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.



NOW THE BLOGGING BEGINS...

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
Please Excuse My Absence

I have not blogged since July of 2015 due to the fact that my Lovely Wife was diagnosed with 2 types of cancer. A new case of breast cancer which has metastasized and gone to her bones, mainly her back. She had a mastectomy of her left breast which showed the type of cancer that was in her bones. She has been taking an oral med. every day and she has a port under her skin to receive a liquid med. She has gone through one round of radiation treatments to stop some pain in her back. That gave her GERD and the med for that was nasty tasting. The bone cancer has caused the vertebra in her lower back to pinch her left sciatic nerve causing her pain, numbness and foot drag. She also has skin cancer that has only been partly addressed.

I have been busy taking care of her as the treatments have left her weak and sickly. She can not drive so I have to drive her to her appointments and treatments. I also have to do all the cooking and most of what cleaning we do. So I do not have a lot of time for blogging. However the installment of the review of the Schaeffer Ultrafine 0.3mm pencil marks what I hope will be a new review every month. However some of my future reviews may seem familiar as they may be a review of a pencil or pen that I have reviewed before just in another size due to my limited collection of writing instruments and the economic state of our nation.

I am grateful to George Fox for wanting me to do a review of another one of his pencils. I think that as a reader of my humble blog, may fine of interest as the Schaeffer Ultra Fine is a very unusual pencil.

So please excuse my absence and as a reader of my humble blog I hope that you enjoy the review of this unique pencil.

Coming Soon...

Thank you,

The Old Geezer.




Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Staples OptiFlow Liquid Rollerball Pens

After returning some pens to Staples the other day I ran across these house brand liquid rollerball pens. I figured that since they were a buck less than what I'd just returned and there were two more pens in the pack I figured that I couldn't do any worse than what I returned. The package read that they were 0.5mm rollerball pens and that the ink was acid free. So I thought that I'd take a chance on them. I opted for the six pack with the four colored inks, 2 black, 2 blue, a red, and a green.

Once home I couldn't wait to put them through a small test, the standard test that I derived from a test I found on Ruby's blog, Toying With Light. She graciously allowed me to use it in it's modified form. The test consists of writing a short sentence followed by a short line followed by a dot. For the dot the point of the pen is held on the paper for 10 seconds then removed. Then I look to see how many pages that the ink bled through. The line is used as a waterproof test. A single drop of water is placed on each line without smearing it and left to dry. The paper is from a standard Ampad 5x7 note pad.

The pens produce a 0.5mm line, which is as expected, so there were no surprises there. The package claims that the pens are smooth writing. I found them to be a bit on the scratchy side for a 0.5mm point, and a liquid ink pen at that. The scratchiness is no worse that some smaller tipped pens but I really did expect a little smoother writing experience. The package claims that the ink is fade-resistant, it's a good thing that it didn't claim that it is waterproof because it isn't. The water-on-the-line test shows that every color faded to some degree, the blue and green colors almost disappearing completely. All colors bleed through the paper, the black through 2 more sheets, the rest through 3 more. Why the black held up better that the others I don't know. Finally the spot test reveals that the ink is not bleed proof, probably being a dye ink instead of a pigment ink. All colors bleed through 2 additional sheets.

The pens are 137mm long, capped and 147mm with the cap on the back of the pen (writing mode) and 11.7mm in diameter. That makes them a fat little pen. The grip is smooth plastic but still it offers a good grip. They are also an attractive pen being clear, silver black and the ink color. The cap snaps on with a distinct "click" and it takes some effort to push the cap onto the pen. Hopefully that means a tight seal so the ink won't dry up. The point protector inside the cap is spring loaded, probably adding to the caps resistance to closure . Removing the end cap reveals that the ink supply only takes up about 1/2 the space available. I guess they want you to buy more pens sooner.

Despite it's slight scratchiness the OptiFlow writes nicely. The ink flows smoothly and fully without skipping and without blobbing at the loops. The fatness of the pen body is very comfortable to hold, a pleasing departure from the tendency of today to make pens as skinny as possible. While not archival quality the OptiFlow is a good pen to write with for everyday use. I would hazard a guess that one could write for a long time comfortably with the Staples OptiFlow. At $7.00 for 6 pens, either all black or in four colors, the OptiFlow liquid rollerballs are a worthy entry into the world of rollerball pens.

Christmas Gift: Ohto Super Promecha SP1503P 0.3mm Drafting Pencil

Christmas is supposed to come only once a year. For me it came twice, once on December 25st and then again on December 28th when I went to the mailbox. There amongst the bills and flyers was a small white package from JetPens. This was a surprise as I had already received my order from JetPens and I wasn’t expecting any items for review. When I opened it there to my utter surprise was an Ohto Super Promecha PM-1503S 0.3mm drafting pencil! Along with the pencil was a note from JetPens telling me it was a Christmas present. WOW! I was floored. The pencil has been discontinued but still it’s an Ohto Super Promecha 0.3mm pencil! So why get so excited about a discontinued pencil? It’s an Ohto Super Promecha 0.3mm pencil! OK, it’s an Ohto Super Promecha 0.3mm pencil, but it’s been discontinued, so why blog about it? Because it let’s me compare the old design with the new (see my review of the Ohto Super Promecha PM-1505P 0.5mm Pencil) and it’s an Ohto Super Promecha 0.3mm pencil!

The PM-1503S breaks down into 12 parts/sub assemblies. They are, from the top down, the push button (consists of the top retainer, lead grade indicator and lower retainer), pocket clip retainer, pocket clip, upper body, grip sleeve (also serves as a wheel to extend/hide lead sleeve), lower body assembly (consists of the lower body shell, lead length adjustment wheel, clutch assembly and lead reservoir), tension spring (gives tension to lead adjustment wheel and lead sleeve adjustment wheel), end cap (contains the lead sleeve adjustment wheel) and the lead sleeve. Only the PM 1503S’s replacement, the SP-1503P, is comprised of more user accessible parts by 1 part.

The Ohto Super Promecha is a marvel of engineering. It is even more complex than the pencil that replaces it. There are five individual adjustments available to the user of the Super Promecha. They include the lead grade indicator, the pocket clip, the length of lead projected with a single click, the length of the lead sleeve available for exposure, and the lead sleeve exposure. As far as I know these are the most user adjustments available on any drafting pencil available.

To adjust the lead grade window remove the push button from the pencil, hold the lower retainer and lead grade indicator window while loosening the top retainer slightly. Move the window to the desired lead grade. While holding the lower retainer and lead grade indicator tighten the upper retainer then replace the push button. The pocket clip is easily removed should you wish by first removing the push button, then holding the pocket clip so it doesn’t move, loosen and remove the pocket clip retainer. Remove the pocket clip and replace the retainer. The advantage to not having a pocket clip on a pencil is if, like me, the pencil has a tendency to roll in the hand when writing the removal of the pocket clip allows the pencil to rotate freely without the pocket clip interfering with the web of the hand.

The regular Ohto Promechas that I have project too much lead if the push button is pressed more that once before the lead has been used up. With the Super Promechas there is an adjustment just above the grip sleeve that allows for the adjustment of the amount of lead projected with each press of the push button, from 0mm to 2mm. Lowering the wheel (turning it to the left) decreases the amount of lead projected with each press of the push button while raising it (turning it to the right) increases the amount of lead projected. This is, to me, the most useful of all the adjustments available on the Super Promechas. I keep mine set to where it takes 4 clicks in order to get enough lead to write with, about 1mm. This is because when writing I have a tendency of pressing the push button a time or two in order to project more lead whether it’s needed or not.

The grip sleeve also serves as the wheel that hides or shows the lead sleeve. It also allows the user to adjust the amount of lead sleeve projected within the confines set by the lead sleeve adjustment wheel below the grip sleeve inside the end cap. Turning the grip down (to the left) hides or shortens the lead sleeve. Turning it up (to the right) shows or lengthens the lead sleeve. On the latest model of the Super Promecha this is the only lead sleeve adjustment available. Ohto saw the duplicity in having this adjustment and the one in the end cap and eliminated it.

The lead sleeve adjustment in the end cap sets the maximum amount of lead sleeve the prior adjustment is allowed to show, from 0mm to 4mm. Since the grip adjustment can regulate the amount of the lead sleeve shown the lead sleeve adjustment in the end cap is rather redundant. This is probably why Ohto redesigned the pencil to eliminate this redundancy. To set the length of the lead sleeve turn the wheel down (to the right) to show less lead sleeve and up (to the left) to show less. I just keep mine set to the maximum of 4mm.

A word about the ‘sliding sleeve’ of the Ohto Super Promechas. A true sliding sleeve is just that. The lead sleeve retracts back up into the end cap generally with the help of users finger. The sleeve has a plastic cone on the back end of it that acts as a stop to keep the sleeve from exiting the end cap. It extends, when the lead is first projected, by the jaws of the clutch system, just before they begin to offer out lead. The lead sleeve will remain there until it is pushed back up into the pencil by hand. The problem with this system is that the lead sleeve can work loose and the lead begins to break when writing. The System used by Ohto employs a fixed lead sleeve that is shown or hidden by the movement of the end cap of the pencil. This system makes the lead sleeve just as stable as any other fixed sleeve pencil.

