Lamy 2000 Rollerball Review

The Lamy 2000 is a pen with a lot of history in its design which dates back to 1966. There has been a lot written about the design and construction  of the pen so I will just hit the highlights here.  The pen body and cap are made of Makrolon, a fiberglass like material, and the clip and grip section are stainless steel. The cap is help in place by two metal nubs or fingers on the barrel of the pen.

The 2000 is nicely balanced even with the cap posted. The nubs that hold the cap in place can be an issue for some when writing. The 2000 rollerball has an advantage over the 2000 fountain pen because you can rotate the barrel so that they’re not in your way. The stock Lamy M63 refill is an okay, hit-or-miss refill for me. I’ve had some that wrote with no issues and others that skipped and had hard-start issues. My biggest complaint with the refill is that it writes too broadly for my tastes.

Luckily I discovered that the M63 is not the only refill that will fit the 2000. After looking at the M63 I realized that it was largely identical to a Pilot G2 size refill with the only difference being that the M63 is longer. After cutting a spacer and placing it in the end cap I am now using a Pilot Juice refill in my 2000. This hack really opens up the refill possibilities for the 2000.

Pilot Juice with spacer

I love my 2000 and enjoy writing with it. I wish I had more to say about the 2000 but I feel that I would be just repeating what has been said many times before. I will end my review by saying that the 2000 is a gorgeous pen and that the fact the design has remained largely unchanged for nearly 50 years speaks to the timelessness of the design.

End of the Lamy 2000 with the nearly invisible seam where the refill goes

My pictures were taken on my iPhone in a hotel room with bad lighting and don’t do the Lamy 2000 justice.

Holiday Update

I was hoping to have another review or post this week but my work and home schedules have prevented me from working on anything. I thought I would take this opportunity to say Thank You for all the support I’ve received thus far. It has been overwhelmingly positive and it is truly appreciated. I wish safe travel for everybody during this hectic travel season.  I will have another post next week but until then Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

Karas Kustoms Render K Review

The Karas Kustoms Render K.

I LOVE this pen. Done. The reviews over. You can stop reading now.

Okay, maybe the review is not quite over yet so don’t stop reading, but I truly do love the Render K. For those who don’t know or who may be new to the pen world, Karas Kustoms is a small machine shop in Mesa, Arizona that has gained a loyal following in the pen world and it started with the Render K. Here is a little background on the Render K itself, and how I came to love the pen. The Render K launched on Kickstarter as a machined aluminum or brass pen body for the Pilot Hi-Tec-C refill and now includes a copper version, anodized aluminum versions, and a version to house the Pilot G2 refill (in all three metal options). Probably about a year ago now after hearing all the talk about the Hi-Tec-C, I ordered a few from JetPens and a Render K. As it turns out I wasn’t a fan of the Hi-Tec-C, but I was a fan of the Render K, the size, shape, looks, weight, practically everything about it. Now onto the review itself. I’m going to review both the original and G2 aluminum versions together because other than refill options and a small design detail to distinguish the two versions they are the same.

The Render K is a solid pen in the sense that it is an extremely well made pen and one that can handle a lot of abuse. You could drop it, kick it, punt it, or throw it at a wall and other than a few nicks and scratches the pen itself will be fine with a little character added to it. The body tapers from the cap towards the back of the pen and gives it an almost timeless looking design. The cap features triple-start threads which is really nice because you don’t have to have the cap aligned at a certain place to get it to screw on. The cap also has some knurling at the top which gives the Render K an industrial yet classy look and also gives you a little extra grip when removing the pen from a pocket or removing the cap if you over tightened it.

The clip on the Render K is just as solid as the rest of the pen is and is attached with two machined screws. About the only way I could see this clip breaking is if you tried using it as a pry-bar. It’s that solid. The clip is flared out on the end which makes it easier to clip onto a pocket though if you are using it in a shirt pocket it’s a two-handed affair, one hand to hold and stabilize the pocket and the other hand to clip it. Removing it from a pocket is much easier and requires only one hand. The aluminum Render K weighs about 1 ounce or roughly 26 grams, the brass and copper versions weigh about 3.3 ounces of roughly 94 grams. Needless to say the brass and copper versions are HEAVY.

The pen has a nice grip section that is comfortable to hold. It is close to the threads for the cap but because of how I grip the pen they don’t bother me though they could be an issue for some. The threads are machined into the metal but they are not sharp, just hard. The Render K is a really well balanced pen and is comfortable to hold and write with, especially the aluminum version, and is still one of my favorite pens to use. I find the brass and copper versions to be slightly top heavy. The cap can rest on the back of the pen but it rattles around and really throws the balance off. I’ll either set the cap down on the desk or table I’m using or hold it in my left hand if I can’t set it down. This could be an issue for some but I don’t find it to be a big inconvenience.  The tip of the pen unscrews to change the refill and this is where the regular and G2 models vary slightly looks-wise. The G2 model has a small machined line in the grip section to distinguish it from the regular version and is the only difference in looks between the two. The width of the opening for the refill is wider on the G2 model and the opening isn’t machined as deep as the regular model.

