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.


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.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sakura Pigma Micron vs Pilot DR Drawing Pen

Recently I was able to purchase a few technical pens. Namely four Sakura Pigma Micros and four Pilot DR Drawing Pens. The Microns I obtained locally but the DRs I bought from JetPens, though JetPens also sells the Microns. I purchased only the smallest 4 nibs available: #005 (0.20mm), #01 (0.25mm), #02 (0.30mm) and #03 (0.35mm). I have no use or desire for the larger sizes.

Both pens are of the plastic covered pourous material type, commenly called "felt tiped" pens. Both have a long metel tips that measure approximately 5mm long. The long tips are so the pens can ride up next to drafting instruments such as sliding squares and triangles as the primary use for these pens is mechanical drawing and drafting. However I, and many others, use them mainly for writing, drawing with them is secondary. I rather like technical pens for writing for they are generally smoother writing than any rollerball/gel pens. The porour tips are a bit more fragile than the metal ball of a of a gel pen or a rollerball but as long as they are treated right they should last the life of the pen.

For this test I used what has now become my standard pen test. I write a short line with it, in order to get the "feel" of the pen. I then draw a short line, later to be used for the water test, then I lightly hold the pen to the paper for 10 seconds for the bleed test. The water test consists of me placing a single drop of water from an eye dropper on each line. I do not smear the ink, I simply allow the water to soak into the paper to see if the ink will run, or "feather". After the paper had dried I scanned it and posted the results here.

The results pretty much speak for themselves. The lines produced by each pen of the same point size are relatively the same width. The second #03 pen test for line width was because the Sakura seemed to have been wider than the Pilot so I wanted to be sure. The subsequent test proved the widths to be the same. The water test showed that the ink from both pens is waterproof, which is to be expected since both inks are pigmented. There was no feathering or running of the ink iwith either pen. They are also light fast and at least the Pigma Micron is acid-free. The bleed test showed that all the pens bled through to the second page with only the #03 DR bleeding through to the third page but you had to look carefully in order to see the mark. The DRs were scratchier, in every point size, than the Microns, especially the #005 point size. The ink from both appears to be dark, not watery. The DRs are just slightly longer than the Microns and weigh about the same but I like the feel of the Microns better than the DRs.

Both pens are available from JetPens.com, the Microns for $2.00 each and the DRs for $2.50 each. As far as I am concerned my money is on the Sakura Pigma Microns.

Many thanks to JetPens for the use of the pen photos.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Two Of A Kind?

When I first saw the Alvin Draft/Matic DM03 I wondered just how like the Koh-I-Noor Rapidomatic 5633 it was. Well I was quite surprised to discover that the 2, while looking similar, were entirely two different beasts altogether.

In appearance they differ only slightly: the Koh-I-Noor has a hexagonal body while the Alvin has a round body; the Alvin has a ring between the grip and the body while the Koh-I-Noor does not; the end of the grip/beginning of the end cap and lead sleeve also differ slightly between the two; and the knurling on the grip and lead grade indicator is courser on the Alvin. But aesthetically they are definitely in the same family, if not siblings then kissin' cousins. But internally they are completely different! To see just how different please read my reviews of each pencil at Associated Content. Each is listed in the side bar just below the Alltop badge.

The Koh-I-Noor 5633

While the internal differences were striking the 2 pencils wrote very much alike as they were very close in length, girth and weight. I can't say which one that I like best. It's like having to choose between your two best girlfriends. A very difficult task to say the least. So pretty much the 2 cousins were alone in their close-but-no-cigar designs, snuggled within my pencil case for a while. I saw other pencils that seemed similar to the Koh-I-Noor, the Rotring 500 and 600 among them which is as it should be as they are owned and made by the same parent company. The Kokuyo TZ-PSP 503 is similar but lacks a lead grade indicator. I saw only one that looked like the Alvin, the Berol Rapid Design which has the lead grade indicator between the grip and the body. So I was pretty much satisfied that I had a representative of each design, but longed for the Rotrings (maybe one day). Then I saw the Ohto Promate PM-703.