The Ohto PM-1503S is a very attractive drafting pencil. It is all sliver, being made of aluminum and brass, except for the reservoir, which is plastic. The grip is round and finely knurled making it very comfortable to hold and easy to control. The body is 12-sided alternating wide and narrow flats with the info imprinted on one side in yellow. The lead size is indicated in black on yellow on a sticker in the center of the top of the push button. The pencil is 1421.8mm long; 92.5mm in diameter at it’s widest. The balance point is approx.92.5mm from the end cap, making the pencil very bottom heavy. This is something I like especially when the pencil weighs 28 grams! That makes the Ohto Super Promecha the heaviest pencil that I have.

I like the weight of the pencil. It feels good in my hand, rock solid and steady. It projects the feeling of good quality and design. I’ve liked Ohto pencils ever since my first one (despite it’s tendency to project too much lead). However the Super Promecha is at the top of the class when it comes to drafting pencils. What I once thought as “gadgets” have turned out to be well conceived ideas, more than one of which I like very much.

While the PM-1503S has been discontinued by Ohto, it has been replaced with the Ohto Super Promecha PM1503P (see my review of the Ohto Super Promecha SP1505P). While JetPens is currently out of 0.3mm Super Promechas when they do get more in they will be of the new PM1503P’s. I highly recommend that if you want a great, fully adjustable 0.3mm drafting pencil that you get hold of an Ohto Super Promecha SP1503P from JetPens ASAP.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Frakenpen: Pentel EnerGel/uni-ball 207 Micro Refill

If you are looking for a review of the Pentel EnerGel Liquid Gel Pen then you should look somewhere else. This "review" is of the Pentel Energel body and the Mitsubishi uni-ball Signo 207 Micro refill. This type of set up is commonly called a "Frakenpen".

While reading the JetPens Forum I ran across a write up about the Pentel EnerGel Alloy RT and was intrigued. So I went to Staples looking for one, just to have a look. Well I saw one but didn't buy it. I was still intrigued though, wondering just how heavy the pen was. But I didn't want to spend the money on a pen that I might not like and one that I knew that I was going to replace the refill in straight away anyway. Still intrigued I went to the check out with my purchase (see my post "Staedtler Liquid point 7") and there at the counter was a display of pens on sale, with, to my surprise, a plastic Energel Liquid Gel Pen on sale for a buck! How convenient for me! Needless to say, I bought one.

Once I got my prize home I did just what I knew I was going to do. The JetPens post had read that the EnerGel would take a Mitsubishi uni-ball Signo 207 Micro refill so that's exactly what I put into it. It fit like it was made for it. So now I have another, yet non Mitsubishi, container for my beloved Signo 207 Micro refills. So why write up a "Frakenpen"...? Because I'm it's creator, Ha! Ha! Ha!... Eh, I mean, because someone might find it interesting.

The pen body is attractive being chrome, silver, black and black rubber. I think that the only metal on the pen is part of the pocket clip, the rest of the pen I believe is plastic. A common combination nowadays. The pen is 147.6mm long retracted and 11.1mm in diameter. The body is pretty much a straight line with a little flair on the rubber grip at the point where it joins the chromed tip. The screw joint is at the point where the grip and upper body meet. Once apart the grip slips off the back end of the chromed barrel. The push button is lightly sprung so it is always at the upper most position. When clicked the distinct sound of the spring in the push button can be heard compressing and uncompressing.

The Pen is very light, just how light I don't know as I don't have a gram scale and it's too darn late to scurry off to the Post Office to try and use their scale. Just take my word for it, it's light. But what should one expect from a plastic pen? Actually the pen is top heavy, I guess because of the metal pocket clip. But the rubber grip is more than adequate to hold the pen comfortably being a thin non-squishy rubber sleeve over a hard surface. This is the kind of rubber grip that I really like. Those clear, squishy silicone grips are just wrong on so many levels. There is also enough of the grip to allow for either a low or high hold. The pen is easy to control, partially because of the well designed grip.

The Signo 207 Micro refill speaks for it self (not really, because if it could I'd be on a TV talk show making millions!). It has received many write ups on as many blogs and forums so I won't write up anything about it here... Yes I will. I like the Signo 207 Micro refill very much, so much that I've put it into several other pen bodies. Up until now they have all been other Mitsubishi's even though the refill will fit a lot of other pen bodies by other pen makers. But this is not why I like the refill. I like it because it writes smoothly and smaller than the advertised 0.5mm ball size. The manufacturer claims it produces a 0.3mm line but I find it to be closer to a 0.4mm line. And that's just fine by me. It's also a pigmented ink, not a dye ink. This makes it truly waterproof. It is also claimed to be fade proof and acid free. All desirable qualities in a writing pen ink.

So what do I end up with? I end up with an inexpensive, very comfortable, well writing gel pen that if treated right will give me years of writing pleasure. It also gives me the information that I wanted to know: I would enjoy having a Pentel EnerGel Alloy RT, with a Mitsbishi uni-ball Signo 207 Micro refill. And it only cost me a buck.

Staedtler Liquid Point 7

While in Staples today I ran across the Staedtler Liquid point 7 pens in a four pack. They came in either all black or in four basic colors, black, red, blue and green. I chose the all black. The reasons that I chose them at all was because they are a needle point rollerball and because they were advertised as 0.3mm fine line pens. Once I got them home and tried them out I was disappointed. I expected a nice fine 0.3mm line but instead I got a 0.7 or 0.8mm line! If I had wanted a 'broad' pointed pen then I would have bought one... wait, I did buy one, no four, whatever. My point is I thought I was getting a sub-micro pointed pen and what I got was anything but. Whatever happened to truth in advertising?

Having said all that the pen was, as advertised, smooth writing. This is probably due to the fact that it is a 0.7 or 0.8mm pointed pen. The needle point is thick, like a Pentel Slicci, and the pen is about as long as a Slicci but it is slightly greater in diameter yet still being slimmer than most rollerballs. There is nothing on the package, pen or Staedtler website about the ink so I can tell you nothing except that it is dark, not watery.

The Liquid Point 7 is a liquid ink pen with a window showing the available ink supply and the delivery system is very similar to that of the Pilot Precise series of pens and similar style pens thought Staedtler touts it as an advanced delivery system.

The set of four sells for under $7.00 at Staples making the pens under $2.00 each, an average price for such a pen. Which is just what the Staedtler Liquid Point 7 is, an average rollerball pen. While nothing to write home about it's no worse than any other 0.7mm liquid ink rollerball pen and perhaps in one small way better. The manufacturer claims that the line width will remain the same regardless of the pressure applied. While I did not test this point out by pressing hard with the pen I did try and write lightly with it. When I did I found that the width did vary a little, it got a tad thinner. So maybe the Staedtler Liquid point 7 isn't so unusual after all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Another Test Of Four

I like plastic porous point pens especially the technical pen type. These come in very fine point diameters and I am a self confessed fine point freak. They also write smoother than any other type of pen available. The point may not be as durable as a metal tipped pen but if they are treated right the tip can not only last the length of the ink supply but through a refill or two (yes, I try and refill non-refillable pens). Because these pens are often used in art work, scrap booking and archival documents the pigmented ink is often acid free, water proof and fade proof. However not all the pens in this test meat all those criteria, but more on that later. Right now I want to talk about pigment ink.

Dye ink is the old standard ink and it's just what it says. The ink stains or dyes the paper fibers, changing the color of the fiber. Such ink can be washed or bleached out of documents such as checks sometimes with nothing more than water but most certainly with common chemicals. Pigment ink is different in that it does not stain the paper instead it gets in between the paper fibers and lodges there. Because of this it is far more resistant to washing and bleaching techniques as well as being fade and water resistant.

The pens used in this test were the: Alvin TechLiner Technical Drawing Marker 0.20mm; Kuretake ZIG Memory System Millennium 0.25mm; Mitsubishi unipin Fine Line 0.20mm; and the Sakura Pigma Micron 0.20mm all in black ink. The Alvin, Mitsubishi and Sakura were labeled as water proof and fade proof. The Alvin, Kuretake and Sakura were all labeled as acid free and archival quality. All four were labeled as pigmented ink.

The paper used was standard notebook quality paper on a 5" x 7" writing pad. The test comprised of writing the name of each pen with that pen followed by a short line. At the end of the line I lightly pressed the pen to the paper for 10 seconds to test for bleed through. Finally I dipped my finer in nasal spray (because it was handy and to simulate a non-water spill) and placed a single small drop on each line. I did not smear the line. After a few minutes I patted up the liquid then blew it dry with a small heat gun.

All the pens wrote smoothly, as expected. All appear to produce nice dark lines, as expected. What wasn't expected was the fact that all the pens bled through to the next page. Being pigmented ink I expected less bleed through through I must confess that bleed through was far less than gel ink pens with dye ink. The worst offenders were the Alvin and the Kuretake bleeding through with a spot as big as that left on the top page. Next came the sakura with a slightly smaller spot than was left on the top page. Finally the least offender was the Mitsubishi with a spot barely 1/2 the spot left on the top page. The number beside each spot is the number of pages each pen bleed through.

