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I will respect your right to disagree with what I have to say about Pens and Pencils as long as you respect the fact that I am an Old Geezer.

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A Beauty Every One... And There's More At Home!

All Jammed Up?

If you need detailed instructions on how to clear a lead jam from a mechanical pencil then click this link, "All Jammed Up?" or the link in the pages header.


Please enjoy your stay at my humble blog. Please feel free to leave a comment about any article that you read
. Also please notice that there are four reactions at the bottom of each article. If you find any article funny, interesting, cool or helpful please so indicate. Thank you for visiting my blog.

The Old Geezer

Monday, July 28, 2014

OHTO Super Promecha PM-1500S vs OHTO Super Promecha PM-1500P

In 1929 The OHTO CO., LTD was born in Japan. The world of pens and pencils would be transformed with the inventions and innovations that the OHTO company would come up with over the years. Unfortunately all I can find out about the company is on their website. And almost all of the info is about pens! So the history lesson that I was going to give about the company has run a rye. Fortunately all I really need to know about the 2 pencils in this review is information that I can glean from the pencils themselves! Such is the nature of a review. So I hauled out my trusty instruments and did a few measurements (including a new one, by request, that will become a standard part of my stats from here on) and manipulated the pencils a bit, tearing them down as gar as I dare, chasing springs and small parts as they succumb to the force of gravity! Finding them on the floor of my computer room I retrieve them and proceed to photograph them, in part and as an entire, fully assembled pencil. Once happy with the photos that I have taken, I put the pencils back, safe and sound. into their place in my Pencil Box, and breath a sigh of relief! My babies are now snuggled safe along with all their brothers and sisters... Whoa! I need a more manly hobby!

Anyway...  At some unknown point in time, unknown to me that is, the OHTO company decided to make mechanical pencils.  Then one proud day for the OHTO company their first drafting pencil is born.  And the rest is history...  I just don't know exactly what that history is!  It's a good thing that the history of the OHTO company is not the subject of this post!...  Getting on with it...  In this post I will look, objectively, at both the old and the new Super Promechas form OHTO, comparing the two in order to see witch is the better pencil.  Just because it's the newest doesn't mean it's the best.  Sometimes great features are dropped from a product in the newer version making it, in my mind, a less useful product.

Let's see, where to start?  STATS! That's a good place to start from.  Stats have pulled my sorry typing fingers out of more than one blog...  Not really.  Stats are stats and are pretty dry.  But I can try to throw some water on them to see if I can make them a bit more palatable.  The PM-1500S measures 150 mm over all, from top of the push button to the tip of the lead sleeve (fully extended).  The PM-1500P beats that my a silly little millimeter at 151 mm long.  Hum...  interesting, but not earth shaking.  The grip of the PM-1500S measures 11 mm in diameter while the grip on the PM-1500P comes in at 10.5 mm.  That doesn't seem like much, but it looks and feels slimmer. Because of the beefier construction and materials used the PM-1500S it is the heavier of the two, weighing in at whopping 28.4 grans compared to the PM-1500Ps' 18.6 grams!  And it's balancing point (measured for the pencils' tip) is only 55 mm while the PM-1500Ps' balance point is 68.5 mm.  Now a new measurement that I am introducing with this comparison is the length from where the grip/tip join/meet to the tip of the pencil.  This is by request.  The info may help some people who write with a very low grip make a more informed decision when buying a pencil.  For the PM-1500S this distance is 19 mm and for the new kid on the block, 18.5 mm. 

Now, what in the world are you going to do with all this raw data?  Beats me!  But for me I'll try and use some of it to show how each pencil not only looks different form the other, but how it makes them perform.  With it's larger diameter grip, it's heavier weight and it's far forward balance, the PM-1500S feels like writing with a Mac truck Talk about throwing your weight around!  Now, for some people this is not only not a disadvantage, but an advantage.  There are those who like the feel of the weight in their hand.  They can and have mastered controlling the weight that this pencil has.  But if you have or want to write with a light touch, then this pencil will give you a work out over time.  The majority of it's weight being so close to the paper it tends to want to bury it's nose into it.  On the other had, the slimmer grip, lighter weight and better balance means that the PM-1500P is far easier to control and less tiring on the hand.  The pencil wants to glide across the paper with a lot less effort than its' elder brother.  In my opinion the PM-1500P is an easier pencil to use.