A discontinued design of unknown (to me) era it looked very much to me like the Alvin, only in black and rubberized. I figured that it was a similar design on the outside with a different interior mechanism. I had learned form my experience with the K0h-I-Noor and Alvin that looks can be deceiving. Well as things would have it I was able to scrape up enough from my meager profits from my Associated Content publications to be able to purchase a copy of the Ohto. It arrived today, all the way from Japan via Russia! (the vendor who had it is in the Russian Republic). Well I wasted no time comparing it to the Alvin... lo and behold it's the Alvin's twin!

If the Koh-I-Noor is the Alvin's kissin' cousin then the Ohto is it's sibling! The differences in appearances are minor indeed. Aside from the color and the fact that the Ohto has a rubberized barrel the major differences in appearances are the fact that the knurling on the Avlin is courser than that on the Ohto and the way that the grips taper to the the lead sleeve. If one did not know that the two were of different makes one could hardly be faulted for thinking that one was just a slightly different model of the other. Both are really great looking pencils (except for the yellow color of the Alvin's barrel) and the stats on them both are almost exactly the same! The differences are minor and not worth mentioning and could be attributed to differences in tolerances if in fact they were of the same manufacturer. They even weight the same! But that's not where the family resemblance stops! Not by a long shot!

As much as the Alvin and the Koh-I-Noor differ on the inside the Alvin and the Ohto are the same. Almost exactly the same. Again the internal differences are so minor that once again they could just be considered different revisions of the same pencil. They are so alike that the parts from each are completely interchangeable with one another! If you were to strip the 2 pencils down to the 3 major components/sub assemblies and mix them all up, hand them to someone who has never seen the pencils before and ask them to reassemble them they would have no trouble assembling 2 complete working pencils despite the fact that both would likely contain parts from each other. Because the mechanisms are so similar they even project lead at the same rate. It takes only 2 clicks to produce enough lead to write with.

Someone else may feel slighted at having bought 2 almost identical pencils, but not me, and not any true pencilholic. It's the slight differences amongst all the sameness between the "twins" that make having them so interesting. As a collector/user and true pencilholic I think it's great finding two pencils from two different Japanese manufacturers that are so much alike! It makes me wonder, did one company clone the other's design (as if that's never happened)? Are the 2 companies owned by the same parent company? Did one designer sell the same design to both companies? Just what is the story behind these 2 pencils? I guess as time allows I'll just have to search the Net and find some answers.

And BTW, did I fail to mention that I really like the design of the "twins"? Well, I do... ;-)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mitsubishi uni SHIFT 0.3mm Drafting Pencil

When I first saw a picture of the Mitsubishi uni SHIFT 0.3mm drafting pencil I was intrigued. I wanted to know just how it worked and just how it compared to the adjustable length sleeve of the Ohto Promecha’s. So when JetPens finally got some in I just had to have one. So I saved my nickels and dimes and along with a gift certificate that I won I was able to get one recently from JetPens. When it arrived I was amazed at just how the pencil works. Normally one of the first things that I do with a new pencil is to break it down into as many components as possible. It’s just a quirk of mine, one that’s going to get me into trouble one day. Well when I got hold of the uni SHIFT I set off breaking it down. All was going fine until I accidentally broke it down beyond what an end user can normally do. That is to say that while the parts can come apart they are not parts that an end user would normally take apart unless he/she were repairing/replacing parts! Oops! That could have been the end of a very good pencil but fortunately for me the mistake was easily revisable. So, for that very reason I’m not going to inform you just how far I disassembled the pencil and just tell you how far you should disassemble the pencil if the need arises.

