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.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

roting rapid PRO 0.5 mm Drafting Pencil in Black

Click on any photo to see a full sized image
Grace, elegance, sophistication, beauty, no, I am not talking about my lovey wife, this time, although she is all these things, I'm talking about a drafting pencil.  Namely the rotring rapid PRO 0.5 mm in Black.  Like my lovely wife, the rotring rapid Pro is all these things and more.

First introduced in 2010 it's price range puts it in between the rotring 600 and the rotring 800 drafting pencils, the spot once held by the now discontinued and rare rotring 700 drafting pencil.  So I am going to take a wild guess here, mind you it just that, and say that the rotring rapid PRO was designed to fill the gap between the rotring 600 and the rotring 800.  But I could be wrong.  At any rate it fits the gap well.

Now, why would I apply such words like grace, elegance, sophistication and beauty to a drafting pencil?  Because they fit.  The rotring rapid PRO is everything one would expect from the International known and loved rotring family of pencils and pens.  It has graceful lines, is n elegant design, has a sophisticated look and is a beauty to look at and use.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking!  You're thinking that because he likes drafting pencils and rotrings that he's going to give this one a glossy review!  Well, I could see why you would think that way, but you'd be wrong!  I'm going to give it a satiny review.  Get it?  Satiny review!  The pencil's a satin black...  (Sigh)  Why do I even bother?

OK, enough dry humor.  Lets get down to some hard facts....

 The Construction..  The rotring rapid PRO is of all metal construction on the exterior and a combination of metal and plastic on the interior.  The metals are aluminum plate over brass (my best guess) which is anodized a satin black.  The barrel is hexagonal while the grip assembly is round.  The top of the pencil where the pocket clip resides is round as is the push button.

The Look.  The finish is a satin black with a smooth texture on the barrel and a rough texture on the grip portion of the grip assembly.  This is due to tiny spiral cross hatching intended to provide the surface a good grip. A red plastic ring separates the grip assembly from the barrel.  This is part of the interior assembly. On the left side of the pencil, in gloss gray paint, are the rotring logo and the name of the pencil, "rapid PRO" and the lead, size, "0.5" (mm).  Embossed on the pocket clip is the company logo.  All in all a rather attractive pencil.

Point of Interest.  The "red ring" around the pencil is the companies trademark.  It literally means "red ring".  The original manufacturing company, based in Germany, changed the company name to "rotring" in the early stages of the company's life.  The company is now part of Newell Rubbermaid and the pencils are made in Japan.  To the best of my knowledge the quality of the German pencil has been upheld by the Japanese version.  As far as interchangeability is concerned, I haven't a clue.  If you know of anything different please write me and let me know.

 The stats.  The rotring rapid PRO is a solid, high end pencil worthy of the rotring name.  It is made of metal, probably a combination of brass and steel.  I'm certainly NOT going to take a carbide scribe to it to find out for sure, but most metal pencils have brass bodies as well as other parts made of brass while things like the pocket clip, lead sleeve and push button are made of steel.  Generally the interior is a combination of metal (brass and steel) and plastic of some type.  Such is the case with the rapid PRO.  Don't disdain plastic in a high end pencil as plastic can dampen sound and it makes far less noise than metal when surfaces contact one another, thus making for a quitter pencil.

The rotring rapid PRO is a heavyweight weighing in at 24.5 grams.  It's 144 mm with the sliding sleeve retracted and 148 mm long extended.  That gives the rapid PRO a 4 mm lead sleeve. the diameter is 8.5 mm across the flats and has a balance point of 73 mm from the extended point.  This means that the Rapid Pro's balance point is almost in the exact center of the pencil.  This makes for a better writing experience. 

The black satin color is probably the result of the brass being plated with a thin coating of Aluminum and then hard anodized.  Brass itself cannot be anodized.  Anodize is a process where Aluminum is oxidized.  Anodize is applied in layers and is harder than the under lying Aluminum.  During the process the anodize can be dyed or colored, thus a black pencil!