As expected all passed the liquid test. None of the inks bleed through or feathered or changed colors. Sore one for pigmented ink. Pigmented ink is also why each appears so dark. Dye ink would make such thin lines appear gray in contrast.

The Mitsubishi and Skura appear to have tied for the pen with the thinnest line width. Not really surprising there as they claim the same nib width. However the Alvin, with the same nib width as the previous two, seems to have tied with the Kuretake for second place. That only goes to show that not all pen nibs of equal size are. Just 'cause it sez so don't make it so.

Well for my money any of the four would make nice fine nibbed writing instruments. For some reason as yet unknown to me, I seem to have a fondness for the Mitsubishi with the Sakura coming in a very close second. As far as price goes (something I've never mentioned before in a review because I feel it shouldn't make mush of a difference) they all sell for under $3.00 so no matter which one that you choose it shouldn't make such a huge dent in your pocketbook.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pencil/Pen Cases Are Where You Find Them

Being a Penaholic (which includes pencils too) I want to keep my most precious pencils and pens in a nice expensive pencil/pen case. I've seen some nice leather cases on the Net ranging from ones that hold 12 pencils/pens to ones that hold 96! I've seen pencil/pen boxes made of wood that hold from a single pen to large boxes that hold 48 or more. All of which are expensive, but beautiful and probably worth the price. However I can not afford them, not until I make my millions that is. What I can afford from time to time is some fabric, some heat and bond, some elastic band and a few other odds and ends. Recently I designed and made a soft pencil/pen case but it was not well thought out. Then I redesigned it, but didn't make it before I offered the plans for free on my blog. Then I took a second look at the plans and discovered a few design flaws! It's a good thing that only a few people had ask for the plans. Once I had revamped the plans I sent them to all who had ask for them along with my apologies.

Recently while looking through my belongings I found an old CD case. It was something that I had received from a vendor while I was working for a company that made physio-monitoring units for heart cath labs. It was yellow on the outside and black on the inside and measured 11" x 7" x 1-1/4" closed. But beggars can't be choosers... while looking at it I got a flash. It would make a good pencil/pen case. So I gathered together some vinyl fabric, some cardboard, some 1/2" elastic band, some spray glue, some heat and bond and a few other odds and ends and got to work. The design is quite simple, two thin cardboard panels (the backs of writing pads) covered in thin vinyl fabric heat and bonded to the cardboard. I allowed 3/4" for a pocket but allowed 1" of elastic to cover that 3/4" space. The result is a loop of elastic every 3/4" for the width of the panel. That makes 14 sets of loops, one near the top of the panel and one near the bottom. Some contact cement and some extra fabric and a piece of felt for a divider completes the project.

The 2 completed panels were glued into the 2 inside flaps of the CD case. The felt divider/protector is glued along the inside of the spine using 2 strips of excess fabric. With the case full of pencils/pens it's a tight fit when the case is closed if all the pocket clips are straight up so I have to turn the pocket clips to the side in order to protect them from undo pressure. Other than that the case works just fine. It has a fold over closure flap and seals with Velcro. For a makeshift pencil/pen case it's really quite good. I only wish that the color was red, or blue instead of yellow.

Another makeshift pencil/pen case is one that I made from an old, broken down wooden cigar box. It was a great find. My lovely wife's cousin had the box but it had come apart. I inherited it, glued it back together and decided to make a pencil/pen case out of it. This time I used cardboard from a corrugated box. It bends easily along the corrugations but it is easy to sew through. Again I used thin vinyl fabric to cover the cardboard (which was cut 1/8" shy of the boxes interior dimensions) and used 1/2" elastic banding as before in order to make the pockets. A piece of elastic made into a loop and attached to the back of each panel (one slightly off center) serves as a grasp. A piece of Fun Foam rubber sheeting attached to the back of each panel completes the project. The panels fit snugly into the box and the 2 panel are a perfect fit height wise as well.

So, if you can't afford an expensive pencil/pen case or box or even if you can and just want a great project to occupy your spare time, look around the house and see if there isn't something that you can turn into a great pencil/pen case or box. You may not have a wooden cigar box, but maybe you have a cardboard one, that will work as well. Perhaps you are into woodworking, if so you can build your own pencil/pen box. If you sew maybe you can design your own fabric pencil/pen case. Makeshift or designed the idea is to come up with your own alternative to the high priced commercial pencil/pen cases.

The figure on the left shows a typical panel like the ones that I used in both projects. The light gray area is the fabric covered cardboard. The dark gray areas are the elastic bands. Enough space is left between the bands to allow the shortest pencil/pen to rest in the pockets with part of the body protruding from top and bottom of the pockets. This distance is typically between 2" and 3".

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ohto Super Promecha PM-1505P 0.5mm Pencil

I have quite a few drafting pencils, including a Ohto Promecha SP-503M 0.3mm, some simple in design, and some a bit more complex in design. But none of them are as complex as the Ohto Super Promecha PM-1505P. Of course none of them have all the features of the PM-1505P either. Ohto pulled out all the stops in the design of this pencil. The result is one of the most unique drafting pencils available.

Where to start, well, I guess I'll start with a few technical details. The PM-1505P is 152mm long from lead sleeve to push button making it the longest pencil in my collection, taking the spot over from my Pentel Graph 1000 PG1003. The grip is a whopping 11mm in diameter, making it the fattest pencil in my collection, taking the crown from my 2 Mitsubishi uni Kuru Toga pencils. The 12 sided body is about 8mm across the widest flats. The balance point is 81mm from the push button, making the pencil bottom heavy, and it weighs 18.5 grams, coming in second heaviest in my collection being beaten out by my other Ohto.

One of the first things that I do when I get a new pen or pencil is to take it apart. Within the first 10 minutes of receiving the Ohto I had it completely stripped to the bare bones. The PM-1505P breaks down into 13 components/systems: The push button/lead grade indicator - the upper tube w/lead grade indications, the outer tube w/lead grade indicator window, and the lower tube which fits onto the lead reservoir; the removable pocket clip and retaining nut; the upper body; the lower body; the end cap; the tension spring; the grip sleeve; the lead sleeve and tension spring; and the integral clutch assembly/lead length adjustment wheel/lead reservoir. This is the greatest number of user removable components of any automatic pencil that I have seen to date, more than twice as many as the average drafting pencil.

While I am the curious type and a tinker by nature I would suggest that the average user do nothing more than adjusting the various user adjustable parts of the pencil. These happen to be the lead grade indicator, the removable pocket clip, the lead length and the lead sleeve length. The lead grade indicator, which is part of the push button, is, to me, a bit more complicated than it has to be. To move the window to the desired lead grade it is best to remove the push button from the pencil. Grasping both knurled nuts in thumb and forefinger of each hand loosen the nuts by twisting them in opposite directions. Set the lead grade by turning it to the desire grade. Hold it and the top nut together while twisting the bottom nut tight again. Replace the push button.

In order to remove the pocket clip first remove the push button. Grasp the nut above the pocket clip and twist it off. Remove the pocket clip them replace the nut. The pencil can now be rotated in the hand while writing without the pocket clip interfering. This is a feature that I like a lot because I tend to rotate the pencil automatically. With some other pencils with non-removable pocket clips the pocket clip tends to rotate into the web of my hand making writing uncomfortable.

Another feature of the Super Promecha that I like very much is the lead length adjustment feature. With my other Ohto, an SP-503M, I have to be satisfied with the length of lead one click produces, or click it a second time and adjust the length of lead by hand. Two clicks produces too much lead and it breaks easily. But a single click's worth of lead is almost too little! I have a habit of pressing the push button on a pencil to produce more lead when the lead has worn down only about 1/4 to 1/3 the way. When I do this with the SP-503M I get too much lead again. With the PM-1505P I can adjust the lead length from0.2mm a click to 2mm a click. I have mine set to produce a fraction more than 0.2mm a click. It takes 3 to 4 clicks to produce enought lead for me to write with. This way when I press the push button while writing I get only about an extra 1/4 or 1/3 the lead I started with. To adjust the lead length turn the wheel inside the window just above the grip. Turning it to the right shortens the lead length, turning it to the left lengthens the lead length.

The lead sleeve length adjustment on this pencil is an improvement on the previous design. On some earlier designs not only was the maximum length of the lead sleeve adjustable by a wheel in the tip of the pencil the lead sleeve was retractable as well. Someone at Promecha must have realized the redundancy in this for now the 2 adjustments are combined into a single adjustment, a much simpler design. The lead sleeve is actually of a fixed design being attached to the hidden inner workings of the pencil. The end cap, which on other pencils has the lead sleeve attached to it, serves as a housing for the fully enclosed fixed sleeve and clutch assembly. The end cap screws into the hollow grip sleeve and is held under tension by a spring inside the grip sleeve. To adjust the length of the lead sleeve, from 0mm to 4mm, simply turn the grip sleeve, which moves up and down along the bottom portion of the pencil. The spring provides enough tension to keep the grip and end cap in place. Other than to hide the lead sleeve for the purpose of carrying the pencil in the breast pocket I can't see much use for the adjusting lead sleeve length. I keep the lead sleeve set at the maximum 4mm length.

