Saturday, July 13, 2019

Winner - Cult Pens Mechanical Pencil Day Giveaway

We have ourselves a winner.

Thanks to Cult Pens for the giveaway of GBP 50. If you haven't already visited their mechanical pencil specials then do so. Some good discounts and other deals are still available.

Good to hear from all of you who entered the contest. I am surprised at how few of you took the opportunity of a second entry by leaving a comment. Only 13 out of 72 entrants. Perhaps I didn't make it clear how that works. I did though enjoy the comments that were left, some very entertaining stuff there.

Right then, onto the winner, whose second entry by comment was the number picked by my random number generator.

The winner is.... Dashy.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Mechanical Pencil Day - 2019 - Giveaway


Last year Cult Pens had their 05/07 (or 07/05) Mechanical Pencil Day, and it's back again this year. Head on over to Cult Pens to see the specials.

Like last year, they have also generously offered a giveaway for you - a voucher to spend on their website to the value of GBP 50 plus free international shipping. GBP 50 is about US$62. So, how do you enter the contest and win the shopping spree? Simple, you just send me an email saying you want to enter! My address is in the sidebar - About Me > View My Complete Profile. If you are extra keen, you can even double your chances of winning by leaving a comment here on this blog post. But nothings that easy, your comment has to be a little something extoling the glory of mechanical pencils. It can be a sentence or two of prose, a poem, a pun, a joke, an anecdote... a whatever. Anything will do. I will start you off with a haiku.

Wonderful Cult Pens
mechanical graphite sticks
pencils and refills

Just make sure that I can identify your comment with the email you send.

Good luck :)

Entries close at the end of 11-July. Winner will be notified by email.


Friday, June 14, 2019

Zebra DelGuard - The Other End

The Zebra DelGuard range of mechanical pencils has been around for a while, but hasn’t been mentioned on this blog before, so it’s time to put an end to that. The DelGuard system is a very effective anti-“lead breakage” invention. Sure, you can still break the lead if you advance it out a stupidly long way, but for all reasonable intents and purposes, leads in a DelGuard mechanical pencil are virtually immune to breaking from writing pressure. It really is impressive. If you don’t have a DelGuard then I really do think you need to add one to your collection. It would be like not having a Kuru Toga. It’s sort of compulsory, whether you like it or not. My only negative is that I don’t like the aesthetics of the current crop of DelGuard tips.

Zebra DelGuard - full strength for strong leads
The Japanese pencil brands still seem to produce a lot of advertising material, and some of it is a constant reminder of just how different the Japanese market is to the western market. This DelGuard video sort of sums it up. I can’t imagine a western brand producing such pencilporn. Softcore hard lead?

Anyway, as I said, I’m not a fan of the DelGuard tip, so let’s turn that around and focus on the other end.
Focus on the blunt end, not the sharp point.
Top to bottom = DelGuard standard, Type-ER and Type-Lx

Firstly, take a look at my three DelGuards. Two have pocket clips but the third one does not. The Type-ER model has a small anti-roll finial rather than a pocket clip. At first I didn't really like it, but it has grown on me. The Type-Lx (luxury?) has a smooth metal grip section and a metal pocket clip as opposed to the standard models plastic grip and clip. I much prefer the eraser cap on the Lx to the standard.

Now, taking a further look at those erasers.

The DelGuard Type-ER has one of those magic erasers. The type that automatically extends out when you turn the pencil upside down to use it, and it locks in place whilst the pencil is upside down, but then it automatically retracts back when you turn the pencil up ready to write. Magic 😁 I am a bit of a sucker for magic erasers.

DelGuard tips - no thanks.
DelGuard Type-ER
All Black colour scheme and magic eraser - hooked - addictive and habit forming.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Scripto Kingsmark

Here's a very nice ballpoint pen and mechanical pencil set by Scripto.  In original box with instruction sheet / guarantee and price tag. Quite thin and lightweight, but metal construction. Cisele pattern engraved body. The mechanical pencil is a screw mechanism, 0.9mm lead.
scripto kingsmark mechanical pencil and pen

I don't know much about Scripto, but I assume this would have been one of their top end products, and I guess it dates to around the 1970's. The $10.00 price tag would have been a substantial investment back in the day.

scripto kingsmark pen pencil set

Also on Scripto related matters,  a pencil-pal sent me the below photos of his recently acquired Scripto.
It is unusual in that it has two erasers, the larger of which is permanently exposed. It has a twist mechanism to propel and retract, and uses a 0.9 mm lead. Any information about model name/number, date of manufacture, etc would be appreciated.

