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 that 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.