Friday, June 12, 2009

Clearing A Jammed Mechanical Pencil

I guess this is a bit of a public service announcement. Quite a few people end up at this blog after searching on terms like

How to clear a lead jam.
Lead jammed in mechanical pencil.
How to fix a jammed mechanical pencil.
Mechanical pencil lead stopped advancing.
Fix jammed pencil mechanism.

Of course the pencil mechanism might be broken, but the first thing to try with many pencils is to unscrew the tip and check there isn’t a piece of broken lead jamming the tip itself.

After that, the next thing to check is for a small piece of lead jamming the mechanism and you might clear it out by sticking a rod up the through the tip. Some mechanical pencils come with a clean out rod (usually it’s a thin metal rod attached to the eraser holder) but with a little care you can generally use anything that will fit up through the tip – another stick of lead, a pin, a straightened out paper-clip, etc. Push the button or whatever you do to advance the lead but then don’t release it, hold the button down so the mechanism stays open and put the rod up through to try and clear any jams. Do it a couple of times operating the mechanism in-between and keep your fingers crossed.

For more detailed instructions and pretty pictures and other things to try, check these links.

From Pentel - Clearing Jammed Automatic Pencils

From Associated Content – How to Clear a Lead Jam (From an Automatic Drafting Pencil)

From Pens and Pencils blog – use the “Clean out Rods” label to bring up plenty of good stuff, particularly on how to deal with jammed Ohto Super Promecha’s.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Re BIC pencil leads sliding back into the pencil. It's probably because the bit of lead is too short...so just pull it out and click a new lead into place. Hoo Roo

domeheid said...

I used a staple to unblock my Parker Jotter pencil.

Pete said...

Do you know how to clear jammed leads from the spare lead holder in a yard o led pencil. I have recently purchased a second hand one, it works fine other than this.

Here's hoping.

Kiwi-d said...

Hello Pete. I haven't had that problem, but the first thing that springs to mind is that lead isn't that tough and its easily replaced. So I would be tempted just to try and crumble/smash/dig/drill it out with something long thin and pointy - a sewing needle perhaps?

Also, metal expands with heat more than pencil lead. I'm not talking cooking it in the oven, but maybe warming the pencil slowly to something like 30 - 40 deg C (electric blanket, two warm hot-water bottles?) might be enough to free the lead?

Pete said...

Cheers Kiwi-d. Glad to break new ground on the pencil problem front. I'll give what you suggest a go and see if that solves the issue.

Anonymous said...

I had a Pentel Twist Erase pencil that was stubbornly jammed with lead. I put the tip in the flame of a butane lighter. The hi-polymer lead did not melt, but it did eventually release and clear. A tiny plastic busing that guides the lead fell out and had to be re-inserted. My pencil works.

But...
I have blisters on my index finger and thumb,
I have scorch marks on my desk blotter,
And the tip of my pencil is heat-treat black.

I would do anything to keep my Pentel pencil working.

Regards to all,
Ken

Kiwi-d said...

I'm sure Pentel appreciate the loyalty.

Pete said...

Bad form not to respond, so apologies. Your suggestion of a sewing needle worked a treat plus a pair of tweezers to remove the leads.

Many thanks.

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Pete - glad to hear it all worked out OK

DavidS said...

All that work to keep your Pentel pencil?

This blog is ridiculous, but that's what I love about it :). It converted me from the Fountain Pen Network to crazy pencil sites like this one, but especially this one.

I've since enjoyed using pencil more often, even in evil classes like math.

Thanks for all the reviews!

Kiwi-d said...

DavidS - Welcome. All converts that escape the Ink Lords are welcome here :-)

Anonymous said...

hopeing to fix my papermate, the kind with the clicker on the side and the really long twist eraser... i made the stupid mistake if putting like 10-15 pieces of lead in it and jammed it hopefully a paperclip will work
-zayne kinkade

Anonymous said...

hi, have a caran d'ache pencil, it will not hold the lead in place, put in one end straight out the other, is it now a throw away or is there a simple remedy

edj said...

Thanks for the staple tip. Cleared a jam in a Waterman with .5 lead.

Ann said...

I couldn't fix my mechanical pencil. (Lead jammed)

buddy said...

Thanks domeheid for the staple trick, rescued my beloved Pentel !!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I followed your instructions and my pencil works perfectly again! When I think of all the mechanical pencils I've thrown away because I didn't know how to fix them... well, I feel a little bit sad. But that won't happen again.

Anonymous said...

Heat from a match did it the lead moved and I could pull it out with fine tweezers

Abby said...

THANKYOU so much, this has just saved me from a very annoying trip to the art store :D

Anonymous said...

I have a Pentel P205 that has been jammed for years. Too lazy to do anything about it, and didn't want to throw it away since it's such a great pen. Finally came across this site -- thank you!

