Welcome To My Thoughts On Pens And Pencils

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.

My Obsession

My Obsession
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.



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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

Friday, July 10, 2015

Pentel Graph PMG vs. Pentel Graph PMG Import

Pentel Graph PMG (rear) and Pentel Graph PMG Import (front)

I've had a few bloggers ask if they could submit a review of something and I've always told them OK but I'd have to screen it first and if I found anything objectionable that I'd either edit the review or not post it.  I have yet to have a published review from another blogger.  But here's a twist, George, from the blog, "My Supply Room" doesn't want me to publish one of his posts, He wants me to review one of his pencils that he wants reviewed!  You see George doesn't review anything.  He just has a lot of pens and pencils (and I do mean a lot) which he shares with the world by taking pictures of his treasures and posting them.

For some reason George, an old geezer like me, likes my blog and wants me to do a review of his Pentel Graph PMG "Import" Pencil..  Just why Pentel decided to "Import" (actually export) a pencil to non-Asian population I haven't a clue.  It may have been an attempt to test the waters in the US and European markets, or one of a thousand different reasons.

You would expect that 2 pencils that look so much alike as these two do, to be clones of one another.  However this is not the case with these 2 PMG pencils.  At a quick glance one would think that they are indeed the same pencil.  However there are some subtle differences.  For instance the non-import model (mine) is 5 mm longer than George's pencil.  The imprinting is different.  On mine it reads "0.3mm PMG".  On George's pencil it reads "0.3m/m".  The concentric rings that make up the grip area are finer on my pencil than on George's.  Finally the most obvious difference is the lead grade indicator.  On George's pencil it is gold colored and a bit thicker than mine, which is orange.  Both have the same pocket clip.  Point of note here, George's PMG came in a gift box with the pocket clip unattached.  Mine came as is in a disposable plastic sheath.



Internally they differ considerably.  They disassemble identically until one gets to the disassembled pencil. Mine (top in the above pic. which for the sake of my fingers and my sanity I will refer to from now on as the PMG and George's as the Import) has a white plastic insert where the import has a black one.  Interesting point here is that the lead reservoir and clutch mechanism is captured in the Import but in the PMG it slides almost completely out before stopping short.  The PMG has a self contained clutch that does not need any other part of the pencil in order to operate.  The Import however requires the tip be in place before it will release any lead.  The actual push button has a long clean out rod attached to it.  In the PMG there is a half circle in the rod close to the plastic push button.  On the Import the COR is straight.

The 4 remaining parts are the tip, the LGI cover, the top cap and the point shield.  The point shields are the only parts that are identical.  The tips are internally different which is why they will not work when swapped.  The LGI cover on the Import is thicker than the one on the PMG and is a different color.  Due to the difference in threads the top caps do not interchange.  These differences can be explained by the fact that these 2 pencils could have been built at different times with a design change later bringing them both up to the same specs.  Or they were purposely designed to be different for some unknown reason.  Whichever it is I prefer the PMG simply because I believe it is the newer of the 2 designs.

Stats.  Everyone wants the stats.  What would the world of pens and pencils be without the stats?...  Do you know how laborious and time consuming it is to collect the stats?...  Ah, it's nothing, really!  I've either made or bought all the equipment I need to collect them.  And though a little boring it's relatively painless and doesn't take long...  "What are you doing?..."  I'm just telling my readers that it's easy to take the stats...  "You're giving away part of your status as a reviewer!  The readers are supposed to think that a review is hard to do..."  Eh, why?  And who are you anyway...  "I'm, eh, well that doesn't matter..."  And neither do you!  So, goodbye!...  "But!..."  I said GOODBYE!

I tell you, the nerve of some figments...  The PMG is 146 mm long as opposed to the Imports 141 mm.  Both bodies are 8 mm in diameter and both grip diameters taper from 8 mm to 7 mm.  The tips are also the same length at 19 mm.  However the grip lengths differ: the PMG measures 25 mm while the Import measures 23.5 mm.  The balance point of the Import is 68 mm to the tip, making the Import a shade top heavy.  The PMG measured 73 mm, exactly in the pencils middle!  So the balance is neutral.  A rare thing indeed.  The Import weights 11.6 grams, making it the heavyweight in this comparison as the PMG weighs only 11.39 grams.   So what do all these stats mean?  Not much, unless you need to know how the pencil may feel and perform when you use it.  Often pencils with similar stats feel and perform the same. So knowing the stats of a pencil can help you compare pencils before you try them.