The PM-1505P is an attractive pencil being all silver with black lettering and accents. There are four black rubber or plastic rings spaced about 9.5mm apart just above the lead length adjustment area. Other than aesthetics I can see no reason for them. As an aesthetic accent they look nice though. The grip sleeve is finely knurled and non-biting yet it offers a very good gripping surface. All the knurled nuts are coarsely cut so they provide good gripping surfaces as well. On top of the push button is a black sticker with silver lettering indicating the lead size. The lead grade indications are black against a silver background. On in all a very attractive pencil indeed.

The pencil is mostly made of metal. The only major plastic part that I can see is the lead reservoir and there is no real reason for this even being plastic. In some plastic bodied pencils I've found metal lead reservoirs. But it does not detract from the pencils performance. The exterior parts are made of brushed aluminum. The lead sleeve is made from bright stainless steel. The 3-jawed clutch assembly is all brass. Over all, even as complex as the Super Promecha is it is a very well designed and constructed pencil. I am very impressed with the design and over all quality of this amazing pencil.

The pencil writes as well as any high quality automatic pencil should write. There is no wobble of the lead in the lead sleeve, in fact the fit is so exact I half expect to see lead shavings every time I click out more lead. The over sized grip is surprisingly not too fat, for me at least and the finely cut diamond pattern on the grip is not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye but very comfortable to the fingers. Being bottom heavy the pencil rests comfortably in my hand and is easy to direct. The weight feels good, it's a solid feeling reminding you that you have something substantial in your hand, something of quality.

So if you can only afford one new automatic pencil this Christmas or if you want a pencil that's customizable to suit your writing style or if you just want an amazing pencil go to JetPens.com and buy yourself an Ohto Super Promecha PM-1505P today. You deserve it.

Many thanks to Jetpens for providing the pencil for this review.

Pentel Ain Supplio Sharp Sented Pencil - Healing

There seems to be a lot of hype about the Pentel Ain Supplio Sharp Scented Pencils on the Net. In doing research on the pencils I learned that they were the July 2007 Stationary Of The Year award winners in Japan. The hype is more about the lead than the actual pencils themselves. This is as it should be as it's the lead that houses the scented oils not the pencil itself, which is really a Pentel Techniclick 0.5mm pencil in new clothes.

The scented leads employ nanotechnology to encapsulate the oils in microscopic bubbles. As the lead wears down the bubbles burst and the scent is released. It is a very subtle fragrance, and I do mean subtle. I have never used a scented pen but what I have read is that the fragrance from scented leads is much more subtle than the fragrance from scented pens.

The leads come in 3 scents: "Healing - gives you a change of mind. Has a soft, soothing scent, like lavender or fragrant tea; Refresh - gives you an extra boost when you feel tired. Has a winter fresh, minty scent; Positive - clears your mind so you can be motivated at work. Has a spring time scent of flower petals". According to Pentel the scent will last 2 years if the package is left sealed, 3 months once the seal is broken.

The pencil that I was given to review had a "Healing" scent. As soon as I opened the package I could smell the lavender fragrance, one I happen to like. That was the strongest the fragrance got. From then on, as I used the pencil, I only caught a hint, a suggestion, of lavender. In fact the scent was underwhelming, which is not a bad thing. If I had not known that the lead was scented I would have been wondering where the gentle odor was coming from. When I removed the end cap from the pencil while the lead was extended and put my nose up to it the scent was much stronger.

The pencil itself is a Pentel Techniclick, a side clicking pencil, color coded to match the particular scent, in this case green. The color, like the scent, is subtle. The pencil is mostly clear plastic with a green push button. Just above the push button is the pencil's name in white on a transparent field of green. Imprinted in opaque green on the pocket clip is the Healing logo. The plastic parts of the lead advance mechanism are white plastic. The grip area is nice as it is made up of almost 2 dozen raised rings. Because the pencil is so light this is quite adequate as a grip. Another feature of the pencil is the lead sleeve. It's in the style of a drafting pencil only it's 3mm long instead of 4mm. Even so it could serve as a 0.5mm drafting pencil as well as as a general writing pencil.

The pencil comes with only 2 scented leads while the lead reservoir is cavernous enough to hold a couple of dozen leads. Unlike most drafting style pencils the eraser provided with the Supplio is actually usable. It sets solidly in the top of the pencil and because the lead advance mechanism is in the lower half of the pencil using the eraser will not cause unwanted lead advancement. There is no push button on top of the pencil, it's on the side of the pencil, instead there is a cap which has the pocket clip attached. To refill the pencil with lead, remove the cap and then the eraser. If you use scented lead make sure that you don't fill it with any more lead than you will use in 3 months or your scented pencil will just be a pencil.

If you are into aromatherapy or if you just want a nice subtle scent wafting up from your paper then by all means go and order a Pentel Ain Supplio Sharp scented pencil from JetPens. If you don't like the look or feel of the Techniclick pencil then buy a tube of Pentel Ain Supplio Scented pencil leads, also available from JetPens. Go on, do your senses a favor.

I want to thank JetPens for the Pentel Ain Supplio Sharp 0.5mm "Healing" pencil and for the use of the photo of same used in this review.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Long Term Pen Storage, The Ziploc Solution

A while back, on the JetPens Forum we had a discussion about long term storage of pens of all types. There were many ideas tossed about but we all seamed to agree that vacuum sealing our pens in plastic bags was a viable idea. There was of course the expensive electric vacuum sealer with its expensive roll of bag material. The advantage here is that just about any sized bag could be made and sealed. The disadvantages are that it is expensive, not commonly available and repeated opening and resealing makes the bag smaller and smaller each time so the bag has to be made large enough to accommodate this. Over time repeated openings and closings reduce the bag to the point that it has to be replaced. Not the most desirable route to take. Last but not least, it's not as portable as the Ziploc vacuum, which does not require electricity.

I suggested that one use a regular zipper baggie and a common plastic straw. The idea (which I have used in the past for other things) is to fill the baggie, seal it almost entirely closed then insert a small diameter plastic straw into the opening. By squeezing the opening with the fingers while sucking on the other end of the straw a fairly good vacuum can be achieved. By quickly removing the straw while pressing on the zipper opening to close it preserves the vacuum. While not a perfect solution it does allow for the opening and resealing of the bag. What was needed was a better way of sucking out the air from a zipper baggie while maintaining the vacuum. Along comes S. C. Johnson & Sons, Inc. with the Ziploc Vacuum sealed bags.

The Ziplock Vacuum Starter Kit retails for about $4.50, give or take. I've seen it on eBay for as much as $8.00 with a $9.00 shipping charge! But I found mine at Walmart for the very reasonable cost of $1.50! Amazing the price difference for the same item. But I digress. The Ziploc vacuum system starter kit consists of a 3 quart bags that are diamond cut on one side and smooth on the other and a small hand pump. The directions for use are printed on the smooth side of each bag but the procedure is quite simple. Fill the bag, leaving enough room to attach the pump at the indicated spot, seal the zipper, place the bag on a hard flat surface, place the pump on the designated spot and pressing the pump firmly onto the bag, stroke the handle several times until the desired level of vacuum is achieved or your hand falls off.

I filled a quart sized bag with 40 different gel and liquid ink pens, which was almost, but not quite too much, and pumped out enough air to achieve a pound of coffee like brick, though not quite as tight but very near. The vacuum produced was more than adequate for the job I was asking the system to do and far better that using a zipper baggie and a straw! I did not notice any leakage of ink due to the vacuum in any of the pens, which was a great relief. The bag was easily opened and I was able to reseal it with no problems whatsoever. I suspect that the bags can be reused in this fashion a goodly number of times before having to be replaced, longer if one is gentle.

The pump itself is simple elegance. It is made up of 6 individual parts: the pump tube; the rubber lower seal which acts as a base; the pump handle/piston; the 2-piece removable cap; and the piston's rubber 'O'-ring. The 'O'-ring is shaped much like a pulley wheel with a 'U'-shaped surface. This means that two slender rings contact the inner wall of the pump, not just one. This makes for a better seal. If one were to place the pump opening on one's upper thigh and activate the pump the result would be one heck of a hickey! That's how well the pump works. I am impressed with the system, though I am sure that the designers did not have quite the use in mind as I have for the system. Indeed they designed the pump to be broken down for cleaning for used as designed the pump is bound to get soiled by liquids from foods.

Only a long term test will determine if vacuum sealing of pens is a viable way to store them long term, however I think that it is. If you want to experiment on the idea yourself I suggest that you scurry on down to your local Walmart and purchase a Ziploc Vacuum Starter Kit while the price is so low. Who knows when it might go up again?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Test Of Four

While viewing blog Toying with Light, where Ruby did a short review on 8 blue gel pens, I got the idea to do the same thing with the 4 black ink 0.5mm RT gel pens that I have. I shamelessly copied her technique as I thought it a good one for a short quick test. I only hope that she is more honored that I copied her than she is miffed at me. We are members of the same pen forum so maybe she will forgive me.

