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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.




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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.




Wednesday, July 15, 2009

rotring 600 0.35 mm drafting pencil in silver

Zed! What are you doing here!? And where’s Tommy!?
“I told him to take the night off. I wanted to surprise you and tell you that I’ve moved myself and my entire family to Earth!”
You have!? Wow! That’s great Zed! I guess we’ll be seeing a good deal more of each other then!?
“That’s right, Geezer!”
Well then, is that my Rotring 600 you’ve got there?
“Sure is, Geezer! Time to give it a review!”
You’re right, Zed! So…
I have been wanting a rotring for some time now. It was a toss up between the 500 and the 600, 0.35 mm. I like the silver over the black, and I like all metal pencils, so I took the plunge recently, cracked open the piggy bank and splurged on the 600 model!  I Did not get it on eBay, instead I found it and the Staedtler REG 925 85 03 Regulator at Smartimports.com. Their selection of pencils just happened to be almost completely limited to the very 2 pencils that I wanted that day! As for the500 model, well it’s only 2/3rds the price of the 600and it only comes in black, but maybe I can get one soonish, we’ll see!
The rotring 600 0.35 mm…
“Eh, Geezer? Don’t you mean 0.3 mm?
No, Zed, I mean 0.35 mm! You see 0.35 mm is much closer to the actual diameter of the lead than 0.3 mm is. So the wily Germans decided to confuse everyone and correct, or nearly so, a misconception that has been perpetrated on the entire world for decades!
“That’s confusing, Geezer!”
Welcome to Earth, Zed! Ain’t ‘cha glad ya moved here!?… As I was saying, the rotring 600 0.35 mm drafting pencil is an almost entirely metal pencil, as is the entire 600 series of pencils and pens. The 500 series has a plastic body with a metal grip, pocket clip and a few other parts. The section holding the 3-jawed chuck is of a tough white colored plastic of some sort while the clear connecting tube that connects the white support to the metal lead reservoir is of another. Other than the eraser and the strip the lead grade indications are printed on the pencil is entirely made of brass and steel. The various parts have been surface treated in such a way as to give the smooth areas a uniform satin finish once chromed. Same goes for the knurled portion of the grip and the lead grade indicator. The color makes the pencil look hard chromed. The obround window in the lead grade indicator reveals the the lead grade indications are gloss white upon a gloss background. Ad to this the red numerals, “0.35” on the left side of the pencil and the ”rot ring” around the Lead grade indicator and you have one very beautiful pencil! The only other adornments visible are the manufactures name on the pocket clip and the lead size on top of the push button, both embossed.

Now oddly enough there is one other marking on the pencil. It’s hidden from view and I might have gone on for years without knowing it was there if it wasn’t for the fact that I take my pencils apart. In so doing I just happened to notice what I thought was a couple of dings in an unusual place (blame it on aging eyes). Just above the threads on the upper body are the initials “K Q” in capitals. The area where they are stamped is normally hidden by the grip. Just whose initials they are is a deep, dark mystery!… Well maybe not so deep or dark! They could be the initials of the person who made the pencil, of the person who inspected it, of the name of the factory the pencil was made in or any number of other names. Signing ones work used to be a matter of pride in a factory. Is it still?

The rotring breaks down into 6 major parts/components. They are the grip, which is very nicely knurled and which is an integral part of the end cap/lead sleeve. Next is the integral 3-jawed chuck, chuck holder and metal lead reservoir. Then comes the body, a beautifully made hexagon tube with a removable pocket clip. The lead grade indicator is atop the body and is also nicely knurled. It is also the first pen of it’s ilk where the lead grade indicator sleeve has enough tension/friction to not only stay put when set but is actually hard to move! Plugging up the lead reservoir is the eraser. rotring did not include a clean out rod with the pencil though the eraser holder was clearly designed for one. Since this is my first rotring I don’t know if this is accidental or by design. Lastly comes the straight tube-like push button. To me the rotring (btw if you didn’t catch it earlier “rot ring” in German means “red ring”) 500/600 series of pencils are very beautiful. I have always liked the shape ever since I was introduced to the design many moons ago when I bought my first Koh-I-Noor Rapidomatic 5633, though having a plastic barrel the Koh-I-Noor is more akin to the 500 series. At one point in time rotring owned Koh-I-Noor (or was it the other way around? The web can be so confusing!) hence the similarities in the pencils exterior design.


The fit and finish on the 600 is impeccable! It clearly shows it’s German engineering and Japanese manufacturing heritage! The finish is flawless through out the pencil, even where it doesn’t have to be, like the threads! The fit is nice and tight with no gaps where the grip meets the body as well as where the lead grade indicator ring meets the body. The pocket clip though “removable” is fitted so tightly that I dare not remove it in fear of scratching the finish! Besides it would spoil the look! One slightly odd bit of engineering is the threads on the white plastic tube that supports the chuck. The part screws into the grip ahead of the body. When the grip is removed from the body the entire innards of pencil follow and exit the body tube. The grip must then be unscrewed from the chuck support tube in order to get to the chuck. I can see the purpose in this design in that it is probably one reason why the pencil feels so solid.
“Stats, Geezer! Stats!”
I was just getting to them, Zed!
The Stats: The rotring is140 mm long over all. It is 8 mm across the flats. It’s balance point is 69.8 mm from the tip of the pencil (I thought I’d get in line with other bloggers on that point as I used to measure from the other end!) and it weighs 23.4 grams making it a heavyweight. But you don’t get featherweights when you make ‘em outta metal! The knurled part of the grip/end cap/lead sleeve is 30.4 mm long offering the user plenty of room with which to grip the pencil. The diamond cut knurling on the grip and lead grade indicator ring are superbly done and has a nice feel, being slip resistant without being biting. The lead reservoir is cavernous enough for quite a bit of lead but like any other automatic pencil over filling the reservoir can cause the pencil not to feed. Three clicks is enough to produce adequate lead with which to write or draw with. The ratcheting mechanism is smooth and solid even if a bit metallic (hey, metal, duh!) with normal resistance. By the way, the rotring is the only automatic pencil I’ve seen that an extra grip/end cap/lead sleeve can be bought!