The push button on the rapid PRO is a bit unusual and there is no explanation, that I can read (I don't read Japanese) in the pamphlet that accompanies the pencil, in that the push button is a tube, not a cap!  The top is open.  What's up with that!?  I don't see the purpose in the open top, but the metal is rolled down towards the inside so there is no sharp edge, but a nice smooth edge to press against.  Under the push button is a tiny eraser (useless in my book, then any follower of this blog knows how I feel about such erasers).  The eraser hides the fact that instead of a wide mouth for the reservoir there is a metal cap with a small hole in it so that the lead has to be delivered one-at-a-time!  Much like the Mitsubishi Kuru Togas.  Again, what's up with that!?  If anybody knows the reasoning behind this, please let me know!

Now if you go pressing on the push button, and I know that you will, then you will get a surprise. The first depression lets down the hidden sliding sleeve (Ha!  Told you there was a surprise!) along with a small amount of lead.  A second depression releases enough lead to write/draw with.  The mechanism is not loud, while not being silent either.  Shall we say it's on the quiet side, but audible. The sliding sleeve is a true sliding sleeve, not just a hide-a-way sleeve.  This means as you write, the lead wears away but when it reaches the sleeve the sleeve moves back up into the pencil allowing the lead to still make a mark.  However this is more use when drawing with a straight edge than anything else for the pencil is held almost perpendicular to the paper when drafting or doing mechanical drawings.

4 mm sliding sleeve
Now You See Me, Now You Don't!

The rotring rapid PRO breaks down into 4 major components.  The grip/end cap/lead sleeve, the push button, the eraser (without a clean out rod) and the main body.  The pocket clip is removable, but should one do so I am afraid that the finish would be scratched.  To disassemble the pencil in order to remove a lead jam, simply remove the grip assembly, then using a suitable clean out rod, remove the jam and reassemble the pencil.  No need to remove the push button and eraser to gain access to the clean out rod because there is none (did I mention that the pencil doesn't come with a clean out rod already?).

Top: Grip/End Cap/Lead Sleeve
Bottom from left to right: Front Row, Push Button, Eraser.  Back Row:  The Main Body And Internal Works
Now besides the obvious grudge I have against pencil makers no longer putting clean out rods in thin lead pencils I have one other complaint about the pencil  But first a word from our sponsors... Please visit jetpens.com often and when you do you can mention my name, The Old Geezer!  And the name of my blog, Pens and Pencils!  It won't get you any discounts or anything but it might get and my blog some attention! (Just kidding,...).  The second, and more importantly is the grip part of the grip assembly.  The knurling is very fine and was intended to provide the end user with a good griping surface.  But for me the knurling is almost to fine.  Almost but not quite.  It's not that the pencil slips in my hand when I use it, it's just that I prefer the feel of a courser knurling!  To each his own. 
However, there is one thing that I have discovered.  With use the grooves tend to fill with exfoliated skin!  This turns the black to gray!  An"acid" brush, form a hardware store, with it's natural bristles shortened considerably, is good for cleaning this out of the grooves of the grip. A little bit of tap water used with the brush helps remove the dead skin and wash it away. The natural bristles are easy on the finish.  NEVER use any type of metal brush to do this as this would ruin the pencils finish!
Bottom line.  The rotring rapid Pro make a good writing pencil.  it's well balanced, has some heft to it which helps keep in in the hand and in the correct writing position..  The grip issue aside the pencil is a keeper.  It's a very well made pencil, made from quality materials with an attention to details.  The pencil is also suited for mechanical drawing but I personally feel that the rotring rapid Pro is worth the money.  One day I'll buy one in silver and I'll have a side by side comparison.
I hope that this review has been helpful, interesting, informative and that you, the reader, liked my since of humor.  If you didn't, then by all means don't email me a bout it!
Many thanks to our friends at jetpens.com for the pencil used in this review.  Please visit them for some of the finest pens, pencils and stationary items that Japan makes. 
Thank you.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Faber Castell TK-Metal 903 0.3 mm Drafting Pencil

Faber Castell is a name that I am familiar with in that I grew up with the
brand.  I mostly knew the company for it's erasers, especially the long white typewriter erasers with the blue plastic bristles on top.  I used these to clean the contacts on battery cases and circuit board contacts.  Sadly these are no longer available except on eBay and the like and were last made by Sanford Brands.  The few that I have left are probably all I'll ever find.  But I digress.  Faber Castell has long been a name that meant quality, being made in Germany, as are and were some of the finest drafting pencils in the world.  A visit to the Faber Castell web site reveals that there is only one the series of drafting pencils I am most familiar with, the ones that are dark green and gleaming bright metal, still made, the TK-Fine Varol L in 3.5mm.  So the one that I have is no longer available, the TK metal 903, as are a host of other such pencils.

