07 March 2011

Sailor Converters

The Sailor Pen Company is arguably one of the most interesting pen manufacturers nowadays. The craftsmanship tradition –so keen to Japan— is alive and well in the company through the hands and expertise of Mr. Nobuyoshi Nagahara. His specialty nibs are –dare I say— the most interesting, and one of the few truly innovative, features in the world of fountain pens today.

The Cross nib by Nagahara for Sailor.

However, those nibs –many of which are voracious ink guzzlers— are rarely matched with equally generous ink deposits. Actually, Sailor’s policy regarding ink storage relies in small converters and cartridges, with the single exception of the Realo line of piston-filler pens. This is very unsatisfactory for many users.

That beautiful nib is accompanied by this sad converter... This pen is called “Mannenhitsu Doraku” (万年筆楽).

And the pain of this limitation goes further as there is a great variety of behaviors within the brand. We could categorize Sailor pens in one of the following groups:

-- Pens that use very specific cartridges and converters—the ultra slim Chalana series. I will not speak about these pens on this chronicle.

-- Pens that use regular Sailor-proprietary cartridges –and only cartridges.

-- Pens that use proprietary cartridges and converters, but the later need to be modified in some way.

-- Pens that use cartridge and converters without any modification.

--Finally, some pens –the already mentioned Realo series— have their self-filling mechanism.

All these five Sailor can use cartridges, but only some of them can use converters, and in different ways.

The pens, from the previous picture showing their insides. From left to right: the first pen can only use cartridges; the second can use modified converters without the central ring; the third can use shortened converters; the fourth can use unmodified converters without the central ring; and the fifth can use untouched regular converters.

From left to right: a Sailor proprietary regular cartridge; a shortened converter without the central ring; a shortened converter with the central ring; an unmodified converter without the central ring; and finally the untouched regular converter.

Costs and capacities of Sailor cartridge and converters. Chalana cartridges and converters are not included.

All these categories might not be so unusual was it not because of the number of different modifications the converter needs to fit. And that shows some lack of consistency in the pen design:

-- Some pocket pens are so short that there is no room for the present converter to fit in no matter how short we might make it. Some sources say that an old converter existed for these pocket pens, but I have never seen it.

-- Another group of pocket pens have their section's bore too narrow for the converter’s metallic ring. Therefore, they need to have the converter shortened in the same way Platinum converters had to be modified to fit inside Platinum pocket pens, and the central converter's ring removed.

-- A third group of pocket pens need a shortened converter, but there is no need to remove the metallic ring.

-- Some full size pens have their barrels too thin for the converter’s ring. Again, the only option —other than the cartridge, that is— is to remove the converter’s ring.

-- And of course, there are some pens in which the converter fits without any modification.

All in all, Sailor shows a great interest in creating the most exciting nibs in the market and forgets about how to keep the ink inside the pen. The unbalance between those outstanding nibs and this poor looking converter is too shocking to oversee. Truly disappointing.

(Pilot Volex demonstrator H475 – Diamine Evergreen)

Bruno Taut
(March 3rd, 2011)
[labels: Sailor, conversor, soluciones técnicas]


Asian treasure Hunt said...

hi Bruno,
that Sailors post is very nice.and my favorite recently is realo...but the nib seems to be scratchy of realo for me...

Are you still in Tokyo???


Bruno Taut said...

With the exception of the extra fine Saibi Togi nib, all Sailor nibs I have tested were smooth. And I do not think that depended on what pen in particular --Realo or any other-- that nib is attached to.

Contact me through the email, Raul, for any other question: katsura.rikyu at gmail dot com .

Thanks for commenting.


Post a Comment

Your comments are welcome and appreciated.