I like the feel of the rotring. It feels solid, well made. A weighty object, especially one so small, always seems to convey to our brains the sense of quality, solidity and wealth (Wealth? Yes, wealth. After all gold is heavy, right? I think that I’ve made my point). The rotring conveys all this and more when I pick it up to write with. Since it’s almost perfectly balanced in the middle of the pencil it feels almost neutral in my hand belying it’s true weight. This could be another reason for the white plastic chuck support in that it helps keep weight off of the writing end of the pencil. It’s balance is another good sign of quality design and engineering. Beauty, quality craftsmanship, a luxury feel, what more could a a pencilaholic ask for?
“How does it write, Geezer?”
Write?… Oh, yea, write! Because of it’s balance and feel the rotring is a pleasant writing experience. The lead has almost imperceptible lead wobble within the lead sleeve (yet another sign of quality) so lead breakage is held to a minimum. It feels like writing with a lighter pencil in that the weight seems to play less of a factor than in metal pencils not as well balanced. The knurling on then grip provides an excellent griping surface so keeping the pencil in the hand is easy. If you are a draftsperson or like to dabble in mechanical drawing or if you just like to use triangles and templates when you draw then the 4 mm fixed lead sleeve provides plenty of clearance to maneuver.
Bottom line – The rotring 600 0.3 mm drafting pencil is one of the finest examples of an automatic pencil I have ever owned. It is beautiful to both look at and to hold. It is elegant in design and superb in quality and operation. It is easy to use and should provide the user with a lifetimes worth of use and still be able to pass it down to your grandchildren! So if you want art or functionality or both then consider purchasing a rotring 600 series drafting pencil.
Author’s note: It is my understanding that the 600 style of pencil has been discontinued for many years now and availability is limited to whatever stock vendors have or can find. As availability goes down prices go up and I’ve seen the pencil go for more than double what I paid for mine. So if you are interested in a rotring 300, 400, 500 or 600 then I suggest that you not delay your purchase much longer. – JH
Well, Zed, how was that?
“Great, Geezer! You do have a way with words!”
Thanks, Zed!… So you’ve moved to Earth, hey?…

13 comments:

Sam said...

That's one fine looking pencil you have there Geezer! :)

Anonymous said...

I was being very at not spending money but now you've convinced me to order one :-) I've been looking for a really good mechanical pencil for a long time, and the 600 sounds like it is just what I'm looking for. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

I collect these 600s. There are several generations but missing the clean out rod must be accidental.

Anonymous said...

Mine doesn't have the rod either

The Old Geezer said...

I was informed last year that Pentel would soon stop including clean out rods with their pencils.

I have bough several pencils that came without one, Platinum, and Alvin to name a couple. The first thing I do is to put one in my pencil if it lacks one. I make my own from stainless steel rod. Pilot makes a couple of stand alone clean out rods that they include with some of their erasers.

http://www.jetpens.com/index.php/cPath/34_358 copy the link into your browsers nav window and go to JetPens. The page shows erasers for mechanical pencils. On the page are two green plastic boxes, one opened and one purple box. The boxes contain both erasers and a couple clean out rods. One for the 0.3 mm pencils and one for the others.

Wynne and Wes said...

is the tip retractable, and how scratch resistant might this pencil be? i have been itching to get one of these for quite a while now

wynne and wes

Ed said...

Sorry to bud in on you Gents, but I'm hoping one of you can offer some insight into the inspiration for the design of the Rotring 600 series Pens.

working on a project and hitting a wall.

Eddo

Anonymous said...

You have no idea how relieved I am to learn about the lead size (0.3 vs 0.35). I just came back from a trip to japan (aka: "pen/mechanical pencil paradise") where I refuse to reveal how may writing instruments I picked up :-) At the very end of the trip (thank goodness) I hit this place called Tokyu Hands (no, it is not a typo!) which is like a high-end Hobby Lobby on steroids and as my friend tried to pull me out of the art section and its 5 aisles of pens/pencils/you name it, I spotted this Rotring 500 black mechanical pencil. Interesting, I thought...I need this. But when I got to the hotel that night I realized the pen said 0.35 mm. Darn it - where on earth will I find lead for that I thought...and now that I am back home a trip to Meiniger told me there is no such lead size...so I went online and searched for it and voila! Your simple explanation cleared the way! Thanks! I shall search for the 600 as the 500 is very nice but not as hefty as I normally like it.

jhone said...

Wow thats highly integrated one and there a huge collection of pens.I like it and i preferably to suggest to give such types of gifts most frequently.

printed pencils

Electric pen said...

The initials on my 0,7 pencil say I.Z and it has no metal sleeve around the clear reservoir.

Electric pen said...

It has a rod.

Anonymous said...

Folks might be interested to know that as of 3rd Apr 2013, Rotring are selling the 600s on their website again here: http://www.rotring.com/en/74-rOtring-600-800-Mechanical-Pencils for 30 Euros ...

Anonymous said...

The review was excellent! I like your idea of showing images of mechanical pencils dismantled, this is very helpful !!
I'm from Brazil and I could buy the rOtring 600, a work of engineering.

Thank you!!!