To do normal maintenance on the pencil, that is clearing a lead jam, it is necessary to remove the end cap and the lead sleeve. The end cap screws into the grip sleeve and is spring loaded. The spring is secured to the end cap so it won’t fall out and get lost. The lead sleeve is stainless steel and white plastic. It unscrews from the clutch assembly, which is brass and white plastic. Once the end cap is removed it is necessary to push the interior mechanism down so the lead sleeve can be removed. Reassembly is the reverse of disassembly. Other than removing the push button to access the eraser this is as much disassembly of the pencil that the average end user should undertake. Any further disassembly may cause the pencil to become inoperative.

The SHIFT series comes in the 5 now standard sizes: 0.3mm, 0.4mm, 0.5mm, 0.7mm and 0.9mm. The 0.4mm size is popular in Japan so of course a Japanese manufacturer would produce a pencil in this size. But since not all drafting pencils are made in this size I have yet to obtain one. I’ll stick to the 0.3mm size, thank you. And that’s just the size that I bought. The pencil comes in silver with a colored accent, light blue being the accent color for the 0.3mm pencil (not the ISO standard yellow, thank you Mitsubishi). The colors for the rest of the set are green (0.4mm), blue (0.5mm), orange (0.7mm) and red (0.9mm). The 0.5mm pencil also comes in 3 additional body colors, black, red and white, all with smoke as an accent color. The pencils also come with a removable instructions sticker showing just how to hide and expose the lead sleeve.

Some technical details: The SHIFT is 143mm long, making it of average length. The grip diameter is 10mm with the body being only slightly smaller in diameter at 9.2mm. The pencil is in the medium-heavyweight range weighing in at 17 grams, which puts it up there along with the Alvin Draft/Matic and the Koh-I-Noor Rapidomatic. But being a medium-heavyweight isn’t a bad thing because the pencil is bottom heavy, always a good thing in a heavier weight pencil. The balancing point (of the pencil in writing mode) is approximately 86mm form the end of the push button, just above the nicely knurled grip. It takes 2 clicks of the push button to produce ample lead to write with, any more and there is an increased risk of lead breakage. So that’s it for numbers, on to other aspects of the pencil.

In appearance the uni SHIFT is an attractive pencil, especially in silver, with its straight, almost futuristic lines! Only the grip area brakes up the sleekness of the body, which only adds to the pencils good looks and appeal. When in writing mode the only accent color is a light blue plastic ring/nut just above the pocket clip, which by the way is not removable under normal circumstances. When in hide mode the short light blue plastic inner connecting pipe that bridges the gap between body and grip can also be seen. The grip is very nicely knurled in a fine diamond pattern and affords the writer a very good surface to hold onto. Below the grip is the end cap, which steps down twice before reaching the lead sleeve, when present. The push button is the full-sleeve mushroom type that is the same diameter as the body. There is no lead grade indicator, but I consider lead grade indicators a nice functional aesthetic feature but not a necessary one. Strangely there is a counter bored hole in the top of the push button! What purpose this serves other than aesthetics is a mystery. On the side of the pencil in dark gray print are the words “uni SHIFT 0.3”. In raised letters is the word “JAPAN” on the opposite side of the pencil at the top of the body. The metal parts, the grip, end cap, pocket clip, push button neck and lead sleeve are either chromed metal or stainless steel. The lead reservoir is cavernous enough to hold about 2 dozen leads but like the Kuru Toga there is a bottleneck to lead insertion: a tiny opening under the eraser instead of the gaping mouth of most drafting pencils. This makes putting lead into the pencil a little slow.

The full name of the pencil is the uni-ball Shift Pipe Lock Mechanical Pencil for Drafting. Now that’s a mouthful! But it is sort of descriptive. It describes, in a way, the mechanism by which the lead sleeve (pipe) is hidden. Now I am only aware of 2 other ways a modern drafting pencil hides a lead sleeve. One is where the lead sleeve itself is movable. This is usually housed in the end cap and slides within the end cap. The jaws of the clutch push the lead sleeve out and when they retract the lead sleeve stays in place, held in place by friction. The sleeve has to be retracted, hidden, by hand. Because the lead sleeve is not fixed and stable it can move causing lead breakage. The other is where the lead sleeve is fixed to the inner tube, surrounding the clutch mechanism. The grip is then twisted, moving up or down, exposing or hiding the lead sleeve. Since the lead sleeve is “fixed” in relation the clutch mechanism the lead sleeve is much more stable and much less likely to cause problems. I much prefer this type of sleeve hiding to the sliding sleeve method.

