Been a few months coming, the final part of my Pens from My Past series where I cover the fountain pens that led up to my purchase of the TWSBI Diamond 580 and my entry/re-entry in to the fountain pen hobby. After all this was the one that could have completely moved me away from fountain pens but instead resulted in my looking for better alternatives.
With my Parker Inflection starting to become problematic and with the replacement nib on my dropped 45 being unpleasant to use, it was natural for me to once more look at Parker Pens, and again at the lower but not bottom levels. It was actually in a local supermarket (Watford Tesco Extra) where I first saw the IM in the gunmetal finish and it really appealed to me. I actually had some vouchers so could have bought it for near nothing, but then found it for less on the Amazon Market Place (a legit UK seller who is still around) and so my order was placed and the vouchers were probably used on chocolate or wine/port. This was back in August 2013. By late 2013 it (along with the Inflection) had been replaced by the TWSBI.
So what went wrong? Well fortunately I already knew my existing spare converters would not fit and so an additional one was ordered at the same time (something I think I forgot to mention being an issue in my Inflection piece) so on arrival the pen was inked up and I started to use it. At first all was fine, it wrote in a similar style to the Inflection, which was nicer than my old Parker 25s (which have a very nail like feel), however within a week or two it also copied the issues of my other modern Parker. Hard starting and ink evaporation. This time I could not blame the ink as I was using a bottle of Lamy black which was only 3-4 years old (and which has caused no problems in any pen post this). If anything the two main problems were actually worse than with the Inflection. I was not happy but soldiered on for a while until I switched my Lamy Safari from red to black ink and started to use one of my 25s for the secondary colour, effectively giving up on Parkers.
Now for this set of works I cleaned out and inked up the ‘PfMP’ pens and for this one I played safe filling it with Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue ink. Freshly filled the pen worked, but unlike with the Inflection, experience with cleaning techniques did not result in a pen behaving better than before. Evaporation was still an issue – loosing most of a converter of ink in just over a week. Topping up with water or emptying and refilling did provide a working pen, for a short while, however having not used it for a couple of months I now found that even with priming the pen it would not write. Just how many pens do you have that if not used for a couple of months need a complete and thorough soak and clean to be able to use again. Can’t blame the ink either as Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue is arguably the safest one out there.
I will be honest and blunt. If this were to be my first Parker it would be my last and also I most certainly would not recommend this brand to others. Adding the issues with the Infection, double so. It could so easily have resulted in the end of my relationship with fountain pens, fortunately instead I became determined to find an alternative that would work and my collection, post selling some and giving others away, is now the (arguably) wrong side of 100 (I need to do a purge at some point and have close to 20 ear marked to sell).
So what is the pen actually like as a writing implement ‘when’ it works. Not too badly is the answer. The section is of reasonable length and width with a gentle tapering. The cap being of a click nature means there are no threads to catch, though the back of the section is raised slightly compared to the barrel, something that is either a poor design decision else poor quality control, and this you can feel if you hold the pen further back, but not enough to be distracting nor painful. The metal barrel means there is a slight back weight but the balance in the hand is still good. The writing experience is typical modern Parker, a little feedback, relatively smooth, slightly wet, and lacking substance and character. The nib could be virtually any from Parker from the last 20 or 30 years, including both steel and gold. This is no bad thing if you like that style, and if this pen did not suffer from it’s issues then it would be a decent option for some one who just wanted/used the one reasonably priced pen. Parker QC however meant this pen was used for about 3 to 6 problematic months and then stuck in a drawer for 7 years until I started this series of articles.
Price wise these retail for between ~£40 and £70 depending on body, with this finish being at the higher end. A quick search though shows you can get one for around the £30 mark, which if the pen worked would be decent value. IF.
So was I glad I got this pen. No. I had nothing but problems with it, and still do these days when knowing how to properly care for my pens. It writes well enough when it works, the problem is the when part of that statement. Still this was the pen that led me to hunt round for makes that actually worked resulting in the purchase of my first TWSBI and the rekindling in an interest in fountain pens in general.