Thursday, April 01, 2010

Roller Rule Mechanical Pencil

The Roller Rule Mechanical Pencil or A Different Yard-o-Led Part 2

I recently posted a copy of an old advertisement about a mechanical pencil with an inbuilt measuring wheel. Well that posting jogged the memory of ‘P’ and he commented that his grandfather had one of those pencils. 'P’ then went on a bit of a hunt and found the pencil in question, and sent me these photos and a little more information about it.

P’s grandfather used to use his Roller Rule mechanical pencil to measure road trip distances on a map. P demonstrates and explains here.
roller rule mechanical pencil
The cap rotates with friction against your map. The cap is supposedly 1 inch in circumference, and the cap is calibrated to the 1/8 inch. For each rotation of the cap the ‘head on the shaft’ moves one indicator. And as the advertisement says there are 36 indications, i.e. it can measure up to 36 inches. The shaft has a corkscrew that moves the head.
roller rule mechanical pencil top section
roller rule top caproller rule measuring graduations

The lead measures .046 inches in diameter. (That’s 1.18mm in modern speak) Eraser inside the body.
roller rule pulled apart to show eraser

The pocket clip reads, “USA PATD ROLLER RULE.”
roller rule mechanical pencil pocket clip

Photos and text supplied by, and used with permission of ‘P’.
Thanks 'P'.


Stephen said...

Thanks P! A really interesting bit of history.

Michael J Corry said...

That's trouble with computers and blackberries and satnavs and Google maps and stuff

We don't have the incentive to come up with fascinating little gadgets like this one any more.

Unknown said...

The Roller Rule was touted as, "The Pencil with a Brain", followed by, "Take Advantage of Its Thousand-and-One Uses."

I have the instructions (pamphlete with printing on front and back) for this pencil if you're interested in receiving scans.

This pencil was also featured in the book, "Ingenius Gadgets." (The cover also says, "Guess the obscure purpose of over 100 eccentric contraptions.")

Kiwi-d said...

Interesting. Thanks for the information Ron.

Davey Morehead said...

This is awesome to see. My grandfather was the inventor of this very product, and my father helped assemble these things when he was a kid. Ron, I would love if you could make scans of the pamphlet. If you could, email them to Thanks so much!

Jon Veley said...

Hey Dave, nice article!

I posted a blog entry today over at The Leadhead's Pencil Blog about the Roller Rule -- for those who are interested, I dug up the patents on it and pieced a little more of the history together.