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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.

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.


mikki said...

Hmm. Well I'm told the scratchiness is comparable to mechanical pencils writing on paper, so people who prefer pencils but are required to use pen might like the scratchiness. I think the ink formula and pen tip material are major factors of scratchiness. Companies don't usually list or describe the composition of their pen tips or inks... I know I was raving about how Uni Signos have tungsten carbide tips for a while~ (turns out it's just the ball part though).

Anyway, can you post close ups of writing from each pen? Ballpoints are able to make fine lines for their tips because the amount of ink that can come off the ball is limited. Perhaps the scratchiness results in a finer line by reducing the amount of ink on the ball as well? I'm also interested in the ink colors. Slicci and Hi Tec C blacks are slightly darker than Signo RT black, which leans toward brown in comparison.

oneloneman said...

The scratchiness is in large part due to the thinness of the tip, it's like writing with a pin or needle, no matter what ink is used they are going to feel less smooth than a broader tipped pen.

I write with 0.3mm drafting pencils all the time and after the initial wear-down of the lead all scratchiness goes away (rather quickly I might add) and the pencil writes very smooth indeed.

I'll see what I can do about those pics of the writing of each pen.

mikki said...

What about the "wobble" factor? For example, some mechanical pencils squeak (though squeakiness is different from scratchiness) as you write. I've always thought it was the lead hardness that affected that the most, though I've heard it has to do with looseness in the sleeve/slightly undersized lead and the movement of the internal mechanisms. For these pens, I suppose the Hi Tec C would have the greatest wobble factor? I got my first Slicci today, so now I get to experiment =D. I love the needle-conical hybrid point so far.

oneloneman said...

Lead in an automatic pencil can "squeak" when a hard spot is hit in the lead. I've personally never heard my pencils "squeak" due to lead wobble or any other reason (that doesn't mean that they don't, just that I've never heard them).

A well made pencil with a good lead retainer should have negligible lead wobble, though to some degree most pencils have some lead wobble. The only problem I've know this to cause is lead breakage.

mikki said...

Lol. Scratchiness. Duh. I was thinking of something closer to pencil squeakiness because scratchiness is not something that normally bothers me or is even very noticeable to me, and when it is, I take it as part of getting a thinner line (ie the .18 Signo Bit).

The worst pencil squeakers would have to be those common BIC pencils and their lookalikes with preloaded lead. I always change my lead out with Pentel or whatever I have on hand. I guess it's the friction that causes the noise. It's not like the lead feels like it will break, it just takes away from a smooth writing experience.

oneloneman said...

I just tested a number of my drafting pencils and I couldn't hear a "squeak" out of any of them. Being an old Geezer my hearing isn't what it once was so I may be missing some of the upper range of the sound spectrum.

I've never written with a BIC automatic pencil so I can't speak to those pencils and their clones. You may want to spend a few extra dollars and buy a good drafting/drawing pencil. Pentel makes a good inexpensive line, the 120 A3 DX line. They sell for under $4.00 and come in all 4 lead sizes.

oneloneman said...


I was going through some of my pencils this morning and when I tried a Paper Mate Clear Point 0.5mm pencil. As I wrote I head the lead "squeak" to me! (Sorry about the pun). It must have been one of the original leads that came with the pencil, not the Pentel I normally use. I could especially hear it when I made quick, short angled up-and-down strokes. So now I know what it is you were trying to tell me! Duh!

I believe that it is a problem with the lead, not the pencil. I only heard it with this one pencil. An identical pencil with Pentel lead did not squeak. There was noticeable lead "wobble" in both pencils.

I have no idea what quality of the lead may be causing it to squeak.