The pencils disassemble in the same way.  To clear a lead jam first remove the point shield from the top of the pencil and set it aside.  Next unscrew the top cap, while holding the LGI in place, and set it aside.  Next remove the LGI and set it aside. Next remove the lead from the lead reservoir so you won't spill it out while trying to juggle the pencil so as not to dump the lead (which will happen) and set it aside.  Next remove the tip.  Place the tip on a flat surface lead sleeve pointing up.  Use the Clean Out Rod on the end of the push button to clear the lead jam by easily pushing it through the lead sleeve until it stops.  Remove the COR slowly stopping about midway through.  You should feel a slight resistance when pushing in and pulling out the COR.  Release the push button.  It should stay put.  If it slides back down the LS then you are in trouble.  Remove the COR then slowly lift the tip from the table top and check what is beneath it.  If all you see is a short piece of lead and some lead dust Then things are fine.  If you see a small black "top hat" looking piece of rubber, then you have dislodged the Lead retainer.  See "All jammed UP" at the head of this blog.  Reassembly is the opposite of the disassembly.

Other useful stats about the pencils are it takes 2 clicks to extend lead from the PMG and 3 from the Import to produce enough lead from the Import.  The Import is quieter than the PGM but there is more resistance to the push button making it harder to press. Both have cavernous lead reservoirs but resist filling them up.  Most pencils work best with about a dozen or so pieces of lead.  The larger the lead diameter the fewer the number of leads it will hold.  And finally you may have noticed that neither pencil has an eraser.  instead they have a clean out rod beneath the push button.  A great idea!  To bad Pentel didn't feature this on the rest of their pencils.

As far as how they write, well...The PMG has a neutral balance point. This means that the pencil stays in my hand a lot easier that the Import.   The pencil feels lighter than the Import by more than the .21g difference between the two.  I like the way it feels and writes.  That is the pencil does not fight me, which allows for a lot of fatigue free use.  The Import is bottom heavy and it feels heavier than the .21g difference between them.  But lets face it, the differences are not that dramatic.  To the average user, there will not be that much, if any differences, but to someone like me, a pen and pencil geek, we can tell the difference, and the difference matters.

The Import, to me, is feels bottom heavy and it feels heavier than the PMG.  It's controllable, in part,
due to it being bottom heavy.   The PMG, on the other hand, feels light and easy to control.  The courser rings on the grip area of the Import feel better to me though than the finer rings on the PMG.  I have a tendency to rotate the pencil when I write, normally, with other, more standard pencils the pocket clip rarely gets in the way because it is placed higher up the pencil that the pocket clip on the PMG and the Import.  These pocket clips hit my hand right at the web and get in my way.  So rotating the pencils causes the pocket clip to irritate the web of my hand.  Yes, I could remove the pocket clip, but then I could not carry the pencil in my shirt pocket nor make use of the tip protector.

The tip protector is a unique item.  It is an unpolished cone of punched sheet metal.  I am assuming that the crudeness of the surface of the cone is for easy gripping.  The surface is exceptionally suited for this.  If it were chromed or polished then one would have a hard time removing it as it snaps in place rather strongly.  The idea behind the cone is to protect the tip of the pencil from sticking the user when the pencil is carried in the breast pocket.  Manufacturers of drafting and mechanical pencils have been trying just about every way possible to provide this protection.  I can see the reasoning behind it, but to me it's a mute point as I use a pocket protector.  In it I keep a 0.3 mm pencil, a refillable stick eraser, a ballpoint pen with a touch screen pad, a click type fine point gel pen, affine point permanent marker a twin tipped screwdriver and a small  expendable magnet.  I used to carry an X-Acto knife as well but I lost it.  My lovely wife calls it my "Geek Stuff:.

The Import seems to be a bit weighty and wants to slip out of my hand if I loosen my grip in the slightest.  Not so much the PMG, which seems to require a little more looseness before slipping away from me.  The Import also feels heavier than the PMG, while it is heavier by a few tenths of a gram, it feels much heavier.  I think this is due in part to it's balancing point, which is well below center.  Combined with it's heavier the weight causes the pencil to feel heavier.  Either that or I'm as crazy as a Loon!  Which is quite possible.

Bottom line is I like the PMG over the Import for the above reason as well as the fact that it just seems to fit me better than the Import.  However as a collector I would very much like to be able to talk George out of his Import as they, along with the entire series, are no longer made and have become very rare.  This is due in part to the probable fact that fewer Imports were produced than the PMG and that collectors are holding onto them, driving up the value.  Whether you would like the Import or the PMG you will have to go to places like eBay in order to find them.  The PMG will be considerably less than the Import and much easier to find.

In fact the entire series of Graph, Slimline pencils are now out of production.  One, the PG7, has been out of production since the 70's while the others have been out of production since the late 90's and early 2000's and some have become very rare and hard to find like the PG7.  One the original Graph Pencil, in 0.5 mm was made apparently only in 1969.  It is a little different in appearance than the others and is probably the rarest and most expensive.  The others in the series are the PG2 0.2 mm, PMG, 0.3 mm, PG4, 0.4 mm, PG5, 0.5 mm and the PG7, 0.7 mm.  There is no 0.9 mm.  To see pictures of the entire series follow this link to the page on the web site "Leadholder".  Thanks to Dennis B. Smith for the information on his site, "Leadholder".

And of course much thanks to George of  "My Supply Room" for the loan of the Import and the original idea of reviewing it.  Hang in there, George.

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