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?