Surprisingly, what (finally) worked for me was completely dismantling the entire pen, then taking the main pen mechanism and pushing down so that the 'jaws' were engaged in the open position.

Then, banging/rapping the open 'jaws' down on the desk a few times. A tiny piece of lead fell out! Sheesh.

The pen is now working fine. It only took me years to figure this out. :-) Thanks again for your site, it was nice/inspiring to see so many others with the same problem.

Toontown Detective said...

Would your advice be any different for my Montblanc Meisterstuck pencil that is jammed? I tried most of what you recommended but no luck so far. thanks

Anonymous said...

I managed to get good advice out of this page so I'll add my own experience. My LAMY Logo got horribly jammed because of a single hair (?!) that managed to slip into the spring mechanism.

The pencil's tip was free and clean, but whenever I put a lead in it would jam. I have no idea how this happened, but I had to dismantle the whole thing to discover what was going on.

Right down the lead shaft you can see two tiny flaps that hold the spring mechanism. If you lift these two plastic holders you can extract that portion of the pencil from the bottom plastic body. Careful since there's a LOT of tiny parts that'll fall over so do this on a table.

You can then check all the little pieces one by one to see what's wrong with 'em, and easily clean 'em up. This pencil withstood iron needles getting twisted or broken into its lead shaft, some (very) gentle hammering, et cetera. Amazing little thing.

Peter Goh said...

Hi,
I was filling my Kuru Toga pacer with lead, but I accidently filled it with too much and no it doesn't work and I can't get the lead back out. Help please?
Thanks

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I was filling up my pacer with lead, but then I filled it with too much and I can't get it out now. It has a plastic body.
Any help?

Carlos said...

Used a needle to remove the jam on the tip of my mechpencil. To prevent further jams, prevent rust and clean it real nice: I sprayed it with a bit of wd40 and cleaned the dripping wd40 with papertowels. If the needle won't fit in enough, heating the metal tip of the tip itself might do the trick to help remove the stuck lead. Used it on my Uni Shalaku 0.5

Daniel Canoza said...

Hi, I have a Dong-A XQ Ceramic Jedo 0.5 but the button wont press! I think its due to a jam.

Anonymous said...

I have a Sheaffer (mini) that uses 1.1 mm leads. The leads are 35mm long, but the pencil will only retract (through the point) 22.5mm. I suspect there's something wrong with the retraction mechanism?

Anonymous said...

I have a Cross Tech 3+ (0.5 mm lead). I took it apart as much as possible, and I have finally found the root of the problem (Yay!). In the miniature tip (once I disconnected it), something is stopping the lead from advancing. Problem is, I can't see what's blocking it (Pft). Sometimes I think I've started doing "pen surgery."

To get this thing out of the tip, I have tried pushing it out with a sewing needle, more 0.5 mm lead, clicking obsessively... None of this worked. Any ideas?

Really, the two things that I need to know are-
A) what is blocking the lead
B) how to get it out

I know that before, there was too much lead in it. But now I suspect that most of that lead is gone from my poor little pencil's intestines. So, do any of you know what's going on?

Please help!

James Stone said...

I have a Sheaffer mechanical pencil Valiant 500 from around 1944. My wife's dad owned it and I'm trying to get it going. It has no clog and the mechanism goes up and down when you put the lead through the nose but doesn't hold.
I tried to feed it from the outer ring and didn't seem to feed. I'm using 2B .5mm lead.
Also, looking for replacement erasers too.
Any ideas? thanks

Kiwi-d said...

See the sidebar for the "Pencil Refill Instructions" link. From 1944 it will be 1.18mm or 0.9mm diameter lead.
0.5mm lead did not exist back then.
Sounds though like the mechanism might be broken.

VeraS said...

Hello Knowledgeable People,

I found this thread after searching for ways to clear a broken piece of pencil lead/graphite from a 0.3 mechanical pencil with a very (relatively) long lead sleeve. I haven't been able to find anything long and thin yet sturdy enough to reach the lead and push it out. I got the idea from a post here to try a staple but it's too short and does not fit (too fat).

Any other suggestions...other than not buying a 0.3 sized pencil? What can I say, I love thin, thin writing lines!

Saketh said...

Hello,
I have a rotring 600 0.5 that won't click. It is not overfilled with lead because I only put 2 0.5 leads in it. Can you help me figure out what's the problem with it?

Regards,
Saketh

Wally said...

take it apart and check that nothing is jamming the Clutch or the mechanism, check the spring on the mechanism, because it sounds like it broke,

Anonymous said...

I just got a Milan capsule mechanical pencil and it jammed but I can't take it apart to figure out why our to fix it. Do you have any suggestions?

Tom M said...

domeheid, staple tip is genius for 0.5, all my pins were too fat! thanks!