TWSBI Vac Mini Review

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Here it is. Finally after using it everyday for the last week, I’m psyched to review the new TWSBI Vac Mini. This was my first foray into TWSBI’s mini series of pens. I’ve checked them out time and time again, yet just couldn’t get on board when I already had my 580Al. This purchase came from the me wanting a small, affordable fountain pen that could fit in my pocket as an EDC pen. I was making do all these days with my Pilot VP, but I decided that I needed a separate pen, as it was little too bulky. Enter the Vac Mini. Now in all honesty, I really haven’t kept up with TWSBI’s product announcements, and the Vac Mini came out of the blue for me. I saw the Goulet Pens newsletter advertising their fresh stock and decided to give it a whirl. Best decision I’ve made in 2016 as of now.

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Very minimal branding. The company name and the model name is in grey around the cap. The demonstrator body allows a view of the ink sloshing around in the barrel. Super fun but also super distracting in class :P. The ink capacity is very good compared to most of my other pens. Nearly 2 mL. The filling system was fun to use and works well. Initially, I was stuck with only 2/3 of the barrel full until I found Brian Goulet’s tutorial on how to get a nice fill with the Vac 700. Seeing as the filling system is the same, it worked out very well.

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As seen in the photo above, the tipping for the medium is very generous, resulting in a bold line that is slightly bigger than the standard Lamy medium. I personally love it, as I’m partial to slightly larger nib sizes. Straight out of the box it was buttery smooth with amazing consistency to boot. I feel that it’s the perfect balance when I have nearly 2 mL of ink to go through. It’s not too wet, but it’s not skimping either. I anticipate many weeks until a refill is needed.

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One thing that really bothers me, although it may be minor, is the dots of ink perpetually lining the slit. Now I get really OCD about that and no matter how I tried, it never truly went away. Minimizing it to what you see above is the most I could do.

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The collar used to secure the nib and feed is metal. This is the new standard, as the plastic collars of past models had a tendency to crack. It definitely feels secure when I twist it to change the nib.

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One of my favorite features on the Vac Mini. The threading on the back allows for a really secure post. It’s like recapping the pen on the back, ensuring that it won’t slip no matter what happens. In addition, the length after twisting the small amount of the cap, is perfect for someone with big hands, like me.

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Despite all the good things I have to say about this pen, it has one flaw that I just couldn’t deal with. When capped, if jostled with a little bit of force, ink tends to leak out of the pen and into the cap. I found out when I twisted off the cap and was greeted by an inky mess spilling onto my fingers and the page of my notebook. The grip was thoroughly covered in ink, resulting in a frustrating situation where I had to go to the bathroom to clean up. This happened a total of 3 times over the past week. If TWSBI could develop their version of Platinum’s slip seal and add it to this pen, it would be pretty much perfect in my book.

Overall, I would recommend the TWSBI Vac Mini to anyone who wants a portable, affordable and comfortable pen. I’m going to be using this as my EDC pen, so it’s home is going to be my pants pocket for hours on end. Don’t underestimate it’s size though, it’ll perform just as well as any of it’s bigger cousins. It’s a must add to any fountain pen collection.

UPDATE:

Hello everyone. After my review 3 days ago, I faced a problem I had yet to discover. For some reason, the flow is being disrupted occasionally. I was writing down notes in history class yesterday, about to start on my 3rd page when all of a sudden… POOF! No ink flow at whatsoever. Confused as to why, I attempted to resurrect the nib by light tapping it down on the paper. Those light taps escalated into slightly frustrated stronger ones. After about 3 minutes of trying, I gave up, retrieved my backup form the case and resumed my note taking. After a couple of hours I had to attend another class, in between, I had a lot of time to ascertain what exactly was happening. In my numerous attempts at resurrection, I managed to spray a decent amount of ink onto my fingers. I managed to get it working again after nearly an hour of trying. Needless to say this did not leave me happy. I don’t know whether it was a problem with the ink, feed, or the nib. All I know is, I was not happy for a long time afterwards. Is this a problem others are facing? Comment below if this has happened to you.

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16 thoughts on “TWSBI Vac Mini Review

  1. The ink coming out that much into the cap – enough that it ran onto your hands (x3) is a big fail for me. TWSBI makes such great looking pens but there’s always a significant, frustrating caveat. My Eco after a month won’t stay posted any more. Arghh, TWSBI. Why can’t you do proper product testing finally? Or up the standards?

    • Well, truth be told, I found out that it mainly happen when the pen is fully filled. That’s why I leave a small air bubble now to prevent it from leaking out of the feed. Sucks to hear you Eco broke on you :(. Like I mentioned in the post, TWSBI needs their own slip seal system to make their pens perfect, as I faced this issue quite a few times with my 580 too.

