Pilot 78G fountain pen: a revisit

review

I know I’ve reviewed this pen before, but since I have grown very fond of it, I felt that my anecdotal previous post hadn’t given it enough justice. Those had been the days when I did not even have a proper camera (not that I have one now – my photos are all taken using my smartphone with a nice quality camera). I was just starting out in the realm of fountain pens and hadn’t known very much what to take note of in a fountain pen. So this time, I would like to bring this pen up to the surface again and appraise it once more.

The Pilot 78G fountain pens

The Pilot 78G fountain pens

These pens have got to be one of the best affordable fountain pens I ever owned, but although I had mentioned in the initial review that it is dirt cheap, I realised after a new search today that it costs a bomb in Amazon, and more expensive than I imagined from other places. Nevertheless, the price point remains low for a hardy pen like itself, and while it is not as cheap as a Platinum Preppy, I do consider it very affordable (perhaps in the range of the Pilot Kakuno?).

To be honest, even though I like this pen, I have kept them deep in a pen drawer for a long, long time, even forgetting that there was ink inside them. The only reason why I even took them out again was because a pen friend recently offered the black Pilot B nibbed pen as he did not want it anymore, so I snatched it up to add to my collection!

20141005_170744This pen is lightweight with a plastic body, but despite being plastic, it does not feel fragile or excessively cheap. The plastic feels pretty sturdy, although not as sturdy as the TWSBI Diamond pens, and it is a pen that you can throw anywhere into your bag, let it roll around for a bit, and it will still emerge healthy and functional.

It has a screw-on cap, and takes about 1 and 3/4 revolutions to get it off. Personally I would prefer to be able to remove the cap within 1 revolution, so this may be a slight disadvantage if you’re like me! However if you enjoy screw-on caps very much and are not in a hurry, this pen with 1 and 3/4 revolutions is likely not a huge issue for you.

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The nibs come in various sizes such as fine, medium, and broad. I have the fine nib and two broad ones. In this case, instead of having a huge tip, the broad nibs are really just stub nibs. That’s not too bad considering we can write our words with some nice line variations! The only challenge for me is, being a left-hander, writing with stub nibs doesn’t seem to give me the same kind of “look” as a right-hander using them. The thick and thin lines all fall in the wrong places!

The fine nib, being a Japanese fine, writes VERY finely, almost like an extra-fine. When I first got this pen, it was a gift from a friend who bought them in China for 18 SGD. I chose the fine nib while she took the broad. After about a year, she decided to give me the broad nib as she never managed to use it on good-enough quality paper at work. It’s difficult these days to get good quality paper in the office, since everyone is all about cost-cutting!

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These are gold plated steel nibs and you can see that it is written on them “PILOT Super Quality Japan”, followed by the nib size letter (B, F, …). Very shiny and glossy!

During the first time you use these pens, you may experience some kind of scratchiness especially with the F nib. If you’ve read my anecdote, you will know that I have had problems initially with the nib. But surprisingly, after some accident, the nib writes smoothly and nicely! It’s just incredible! The pen writes a little more on the dry side, as I have noticed with a number of Pilot pens, and while I prefer pens with more ink flow, sometimes writing with a drier nib is also pleasant. The ink flow is smooth and consistent with the F nib, but sometimes a little intermittent with the stub, but most likely the reason is that I didn’t hold the stub properly. After all, I haven’t really found a good way of writing with stubs yet…

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For the stub, you can see how great the line variation is, from the crosshatch that I have drawn. Forgive the strange colours in the writing sample, as in my extreme bout of laziness, I hadn’t cleaned out the two pens before filling them up with the Pelikan 4001 blue ink! The previous inks were something like a black or a blue-black, and that explains why the resulting colour turned out like greyish!

Actually, cleaning out the pens are not too difficult. The pens are easy to disassemble by:

1. Unscrewing the cap
2. Unscrewing the barrel
3. Pulling out the Con20 converter (a converter which I dislike because it is a sac type and not transparent)
4. Pulling out the nib and feed, then separating them

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Voila, the Pilot 78G fountain pen disassembled for cleaning!

Due to my neglect, my teal broad-nibbed Pilot 78G has had dried ink all over its insides, making the removal of the feed and nib really hard. I had to use a pair of pliers to gently clamp upon them and pull them out! Don’t try this at home if you are new to fountain pens, as such an action could very well destroy the nib and feed, rendering the pen unusable! My advice to you: always keep your pens clean and healthy. If you feel that you aren’t going to use them for a long time, clean them out properly, dry them, and store them nicely!

While this pen has many plus points, one “con” is the converter that comes with it by default. I cannot emphasize how much I dislike the Con20 converter, being a rubber sac, squeeze-type, and really troublesome to clean. You may be able to clean it better if you have a water jet or something which can spray into the deepest depths of the rubber sac to clean all ink out, but if you don’t have one (like me), all you can probably do is to keep squeezing the rubber sac until you are certain there is nothing else in there. Which I can never be certain of, because the rubber sac is black and opaque, and you can’t see anything inside of it.

I hope, and do believe, that it can be replaced by the Con50 piston converter, which is so much more convenient to clean!

To summarize, though there are some disadvantages to this pen (such as the default converter type and the initial issues I had with the fine nib) I feel that the Pilot 78G fountain pen is value for money, priced at a very reasonable and affordable level. It can be a great pen for people who have just begun to catch the fountain pen bug. It is lightweight, simple and pretty, available in various colours (red, black, teal, and green), and the black version with its gold trims can even make it look like an expensive premium pen from afar!

It is not so readily available in most pen shops as it is a pretty old pen, but they are still abundant on ebay US | CA | SG | AU (though some sellers sell them at pretty high prices), or try your luck at isellpens and JStationery.

7 Responses

  1. David 7 November 2014 / 8:11 PM

    Taizo at Engeika Japan sells all Pilot converters. I just bought a CON-50 and a yellow Pilot Lucina from him but it hasn’t shipped yet, otherwise I would try the CON-50 in one of my 78G’s to see if it fits OK. Google “Engeika Finest Store”. BTW the squeeze converter in the 78G is not exactly the same as the CON-20, it is cheaper. The converter in the 78G is notorious for causing flow problems, especially with the stub nib. I syringe-fill cartridges instead.

    • Maybelline 7 November 2014 / 8:17 PM

      Hi David, useful info to know! Thanks for sharing! I didn’t know the ink flow problem with the stub is caused by the converter…

  2. bcameron007 28 October 2014 / 9:15 AM

    Good review – I agree that this pen is cheap and sturdy – it’s my lend-to-a-friend fountain pen.

    I have cleaned the rubber sac converter with Q-tips. Gets out a lot of ink that I missed by washing with water and diluted soap – and doesn’t seem to have harmed the sac.

    • Maybelline 28 October 2014 / 10:50 AM

      Interesting comment you made about lend-to-friend pens. I never thought of pens that way!

I would love to hear your thoughts!