Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Papermate Pacer Executive Mechanical Pencil Review

Papermate Pacer Executive Mechanical Pencil Review

Late last year a reader from the USA, ‘Barrel Of A Pencil’ sent me an unusual gift, his nomination for the title of worst mechanical pencil in the world, the Papermate Write Bros. In the end I didn’t agree with his assessment, but we both agreed that it definitely was a piece of P*p#rm*t#!. Stirred by that review, another reader ‘Mindstorm81’ (also known as Peter from Wollongong, Australia) decided that since he really quite liked his particular Papermate he should try and balance the scales, redeem the Papermate name, and so I received a little Christmas present from him, the Papermate Pacer Executive mechanical pencil.

Considering how I ended up with a Pacer Executive I felt sure that it would be a reasonably good pencil, but the question was, just what sort a Christmas experience would it provide? Something to match ‘White Christmas’, ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ and ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ or perhaps instead it would be more akin to Billy Bob’s ‘Bad Santa’ – great fun but leaving you feeling a little dirty the next day?

The Pacer Executive is not listed on the current Papermate USA/International website, and most web searches seem to end up pointing to Australia. I did find a thread on an international discussion board from late 2007 indicating that the Pacer Executive was being phased-out, but from where? If you download the Australian product list from Papermate Australia you will find the Pacer Executive, with item code S18035570 and EAN Barcode 9300627125225. This barcode number is interesting because it is an Australian registered barcode. Perhaps it used to be more widely distributed, but I am tempted to think that the Pacer Executive is now offered only by Sanford Papermate Australia.

Well, lets get on with it, so here we have the Papermate Pacer Executive mechanical pencil.

Photo clickable for high res.

Stainless steel body with black plastic grip and end section. Although it’s a stainless steel body, this is still quite a lightweight pencil. Quite frankly it looks rather smart and business executive like, and feels pretty good in the hand too.

The grip zone is a one piece moulded section in hard black shiny plastic. Raised rings are the grip enhancement, and overall they work quite well. I’d rate this grip as better then average, but it is a relatively narrow diameter.

The tip section is a tapering cone, and the lead sleeve is a thin pipe, which looks needle sharp coming out of the bluntish tip. The lead sleeve is fully retractable for pocket safety – you wouldn’t want to ruin that executive business suit! The sleeve is 3mm long so you could probably use this as a draughting pencil if you wanted, but there is a little play in the lead sleeve, perhaps more than other retractable sleeves, so that could be a problem for those who demand the highest levels of lead precision. The lead advance mechanism is the usual push top ratchet. Ten clicks will get you 7mm of the 0.5mm lead. The mechanism feels strong and smooth like it is good quality. The metal top cap pulls off to reveal an eraser, which looks to be a traditional rubber rather than a plastic compound.As far as my memory serves me, the Pacer Executive is the first cassette refill pencil to be fully reviewed on my blog. I don’t have many cassette pencils and thus don’t have much experience with them. A cassette refill system obviously increases the manufacturers chances of getting follow up lead refill sales of the cassette. Being held captive to a specific brand of refills always nags at me, but the retail price of refills for the Pacer Executive is competitive with ordinary loose leads so my fear of being ripped off appears to be unfounded. Of course you are still limited to Papermate lead in the selection of grades they choose to offer in the cassette system. If the Papermate lead and hardness grades don’t suit you, you can cheat the system by refilling the cassette in through the pencil tip. If you are doing so, I think its best to only refill a few sticks as I have had had some problems with cassettes jamming when trying to refill them back up to their specified maximum capacity.

The whole cassette pulls easily out of the pencil – just grab the black section above the pocket clip and yank the whole thing out. A new cassette can then simply be pushed back in. The cassette holds 12 leads, and the word “Japan” is one of the markings on the cassette body.The pocket clip is a plain simple piece of steel but quite strong and effective. The Papermate hearts are punched into it. The black plastic clip mount has “Japan” moulded into it.
Final verdict then? This is a nice pencil, and brings credit to the Papermate brand. Definitely closer to ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ than ‘Bad Santa’.
  • Best Points – I like the needle sharp look of the lead sleeve. Cassette refills are competitively priced.
  • Not So Good Points – Nothing much leaps out at me.
  • Price Range – Low.
  • Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? – Despite a “positive” review, No.