Now let us examine the physical differences between the two pencils.  The most noticeable difference is the 4 black "O"-rings around the PM-1500Ps' body above the lead increment adjustment wheel.  These appear to be there to aid in gripping the body when adjustments have to be maid in either the lead increment settings and the length of the lead sleeve exposure. The second most blatant difference is the tip of the PM-1500S has an adjustment wheel inside it!  This is used to set the amount of lead sleeve exposure!  Huh?  But that can be set simply by turning the grip until the desired amount of lead sleeve has been exposed!  This is probably why this unneeded feature was dropped on the next generation Super Promecha, the PM-1500P.

 The spring set up in the tip of the 2 pencils are different, of course.  The PM-1500S front end  has the tip with a spring loaded wheel that controls the amount of lead sleeve that is exposed.  right behind the small diameter spring that sets the tension for the wheel is the spring that sets the tension for the grip and it's setting of the amount of lead sleeve that is exposed.  So caution is needed if you ever have to remove the tip of the PM-1500S in order to clear a lead jam.  Remove the tip slowly and set the tip and springs aside as a unit as that is how they will come.  The lead exposure wheel and spring are a captive unit inside the body of the pencil and is not user serviceable. 

The Springs in the front end of the PM-1500P are one less that in the PM-1500S yet both are user accessible.  The first spring, the larger of the two, sets the tension for the amount of lead sleeve exposure and is in the same place as the on PM-1500S.  The second spring sets the tension for the amount of lead that is exposed and can be found under the lead sleeve and is slim enough to fit snuggly against the clutch assembly.

When removing the tips of the pencils, as you will have to do when removing a lead jam, first run the grip all the way down so that the leaf sleeve is folly hidden.  Then slowly unscrew the tip, minding the springs, and set the tip/springs aside in a safe place.  Then run the grip back up the pencil , exposing the lead sleeve.  Carefully unscrew the lead sleeve, minding any springs, setting the spring(s) aside in a safe place. 

To remove a lead jam, remove the push button, then remove the eraser with the clean out rod attached to it, replace the push button, (don't want the lead escaping) then lay the pencil aside.  Next, place the bottom of the lead sleeve on a solid surface and while holding it there with one hand use the COL attached to the eraser to  remove the lead jam by passing the COL all the way through the lead sleeve by inserting it into the lead sleeve at the tip.  Once the jam is clear replace the lead sleeve and tip, along with any associated springs.

All in all I is the bloggers opinion, based on the stats and facts, that the PM-1500P is a superior  pencil to the PM-1500S in every way, except one, the lead grade indicator. 

While they may look exactly alike the are not.  The PM-1500S, to me, has a much easier LGI to set than the PM-1500P.  Simply hold the knurled "ring" and loosen the push button top, set the lead designation, then tighten.  To set the LGI on the PM-1500S, You have to unscrew the PB top, rotate the LGI window to the correct setting, then hold the Push button to the window while screwing it in place w/out changing the setting!  

Bottom line? With the one minor exception the OHTO PM-15ooP Super Promecha is the superior over the OHTO PM-1500S Super Promecha.  It's a good thing as this is the current line of OHTO Super Promecha Drafting pencils!  Both old and new Super Promecha comes in 5 different led grade/sizes, 0.3 mm, 0.4 mm, 0.5 mm, o.7 mm and 0.9 mm sizes.

Many thanks for JetPen,com for the provision, over several years, of most of the PM-1500P series pencils in this post.  All the current PM-1500P series pencils are available as well as the entire line of OHTO Promecha and Super Promecha drafting pencils are currently available from our friends at Jetpens. com.  Please visit jetpens.com. for all your hard to find Japanese stationary items as well as many other fine Japanese items.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

rotring rapid PRO: Black vs Silver

Click to see scalable pic 
Everyone has their favorite.  I know that I do.  I'm sure that you do, too!  And everyone thinks that their choice is the best.  And they are right.  From their point of view that is.  We all have our reasons for choosing our favorite and each has it's own merit.  Sometimes our choice is not so much wrong as inappropriate.  Maybe it's the occasion, maybe it's the season, maybe simply it's just all wrong at the moment for whatever reason.  But when it comes to which rotring rapid Pro to choose, well there just isn't a "right" or "wrong" or a "good" or "bad" choice!  Whichever one you might choose you have made the "perfect" choice for you.

