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The Old Geezer

Thursday, January 16, 2014

roting rapid PRO 0.5 mm Drafting Pencil in Black

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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.
 
 
 
 

5 comments:

Azizah Asgarali said...

Lovely review! I'm a huge fan of the ballpoint pen of this - the pencil would make a very nice pair!

The Old Geezer said...

Thanks! I'm glad that you liked the review. I'm sure that the pair would make a very nice gift indeed!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the review as I have just purchased this pencil in silver. Now I plan on getting the pen in black. I also wondered about the eraser cap being a tube. I thought it might be to easily differentiate between the pen and pencil if they are both in your shirt pocket.

Julie said...

Here is my speculation on why the top is open on the rapid pro. I have a plastic variant (the rotring rapid), purchased around 10 years ago, and the push cap is also a tube. The tube itself is quite long and holds an equally lengthy eraser that extrudes when it is twisted. I wonder if it was purely a design-driven decision so that the rapid and rapid pro line is visually cohesive.

The Old Geezer said...

Thanks for reading my blog, all of you and for your comments. I think Anonymous both have 1/2 the answer each. The original rotring rapid may have had the hollow push button tube so that when in the shirt pocket it could be easily distinguished from the pen. The new PRO simply carries on the tradition. Thanks.