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The Old Geezer

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ohto Promate PM-703

When I first saw the Ohto Promate I knew that I just had to have one.  It has classic lines and to me looks like what a drafting pencil should look like.  Long, straight, knurled grip, knurled lead grade indicator, straight tube push button and a nearly squared off tip with a long tube then the 4 mm lead sleeve.  Classic.  Just classic.  But it's not unique in either looks or design.  It has a round barrel while some others it may resemble have hexagon barrels.  However it does have "sisters" in the world of drafting pencils.  While I do not have a Berol RapiDesign 0.3 mm pencil, it has a very similar appearance only the LGI is between the grip and the barrel.

However there is one pencil that could be the Promate's twin, aside from not having a rubber coated plastic barrel.  Instead the Alvin Draft/Matic DM03 has a plastic body.  Otherwise they look identical, as shown by the side-by-side presentation in my post, Two Of a Kind.  They even share limited interchangeability of parts!  If it were not for a few internal differences the 2 pencils could have been produced in the same factory, even on the same machinery.  But it's the differences that make the Ohto Promate it's own pencil and not a "clone".

The Ohto Promate id constructed of a plastic barrel covered in rubber, which happens to be black.  There is a bright metal nut/spacer in the tube that the knurled chromed metal grip/tip screws to.  The inner lead reservoir is a clear plastic and the clutch mechanism is housed in a white translucent plastic.  There is a small spring that supplies the return force to the clutch mechanism that fits between the white housing and the nut spacer which has a short tube that fits inside the grip/tip.  The lead reservoir does not come free of the pencil because the tube the eraser fits in is metal and fits over the lead reservoir. As the reservoir is pulled out the eraser holder hits the part of the nut/spacer inside the body tube.  The push button cap is removed to show the eraser.  The eraser is removed so the reservoir can be filled.  Beneath the eraser is a clean-out-rod.

The appearance of the Promate is very attractive.  Like I wrote above, very classic in design - the contrast of the flat black rubber coated barrel and the silver colored imprinting on the barrel as well as all the chrome plated exterior metal parts reminds me of a Black Tie Social Event, to which the Ohto Promate PM-703 would look right at home.

The pencil is 143 mm long and is 8 mm wide at the widest point, the spacer.  The grip is 7mm wide and 31 mm long (excluding the tip and lead sleeve).  The tip (including the lead sleeve) is 10 mm long.  The balance point is 65 mm from the tip of the pencil.  The pencil weighs 17.3 grams.  For me the diameter of the pencil, is good.  Not to chunky and not to skinny.  Just right.  The weight is good.  It's a light weight pencil which helps make the writing experience that much more pleasant.  The balance is below center making it top heavy, but even if I turn the pencil up side down I can not feel a difference in balance.  The sharp knurling and the rubberized barrel work in concert to help me hold the pencil with minimal effort making the writing experience that much more pleasant.  Add in HB grade lead and a good smooth writing surface and writing with the Ohto Promate feel almost effortless.  I like this as I tend to have a heavy hand and for over 45 years I have been trying to train myself to have a light touch.  Writing with 0.3 mm lead in a lightweight helps me to write with a light touch.

For those of you who like such details, it only takes 2 "clicks" to get enough lead out to write with.  Thereafter a single "click" will advance enough lead as you continue to write or draw.  With so little lead exposed there is very little "wobble" of the lead in the lead sleeve so lead breakage is held to a minimum. 

The 2 drawbacks I can see with the pencil concerns the LGI at the top of the pencil.  In bright light the silver on black letters and numerals are hard to see due to glare.  They are better viewed in a shade or low light or indirect light.  The chromed LGI housing is extremely loose.  Just handling the pencil can cause the LGI to move enough to move off the initial setting.  There doesn't seem to be any way of tightening the housing, so it's just something I have to get used to.

Despite the LGI problems, which are really minor, the Ohto Promate PM-703 is a very good example of a classic drafting pencil.  However the Ohto Promate is no longer made, so if you want one you will have to do an Internet search to find one.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The rOtring 500 0.3 mm in Black

The rOting 500 is the middle pencil between the 300 and the 600.  While all 3 pencils share a similar appearance the 500 looks more like the 600 than the 300.  In fact side by side there is only the designation on the side of the pencils and the shininess of the 500's plastic barrel that gives it away.  That and the fact that the lettering on the LGI in the top end of the pencil is silver, on the 600 it's white and the rings between the red one are silver, not black.  But at a glance or to the uninitiated it looks like a 600.

But when you take a look at the insides of each pencil they appear nothing alike.  The 500 breaks down into 5 major components.  The metal end cap/grip/lead sleeve.  The body, which contains the 3 jawed clutch and ratcheting mechanism as well as the lead reservoir .  And finally the eraser and the push button.  The 600 breaks down into 5 major components as well, but very differently. The breaks down into the end cap/grip/lead sleeve.  When you unscrew the end cap the 3-jawed clutch, ratcheting mechanism, lead reservoir, eraser and push button all follow.  The interior must be unscrewed from the end cap/grip/lead sleeve next.  The eraser and push button are the only remaining parts to  remove.

The interior of the 500 is an integral part of the body.  This is a simple design as the body is modeled to accept the mechanism.  The down side to this type of design is that repairers can not be made to the interior of the mechanism.  This is construction that I would have expected of the 300 as it is such a basic, inexpensive way to make a mechanical pencil.  The 300 has a removable tip as the grip is made into the body.  But it has a mechanism and lead reservoir that are piratically removable.  Only the larger diameter metal tube on the end of the clear plastic reservoir prevents it from being fully removed.  But I am sure that this can be overcome if repairs were needed.