Anyway... The 4 gel pens I used for this test were the four that I had on hand: The Mistubishi uni-ball Signo 207 Micro (top); the Pilot G-2 Extra Fine 05(second from top); the Pilot Precise V5 RT (third from top) and the Pilot V Ball RT Extra Fine (bottom). The V5 has a needle point with the other 3 having conical points. All the pens are supposed to be 0.5mm pens. But since different manufacturers label their pen nibs differently it's hard to tell just what size the balls in the points really are. The Signo 207 Micro is touted as having a 0.5mm ball but that it writes a 0.38mm line. I have read that to determine the size of line a particular size ball should make is to divide the diameter of the ball by 2. If that is the case then all four pens should make a 0.25mm line! But we already know that's not true in this case just by looking at the pic, not all the pens produced the same size lines. More on that later.

The paper that I used was common notebook paper 0.003" (0.076mm) thick. There was 1/4 of a loose leaf package under the top page. I wrote the first half of the holoalphabetic sentence, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog", followed by a short line then a dot. The dot was where I held the pen in place for 10 seconds with moderate pressure. After the ink had dried for a minute I used a drop of water on the end of my finger and placed it on the line. I did not attempt to smudge the line, I simply let the water do it's thing. After the water had dried up I began to examine the results of my test.

Though my aging eyes are just that, aging, I do wear corrective lenses (called glasses) and when I have to see something up close I add on a pair of reading glasses. with the reading glasses on I made the following observations: The finest line width was the Pilot G-2, followed by the Signo 207, then the Pilot V Ball and finally the Pilot Precise V5. I must say that I was a little surprised by the results that I got. I expected that the 207 would have produced the finest line not the G-2. And I expected the V5 to have produced a finer line than the V Ball. So much for preconceptions. The 207 has the lightest ink of the four with the Pilots all having the same shade. This was no surprise at all as I had noticed this before.

The results of the dot test was that all four pens bled through the first layer of paper onto the next. The G-2's bleed through was barely noticeable though while the 207's was a bit more so though their respective spots on the top sheet were about the same size. The V Ball's was 3 times that of the G-2 and the V5's 4 times as great. Both of the latter bled through to the third page. While the ink in the 207 is pigmented (meaning it penetrates the papers fibers instead of staining them) I was only able to find out that the Pilot's ink was "water resistant and smudge proof". Which brings us to the third part of the test, the water drop test.

With a single drop of water placed on each of the 4 lines the results are obvious. The Signo ink was the only one not to bleed through the paper and feather out. This leads me to believe that the Pilot ink is dye ink, not pigmented. Though all four pens passed the smudge teat, a test that I performed by drawing a line with one pen at a time then immediately rubbing my finger across it. The result was unanimous: all 4 inks did bot smudge. I half expected the Pilot inks to smudge in I did not think that they dried as quickly as the Signo ink. Again, so much for preconceptions.

The V5 wrote the smoothest of all four, not surprising as it was the broadest, with the other three tying for 2nd place. All four have thin rubber grip sleeves over the plastic barrels which offers a non-slip grip without being squishy, which is something I like in a rubber grip, firmness. All four pens are about the same length, the differences being to small to mention. All are attractive pens: the Signo with its stylish chrome and black pocket clip and chrome end cap; the G-2 with it's clear and black body; TheV5 with it's silver, chrome and black body and the V Ball with it's chrome, white and black body would all make stylish accessories on a desk top.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

You May Be Obsessed With Pens... Part 4

You may be obsessed with pens if:
74) You love the smell of ink in the morning.
75) You refill your non-refillable ink pens.
76) People know what you've been doing when they see all the different colored inks on your fingers.
77) When you buy a new pen you savor the moment... for several hours.
78) When you meet new people, and they pull out photos of their kids, you pull out photos of your favorite pens.
79) When people scoff and call you a 'penaholic' you take it as a compliment.
80) You keep your 'traveling pens' in a pocket protector and you use it. You double up when your shirt has two breast pockets.
81) You belong to every Pen Society on the Net.
82) You subscribe to every pen magazine available.
83) Every time you hear the mail truck stop at your house you rush out to see if the latest issue one of your pen magazines has arrived. You are chest fallen when it' not there.
84) You know that one day you will have bought at least one of every pen out there and you live in fear of the day there are no more new pens to buy.
85) When pens go on sale at the local department or pen store you go buy some, even thought you have some already, because it's such a good deal.
86) You give away some of your excess pens just so you can go buy more.
87) You give away your excess pens so you'll have room to store the new pens you just bought.
88) You search the Net for just the right pen display box/case to store your 'babies'.
89) You think that making an executive decision is deciding which pen to use.
90) You know that you have an addition to pens and or pencils and you just don't care.
91) When someone jokingly says that there is a cure for your addiction you get paranoid.
92) You begin to think of the people behind the store counter as your 'supplier'.
93) When you go to a doctor's/lawyer's/dentist's office and they have 'give-away' pens you can't just take one.
94) You think that one of those pens on a loop of cord is actually a necklace, and you wear it as such.
95) In case of fire you have a contingency plan: Each family member is assigned a different lot of pens to save.
96) You don't like a particular pens color/shape/nib/etc., but you buy it anyway because it's part of the set.
97) All the neighborhood kids know you as the 'Pen Man/Lady".
98) You think that a personal sacrifice is giving up one of your pen shopping days to spend time with the family.
99) You don't mind walking the dog because the walk takes you buy your favorite office supply store.
100) A day without a new pen is like a day without sunshine.
010) When you lose a favorite pen you cry... and cry... and cry...
102) The only thing that can console you when you lose a favorite pen is to buy two more of the same pen.
103) You have a night light in the room where you store your pens so your 'babies' wont get scared at night when you're not there.
104) You now realize that your obsession/addiction is boarding on mania and you still don't care.
105) Your significant other wants you to see a psychiatrist about your "problem' and you think they're crazy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

You May Be Obsessed With Pens...Part 3

You may be obsessed with pens if:
47) You check out a few pen shops every week, even though you've been to them one week or a few days ago.
48) You plot which non-stationery shop to visit, just in case it sells that elusive 'perfect pen'.
49) You squirm and feel generally disgusted when you use a pen that falls below your 'standards.'
50) You compulsively search the net for more blogs on pens. You mentally will the usual bloggers to post new articles.
51) You use a search engine or comparison shopping website to read reviews about pens.
52) You poke around the house for 'unowned' pens to adopt, even though you would never dream of taking other people's things.
53) You think the greatest love is shown by giving or receiving a pen or voucher for stationery shop.
54) You spend hours testing pens at the shop and are surprised by how fast and pleasantly the time has passed.
55) You pick up every abandoned pen you find, no matter how many you have or how crappy it is.
56) You save used up pens for spare parts to make repairs on your working pens "just in case." Of course, you rarely have to do this, since you take such good care of your pens anyway.
57) You have so many pens that you shouldn't buy anymore for yourself , so you buy pens for your friends ! You spend hours thinking about which pen is best for each person.
58) When your pen (or your friend's!) stops working you drop whatever you're doing to spend the next ten minutes using every trick you know to fix it.
59) You get a job at a doctor's office just for the pens.
60) You can name every major pen manufacturer by heart.
61) You notice when people in your classes use different pens than usual.
62) When you go on a journey, you agonize over how many pens to bring, and then which ones. Not being able to bring liquid ink pens on planes breaks your heart.
63) When you reread something you wrote a year or two (or more!) ago, you know exactly which make of pen you used.
64) You keep the shell of the empty non-refillable pen because it was your favorite.
65) You keep an old worn out empty pen in a special case in a place of reverence because it was your first.
66) You keep looking for that perfect pen or pencil.
67) You take a day off of work to go to a job fair so you can collect all the different companies cheepie freebie logo pens.
68) You take apart your pens to reassemble into the perfect franken-pen with best tip, ink, grip, weight and barrel.
69) You contemplate working in a stationery shop so that you can play with pens all day.
70) You spend hours testing which pen to use for exams. You end up bringing too many because they're all quite good or your mood might dictate which to use.
71) You loan only the more 'inferior' pens in your possession in case your friend or colleague 'soils' or loses them.
72) You can't go to the department store without wandering by the pens and pencils.
73) You can't even go to the dollar store without wandering by the pens and pencils.

Thanks to holgalee and Metternich from the JetPens Fourm for most of these.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dye Ink vs Pibmented Ink & Ballpoint vs Gel vs Rollerball

Dye ink will stain the paper in color, thus changing the color of the fibers. The dye ink can be removed by bleaching or washing the paper back to its natural color.

Pigmented ink doesn’t stain the color of the paper; it changes the paper itself. By weaving their way into the paper fibers, pigment globules embed themselves into the heart of the paper, making it impenetrable to many washing and bleaching techniques. Pigmented inks have vibrant colors and excellent fade and water resistance without sacrificing performance. Using pens with pigmented inks is one more step to help protect your identity.

BALLPOINT
The ink is closest to a solid. Think molasses. Ballpoints represent the old standard choice for consistent, dependable writing. SMOOTH and sure-footed.