Regular Render K on the left, Render K G2 on the right. The G2 model has a small machined line below the tip

The refills are where the two models vary the greatest. The regular model was designed around the Pilot Hi-Tec-C and includes a spacer and spring to use with a Parker ballpoint style refill. The regular model also includes some plastic tubing that can be cut to make some custom spacers if you want to experiment with hacking different refills to fit. One hack that I’m a big fan of is using the Uni-Ball Signo DX (UM-151) in place of the Hi-Tec-C, just snip some plastic off the back of the DX refill so it’s the same length as the Hi-Tec-C. I discovered this hack from a review of the Render K that Ana at The Well Appointed Desk If you happen to cut too much off (guilty!) don’t fret, just use some of the tubing that comes with the Render K as a spacer. 

Render K with Uniball Signo DX refill. I cut too much off the refill so I had to cut a spacer. Measure twice, cut once didn’t happen
The G2 model is designed for the Pilot G2 size refill and only comes with a spring to use with the G2 size refill, no spacer or plastic tubing is included. The Pilot G2 refill is a size that is standard to many different refills so there are many options that can be used. Some of these include the Pilot Juice (what I’m using), Schmidt 888/5888 rollerball, Schmidt Fineliner, Monteverde W22, Pilot V5/V7 RT, and Uni-Ball Signo 207. Neither model ships with a refill. This was a decision made by Karas Kustoms because they felt if they included a refill, that due to different preferences for refills, most would get thrown away and they didn’t want that. They mention on their website that the pen does not ship with a refill but I wanted to mention it here as well.

As I said earlier, the aluminum version is really well balanced and comfortable to write with. I’ve used the aluminum Render K for some fairly long writing sessions with no issues. Due to it being a metal pen, the grip section can get slippery when wet or with sweaty hands but I don’t consider that to be a negative of the pen itself but more the nature of the material it’s made from. The nice thing about the numerous refill options is whether you use the Fisher Space Pen refill and work outside or use a gel or rollerball refill and work in an office, the Render K will work in either setting. The brass and copper versions look really nice and will develop a nice patina as they age but don’t use them as much mainly due to the weight.

Render K Raw Bar Stock vs regular Render K
I own multiple Render Ks, both the regular and G2 models, in various metals and colors and it is one of my favorite pens that I own. As much as I love the Render K there are a few things which some people may not like about. The threads being close to the grip section can be an issue, especially if you grip your pens higher up on the barrel. The cap not posting is another potential big issue and is probably the biggest complaint about the Render K that I’ve heard. The clip can be a little difficult to use with a shirt pocket and again may be an issue for some. If you are looking for a pen that will last a lifetime and look just as classy in the future as it does today, the Render K is that pen. I highly, highly recommend it.

For more Render K goodness check out some of these reviews:

The Clicky Post

The Gentleman Stationer

From The Pen Cup

Gourmet Pens

For some guidance on Parker style and Pilot G2 style refills check out The Epic Refill Guide at The Well Appointed Desk. 

To pick your own Render K or to check out all of Karas Kustoms’ offering visit their website.

Mobile blogging made easier

Blogging on my iPad and iPhone just got a WHOLE lot easier.

I prefer writing in Markdown because I think it’s easier to remember and is easier to use than Rich Text Format. Trying to convert Markdown links to Rich Text proved to be problematic on my iPhone and iPad. I tried copying to the clipboard as HTML through Editorial and at first glance it looks like Rich Text but it screwed up the punctuation, for example didn’t became didn#39;t. I tried adding a Markdown block when editing my posts in the SquareSpace blog app but felt it was too much of a headache to do that everytime I wanted to add a link.

Now thanks to Workflow it’s not an issue anymore.

Workflow has a built in option to convert Markdown to Rich Text and I built a workflow to use with Editorial which copies the entire text runs the workflow and copied it to the clipboard. The Editorial workflow/action can be found here The workflow for the Workflow app can be found here
Both workflows must be installed to work properly. After the text is converted and copied you will be returned to Editorial.

I based my editorial around a similar one for Drafts 4 that I found in the Drafts Action Directory. That Drafts Action can be found here. It has a link to the required workflow for the Workflow app but here it is again.

The nice thing about these work flows is that converting the text doesn’t mess up any punctuation.

The use case for these may be limited but they are making mobile blogging so much easier. 

I know reading this sounds like an infomercial and that wasn’t my intent with this post and it’s not a type of post I see making often.  I just felt this was too good not to share, especially with more and more people working from mobile devices. 