When it comes to elegance there are few colors (or lack thereof) that can top black. There is just something mysterious and alluring about the color black that always makes us look twice!  Especially something satin black, like the rotring rapid PRO in satin black. Pure black does not reflect light, it absorbs it.  But few things are pure black, like space.  Even so it's hard to see details of something black.  This is what makes a black object so alluring and mysterious.

Now when you want to be noticed right away, if you want to show some bling, then the metallic colors is the way to go and silver, white gold and platinum are very hard to beat when it comes to flash, sparkle and bling!  An object in a bright metal color stands out like nothing else can!  You can see it and make out details clean across the room!  Such a color is in-your-face and makes the bold statement, "I am here!  Deal with it!"  Unlike black, which sets in the background, awaiting to lure you in, Silver tones announce their intentions!

OK, so much for the romantic verbiage.  Lets get down to some hard facts about the rotring rapid PRO, shall we?  In either satin black of two tone silver this is a pencil that demands respect.   Made of solid brass then coated in either a black or silver finish (just what process is used I have been unable to discover nor can I find out just what the coating is.  Often metals are plated with another metal so the surface can be treated with a process that the underlying metal can not be treated with.  Often the coating is aluminum which can be anodized or heavy anodized a variety of different colors or treated in another fashion).  The satin black finish has an ever so slightly rougher texture to it than does the satin finish of the silver model.

However, to my delicate and sensitive finger tips, (stop laughing), the teeth on the grip of the silver model feel just a tad sharper than those on it's ebony brother.  This is probably due to the heavier coating on the black pencil.  Personally I prefer the sharper teeth as they afford me a better grip.  My finger tips may not be delicate but they are certainly not grizzled with calluses and they are still sensitive enough to feel the difference between the two grip surfaces.  This is one reason that I prefer the silver finish over the black.  Some of the others are it's over all look and the fact that minor scratches tend not to show up as well as they do on the black pencil.

One thing that I have noticed regardless of the color of the pencil and that's dirt in the grip's teeth.  I happen to think that knurling, also called cross hatching, is a very effective way to achieve a good gripping surface on the grip of a mechanical pencil.  But (there's always a but), it's also the worst surface to keep clean. 

The points, a natural product of the cross hatching, scrape the surface of the skin, pulling off dead skin every time the grip is touched.  This dead skin lodges in the grooves created by the Knurling process and build up.  The result is an ugly discolored grip!  While it's bad on a silver or gold tone grip, it's worse on a black or dark grey colored grip.  On the lighter pencils the discoloration dulls the luster of the metal and on the darker colors it lightens them up and makes the points look worn.

There are ways of cleaning this disgusting stuff out of the grooves of the grip.  One effective way is to brush it away using a short, stiff bristled brush and some alcohol.  From a hardware store purchase a good quality "acid" brush.  This is a natural fiber brush with bristles 1-1/2" long and has a sheet steel handle rolled into a tube.  A good quality brush can cost $1.00 or more.  The bristles are thin enough to get into the grooves of the grip but they are too long!  Carefully, using a good pair of fabric shears, cut the bristles down to 1/2" long.  A good straight cut is what you want.  From a drug store or department store purchase a bottle of 91% isopropyl  alcohol (rubbing alcohol).  70% is the most common strength for isopropyl alcohol is 71% so you may have to 91% it at a drug store. The higher the percentage the more alcohol and less water in the solution.  More is better!  You will also need a lint free cloth, like a man's cotton bandanna, washed several times to remove the sizing.  DO NOT use fabric softener when cleaning and drying the bandanna as the chemicals in the softener retard the bandanna's ability to absorb liquids.

Make sure that the newly made cleaning brush is clean and has not been used for anything else.  Pour a small amount of 91% isopropyl alcohol into a small disposable container.  Dip the cleaning brush in the alcohol and clean the brush using a paper towel.  Remove the grip from the pencil and set the rest of the pencil aside.  Hold the grip in a fold of the bandanna between thumb and forefinger of your opposite hand then dip the brush in the alcohol.  With a sweeping motion and traveling along one set of grooves, using medium pressure and turning the grip in the opposite direction, brush the alcohol into the grooves of the grip.   Be sure not to touch the metal of the pencil with the metal of the brush or you could scratch the finish!  You may have to use a light scrubbing  action to remove old, stubborn crud from the grip.  Use the bandanna to dry the grip.  Then check it to see if the grip is clean.  If not, repeat the procedure in the stubborn area until it's clean.  Be very careful not to over clean as this can damage the finish.