GEL
The ink is thicker at rest and more fluid-like when agitated. Think ketchup. Gels offer consumers a smooth writing experience like a roller with the durability of a ballpoint. SMOOTHER.

ROLLERBALL
The ink is most like a fluid. Think water. Rollers are for consumers who demand the smoothest writing experience. The SMOOTHEST.

From the Mitisubishi uni website.

You May Be Obsessed With Pens... Part 2

You may be obsessed with pens if:
24) You take family vacations to places that have a pen store that you have yet to visit.*
25) Your swimming pool is filled with Light Blue ink instead of water.
26) You wear the ink stain on your shirt pocket as a badge of honor.
27) You are on a first name basis with every employee in every pen and stationary store in a 100-mile radius of your house.
28) The mail person wants to know if you own stock in JetPens.
29) You have the local stationary and office supply stores phone numbers on speed dial.
30) Your wedding registry was at JetPens.
31) You have a photo of your favorite pen on your desk instead of your family.
32) Your idea of a good time is watching ink dry.
33) When you prick your finger you bleed red ink.
34) You can tell what pen someone is using from across the room.
35) Your Flickr Photostream consists entirely of pics of your favorite pens and pencils.
36) Your Facebook photos consist entirely of pics of your favorite pens and pencils.
37) You talk the receptionist at the doctors/dentists office out of their pen because you don’t have one with that particular drug manufacturer’s logo.
38) Your ‘ship came in’ but you missed it because you were at your favorite pen store.
39) You think that the perfect wedding gift is a matching pen and pencil set.
40) You have separate ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ pens.
41) You have more pens than your children have toys.
42) The dog chewed up your favorite pen, you buried it in a pencil box in the back yard, held a wake and mourned for 7 days.
43) For last Halloween you dressed your children as your favorite pens and it brought tears to your eyes.
44) All the Christmas ornaments on your Christmas tree are all your empty non-refillable pens.
45) When someone invites you to a ‘bring your own’ party you show up with all your favorite pens.
46) The shipper at JetPens knows your address by heart.

* Thanks, Seth

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Help JetPen Help Others

Help JetPens.com make this Christmas absolutely Pentastic! For every new person that joins the JetPens.com Facebook group from now until December 15, JetPens will ship a pen to children in Africa through Pens for Kids (http://www.pensforkids.com), a US-based nonprofit organization.

In many African countries, the cost of uniforms and school supplies can be huge obstacles to overcome for children who dream of attending school. For families with an average income of $2/ day, pens that dry quickly under the intense sun can be costly purchases. Now you can help put a pen in a child's hand!

Pentel Graphlet 500, Part 2

Let me be the first one to admit that I was wrong about the grip on the Pentel Graflet 500, well mostly wrong anyway. The upper part of the grip is striated but the lower portion is knurled in a square pattern. This knurled portion provides a very good grip surface. The division between upper and lower portions is not equal, the knurled lower portion being slightly less than 1/2 the upper. I tend to hold my pens and pencils a little higher up on the grip than most so I miss the knurled part of the grip. However for most other users I'm sure that the knurled portion of the grip is correctly situated. I only wish that the entire grip was knurled like the lower portion. Until Pentel comes out with an all knurled replacement grip the clear heat shrink will stay on my Graflet 500.

(Photo courtesy of JetPens.com)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You May Be Obsessed With Pens...

You may be obsessed with pens if you:
01) Would rather buy a new pen than eat out.
02) Check the JetPens Forum before breakfast.
03) Surf the web for more pen blogs because you've read all the others.
04) Wish that the smell of a stationary store came as a perfume or cologne.
05) Have Pen and Stationary magazines in your bathroom as reading material.
06) Check JetPens.com for the New Arrivals before breakfast.
07) Can name all the colors that your favorite pen comes in, in order of manufacturer.
08) Have one of every color of every pen in every size that JetPens sells and you feel you don't have enough.
09) Have one of every color of every pen in every size that JetPens sells and you use a dime store pen to write with in order to preserve your collection.
10) Have one of every color of every pen in every size that JetPens sells and you 'pen test' them monthly just to see all the pretty colors.
11) Find yourself writing to people that you don't know because you've written to all your friends and family so much that they keep sending back your letters marked 'RETURN TO SENDER'.
12) Name your favorite pens.
13) Keep all your pens in special cases/pouches so that they don't touch one another.
14) Use your pens in rotation so you'll not use one up sooner than the others.
15) Have at least 2 refills for all your refillable pens on hand at all times so that you'll never have an empty pen.
16) Won't let anyone else use your pens, including your significant other.
17) Think that 'child proofing' your home means locking up all your precious pens.
18) Have a blog about pens (and pencils).
19) Spend your lunch money on a new pen, and are happy about it.
20) Take your date to a Pen Show.
21) Eat, drink and sleep pens all day and think that 24 hours a day is not enough time.
22) Name your children after pen companies.
23) Think that Mitsubishi only makes pens.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mitsubishi uni-ball Signo bit: A Review

The Mitsubishi uni-ball Signo bit is a very unique gel pen in that it is touted as the worlds smallest point gel pen. At 0.18mm with a 0.13mm footprint it most certainly is the worlds smallest. About the only thing I can compare it to would be a 0.13mm technical pen. However the bit is a true roller ball while the technical pen is not. The technical pen has a stainless steel outer tube and an inner wire rod. As the point is pressed against the paper the inner rod is forced up and ink flows down. With the bit ink flows through the hollow tube and is picked up by the ball and is deposited on the paper. This makes the bit write smoother than the technical pen. In fact the bit is smoother than some broader fine point roller balls. The needlepoint is made in such a way that it is stronger than the Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.25mm yet writes smoother. The ink is specially formulated for the fine point so that if flows smoothly allowing the bit to write as well as it does.

The bit I tested was one with a 0.18mm point in Light Blue though the bit is also made in 0.28mm and .7mm (according the manufacturer). I did not attempt to write on a grain of rice but I was able to write so small that I had to use a magnifying glass to do so. As mentioned above I found that the bit wrote smoother than the Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.25mm as well as a few others despite its ultra fine point. The ink seems to flow smoothly once the initial stuttering of getting a new pen to write, common with many pens. After that each time that I put it to use it preformed admirably. No matter how slow or how fast that I wrote the bit seemed to keep pace. I print when I write so to test the bit's flow during cursive writing I signed my name with it several times. I write my signature quite quickly and the bit did not skip a beat. The Light Blue ink is a lovely color and not at all hard to read in such fine lines.

When I first heard of the Mitsubishi uni-ball Signo bit I was ecstatic. I wanted one as I am a fine point freak. I was sure that it was going to be a very scratchy pen and persnickety as well. It is neither. I am a semi-heavy handed writer but I strive to be as light a handed writer as possible and I can easily control the pressure that I apply to a pen. However the bit wrote well even when I applied heavy pressure, though it did feel 'scratchier' the heavier I pressed. You might think that with such a pen there would be limited uses. I don't feel that this is true. Anything you can do with any other similar pens you can do with the bit. With a black bit I once wrote 11 pages of data on notebook paper and the bit did just fine.

Over all I am impressed with the bit. It was an unexpected pleasure to write with. While personally I prefer to do my daily writing with a 0.38mm pen I have read where others have used the bit on a daily basis to take notes in school on 3' x 5" cards. If you have need of a pen that will write extremely fine of if you just like to write in fine lines then the bit is for you.

The bit comes in 14 beautiful colors which includes Black, Blue, Blue-Black, Emerald Green, Fuchsia, Light Blue, Light Purple, Lime Green, Mandarin Orange, Orange, Pink, Purple, Green and Sky Blue. All of these are available from our friends at JetPens.com who were kind enough to supply the Light Blue bit for this review.

(Photo courtesy of JetPens.com)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Clean out Rods, Part 3

If you have read my earlier 2 posts on Clean Out Rods (COR) you know how obsessed with the need for a clean out rod for automatic drafting pencils I am. While in my mind it is best that each size of pencil have its own size clean out rod I discovered that one of my pencil sets of all 4 sizes have the same size clean out rod for all four pencils, the smallest diameter, the 0.3mm. I did find an on-line source for a 0.14" diameter stainless steel rod so I was able to make as many clean out rods as I wanted. However this may not be the best way for everyone to obtain a clean out rod. Recently I stumbled upon another way to easily obtain a nearly perfect clean out rod.

I am a diabetic and I check my blood sugar daily. I've been doing it for years without giving much thought to the lancets over the years. Then recently after checking my blood sugar I looked at the lancet and wondered just what the wire inside looked like. So I grabbed my round nosed pliers and my linesman pliers and removed the wire from one of the lancets. It took a good tug but it was worth the effort. The 30 gauge wire was about 3/4" long with an "s" bend at the end of the wire that was in the plastic body. I cut the "s" part of the wire off, filed it down to remove the burrs and using the linesman pliers I pushed the pointed end of the wire back into the pill shaped removable button part of the lancet. What I ended up with was a near perfect stand alone clean out rod.

So far the 2 best brand of lancets for this are the Reli On brand and the Bayer brand. The Reli On has the "s" shaped end which has to be remove. The Bayer does not. It is a straight rod. The removable button that serves as a handle is larger on the Bayer so it makes the best clean out rod.

