Sorted By Manufacturer


Schneider’s Gelion 39 refill

As you might or might not know: I prefer pencils and fountain pens to ballpoint and similar pens. This means I try to avoid using ballpoint pens if I can. Recently I had a good reason to use one, though. I spare you the details why, but suffice to say that I first tried to avoid using a ballpoint pen.

Faber-Castell Grip 2011 Gel pen

Instead I tried to use my seven year old Faber-Castell Grip 2011 Gel pen. Well, it was worth a try, but didn’t work. The refill cartridge was either dried out or used up. I assume it was used up, because I tried to squeeze any leftover gel out, as you might see from the dented cartridge in the photo, but I was unsuccessful.

Faber-Castell Grip 2011, Silvine 190 notebook, Staedtler stick and Schneider Gelion 39

Faber-Castell Grip 2011, Silvine 190 notebook, Staedtler stick and Schneider Gelion 39

Staedtler stick 430 M

As the Gelroller didn’t work I tried Staedler’s Welsh-made stick 430 M (also discontinued, at least the Welsh version) which I stored in the same pencil case as the Grip 2011. After many years of neglect it started writing immediately and left a clear line without any skipping. What a tough worker the Staedtler stick is! I was positively impressed.

Faber-Castell Gelroller Refill Blue

I remember that I loved the line I got from the Grip 2011’s original cartridge, a Faber-Castell Gelroller Refill Blue (24 97 51), but unfortunately Faber-Castell stopped making these refills. I was searching for alternatives for quite a while, but all I could find was either very expensive, from the more luxurious brands, or erasable (using an ‘ink killer’). The erasable version was even from Faber-Castell, but I wasn’t keen on erasable ink for this pen.

Schneider Gelion 39

In the end I found Schneider’s Gelion 39 Refill on The Pen Company’s web site. I ordered the blue version for £1.70 (~$2.45; €2.25).

It’s a Standard G2, parker style ballpoint refill size so it did fit the Grip 2011 Gel pen perfectly. As far as I can tell the Grip 2011 Gel pen is using exactly the same body as the Grip 2011 ballpoint pen , but with an additional “Gel” imprint at the end of the pen.

Faber-Castell Grip 2011 ballpoint pen and gel rollerball

My Grip 2011 family

My impressions, based on the memory I have of the original Faber-Castell refill are quite similar to The Pen Addict’s (assuming that Schneider’s Gelion pen uses the Gelion 39 refill). I didn’t see his review until after I tried my refill, so I wasn’t influenced by his review. In a nutshell: I think it’s great refill, but on the type of paper I have tried so far the refill’s ink will get (slightly) soaked into the paper, so the border of the lines you write are not as clear as the one Faber-Castell’s discontinued refill produced. I love clear, sharp lines, but everyone is different – you might not mind.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a very reasonably priced refill that provides great value for money. Once it’s used up, which might take years, I might be looking for a refill with crisper line borders, though.


Price: January 2016

Exchange rates: February 2016

This review has also been posted on The Pen Company’s blog, but just to spell it out, I have not received money for this review (or any other reviews) and have paid for the refill.


Graf von Faber-Castell Journal and Paper 1

gvfc-journal1Today: a noble notebook and pencil.

Graf von Faber-Castell, that’s Faber-Castell’s posh product line started in 1993. Back then our favourite count, Anton-Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell, introduced this line as part of Faber-Castell’s reorientation. As a pencil enthusiast I am quite happy that the Graf von Faber-Castell line has not neglected the humble pencil. There was a Graf von Faber-Castell version with only an eraser cap, a pencil extender and the perfect pencil and there were some other pencils along the way, like the fluorescent Graf von Faber-Castells.

This Graf von Faber-Castell Journal and Pencil set is available for free with most purchases from The Pen Company’s Graf von Faber-Castell line. I got it free of charge when I recently placed an order with them.

gvfc-journal-open2

 

The pencil included in this set is one of their fluted pencils with a silver plated end cap. I assume it is silver plated, not solid silver, but I am not 100% sure. These pencils are a bit harder than the very old Graf von Faber-Castell pencils, but certainly softer than a Faber-Castell HB pencil. In any case they are a pleasure to write with while keeping the point fairly well.