The 600 is made entirely different than either the 300 or 500.   It has both a metal body and metal tip/grip/lead sleeve.  The 3-jawed clutch and the rest of the mechanism is metal surrounded by a white plastic fixture..  Even the lead reservoir is metal.  But the 600 is a top of the line pencil and high quality construction should be expected.  So since the 500 is a more expensive pencil than the 300 I would expect a better construction method.   Even if it is less expensive than the 600 I still ecpected something closer to the 600's construction.

I will say this for the 500's construction. The design does give the pencil strength. Often the weak point of a plastic barreled drafting pencil is where the grip meets the body. Too much pressure during usage can over time stress this area to the point where it cracks and often breaks off completely. Most often than not this can not be repaired satisfactorily. The 500's design helps prevent this by being stronger at the joint because of the fact the mechanism is housed there.

Top to Bottom:  The 600, the 300 and the 500

All that aside the rOting 500 is still a good pencil and a good choice for someone who wants a an intermediate level pencil.  So on that note I offer you the stats.  The over all length is 141 mm.  The body diameter is 7.5 mm across the flats and 8 mm across the points.  The grip is 7.5 mm in diameter and does not taper.  The grip length is 30 mm and the tip length is 12 mm.  The balance point is 68 mm from the tip making the 500 a tiny bit top heavy.  The total weight is 13.4 grams.  Aside from the lead sleeve and the 2 silver rings above and below the red ring at the LGI the pencil is entirely black with red lettering.  The LGI is silver letters on a black background.  The removable pocket clip has the rOting logo stamped into the upper portion.  the closed push button has the lead size stamped on it's top.  All in all a good looking light weight 0.3 mm drafting/writing pencil.

Some people prefer a pencil of a specific weight and balance point.  But I seem to like a variety of weights and balance points.  So I get along with a lot of different pencils.  But the 500 is an almost happy median.   It's not to skinny nor too fat.  It's light weight which makes it easy to use all day.  It doesn't try and go it's own way as some pencils do.  The top heaviness of the 500 is not felt due, I think, to it's light weight.  The pencil is not delicate either.  0.3 mm pencils have a tendency to break lead.   This is caused by the lead not fitting the lead sleeve tight enough.  The lead tends to wobble inside the lead sleeve so when in turning the pencil as you write the point of the lead catches the paper and digs in.  The lead has too much room to move around so it flexes.  When it flexes, it breaks.  With the lead is held tight in the lead sleeve (and not over extended) it has not room to flex and so it tends not to break.  This is a quality of every rOtring that I have as well as another high quality pencil, the German and Japanese versions of the Koh-I-Noor Rapidomatic.  This comes as no surprise as rOtring once owned Koh-I-Noor.

Last words:  The rOtring 500 is a well made, decent drafting pencil.  It is a medium weight class drafting pencil.  It has good balance and does not fight me when I write with it.  It's diameter is, for me, just at the low end of what fits well in my hand.  Both the plastic barrel and nicely knurled grip are good gripping surfaces.  The pencil rests well in my fat little hands* and I can easily turn it as I write.  The pocket clip is removable, so people who like to remove them from their pencils so the end of the clip doesn't dig into the web of their hand when the pencil is turned can do so.  I collect the pencils I blog about so don't remove mine.

The 500 only comes in black.  Maybe one day they will make them in silver, but I doubt it.  The 500 is a handsome pencil in black, and black is slimming, but the problem that I have with black pencils is that they show up every piece of bust and lint that falls on them.  Worse, the knurled metal grips catch the loose skin of the fingers, as well as dirt, dust and grime, and quickly begin to look grey.  Using a soft bristled  tooth brush and some soap and water can remove this but repeatedly doing this wears off the finish, points first.  Then it looks even worse.  This is why I like silver pencils or at least silver metal grips on colored plastic bodies.

So if you want a nice drafting pencil for under $20.00 for the 0.3 mm and under $15.00 for the 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm models then the rOtring 500 just may be the pencil that you are looking for.

The rOtring 500 is no longer made in 0.3 mm, just why I'm not sure, but while supplies last you can fined them on-line at jetpens.com.

(* I have slightly fatish hands, but this is not why I asterisked the word hands.  The web of a persons hand can be measured from the crease at the base of the index finger to the base of the thumb.  People like me who have a short web are said to have "small hands" while those whose web is longer are said to have "big hands".  The placement on the thumb on the side of the hand determines the length of the hands web.  My fingers are actually slightly longer than my lovely wife's, but because her thumb is a lot further down the side of her hand, closer to her wist, the web of her hand is longer.  The length of the web of the hand does have an effect on how you hold a pencil and where the pocket clip hits your hand, if at all.  So please bear this is in mind when considering the purchase of any pencil or pen.)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pentel Graph 1000 for Pro vs. Pentel Graph 1000 CS in 0.3 mm

Some years back I thought that I saw a pencil that looked just like a black Pentel Graph sell for over $100.00.  It was in fact a Pentel.  But it was so long ago that I can't find the thing on the Net.  I was a bit surprised a short while later when I saw the Pentel Graph 1000 for Pro at jetpens.com . I really liked the look of the pencil so eventually I bought one in 0.3 mm, my favorite lead size.

