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Best Mechanical Pencil Ever

Discussion in 'Pens, Pencils, Notebooks, and Notebook Covers' started by shadeone, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. dischu

    dischu Loaded Pockets

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    I love my Rotring 600. Must be approx. 20 years old ...

    [​IMG]

    I lost the small cap for the eraser and asked Rotring if it´s possible to buy a replacement cap.
    And 20 years after purchase the send me a brand new Rotring 600. Service 1+

    .... but I´m still looking for that cap for the old one ;)
     
  2. bj warkentin

    bj warkentin Loaded Pockets

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    The joys of getting old... I was into mechanical pencils in the 70s and even more so in the early 80s, when I was in university. Have a bunch of them from university days including the Pilot H-1005 and Staedtler micromatic. Looking at my KOH-I-NOOR RAPIDOMATIC 5633 I am pretty sure I know where Rotring got the 600 design from... :) I thought the 600 was a much older design that KOH-I-NOOR copied from.

    I don't think I am as forgiving as you are regarding the 800 tip slop. I think it comes down to the design decision to try and produce a cushioning tip. As you noted the Pilot vanishing points have a retractable mechanism... its a fixed lead pipe that retracts into the body and has no slop/wiggle. A much better solution in my mind. Rotring certainly had way more margin to play with, than Pilot, and should have been able to do better.

    I am not sure if it is universal since I have read some complaints, but my Graphgear 1000 has less slop.

    I would love for one of the custom pen makers to take a run at a high end mechanical pencil with a vanishing point design. TWSBI comes close but the decision to soften the grip makes it slippery and an issue with the design leads to a higher than normal lead breakage issue. I would pay big money for a redo of the vanishing point in all metal mechanism, knurled grip, hex body, in brass or stainless to give it some heft. Basically redo the H-210x with a hexangonal all metal body.
     
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  3. xevious

    xevious Loaded Pockets

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    Yes, the older Kohinoor Rapidomatic had a nice hexagonal design that is reminiscent of the rOtring 600, so I can see what you mean.
    About the 800, it'll be YMMV. I've heard some people complain fervently and others give praise. That little DIY tape fix is reputed to completely eliminate the wobble. Maybe not totally rock-solid, but good enough for most people. I adore the look of the 800, with its definite 600 inspiration. But I don't put it to use much. Maybe that will leave the mechanism mostly wobble-free (in lieu of regular use that might loosen things up). It wasn't expensive (I paid $27 shipped), so it'll stay in my collection.
    For more regular use, I keep a Kuru Toga Pipe Slide in my laptop bag and a Mitsubishi W-Knock with skeleton section at my desk, for quick jots. When I'm journaling and not using a fountain pen, I'll put one of my rare Pilot vanishing point MP's to work [photos here]. After one nearly suffered a blow that could have delivered a nasty scratch, I'm keeping them sheathed in protective plastic when not in use!

    I would love it for PILOT to do a limited edition re-issue of some of their best mechanical pencil designs, especially the vanishing points. But, I don't know if there's enough of a market. Not nearly as there was with the PILOT M90 re-release of the old MYU701.
     
  4. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    @xevious: as far as PILOT bringing back old designs, in addition to the M90 (which I have and use as a pocket edc and love), they more recently brought out the Elite 95S, which is itself a reissue/homage to a pocket fountain pen from days gone by. I think as with the M90 it has been well received, so I guess anything is possible. OTOH, mp may be a lower value market for them so this could be under the radar.

    But as long as we're talking about the rOtring and Kohinoor mechanical pencils, we should not be ignoring the Retro 51 Hex-o-matic pencils. These appear to be 'in the tradition' (wink ) of the rOtring and Kohinoor and are pretty readily available. IIRC, Levenger also have something in this style more or less?

    L'chaim!

    Moshe ben David
     
  5. xevious

    xevious Loaded Pockets

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    Yes, thanks for mentioning the Elite 95S -- I have seen those. I've not bothered to buy one, because I already have the vintage Elites, but it does seem to demonstrate worthwhile quality. Pilot has produced some really terrific pens over the years, some with rather innovative designs. I have one pen that was designed to house a liquid ink needlepoint refill, which has this ingenious "double door" mechanism in the tip to help keep the refill from drying out. I don't know quite how it functions, but the twist actuator seems to pull the doors open and then pushes them closed when the body is twisted (clockwise to open, counter-clockwise to close). This is in contrast to the Vanishing Point / Capless fountain pen, that has a spring loaded "trap door" that swivels on a single hinge (opens when the nib assembly slides forward and catches a tab when actuated). Well, PILOT discontinued the refills for this pen... there's no compatible refill replacement to be found, by PILOT or any other maker. It's very frustrating, as the pen is nice quality. I've got one functional refill and I'm "nursing" it. I contacted PILOT in the USA and in Japan... they all gave me the bad news that they cannot help me.