Disclaimer: DO NOT USE A USED LANCET FOR A CLEAN OUT ROD. Used lancets as well as used insulin needles should ALWAYS be disposed of in a Sharps Box. ALWAYS obtain a new, unused lancet for conversion into a clean out rod. An unused lancet will have the pill shaped tab SECURELY ATTACHED to the body of the lancet and will offer resistance when removed.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Correction Tape, Part 2

As mentioned in my first installment about correction tape I used to use a paper based correction tape. Unfortunately I can no longer find this type of correction tape. However in my searchers recently I can across something by Alvin called Artist Tape. This is how it was hyped,"Easy to use, white, pressure-sensitive paper tape is ideal for masking errors and making corrections (in either ink or pencil) on just about any surface – artwork, photographic negatives, drafting papers, and design boards. Removes cleanly from most surfaces. Leaves no shadow when photocopied. Bright white and pH neutral in a 3" core. Acid-free. Supplied individually shrink-wrapped". Read well, so I bought some. This is a case for the product not living up to the hype. About the only thing that I found that would write on it is a Sharpie! Neither pencil nor pen, of any type but the Sharpie, would write on it. It did not come off notebook paper cleanly, pulling fibers up with the tape. But I can't really fault the tape for the ad read, "Removes cleanly from most surfaces". As for the rest, well I can't test the pH or test that it's acid free. It really doesn't matter as I can't use it as intended, as correction tape. I guess it really is, "Buyer beware".

Update 11/15/2008. I contacted Alvin & Company and the rep wrote back that this had never happened before. He suggested that I contact the seller and ask for corrective action. I did so now I am waiting to hear back from them. I'll post an update when I know more.

Magna Tank Gel Pens

While shopping at Wal-Mart today with my lovely wife I ran across a set of gel pens by Peachtree Playthings. They are sold under the brand name, Inc. They are called Magna Tank Smooth Gel Ink Pens. They have a sturdy 0.5mm needle point that writes fairly smooth and the set came in 5 colors, Black, Red, Green, Blue, and Violet. They are called Magna Tank because, as the manufacturer claims, they contain 3 times the ink of a standard gel pen. It has a refillable ink cartridge called an S.H.V. (Super High Volume) ink cartridge. They have a "Precision Swiss tip" and a rubber grip in the color of the ink. The plastic barrels are black and clear so some of the ink cartridge is visible. They have a clear cap with a stainless steel pocket clip under a color coded cap. The color coded tail cap is removable, which is how the refill is removed and inserted. The end cap is also removable. The pens are comfortably fat while the rubber grip is a thin sleeve which is firm, not squishy.

It's unusual to find gel pens in 0.5mm nib widths, especially in a department store. Most commonly these are found in 0.7mm and broader. I prefer the narrower width, which is why I bought them. The pens are truly smooth writing, as smooth as more expensive pens like Pilot and uni-ball gel pens. The large diameter of the pens make them comfortable to write with, even for those who have small hands. For the price, under $3.00 for the set, the Inc. Magna Tank Gel Pens are a very good buy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pencil/Pen Case

I have designed a pencil/pen case that holds 24 pencils, pens, stick erasers, etc. It is made from heavy fabric and is easy to make, costing under $10.00 for materials. You may even have some of the materials on hand. It separates the instruments, not allowing them to contact one another. If you would like the plans for the Pencil/Pen Case just drop me a email with a valid return email addy and I'll gladly send you the zipped file. theoldgeezer@live.com

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Act Of Writing

Write: to form words on a surface, such as paper, with an instrument, such as with a pen or pencil. (Italic words added).

The very act of writing, as with a pen or pencil upon paper, is almost therapeutic. It most certainly is extremely enjoyable act. It can be very soothing at times, almost like a cool breeze on a warm day. It is an operation that can be preformed almost anywhere and at almost anytime. All one needs is a suitable writing instrument and a suitable surface to write upon. A suitable instrument may be a ballpoint pen, a gel or liquid ink pen or a familiar mechanical or drafting pencil. It may even be a favorite fountain pen or a reliable old number two pencil. A suitable surface could be the pages of a diary, a journal, a notebook, loose-leaf paper or fine stationary.

The act of writing itself can be as simple as making a grocery list, taking notes or as complex as writing a letter or the great American novel and anything in between. The act doesn’t even need a purpose to be enjoyable. And the place one chooses to write doesn’t seem to matter much either. It can be as formal a place as a fine roll-top desk or as informal as an old fashioned lap desk. I’ve spent many an hour in my recliner, with the TV on, writing whatever comes into my head. It’s the act of writing itself that is enjoyable, not the words that are written. Don’t get me wrong, having a purpose when writing can be quite enjoyable but I’ve always found it secondary to the very act itself.

Purpose can be, however, as simple a reason as to gain practice. Even when doodling or aimlessly writing I always try and write as elegantly as I possibly can. I’m always trying to either simplify or farcify a letter or a word or even a phrase. I’ve purposefully changed my signature (the only thing I write cursively) several times over the years, not necessarily to simplify it but to beautify it. I’ve also changed the way I form certain letters, giving them more flourish in an effort to give my printing more character. I’ve done the same to the loops of my lower case g’s, y’s and q’s for the very same purpose, then changed them back again.

Part of the reason for “My Obsession” is that I am constantly searching for the perfect writing instrument, if there is one. I’m always trying to see which pen or pencil will make my hand writing look it’s best. I tend to write small, hence my obsession with small diameter nibs/leads. And it appears that I am not the only one with the emergence of all the sub 0.5mm pens in recent years. However smaller is not always better. I’ve been writing with a 0.3mm pencil for years but only recently was I introduced to sub 0.5mm pens. While I prefer to do my writing with an automatic (drafting) pencil I’ve been trying to get used to writing with a pen, for some obvious reasons. But 0.7mm and above pens are just too big. And many 0.5mm pens write larger than advertised. But with the advent of the sub 0.5mm pen I’ve come to find that I write best (with a pen) that is between 0.4mm and 0.3mm. Anything else is too small for daily use.

But when it comes down to it I write best with an automatic pencil either a 0.5mm or, preferred, a 0.3mm pencil. It just seems that things flow better for me when I use a pencil. Besides, pens are good, but I make to many mistakes so pencils are better. Feeling that should I make a mistake in speller or grammar that I can make a correction without having to rewrite the entire page puts me at ease. I enjoy the act of writing better when I use a nice, well-balanced automatic pencil. After all, isn’t enjoying the act of writing what its all about?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ultra Fine Point Gel Pen Comparison Part 2

As requested here is a close up of the writing of each of the pens. I hope it is of some help. Though you can't tell by the scanner images it appears to me that the darkest ink is that of the Pentels, followed by the Zebra, the Pilots and finally the uni-balls.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ultra Fine Point Gel Pen Comparison

Over the past few months I’ve read a lot about how others feel that one brand of ultra fine point gel pen was better than the other. Particularly how the Pentel Slicci was better than the Pilot Hi-Tec-C. I finally acquired some Slicci pens so I could run a side-by-side test myself. For the test I also included some uni-balls, a Pilot and a Zebra just to make it interesting. I picked nib diameters that were either exactly the same size or comparable. I grouped 0.28mm and 0.3mm pens together and 0.38mm and 0.4mm pens together. I did not include the Signo bit line of pens as I have only the 0.18mm version. I did not include the Hi-Tec-C 0.5mm pen because I have way to many 0.5mm pens to run a side-by-side test. The pens that I did include in the test are listed below.

0.25mm: Pilot Hi-Tec-C; Pentel Slicci.
0.28mm – 0.3mm: Pilot Hi-Tec-C; Pentel Slicci; uni-ball Signo DX
0.38mm – 0.4mm: Pilot Hi-Tec-C; Pentel Slicci; uni-ball Signo DX; Uni-ball Signo RT Gel; Pilot G-2; Zebra SARASA Clip.

The test was short and simple. I wrote a short line of text with each pen paying attention to each pens writing characteristics. The two characteristics I was concerned with were how smooth the pen wrote and how sturdy that I felt the nib was. That’s it.

0.25mm – This test included the Pilot Hi-Tec-C and the Pentel Slicci, both in 0.25mm. Both have a needle style point and that of the Slicci was noticeably thicker than that of the Hi-Tec-C. It is also something of a hybrid being a needle point that suddenly tapers into a small conical point. Of the two the Hi-Tec-Cs nib was the most fragile. I could see it wobble and bend under the pressure of writing. Both were equally as scratchy when writing on notebook paper.

0.28mm – 0.3mm – This test included the Pilot Hi-Tec-C and Pentel Slicci, both in 0.3mm and the uni-ball Signo DX in 0.28mm. Of the 3 the Signo DX was the only completely conical point. Here the Signo DX was the scratchiest of the 3. This is really no big surprise as it has the smallest point of the three. But with its conical point it is the sturdiest of the 3. The Hi-Tec-C was the smoothest of the 3 but it had the weakest nib. Like the 0.25mm version it had a noticeable wobble under pressure.

