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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.


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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.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pentel GraphGear 1000, "The Hunchback" in 0.3mm

For the longest time I avoided buying this pencil because I did not like the look of the pocket clip. It reminds me of Quasimodo, the hunchback in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Not that hunchbacks can't be beautiful people. They can. I even have a figment that's a hunchback and he's, eh, bad example. Let's just say that it looked odd to me and let it go at that. (Man! You've got to be "politically correct" about everything now-a-days or you'll offend somebody somewhere!). I thought that it was made as it is so that the user could clip the pencil to a notebook full of paper or onto a jeans pocket, you know, something thick. While it can do this it is not the pocket clips main purpose. More about that later.

One thing I noticed about the Pentel GraphGear 1000 it that the exterior is metal while the interior is mostly plastic. Most pencils that are called "all-metal" are made from brass because brass is easy to machine. It is also strong enough to be used in the making of a drafting pencil. The actual lead sleeve is usually made of stainless steel because a brass tube that small would easily crush and bend. It is also softer thus prone to wear. However the Pentel GraphGear 1000s exterior is made of steel or stainless steel! I'm starting to be impressed.

The advantage of using steel/stainless steel in a drafting pencils construction is that steel is stronger than brass or aluminum. It takes a lot more pressure to bend a small tube of steel/stainless steel than it does of brass or aluminum. You can also make the skin of a pencil thinner. The trade off may be that the pencil is now heavier than one made of brass or aluminum, but not always. The GraphGear 1000 weighs 20.6 grams approximately while a rotring 600, which is made almost entirely of brass, weighs 22.7 grams approximately. The weight savings is achieved by using a plastic inner core for most of the pencil.

Steel and some stainless steels are magnetic. About the only metal parts of the GraphGear 1000 that are not magnetic are the push button, the lead reservoir (interior) and the lead sleeve (interior and exterior). These parts are most likely stainless steel with a low or no carbon content. The pocket clip is high carbon steel chrome plated. All the steel/stainless steel parts have been coated or plated to achieve the desired finish and for durability. I'm even more impressed now.

Now, about that pocket clip... The pencil is designed so that the lead sleeve is retractable. The obvious benefit of this is that the 4.5mm lead sleeve won't be poking you in the chest and/or ruining your good shirts (dried blood is hard to get out of some fabrics). The designers of the GraphGear 1000 decided to spring load the lead reservoir, of which the lead sleeve is attached, wrap a big coil spring around it and use the spring loaded pocket clip as a stop and release button.

There are 2 cutouts in the body of the pencil, near the top. The pocket clip has a leaf spring attached to it which extends down into the top cutout. The end is attached to a short metal tube which is held in place by the stepped ring just above the pocket clip. The other end of the pocket clip rests on a short plastic tube surrounding the metal lead reservoir. As the push button atop the pencil is pressed the entire lead reservoir is moved down pushing the leas sleeve out the tip of the pencil. When the end of the pocket clip slips over the end of the short plastic tube it locks the lead reservoir in place, with the lead sleeve extended. Further presses of the push button simply extend more lead.

Parts of the Pentel GraphGear 1000
To release the lead reservoir and retract the lead sleeve all one does is press the top of the pocket clip towards the pencil.  The plastic tube inside is released and the lead sleeve is retracted with a snap.  Not a bad way to extend and hide the lead sleeve.  It is certainly quicker than the twist/screw system of the Ohto Super Promechas.  The weak point in this design is the leaf spring in the top of the pocket clip.  Heavy usage of the pencil over a long, long, long time could cause the leaf spring to fail.  But I don't think that if I were a young man of 20 again and I used the pencil every day for long periods I think that now that I am a man of advanced years the pencil would still be going strong.

So, what are some of the other features of this nice pencil?  Well, there is a lead grade indicator window in the grip.  To set the desired lead grade (as long as the grade of lead you are using is 2H, H, HB, B or 2B, the full range of available lead grades on the circumference of the pencil) all you have to do is to hold the pencil at the colored band between the grip and the body.  Next loosen the tip just a little.  Now turn the grip until the window is showing the lead grade of choice.  Then hold the pencil as before and tighten the tip.  Simple, no?  The grip features some almost useless knurling, useless because it has very little grip.  The silicone ovals serve a little better of a grip surface.  In my opinion the knurling needs to be a bit sharper and the silicone ovals larger and perhaps protrude a little more.  I'm not so impressed with the grip.