Apparently the pencil is extremely popular because Pentel began producing Limited Editions of the pencil in colors.  Originally the series was produced in limited lead sizes. Unfortunately I was unable at the time to purchase one.  Later they came out with another Limited Edition series, and again another Limited Edition series.  I don't know the order in which they came, but there seems to have been a series in metallic colors with black accents, a series in pastel colors with chrome accents and a series of primary colors with chrome accents called the X Stein series.  The latest Limited Edition series is the CS or Creator's Style series.  This series comes in 3 colors for the 0.5 mm lead size and 2 colors for the 0.3 mm lead size.

The only difference between any of these pencils is their appearance.  And the fact that not every series was made in all 5 lead sizes.  So why make so may different configurations of the same pencil?  Because we are a consumer world and we buy pretty things, even when we don't need them.  Like me.  I would like to have one 0.3 mm pencil from each series.  I can find some of them on eBay and when funds come available, I shall purchase them (if they are still available) and I shall blog about them.

OK, enough philosophy.  I am getting of my soap box and getting down to what you came here to read.  My review of the Pentel Graph 1000 for Pro and the Pentel Graph 1000 CS, in 0.3 mm.  Both pencils share the same stats, of course.  They are made by the same methods and in the same factory with the same tools.  The only real differences are cosmetic.  So lets talk about the way they look, shall we?

The Pentel Graph 1000 for Pro, in all lead sizes, is all black with 3 exceptions.  The push button end cap is a black cylinder covering colored lead grade indicator which has a narrow ring of color at the base and on the top there is a plug of color with the lead size stamped in white.  The color indicator for the 0.3 mm for the Pro is brown.   The LGI lettering is white against the brown.  The third exception is of course the stainless steel lead sleeve.  The lettering on the pencil is a light gray giving the pencil a ghostly appearance.

The pushbuttons of the Pro and CS

 The bush button of the CS is the same as the cap for the Pro only the secondary color is white for the 0.3 mm  The lettering is black.  The lettering on the body is silver, standing out more than the Pro.
Both pencils have black upper bodies, but the CS looks a little shinier.  The Pro has a black grip with 18 black obround rubber inserts.  The CS has a satin chrome grip with the same 18 rubber inserts. The tip of the Pro is black with the lead sleeve of stainless steel.  The tip of the CS is bright chrome with a stainless steel lead sleeve.  The pocket clip of the Pro is black, the pocket clip on the CS is bright chrome.  Both pencils are attractive in there own way.  The Pro looks stealthy while the CS looks like it's going to a party.
Now for the stats.  The stats are the same for both pencils.  They are 147 mm long over all.  The balance point is 73 mm from the tip of the pencils making the pencils perfectly balanced.They each weigh 11 grams making them light weights.  The body diameter is 7.5 mm and the grip diameter of each pencil is 8 mm.  The grips measure 37 mm in length and the tip (including the lead sleeve) measures 21 mm.
The Graph 1000 is easily broken down.
The break down of the pencils is pretty much straight forward.  Unscrew the tip, and slide off the grip, remove the push button and remove the eraser and you're done.  Though I did not remove the erasers fro the pic, there is a clean out rod stuck into the eraser.  For some reason the CS is made of white plastic on the interior while the Pro is made of black.  In order to change the lead grade the push button, which is also the lead grade indicator, the push button has to be removed so you can hold the long chrome neck as you rotate the outer shell of the LGI.  There re detents in the LGI which lock the window in place preventing accidental changing of the LGI.
How do they perform?  That's a good question!  Remember this before I answer the question.  The stats are hard facts.  They are objective, I just make the measurements and report the data.  But the rest of the review is subjective.  It is based on my experiences with the pencils and my conclusions  will not be the definitive truth about the pencils.  It will be my opinion of the pencils based on my experiences with them and my past experiences with mechanical pencils in general.  So having once again to step down off my soap box, here are my thoughts about my experiences with the pencils.
I like these pencils, though they do have a few short comings.  I like the light weight feel of them because they feel almost weightless.  However their slider diameter make them a little harder to hold than slightly fatter pencils.  Also the silicone inserts are a little slippery feeling.  When I removed the insert from the CS model I had an easier time holding the pencil as the holes made a better gripping surface.  The Pro model was easier to hold than the CS model but I found that with just a little tightening of my grip solved the problem.  I did find the pencils easy to control and write with as they are so well balanced.  0.3 mm pencils can easily break lead but because there seems to be very little if any wobble of the lead in the lead sleeve in both pencils they seemed to feel like writing with a 0.5 mm pencil.  The lead seems to flow across the paper.  Of course I only had a small amount of lead showing.  This helps any pencil when it comes to lead breakage.  Also the lead in the Pro seems softer than the lead in the CS.  It may be grade B.  Grade HB is in the CS.
In conclusion, I will say that the Pentel Graph 1000 for Pro and the CS are winners, even if they do a quirk or 2...  or is it me that has the quirks?   Anyway you can find the Pentel Graph 1000 for Pro and the Pentel Graph 1000 CS on-line at jetpens.com.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Uni-Ball Kuru Toga 0.5 mm Starter Set

Several years ago the Mitsubishi Pencil Company introduced the first Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil under the Uni-ball brand name. It was what has come to be known as the Standard Model.  Since the Standard Model was introduced the company has introduced the High Grade and later the Roulette as well as a host of other models and colors in 3 lead sizes.  The pencils revolutionary "Kuru Toga" or Auto Rotation Engine has made the Kuru Toga line of pencils very popular across the world. But up until a couple of years ago this line of pencils was only available in the US from online retailers.
I first saw this pencil at my local Wal Mart last year yet the copyright date for the pencil is 2013.  So it's my guess that the pencil has been out since then.  So I'm running par for the course by blogging about a pencil that everyone else has already blogged about.  What can I say?  I'm an old Geezer after all.  And Old Geezers are often slow do to our advanced years.  Anyway as you can see by the pic below that the pencil is offered in America by the Sanford Brands division of Newell Rubbermaid.  Sanford Brands is the soul distributor of Mitsubishi Uni and Uni-Ball products in North America.

