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What ball-point pens are we using?

post #1 of 68
Thread Starter 
I ask this question somewhat in parody of the threads about fountain pens, but there is certainly a legitimate use for ball-points when one cannot always have a fine pen on hand. I am a fan of the Pilot Precise Rolling Ball V-5 in purple. The V-5 is what Pilot terms an Extra Fine point. The Precise is also available in the V-7, a Fine point. I naturally write in fairly small print so I much prefer the thinness provided by the V-5. The shape of the pen is slender, the weight light but not insubstantial. Contrast this with its primary competitor, the Sanford Uni-ball Vision, which I feel is needlessly fat. I also find the Precise easier to twirl though of course this varies with one's twirling style. Perhaps the only clear advantage of the Vision is its more durable cap -- the Precise's is prone to cracking. The purple color is very unique, allowing me to easily distinguish my writing from that of others from even a distance, while still being legible (as opposed to say, pink) and easily photocopied.
post #2 of 68
I carry a fisher space pen in my front pants pocket, aside from my fountain pen in my shirt pocket. I find it very convenient to have.
post #3 of 68
When I had my carpentry business, I found a Montblanc ballpoint behind a washing machine while I was doing repair work on a friend's rental property. This is the only reason I own a Montblanc.

A distinction should be drawn between ballpoints and rollerballs. Ballpoints use an oil-based ink that is more akin to the ink used in printing presses. Rollerballs use a water-based ink similar to that used in fountain pens.
post #4 of 68
I only use a non-fountain pen ink based pen for writing addresses on envelopes and parcels.
post #5 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by LabelKing
I only use a non-fountain pen ink based pen for writing addresses on envelopes and parcels.

If you are anything like me, you immediately follow with ablutions.
post #6 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nantucket Red
If you are anything like me, you immediately follow with ablutions.

I store it disdainfully back into its secret cavern.
post #7 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nantucket Red
A distinction should be drawn between ballpoints and rollerballs. Ballpoints use an oil-based ink that is more akin to the ink used in printing presses. Rollerballs use a water-based ink similar to that used in fountain pens.
Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I always knew there was a difference but was not aware of the terminology. What I mean then is rollerball. The cheap 12 for $1 Bic pens are ballpoints, right? I really despise those but I had (emphasis on 'had') a friend that insisted that he was able to write faster with them. Are there any higher quality ballpoints, or is the technology inherently inferiour?
post #8 of 68
I use a variety of "free" ballpoint pens that have logos of various hotels. Examples are Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Express, etc.

I have many of these. I lose them regularly, just like I used to lose my more expensive pens. Some of my clients give me Cross ballpoint pens. I tend to lose those also, so I have adopted the habit of not buying any pens at all.

M8
post #9 of 68
I would argue that ballpoint technology is inferior for several reasons. It uses ink that is basically a type of grease delivered by a tiny ball bearing with evenly but randomly distributed miscroscopic channels and is held in a socket. This has several consequences that affect the writing experience.

First of all, the oil-based ink eliminates almost all resistance of the pen tip against the paper, and because the tip is a ball, it is not inherently oriented in any particular direction. This makes the ballpoint harder to control unless you write on a stack of papers or a leather desk pad.

Secondly, because of the viscosity of the ink and the physics of the delivery mechanism, gobs of ink will tend to clot on one side or other of the socket and occasionally deposit themselves ungracefully on the page in the middle of your handwriting. This may be mitigated in higher quality, more expensive pens, but is the cost worth it?

Thirdly, all pens leak to some extent, but the operative term for ballpoints is "explode." When this happens inside the pocket of your bespoke Charvet shirt, it's either time to make a bespoke kite or find some other creative way to dispose of it so you can cross post pictures on every clothes forum on the web. More expensive pens are unlikely to explode, but if you happen to touch the tip of your ballpoint to your clothes accidentally, the resulting mark may be forever.

Rollerballs use water-based ink, which is less viscous. This means the tips offer more resistance and only go where you tell them, unlike a ballpoint, which will act as if it has a mind of its own. The ink will not clot, also, so your writing will be free of the little blobs where the ballpoint decided to take a shit. And if the ink gets on your clothes, you can wash it out with little trouble in most cases.

Fountain pens employ a leaf spring of gold (or sometimes stainless steel) mounted on a semi-cylindrical stalk of hard rubber (ebonite) with channels cut into it where the nib rests against it. These channels allow ink to flow out while air flows in as the ink is displaced from the reservoir. The mechanism relies on the surface tension of the water-based ink (which makes twirling a fountain pen a really bad idea). The nib is the heart of the fountain pen and can be extremely versatile depending on its geometry. Nibs can have varying degrees of flexibility and can come in a variety of widths and can be cut at different angles. A single nib can create a line that varies in width from beginning to end (a flourished line).

Many people complain that fountain pen nibs are "scratchy," but actually most nibs are very smooth. The fact is that people raised on ballpoints aren't used to a pen that offers enough resistance that some conscious effort must be put into controlling it. The result is that using a fountain pen for a while will actually improve your handwriting. Even a cheap fountain pen will write with almost no pressure, and you can therefore write for much longer without writer's cramp setting in. Also, since a nib is essentially a spring, it is basically a built-in suspension system, which makes the writing experience very comfortable and even sensual in some cases.

Do an experiment. Get a ballpoint, rollerball, and fountain pen -- the Parker Vector is an excellent cheap fountain pen that writes as smoothly and reliably as many pens costing several hundred $$ -- and write with each of them. You will probably notice differences somewhere along the lines of what I've described. Decide which works best for you in terms of feel and comfort, the type of line that pleases you most, and what flatters your handwriting.
post #10 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nantucket Red
...I found a Montblanc ballpoint behind a washing machine...This is the only reason I own a Montblanc.

Okay pretty funny stuff. The only fountain pen I own, I found also. In a hotel room, complete with cartridges.

One of the grammar schools I went to made us learn to write using fountain pens. There were no cartridges in fountain pens till a couple of years later. One had to have a bottle of ink, and the foutain pen had a small lever that would work as a suction pump to refill the reservoir. This was very messy for me, so I swore off of fountain pens for life after I left that school. We were not allowed to use ball points.

M8
post #11 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martinis at 8
Okay pretty funny stuff. The only fountain pen I own, I found also. In a hotel room, complete with cartridges.

One of the grammar schools I went to made us learn to write using fountain pens. There were no cartridges in fountain pens till a couple of years later. One had to have a bottle of ink, and the foutain pen had a small lever that would work as a suction pump to refill the reservoir. This was very messy for me, so I swore off of fountain pens for life after I left that school. We were not allowed to use ball points.

M8

Yes, but lever fillers make great squirtguns!
post #12 of 68
the ability of this board to generate minutiae never ceases to amaze. carry on.
post #13 of 68
My weapons of choice (I'm a pen-geek ):



Namiki retractable fountain pen




Lamy tri-pen (0.5, highliter, ballpoint)



Pentel GraphGear 1000 (best mechanical pencil I've ever tried)


koji
post #14 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I always knew there was a difference but was not aware of the terminology. What I mean then is rollerball. The cheap 12 for $1 Bic pens are ballpoints, right? I really despise those but I had (emphasis on 'had') a friend that insisted that he was able to write faster with them. Are there any higher quality ballpoints, or is the technology inherently inferiour?
Rotring. http://www.rotring.de/products/writing/c_esprit.html
post #15 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thracozaag
My weapons of choice (I'm a pen-geek ):



Namiki retractable fountain pen

koji

I also have a Namiki Vanishing Point. It's the best pen made for $100.

Greetings fellow pen geek.
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