Happy penciling to you all.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Radio Silence

My apologies for the radio silence. Normal transmission will be resumed soon.

"The Unbroken Vista"
Zebra Hill to Delguard Peak

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Winner - Jeopardy Giveaway

So, the number is 542, which means "Paul" is the winner.
Paul, please email me - address is in the sidebar About Me, My Profile.

"Hue T", you are second so you might want to contact me too just in case Paul doesn't :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Ohto Uni Returning Duet

Here is the latest addition to the collection, the Ohto Piston Sharp SP-5. My birthday present to me :)
ohto piston sharp mechanical pencil

uni returns mechanical pencil

I first read of the Ohto Piston Sharp mechanical pencil in a Reddit post by 2nd_Astronaut. It immediately reminded of my Uni Returns M5-318 pencil. Unfortunately the Uni Returns has not fared well over the years. The elastomer grip is a sticky yucky mess. I have to store it wrapped in aluminium cooking foil to stop it contaminating its neighbours, and would have Kondo'ed the pencil long ago if it weren't for the unique mechanism. Well, after seeing the Piston Sharp I got on the sat-phone to contact 2nd in his space station and now I own another mechanical pencil with a returns mechanism, this time a much higher grade model, one that should last and not require aluminium foil... except of course for my hat which keeps the alien mind-control radio-waves at bay. The SP-5 I now have is metal and plastic, but there is also an SP-10 which is all metal.

So, to explain, the unique thing about this mechanism is that it both advances and retracts the lead via an otherwise normal push top ratchet mechanism. You do a small push or click to advance the lead, and a longer or bigger push or click to retract the lead. The Ohto Piston Sharp has clear markings on the barrel to indicate this - calling them Half Knock and Full Knock.
ohto sp-5 pencil mechanism

Once you understand the concept its not too hard to control the amount you push, and both pencils do have a partial resistance stop at the halfway point that you can feel.

The Uni Returns advances more lead per click than the Ohto Piston Sharp, so the Uni retraction mechanism will retract back 4 click advances worth of lead whilst the Ohto will retract back 3 clicks of lead.

Now, I'm sure this retraction mechanism must be patented by the inventor, so its use by two competing companies raises some questions. Did Ohto make the Returns for Uni? More likely I imagine would be that the inventor works for an OEM/ODM manufacturer which made both the Ohto and the Uni. Or the inventor has licensed both to use the patent. Or...???

The pocket clip attachment on the Piston Sharp is two spot welds to the body. Not particularly awe inspiring or aesthetically pleasing. But still, I am very glad to have added the Piston Sharp to the collection. Thanks 2nd.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Birthday Giveaway - Jeopardy

The rules around a tie have changed. You can choose the same number as someone else if you want.

Over in the sidebar is my Jeopardy game.

The number has usually been going down since I started reducing the collection. Here's the monthly numbers

March = 741
April = 711
May = 655
June = 625
July = 625
August = 605
September = 589
October = 544
November = 542
December = 547
January = 551

What will the end-February number be? Leave a comment on this post before 27-Feb stating what you think the number will be. The closest to it is the winner. If there is a tie then I will randomly select the winner. You must check back here on 2 March to see who the winner is, and then you must contact me. Blogger does not save your details so I cannot contact you, you must check here and contact me.

Here's what you win.
A brand new Zebra DelGuard Type-LX (0.3mm), a 'new old stock' Uni Alpha-Gel HD (0.5mm) and a 'new old stock' Sheaffer Javelin (0.7mm).

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Lead Display

I have accumulated a few kilometers of lead over the years and decided that my leads should have their day in the sun too. So here's a few - some old, some new.
mechanical pencil lead display

From the back row to the front, left to right.

pentel blue leads
Pentel blue leads. The first is just 'color leads', the second has a blue band and says blue but the third is black band and says blue. Modern Ain and Ain Stein.

pilot mechanical pencil leads

Some old Pilot. Does the second from left container look familiar? The Neo-Xu and Eno are the same containers just relabeled. Colour coded tops by diameter.

pilot leads

I like the yellow container with its little window. Ecomate and BeGreen, more relabeling.

staedtler mechanical pencil lead refills

Good old Staedtler. The bulk injector dispenser holds 40 leads. Then Mars Micrograph 'Super Hi Polymer'... sounding a bit Pentel-ish there. Then  just 'Super' and finally 'Carbon'. 
Up above I asked if that Pilot container looked familiar. At first glance the Pilot container looks identical, but upon close inspection it is merely exceptionally similar, clearly someone is copying someone.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Diplomat Aero Mechanical Pencil Review