Dimensions – Length 149mm, diameter 9mm at grip zone. Balance point about 70mm up from the tip.
Thanks Peter


Mark said...

I'd love to get my hands on one of those if anyone has one or knows where I could get one. For sentimental reasons really.

B2-kun said...

I really don't see the logic or any benefit to the user of a cassette refill system, but it was an interesting review nonetheless.

Kiwi-d said...

I think the real benefit is to the manufacturer - ensuring repeat sales of cassette refills.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you like it. It was my main writer, until my Pentel Kerry came along and my first "expensive" pencil (as opposed to a Staedtler 777). The eraser is really quite good, one feature I prefer with it to the Kerry. I swapped out the Papermate HB from the cassette for Pentel Ain 2B. I must actually say- That Papermate lead is very good, it's just not as smooth as Ain.

As for refills and the pencil itself, the Melbourne University bookshop website sold me refills recently, and they had the pencil listed too. For disclosure; I have no affiliation with said retailer. I actually bought the pencil at the little office supplies/café up the road from my work.

Oh, and Dave, I suspect this is your doing, but after reading about and looking at your Conway Stewarts, I'm now chasing them myself. And I've started using fountain pens.
I'm getting expensive hobbies piling up fast!

Kiwi-d said...

Well Conway Stewart pencils are one thing, but DANGER, DANGER!!
I'd hate to think I was the cause of a graphite-brother becoming a thrall of the Ink Lords. So, lets be careful out there.

Anonymous said...

Hi, was actually browsing through the net for a solution to repair mechanical pencils and happen to come across your blog. was wondering if you can help me resolve the problem. it is not an expensive vintage pencil but one which i'd like to keep it and have it working. it is a pilot shaker pencil and no matter how hard i try the lead just wont come out.. any way i can solve the problem?


Anonymous said...

Hi D,

Have you tried clearing the tip? Maybe something got lodged in there.

Btw, what's the model of the shaker you got?


Anonymous said...

Hi Nate,

I am not quite sure how to clear the tip. I tried to dismantle it and clear whatever that seems visible to me but it still won't work.
The model is pilot h-1010-b. Actually I don't know if the model would be useful cos it is bought in Singapore. (I am from Singapore) And I understand this blog is from New Zealand? So the model number may differ? It is black in color.


Anonymous said...

The first clearance method is to try and put a clear out rod up the tip whilst operating the mechanism. This may dislodge any jammed little pieces of lead. Some pencils come with a rod, usually under the eraser, but most don't. You might try a pin, needle, etc.

Matthew R said...

I often use a lead to clean the tip. 0.7 and 0.9 work a whole lot better than 0.5 and 0.3, but it is possible. I actually used a 0.2mm lead to clean a tip, but I broke it about 3 times in the process (and I don't have spares beyond what is in the pencil already).

Anonymous said...

Hi D,

I also have one of that, its a good pencil. Hope Dave can review it. :)

You can use a pin and stick it through the tip. That should clear any pieces of lead stuck in there. Let us know if it works.

Btw, Im from the Philippines and I believe the model designation is similar.


Anonymous said...

Hi Nate!

my pencil is working! omg..haha.. thanks.. amazing what a tiny needle could do =)

many thanks to those who help gave ideas too! will be back for more reading in this unique blog =)


Mark said...

Yay, got a couple from OkOffice: http://www.okoffice.com.au/product.asp?pID=41589&cID=2785 Minimum order was $15 so had to order 2, but it's good to have a spare.

Pic: http://twitpic.com/2d1xl

Anonymous said...

God! i realized i just lost mine over the weekend, this last one i held for 10 years, i fell in love with this pencil in 1990..
Mark thanks for the info, but how do i get them to malaysia? can anyone help? my email is reizaal at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed these "Do-It Yourself Repair Techniques" at the Pentel website?


Unknown said...

For a standard .5mm pencil, I find a straightened staple works very well, and the flat or chiseled tip is better than the point of a pin.

Jetta's Nest said...

I got my Pacer Executive in 1994 and loved it's weight for drawings. I thought I'd lost it a few years ago but just found it yesterday in an old box of my paints and brushes! I was so excited I decided to look them up and found your blog...I'm amazed you can still get them.


miss.awesome.lady said...