0.38mm – 0.4mm – This test included the uni-ball Signo DX, the uni-ball Signo RT Gel and the Pilot G-2 all in 0.38mm. It also included the Pilot Hi-Tec-C, the Pentel Slicci and the Zebra SARASA Clip, all in 0.4mm. Here the smoothest pen turned out to be the Hi-Tec-C. While not the sturdiest of the nibs it felt a lot sturdier that the other 2 Hi-Tec-C nibs. The Zebra turned out to be the 2nd smoothest while the scratchiest turned out to be the Slicci. All the others were about equal in smoothness, falling below the Zebra but above the Slicci. Of course the sturdiest points were the conical points, regardless.

Bottom Line, the Sliccis have stronger tips than the Hi-Tec-Cs but are equal in smoothness, or the lack there of. The conical points were the strongest of them all with smoothness varying across the board between them. So while the Sliccis may have sturdier nibs they do not write any smoother than the Hi-Tec-Cs.

Correction Tape

Back in the day, when I was a young Geezer, there was a product available called correction tape but it was not this plastic film junk they sell today it was a true paper tape. It was white and came in one, two and three line widths. It had an adhesive back and was backed by a thin piece of plastic coated paper. It came in a square shaped cardboard box not much wider than the tape itself. You pulled off the backing strip and laid down a length of correction tape long enough to cover the mistake. You could then write on it with any type of pen or pencil since it was paper, not plastic film. Todays "correction tape" is a derivative of the correction film used on typewriters but has a surface formulated for ballpoint pen ink, not gel or liquid ink. It won't even accept pencil lead!

Like so many good products paper correction tape seems to have gone by the wayside. I have tried to find it on line and in office supply stores to no avail. I've even tried on line drafting supply stores but I just can't seem to find any. In many ways I miss the "old days" when many products were of better quality that they are today. There are so many things that I once used but can no longer find. Like the old Eraser Stik by Eberhard Faber, then by Sanford. I use them for many things around the house. When I went looking for more I found that they too were unavailable. I did manage to find a dozen on eBay but I paid a hefty price for them. It's a good thing that that dozen will probably last me the rest of my life.

If anyone knows where I can find some of the original paper correction tape please let me know by leaving a comment. Thank you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Replacing A Dislodged Lead Retainer


This is a rendition of a typical lead retainer, highly magnified. It is found in the end cap, at the base of the lead sleeve, in all push button lead advance style of automatic pencils. Its main purpose is to keep the lead from falling out of the pencil when the push button is pressed to advance the lead. Along with the clutch assembly it helps regulate the amount of lead that is advanced with each push of the push button. It also helps keep the lead steady inside the lead sleeve. For these reasons it is a very important and necessary part of the inner workings of the pencil. It is a press fit and is not supposed to dislodge for the life of the pencil. However there have been several times that I have removed the end cap from an otherwise working pencil to find the lead retainer hanging in the middle of the lead protruding from the clutch or have it fall out with the broken lead piercing its heart.

The first time this happened to me I was dismayed. I tried to use the pencil without it only to find that the lead projected an inch or more when I pressed the push button! When I pushed the lead back into the lead sleeve, leaving only enough to write with, the lead wobbled and eventually broke. Thankfully this happened to a 0.5mm pencil. I was able to use a small straight pin and a small pair of pliers to eventually get the lead retainer back into place. The next time it happened it was on a 0.3mm pencil. The straight pin and pliers fix wouldn’t work with such a small diameter pencil as there wasn’t a straight pin, or any other piece of metal rod, available in the house small enough to fit through the lead retainer without expanding and thus ruining the hole in the lead retainer.

Fortunately the pencil had a clean out rod under the eraser. This clean out rod was a straight piece of rod with a pinpoint at one end. The clean out rod was the same diameter as the lead so the lead retainer fit onto the clean out rod snuggly. I put the lead retainer onto the clean out rod, pinpoint protruding through the lead retainer in the direction of lead travel. I then threaded the clean out rod into the lead sleeve from inside the end cap, pushing it through until the lead retainer was resting at the mouth of the lead sleeve. Using a number 52 drill bit I pressed the clean out rod through the lead retainer and lead sleeve before removing it. Using the #52 drill bit I pressed the lead retainer back into place, pressing around the base, off center. It took several tries but it finally stayed put. Another time, with a 0.7mm pencil I had to use a small drop of super glue in order to keep the lead retainer in place.

If you find that one of your pencils has a dislodged lead retainer you an either give the pencil up for dead or you can replace it. You’ll need a few tools and if your pencil does not have a clean out rod of proper diameter you’ll need a short length of wire of the right diameter* and a push rod, a #52 drill bit works just fine for all lead sizes. The tools you’ll need are the clean out rod, a number 52 drill bit (or a metal rod 1/16” in diameter), super glue and a toothpick (for stubborn lead retainers) and a pair of long nosed pliers (for end caps that incorporate the grip as well).

Insert the clean out rod or length of wire into the lead retainer, about ½ the way up the clean out rod. With the small end of the lead retainer facing inward insert the clean out rod into the end cap, threading it into the lead sleeve, pushing it as far into the end cap as possible with your finger. Using the back end of the #52 drill bit press the clean out rod further into the end cap. Once the drill bit contacts the lead retainer, remove the clean out rod, keeping the drill bit in place so the lead retainer does not slip out. Using the #52 drill bit press the lead retainer in place, pressing all around the rim of the retainer as well as the center.

Test the retainer by inserting the clean out rod into the lead sleeve from the opposite end, as if you were clearing a lead jam. If the lead retainer appears on the end of the clean out rod, repeat the above procedure. If the retainer fails to stay in place after a few tries then use super glue. With the retainer on the clean out rod as before first apply a small drop of super glue onto the end of a toothpick. Gently rub a small bit of super glue onto the outside of the lead retainer. Quickly repeat the procedure for replacing the lead retainer. After a moment repeat the test procedure again. The lead retainer should stay in place.

With the lead retainer now securely in place you can replace the end cap onto the pencil and resume normal operations.

* Wire diameters for the common pencil sizes are: 0.3mm, 0.145" or a #79 drill bit; 0.5mm, 0.022" or a #74 drill bit; 0.7mm, 0.027" or a #71 drill bit; 0.9mm, 0.035" or a #65 drill bit.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Perfect Pen

The Perfect Pen would be one of modular design. It would have a plastic body that could be customized with different cushioned/non-cushioned grips in different colors. An executive line could also be made, possibly of metal or resin and come in darker colors with silver or gold trim. It would have an replaceable ink cartridge of liquid ink which would be made in as large a capacity as possible within the design limits. It would have replaceable nibs. The nibs would be available in needle and conical points and in felt tip points. As well it could incorporate fountain pen nibs and calligraphy nibs. They would be available in a wide range of sizes and be replaceable while there is still ink in the pen. They would be semi-permanent: washable/reusable (with storage tubes to keep them in) but inexpensive enough to be disposable if clogged/damaged/worn out. This way the ink supply could be sold in lots of a dozen and in as many colors as possible. The nibs could be sold individually and in sets. The cap would be the screw on type, or a tight press on fit, with a rubber o-ring as a seal so the pens could be stored short-term without worry. For long term storage, take the pen apart, clean it and store it (the ink cartridge would have a cap for just such a purpose). Now, if we could just get a major pen manufacturer to make it a viable pen.

Clean Out Rods Part 2

Clean out rods (CORs) are not always supplied with automatic pencils and if my source at one major pencil company is correct then soon we may see all automatic pencils being sold without CORs. And this will be a bad thing. COR's are very important and a vital part of an automatic pencil. Clearing a jammed up lead sleeve simply can't be done without one. As I mentioned in Clean Out Rods, common household items can be found for 0.5mm, 0.7mm and 0.9mm pencils but not for 0.3mm and 0.4mm pencils. However one size can work for all sizes of pencils. A one inch length of 0.014" (+ or - 0.0005") diameter wire will serve all sizes of lead diameters. A 60" length of rod can be found at SmallParts.com for $5.00 plus $4.19 shipping. That's enough wire to make 60 CORs of 1" length.

To make a COR you'll need a 6" ruler, a Sharpie to mark off the length of each COR, a good set of small wire cutters to snip off the wire and a small needle file to smooth off the ends of the wire. You will also need a small pair of flat nosed pliers to hold the wire while filing. Use the 6" ruler to mark off a one inch segment from the rod. snip it off using the wire cutters. Holding the COR in the jaws of the flat nose pliers use the needle file to file away any burrs on both ends of the COR. Once you have made the COR use the flat nosed pliers to hold it while stowing it away by pushing one end into the base of the pencils eraser. DO NOT use your fingers for this as the small diameter wire will act as a needle and puncture your skin if not handled correctly. When the need arises use the eraser as a handle when using the COR.

That's all there is to it. To use it to clear a lead jam simply remove the eraser and COR as well as the end cap and set it down on the desk top, base down. With your finger press the end of the lead flush with the end of the lead sleeve, if possible. Next guide the COR to the end of the lead sleeve and push the lead back through the lead sleeve, pushing the COR all the way into the lead sleeve. Once the jam is cleared replace the eraser and end cap and resume normal operations. That's it.