 

gvfc-journal-inside
gvfc-pencilThe notebook you get is clothbound and has thick, creamy paper in a kind of slightly yellow shade of light beige. It feels quite different to the ordinary white from most notebooks. Despite the smooth surface the paper is taking the graphite on very well. I am spelling this out because some smooth paper, like the one found in the original Field Notes, is very smooth and doesn’t work well with pencils – as if the paper is too smooth and not abrasive enough to get the graphite off the pencil and onto the paper. This Graf von Faber-Castell paper does however feel very smooth to the touch but is ‘abrasive’ enough for use with HB pencils. The writing experience on this paper is just excellent. It’s a shame you can’t buy these individually, but since they’ve been around for at least five years I hope that we will still see this notebook as part of some special offers in the future.


This blog post has been published on The Pen Company’s Blog, too. Just to spell it out, I have not received any money for writing this blog post.


Castell of the Woods

Another appearance of Michael Wood at Bleistift, but unlike last time you won’t see a Staedtler Noris in his latest documentary The Story of China. Instead you’ll see Dr YiJie Zhuang using a Faber-Castell Castell 9000.

wood-fc9000

Image © Maya Vision / BBC


I believe that the use of the the screen shot of the Castell 9000, taken from Michael Wood’s The Story of China falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


Mitsubishi 7700 vs Staedtler Noris colour 9

If blog posts had soundtracks this post would play Billy Ocean’s “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going” in the background1.

Today: a follow up of last year’s Noris colour wear and tear blog post, but this time I will compare the Staedtler Noris colour to another ‘hard’ coloured pencil: the Mitsubishi 7700.

Lexikaliker suggested that I should try the Mitsubishi 7700 after reading my first blog post about the Noris colour. He had previously suggested good coloured leads, I think it was after talking about redcircle leads, but knowing that I use coloured leads and pencils for writing he thought the Mitsubishi 7700 coloured pencils might be suitable as they are advertised as ‘hard’.

Staedtler Noris colour and Mitsubishi 7700

Mitsubishi 7700 and the price rise

I ordered my Mitsubishi 7700 in February 2015 and received them in March 2015. Back then I paid £9.82 (~$14.10; €12.90). You might have read in the news about what happened next, Lexikaliker covered this, too: End of last year Mitsubishi/uni decided to stop producing some of the 7700’s colours and prices have gone up a lot since then. Reminds me of what happened not long before that, when Hagomoro Bungu went out of business and people started hoarding their chalk ((At the time of writing a box of this chalk sells for £168.05 on Amazon.)). Well, the Mitsubishi 7700 has now more than doubled in price and the Amazon seller I bought from is currently selling a set of 12 Mitsubishi 7700 for £21.14 (~£30.30; €27.70). I wouldn’t be surprised if prices will rise even further.

 

Comparison

So let’s have a look at how the two toughies, the Mitsubishi 7700 and the Noris colour. I will compare the red and the (light) blue pencils. Since you are reading a stationery blog I won’t go into much detail, but would just like to point out that the Noris colour is an extruded pencil, so it is manufactured in  very different way to other coloured pencils and that will probably also mean that it will have different properties, too.

The setup

First I looked at how dark/colour intense the line is that these pencils leave on paper. To do that  I sharpened the pencils so that the point of both pencils is a conical frustum (a cone without the top). Both pencils’ points/frustum’s had the same top radii. This was achieve by sharpening with a Deli 0668 where I ‘dialled’ the point adjuster back. I then used a force of 1.8 N2 and a speed of 25 mm/s to move the pencils across the paper3. The pencil had an angle of 90°, so axial pen force = normal pen force. The paper was from a Brunnen – Der grüne Block, which I have used many times before on this blog.

Staedtler Noris colour and Mitsubishi 7700

Darkness/Colour intensity

As mentioned before I compared red and blue. As my Mitsubishi 7700 set has far fewer colours than my Noris colour set I picked a colour from the Mitsubishi set and then tried to find the closest corresponding match form the Noris set, based on the colour of the pencil’s body more than based on the colour of the point.

Measuring colour intensity seems to be more complicated than expected, at least for someone like me who doesn’t know what he’s doing. I scanned the paper on my scanner with 2400 dpi, turning off all auto settings I could find and used the ‘linear’ settings for the colours. I then looked at the file with a graphics editor. The HSB values used for my Pilot neox Graphite blog post don’t seem useful here and only looking at the red and blue values alone seems slightly unfair as a different shade of red or blue might actually be darker for the eye but contain less red or blue, but it’s the best I got for now.