The pencil in the Starter Set is different than the Standard Model that can be had on-line, though this too can be found on-line.  The pencil itself differs only in it's look. However the Starter Set comes with a pack of 12 leads designed just for the Kuru Toga pencils and 2 erasers.  This set is (was)* exclusive to the US.  For a better (and much quicker) description of the entire Kuru Toga Line, follow this link.

The Starters Set also is unique in price.  The Standard model alone sells for around $7.00 to $8.00 depending on where you buy it. The Starter Set sells for between $5.00 and $6.00, again depending on where you buy it.  For me this is by far the best value in the Kuru Toga line in either the 0.5 mm version, like mine, or the 0.7 mm version.  For those of you who use the erasers that come with mechanical pencils the 2 extra erasers are a nice bonus.  As far as the leads is concerned, well I can not speak to how good it is because I have no real way of testing pencils leads.  But the package has this to read...

So you are on your own when it comes to your choice of lead to use.  But I've always had success with Pentel's Super Polymer leads.  It would be interesting to know who Mitsubishi considers the maker of "... the leading lead".
If you discount the rubber ring at the metal tip of the pencil then the grip diameter is approximately 9 mm.  Count the rubber ring and it's 10 mm.  Your choice.  The rest of the pencil is approximately 9 mm in diameter.  The pencil is approximately 141 mm long and weighs approximately 9.6 grams.  The entire tip of the pencil measures approximately 22 mm and the grip...  Well if I use the silver ring on the Standard Model as the end of the grip them the grip is approximately 28 mm long.  If I use the back of the first ring on the grip then it is approximately 15 mm long.  Take your pick.  The balance point is approximately 71 mm from the tip of the pencil.  Yawn, so much for the stats.
So as far as the pencil itself goes, well it is really nothing more than a Standard Model with a little less paint on it.  But as far as the Starter Set as a package goes, well this one is a real winner in my book.  Why?  Because of the great value the Starter Set offers.  You get a Standard Model Kuru Toga, one of the best mechanical pencils ever invented, in either 0.5 mm or 0.7 mm, the 2 most popular lead sizes, a 12 pack of Uni's best lead and a couple of spare erasers for less than the price of a slightly more fancy Standard Model.  What's not to like?

You can purchase the Starter set from Wal Mart and probably from other retail outlets as well as on line at jetpens.com where you can purchase the entire line of Uni Kuru Toka pencils.

On a personal note, I use a Roulette model in 0.5 mm as my every day pencil and could not be happier with my choice.

Notes: * Before the invention of the Internet and the World Wide Web I can see the usefulness of making a product aimed at a specific group or country.  And to some degree it still has merit.  Retail brick and mortar stores have to have something to sell after all.  But when some "sold only in (you name the country)" items can be bought from online retailers based in many different countries, the idea makes less and less since every day.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pentel GraphGear 1000, "The Hunchback" in 0.3mm

For the longest time I avoided buying this pencil because I did not like the look of the pocket clip. It reminds me of Quasimodo, the hunchback in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Not that hunchbacks can't be beautiful people. They can. I even have a figment that's a hunchback and he's, eh, bad example. Let's just say that it looked odd to me and let it go at that. (Man! You've got to be "politically correct" about everything now-a-days or you'll offend somebody somewhere!). I thought that it was made as it is so that the user could clip the pencil to a notebook full of paper or onto a jeans pocket, you know, something thick. While it can do this it is not the pocket clips main purpose. More about that later.

One thing I noticed about the Pentel GraphGear 1000 it that the exterior is metal while the interior is mostly plastic. Most pencils that are called "all-metal" are made from brass because brass is easy to machine. It is also strong enough to be used in the making of a drafting pencil. The actual lead sleeve is usually made of stainless steel because a brass tube that small would easily crush and bend. It is also softer thus prone to wear. However the Pentel GraphGear 1000s exterior is made of steel or stainless steel! I'm starting to be impressed.

The advantage of using steel/stainless steel in a drafting pencils construction is that steel is stronger than brass or aluminum. It takes a lot more pressure to bend a small tube of steel/stainless steel than it does of brass or aluminum. You can also make the skin of a pencil thinner. The trade off may be that the pencil is now heavier than one made of brass or aluminum, but not always. The GraphGear 1000 weighs 20.6 grams approximately while a rotring 600, which is made almost entirely of brass, weighs 22.7 grams approximately. The weight savings is achieved by using a plastic inner core for most of the pencil.

Steel and some stainless steels are magnetic. About the only metal parts of the GraphGear 1000 that are not magnetic are the push button, the lead reservoir (interior) and the lead sleeve (interior and exterior). These parts are most likely stainless steel with a low or no carbon content. The pocket clip is high carbon steel chrome plated. All the steel/stainless steel parts have been coated or plated to achieve the desired finish and for durability. I'm even more impressed now.

Now, about that pocket clip... The pencil is designed so that the lead sleeve is retractable. The obvious benefit of this is that the 4.5mm lead sleeve won't be poking you in the chest and/or ruining your good shirts (dried blood is hard to get out of some fabrics). The designers of the GraphGear 1000 decided to spring load the lead reservoir, of which the lead sleeve is attached, wrap a big coil spring around it and use the spring loaded pocket clip as a stop and release button.

