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PenBBS 480 - Sunset in the Grass


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2019/08/09


480-68 Sunset

480-107 Verdure

The PenBBS 480 is a redesign of the 359 model introduced in March of 2018. The 349 was not a huge hit for PenBBS for a couple of reasons. It was close in size to the very successful PenBBS 308 and the metal section construction precluded it from being filled as eyedropper.

I always understood the 349 to be the upscale cousin to the 308 with design inspiration from the Sheaffer Balance.

 

PenBBS 349 - Image: Frankunderwater

I never got a 349 myself. The ball clip wasn't my cup of tea. I believe the 349 was the only PenBBS pen to sport that clip.

The PenBBS 480 does away with the metal section so the pen can be eyedroppered. It also features PenBBS's sword clip. Measurements for the 349 are hard to come by, but it looks like the 480 is a couple of mm shorter in length.

Eye candy to be sure

Every once in a while I decide to opt for some of PenBBS fancier acrylics. Sunset is a perennial favorite among PenBBS fans and tends to sell out quickly. Verdure is a newer color. So I got onto Taobao the day the pens went on sale and ordered both. Fortunately, there was a sale on that day. The 480-107 Verdure was under US$18 while the 480-68 Sunset was under US$24.

Both pens came with upturned F nibs as the only option. The Sunset pen came with a cool pen sleeve. You gotta love the tag-style PenBBS label inside the sleeve.

The pouch opens at the top of one side rather than the top.

Birds of a Feather

If the PenBBS 349 was similar to the 308, the 480 is even more so. The 480 is just bit a longer when capped, but essentially indistinguishable uncapped and posted. The barrel of the 480 slightly slimmer than the 308.

PenBBS 480
PenBBS 308
Length capped 146mm 144mm
Length uncapped 129.2mm 129.2mm
Length posted 163.3mm 163.3mm
Section diameter 10 - 11.5mm 10 - 11.5mm
Barrel diameter 13mm 13.2mm
Inked weight capped 20.45g 21.35g
Inked weight uncapped 11.63g 12.75g
Turns to uncap 1.6 1.8
A PenBBS 308-1 Cedar flanked by 480s

In terms of construction, both the cap and barrel of the 480 are turned from single blocks of resin - neither has a finial as a separate piece. To my eye, that adds something to the refined feel of the pen.

The cap band is the narrower style used in the original 349 and adopted for the 352. I like it as a design. The cap posts like a champ and goes on and off with no cross-threading.

The Sunset pen did have a little hitch in the final turn when closing the pen. Like a click right at the very end. I didn't pay much mind initially. The Verdure model was entirely smooth.

With top and bottom o-rings on the nib assembly and an o-ring on the section, the pen is ready for for eyedropper filling.

Nicely finished parts

Adventures in Nib Swapping

I was looking forward to replacing the PenBBS upturned F nib with a Moonman #6 nib on the Sunset version of this pen. I enjoyed reacquainting myself with the PenBBS mini-fude on the PenBBS 309 but wasn't planning on making a habit of that nib.

Everything looks OK from the outside

I ran into problems from the start.

The Moonman nib doesn't fit very securely in the PenBBS nib assembly. It wiggles. It seems like there's not enough contact between the feed and the nib.

Anyway, I charged forward. With the Moonman nib in the Sunset pen, the cap wouldn't close correctly. There was resistance during the final fraction of a turn. Something was going wrong inside the cap.

Uncapping the pen showed the nib badly skewed. I straightened the nib and tried again. Same story. Clearly there wasn't enough room in the cap.

I was ready to accept that the PenBBS 480 was not compatible with #6 nibs, but then saw a post in an online group from a person who had successfully swapped a #6 nib in their 480 Sunset! There was photographic evidence!

I tried again. This time with the same generic "Iridium Point Germany" #6 nib I'd seen in the post.

Still no go.

So I tried the Verdure model. I used a #6 nib I'd previously fit in my PenBBS 350.

To my surprise, it fit perfectly. The cap closed just as it should.

A born swapper. No issues here.

Switching the #6 nib assembly from the Verdure to the Sunset didn't work. Same problem. 

