Saturday, May 29, 2021

Jinhao 51A fountain pen

jinhao 51a fountain pen parker stile
I wanted to get a hooded nib fountain pen, and after some window shopping, I picked the Jinhao 51A, with an acrylic barrel. It is pretty clear, from where the pen takes its inspiration.

The pen took some time to arrive as I ordered it from Aliexpress. The pen made the long journey among friends, so I will share another two pens in the short future after I spend more time with them.

parker style jinhao 51 acryl marble

The Jinhao 51A comes with a small price and a big look. I paid around $5 for the acrylic version. You can buy the fountain pen with in different barrel options. It is offered in with a plastic body, translucent and opaque, wood, or acrylic. All the body types are offered in different colors. Also, buy it with the hooded nib or with a more traditional* nib. There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to aesthetics, but the hooded nibs are only available with a Fine nib. I found the white black acrylic to be the most interesting looking, so I ordered it. It has a very classic and traditional form, but the acrylic makes gives it an interesting allure while keeping the "classy" look at the same time.

* I always thought that the traditional style nib is the hooded one. I consider them traditional because when I was growing up this style of fountain pens was very common, I would say they were the standard.

jinhao 51a grip nib marble barrel black white acryl

The grip section of the fountain pen is made out of black plastic for all the models, only the barrel differs. The grip is comfortable. It is thick enough and due to the fact it is smooth, you can hold the fountain pen however you like. If I write for longer periods of time, the section can become a bit greasy, offering less grip. The nib is hooded but a bit bigger than I expected it to be.

jinhao fountain pen converter 51a

Between the grip section and the barrel, there is a metal ring that gives the fountain pen a nicer look, a bit more elegance. The interior thread of the grip section is metal, while the barrel has the thread done in acrylic. From time to time, fine pieces of acrylic end up on the metal thread of the grip section. I am not saying it will not hold up for many years, though.

jinhao metal thread

It would be nice to have the barrel coated with a metal liner, but for the money I paid, I will place this minus in the category good enough.

The look of the barrel is the highlight of the pen. It is made from a very nice acrylic, for not a lot of money. This model black white has in some parts amber hue. To me, the colors look like marble. 
brushed cap jinhao 51a

Compared with the pen from which it draws its inspiration, the Jinhao 51A has a very similar size and diameter. 

jinhao disasambled

The cap is made out of brushed metal and has an interesting pocket clip. The look of the clip is not a copy of the Parker, giving the pen its own character. The cap is very secure on the body, giving a click-like feel when pushed in all the way. After using the pen for some time, the plastic grip section has a spot that lost its shine due to the cap, which rubs on it to create a seal. Though it is not very visible.

If you pay a bit of attention, you will see that the finial and clip are a lot shinier compared to the rest of the cap. While the cap has a brushed look to it. The finial is connected to the cap with a screw on the inside. I do not know how well the screw will cope with the ink and humidity.

hooded nib jinhao

The fountain pen writes well. The nib doesn't scratch, it feels ok on the paper. The tines were not perfectly aligned and because the nib is so small it is stiff and hard to tune them. I would describe the nib to feel more like a pencil, offering feedback to the user. It puts on the paper, a dry line and I guess it makes sense as these pens are designed as everyday writers, on general purpose paper, where a wet and broad line would not do too well. 

The sweet spot of the nib is rather small. Reverse writing is possible, offering an even thinner line and less ink. It is not overly scratchy, and compare with other nibs, it could be cataloged as usable.

jinhao converter

The fountain pen comes with a converter of ok quality. I appreciate that the Chinese fountain pen companies offer a converter, even though the price of the pen is very low. Even though I am very satisfied using cartridges, there are a lot of people who prefer converters. The pen is compatible with international size cartridges, short or long.

I have tested it extensively for about two months, and  I enjoyed using it. The look made me go back to it very often.
The writing experience was not perfect out of the box. It had some ink starvation problems, especially putting down fast lines, the ink would stop coming out. I aligned the tines of the nib for a smoother and better writing experience and spread them, so it would be a bit wetter. I also swapped the converter with an international ink cartridge because the ink wasn't flowing very well. It has a capillarity effect, creating pockets of air inside. The converter needs an agitator to prevent this from happening.
When I replaced the converter with a long international ink cartridge and spread the tines a bit, I had issues with too much ink coming out and burps. I had instances when I hold the pen in the fist, the air got hotter inside and started coming out and making the pen burp.
 
I took it a few days at the office, and standing on the table in the sun it burped ink in the cap. It happened to me with other fountain pens but this felt a bit more dramatic. This happened while it had a large international cartridge that was half empty. My Loom has the tendency to burp when paired with large international cartridges.
I tested it with a standard international cartridge, and it works a lot better. But testing it with the nib in up position and holding the barrel in my fist small air bubbles come out. I believe that the materials used are conducting the heat from the hand too well.
 
After some trials and errors, the pen works very well. I use only international short cartridges now, though.

One thing that I appreciate is the cap which creates a good seal, and the ink doesn't dry. I had it sitting for 2 weeks, and it wrote from the first attempt. I consider this to be very impressive, as the pen has a friction cap.

All in all, I am happy with the fountain pen and how it writes, I will stick to international short cartridges in the future. Even if it is not a perfect writer, I would recommend it, especially if you like the style. You can choose from a variety of materials and colors.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Bic Matic Mechanical Pencil

A very iconic mechanical pencil, the Bic Matic.
I had several of these as a kid, I see them all over, in movies or as promotionals. This Bic Matic has a clear hexagonal barrel and a green clip. I like you can get the pencil in a multitude of colors, transparent barrel and colored trims or colored opaque barrels. 
The tip of the pencil is completely made out of plastic and has no metal sleeve. It is a thin and long pencil. In its thickest point, right where the black front sections meats with the barrel the pencil is 8.2 mm thick. From tip to eraser it has 15.1 mm in length. Comparing it with a Tikky which is 9.4 mm wide and 4.3 mm long.
The clip is a nice lime green. It has the Bic logo on it, the model name and size, and very weird it also has HB #2. I know that the pencil is intended for children, school supplies but labeling the hardness on a mechanical pencil seems to be strange at least.
You can get the Bic Matic in size 0.5, 0.7, and 0.9, but the first two sizes are more readily available while 0.9 is harder to find

There is a model which has a rubber grip, named Bic Matic grip. On the package, it states that it is for extra comfort.
Bic's are disposable products, but I am sure you will get enough of use out of these pencils. Even though it is disconcerting when you see in shops boxes of 40 pieces or you see that 1 Bic pencil last as much as 2 and a half would pencils :)