Rotring


Pimp my Rotring rapid PRO 0.5

This is a follow-up blog post to my earlier blog post about the Rotring rapid PRO 0.5.

The Rotring rapid PRO is a stunningly beautiful mechanical pencil, at least the black version is …for my taste. As you might remember the sliding sleeve was the worst performing sliding sleeve I have seen so far.

My Rotring rapid PRO 0.5 taken apart

The purpose of a sliding sleeve

The main purpose of a sliding sleeve is, in my opinion, to slide back while you write so that you can keep writing without having to press the button / use whatever mechanism there is to advance the lead.

If the sliding sleeve doesn’t slide back easily you might as well got for a retractable sleeve, one that is either all the way in or out. This make the pencil pocket safe and allows work that is more suitable for drafting purposes, too.

On the unmodified rapid PRO 0.5 you had to use a force of about 1.2 N to get the sleeve to move – far too much to make the sleeve slide back automatically while you write.

The Rotring rapid PRO 0.5's sleeve

The sleeve

Pimp my sliding sleeve

Having never explored how the sliding sleeve mechanism works I assumed ‘simple’ friction is responsible for the force needed to slide the sleeve. The problem is: I thought it’s the friction between the sleeve and grip section holding the sleeve (the grip section can be seen on the left in the first picture). To reduce the friction I took the sleeve out and started removing material from the sleeve on my Spyderco Sharpmaker. This made the sleeve thinner, something I had hoped would reduce the friction, but after a while I noticed that this treatment didn’t help making the sleeve slide easier at all.

The Rotring rapid PRO 0.5's sleeve on a Spyderco Sharpmaker

Trying to reduce the friction – the wrong way: the sleeve on a Sharpmaker

I then figured out that the friction holding the sleeve in place must be caused by the white plastic holder at the bottom of the sleeve. I started using the file from my Swiss Army knife [1]Fun fact: I got this knife from my godfather in the 1980s and I believe it is the same model as the one that the astronauts used on the Space Shuttle, just mine has a cork screw instead of a screw … Continue reading to remove some of the plastic, i.e. making the plastic holder narrower, but that took too long, so in the end I just cut bits of the plastic off with the knife.

This time it worked. Great!

Trying to file some of the plastic off....

Trying to file some of the sleeve holder’s plastic off….

From 1.2 N to 0.2 N

The result: You now only need about 0.2 N to slide the sleeve of my rapid PRO, which makes it suitable for writing without having to advance the lead all the time. This is an amazing result – because of the bigger lead diameter you can’t compare an 0.5 mm sleeve directly to the 0.2 mm sleeve of the Orenz. Just the friction caused by the 0.5 mm lead in the rapid PRO’s sleeve (i.e. just these two parts, ‘outside’ the pencil) means that you need 0.1 N just to slide the sleeve down the lead – that’s without the additional force needed to slide the sleeve within the pencil barrel/ grip section.

If I’d have to do it all again I obviously wouldn’t make the metal sleeve narrower. It made the sleeve a bit more wobbly, but it is not really an issue. It is certainly still less wobbly than a Kuru Toga or Muji’s flat clip mechanical pencil.

That's one small scrape off [a] sleeve, one giant leap in the friction chart.

That’s one small scrape off [a] sleeve, one giant leap in the friction chart.


More about the Cloud Book in the blog post, I’m still using it regularly.

References

References
1Fun fact: I got this knife from my godfather in the 1980s and I believe it is the same model as the one that the astronauts used on the Space Shuttle, just mine has a cork screw instead of a screw driver.

Rotring rapid PRO 0.5 4

During my hunt for the perfect sliding sleeve pencil I came across the Rotring rapid PRO 0.5. I’m looking for a sliding sleeve that slides back easily enough so that I can keep writing while the lead is worn down – without having to advance the lead all the time.

I bought the rapid PRO for £18.95 (~$29; €26) from Pilotfishpens on eBay. It usually sells for about £25 in the UK.

A well reviewed pencil

Having bought it because of its sliding sleeve I was aware of and have read reviews of the pencils, but every blog post or review pays attention to very different details, so if you are interested in this pencil please look at the other reviews (see list at the bottom of this blog post), they might contain more of the information you might be after – oh, well infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

Rotring

As far as Rotring mechanical pencils go, this is a fairly new model. It has been released many years after Sanford / Newell Rubbermaid took over. You can find more of my thought about how Rotring changed since Sanford / Newell Rubbermaid took this company over in my blog post about the Rotring Newton.

 Looks – stunningly beautiful

I read Dave’s review and I have also seen reviews of other Rotring pencils with a similar surface, but I didn’t expect such a good looking pencil! The finish, matt but also reflective, is absolutely beautiful. I tried to capture it using HDR, a technique Lexikaliker has used many times on his blog, but the photo doesn’t show the real beauty of this pen in any way.

rotring-rapid-pro

Other observations

The knurled grip area is metal, but the knurling is so fine, dust and small particles will stick to it. Nice looking, good to grip, but not easy to clean.

The lead it comes with is (for my taste) ridiculously soft. I like harder leads. This one is nice and dark, but gets worn down very fast.

