Hack.05: Signos and Sliccis and Bits…oh my!

14 05 2008

The uniBall Signo, the Pentel Slicci, and the uniBall Signo Bit are great rollerballs that are available in super-fine lines.  I’ve been a fan of skinny lines forever, it seems.  I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because I’m a lefty.  Ergo, thick lines = more ink on page.  More ink on page + left handed overwriter = messy hands.

I also like to fit a lot on a single page.  Saves paper.  It’s one way that I can reduce consumption of natural resources.

Ever since JetPens opened up its webstore, I’ve been wanting to place an order from them for some of the new breed of skinnier-than-thou rollerballs that you can’t find here in the States.  Pilot’s Hi-Tec C, the Pentel Slicci, the uniBall Signo Bit (which, incidentally, is the skinniest line on earth at the time of this posting), etc.  They’re all cool pens, but not one of them is easy to get if you’re in the middle of corn country. 

So when I got started with the testing for the Moleskine shootout that I’m finishing up, I decided I’d order a couple of things and give them a run for their money to see if they’d fit the bill.  I ordered a Slicci 0.25mm rollerball, a uniBall Signo Bit 0.18, and a handful of other stuff just for fun.  Here’s the problem with these pens, though.  They don’t fit very comfortably in the hands of big ham-fisted guys like me.  I’m 6’6″ tall, and I’m built like one of the guys on the Ohio State o-line…except I’m not nearly as fit. 

Time for a hack.  3 of ‘em, actually.  With very little work, you can easily make the refills in these fit in a handful of different pens that are more comfortable for bigger hands.  I used the Levenger TrueWriter, which I think is an incredibly well-balanced pen, the Lamy Safari, and the Sailor Gel Innovation. 

What you need in order to make these work:

  1. A Pentel Slicci.
  2. A Sailor Gel Innovation.
  3. A little piece of paper towel.
  4. 2 minutes.

What you need to do:

  1. Take the Slicci’s refill from the barrel.
  2. Remove the Sailor’s refill.
  3. Wad up a little tiny piece of paper towel, and shove it down into the Sailor’s barrel.  The Slicci refill can be used as a ramrod to get it in there.
  4. Put the Sailor back together.
  5. Enjoy hacked pen for big hands.  The shape of the Gel Innovation is really comfortable.

Here’s what it looks like.

The TrueWriter Hack:  The Signo RT Gel refill in a 0.38mm is a nearly perfect size (in my mind) for a refill.  Nice and skinny, and the RT Gel’s refill is remarkably well-behaved, too.  Pull the refill from the TrueWriter, and replace with the RT Gel.  Enjoy!

The Safari Hack:  This one is just a little more involved, but still easy.  Take the Signo Bit 0.18 refill, and use sandpaper to grind off about 1/4″ of the material on the bottom of the refill’s plug.  Keep test-fitting as you go, but you’ll know when it’s right.  Enjoy! 

Of all of these hacks, I’m still not sure which one is my favorite.  They all have their place in my life.  The Safari Signo Bit is my Bible marginalia pen, and as such, it works great.  Super-fine lines work well with the thin Bible paper and they don’t bleed through, either.  The TrueWriter Signo also works for this, although the lines are thicker.  The Slicci/Sailor works really well as a Moleskine pen/disposable, and I enjoy their blue ink quite a bit, too.  If I could only keep one, it’d probably be the Slicci/Sailor.  All three are great pens, but the hacked Slicci is the one that’s the most versatile.

(Yes, the Moleskine shootout is still coming.  It’s not quite ready yet…too many great products!)

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7 responses

14 05 2008
dowdyism

Cool stuff Ryan! I’ll have to try out a few of these.

14 05 2008
James

Heck, the Sailor Innovation is great on its own, and the gel refill is pretty darn smooth. The biggest drawback is it’s a 1.0 mm, which is way too broad for some people.

14 05 2008
rroossinck

You’re right, James. My wife uses hers as a backup when she runs her Vanishing Point dry.

14 05 2008
Rasmussen

I was waiting for this one. Great hack!

14 05 2008
Patrick Rhone

I swear to god I suggested the very same hack to a friend yesterday who is in love with the Signo I gave him but wanted to put it into a nicer pen. He is visiting the Levenger store in Chicago next week and I told him to pick up a True Writer while there and slip the Signo cartridge in.

There are time I wonder if you have me bugged.

23 05 2008
Eric Senf

In reference to the above comment Patrick make, I was that friend he suggested the hack to. I was initially impressed with the EF rollerball provided with the True Writer Metalist, but I have now switched back to the Signo. This is a great feeling body to house the excellent Signo ink.

Wonderful hack!

24 05 2008
rroossinck

Eric, great to hear from you! The Signo hack really worked well for me, and I’m glad it’s working well for you too.

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