Pilot Elite 95s Review

Hey look, it’s my first pen review. I debated about which of my pens to review first and settled on my Pilot Elite 95s partially because there’s not many reviews of it that I’ve been able to find. I won this pen in a giveaway on The Pen Addict that was sponsored by JetPens but this has not affected my thoughts on the pen or my review of it in any way. I chose the Black body with gold trim with a fine nib.

The Elite 95s is a newer model released by Pilot a few years back but is based on the 1975 model of the Pilot Elite so there is history to the design. You may see it also referred to as the Pilot E95s which is how it’s marketed here in the US. The only difference is the E95s has a script “E” on the cap whereas the Elite 95s has “Elite” on the cap. The pen is a compact pen, more commonly known as a pocket pen. For those who aren’t familiar with pocket pens, they are small and compact when capped but extend to a full-size length when posted. The Kaweco Sport series of pens is probably the most well known pocket pen and the Elite 95s is comparable in size and weight to  the plastic-bodied Kaweco Classic Sport. I wouldn’t necessarily  recommend putting it your pocket with your keys and change as I think it could mess the finish up, plus the clip itself could snag on your keys or pocket. If you do want to throw it in your pocket I recommend putting it in a sleeve of some sort. The cap on the Elite 95s slides over the body of the pen, similar to a snap-cap pen and even though it doesn’t snap into place it is very secure when capped and posted. There is some sort of tension mechanism on the inside of the cap that helps it stay in place and it does an excellent job. There isn’t a defined grip section on the Elite 95s, instead the body tapers slightly towards the nib so the pen is comfortable to hold regardless of where you grip your pens. 

The nib, oh the nib. I’m gonna ruin the surprise, I LOVE the nib. It is a 14K gold inlaid nib and writes extremely smoothly. The nib has very little feedback and practically glides over the page, especially the Rhodia 80 gram paper I used for the written portion of the review. It has a lot less feedback than my Pilot Metropolitan fine and Pilot Custom 74 fine. I would put it closer to my Pilot Metropolitan medium nib as far as how smoothly it writes.  I’m still new to fountain pens so I’m not sure if the inlaid nib has anything to do with this or not.  The nib is a little on the soft side and it is possible to get some line variation with some pressure but it is not advertised as a soft or flexible nib so do so at your own risk. I inked it up with Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki out of the box without cleaning it and have not had any issues so far. 

I LOVE this nib!
The Elite 95s is a cartridge/converter pen and only accepts Pilot’s proprietary size, though it will only take the CON-20 squeeze-type converter. The metal portion on the CON-50 prevents it from being able to fully seat into the back of the feed. The big downside to this is that there is no way to see the ink level, unless you use cartridges and then you are limited in ink choices if choose not to refill your cartridges.  To replace the cartridge or converter the small endcap on the back of pen unscrews. 

Overall I love the Pilot Elite 95s but there are a couple things I don’t like about it. First, I’m not a big fan of gold trim and secondly I wish there was a way to check the ink level. I know this is more due to using the CON-20 but since the Elite 95s won’t accept the CON-50, I feel this is also a fault of the pen itself. So unless you are absolutely anti-gold trim or despise using the CON-20, I highly recommend the Pilot Elite 95s. You won’t be disappointed. 

I know there are mistakes in the handwritten review, but hey, to Err is Human.

A quick note about this review. It was completely done on my iPhone and iPad, photography and all. The majority of all my reviews will done this way as well. 


     With the Christmas and Holiday season upon us, many of us will be flying to visit family and friends. If you are going to be flying, there is a good chance at least one of your flights will be an “Express” or “Connection” flight on a regional aircraft flown by a regional airline partner of your major airline of choice and you may be told to “gate-check” your larger carry on bags because they will not fit in the overhead bins. There are times where these flights are weight restricted to ensure that any aircraft limitations are not exceeded or these flights encounter an issue of being overweight.  Have you ever been on one of these flights and seen the crew members bringing your gate-check bags into the cabin and told it was to help the “weight and balance” of the aircraft and thought “What’s the point of bringing the bags into the cabin” or “How does this help with weight? A bag is a bag.” It’s because of what I jokingly refer to as FAA magic.  Allow me to explain. 

     When we say “weight and balance” we are actually referring to two separate but related things, the weight of the aircraft and the balance of the aircraft or location of the center of gravity (CG) of the airplane. If either one or both of these is outside the certified limits or performance limits of the aircraft, we can’t fly. If the CG is out of limits, it’s an easy fix of moving weight around or adding ballast to get the CG within limits. This is why you may see the crew members asking some passengers to move to a different part of the aircraft. Weight issues are typically caused by the aircraft exceeding one or more of a few different weight limitations, the specifics of which are beyond the purpose of this post because overweight is overweight.