Visually the lines left by the Mitsubishi 7700 look darker than those from the Noris colour, but lets see whether we can measure this. I looked at a 150 pixel * 25 pixel area from each line to look at the histogram.

Come on you reds4

Let’s compare the reds. The numbers at the top are for the red channel only. Lower numbers mean it’s darker,  but the numbers are purely based on the red channel, so a shade of red that is different to the RGB red will provide numbers that should be used with caution.

Good that there’s no publication bias at Bleistift. Quite boringly the numbers confirm how it looks like anyway: the Mitsubishi creates a darker shade of red on the paper (…at least when used with 1.8 N and an angle of 90° while moving along the paper with 25 mm/s. The pencils will behave differently under different conditions).

Mitsubishi 7700 #15 Red Noris colour, a similar shade of red
Sample:m15Histogram:
hbm15
Sample:ncredHistogram:hbncred
Come on you blues5

Next up: the blues. I compared Mitsubishi’s #8 Light Blue to the closest Noris colour match.

Again, the Mitsubishi looks darker, but this time the numbers seem to contradict how it looks like. They seem to indicate that the blue colour of the line left by the Noris colour is a slightly darker blue. I am not sure why this is. Maybe other find the Noris colour’s line to be of a darker blue? It could be down to the Noris being a closer match to the RGB blue or to the fact that something makes the human eye/brain perceive the #8 Light Blue as darker, even though it isn’t. This time the numbers are for the blue channel.

Mitsubishi 7700 #8 Light Blue Noris colour, a similar shade of red
Sample:m8Histogram:

hm8

Sample:ncblueHistogram:

hncblue

Wear and tear

Let’s look at how hard these pencils really are. If they are to be used for writing they should keep their point as long as possible. For this I have done a similar test as in the Noris colour wear and tear blog post. I wrote a line of text with a freshly sharpened pencil, using the Deli 0635‘s 17° angle, while trying to keep writing angle and pressure constant.

Mitsubishi’s #15 (Red) started with a

  • horizontal width of 0.3 mm and a
  • diagonal width of 0.1 mm

and ended with a vertical width of 0.5 mm.

Mitsubishi’s #8 (Light Blue) started with a

  • horizontal width of 0.3 mm and a
  • diagonal width of 0.1 mm

and ended with a vertical width of 0.4 mm.

The Noris colour red started with a

  • horizontal width of 0.3 mm and a
  • diagonal width of 0.1 mm

and ended with a vertical width of 0.4 – 0.5 mm.

The Noris colour blue started with a

  • horizontal width of 0.3 mm and a
  • diagonal width of 0.2 mm

and ended with a vertical width of 0.4 mm.

The Noris colour seems to have kept the point slightly better, but the numbers indicate that for both brands the red pencil didn’t keep the point as well as the blue pencil. As this second test was not done using a measured force it might very well be that the actual pressure used was different.

The lines produced by constant force support the idea that the Noris colour keeps the point longer, but on the constant force lines it looks as of the blue pencils, especially the Mitsubishi, was worn down more.

Staedtler Noris colour and Mitsubishi 7700

Conclusion

Coloured pencil are nowhere near as good at keeping their point, so they are not great for writing (surprise, surprise), but some are better than other. The Noris colour keeps its point better, but the darker lines seem to indicate that the Mitsubishi 7700 is a better choise. It is a shame that the Noris colour pencils are not labelled by colour, that would have provided another way of selecting equivalent pencils to match the 7700’s colours. In the case of the Mitsubishi 7700 vs the Staetdler Noris colour you might just pick a darker shade of red or blue for the Noris colour and get similar levels of darkness as you do from the 7700.

I had fun writing this blog post, but I realise this is not everyone’s cup of tea – the DelGuard blog post with a pressure diagram wasn’t very popular at all, so I will try to limit these kind of blog posts in the future.

A heavily scaled down version of the test sheet

A heavily scaled down version of the test sheet


Prices: Dates as explained

Exchange rates: January 2016
As usual: open the images in a new tab/window to look at them in full resolution.