There are 2 cutouts in the body of the pencil, near the top. The pocket clip has a leaf spring attached to it which extends down into the top cutout. The end is attached to a short metal tube which is held in place by the stepped ring just above the pocket clip. The other end of the pocket clip rests on a short plastic tube surrounding the metal lead reservoir. As the push button atop the pencil is pressed the entire lead reservoir is moved down pushing the leas sleeve out the tip of the pencil. When the end of the pocket clip slips over the end of the short plastic tube it locks the lead reservoir in place, with the lead sleeve extended. Further presses of the push button simply extend more lead.

Parts of the Pentel GraphGear 1000
To release the lead reservoir and retract the lead sleeve all one does is press the top of the pocket clip towards the pencil.  The plastic tube inside is released and the lead sleeve is retracted with a snap.  Not a bad way to extend and hide the lead sleeve.  It is certainly quicker than the twist/screw system of the Ohto Super Promechas.  The weak point in this design is the leaf spring in the top of the pocket clip.  Heavy usage of the pencil over a long, long, long time could cause the leaf spring to fail.  But I don't think that if I were a young man of 20 again and I used the pencil every day for long periods I think that now that I am a man of advanced years the pencil would still be going strong.

So, what are some of the other features of this nice pencil?  Well, there is a lead grade indicator window in the grip.  To set the desired lead grade (as long as the grade of lead you are using is 2H, H, HB, B or 2B, the full range of available lead grades on the circumference of the pencil) all you have to do is to hold the pencil at the colored band between the grip and the body.  Next loosen the tip just a little.  Now turn the grip until the window is showing the lead grade of choice.  Then hold the pencil as before and tighten the tip.  Simple, no?  The grip features some almost useless knurling, useless because it has very little grip.  The silicone ovals serve a little better of a grip surface.  In my opinion the knurling needs to be a bit sharper and the silicone ovals larger and perhaps protrude a little more.  I'm not so impressed with the grip.

The overall appearance of the pencil is pleasing, except for the pocket clip.  The lettering on the barrel and push button is crisp and clean.  However the lettering on the lead grade indicator is not.  It appears smudged.  The satin tip and grainy barrel are a nice contrast with the light catching knurling being in between.  The pocket clip, stepped collar and the push button are bright chrome.  I would say that it's a pretty pencil except for that hunchback appearance.

One long push of the push button extends the lead sleeve.  Two more presses extend enough lead to use.  The mechanism is noisy, the initial press of the push button and the release of the lead sleeve are especially loud and the pressing of the push button to extend lead is very clanky and mechanical sounding.

The GraphGear 1000 brakes down further than most drafting pencils.  But I do not recommend that the average user strip the pencil as far as it will go as putting it back together could result is breakage.  However in order to clear a lead jam you will have to take off the tip as well as the lead sleeve.  To do this, initially hold the pencil as described in the section on adjusting the lead grade indicator.  Once the tip is loose hold the body only as the grip now turns freely.  Once the tip and grip have been removed remove the lead sleeve by unscrewing it.  Surprisingly Pentel has included a clean out rod attached to the underside of the eraser.  It is accessed by removing the push button.  Remember to replace the push button before tiling up the pencil or you will spill out the lead.  Once the lead jam has been cleared (see the section of my blog on how to clear a lead jam) reassemble the pencil.

Breakdown of the GraphGear 1000 for Claring a Lead Jam
Stats.  Where would we be without the stats?  The pencil is 148.5 mm extended, 149 mm retracted. The balance point is 79 mm from the end of the lead sleeve (I did not measure it retracted as what difference does it make?).  The grip is 43.5 mm in length and the end of the pencil is 20.5 mm extended and 16 mm retracted.  The body is 8.5 mm across and the grip 9.5 mm across.  As stated before the weight is 20.6 grams (all measurements are approximate).  It's a nice medium length, middle weight pencil.

My experience writing with the pencil is less than satisfactory.  The reason being is that I could not get a good grip on the thing.  As I wrote my hand actually slipped down the grip!  I only purchased this pencil because I received a gift certificate from JetPens.com, the best Internet store for the purchase of Japanese stationary and art items, including drafting and mechanical pencils.  It is a very rare thing for me to write that while the Pentel GrafGear 1000 has some nice features they do not out weigh, in my opinion, the negatives the pencil has.  So I can not recommend the purchase of this particular pencil.

But hey, it's only my opinion and what do I know?...

This and many other fine Japanese stationary items can be found at jetpens.com.  Why not pay them a visit right now?

Thanks for reading my blog.

Editors note:  I have seen where the style of pocket clip as featured on my pencil has broken.  The new style has a hinge system in its place.  If you purchase one of these in any lead sixe be sure it has the newer hinge style pocket clip.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pentel Orenz

From time to time I look at the Mechanical Pencils at jetpens.com just for fun.  I guess that I should look at them more often because this is where I found the Pentel Orenz mechanical pencil.  I almost missed this on...  Ah who am I kidding!  I did miss this one as it seems to have been around a couple of years.  But better late than never I say.

The Orenz is a very handsome little pencil is Sky Blue.  I'm fond of blue, so I really don't mind that when I went to purchase mine they were all out of black.  But color does not make a pencil good or bad, but it does go a long way towards out perception of a pencil, or any other object for that matter.  If we don't like the color then we may not like the object.  So our perception of an object, based on color, shape, size, what have you, goes a long way towards how we feel or think about an object.  I like the Blue.  A business person probably would like the black one, a doctor might like the white one, a young lady, perhaps the pink one and a monkey might go bananas for the yellow one.  But a pencil by another color will write the same.

