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.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Pentel Excalibur and SG Series

Excalibur and SG Mechanical Pencils

pentel excalibur and sg
Crossed Swords - Black Excalibur and Gold SG
In the early days of this blog, the Pentel Excalibur was much sought after, a Grail mechanical pencil for many readers. Back in November 2009, Germ of Pencils11 blog wrote a post on his now deleted blog detailing some information about Excaliburs, and with his permission I now reprint a part of that, with a few edits and a bit of rework.
"Pentel produced the Excalibur pencils, and pen and pencil sets during the 1980's, and was still making Excalibur rollerball pens up until a few years ago. To garner greater sales in the middle 80's Pentel was a sponsor of the 1984 Olympics, and released a limited edition 1984 Olympic Excalibur pen and pencil set in a velvet display box, plus some single pens in presentation box. I'm not sure why they stopped making the Excalibur pencils and sets, but this is likely due to economic reasons and lack of demand. It's a shame, since these were, and I think still are, considered one of Pentel's flagship non drafting pencils. To use a pun, the name says it all.....
he Excalibur and SG series pencils write extremely well, and are balanced just right, as I am sure Dave will tell you. They exude writing confidence, and beg you to continue writing for hours on end. Lightweight, yet heavy enough to be felt, fatigue is rare. Aesthetically, these pencils are just beautiful. I challenge anyone to find a non-drafting mechanical pencil that tops the Excalibur. :)
Side Note: Pentel did release a non-Excalibur 1984 Olympic pen/pencil set. It has a Q565 for the pencil." -Germ, Pencils11 blog, 2009.
pentel excalibur los angeles olympic ex20 pen pencil set
Pentel Excalibur 1984 Los Angeles Olympics pen/pencil set

pentel excalibur olypmic logo

I have been doing more digging into the Excalibur and SG pencils, but with only somewhat limited success. Despite that, I feel it is time to publish something and maybe people out there will know some more.

Many people, myself included, use Excalibur as the name of a Pentel model of matching pen and mechanical pencil from the 1980’s, but that is misleading as Excalibur is really a sub-brand of Pentel. The 1982 Pentel catalogue states “Excalibur, the prestige line of Pentel pens and pencils…” Over the years the many and varied pens and pencils marketed as Excalibur have changed and were often totally unrelated to each other apart from the fact that they were all called Excalibur by Pentel. For example in the 1982 Pentel USA catalogue there were the following Excaliburs
  • The RX300/RX40x/RX50x series of ‘Slim’ Excalibur pens (with no matching pencils),
  • The RMJ series of pens and matching pencils,
  • The RXE5/PXE5 pen/pencil set, and
  • The Sharp Kerry style R1000/P1035A pen/pencil set. (The 1982 catalogue makes it clear that the pencil is just a standard P1035 Sharp Kerry, not marked as an Excalibur, but added only to make a pen/pencil set.)
So that is four different, basically unrelated, types of Excaliburs being sold at the same time in the early 80’s. All of these Excaliburs were gone at some stage before 1990, replaced by an ever changing line-up of new Excaliburs, and by the mid/late 2000’s the concept of the Excalibur prestige line had seemingly disappeared into the mists of Pentel history... but even today remnants still remain if you go hunting for them.

This article is about the RMJ series Excaliburs, as they are the pens and pencils most commonly simply called “Excaliburs” on websites, blogs, Ebay, etc. It is also about the closely related SG model pencils. It is an attempt to definitively identify the various models. By definitively, I mean from original source material, i.e. Pentel or retailer catalogues, flyers, etc. Unsubstantiated statements and images on websites and blogs, photographs from Ebay etc do not count as definitive sources. We all know that pencils can end up in mismatched boxes and websites are not always reliable, so they cannot be regarded as conclusive proof of model identification.