I don't have any cassette pencils, but can't you refill the cassettes with your own lead?

And also, would the pencils work without the cassette refills? Just wondering---I might get a Pentel Quick Dock sometime soon

Kiwi-d said...

You can usually feed some lead refills back in through the tip, but there isn't usually any hole etc to allow easy refill.

Depends on the design, but they don't usually work without the cassette because the cassette is part of the lead advance mechanism.

Anonymous said...

to nobud:
You don't necessarily have to buy new cassettes to refill a cassette pencil. You can refill any cassette pencil with your own lead from underneath the pushbutton just like a regular mechanical pencil. I've done the same thing myself with my Sanford CA5 cassette pencil. But like kiwi said, you need to keep the cassette that came with the pencil because it's actually part of the lead advance mechanism.

Unknown said...

can you tell me, where can buy of "Pencil Papermate Pacer Executive"?

bucasue i come from Hong Kong.

and i find this for so long time

can you help me?

Kiwi-d said...

Sze - sorry I can't help much. It appears to be available in Australia, so you might have to find a friend in Australia.

Anonymous said...

Sze: If you have Singapore friend. You can ask your friend buy it from Evergreen stationary shops. It's on promotion now, only 1.5 SGD; two colors: black grip or black blue grip.

Normal price should be around 5 SGD.

Anonymous said...

where can buy it??
actually i got tis machanical pencil want
but inside break already
then when i want to buy it again
i cant to find already
hurt break~~
so can u tell me where can i find it??

Anonymous said...

really cant find it already~~
i so suprise malaysia got it~~
but now,no more yet

Anonymous said...

hehe,now i already heve tis pencil.ya,malaysia got but this pencil is old stok already so very hard to find .

Anonymous said...

Wow, my friends had this model, but I had the all-black plastic model with silver finger grooves. I lost mine at uni and never bought another. I will see if I can find others at the newsagent or Officeworks.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Office Max sells them in Australia - see this link http://www.officemax.com.au/paper-mate-pacer-0-5mm-executive-mechanical-pencil.html. You may need an account but I think they have a few Bricks and Mortar stores.

2 1/2p

Anonymous said...

I found one on the floor in the train in perth australia in 1985

I love it and still use it today in france

Unknown said...

Hi all,

I am interested in this Papermate Pacer long long time ago and I have tried to contact with few of the supplier from Australia. Unfortunately, they are now no long available. Perhaps only small store still have the stock.

I am currently living in United States and I wonder is anyone of you have any ideas where I could get this item? I really need that so bad.

Pencilneck said...

My Papermate Executive pencil cassette is open ended. Meaning to say, I can refill with whatever lead I want. Where did you guys get this closed end cassette? Mine is from 1989.

I managed to get a few more to keep as my collection. But I didn't manage to get the red or blue ones. I only got black ones.

Arguably the best mechanical pencil (if not the best looking).

JunCLJ said...

This is the only best mechanical pencil during my high school time during 90's - 2000's. I was bought this mechanical pencil over and over again during my high school period. Some of them were broken and some of them been stolen. This mechanical pencil was no longer selling after 2002. I can't find this mechanical pencil after that.

I'm currently have Staedtler Reg 925 85-05 (0.5mm) which was discontinued too. This mechanical pencil was now is hard to find and some sellers are selling at around USD150.

Besides, I am also bought a Rotring Rapid Pro 0.5mm. Both of these two mechanical pencil were bought for 9 times more expensive than the Papermate Pacer Cassette.

No matter how expensive I was bought for these two mechanical pencil, I still can't find back the feels of my last Papermate Pacer Cassette.

Anonymous said...

Hi all .
I managed to buy about a hundred of these pacer mechanical pencils. Blue and black.
Ebay seller had thousands. So I got them at 1 buck each , yay .
They had/have a lifetime warrenty, I sent a few to Gillette to replace.

The cassette refill, while it comes out, the small opening opposite the rubber end will happily slide out (grip with teeth and gently pull), allowing accommodation of any preferred leads, several at a time (I use a non papermate gold coated lead), much easier than trying to load leads through the
Pacer nose.

These pencils were $10 back in the day, they shat on all pencils around this price, in terms of looks and feel.

Best pencil eva.