The overall appearance of the pencil is pleasing, except for the pocket clip.  The lettering on the barrel and push button is crisp and clean.  However the lettering on the lead grade indicator is not.  It appears smudged.  The satin tip and grainy barrel are a nice contrast with the light catching knurling being in between.  The pocket clip, stepped collar and the push button are bright chrome.  I would say that it's a pretty pencil except for that hunchback appearance.

One long push of the push button extends the lead sleeve.  Two more presses extend enough lead to use.  The mechanism is noisy, the initial press of the push button and the release of the lead sleeve are especially loud and the pressing of the push button to extend lead is very clanky and mechanical sounding.

The GraphGear 1000 brakes down further than most drafting pencils.  But I do not recommend that the average user strip the pencil as far as it will go as putting it back together could result is breakage.  However in order to clear a lead jam you will have to take off the tip as well as the lead sleeve.  To do this, initially hold the pencil as described in the section on adjusting the lead grade indicator.  Once the tip is loose hold the body only as the grip now turns freely.  Once the tip and grip have been removed remove the lead sleeve by unscrewing it.  Surprisingly Pentel has included a clean out rod attached to the underside of the eraser.  It is accessed by removing the push button.  Remember to replace the push button before tiling up the pencil or you will spill out the lead.  Once the lead jam has been cleared (see the section of my blog on how to clear a lead jam) reassemble the pencil.

Breakdown of the GraphGear 1000 for Claring a Lead Jam
Stats.  Where would we be without the stats?  The pencil is 148.5 mm extended, 149 mm retracted. The balance point is 79 mm from the end of the lead sleeve (I did not measure it retracted as what difference does it make?).  The grip is 43.5 mm in length and the end of the pencil is 20.5 mm extended and 16 mm retracted.  The body is 8.5 mm across and the grip 9.5 mm across.  As stated before the weight is 20.6 grams (all measurements are approximate).  It's a nice medium length, middle weight pencil.

My experience writing with the pencil is less than satisfactory.  The reason being is that I could not get a good grip on the thing.  As I wrote my hand actually slipped down the grip!  I only purchased this pencil because I received a gift certificate from JetPens.com, the best Internet store for the purchase of Japanese stationary and art items, including drafting and mechanical pencils.  It is a very rare thing for me to write that while the Pentel GrafGear 1000 has some nice features they do not out weigh, in my opinion, the negatives the pencil has.  So I can not recommend the purchase of this particular pencil.

But hey, it's only my opinion and what do I know?...

This and many other fine Japanese stationary items can be found at jetpens.com.  Why not pay them a visit right now?

Thanks for reading my blog.

Editors note:  I have seen where the style of pocket clip as featured on my pencil has broken.  The new style has a hinge system in its place.  If you purchase one of these in any lead sixe be sure it has the newer hinge style pocket clip.  


My Supply Room said...

Greast post, Merry Christmas.
My Supply Room

virens said...

Hey, Geezer!

I own this pencil (it is 0.5mm, however) and really like it, and I just can't agree with some of your notes :-)

The mechanism is noisy

Well, yeah, it clicks, you know :-) It is noisier than many other pencils, but quite OK. My slight complaint is that the mechanism advances too small amount of lead (for me).

My experience writing with the pencil is less that satisfactory.... As I wrote my hand actually slipped down the grip!

Hmmm... this really left me scratching my head :-) Maybe my fingers not as dry as yours, but I have no problems whatsoever with my Pentel GraphGear 1000. I don't know, maybe they use different grip on 0.3 mm, but my 0.5mm is my favorite planning / drafting tool. I can write with it for an hour, and my fingers never slip.

One more thing: I really like the balance of this pencil. It is just right, and weights just right.

The Old Geezer said...