Cleaning my leave the finish on the grip clean, but dull.  To shine it up a tad, apply a liberal coating of Armor All on a cotton swab until the entire grip is coated in the milky white stuff.  Then use the bandanna to dry the grip by simply rolling it in the folds of the bandanna.  Do Not dry all the Armor All off the grip.  Allow some to dry.  This will give the metal a shine of satin look in some cases. Do not clean the grip too often as this will help erode the finish more quickly!

So, the choice is yours.  Elegant Black or Stunning Silver.  Either way you can't go wrong when picking a rotring rapid Pro as your instrument of expression!

Thanks ever so much to our friends at JetPens.com.com for the pencils used in this post.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Entry Level Pencil: The rotring 300, 0.3 mm Drafting Pencil

Every mechanical pencil maker has at least one entry level pencil.  Some may have more if they have different lines of pencils.  Most entry level pencils are much lower in cost than the next pencil in the series.  They are usually made of plastic with a metal tip and lead sleeve.  The pocket clip can be integral with the body or removable.  They most often lack features like a metal grip and a lead grade indicator.  Their internal mechanism is generally simple in design and made of plastic or polymers except for the clutch mechanism which is almost exclusively made of brass.  Construction can be a little less than desirable but generally they are well made as they represent the company and are often the only item from the company the user ever sees.

The rotring 300 is rotring's entry level pencil in the numbered series of pencils.  The next up is the 500, then the best known of the series, the 600 followed by the rapid PRO and then the top of the line 800.  At one time, when the pencils were made in Germany there was a 400 and a 700 in the series.  However these are no longer produced and fetch a pretty penny when found.  The rapid PRO, cost wise, fits in between the 600 and the 800.  This sort of fills the gap left by the out of production 700.  There does not appear that there is a replacement for the 400.

As far as entry level pencils (ELP) go the rotring 300 is a slightly above average pencil.  It features a design that is reminiscent of the 500 and 600 pencils.  While the later mentioned 500 and 600 pencils have removable metal grip areas the 300 does not.  The body is a single piece made of plastic, only the tip is removable and made of chromed brass and stainless steel.  The push button cap is also made of plastic while the removable pocket clip is made of chromed metal.  The pencil features a lead grade indicator which is something usually found on higher end pencils.  Unlike the 500, 3600 and 800 the lead grade indicator on the 300 is made of plastic, not metal.  There is no detent, but there is enough friction to hold the indicator on station during use.

The 300 breaks down into 4 major components: The main body which includes the pocket clip and the internal mechanism; the tip; the eraser and the cap or push button.  The internal mechanism at first appears to come out of the body tube but is stopped part way out.  The lead reservoir is transparent plastic while the clutch assembly is wrapped in white plastic and adhered to the lead reservoir.  There is no clean out rod stuck to the eraser.  The plastic cap fits snugly onto the lead reservoir covering the eraser.  The lead reservoir has a plug in the top of it with a small hole restricting the flow of lead into the reservoir to a single piece at a time. The eraser is a standard size white vinyl eraser available just about anywhere.  It is surrounded by a thin silver tone piece of sheet metal.

The exterior of the 300 is a semi gloss black with red figures on one of the six sides of the body, just under the pocket clip.  The grip area is cylindrical and molded to simulate knurling.  It is not very sharp but it works because of the pencils very light.  The pocket clip is removable, but I would never do so as it has to be pulled over the plastic LGI which is also molded to simulate knurling.  The pocket clip would, I'm afraid, ruin the LGI by scratching it or gouging it.  The tip is small with not a lot of gripping area.  Removing it the first time or later if it had been replaces to tightly, will require the assistance of a rubber jar opener.  When replacing it tighten it only enough to keep it on.

Now for some of that dry stuff, the stats.  The pencil weighs a mere 8.4 grams, making it a light weight indeed.  It is 141 mm long, has a diameter of 9 mm across the flats and has a balance point 72 mm from the tip of the pencil which gives it practically perfect balance.  2 strong presses of the cap expels enough lead to write with.  The lead reservoir has room for a full container of lead (12 pieces) but it will have to be fed in one piece at a time.  The mechanism  is fairly quite due in part to it's almost complete plastic construction.  Should you have a lead jam, common with 0.3 mm pencils, you'll have to supply your own clean out rod as the 400 does not come with one.