Diplomat Aero Mechanical Pencil Review

I very much enjoy reading Pencil Ponder blog by Martha. One of the things I especially like is how many of her posts have some personal family connection to the subject pencil at hand, and I have long envied that. I am currently in thirteenth birthday mode, surely an auspicious time for a personal connection post, so with that in mind, here’s my recently acquired Diplomat Aero mechanical pencil.

diplomat aero mechanical pencil
Diplomat Aero Mechanical Pencil
Diplomat are a German (and French?) writing instrument manufacturer with a lineage going back to 1922. Their website says this about the Aero, “Smooth lines, a streamlined body. Feel the legacy of the Zeppelin and give height to your narratives.” Fair enough. Now for those of you not familiar with Zeppelin, they are not referring to the Stairway to Heaven but rather to the lighter-than-air rigid airships of the early/mid 1900’s, the lumbering behemoths of the sky. The Zeppelin company of Germany were the most well-known of the manufacturers, and Zeppelin became a generic term for all airships, whether made by Zeppelin themselves or not.
USS Los Angeles over Manhattan, New York, 1930
Right then, on with the review. Diplomat certainly do not skimp on the packaging. There is an outer cardboard box and an inner heavy card and metal presentation box. I say card and metal because the box is very heavy sturdy card but its covering sleeve is aluminium. The sleeve wraps around the box but does not have a fully enclosed base. Very nice indeed, but a little fiddly to operate. Inside the presentation box itself there is a plush padded base to hold your writing instrument, and beneath that base is the usual storage compartment for the instruction booklets, etc.

Box and metal wrap around sleeve
My Aero pencil came supplied with two spare ink cartridges, but no spare lead refills :)
So, having got the Diplomat Aero mechanical pencil out of its hanger box, it certainly is a behemoth - 141mm long, 15mm diameter at the centre and weighing in at 44 grams. Whilst it is a bit of a monster, the semi-round tapering grooves and body shape definitely give it a smooth aerodynamic look, so it is an agile monster. As you can see, I ordered my Aero in the orange colour, another pencil in the sort of orange that gets Dutch hearts a-pounding and temperatures rising. Perhaps I’ve got a subconscious orange thing going on at the moment.
diplomat aero pencil

In the hand the Aero feels like it looks – big, heavy and substantial. There is no specific grip zone or enhancements although the grooves in the body do aid grip and make holding the Aero a very tactile experience. The lead sleeve on the Aero mechanical pencil is a small cone and it is not retractable so this is a pencil for writing. Obviously this pencil suits those who like a wide grip, as the likely grip area is in the 10 – 12mm diameter sort of range. I think given its size, the weight and slightly top-heavy balance of the Aero are about right. Any lesser weight could run the risk of feeling a bit incongruous. On the other hand, the weight, size and bare grip could become a bit fatiguing if used for a long period.

The pocket clip is a rather classy two piece construction, as pictured below. It is long and substantial looking, and quite firm, possibly a bit too firm for regular clipping to papers, but you certainly won’t lose it if clipped to a shirt or jacket pocket. The conical lead sleeve isn’t too likely to cause a problem in such a pocket.
diplomat aero pocket clip
aero pocket clip construction

The Aero mechanical pencil is a twist action ratchet mechanism. You twist the top half of the pencil body about a quarter turn clockwise to activate the lead advance mechanism, and then it springs back. Ten activations will get you 9mm of 0.7mm lead, which is the only lead size currently offered in the Aero. Advancing the lead can be done single-handed but is basically a two handed operation. Either way it will interrupt your writing more than a push top mechanism. To refill the lead you twist the top half of the body anti-clockwise and unscrew it, then pull the end cap off to access the lead magazine.
diplomat aero pencil refill process
Diplomat Aero mechanical pencil refill
There is also a small eraser, which you find by pulling the top half of the body off. So that’s twist left, twist right and pull. Every direction does something.
diplomat aero pencil eraser

The markings on the pencil are plain, simple and obvious. I like them. My only comment would be that it would be good to have the model name Aero in there too.
The Diplomat logo on pencil top cap
•    Best Points – Aesthetic appeal. Many writing instruments claim to be inspired by something. I think this one does justice to its claim.
•    Not So Good Points – Size will not suit everyone. Not much else really considering what type of mechanical pencil it is.
•    Price Range – High, but not stratospheric.
•    Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? – Part of me said Yes, and part of me said No. It was a hard decision, but when I went and re-read my rules and discussion about ‘My Top 5’ the answer became clear. No.
Dimensions – Length   141mm, diameter 15 at widest point. Balance point about 80mm up from the tip.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned a sentimental aspect to this pencil, which is my grandmother. As a working class, thirteen year old girl in London during World War 1, there was no time for luxuries like school, so during the day my grandmother kept house for her widowed father and brothers, and at night she went to work in a munitions factory, making bullets and "little bombs the soldiers threw by hand". Many, many, decades later, and having emigrated to the other side of the world, she still vividly remembered the Zeppelins over London, her fear of being bombed in the factory, and that night in 1916 when the first Zeppelin was shot down. Like thousands of others she ran into the street, cheering as the flaming Zeppelin lit up the sky and drifted, gloriously, oh so slowly to the ground. She later much regretted her joy at the death of its crew.

