Saturday, December 31, 2011

TWSBI 540 Fountain Pen Review

TWSBI a company that I have come to love and trust, its fairly new to me and yet so many people seem to know all about it. I was late on the band wagon getting into fountain pens fairly recently myself. The TWSBI 540 fountain pen is a really cool pen. for $50 bucks you can have a pen with a wide range of performance. A pen that clearly outshines other pens similar in looks and writing abilities and stature. I was lucky enough to get a small portion of pens, if you can get your hands on at least one pen next year, make sure you get a TWSBI.

Lets start off with the "pronunciations",  Nothing irritates me more then when people don't say things right. This isn't a twistsawbee or a twosbee, the proper way to saying this is "To-Wiz-Bee".... now that we got that out of the way we can start the review.

TWSBI 540 laser etched in the chrome accents.
Lets start out with competition, what do they have to offer us "the consumer" in way of pen worthiness. now I'm not an expert at any one of these pens, I'm just noting the obvious features of what I've seen over the year.
  1. Pilot Custom 74. This pen from pilot comes in a fancy gift box, a cartridge and a button fill converter (CON-70) It also has a 14k rhodium nib. for the price of $160-$200 you could buy 4 TWSBI's for the price of one, also it does not have a built in ink reservoir or replaceable nibs at your disposal.
  2. Platinum 3776.  Just like the Custom 74 at around the same price range this Japanese company has a gold nib, a cartridge converter and a decent looking box. This is a limited edition pen and won't last long, also there are no replaceable nibs. The price is $200
  3. Pilot Prera Clear Body. This pen I was excited to see until I actually got to see it. In my opinion I was not impressed with the nib, the fact it has no built in Ink reservoir, or that it makes no noticeable improvement on the already famous Pilot 78G. Also it cost $58
  4. Pelikan M800.  From the reviews and the raves the "select" few people who own this particular clear body pen this is what I imagine all the following pens above should of had Included. So for an easy $500 dollars you can have the exact same pen as the TWSBI 540... just a little cooler, and gold to say the least but you get the idea.
To me it doesn't make sense to buy a pen for much more than its worth. Now I'm not knocking down any of the pens, they are all fine writers, I just wouldn't buy them.

The TWSBI 540 Pen

There are several ways to fill your fountain pen with its life The most popular are cartridges, ink bottle converters, or the piston filling method that some pens have built in. With the new TWSBI Inkwell bottles that came out this year filling the 530/540 pen is now the simplest method I can think of. On the first try I got a 100% fill, which is unusual for any pen filling method other than a cartridge. And as that goes I have an inkwell for each TWSBI pen. My two favorite inks are the Noodler's Baystate Blue, Private Reserve Avacado, and my purple is Noodler's Kung Te-Chung. Since these pens have been inked I have not changed any color except for the Kung Te-Chung ink ( I used to have Noodler's Vmail series North African Violet). So again the TWSBI is a no brainer when you have a choice on filling and refilling your pen with just one ink or hundreds.
Filling my 540 with the New TWSBI Inkwell
Decorative Nib, it has good line variations 
 Inside the TWSBI Pen box there are tools for you to disassemble your pen and repair if required. There are a wrench and a small bottle of silicone grease, I don't see a need if ever to use this, but maybe in the future I would like to add some silicone grease to the piston plunger for maintenance and prolong its longevity.
This is EF, but it can flex to some degree up to a bold line.
The writing ability is so smooth, I characterize it as a slight pull on the paper. Its not so smooth that you have no control, it has a lot of feedback to the paper which is surprising because it is a steel nib. This lets me know how much pressure I'm applying and I also notice that my handwriting looks nicer too. 
A clear shot of the TWSBI logo.
The cap screws on and off and is snug fitting posted on the pen. The only problem is that if your like me you twist the cap off the pen instead of just pulling straight out. Doing so can move the plunger down forcing ink out and making a lovely mess on your hands, desk, pen, carpet and anything else you may or may not cherish.
The cap is much heavier than the body of the pen so posting can leave a slight unbalance.
The tip of the cap is the TWSBI logo, so far the early productions were all hand made.
The grip is smooth but does not slip during long writing.

Overall this is the best fountain pen of 2011 in my books. I look forward to seeing what else TWSBI will bring forth.

The Pen Review