Hello dear readers,
It’s been a while since I last made a real update to my blog. Sorry about that.
When you see me posting quotations and profound thoughts, I’m doing that just to keep the pulse alive and the vital signs going, lest this blog be left for dead.
Today I want to talk to you about the Levenger pen acquisitions I’ve made of late and the discoveries I’ve made while tinkering with their nibs.
Levenger had been on my wish list for quite some time. I bought a Pelikan M200 from them in the past but the italic nib had an imperfection at the tip of the tines. Upon contacting Levenger customer support about the issue, they sent me a replacement M200 with FedEx overnight and told me I can send back the defective one whenever convenient. And they also sent me a return shipping label so I didn’t have to pay for sending the old one back. I was blown away by the level of customer service. I wrote them a nice email at the time, but never really went back and explored their own line of fountain pens, the TrueWriter and the L-Tech. This was a couple of years ago.
The reason I was taking a while to get into Levenger pens was that I almost exclusively go for either italic or flex nibs in fountain pens. The standard ball tipped F, M, B sizes don’t interest me one iota, because there’s no line variation in them. They make the same line width in all directions and at all pressures. It’s not very different really from writing with a ballpoint if you look at it.
Levenger mostly have the ball-tipped F/M/B sizes for their pens as the standard offering. They do make a stub nib but you have to buy it separately, and the price for just the stub nib is quite steep, retailing at $60.
I was really only interested in their plain black TrueWriter, the Obsidian, and their Stealth black L-Tech pens. But to buy stub nibs for each of them would mean I would have to shell out another $120 on top of the base price of the pens, and I thought that’s just too obscenely expensive.
Levenger also sells their stub nib in a special TrueWriter with a cracked ice black body. That pen retails for $90. I really wanted all plain black TrueWriter and L-Tech, so this clearly was not going to work.
I did some searching and found on FPN that there was compatibility between Levenger and TWSBI, but the reports were mixed.
I decided to pull the trigger on the pens alone and since I had several TWSBI 540 nibs, I was going to try my luck at swapping them myself and saving some dough in the process.
I got the pens and tried swapping them out. Both Levenger as well as TWSBI 540 nib units can be unscrewed from the grip section quite easily. You just have to practice caution to grip the nib from the base and stay away from the delicate tips of the tines. You don’t want to mis-align them while trying to unscrew the housing apart from the section.
The TWSBI [left] and the Levenger [right] nib housings are pretty identical as shown below.
The TWSBI is shinier, but otherwise the threads are pretty close to each other. I had no problems screwing-in a TWSBI housing into the L-Tech grip section. Both housings have a standard international cartridge converter nipple on the back, so no change needed there while doing the swap.
I was able to cap the pen just fine with the new nib in place and this pen was good to go.
I loved taking a picture of the clip with the Levenger logo and the light hitting it just right. Very classy.
Next, I tried the same exercise on my TrueWriter. The housing screws onto the grip section without any problems. So far so good.
Here’s where I ran into problems. I wasn’t able to cap the pen. Something about the nib is not agreeing with the cap here.
Upon taking a closer look at both nibs, I observed that the TWSBI nib’s shoulder width is ever so slightly broader than the Levenger nibs.
As can be seen below, the Levenger Nib shoulders are probably 1.5 squares wide, whereas the TWSBI nib is close to 1.75 squares wide. I took these photos using a Rhodia Reversebook as my backdrop, so the graph ruling is 5mm spaced.
There is an inner cap inside the TrueWriter cap which doesn’t have enough clearance to accommodate the TWSBI nib with the ever-so-slightly broader shoulders.
I tried several things, I tried jamming the thing in there. It will go in, but you really don’t want to do that on a permanent basis. I tried to remove the inner cap, but couldn’t move it. Things were not looking too good, and I didn’t want to do anything further adventurous than that.
Just as a last ditch effort, I tried the smaller Kaweco nibs on for size. The Kaweco was definitely going to have narrower shoulders than the Levenger as shown below:
It took some persuasion to place the Kaweco nib and Levenger feed together and then try to slide them into the Levenger housing, but I managed to do it successfully.
The next thing I always look for when improvising a nib and a feed from differing sources, is how well the nib and feed are in contact with each other.
If I look from the side, I don’t want to see a gap between the tip of the feed and the under-side of the nib. This is where the two should make full contact because this is where the ink is transferred from the feed to the ink channel on the nib. If the ink transfer is to happen successfully, the two should be making contact with each other, and there shouldn’t be a gap between the two.
Fortunately I see no gaps here.
The Kaweco nib looks pretty smart on the TrueWriter.
Now, time to cap the thing and see if the problem is gone.
The pen is fully capped without any problems.
Here ends my happy story of the Levenger pens.
I really enjoy using the L-Tech. It’s got some heft to it and it’s very comfortable to hold in my hand. Someone pointed out that it has a faceted body but the facets are not like your traditional #2 pencil which would have a hexagonal (6-sided) cross section.
The L-Tech has a heptagonal cross section (7-sided). This means that when the pen rests on the tabletop the clip is slightly askew, and is not directly pointing towards the ceiling. Same would be the case when the pen is resting sideways on one of its facets while uncapped. The nib would be slightly askew from the horizontal. It’s not possible to lay it flat, nib horizontal, clip horizontal, because the body has 7 facets instead of 6. This seem to bother some people, but I’m not one of those people, so I guess it works out for me.
The grip section itself for the L-Tech is circular, and has a knurled surface, very comfortable to grip. No facets on the grip section, which seem to stir a lot of controversy à la Lamy Safari.
For me the two facets on the Safari section are actually quite good, the the rest of the section is rounded. It’s when they tried to rubberize and make a 3-faceted section with the Lamy Nexx I had to disoblige.
The TrueWriter is a solid pen overall. Tightly machined threads, nothing rattling, nothing loose. Firm clip. Very comfortable to hold and write with for long durations.
I’m quite happy with both pens and I hope to get many years of use and satisfaction out of both pens.