When I first got into buying and collecting drafting pencils I neglected buying the Faber Castells in favor of the Japanese made pencils.  I guess I was thinking that the Faber Castells would be available for longer than they have been.  Many of the vintage pencils are selling for $150.00 and up!  I guess I had better get the TK-Fine Varlo L 3.5mm soon or I'm not going to get one!  All the others are out of my reach, financially.

I am always reluctant to write something bad about a pencil seeing as I am just one lone man in a sea of writers, would be writers, artist and those who wish they could draw and the like, all who would have an opinion on the pencils that I review.  You must remember that what I write, though I try to be as objective as possible, is always somewhat subjective.  I've only trashed 2 mechanical pencils on this blog, and I believe that they deserved it!  I write this in order to say this: I'm a little disappointed in my first Faber Castell drafting Pencil!  Why, you ask?  Well I'll get to that in a bit.  Right now some stats!

The TK-Metal 903 is approximately 144 mm long, 9 mm in diameter at it's widest point and weighs 16.7 grams making it a medium weight in the drafting pencil arena.  The balance point is approximately 70 mm from the tip of the pencil which gives it nearly perfect balance!   Now for the first disappointment.  The body of the pencil is not metal as the name would imply, but plastic! Now being plastic is not a crime by any means!  Some high end pencils have plastic bodies.  It's just that because of the name, TK-Metal 903, I expected an all metal pencil! 

Putting that aside, the green plastic is an attractive color, a British Racing Green I'd call it, even though it's of German make.  The body is round and smooth with the manufactures name and logo, the pencils designation and lead size being imprinted in a silver tone on the barrel below the chromed metal removable pocket clip. The push button and ring between it and the pocket clip are also metal as it the chromed ring and chromed grip and pencil tip.  The band between the ring and grip is plastic.

The grip is the area of the second disappointment.  Being metal does not assure that a grip will have grip, thought it usually does as it is often knurled and not bright chrome!  One day mechanical pencil manufactures will learn that slick chrome grips, while they may look pretty, are not a good gripping surface!  The TK Metal 903's grip is unique in that it has 18 narrow evenly spaced rings cut into it.  It itself not a good gripping surface.  The rings need to be wider and a little deeper to provide a better gripping surface.  Between the narrow rings are a number of micro cut rings almost to fine to see with the naked eye. (A magnifying lens will reveal them).  The idea is that the micro cut rings will provide a sort of micro prickly surface that will act as a good griping surface!  If you have baby soft skin it might.  but for the average person I do not feel that it does.

The take down.  WARNING!  The end of the pencil disassembles into 4 parts!  None of then except the end cap/lead sleeve are attached in any way!  To remove the tip in order to remove a lead jam for instance it is best to grasp the pencil body ABOVE the metal ring with one hand.  Then with the other LOOSEN the end cap (it's the smooth bright part below the ringed grip) then STOP!  Now grip the grip along with the rest of the pencil in the palm of the hand and continue to remove the end cap.  The remaining 3 pieces are now very loose and should be carefully removed and stored in a safe place such as a small container.  Once the lead jam has been taken care of reassemble the pencil in reverse order.  However don't go looking for the lead clean out rod under the eraser as there is none.  You'll have to provide your own.  But removing the end cap/push button and eraser will allow you access to the cavernous lead reservoir.

Click picture to enlarge

The writing experience and the rest of the story.  The pencil only needs 2 clicks to advance enough lead to write with.  The clicks are smooth and not overly loud.  The balance of the pencil is off set by the fact that I have to either hold the pencil above the long grip area or grip the pencil overly tight in order for my fingers not to slide down the grip.  Over gripping cause my hand to tire easy, so I've never had the opportunity to use the TK-Metal 903 for extended periods.

My conclusion.  Well, I am afraid that you, the reader, are on your own on this one.  Because of the grip situation and the way the end components are assembled, I can not in all honesty recommend this pencil for the average user.  It's a shame for the pencil has some fine qualities, but not enough, for me at least, to overcome the one major flaw, the lack of grip in the grip.  If you do buy a Faber Castell TK-Metal 903 ( or any of the other sizes it comes in) or if you have one, please drop me an email, theoldgeezer@live.com and let me know your experiences.

Bottom line is that they all can't be winners.