    I have seen the Retro 51 hexomatic.... and reviews seem to be rather good. Retro 51 is a respectable brand and I like some of their designs. Regarding Levenger, my understanding is that they re-brand writing instruments made by other vendors. You used to be able to find quite a few rOtring 600 pens with "LEVENGER" emblazoned on the cap.
     
  6. bj warkentin

    bj warkentin Loaded Pockets

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    Yup... however, it is not available in 0.3mm. Trying to write with a 0.7mm lead feels like writing with a crayon to me, and my hand writing is horrible enough to start with. It is a great option if you like the thicker lead sizes. I have the pen version and quite like it. The construction, and aesthetics are great. I particularly like the subtle details, like the hexagonal "O" in the name and the "51" branding on the knock.
     
  7. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    @xevious: you are correct about Levenger. It is pretty well known in pen circles I guess that many of the Levenger fountain pens (as an example) were made by Sheaffer.

    Think of Levenger as following the supermarket model of branding (say) canned goods. All private labelling.

    I only mentioned Levenger as another possible source of these sort of mp..

    L'chaim!

    Moshe ben David
     
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  8. xevious

    xevious Loaded Pockets

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    I have yet to find a really good site where people talk about mechanical pencils in a comprehensive sense, ranging from current affordable mechanical pencils to sought after vintage ones. The only venues I've discovered thus far are tucked inside fountain pen sites in a sub forum for "other writing instruments." I guess there's not much of a demand for it... Anyone here know of such a site?
     
  9. bj warkentin

    bj warkentin Loaded Pockets

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    I have not found one either. I think it come down to cultural baggage and price related snobbery. Fountain pens are what "real writing" was all about and you can spend truly insane money on the pens. Mechanical pencils are more appreciated by technical and engineering types who may tend to make more analytical and price conscious decisions. It seems for most collectors, fountain pens have more drawing power and hence more discussion.

    I find it sad and somewhat baffling that some of the best designs are not being made any more.
     
  10. aih

    aih Loaded Pockets

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    Being one of the engineering and technical types for 40+ years now, I can say the following about myself....

    I previously posted about the Pilot mechanical pencil I fondly remember, but being analytical and price conscious had nothing to do with it. A pencil made sense for homework and tests, at least initially, and mechanical was far more practical than carrying extra pencils and a sharpener. But even while I was still in school i graduated, so to speak, to pen because my work and notes in pencil on paper didn't hold up as well as ink on paper. I remember this was around the time the erasable ballpoint ink pens were coming out. I was an early adopter. I don't so much love mechanical pencil, but I love the memory of that Pilot mechanical pencil.

    Fountain pens, meh. I wanted to like using a fountain pen. I tried, several times, several different pens. In my case I liken it to wanting to use a straight razor. I liked the idea more than I liked the extra trouble. Now I use ballpoint pens and double-edge safety razors. We are all different, whether technical or not. But thankfully, some of the best designs in some cases are still around where there is a market, and we can enjoy so long as it lasts.
     
    #190 aih, Dec 30, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  11. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    There was a blog that I used to visit called "Dave's Mechanical Pencils". It went dormant for a while so I just tried to check it again. Seems now it is limited to 'invited readers' ! Whatever that means. Pity, as it was great for news on mp!

    On The Fountain Pen Network, there is a sub-forum titled:
    It Writes, But It Is Not A Fountain Pen ....
    granted this is not 100% mechanical pencils. But I just took a look and count 12 threads focused on pencils on just the first page of 65 pages of thread titles in the subforum.

    I'd say if you haven't browsed there it would be worth it to do so!

    L'chaim!

    Moshe ben David
     
  12. xevious

    xevious Loaded Pockets

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    The right tool for the right job. Fountain pens can be wonderful to write with. I have dozens, but I tend to keep a certain limited selection for periodic use. Mostly by Pilot, Platinum, Lamy and rOtring. Not only should they be easy to maintain, but resistant to drying out. I once kept about 10 inked at a time, until I discovered I was flushing out so many that had dried out, wasting all that precious ink.

    The main advantage to fountain pens had been superior writing quality over a ballpoint. That was true for decades. But now? Rollerballs and gel tips are simply amazing, capable of achieving extra-fine fountain pen results. No pressure needed. The Pilot G2 became the gold standard. But I recently discovered a Pentel XLRN3 refill that writes a line like a 0.3mm stylograph that never skips. It's delightful. Still, there's an amazing feeling about writing with a well tuned nib. I won't ever ditch my fountain pens completely, but I have been gradually paring down.