An writing is just what the Orenz was designed to do.  Pentel took a page from their PG2 drafting pencil and went one better.  Like the PG2 the Orenz is made in 0.2 mm!  That's right!  0.2 mm!  The PG2 is a partial sliding sleeve design.  The lead sleeve slides about 1/2 way up the length of the sleeve then stops.  The sleeve of the Orenz will slide all the way to the tip of the pencil, though I don't recommend that you do that very often.  While the PG2 uses a more ore less conventional system for the lead sleeve the Orenz incorporates a new, innovative system.  Pentel calls it the "Lead Support System".  It's a very simple system.  So simple I wonder why no one has come out with something like it before!

The heart of the "Lead Support System" is a unique weighted lead sleeve/lead retainer system.  The lead sleeve is attached to a brass cone that holds the lead in place and keeps it from falling straight through the pencil.  This device rides the lead and maintains it's position on the lead inside the pencil.  When the push button atop the pencil is pressed the lead is once more extended.  However because the cone is struck as the clutch is pressed down and opened, the cone pulls the lead down and holds the lead inside it in place so when the lead sleeve is extended the lead stays flush with the tip of the lead sleeve.  As you write the lead is used up and the lead sleeve/cone rides up the lead inside the pencil.  When the pushbutton is pressed the cone maintains the length of lead within the sleeve so no lead protrudes beyond the tip of the lead sleeve.

The pencil comes preloaded with lead and is ready to use with a single push of the button.  As you write the lead sleeve actually rides the edge of the paper and because of this it feels a tiny bit scratchy at certain angles.  As the lead is used up the free floating lead sleeve rides back up into the pencil cone.  A single press of the push button extends the lead sleeve and the lead inside it with out pushing the lead beyond the end of the lead sleeve so writing can continue.  As long as the system is feed a continues stream of lead there is no reason to ever press the push button more than once. When at the end of the writing experience you wish to retire the pencil for the day all you have to do to reset the pencil is to press the push button and hold it then press the tip of the lead sleeve against a hard surface, or use your finger, while simultaneously releasing the bush button.  This will drive the lead sleeve up into the pencil once more and will reset the system.

If you ever have to refill the pencil with lead or when a piece of lead is so short that the system no longer holds onto it or for whatever reason that you have to restart the system you will have to press the bush button enough time to expose lead out the end of the lead sleeve.  Next just follow the above instructions on retracting the lead sleeve.  When you need to use the pencil, simply press the push button once and begin writing.

Figure 1
Figure 1 (above) shows the relationship of the tip, lead sleeve and the clutch (housed in the main body).  Figure 2 (below) shows the lead sleeve extended (top) and retracted bottom).

Figure 2
Now for some of those "boring" stats.  The Orenz weighs 10.1 grams, making it a light weight.  It is 142 mm retracted and 145 mm extended, making it of average length.  The grip length is 43 mm long and the tip is 18 mm long.  The balance point is 71 mm from the tip of the lead sleeve making it almost perfectly balanced. The diameter of the grip area is 9.5 mm at the pencil and 8 mm at the tip. 
The over all look of the pencil is attractive with it's stainless steel tip, chrome pocket clip and push button cap contrasting nicely with the sky blue of the one piece body.  As far as how the Orenz writes, well, my copy feels a little scratchy from time to time, depending on the angle I held the pencil.  The closer I approached the vertical the scratchier it felt.  So I took a bit of 4 zero steel wool to the tip, genteelly, which seems to have helped  However I DO NOT recommend that if your Orenz is scratchy that you put steel wool, or any abrasive, to the delicate tip unless you know exactly what you are doing.
The Pentel Orenz is available in Black, White, Sky Blue, Yellow and Pink and are available from our friends at jetpens.com
The Pentel Orenz used in this review us solely or in part made possible by a gift certificate a from our friends at jetpens.com

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Pentel Sharp Kerry and the Mad Mathematician

Miss Tussy Pink
Click to enlarge...  On second thought, don't...
Miss Tussy!  Well I haven't seen you in some time!  You sure are looking good, Tussy!, Eh, but where are my manners?  Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Tussy Pink!
"Oh, Geezer!  You sharp tongued fox you!  I've missed you!"
Well, Tussy, I've missed you, and Tommy and Zedragon the Zefoid? 
How are they, by the way? 
"Oh, they are doing just fine, Geezer.  Tommy and I are officially engaged!"
Well this is wonderful news!  When's the wedding?
"Oh, we've not set a date just yet."
Well, will I be invited to the wedding?
"Of course, Geezer!  I couldn't get married if you aren't there!  I want you to give me away!"
Tussy!  I'm honored!  I'd be happy to give you away!
"Thank you, Geezer!  You know how much you mean to me!"
No problem, Tussy.  By the way, to what do I owe the honor of this visit?  Oh!  I see!  You have the Mad Mathematician's gift to me, the Pentel Sharp Kerry!  I guess this means that you want me to give my review of the pencil?
"Geezer, you are so astute."
Tussy, you flatter me.

Miss Tussy Pink and my
Pentel Sharp Kerry
Click to enlarge

"By the way, Geezer, who's this Mad Mathematician you refer to?"
Oh, that would be Tim McLarnan.
He's some crazy pencil-loving math professor form Indiana who read most of my blog in one sitting!  He e-mailed me one day asking if I'd do a review of the Pentel Sharp Kerry.  When I informed him that I didn't own one he was gracious enough to send me one of his!  Nice guy, huh?
"He sounds like a very nice man indeed, Geezer!  I'll bet he and I could crunch some numbers together!"
TUSSY!  This is a G-rated blog,
remember?  Besides, didn't you just tell me that you and Tommy Turquoise just got engaged? 