Now comes along Mitsubishi, the company that brought us the uni Kuru Toga Auto-Rotating Lead mechanical pencils. Now they have a new twist on the idea (pun intended) of the hidden lead sleeve. Instead of moving the lead sleeve or the grip they designed the SHIFT to move the upper body, and the inner workings of the pencil, up and down, retracting and exposing the lead sleeve. The body locks in either position so the pencil doesn’t accidentally shift (pun intended) during use. The pencil comes in the hidden mode (my term, not theirs). The body is locked in the up position. To expose the lead sleeve the body is twisted slightly to the left, unlocking it, pushed down to where it meats the grip, then twisted to the left again, locking the body together with the grip. The pencil is now in writing mode (again, my term, not theirs). To hide the sleeve once again simply reverse the procedure. The pencil locks into place with an audible click. There are 2 springs in the pencil, one in the body and one in the end cap that push against the inner workings of the pencil and force the body up when hiding the lead sleeve. All in all a clever design and a stable one as well.

The fine knurling on the grip is well done and presents the user with a nice grip surface. Being bottom heavy the pencil sits nicely in the hand and it writes almost effortlessly. It feels good in the hand, being sturdy and substantial. It really is a pleasure to write with. This is in part due to the secure locking mechanism that keeps the pencil together, giving it a good solid feel. Under the push button is a black eraser, good for only the slightest of mistakes, such as periods, commas, quotes, etc. But Mitsubishi has left out the clean out rod, a trend that I feel is a mistake, so if you get a lead jam, you’re on your own.

Bottom line: The Mitsubishi uni SHIFT pencil has a lot to offer the professional and non-professional alike. It’s a good solid pencil that’s been cleverly designed and constructed so it won’t poke a hole in your chest when you keep it in your breast pocket. Available from JetPens.com. Get one today!

Thanks to JetPens for the use of the photo.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pilot Hello Kitty Cap Limited Edition Hi-Tec-C Gel Ink Pen, 0.3mm

When JetPens sent out a call for reviewers to do a review of the new Pilot Hello Kitty Cap Limited Edition Hi-Tec-C Gel Ink Pen I answered the call. Little did I know what I was getting myself in for. I pride myself on knowing a little something about the products that I write about and while I do know a little about the Pilot Hi-Tec-C line of gel pens I must admit my ignorance about the Hello Kitty phenomenon. So I did a little research on the web and to my amazement I found just about everything under the sun came as a Hello Kitty product, even Fender guitars! It started in 1974 with a vinyl coin purse and has spawned in to an industry making billions of dollars a year. And I thought it was a recent phenomenon, silly me. I guess that's what happens when you don't get out much!

To die in the cat fur Hello Kitty fans introductions are not necessary. You already know more about Hello Kitty than I could possibly learn and you're only 8 years old! While there are an abundance of things out there for the younger generation there are also as many it seems for the slightly older Hello Kitty fans. One of those products is an adorable set of 9 differently colored Pilot Hi-Tec-C gel pens. These well known and liked gel pens are being offered in a limited edition series featuring Hello Kitty, Charming Kitty and their adorable little mouse friend. The charms come cleverly attached to the cap of the pen, riding in the groove of the pocket clip. The accent colors of the charms are the same as the colors of ink in the pens, which are offered in both the 0.3mm and 0.4mm sizes.

Now usually such charms are permanently attached to the pen in some way so that when the pen is empty, unless it's refillable like the Hi-Tec-C's, you are left with a cute, but, almost useless item. But with the Hello Kitty Hi-Tec-C's not only are they refillable but the charm is removable and transferable to any other Hi-Tec-C stick pen! So once you have enjoyed your Hello Kitty Hi-Tec-C to the last letter not only can you buy a refill and continue to enjoy the Hello Kitty Hi-Tec-C experience but you can transfer the charm to another Hi-Tec-C gel pen. And if it happens to be one of the same point size and color you don't even have to remove the charm, just use the existing cap on the new pen. Now how clever is that?