I put the #6 nib assembly back in the Verdure body and tried the cap from the Sunset. Bingo. So the problem was the Sunset cap.

In the end, I swapped a PenBBS M nib in the Sunset. That works well enough, though even the PenBBS nib is slightly displaced if I tighten the cap firmly. 

What I'd really like is a correct cap for my Sunset pen.

A Happy Eyedropper 

On the other hand, eyedroppering the pen works a treat.

I decided to try the Sunset model, mainly because the barrel isn't very translucent. I love it. To my surprise, a full barrel of ink as an eyedropper is still lighter than the pen when it uses a converter.

I don't think I'll eyedropper the green pen, but I like the idea of the Sunset pen with a barrel full of ink. It's like a secret superpower for the pen.

As a Writer

Nib rigamarole aside, the PenBBS 480 is a wonderful writer. I guess that was to be expected given how similar it is to the 308.

For fans of the 352, you could even argue that the 480 is even better in the hand than the 308 based on the slightly slimmer design.

The section is comfortable and long. The cap threads are unobtrusive and far enough up the barrel. The pen itself is big enough to write with unposted comfortably, but the cap posts perfectly for a larger pen feel while maintaining excellent balance.

Conclusions

There's a lot to like with this pen. I'm a big fan of the 308 so it's tough to contemplate the 480 displacing that pen, but the argument is there.

It's a wonderful writer, in the best tradition of PenBBS. The materials are excellent and the style is well considered. I do wish PenBBS had done better QC on my Sunset model. The cap disfunction is the most serious manufacturing anomaly I've run into with one of their pens.

It's good I like both the materials a great deal. If I had to pick, I might actually pick the green.

8.13 Update

How About the Moonman M100?

An FPN user asked about a comparison between the PenBBS 480 and the Moonman M100. A good question. Both pens are torpedo shaped.

In the hand, the Moonman 100 feels smaller. The numbers bear that out, except for barrel diameter and uncapped weight. The PenBBS 480 also posts more positively than the M100.

PenBBS 480
Moonman M100
Length capped 146mm 143mm
Length uncapped 129.2mm 123mm
Length posted 163.3mm 154mm
Section diameter 10 - 11.5mm 9.5-11.mm
Barrel diameter 13mm 13mm
Inked weight capped 20.45g 20.05g
Inked weight uncapped 11.63g 12.47g
Turns to uncap 1.6 1.5

 

 

8.22 Update

Sunset Cap Issue Resolved

After watching chrisrap52's YouTube review of this pen I decided to have another go at fixing the cap issue with my Sunset model. His shots of the interior of the cap lead me to think that perhaps the plastic liner that protects the screw might be able to go in further. Maybe it wasn't fully seated.

PenBBS 480-107SF Verdure Fountain Pen Review chrisrap52 — YouTube

So I got a handy slim wooden dowel (i.e., a blunted chopstick) and inserted one end in the cap and put the other on a hard surface. I pressed down on the top of the cap. Nothing much happened. I pressed a little harder. SNAP! Something happened! It sounded like the plastic liner had changed position. It sounded like it had indeed fully seated against the screw in the cap.

To test, I put the Sunset cap on the Verdure body (with a #6 nib swapped in). Low and behold, it fit! No issues! Complete success! The cap no longer interfere with the nib. The pen closes correctly.

So now I have a correct pair of PenBBS 480 pens. And, given that I was able to successfully swap in a Moonman #6 nib into my PenBBS 308 Cedar in a separate project, I can get back to my original idea of fitting a Moonman #6 nib into the Sunset pen. Cool beans.  


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Created at: 2019/08/09, updated at 2019/08/22.


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More often that not, my desk is my pocket. But everyday desk items doesn't have the same ring.




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Jetson
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2019/08/10

Just curious. Have you compared the PenBBS RM nib vs. The Bobby M nib? And if so which do you think is better?

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2019/08/12
Jetson, on 2019/08/10, said:
Just curious. Have you compared the PenBBS RM nib vs. The Bobby M nib? And if so which do you think is better?
I haven't tried Bobby's M nib but guess this is the one you mean.


The PenBBS M nib is a little springy. I find it's pretty easy to spread the tines. My working assumption is that generic #6 nibs are a little stiffer.

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