Being such a light pencil, many will find it an enjoyable experience to write with the 400.  I however find it a bit light for my taste.  I have to hold the pencil too tightly for extended use which hurts my hand.  Holding the pencil higher up at the point where the body meets the grip area helps but when using HB lead the print seems too light.  The use of grade B lead will help out also by making a darker impression with less pressure.

Overall I like the look of the 300 as it has the appearance of the beloved 600.  The pencil still come in 0.3 mm but for how long as the 600 comes only in 0.5 and 0.7 mm lead sizes.  While the extremely light weight of the 300 may be heaven for some users, but not for me.  I prefer the feel of the 600 because it has some heft to it..  That said, I think the rotring 300 is a dandy little entry level pencil that offers the user features found in some higher cost pencils without the higher price tag.  It's light weight makes it easy to carry in the breast pocket of a shirt without the need of a pocket protector.  So if you are in the market for a lightweight 0.3 mm drafting pencil that offers nice features then seriously consider the roting 300.

The rotring 300 and the entire numbered series of rotring drafting pencils can be seen and purchased from our friends at Jetpens.com.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

roting rapid PRO 0.5 mm Drafting Pencil in Black

Click on any photo to see a full sized image
Grace, elegance, sophistication, beauty, no, I am not talking about my lovey wife, this time, although she is all these things, I'm talking about a drafting pencil.  Namely the rotring rapid PRO 0.5 mm in Black.  Like my lovely wife, the rotring rapid Pro is all these things and more.

First introduced in 2010 it's price range puts it in between the rotring 600 and the rotring 800 drafting pencils, the spot once held by the now discontinued and rare rotring 700 drafting pencil.  So I am going to take a wild guess here, mind you it just that, and say that the rotring rapid PRO was designed to fill the gap between the rotring 600 and the rotring 800.  But I could be wrong.  At any rate it fits the gap well.

Now, why would I apply such words like grace, elegance, sophistication and beauty to a drafting pencil?  Because they fit.  The rotring rapid PRO is everything one would expect from the International known and loved rotring family of pencils and pens.  It has graceful lines, is n elegant design, has a sophisticated look and is a beauty to look at and use.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking!  You're thinking that because he likes drafting pencils and rotrings that he's going to give this one a glossy review!  Well, I could see why you would think that way, but you'd be wrong!  I'm going to give it a satiny review.  Get it?  Satiny review!  The pencil's a satin black...  (Sigh)  Why do I even bother?

OK, enough dry humor.  Lets get down to some hard facts....

 The Construction..  The rotring rapid PRO is of all metal construction on the exterior and a combination of metal and plastic on the interior.  The metals are aluminum plate over brass (my best guess) which is anodized a satin black.  The barrel is hexagonal while the grip assembly is round.  The top of the pencil where the pocket clip resides is round as is the push button.

The Look.  The finish is a satin black with a smooth texture on the barrel and a rough texture on the grip portion of the grip assembly.  This is due to tiny spiral cross hatching intended to provide the surface a good grip. A red plastic ring separates the grip assembly from the barrel.  This is part of the interior assembly. On the left side of the pencil, in gloss gray paint, are the rotring logo and the name of the pencil, "rapid PRO" and the lead, size, "0.5" (mm).  Embossed on the pocket clip is the company logo.  All in all a rather attractive pencil.

Point of Interest.  The "red ring" around the pencil is the companies trademark.  It literally means "red ring".  The original manufacturing company, based in Germany, changed the company name to "rotring" in the early stages of the company's life.  The company is now part of Newell Rubbermaid and the pencils are made in Japan.  To the best of my knowledge the quality of the German pencil has been upheld by the Japanese version.  As far as interchangeability is concerned, I haven't a clue.  If you know of anything different please write me and let me know.

 The stats.  The rotring rapid PRO is a solid, high end pencil worthy of the rotring name.  It is made of metal, probably a combination of brass and steel.  I'm certainly NOT going to take a carbide scribe to it to find out for sure, but most metal pencils have brass bodies as well as other parts made of brass while things like the pocket clip, lead sleeve and push button are made of steel.  Generally the interior is a combination of metal (brass and steel) and plastic of some type.  Such is the case with the rapid PRO.  Don't disdain plastic in a high end pencil as plastic can dampen sound and it makes far less noise than metal when surfaces contact one another, thus making for a quitter pencil.

