Somehow I missed the Ohto Super Promecha for a few years. I had actually viewed it online, but seemingly in some sort of defensive reaction, the logical part of my mind must have tried to protect me from the “collecting” part my mind, and so I glossed over all the super-adjustability of it all, and it just didn’t register with me. A case of self-induced “screen-blindness” or something? Anyway, last year a reader contacted me about the Super Promecha, and made the comment, “THERES NO NEED FOR A PENCIL LIKE THAT! ITS WILD CRAZY DAVE!” Clearly it was time for me to look again, and to get myself one.
Before I go any further, if ever there was a mechanical pencil that needed instructions, then the Super Promecha is it. As far as I can tell it isn’t officially released on western markets, so the instructions are not in English, and you really do need instructions. So, here’s my version of the Ohto Super Promecha instructions.
Just look at the thing – silver metallic colour, hexagonal body, cut-out sections and springs and adjusting grip wheels everywhere - this pencil really looks “technical”. It just screams out “designer”, “engineer”, etc. This is not a pencil for “ordinary people”. Right then, picking it up, the first thing that I noticed was that it was a little lighter than I expected. It actually weighs in at about 28 grams, so the aluminium construction keeps it relatively lightweight. Most of the weight is at the front end with the large grip section and all those adjustable mechanisms, so this is definitely a front-heavy pencil. Well straight off the bat, I don’t like that. The large front-heavy grip and thinner lighter body somehow combined to give me a feeling that it was sort of flapping around a bit in my hand, particularly when not holding it tight. It reminded me of some sort of pendulum - you hold the weight at the end and the suspension rod just waves around.
The grip itself is a very fine diamond cut pattern, so you certainly get good positive grip, but it’s quite gentle on the skin, not a rough cut pattern. OK, so lets start at the front and work our way up the pencil. What length of lead sleeve to do prefer? Well, you can set it between 0 and 4mm. That first little wheel and spring mechanism (1) sets the maximum length of your lead sleeve. Then you advance or retract the lead sleeve (for pocket safety) by winding the big grip section (2) around. So you could wind the grip section around just a little bit and only half-retract the sleeve, or all the way to fully retract it. Similarly when extending the lead sleeve, you wind the grip around to extend it out, but its maximum extension is determined by the preset little wheel and spring mechanism at the tip. Overall, not a bad idea, but it would be miles more convenient if the lead sleeve retracted with a simple push like it does on most pencils. Of course if you have wound the sleeve back in and you want to write a quick note or something you don’t need to advance it out, you can just push the top cap and advance some lead and write. But I noticed this leads to problems with lead breakage, which is very unusual for me with 0.7mm leads. The Super Promecha comes in a wide variety of lead sizes. One final note, don’t wind the grip back good and hard, as it might just get stuck; and like me, you’ll need to resort to pliers and spanner to un-wind it again.
The next thing you can set is the lead advance length. You do that with the grip wheel adjuster (3) at the top of the grip section. The Super Promecha uses an ordinary push top ratchet lead advance mechanism, but the adjuster allows you to set the lead advance per click anywhere between 0 and 2mm. This is a very interesting idea, but unfortunately reality does not quite live up to expectation. I noted a tendency for the mechanism to skip the shorter the lead advance setting. So, if you set it for 2mm advance per click, and then clicked it 10 times, you would end up with 20mm of lead extended. But if you set it for 0.5mm advance per click and clicked 10 times, you might not end up with 5mm of lead, because it skipped (didn’t advance the lead) on one or two of the activations. This problem was definitely related to the lead advance length setting. The shorter you set it, the more likely it was to skip.
Well, how does it go at getting graphite onto paper? Firstly I noted I could hear a little rattle when writing. There’s less rattle if the lead is in continuous contact with your paper, but as soon as its raised and lowered in the course of general writing or drawing, you hear it. The noise is actually the push-top button rattling in contact with the body. Next, the lead is not held all that firmly in the sleeve. In comparison to some other technical draughting pencils I’ve got, when tested with the highly scientific “wobble it between your fingernails” test, the Super Promecha does have a little more lead wobble than most.
Next on the way up the body is the pocket clip. It’s lightly sprung and quite good. It is removable, by unscrewing the grip wheel (4) holding it in place.
Finally we reach the top button, which of course activates the push top ratchet lead advance mechanism. It contains a lead hardness degree indicator (5), which you set from B to 4H, including grade F which is a nice touch. Clearly these lead grades indicate Ohto’s intention that this is a technical draughting pencil. There is a small eraser under the top button, with a needle to help clear lead jams. Personally I have very few such lead jams with any pencil, but with all this super adjustability you just might need a needle with this pencil.
My pencil came in a small simple plastic protective carry sleeve. I was full of anticipation when I received my Super Promecha. Clearly it promised much, but I must confess that something just wasn’t quite right, that overall I was disappointed with it. Much of this could have been unfair expectations. Sometimes it is a fine line between techno-supergadget and gimmick. Now that I have experienced the Super Promecha’s features first-hand, for me personally, I think that overall this pencil has put one foot just over the line, just stepped into the ‘slightly gimmicky’ and ‘disappointing’ area of the field. However, I’m sure a lot of people, and many Ohto users, will disagree with me.
- Best Points – All that adjustability, particularly the lead advance length.
- Not So Good Points – Cumbersome lead sleeve retraction, and for me personally, front heavy balance.
- Price Range – Mid.
Dimensions – Length 153mm, diameter 10mm at grip. Balance point about 60mm up from the tip.