"I'm so sorry, Geezer!  I don't know what came over me!...  I... I feel a little woozy!" 
Are you alright, Tussy?
"Yes, yes!...  Perhaps I'll go and lie down in my room."
Well, alright, Tussy.  I'll check in on you later.
"Thank you, Geezer, but there's really no need.  Tommy will be by shortly."
Alright, Tussy.  Take care.
"Thank you, Geezer.  I surely will.  Bye, for now."
Goodbye, Tussy.
Boy, she can be a handful sometime!  But at least she did bring me the Pentel Sharp Kerry that MathProfMan sent me, (don't ask).  So, I guess it's about time that I did my review...
It's rare that I get a request to review a certain item but when I do it is always to do a review of an item the requester already has!  Such is the case with the Pentel Sharp Kerry.  I get an e-mail form this guy who has a couple of requests concerning the stats that I provide.  Then he proceeds to school me in a grammar lesson!  And yes, I did need it!  By the professional tone of his e-mail I figured him for at the least an English teacher.  Nope.  He's a Math Professor from Indiana.  He must be a speed reader because at the very beginning of his e-mail he confesses to reading most of my entire blog in one night!  Wow!  Now that's a compliment!
He had several requests the most significant being that he wanted me to do a review of the Pentel Sharp Kerry.  As I told Tussy I told him that I didn't have one so he graciously decided to send me one of his!  But not just any Sharp Kerry, but one that has historical significance.  According to Tim, "...I read somewhere that they’re called Sharp Kerry because (a) “sharp” just means mechanical pencil in Japanese, and (b) the black ones were the original design, and they reminded the designer of the black Kerry cattle he had seen in Ireland.  So I’m sending you the most historically significant kind".  Cool!  So for all you Pentel Sharp Kerry fans, especially the Mad Mathematician, her is my review of the Pentel Sharp Kerry, finally.
I am a fan of the slender drafting pencils in 0.3 mm and 0.4 mm.  They are a bit scratchy when used, but that's the price one pays for super fine lines.  So normally I shy away from the "mechanical" pencil with few exceptions, the Mitsubishi/Uni Kuru Toga line of autorotation mechanical pencils being the most outstanding.  So under normal circumstances I would never would have considered  a Pentel Sharp Kerry as one that I would enjoy using.  That was a mistake.
Pentel Sharp Kerry
Click to enlarge