The rotring rapid PRO is a heavyweight weighing in at 24.5 grams.  It's 144 mm with the sliding sleeve retracted and 148 mm long extended.  That gives the rapid PRO a 4 mm lead sleeve. the diameter is 8.5 mm across the flats and has a balance point of 73 mm from the extended point.  This means that the Rapid Pro's balance point is almost in the exact center of the pencil.  This makes for a better writing experience. 

The black satin color is probably the result of the brass being plated with a thin coating of Aluminum and then hard anodized.  Brass itself cannot be anodized.  Anodize is a process where Aluminum is oxidized.  Anodize is applied in layers and is harder than the under lying Aluminum.  During the process the anodize can be dyed or colored, thus a black pencil!

The push button on the rapid PRO is a bit unusual and there is no explanation, that I can read (I don't read Japanese) in the pamphlet that accompanies the pencil, in that the push button is a tube, not a cap!  The top is open.  What's up with that!?  I don't see the purpose in the open top, but the metal is rolled down towards the inside so there is no sharp edge, but a nice smooth edge to press against.  Under the push button is a tiny eraser (useless in my book, then any follower of this blog knows how I feel about such erasers).  The eraser hides the fact that instead of a wide mouth for the reservoir there is a metal cap with a small hole in it so that the lead has to be delivered one-at-a-time!  Much like the Mitsubishi Kuru Togas.  Again, what's up with that!?  If anybody knows the reasoning behind this, please let me know!

Now if you go pressing on the push button, and I know that you will, then you will get a surprise. The first depression lets down the hidden sliding sleeve (Ha!  Told you there was a surprise!) along with a small amount of lead.  A second depression releases enough lead to write/draw with.  The mechanism is not loud, while not being silent either.  Shall we say it's on the quiet side, but audible. The sliding sleeve is a true sliding sleeve, not just a hide-a-way sleeve.  This means as you write, the lead wears away but when it reaches the sleeve the sleeve moves back up into the pencil allowing the lead to still make a mark.  However this is more use when drawing with a straight edge than anything else for the pencil is held almost perpendicular to the paper when drafting or doing mechanical drawings.

4 mm sliding sleeve
Now You See Me, Now You Don't!

The rotring rapid PRO breaks down into 4 major components.  The grip/end cap/lead sleeve, the push button, the eraser (without a clean out rod) and the main body.  The pocket clip is removable, but should one do so I am afraid that the finish would be scratched.  To disassemble the pencil in order to remove a lead jam, simply remove the grip assembly, then using a suitable clean out rod, remove the jam and reassemble the pencil.  No need to remove the push button and eraser to gain access to the clean out rod because there is none (did I mention that the pencil doesn't come with a clean out rod already?).

Top: Grip/End Cap/Lead Sleeve
Bottom from left to right: Front Row, Push Button, Eraser.  Back Row:  The Main Body And Internal Works
Now besides the obvious grudge I have against pencil makers no longer putting clean out rods in thin lead pencils I have one other complaint about the pencil  But first a word from our sponsors... Please visit jetpens.com often and when you do you can mention my name, The Old Geezer!  And the name of my blog, Pens and Pencils!  It won't get you any discounts or anything but it might get and my blog some attention! (Just kidding,...).  The second, and more importantly is the grip part of the grip assembly.  The knurling is very fine and was intended to provide the end user with a good griping surface.  But for me the knurling is almost to fine.  Almost but not quite.  It's not that the pencil slips in my hand when I use it, it's just that I prefer the feel of a courser knurling!  To each his own. 
However, there is one thing that I have discovered.  With use the grooves tend to fill with exfoliated skin!  This turns the black to gray!  An"acid" brush, form a hardware store, with it's natural bristles shortened considerably, is good for cleaning this out of the grooves of the grip. A little bit of tap water used with the brush helps remove the dead skin and wash it away. The natural bristles are easy on the finish.  NEVER use any type of metal brush to do this as this would ruin the pencils finish!
Bottom line.  The rotring rapid Pro make a good writing pencil.  it's well balanced, has some heft to it which helps keep in in the hand and in the correct writing position..  The grip issue aside the pencil is a keeper.  It's a very well made pencil, made from quality materials with an attention to details.  The pencil is also suited for mechanical drawing but I personally feel that the rotring rapid Pro is worth the money.  One day I'll buy one in silver and I'll have a side by side comparison.
I hope that this review has been helpful, interesting, informative and that you, the reader, liked my since of humor.  If you didn't, then by all means don't email me a bout it!
Many thanks to our friends at jetpens.com for the pencil used in this review.  Please visit them for some of the finest pens, pencils and stationary items that Japan makes. 
Thank you.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Faber Castell TK-Metal 903 0.3 mm Drafting Pencil

