Review: Pilot Elite short/long

5 05 2008

First Impressions
Finally!  A short/long with white metal trim, and a stainless cap!  This one came to me from a Malaysian friend of mine.  No box or paperwork, but frankly, that stuff isn’t important to me.  I’d been looking for a gold-nibbed short/long without gold trim,m so this one was right up my alley.

Appearance
the barrel and section are glossy black plastic, with a chrome trim ring acting as a bump-stop for the cap (it’s a slip-cap).  The barrel is imprinted FP17, but I’m not sure what that mean.  The nib is an 18K white gold nib that’s similar to those found on the Pilot Super series from the 50s and 60s (and maybe early 70s).  It’s sort of shaped like a fingernail.  The nib is marked 18K 750, Pilot <F> H1276; the H1276 indicates a December 1976 manufacture date.  The feed is a translucent smoky gray. 

The cap is stainless steel, with an etched rectangular cross-hatched pattern.  The etching is enameled black.  The clip is metal, chrome-plated, with a divot/valley running the length of it.  Pilot is engraved in it.  At the bottom of the cap, aligned directly below the clip, is the word “Elite” in Pilot’s signature script.

Design/Size/Weight
As a short/long pen, the barrel is very short at about 1.5” in length.  Historically, these pens were designed to fit in a Japanese shirt pocket, which wasn’t terribly deep.  The great thing about these pens, though, is that they post out to a nearly perfectly-balanced full-sized pen that’s slender, but about 5.5” long.  as far as portability is concerned, they’re perfect for a pants pocket or a purse.  To me, it’s nearly perfect as far as weight, too.  I’m guessing that when fully loaded, it’s no more than 25g.  It’s very comfortable to hold, and works great for long writing sessions.  I wish I’d had one of these when I was in college!

Nib
Here’s where it gets interesting, as far as this particular pen is concerned.  When I got it (and I knew it was coming this way), it wasn’t writing well.  It was a little scratchy, and had a persistent skipping problem.  The tines seemed okay, but it wasn’t working the way that it should.  After a thorough cleaning and flossing of the nib, it got a little better, but still wasn’t what I was happy with.  I did a little more cleaning in an ultrasonic bath, but wasn’t able to do much with it, as my life had taken a sudden change in direction.  I put it away, and didn’t come back to it until late this week. 

Well, I think that having that time to rest must have done the trick, because when I finally got back to it and filled it with a converter of Pelikan Royal Blue, it’s been nearly perfect.  No skipping or scratches here; just a very even, moderately dry inkflow, and a super-smooth nib.

This nib is markedly different from other short/long nibs I’ve written with.  While the others (a 14K XF Platinum and a steel Pilot Volex) have been good, they’ve been very rigid.  This one, though, is remarkably soft.  I wouldn’t call it flexible, but it’s not too much of a stretch to call it springy.  It’s really nice to write with. 

Filling System
While not terribly groundbreaking, it’s worth noting that these Elite short/longs use Pilot’s cartridges, the aerometric CON-20 converter, and (I think) the CON-50 screw-type piston converter.  I’m pretty sure that the cartridge holds the most ink.

Cost and Value
I think that short/long pens, as a category, are quite a bargain.  They’re not always the easiest to find in the model you’re after, as they weren’t always well-catalogued like other vintage pens (i.e., Vacumatics, “51”s, etc.)  But…once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll find that there are lots of them (many still uninked with stickers) available on eBay.  Prices range all over the place, but you can typically get one for less than $100 shipped.

Conclusion
I think that these are great little pens, and this one is a shining example of what they should be.  It’s rare to get one that’s a bad writer.  Try one…you won’t be disappointed!

I wasn’t able to get very many good pictures of this pen this morning, but I’ll try again a little later and update the review when I get a chance.

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4 responses

7 05 2008
Speedmaster

Nice review, thanks!

14 12 2008
dannzeman

Great review, fellow FPN’er.
I think this is going to number 2 on my list, right behind the 51!

Take ‘er easy,

Dan

14 10 2009
b4awl

Mines different…Black resin, gold trim and full size 13.7 cms. closed. ‘Elite’ inlaid in cap in silver script. I’m luvin’ this pen. Feed is integral with section. ‘Dragon Lady’18k/750 nib marked T1072, for I guess ‘1972’ production. Barrel

is marked ‘MU II’. Nice removable ‘aerometric’ filler so I guess cartridges work too. Tiny ‘gold’ disc at barrel end. Wide gold band on cap lip and long, flowing gold colored clip with ‘Pilot’ at the tip. It snaps shut with a loud click. I’m happy with it. Just a ‘yard sale’ find so no real $ invested. I put black ‘Diamine’ in it and it’s as happy as a little clam and puts down a clean, medium semi flex line that, with a little pressure shades to semi-medium broad and my hand writing’s not that good.
Hey, see you all at the flea market this weekend

14 10 2009
rroossinck

That sounds like one of the many versions of the Elite that Pilot produced between the late 50s and the mid 70s. Look for a piece detailing some of the more interesting Pilots from that era sometime soon. There was lots of great stuff that they put out, and the surviving pieces are typically excellent writers with really good looks, to boot!

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