nib by the metal section.

Also, the feed and nib are out of alignment.

The large gap between the nib and feed at the front were making this pen flow to freely.

Once taken apart, you can see how dirty the nib really is.

Take look at the nib stains. Also notice the dried ink clogging the fins of the feed.

Now here's after cleaning! Much better!

The nib is shiny and stain free. - The feed is free of clogs and dried ink.

Here's again what would appear to be a nice, functioning, clean piston. Let me tell you - it's not.

After removing the piston you can see what it really looks like. Rust stains, dirty grease, and the piston head is bone dry.

Take a loo at the mold on right above the threads of the piston fitting.

Now, take a look at this properly cleaned piston. You'll also notice the generous blob of 100% pure silicone grease on the piston head.

This is how a Pelikan piston should look. This pen will now be ready to function for many more years to come.

Basically, this what the whole pen tune-ups program is about. Pens often look clean, but when taken apart they are extremely dirty. I've seen good lever-fillers with horribly rusty j-bars. I've seen some lovely pens that just need a good polish to bring them back to their original glory. All of these problems are hidden from the average pen user who doesn't wish to start taking his/her pen apart. Luckily, that's what I'm here for.

Preventative maintenance is much better than waiting until the pen stops working completely, and then sending it in for a full restore. These tune-ups will also be considerably less expensive than a full restore. At $15.00 plus shipping I think this is a fair price for getting your pen back into optimal condition again. Here's what a full "tune-up" includes:
  • A full check up - basically looking over the pen in detail for any potential problems (the beginnings of a crack, stiff piston, rust, worn diaphragm).
  • Complete disassembly and deep cleaning.
  • Re-greasing for any parts that need it.
  • Basic tine alignment for nibs.
  • De-rusting of any metal components (for example - a j-bar).
  • A good polish to give the pen the original shine back to the pen.
That what you get for your $15.00. After a good "tune-up" your pen will be functioning as good as when you go it!

If you're pen is need of this service, just send me an email and we'll get things going. I'd love to get your pen back in good functioning order again. :)

777 - Tyler Dahl