Diplomat Aero, the instant I took it out of the box, I really did feel the legacy of the Zeppelin. Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane.

Friday, February 01, 2019

13th Birthday Giveaway

Hmmm, it's my birthday and I'm giving you presents? It's an upside down world :)

13 is a bit of a strange number, so for this Giveaway I have two mechanical pencils which are a little bit strange. Both of them are new and unused (apart from opening up for this photoshoot), and were sent to me by Cult Pens quite a long time ago. So even though they don't know it, they are helping the birthday celebrations.

First is the Troika Construction Graphite, nice and bright in yellow. It is a 0.7mm mechanical pencil and its unusual features are a capacitive stylus top for touchscreen work, and scale rulers printed on the body - 1/20, 1/50 and 1/100m and 1/1 inches.
Just scaling out the new extension to the west wing

Second is the Cleo Skribent Messograf. This is definitely one of the strangest beasts in production - a mechanical pencil with vernier calipers. The Messograf features calipers, ruler, tyre depth gauge and screw thread scale.The swiss army knife of pencils? 

For this giveaway I am dispensing with the usual leave a comment process. To enter this giveaway you simply email me direct. My address is in the sidebar "About Me" 'View My Complete Profile'. After a day or two, or when a reasonable number of people have emailed, I will simply select a winner at random, and contact them. Quick and easy.

UPDATE - Thanks to everyone who entered, but the Giveaway is now closed. We have a winner - "Carl, Finnish woodworker and CAD Viking".

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Thirteenth Birthday

Today the blog turns 13.
A teenager.
Pimples, messy room, thoughts about... ummm… moving right along...

I know there were a few years of fairly little activity, and a few of none, but I'm still here, so I'll celebrate that.

I have some giveaways and other things planned for a month long "Welcome to the Teens" celebration, so check back soon.

A special thanks to all of you who read this blog regularly, especially those few who remember The Start :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Some Less Common Ones

This week on the desk stand we have some less common brands of mechanical pencils, and a pen! Of course when I say less common I mean that in a general international sense, as some of them are very common in their home market.

Lets take the left hand stand first.
From top to bottom
  • Cello ballpoint pen. Cello, a leading Indian manufacturer. Don't worry, that's the only pen, the rest are all mechanical pencils.
  • Berol Turquoise TM-5. Vintage mechanical pencil from the Berol pencil company of the USA, but Made in Japan.
  • BelBol 03.306. Don't let that model number fool you, this is a 0.5mm Portaminas.
  • M&G M-1001. From one of China's largest manufacturers.
  • Kyung In SK2000. So much is written on this mechanical pencil. Left side of body = "Kyung In SK200 Made In Korea". On the pocket clip = "Michiko London Koshino". Right side of body = "KISP20001 Kyung In Co Ltd 0.5m/m"
  • Pro-Max PR-7025. As I understand it the brand translates as "Thousand Comparison Stationery"

Now for the right hand stand
From top to bottom
  • Schneider Graffix. Made in Germany.
  • Erich Krause Delta EK-22004. Triangular body. The little eraser under the top button is triangular too.
  • Soennecken 150. I really like the sound of that brand name, but of course I will be butchering the German language in the process.
  • Manufactum Druckstift Feinstrichmine, Item # 1765 1830 0.5mm. Phew, now there's a mouthful. Of course that's from the Manufactum catalogue. The actual retracting tip mechanical pencil is itself completely and utterly unmarked. No brand name, model number, lead size, country of origin... nothing
  • Tajima SP20R.
  • Tajima SS13MH.

Manufactum - totally unmarked mechanical pencil. Stainless steel body, and good vanishing point mechanism.

It is my understanding that in Japan, Tajima primarily market their mechanical pencils to carpenters, woodworkers, and other such tradies and hobbyists.

The black SS13MH has knurled metal grip and takes 1.3mm lead.
The red SP20R is loaded with 2mm red lead. It is a push top ratchet mechanical pencil, not a lead holder.

Some of the mechanical pencils shown above are also in my Collection Image Gallery.