Faber Castell is a name that I am familiar with in that I grew up with the
brand.  I mostly knew the company for it's erasers, especially the long white typewriter erasers with the blue plastic bristles on top.  I used these to clean the contacts on battery cases and circuit board contacts.  Sadly these are no longer available except on eBay and the like and were last made by Sanford Brands.  The few that I have left are probably all I'll ever find.  But I digress.  Faber Castell has long been a name that meant quality, being made in Germany, as are and were some of the finest drafting pencils in the world.  A visit to the Faber Castell web site reveals that there is only one the series of drafting pencils I am most familiar with, the ones that are dark green and gleaming bright metal, still made, the TK-Fine Varol L in 3.5mm.  So the one that I have is no longer available, the TK metal 903, as are a host of other such pencils.

When I first got into buying and collecting drafting pencils I neglected buying the Faber Castells in favor of the Japanese made pencils.  I guess I was thinking that the Faber Castells would be available for longer than they have been.  Many of the vintage pencils are selling for $150.00 and up!  I guess I had better get the TK-Fine Varlo L 3.5mm soon or I'm not going to get one!  All the others are out of my reach, financially.

I am always reluctant to write something bad about a pencil seeing as I am just one lone man in a sea of writers, would be writers, artist and those who wish they could draw and the like, all who would have an opinion on the pencils that I review.  You must remember that what I write, though I try to be as objective as possible, is always somewhat subjective.  I've only trashed 2 mechanical pencils on this blog, and I believe that they deserved it!  I write this in order to say this: I'm a little disappointed in my first Faber Castell drafting Pencil!  Why, you ask?  Well I'll get to that in a bit.  Right now some stats!

The TK-Metal 903 is approximately 144 mm long, 9 mm in diameter at it's widest point and weighs 16.7 grams making it a medium weight in the drafting pencil arena.  The balance point is approximately 70 mm from the tip of the pencil which gives it nearly perfect balance!   Now for the first disappointment.  The body of the pencil is not metal as the name would imply, but plastic! Now being plastic is not a crime by any means!  Some high end pencils have plastic bodies.  It's just that because of the name, TK-Metal 903, I expected an all metal pencil! 

Putting that aside, the green plastic is an attractive color, a British Racing Green I'd call it, even though it's of German make.  The body is round and smooth with the manufactures name and logo, the pencils designation and lead size being imprinted in a silver tone on the barrel below the chromed metal removable pocket clip. The push button and ring between it and the pocket clip are also metal as it the chromed ring and chromed grip and pencil tip.  The band between the ring and grip is plastic.

The grip is the area of the second disappointment.  Being metal does not assure that a grip will have grip, thought it usually does as it is often knurled and not bright chrome!  One day mechanical pencil manufactures will learn that slick chrome grips, while they may look pretty, are not a good gripping surface!  The TK Metal 903's grip is unique in that it has 18 narrow evenly spaced rings cut into it.  It itself not a good gripping surface.  The rings need to be wider and a little deeper to provide a better gripping surface.  Between the narrow rings are a number of micro cut rings almost to fine to see with the naked eye. (A magnifying lens will reveal them).  The idea is that the micro cut rings will provide a sort of micro prickly surface that will act as a good griping surface!  If you have baby soft skin it might.  but for the average person I do not feel that it does.