Thanks for reading my humble little blog and for posting a comment. Individuality is what makes the world go ‘round. Just because I find the pencil less than satisfactory doesn’t mean that many, many others do. That’s why I try and let people know that my reviews are my opinions, maybe a little more informed opinions that some who know less about, or have less of a passion for drafting pencils than I do. But they are still just my opinions. The GraphGear 1000 drafting pencil is not the only Pentel drafting pencil that as a less than satisfactory grip, in my opinion. The other is the Graphlet. The shinny chrome finish would be bad enough but it’s lack of knurling or sufficient solid gripping surface makes it slippery as well. I have to grip these 2 pencils way to tight to keep them from slipping in order to make writing a pleasure. Another grip material I do not like, for a number of reasons, are rubber or silicone grips. Give me a nicely knurled metal grip, or even a nice plastic grip any day.

As far as the noisy mech. goes, well here again it’s a matter of perception. I’ve got pencils that are a lot quieter than the GraphGear 1000 and a few that are noisier. But this is a a neutral point. I only mention it in my reviews (sometimes) because someone said that a certain pencil was very noisy and that they did not like it because of it. To me, as long as the pencil works, a bit of noise is OK by me. So I did not mean it to be a slur against the pencil. To me it’s indifferent.

Now I prefer that a pencil advance lead in small increments. I have a habit of pressing the push button several times each time I want to advance lead in a pencil. If the lead advances in large increments then I’m advancing to much lead each time. Since most of my pencils are 0.3 mm extending too much lead is a hazard.

As far as the balance and weight go, I like a slightly bottom heavy pencil myself as it helps me maintain a lighter hand when I write.

Thanks for your comments and e-mail and thanks again for reading my humble blog.

The Old Geezer said...

Thanks, George. Merry Christmas.

Vikram said...

Interesting notes on the grip! I've had the .5 version of this pencil for years and that's been the only reason I don't use this pencil daily. I actually made a review of it not a few days ago, and mentioned the slippery grip too!

Ethereal Winter Wind said...

One thing to note is that you've got an older version of the Graphgear 1000, you can tell from the leaf spring. The ones currently manufactured have a hinge joint.


Also the shank in the old one is full metal, whilst the new one utilises plastic.

The Old Geezer said...


Watched your video. Left a comment.


You are absolutely correct about the pocket clip even though the pencil is less than a month old. It came from Jetpens.com and probably came from old stock. If it breaks anytime soon I think Jetpens would replace it. If it breaks in a year or two I think Pentel will replace it.

Kathy said...

Just wanted to comment on the grip, I think the problem is that the rubber nubs 'flex' which might pose a problem for people who don't have a death grip on their pencil...I wrapped a piece of paper around the inner plastic stem of the pen before sliding the grip over it. This seems to fill the gap between the two and does not allow room for the rubber bits to move. Now the grip is perfect! I even use it for lecture notes in college, that's writing involves writing for 2-3hrs straight.

The Old Geezer said...


Thanks for the advice. I tried it and it does seem to help. not quite enough to suite me, but it is definitely an improvement.

For those of you who wish to try this fix, I found that a 24 mm wide, by 34 mm rectangle cut from plain printer paper worked great. Roll the paper around the inner section of the end of the pencil tightly, then put the grip back in place.

The silicone buttons became more ridge thus enhancing the grip. On my pencil which has a brown accent color, the buttons became lighter due to the change in background color.

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Anonymous said...

Sorry i have to disagree with you review..First off i use a pen case for my Graphgear(s) ,yes i bought two different sizes...I use .05 and .09 I have never had a problem with my fingers slipping off the grip..I"m not even sure how that can actually happen, the rubber keeps it from slipping, even if you slipped off the rubber part , you still have the steel to stop..I use these pencils for drawing as well as sketching, using both a loose and tight grip..I use for figure drawing and for perspective drawing, plotting out the VPs and and concept type cars and planes..The weight is amazing the feel is great..I have never used a pencil the feels so great in you hand.The pencil writes so smooth, even when i use a scratchy hard lead , like h3 .When using the normal H or HB it is even smoother.I have used various mech pencils various leadholders etc...The Graphgear is one of my main and one of my go to pencils...Anyone who expects more from a pencil is simply being on unrealistic and simply grouchy...To the others who said they won't try it because of this review should go and read many other reviews where this pencil constantly makes the top five or top ten..Try the pencil for yourself..You won't be disappointed

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Anonymous said...

I have this pencil, please know they have since removed the cleaning rod that is shown in your pencil. You now have to actually buy cleaning rods separately. Came across your blog to avoid doing that smh