Friday, June 08, 2018

More Ravages of Time

I have two acrylic body pencils made by a pen turner. The first (top, 2-piece) one he made for general sale and the second (bottom, Duofold style) was commissioned by myself.
I really liked both these mechanical pencils when I bought them. Now... not so much.
I must admit I was very surprised to see what has happened to these mechanical pencils over time. Firstly the gold fittings are in excellent condition, as good as the day I first saw them. I really never expected much from the gold trims and would not really have been surprised to see some corrosion showing through. But, as I said, nothing. They are as good as the day they were made. So what has gone wrong and surprised me? Well the acrylic bodies have deteriorated. Unfortunately you can’t see it in the images, but you can see and feel it in real life. The acrylic has developed small ridges / waves / indents / dimples… whatever you like to call them. The Duofold style pencil is definitely worse than the other, but both have the same deterioration. The Duofold style pencil acrylic body also has an actual delamination in one part down where it joins the tip.
Ouch! Nasty sharp little protruding delamination.
The two piece body pencil also has another problem. The two halves have started to separate so that there is now a 1mm gap between the bodies and the centre joining ring.
Gap between body and centre ring joiner
These two pencils are about 9 years old and I thought I would contact the maker to get his comments. I wasn’t really complaining, just giving him feedback, and he replied quite promptly. He is no longer in the pen game, the quake of 2011 put an end to his business, and he is now retired. Nevertheless he was interested to hear from me and had a few comments in reply, slightly paraphrased below.
The issue with the ridging etc sometimes occurs right from the outset. It seems to be caused by the ribbons that are inserted in the acrylic pour to make the swirls. The technique involves two separate consistencies of mix, one always harder than the other. The gaps in the two-piece pencil centre are the brass inner tubing slipping on the joining knuckle (possibly from heat fluctuations). The pencils have a solid brass tube skeleton and are pressed together. Consequently they are held in place by friction only. I can't say what may have caused the delamination of the acrylic near the tip. Atmospheric humidity maybe?
It’s disappointing to hear the acrylic wave problem basically being a known-problem. I doubt the modern high end luxury manufacturers who use marbled acrylics have the same problem. I can confirm that my marbled Parker Duofold Centennial doesn’t have this problem, nor do my vintage Conway Stewarts.

In the old days I know that a couple of pen turners used to be regular readers of this blog, so I would be very interested to hear any comments from turners, or from readers who have had similar problems.

Don’t worry, this is last planned post about the Ravages of Time.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Old Friends

A couple of old friends from the desk, still going strong, but probably not for much longer :)

Jeopardy is updated, now down to 655. And from the comment archive, this gem put a smile on my face.
Maybe we collectors are the villains here - why does any of us need so many pencils? (My wife told me to say that. I'd like to know why any one with only two feet needs that many shoes.)