  1. Please hum along if you like. I assume that won’t infringe any copyright. []
  2. With less force the lines would have been quite light. You do need to use quite a bit of force when you want to write with coloured pencils. []
  3. Actually, the pencil was stationary ;^) and I moved the paper. []
  4. No, I don’t follow football, but couldn’t resist. []
  5. No, I really don’t watch football. []

Disappointed with the Kuru Toga – again 11

Welcome to a blog post that is linked to my 2009 blog post about the Kuru Toga and is my third blog post this month about sliding sleeve pencils, after the M&G m9 and the 0.3mm Orenz.

If blog posts came with a soundtrack this post’s sound track would be Queen’s ‘Under pressure’, you’ll see why…

As mentioned previously there is a new Kuru Toga model that features a sliding sleeve – and I had to buy one.  It’s from a Japanese seller on eBay and I paid $14.09 (~£9.75; €13.00) (sorry, no link to the product as the seller doesn’t sell it anymore).

Kuru Toga Pipe Slide

About the ‘pipe’

I will call this model ‘pipe slide’ for now as there is no English version with an English name out yet and one of the only things I can read on the Japanese packaging is ‘pipe slide’ in Katakana. The name is slightly misleading as the sleeve is more of a cone than a pipe. Otherwise it looks pretty similar to the original Kuru Toga, with one of the more obvious differences being the black grip area, instead of the original silver one.

More of a cone than a pipe

More of a cone than a pipe

The idea, as with other sliding sleeve pencils, is that you can just keep writing without having to advance the lead – because the sleeve that protects the lead is sliding back further and further as you use the lead up …until you have used up the several millimetres of lead that where originally protected by the sleeve.

About the mechanism to rotate the lead

On my original Kuru Toga in 0.5mm you had to press the lead down 40 times to rotate the mechanism by 360°. The ‘pipe sleeve’ model, also 0.5mm works differently. Each pressing down of the lead will rotate the lead about twice as much as the original model, so pressing the lead down 20 times will rotate it by 360°.

Kuru Toga Pipe Slide

Does it work?

…the sleeve

Well, the sliding sleeve works. It’s not as good as the one from the Pentel Orenz or the Staedtler Microfix S, because the sleeve is more likely to press into the paper, but it will work well.

When the sleeve is partly retracted the lead will feel a bit more wobbly, but it isn’t a problem at all. You will need about 0.05 N of pressure to slide the sleeve back, which is a pretty good value, but as mentioned earlier the sleeve is more in the way, so the writing experience you get from a pencil with similar pressure requirements, like the Microfix S, is better.

…the mechanism to rotate the lead

The mechanism still doesn’t work for me, just like the original Kuru Toga, six years ago.  It does seem to work for others. This pencil is in the Pen Addict’s Top 5 and Brad wrote: “Not a gimmick either. It actually works.”, but I assume when writing he is using much more pressure than I do.

There seems to be a strange discrepancy here. Many people seem to prefer soft wood cased pencils, indicating that they might use less pressure than me when writing, but on the other hand many people seem happy with the Kuru Toga, indicating that they use more pressure than me when writing.

What is your experience with the Kuru Toga – and what kind of wood cased pencils do you prefer? I’d love to find out how they relate to each other for others. 

You need quite a bit less force or pressure to rotate the lead of the pipe slide model, 0.3 N in my case, but that’s still more than I seem to normally use. Things get even worse when you write in cursive, as there’ll the lead will be lifted and placed on the paper less often, so there are fewer opportunities to rotate the lead anyway.

Maybe that’s the reason why my Kuru Toga pipe slide came with a reasonably hard lead1, so that you press a bit harder.

Conclusion

It’s not a bad mechanical pencil, but unfortunately it is just not good at doing what is supposed to set it apart. I wonder whether Schmidt’s2 rotating lead apparatus would have worked any better, or Kotobuki’s mechanism…

Kuru Toga Pipe Slide

 


Price and exchange rates: January 2016

Please open the images in a new tab/windows to see them at full resolution.

The video is available in full resolution on YouTube.

I have added the Kuru Toga Pipe slide to my sliding sleeve table.

Michael Fryda has a YouTube review of this pencil.

  1. harder than the lead some other Japanese pencils I have came with []
  2. Not related to Lexikaliker, I think. []