The pen that I received for this review was the 0.3mm in Aqua Blue. The charm attached to the pen is the character Charming Mouse with an aqua blue bow tie! How cute! Being the curious type it wasn't long before I had the charm detached from the pen and attached to my 0.3mm Black Hi-Tec-C. Removable and attachment is easy but does require a little effort. I suggest removing the cap from the pen then while firmly holding the cap in one hand and the charm in the other pull straight back in one continuous motion. To attach the charm do just the opposite. The clip of the charm is plastic so don't be rough with it during removal and attachment. It just wouldn't do to break such a cute charm!

Of the 4 sizes of nibs the Hi-Tec_C pens come in my favorite size to write with is the 0.3mm. This is because it is less scratchy than the 0.25mm yet still produces a very fine line. And if it's anything I like in a pen or pencil it's fine lines. The thin needle like sleeve of the Hi-Tec_C's have been criticized by some as being too fragile and easily broken. I have yet to break the tip on a Hi-Tec-C, even the 0.25mm. Sure, anything can be broken if you apply enough pressure to it. So in general heavy handed writers should never use any king of needle point pen as they all will bend and break under abuse. But I rather like the needle point of the Hi-Tec-C's much for the same reason I like the lead sleeve on drafting pencils: It allows a clear sight picture of what's being written and it works well in drawing templates.

As I mentioned earlier the 0.3mm is less scratchy feeling than the 0.25mm pen. The 0.3mm is surprisingly smooth for such a fine tipped pen, smoother than some a bit larger in size. For this is one reason I like writing with the 0.3mm version of the Hi-Tec-C, it's smooth and makes a fine line! This is a hard combanation to come by in a thin line pen. So hat's off to Pilot Pen of Japan for coming up with it.

According to a write up at JetPens the ink in the "Hi-Tec-C pens contain a gel based ink that is insoluble with most pigments when dry (so they won't bleed)". I'm not sure if this means that the ink is a pigmented in but it sounds like it. I do know that the ink did not smear or bleed when moistened nor did it bleed through to the next sheet of paper when I held the point to the paper for 10 seconds. These are very desirable qualities in a pen and Pilot has hit the nail on the head with this ink formula.

The Hello kitty Cap limited Edition Hi-Tec-C is offered in a 9-color pack in either 0.3mm or 0.4mm point sizes at JetPens for $30.00. The colors include Black, Green, Pink, Aqua Blue, Orange, Clear Blue, Baby Pink, Apricot Orange, and Red. Mine is in Aqua Blue, which is a very, very beautiful lightish blue color. It happens to have been the very color I had ask for! Hurray for Lily!

The Hi-Tec-C is a short pen so in order to give it good balance putting the cap on the back end while writing is a must. Besides, if you don't you won't get a chance to look at the adorable Hello Kitty charm! The grip area is ribbed which makes for a good grip surface and doesn't get dirty like some rubber grips do. I find it easy to grip and fun to write with. So, if you are a died in the cat fur Hello Kitty fan and want a nice functional collectible then go to JetPens.com and buy a set of the Pilot Hello Kitty Cap Limited Edition Hi-Tec-C gel pens today! Better hurry before they're all gone!

Many thanks to JetPens.com for the Hello Kitty pen for consideration in this review and for the use of the photos.

Edit 02/04/2009: I called the charm on the Hi-Tec-C "Charming Mouse" because that was who I was told was the name of the character. I have since been informed that the real name of the character is "Sugar, The Hamster". This tells you the shallowness of my knowledge about the long standing Hello Kitty phenomenon. If I offend any Hello Kitty fans, I humbly apologize. If I made you laugh, all the better. Just remember, I'm an old geezer!