    I enjoy doodling with mechanical pencils a lot and a little writing. I'm drawn to them more so for the mechanism than the writing, actually. What I'm waiting to see is new polymer technology where you get "virtual ink" delivered instead of graphite, from a "stick" that looks just like lead. Won't dry out. No wetness to worry about smearing.

    Anyway, about FPN, I'm very well acquainted with the site and have already posted a bit in their non-fountain pen sub forum topics focused on pencils. But it's not all that active. FP Geeks has a Pencils sub forum too, but even more idle.
     
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  13. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    @xevious: re "virtual ink". Have you seen anything about the 'Napkin' writing instruments? Some sort of metal alloy patented by Ethergraf (whoever that is) claimed to write like a pencil, smudge free, etc etc. Here is a link to the description at Fahrney's: https://www.fahrneyspens.com/Item--i-251224S .

    L'chaim!

    Moshe ben David
     
  14. xevious

    xevious Loaded Pockets

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    Yes, I have this pencil, the Napkin Pininfarina design. It's more of a curiosity and conversation piece, because it's not practical at all. It requires significant pressure to get visible results. It is not a joy to use at all, compared to a standard wooden pencil or mechanical pencil. I bought mine for a very cheap price, because the wooden sides had separated from the metal body. It was very easy to glue them back on. The wonderfully crafted wooden display box was more my interest, actually (a true solid wood burl with hidden compartment).
     
    #194 xevious, Dec 31, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  15. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    @xevious: Your experience with the 'pencil' itself reflects what I've seen reported elsewhere, including on FPN. The amazing thing to me is that I've been seeing this show up in catalogs (in particular in Fahrney's) now for at least a couple of years! Can't quite figure out why they still carry it given the reported poor performance.

    L'chaim!

    Moshe ben David
     
  16. xevious

    xevious Loaded Pockets

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    I imagine there are enough people buying them... and who don't look at on-line reviews. There are several variations of these "forever" pencils, the cheapest being obtainable on eBay for less than $20, which come in plain packaging and don't feature the more attractive Pininfarina design. Some may have bought it simply for the novelty, not the practicality.
     
  17. Jdjernigan

    Jdjernigan Loaded Pockets

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    Always carried the kind of cheap mechanical pencil you can buy in 12 packs at Wal-mart for a couple bucks but they never worked for me. Reading this thread I decided to try the Pentel P209 because they weren’t really expensive and I could pick it up at Office Depot/Staples. So far I like it and the 0.9 lead is stronger than the 0.5 lead. I took a little Gorilla tape and created a pen sleeve for my Moleskine cahier which I carry in my left back pocket. I’ll have to see how it holds up to being sat on multiple times during the day. I don’t like the color of the P207 so I won’t be trying that one out.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  18. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    IMHO, the Pentel P20x series deserve to be called 'classics'. They've been around for what seems like forever and are just outright reliable. Many object to the fact that the pipe for the thread is not designed to retract; I am sympathetic to that as it can become a stabby little guy in a pocket. So this isn't a series I carry just in a pocket; but rather in a case with whatever other writing instruments I have with me that day.

    I also dislike 0.5 lead, so I don't have a P205. I do however have both the P207 and the P209; multiples of each. I kinda like blue so the P207 works fine for me. Both the 0.7 and the 0.9 lead also work really well for me.

    L'chaim!

    Moshe ben David
     
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  19. xevious

    xevious Loaded Pockets

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    The Pentel P205 is a legendary mechanical pencil, something that struck a perfect chord between affordability and reliability. It's not a glamorous pencil. It looks inexpensive... because it is. But while Pentel used a basic looking but durable plastic for the body, the internals were well designed for minimal wear. You can easily find testimonies of people using their P205 for up to 20 years without trouble. There is a P207 (0.7mm) and P209 (0.9mm), which is the exact same pencil but with a larger lead diameter.

    Ever heard of the Spoke-4 pencil? Brian Conti of the Spoke Pencil company created it. Beautifully crafted CNC forming of various metals. Guess what drives it... you guessed it, the P205! The mechanism from Pentel's P20x line is installed. And of course, you have the choice of 0.5, 0.7, and 0.9mm. You essentially get the P20x pencil on steroids. $39 well spent, IMHO. :showoff:

    UPDATE: I communicated with a couple of people who reviewed the Spoke-4, and they did confirm that while the two main body parts are fused together, the nose cone can be unscrewed to allow for extraction of the internals. This is great for self-servicing. If your P20x engine ever fails or needs servicing, it's easy to extract it and correct or replace it. This mechanism is so widely in abundance, you never have to worry about not being able to get replacement parts. :yellowcarded:
     
    Last edited by xevious, Jan 5, 2018
    #199 xevious, Jan 2, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
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  20. xevious

    xevious Loaded Pockets

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    Moshe ben David and WillAdams like this.