The Excalibur (RMJ) Models

Production start and finish unsure, but essentially 1979/1980 – 1985/1990. All mechanical pencils are 0.7mm only.
pentel excalibur mechanical pencils gold and black
Two Excaliburs - PX7-21 (top) and SG7
Black with gold trims (shown 1979 Int & 1980 USA catalogue)
• Pen = RG10  “RMJ” series
• Pencil = SG7 (note this is an Excalibur , not an "SG", despite the SG in the model number)
• As a set = EX17

Brushed gold (shown 1979 Int & 1980 USA catalogue) (pen finish called gold florentine and pencil finish called anodized brushed gold in 1982 catalogue)
• Pen = RX21 “RMJ” series (black front section)
• Pencil = PX7-21
• As a set = EX20

Brushed chrome (shown 1979 Int & 1980 USA catalogue) (called hairline brushed aluminium in 1982 catalogue)
• Pen = R10 “RMJ” series (black front section)
• Pencil = P1007
• As a set = EX12

The pencil numbers in particular make no sense to me. They are all the same pencil apart from their colourway, but their product numbers have little to nothing in common with each other.

excalibur cases
Two Excalibur presentation cases.

pentel excalibur pencil and brochure
Excalibur brochure

SG Series Mechanical Pencils 

The Pentel SG series mechanical pencils are identical to the Pentel Excalibur RMJ series pencils except that their centre ring is angle scribed (similar to a helical gear wheel) rather than the “crown” pattern of Excalibur, and of course they are not marked Excalibur. Lead diameters are also different – Excalibur being 0.7mm and SG being 0.3mm and 0.5mm.

pentel sg65 and excalibur mechanical pencils
SG65 (top) and PX7-21 Excalibur (bottom)

pentel excalibur and sg pencil center rings
SG on left with angle gear centre ring and Excalibur on right with crown centre ring and Excalibur logo
It is interesting to note that the Excaliburs seem to always feature prominently in Pentel USA catalogues, but the SG pencils are never mentioned.  This implies Pentel USA did not sell SG pencils, or at least if they did sell them, then only as a very minor item. The only catalogue I know with the SG series in it is the 1980 Japanese language catalogue, of which I only have a low resolution B&W scan. Therefor all other models listed below are not definitive and are from photographs of pencils and their boxes or website descriptions.

The general numbering scheme of SG pencils appears to be: First digit = colourway, Second digit = lead size.

SG75 – gold with black pinstripes. (Model is noted in 1980 Japan catalogue, but translation of the colourway is not 100% definite. However, combined with various auctions of the gold with black pinstripes in a Pentel box labelled SG75 box mean this is 99.99% confident)
SG65 – gold. (Noted in 1980 Japan catalogue)
SG45 (assumed) – coloured. Known colours are brown, blue and green from online auctions and other collectors. (Was there also a red?)
SG35 (assumed) – silver/aluminium.
SG33 (assumed) – silver/aluminium, 0.3mm lead size.
SG15 – black (Noted in 1980 Japan catalogue)

pentel sg75, sg65 and sg33 mechanical pencils
SG75, SG65 and SG33 Mechanical Pencils
pentel r7 sg75 pen pencil set
R7 pen + SG75 pencil set

SV Series Mechanical Pencils

The 1980 Japanese language catalogue only mentions the SG15, SG65 and SG75. It does not mention the SG33/35, but it does show the silver/aluminium SV (0.3mm) and SV5 (0.5mm) pencils which appear to be very similar, perhaps even identical to the SG series. Perhaps these are the SG33 and SG35 and they will simply be renumbered as SG33/35 in the future?

I would like to thank Nimrodd for access to various Pentel catalogues and Kanjiman for invaluable translation services.

Request For Further Information
If anyone can add any further information to the above then please let me know. For example
• A catalogue or retail advertisement showing an SG33/35/45 and therefor proving the model number.
• A 1970’s catalogue, or a late 1980’s, without any Excaliburs, or completely different ones, thus narrowing down the start and finish dates.
• Any information on SV pencils.
Those are just some examples of the sort of information that would help, but basically if you have any information that you think might help then please let me know.

pentel lencelot mechanical pencil
Pentel Lancelot