My New Toy: The Pilot Cavalier

First it was arthritis.  Then it was atrial fibrillation.  Then my leg blew up to the size of a telephone pole (slight exaggeration for effect).  That turned out to be osteoarthritis in my knee and a long set of physio treatments.  Then it became a steady stream of doctor’s appointments.  This torture just would not end, but it has, sort of.

As long as I fill my gut with pills twice a day, my heart is under control, my arthritis is only problem on really “bad” days, and I’m getting used to not walking as far as I’d like and doing so with a limp.  Things are looking up.

It got better when my doctor informed me that I have type 2 diabetes.  I guess that was the dessert after my months of dining on medical treatments.  But you know what?  That’s good news.  For the past half a year I’ve been very fatigued, having less and less energy.  Initially I attributed it to all those doctor visits but eventually concluded that it was just cuz this was what “old” felt like.  It wasn’t an encouraging prognosis.  But, eliminating the cookies (my favorite thing) and adding a couple more pills to my diet and I’ve gotten my energy back.  I call that a win.

So enough about health, let’s talk about my new toy, the Pilot Cavalier fountain pen.  When I got mine I couldn’t find one in North America so I bought through a third-party vendor via Amazon.  But Jet Pens now stocks them in several colours.

I bought this pen because I enjoy quick-sketching with my Kaweco Lilliput but find the screwing and unscrewing its cap to be sort of annoying when I’m wanting to quickly sketch someone in the food court.  One thing I like a lot about the Lilliput, however, is that it’s got a pencil-size diameter and it’s very light.

The Cavalier has both of those attributes associated with a standard length pen.  The cap snaps in place nicely and seals well.  It also posts well, something I have to have in a sketching pen or I’d lose the cap.  Because it’s a Pilot pen, the steel nib provides a smooth feel.

This pen accepts Pilot cartridges but one problem is that the barrel of the pen is just narrow enough that you can’t use Pilot’s CON-50 converter so I have use a syringe to get waterproof ink into empty Pilot cartridges.  It’s said that you can use the CON-20 converter (the rubber bulb-style converter in it but I like syringe filling so I haven’t tried that.  This pen has found a place in my pen quiver, mostly for quick-sketching food court people.  Here’s a sketch I did while test-driving it.  This was also the beginning of a new Stillman & Birn Alpha softcover (5.5×8.5).  I haven’t used this format in quite some time and thought it might be a good idea.

Pen Review: Platinum Preppy 02


I’ve always been a fan of the Platinum Preppy.  There is no better bang for the buck ratio in the fountain pen world in my opinion.  For a street price of $3-4 you get a fully-functional, cartridge-fed fountain pen that can even be upgraded with a converter if you so desire.  It comes in half a dozen colors and each comes with a matching Platinum ink cartridge.

One of the ironies of life is that this inexpensive pen is one of the most reliable pens I own, and I own a lot of pens.  Until now, they’ve come in 05 and 03 nib sizes and I’ve always favored the later because I tend to work small and thus love fine-nib pens.

nibSo, when Platinum released an 02 version of this pen I had to try one.  It arrived as part of an order from Jet Pens with one little glitch.  Platinum’s cartridges are nice as they use a small metal ball to seal the end.  When you insert the cartridge, the ball is shoved into the cartridge and acts as an agitator for the ink, one of the things that makes these pens so reliable.

But guess what happens if you put water-based inks in a -30C environment which was my mailbox.  Yep…the ink freezes, expands, and the little ball is shoved out the end.  Fortunately, it was washable ink and so an easy clean up.  So, my tests with this pen were done with J. Herbin Perle Noire ink rather than with the Platinum blue that comes with it.


The appropriate review word for this pen is WOW.  If you like fine pens you will like this new Preppy 02.  If you don’t, you won’t.  It is just a bit finer than a Micron 01.  Like other Preppy pens it is smooth for such a fine nib and I spent half an hour just making hatch marks and little doodles with it.

This pen has a fancier paint job than do the 03 and 05 versions.  I’m not sure if this is a remake of the Preppy line and/or if we’ll see this scheme on the rest of the Preppies soon.  It is the case that the 02 is more expensive than the 03 and 05, at least right now.  Jet Pens currently sells it for a whopping $4.45, or the cost of a decent sized latte at Starbucks (grin).


Pen Review: Zebra 301A

This is the time of year where bloggers feel obligated to talk about New Year’s resolutions, emulate David Letterman’s Top 10 lists, and maybe reflect on 2014 in some other way.  I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions because Jan 1 is just a day between Dec 31 and Jan 2 for me, but I’ll probably do a bit of reflecting in the next couple days just so I can be one of the cool kids.  But to quote Aragorn (Lord of the Rings), “It is not this day.”

Today I want to confess to being a complete sloth for the past few days.  Not only did I not do much, I believe I even started to move slowly.  In reflection the only things I recall doing was watching TV and eating…and eating…and eating.  But I did my annual obligatory penance and watched Miracle on 34th St, Elf and the Polar Express, though I confess to falling asleep during the Polar Express.  The upside is that I won’t have to endure them for another 360 days or so.

Zebra 301A ballpoint pen

Zebra 301A ballpoint pen

And, sadly, I didn’t do much on the sketching front.  This is not to say that I didn’t have a pen in my hand; I did.  It was a Zebra 301A, a pen I’ve been trying out as a potential quick-sketching tool that I can shove in a coat pocket.  In my opinion, this pen is special for a few reasons.  They are:

1) It’s cheap!!!  I bought them in a 2-pack for $2.50 at the local dollar store.  You can buy a fancy version of it (Zebra 701) which is shiny silver and a bit heavier (about $8)  but the 301 comes in silver, gray or blue anodized aluminum and I really prefer the feel of it in my hand.

2) It lays down a very fine line, finer than most fine ballpoint pens.

3) The ‘black’ is a dark grey, similar to Noodler’s Lexington Gray.

4) It’s a click pen so you can hide the tip and there’s no cap to lose.

5) Replacement cartridges are available from Jet Pens for a whopping $1 each.  Good for environment and wallet alike.

6) As it’s a ballpoint, the ink is oil-based and thus waterproof.  You can wash over it to your heart’s content.

7)  I suppose it’s due to the fine nature of the cartridge but this pen NEVER blobs, a problem that exists with most ballpoints.

8)  Did I mention that it’s cheap?  No worries over losing this one and you can ‘station’ them around your house, in purses, backpacks, or pockets so that there’s always one available.

My daughter, hiding herself under a blanket while watching movies.

My daughter, hiding herself under a blanket while watching movies.

Anyways, I’ve been playing with one over the past week, mostly just doodling while we watched movies and consumed the equivalent of a month’s food in a few days.  As I said, I didn’t do much sketching.  Here are a few smallish, quick sketches I did with this pen.  Twas not the fault of the pen that the sketches were, well, so sketchy 🙂


Just feeding my penchant for drawing buildings


Ya gotta draw a tree during Christmas, right?

Ya gotta draw a tree during Christmas, right?

This is the house across the street as seen from my window

This is the house across the street as seen from my window

I was out walking and tried to draw skaters on the rink in Place d’Youville in the old city.  Too cold for me.  I’m a sissy.  Not even the furious nature of quick-sketching could keep me warm.

2014-12-29Zebra301_skater1 2014-12-29Zebra301_skater2 2014-12-29Zebra301_skater3

That’s enough to give you an idea of how the Zebra pen looks in the hands of a sloth and maybe give you an indication of what I do when I’m not sketching.   These doodles were done in a small, 3×5 sketchbook.

**** Happy New Year everyone. ****