The red ring is plastic, so the colour wouldn’t come off, as is common on Rotring Tikkys. Most parts are metal, but some parts, like the red ring and the screw threads, as well as the mechanism holding the sliding sleeve, are plastic. I wonder whether the pen will one day fail because of some cheap plastic parts, as was the case with my Rotring Newton, which didn’t last long at all

Sliding sleeve

The sliding sleeve, the main reason why I bought this pencil was a disappointment. You need even more force to slide this sleeve than you need to slide the sleeve of the Caran d’Ache 844, the worst performing sliding sleeve in a previous comparison. This renders one of the main advantages of a sliding sleeve, not having to forward the lead all the time, useless.

I really love the look of this pencil, so in the end I made a minor modification to make this pencil work for me (more about this in another blog post). The diagram shown here, comparing the force needed to slide the sleeve of different pencils, does however represent an off the shelf, unmodified Rotring rapid PRO 0.5.

Excuse the image quality, I took the photo with my mp3 player.

Force needed to slide the sleeve. Excuse the image quality, I took the photo with my mp3 player.

Conclusion

A beautiful pencil. Not cheap, but also not one of the really expensive ones. I love the look. The sliding sleeve is too stiff for my taste, but can be adjusted if you don’t mind voiding your warranty. I hope it will last a long time and won’t fail because of some of the plastic components used.


As usual, please open images in a new tab for a high resolution version.

Price: September 2015.

Exchange rates: October 2015.

More about sliding sleeves in this blog post about their disappearance and this blog post about the Color Eno.

More reviews of the Rotring rapid PRO at

The notebook is handmade by Shangching. It’s not the first time you can see it in a blog post on Bleistift. I should really write a blog post about this notebook.

 


Jason Bourne and the Rotring 600 9

Today a guest post from Rares:

Jason born with a Rotring 600 (Image © Universal Pictures)

I have recently watched The Bourne trilogy, after reading the books, and was surprised to see in “The Bourne Supremacy” a Rotring 600. Matt Damon (Jason Bourne in the movie) is making calls from a phone both, and uses the Rotring to take notes.

Jason born with a Rotring 600 (Image © Universal Pictures)

The Rotring appears 3 times during the movie but only in this scene you can clearly see it.

Jason born with a Rotring 600 (Image © Universal Pictures)


The images in this blog post have been taken from the Bourne movies. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


Rotring Newton 5

Rotring has changed a lot since Sanford / Newell Rubbermaid took this company over in 1998. It actually changed so much that it’s difficult to believe that the generic products that are left today used to be from a company that created many great pens and pencils. The sad remains actually remind me of the transporter accident in the first Star Trek movie, where Starfleet replies to Kirk “What we got back didn’t live long – fortunately”.

Today I want to talk about one of their post-Sanford pencils, the Rotring Newton. I saw it being advertised on Japanese web sites as being Made in Germany, but I doubt that. The Rotring 600 morphed into the first Rotring Newton, sometimes referred to as the Rotring 600 Newton, which then became the pen shown in this blog post, the final version of the Rotring Newton, a pen that can look nice, depending on the colour combination chosen, but that doesn’t feel like a proper Rotring. Even though this pen is not available any more with a red ring on its barrel, it is still available – in its reincarnation as the Parker Facet. This doesn’t come as too much of a surprise because this pencil doesn’t feeling like a real Rotring and because Parker is another subsidiary of Newell Rubbermaid.

I mentioned that this pencil doesn’t feel like a proper Rotring. The main reason for this is that it is not very practical – it is actually one of the most impractical pencils I know. To advance the lead once you rotate the front barrel clockwise. If you rotate the barrel counter-clockwise you advance the lead and unlock it, i.e. the lead can be pushed back or can be pulled out. If the barrel is in this position and if you wanted to and if there’s no other lead blocking the way you could refill lead by pushing them from the tip into the pencil.

If you want to refill this pencil the proper way you have to

  1. Pull the front barrel out of the sleeve section in the middle. This hexagonal sleeve section its the main design link to the Rotring 600 pencil.
  2. Unscrew the cap you’ll find on the barrel. This cap come with a removable eraser.
  3. Take the pencil mechanism out of the front barrel.
  4. Remove the lid of the pencil mechanism
  5. Refill leads.
  6. Close the lid of the pencil mechanism.
  7. Put the pencil mechanism back into the front barrel.
  8. Screw the cap back onto the barrel.
  9. Push the fron barrel back into the sleeve section.

If you thought that’s acceptable… There’s one more thing you need to do: Pray that the eraser from the second bullet point doesn’t get stuck in the sleeve section. If it does you won’t be able to get it out and the rotate-to-advance mechanism will not work any more, instead you’ll have to advance the lead by pushing the front barrel against the sleeve section – or if you want press the sleeve section while holding the front barrel.

 


I bought this mechanical pencil last week from eBay for around £5 (~ $8; €6.25). The price including shipping was around £7 (~ $11.20; €8.75).

Price and exchange rates: September 2012

Dave has a review of the Trio version of this pen.