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The Old Geezer

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Clean Out Rods

One major pencil maker has informed me that they will no longer be supplying clean out rods (CORs) with their new automatic pencils. The reason given was one of safety. I only have this person’s word for this but I have absolutely no reason to disbelieve them. Why would they lie? I have no practical way of discovering this out first hand so why not take their word for it? But this is a disheartening thing to hear for I believe that CORs are a necessary, yea, an important part of a modern automatic pencil, especially a drafting style automatic pencil. It is true that non-drafting style pencils have never to my knowledge, limited as it is, been supplied with CORs. The reasons for this I believe (just a couple of guesses mind you) are that the lead sleeves are considerably shorter, even nonexistent, on non-drafting style automatic pencils. Also they don’t come in 0.3mm or 04.mm sizes. The larger sizes, 0.5mm to 0.9mm, have COR’s of diameters ranging from 0.22” to 0.35” in diameter. Household items such as small paperclips and various sizes of straight pins fall within these diameters. So making a COR for one of these pencils is not much of a problem. I’ve done so in the past using these objects. But making a COR for a 0.3mm or 0.4mm pencil is very hard to do unless you can find and purchase piano wire rod from 0.012” to 0.016” in diameter. This is neither easily done nor inexpensively acquired.

Why make such a fuss over a tiny piece of wire? Because without it cleaning out broken and jammed up pieces of lead from a drafting automatic pencil, especially the smaller diameters, is hard to do or next to impossible. Why not use another piece of lead to clean out the lead sleeve? After all it’s the right diameter. There is a very good reason for not using another piece of lead as a COR. Pencil lead, that is graphite, is not very strong, even in the larger diameters. There is always the danger of breakage, complicating the problem. I’ve had lead jammed up in a 0.3mm pencil so badly that I would not have been able to un-jam the lead sleeve without the metal COR. This is a rare occurrence but it does happen. Even when the lead is not jammed up tightly inside the lead sleeve using apiece of lead to clean out the lead sleeve of a 0.3mm pencil is a delicate operation at best, I know because I’ve done it. More often than not the lead COR breaks and a second piece of lead is lost and the problem still exists.

If the lack of a COR with a new drafting automatic pencil was just one companies doing I would not be so upset. But I’ve noticed that with 2 other major brands of 0.3mm pencils that I purchased recently lacked a COR. So what do these automatic pencil makers expect us to do when there is a lead jam in one of these small diameter-drafting pencils? I don’t know what they would suggest we do but as for me I plan on finding some suitable piano wire rod and start making my own CORs.

10/17/2008 I stand corrected. Pilot makes a non-drafting automatic pencil in 0.3mm size. It's called the AirBlanc Mechanical Pencil and is available from JetPens. But the lead sleeve is shorter than a conventional drafting pencil. I seriously doubt that it comes with a COR.

2 comments:

IvaliceResident said...

When I first got into seriously collecting, I was pretty indifferent with and did not even know what COR's were. When my first clog arose, my frustration led to my finally figuring out what it was. Anyway, yeah it's MEGA useful. It's such a small, minute detail--I wonder why they would stop including them... cut costs? Dangerous? Are they going to end up selling them separately? Actually that would be cool... just one more thing to collect, LOL.

IvaliceResident said...

One more thing... I looked at that other site you gave me and I just realized that there is a whole underground pen-blogging culture. That's so awesome... It's kind of bad, too. First, it makes me waste my time at work reading up on dozens of articles (there are so many that I get overwhelmed even before I start). And second, it makes me have to buy more pens/pencils >_<. Are you linked with or part of a pen-blogging group? I saw a bunch of them from the link you gave me, but not yours.