The Pentel Sharp Kerry is a very unique pencil with unique features.  At first one might easily mistake the Sharp Kerry for an elegant fountain pen or other fine pen because of it's design.  It is one of only 2 pencils, that I am aware of (which doesn't say much), that has to be "posted" in order to work properly!  That is the cap is removed from the pencil and posted on the back in order for the pencil's ratchet mechanism to function properly and for the pencil to be balanced and fit comfortably in the hand.
The pencil has 2 push buttons.  An inner and an outie, eh, outer.  The inner push button connects directly to the lead reservoir/clutch system.  When the pencil is not posted you can push the button to advance lead but it's sort of clumsy due to the pencils short length.  When posted, as intended by the designers, the outer, self contained, push button activates the inner push button.  This is quite the innovation, considering.  But apparently either not a very popular one, like the Shaker, or Pentel holds the patented on this and almost all variations.  Either way the Pentel Kerry stands out as a misunderstood and under appreciated mechanical pencil.  For the design lends itself to one very unique characteristic.  It can easily help prevent ovaling. 
Ovaling is where the lead from any pencil (except the Kuru Toga) goes from making a sharp, rounded mark to a wide oval one.  This is due to how we, as humans, write (chimps may write differently, but I don't know any chips so I can't ask).  We hold out writing instruments at an angle to the paper as opposed to perpendicular.  We don't normally twist the pencil in our hand, as some in the drafting/architectural  field are taught, but rather grasp it firmly in hand in a static position and grind away until our writing is illegible due to the fact that we write very small and our pencil now writes very big! 
By turning the pencil a quarter turn every few line of text we can keep the lead from a mechanical pencil from ovaling-out.  But turning a normal mechanical/drafting pencil a quarter turn means that at least one in 4 turns the pocket clip is in an awkward, even painful position pressed up against the web of the hand.  But what I have discovered with the Sharp Kerry is that in order to turn it one quarter turn is to turn the pencil down into my fist and turn the cap in either direction (hopefully the same direction every time) before returning it to a writing position.  With use this can become almost automatic.
I'll bet you didn't know that, MathProfMan!
Well, I've managed to fill up more space than my usual post and given you all very little useful information.  So with out further ado...  The Stats!
The Pentel Sharp Kerry is 123 mm long, closed, 131 mm long posted.  The diameter at the center is 11 mm tapering to 9.5 mm at the end of the grip.  The grip is 24 mm long and the tip, including lead sleeve, is 19 mm long.  The main body of the pencil is 104.5 mm long.  The diameter of the cap is 11.5 mm at the widest tapering to 7mm at the push button and is 64 mm long.  The pencil weighs 21.6 grams and the balance point, posted, is 63.5 mm from the pencil tip, making the balance of the pencil a scooch.bottom heavy, but hey, can you feel a scooch?
I was quite pleasantly surprised at the Sharp Kerry.  It is well balanced, making it easy to maneuver, the plastic grip, which is unadorned, is a good grip surface and the width of the 0.5 mm led make the pencil very smooth writer.  It's a little on the short side for my personal tastes but that doesn't seem to be a problem, the length of the pencil, bot my personal taste.  The pencil nestles in my hand well and is a genuine pleasure to write with.  Because the lead sleeve is only 2 mm long it would be hard pressed to use as a drafting pencil, but well suited for freehand drawing.
The pencil is not at all unattractive, except maybe the inner push button.  The indented rings make the inner push button look odd, but they serve a very good purpose.  They are needed as grips in order to get the push button off in order to fill the lead reservoir with lead.  Under the outer push button is the obligatory eraser, no clean out rod though (so what else is new?).  The glass black finish of the
Pentel Sharp Kerry Disassembled
Click to enlarge
plastic parts contrast well with the bright chrome of the metal parts for a very pleasing appearance.  The only slight mar to this is the satin finish on the tip of the pencil,  Why did they not just keep the look going with a bright finish on the tip is a question to ask Pentel (if you could actually contact someone who knew).  To me it would have made for a nice looking pencil...  Yes, Tussy, it would
have been prettier.
The Sharp Kerry is unusual in another way.  It easily, with minimal effort, breaks down into 9 separate components.  From left to right, back row, of the pic above they are the: tip with 4 mm lead sleeve; grip; connector; upper body; cap with attached pocket clip; eraser, which resides under the outer cap in the cap; outer push button cap; inner push button cap; and in the front row the all metal lead reservoir and ratcheting clutch system.  The Sharp Kerry follows the Sharp Series (P203 - P209) in that the reservoir and clutch are one unit with a captive spring.  An over sized hex just above the clutch aligns and keeps the clutch system spinning so that the tip can be screwed onto the clutch thus holding the system together..  However there is no interchangeability of this unit between the 2 pencils.
Unlike a lot of mechanical pencils of it's price range, and some above it, the reservoir and mechanism are made entirely (as far as I could see) of metal.  The lead reservoir is a bright chrome and substantial enough to withstand the rigors of years and years of lead advancement.  It's also big enough to hold a dozen leads.  However don't put any more than 1/2 a dozen leads in the pencil, this pencil, or any other mechanical pencil.  The reason being that to many leads can prevent one from aligning with the mouth of the feed tube inside the reservoir.  To access the reservoir the pencil must be un-posted.  The rings in the cap allow you to use a fingernail to pull up on it thus removing it.  To access the eraser (Please don't!  Buy a good stick style eraser like the Uni E-Knock, from jetpens.com), the pencil has to be posted so the inner push button can push the outer one up enough to grasp.  The fake here is that since eraser does not fit in the reservoir, the pencil can be turned upside down without lead spilling out!
To advance enough lead to write with, once the clutch has been fed, simply push down on the push button twice.  Now you're ready to write (or draw, or doodle, or whatever you do with a mechanical pencil)....  What I mean by, "once the clutch has been fed...", is once lead has been advanced to the point of exiting the pencil it is pushed back flush with the end of the lead sleeve with the finger tip or table top or the back of your little brother's head.  The clutch has now been fed and the end of the lead rests at the tip of the lead sleeve.  From this position each press of the push button to advance the lead should advance an equal amount,  So now you can tell how many "clicks" it will take to produce enough lead to write with from a cold start.
The Pentel Sharp Kerry comes in only 2 lead sizes, 0,7 mm and 0.5 mm, two of the most popular lead sizes for general use.  I would prefer to have had one in 0.3 mm but they don't make them in 0.3 mm.  In a way that's a good thing.  0.3 mm pencils tend to be scratchy due to the fine lead.  The lead also breaks easily.  But the 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm diameter leads are the most popular sizes for general writing and freehand drawing.  When I wrote with the pencil I found it to be a very smooth and well behaved pencil.  By well behaved I mean I did not have to push or drag it across the paper.  It is so well balanced and light it is a down right pleasure to write with!  If it came in any finer a lead it would not perform quite as well.  The sharp pointed 0.3 mm lead would drag and scratch, unless a soft grade of lead was used.  But anything softer than grade HB (closest to a #2 pencil lead) would smudge easily.
Bottom line?  Well I'll have to eat crow and admit that I really like the Pentel Sharp Kerry in 0.5 mm HB.  It feels good in the hand, it's easy to write with, delivering a smooth performance.  I especially like the way that I can turn it a quarter turn with one hand in order to keep the lead sharp.  It's an elegant looking pencil as well as being a solidly, well built and designed.  Believe it or not, the pencil has been around for 43 years!  Amazing, isn't it?

Well, if you want one of your own you'll have to find your own crazy pencil-loving Math Professor to con one out of, eh, I mean to manipulate into giving you one.... NO!  No!  That's not what I meant at all, eh, gee whiz, I've really gone and put my foot in it now...

Seriously, you can find plenty of Pentel Sharp Kerry's at our friends at jetpens.com in 6 different colors and 2 lead sizes (not all colors available in both lead sizes).

Well, I hope that you, the reader, has enjoyed my "review" of the Mad Mathematician's (now my) Pentel Sharp Kerry.  Please feel free to leave a comment, check a box and/or e-mail me and tell me what you thought of both the pencil and my review.

To the left shows the Sharp Kerry about to be posted and then posted.
This additional information is at the request of one of my readers.  It shows the relationship of the 2 pushbuttons.  As you can see the outer pushbutton is not fully extended until the cap is posted, making firm contact with the inner pushbutton.  I hope that this clarifies the relationship between the 2 pushbuttons.

Thank you for reading my humble blog.