  2. Very cool pen! I’m thinking of picking one up for myself as it has very nice line and you clearly have beautiful handwriting.

    Excellent review. Thanks! I’m going to share.

  3. Hi Anchit, thanks for your review: I ordered one of these from Singapore, just before Christmas. It took almost 3 weeks to reach me, but arrived earlier this week. So far I’m loving it – though I haven’t had much time to play with my pens this week.

    So far I have only one gripe, which a few other reviewers seem to share, namely that getting the cap onto the back of the barrel can be a little tricky: if you’re not careful, it can easily cross-thread. Then again, I find the pen just long enough that it doesn’t *need* to be posted (unlike the TWSBI Diamond Mini, which is just a tad shorter).

    I’m surprised to hear about your leaking problems – especially since the shutoff valve is supposed to prevent ink leakage! Are you tightening the blind cap before putting the pen into your bag or pocket?

    Good to see someone else who’s as excited about this pen as I am – hope you’re able to find a solution to the leakage issue!

      • Seems to be a pretty common problem – SBREBrown’s review (just up on YouTube) give the pen a real caning over this issue. It’s not a real problem for me, though – as long as I take it carefully, the cap screws on to the back of the pen without any hassles.

  4. Pingback: Weekly INKage - January 16, 2016 - The Penman Post

  5. i do not have the leakage problem.Technically it could depend of athmospheric pressure.If you are writing ,valve opened,when atmospheric pressure is high, close the valve after writing,the system will stay under “high” pressure.If later you open the valve, and athmosperic pressure is lower,there is an exchange of pressure.If you hold the pen in the nib down position then ink will pe pushed downwards.If you open the valve in nib upwards position then probably more air than ink will go upwards, hence less spill.I think writing in an airplane would show this more clearly.Opening the valve in the upright position would probably be not a great problem.

    • That’s why I now make sure to twist slightly harder when closing. As for the position, I never keep any of my pens in a downward position anyway. It seems to be helping, but just the right amount of jostling can cause the same specks all over the inside cap. Thanks for commenting. πŸ™‚

  6. I don’t own one myself, but I’m getting close to buying one.

    I wonder if the reason you ran out of ink after 2 pages of writing is because you didn’t open the valve at the back? As far as I know, with the valve closed, you can write as long as there is ink in the feed, but the rest of the “tank” is closed off to the feed until you open the valve at the back to allow air and inkflow.

    • I was trying to figure that out for the longest time. I found that the reason it wasn’t writing properly was indeed because I wasn’t opening the valve at the back. It was only after I saw a couple of posts on FPN that was trying to troubleshoot the issue that I found the solution. It’s a great pen and it’s been seeing a lot of use so far for me. Thanks for commenting! πŸ™‚

  7. I had exactly the same issue as you, and literally found out that the valve at the back has to stay open for the ink flow not to be stopped. After several attempts at opening different parts of the pen and staining my hands fully with ink, it seems I have cracked the issue…or we both have. I’m looking forward to getting excited about this pen. Until today, I was beginning to think I had made a terrible investment!

    • Yeah. I just wish TWSBI had found out about this problem earlier. If it can’t be fixed, they should at least have mentioned somewhere on their website or in the manual that the valve needed to stay open. I haven’t had any ink flow issues for a while now and generally I’m happy with it. I’ve been using it for my note taking on the rare occasions I don’t have my Pilot VP near me. So far, it’s behaved well not that I make sure to keep the valve open. Inky fingers annoy me when they’re preventable, so I understand your frustration on that front. Thanks for commenting! πŸ™‚

  8. Hey i want to ask if the CDC mni is it easy to clean?? And can it be use witj a permanent ink like noodlers or platinum carbon?

    • It does depend on how you clean it. If you choose to fill it up and expel the water, it will take a while. Last time, it took me about 5 minutes of constant flushing to be confident in a proper cleaning. For the next few times I cleaned it, I used the wrench to open up the back, shoved a bulb syringe through and flushed it thoroughly. It took only 3 solid flushings for a thorough cleaning.

      To answer your second question, you can, of course use permanent pigment/carbon based inks in the Vac Mini. The hard part would be when cleaning, you would have to pull out the feed and give it a proper rinsing. Another negative aspect of using such inks is them drying up and clogging the feed. I left my Vac Mini filled up with some Sailor Kiwa-Guro in my desk for a couple weeks without use and it dried up a little bit. Other than that, if you would be consistently using it, I see no problem with using such inks. Thanks for commenting! πŸ™‚ Hope I answered your question.

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