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The Old Geezer

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pacific Arc DP-03 0.3 mm Drafting Pencil


The regular readers of my blog know that I have a fondness for 0.3 mm drafting pencils.  I have a particularly keenness for the Pentel 0.3 mm P203, which some years back I discovered was discontinued... "Discontinue!  No discontinue, Stephenie!".  Pardon my "Short Circuit" parody, bit I just couldn't help it!...  Well I could help it, I just didn't!  When I inquired about why the response from Pentel was that it was being discontinued due to a lack of sales!  What?  A lack of sales?  I did not believe it then and I do not believe it now!  The pencil sold for about $4.00back then, now they are $10.00, when you can find them!  As far as I am concerned Pentel made one of the biggest mistakes the company has ever made when they discontinued the P203!  The P200 series pencils have been one of the most copied and cloned and modified mechanical pencils in history!  Case in point the Pacific Arc DP-03, 0.3 mm Mechanical Pencil.

When I saw the pencil I was intrigued.  A P203 clone or copy (clone - all parts are interchangeable with a Pentel P200 series pencil.  Copy - they are not all interchangeable, though some might).  The DP-03 0.3 mm mechanical is a copy.  I discovered this when I disassembled the pencil, along with a P203 and tried to interchange some of the parts! The tips, erasers and push buttons exchange but the non-tapered Pentel mechanism would not fit into the Pacific Arc body, though the Pacific Arc mechanism did fit the Pentel body.  The parts look similar but there are subtle differences such as the shape of the metal tip.

The 2 pencils are very close in size and balance, but the Pentel is slightly heavier at 11 grams verses 9 grams for the Pacific Arc.  The feel of the Pacific Arc is also different due to the slight difference and slightly more forward balance.  It also sounds less solid, more clunky when the push button is used to advance lead.  Lockup of the lead is as solid as with any such pencil but there were 2 things I didn't like about the Pacific Arc DP-03.  One is that a single 'click' does not quite advance enough lead to write with, for me any way, but a second advances too much!  With the Pentel the advancements are in very small increments which means it takes at least 3 'clicks' to advance enough lead to write with.

The second is that the the lead protruding from the tip of the Pacific Arc pencil has considerable lead shake.  That means that the interior of the lead sleeve is slightly over sized inside the tube.  Thus the lead does not fight as tightly in the tube as does the Pentel!  This, along with the over extended lead meant that there was considerable lead breakage when I used the pencil.  Now I was using the Pacific Arc lead at the time, so I replaced it with Pentel lead and got about the same amount of breakage!  The Pacific Arc lead is a high polymer and comes 24 pieces per tube. 2 tubes per package, for only $2.00 as of Saturday, February 1, 2011, from Hobby Lobby.  While I like the price what I don't like is that the pour spout is recessed into the mouth of the cap so it has to be removed by hand and inserted into the lead reservoir.  No direct pouring of lead into the lead reservoir from the container!

I had high hopes for the Pacific Arc DP-03.  I was hoping that I had found a low cost ($3) alternative  to the Pentel P203.  While I did find a bargain in the lead, the pencil is another matter.  Aside from the lead breakage/enlarged lead sleeve the product seems to be more cheaply made than I thought!  As I was disassembling the pencil for photographic reasons, the lead retainer fell out of the tip!  This is never good!  Now I have some experience replacing lead retainers so I tried to replace it.  Dang if I somehow didn't loose it!  I don't know how, but when I went to see if it was in the tip, it wasn't!

For most people this would be a lost cause and no matter how little or how much (I've had a similar problem with an $80.00 pencil) the pencil cost, it would now be rendered useless.  Without a lead retainer the lead falls straight through the pencil when you try and advance the lead!  But for me, it proved a challenge, nothing more.  After some searching I found a piece of small gage wire where the sheath was an adequate substitute.  With some work I got the pencil to function properly once more.  Hooray for me!

But the bottom line is, while I really like the shape and feel of the pencil, I can not and do not recommend the pencil for any reason.  Yeah, it's only $3.00, but one can do better by buying a different style pencil from jetpens.com.  Or if you must have a Pentel P203, than $10.00 on the net.  So my advice is to avoid the Pacific Arc DP-03 0.3 mm pencil, at least for now.  However the lead is another story.  It seems of good quality and the price is unbeatable.

4 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Ya I just bought this pencil and was very confused that there is no lead reservoir. So as you mentioned the lead has to be reloaded by hand into the front of the pencil. This can be done by unscrewing the tip or by inserting through the needle nose.

My question is...do I have to break up my lead to use a new stick with this pencil? Seems so because of the length of the lead. How is that an efficient design?

The Old Geezer said...

I did not write that the lead had to be inserted into the tip as there was no opening in the lead reservoir! What I wrote was that I could not pour lead from the lead container directly into the lead reservoir! The pencil has an opening in the lead reservoir. So feed lead into the pencil from the end cap end, not the tip end. However if you are smart, throw away that Pacific Arc POS and buy you a Pentel P203 off the Net. It will cost you $10.00 but will last you 100 times as long as that PAPOS

Anonymous said...

Ya when I posted that I had just opened the package and haven't had a pencil like that before. You were dead on about the lead breaking every two seconds. I appreciate the advice, the quick response, and of course the great review.