     At this point you may be wondering how we know how much each passenger or bag weighs and the truth is, which may be surprising to some is, we don’t. We use an average passenger weight and an average bag weight in our computations. The passenger weights we use account for the passenger, their carry-on bag, and their personal item. For my airline those weights are 190 pounds per passenger during May through October and 195 pounds per passenger November through April (the extra five pounds accounts for the heavier clothing and jackets work during the colder months) and 30 pounds per bag and 60 pounds per bag for larger or heavy bags. 

     When we do get into an overweight situation there are a few ways to remove the extra weight. Removing passengers and/or bags is an obvious, though not a customer friendly, solution especially if we have to remove passengers. One thing that can help with the extra weight is if we have any kids (13 or younger in their own seat) onboard because we can remove 100 pounds off the total weight per kid. You may also hear the crew or gate agents refer to a half-weight and they are simply referring to kids on board. Another option we have, and the reason for this post, is bringing gate-check bag into the cabin to eliminate weight and is where the FAA Magic comes into play. Those average passengers weights mentioned earlier are based on the presumption that your carry-on bag and personal item are either in the overhead bin above you and/or underneath the seat in front of you. When those bags are gate-checked and put into a baggage compartment, those bags are no longer near where you are seated, they add another 30 pounds per bag that we have to account for in our weight and balance calculations. In essence these bags are being counted twice, once in the passenger weight and once in the baggage compartment. By bringing them into the cabin, the weight of that bag poofs and disappears (that’s the FAA Magic) and removes 30 pounds per bag from our total weight. The way I explain it to my passengers is that it’s FAA Magic, that if the bag goes in the baggage compartment it weighs 30 pounds but if it’s in the cabin it weighs nothing. Explaining it this way not only gives the passenger an understanding of why we’re doing it but also typically gives them a little laugh or at least a smile. 

     With the busiest travel season of the year, at least in the US, just starting I thought this was an appropriate time for this post. All aircraft can run into weight and balance issues regardless of size, though they’re most common on smaller aircraft. Unfortunately there are times when, even when bringing bags into the cabin and accounting for kids, that we are still overweight and have to remove passengers. If this happens on a flight that you’re on, be assured that the crew has done everything they can to accommodate as many passengers as possible, and that your patience and understanding in the matter TRULY is appreciated. Hopefully this post will help with that understanding part.  

Safe flying!!!

Flying with Fountain Pens

     We’ve all heard the horror stories of exploding or leaking fountain pens in flight due to pressure changes from higher pressures on the ground, and therefore in the pen itself, to the cruising altitude where cabin pressure is lower. Knowing that pressure travels from high to low, it’s easy to see why this can and does happen. Well I flew recently (not uncommon for me being a pilot but that’s besides the point) with a fountain pen and used it the entire flight, gate to gate, with no issues whatsoever. 

     Now for a (hopefully) simple, short, easy-to-understand explanation of why I think I had no issues using my pen the whole flight. The way a pressurization system on a plane works is (I’m going to really simplify it) is that bleed air (excess air) from the engines is pumped into the cabin to pressurize it, very similarly to blowing up a balloon. There is an outflow valve that regulates the pressure of the cabin by letting some of that air escape at a certain rate, similarly to letting some air out a ballon. This outflow valve is important because it allows some air to escape to prevent over pressurizing the cabin of the airplane. You may be thinking, “Why is this important?” or “Why should I care?” It’s important because it’s about regulating pressure, which is why I think I had no issues on my flight. 

     By using the pen the whole time, the pressure inside the pen never really had a chance to build up because by writing with it, you’re giving that pressure a chance to escape, keeping the pressure differential between the two (plane and pen) relative to what it was on the ground.  It’s the same reason why if you open a bottle of water on the ground before taking off and don’t open it again until reaching cruising altitude the bottle has expanded some (higher pressure inside the bottle from being on the ground trapped inside trying to escape to the lower pressure in the cabin at cruising altitude). However, if you open that bottle at regular intervals during the climb, you are allowing the pressure inside to escape, therefore keeping the pressure differential the same relative to what it was on the ground, and at cruising altitude the bottle is the same size and shape it was on the ground. Same is true for the descent, where if the bottle is left untouched after being opened at cruise, the bottle will be crushed in on the ground (higher pressure from being on the ground trying to get to the lower pressure inside the bottle from it being at cruise altitude). If opened at regular intervals during the descent, the bottle will have the same shape on the ground as it did at cruise, again because opening the bottle allows the pressure differential between it and the plane to remain the same.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t that short but hopefully it’s simple and easy enough to understand. 

     Short story, by constantly allowing the pressure inside the pen to stay relative to the cabin pressure, the pen should perform with no issues (in theory) as mine did on that flight.