The take down.  WARNING!  The end of the pencil disassembles into 4 parts!  None of then except the end cap/lead sleeve are attached in any way!  To remove the tip in order to remove a lead jam for instance it is best to grasp the pencil body ABOVE the metal ring with one hand.  Then with the other LOOSEN the end cap (it's the smooth bright part below the ringed grip) then STOP!  Now grip the grip along with the rest of the pencil in the palm of the hand and continue to remove the end cap.  The remaining 3 pieces are now very loose and should be carefully removed and stored in a safe place such as a small container.  Once the lead jam has been taken care of reassemble the pencil in reverse order.  However don't go looking for the lead clean out rod under the eraser as there is none.  You'll have to provide your own.  But removing the end cap/push button and eraser will allow you access to the cavernous lead reservoir.

Click picture to enlarge

The writing experience and the rest of the story.  The pencil only needs 2 clicks to advance enough lead to write with.  The clicks are smooth and not overly loud.  The balance of the pencil is off set by the fact that I have to either hold the pencil above the long grip area or grip the pencil overly tight in order for my fingers not to slide down the grip.  Over gripping cause my hand to tire easy, so I've never had the opportunity to use the TK-Metal 903 for extended periods.

My conclusion.  Well, I am afraid that you, the reader, are on your own on this one.  Because of the grip situation and the way the end components are assembled, I can not in all honesty recommend this pencil for the average user.  It's a shame for the pencil has some fine qualities, but not enough, for me at least, to overcome the one major flaw, the lack of grip in the grip.  If you do buy a Faber Castell TK-Metal 903 ( or any of the other sizes it comes in) or if you have one, please drop me an email, theoldgeezer@live.com and let me know your experiences.

Bottom line is that they all can't be winners.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

We Have A winner!

We have a winner of the JetPens and Pens and Pencils Giveaway!  Congratulations to Jenny Mabee of Milton, MA for being the winner of a brand new Platinum Pro Use MSD-1500A 0.3 mm drafting pencil!  Jenny has been contacted by JetPens and will receive her new pencil directly from JetPens via snail mail!  So from all of us here at Pens and Pencils, and I am sure form JetPens as well, congratulations Jenny on winning your new Platinum Pro Use MSD-1500A 0.3 mm drafting pencil!  We hope that you will enjoy using it for years to come!

Remember the Platinum Pro Use MSD-1500 A, as well as all the Platinum Pro Use models in lead sizes 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm, are available from our friends at JetPens.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

JetPens & Pens and Pencils Giveaway


Geezer: Jet-Do and Jet-Da!  What are you two pixies doing here!?  Aren't you a long way from home?
Jet-Do: Hello, Geezer!  We're here to help you give away a Platinum Pro Use MSD-1500A 0.3 mm drafting pencil just like the one you reviewed recently!
Geezer: Get out!  Really?
Jet-Da: Really, Geezer!  We're going to give away a Platinum Pro Use MSD-1500A to one of your readers!  The Giveaway is only open to readers of your blog, no one else can enter!
Geezer: Cool!  How does the Giveaway work?
Jet-Do: It's easy, Geezer.  All your readers have to do is click on the link below and follow the instructions on signing up for the JetPens news letter.  They have to sign up to receive the news letter in order to enter.  All you need is a valid e-mail address to enter.
Geezer:  That's great!  How long do they have and how will they get their pencil if they win?
Jet-Da: The contest is open from Friday, October the 4th at 10:00 AM through Friday, October the 11th at noon when it will close!
Jet-Do: The winner will be picked at random and contacted by e-mail for a mailing address so a brand new pencil can be mailed to them directly from JetPens!  And you get to announce the winner on your blog!
Geezer:  Guys!  That's just great!  Wow!  I'm stoked (eh, do they still say "stoked" any more?)  And Let me guess, the "link" is like, right below me!?
Jet-Da: Oh, Geezer you're so clever.
Geezer: Thanks, Jet-Da.  And thanks for the 2 of you stopping by and helping me set up this Giveaway and for giving away such a beautiful pencil to my readers!
So faithful readers here is your chance to win a brand new Platinum Pro Use MSD-1500A 0.3 mm drafting pencil just like the one I reviewed recently (the previous post) directly from JetPens!  Help spread the word about the Giveaway by telling all your friends to read my review of the Platinum Pro Use MSD-1500A 0.3 mm drafting pencil and then to enter the Giveaway!  It's free and it's easy!  "My the pen force be with you" (JetPens).
Jet-Do and Jet-Da are trade marks of and are the sole property of JetPens.com.  Used here without permission (I sure hope they don't mind or I'm in deep do-do).