Holbein

Dead gel refills

If they have been left unused for a while it is not uncommon for gel pens / gel refills to stop working properly.

Unfortunately, this means that the more pens you have in your rotation / are using at the same time, the more likely you are not using them enough. That’s just what happened to me.

Top to bottom: Schneider Gelion (in a Caran d’Ache 849), Zebra JSB (in a Holbein x Rotring 600 3 in 1), Stabilo pointVisco

In the case of my Holbein x Rotring multipen the Zebra refill was only two years old. The blue refill is perfectly fine. Being blue meant it got used regularly, but the red refill didn’t get used quite as much, so stopped working. I have replaced it now with a red Lamy refill. The new red colour is grey-ish as is common for ballpoint refills, but it shouldn’t dry out as fast as the vibrant red Zebra JSB refill.

The Gelion refill was older. I actually made a video at the time that shows how to use this refill in a Cara d’Ache 849 …but as the refill was idle for too long it also stopped working.

The final gel-like pen that stopped working recently was Stabilo’s pointVisco. It did survive very long though: I think I got my first pointVisco in 2008, but as I had a set of mixed colours, some of them just weren’t used as much, so stopped working.

There are some common tricks to try to revive gel pens and refills, e.g. putting them in hot water. I tried these trick, but was unsuccessful and have decided to say goodbye to these two refills and the pen.

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D1 ≠ D1

Not everyone shares this opinion, not even everyone in my household, but I think gel refills are so much nicer than ballpoint refills. My holbein x Rotring 600 3 in 1 came with ballpoint refills, so it was a prime candidate for an upgrade: replacing the ballpoint refills with gel or hybrid refills. I had the idea after A.J. talked about the D1 refills in a comment on my video about this pen.

I started by consulting Ana’s refill guide to look for some nice refills.

The Epic Refill Reference Guide: Rollerball, Gel and Ballpoints

It didn’t take long to pick some cool stuff for my order, not only refills, also a new pen (the Jetstream Edge in white). To get free postage with my order I also picked a few more refills with the intention of improving my wife’s Lamy 2000 multipen (the original Lamy ballpoint refills often skip when you start writing).

The two patients of this operation: Lamy 2000 and holbein x Rotring 600 3 in 1

What did I order? Jetstream refills, I like them based on my positive experience with them from the Hobonichi pens and from my Jetstream 4 in 1. I also got some Zebra refills. I haven’t used them myself but bought them before to go with a pen I gave someone as a gift.

When trying to fit the Zebra refills into the Lamy 2000 there was big disappointment. They didn’t fit. A quick look at the end revealed that the Lamy refills are slightly slimmer. Maybe D1 isn’t quite as standardised as I thought. I have to admit though that I don’t have much D1 experience as I generally prefer pencils and fountain pens.

A quick check with the callipers revealed that there are minute differences in the diameter. The Lamy M21 diameter is 2.32 mm, the Zebra JSB 0.5 diameter is 2.36 mm. 0.04 mm (0.0016 inches) difference. I also measured the Uni SXR-200-07 which turned out to have a diameter of 2.33 mm. Even though the Zebra didn’t fit the Lamy 2000 I managed to squeeze it into the Rotring 600. That left me with the uni for the Lamy 2000. The refill is only 0.01 mm wider but that was enough the turn a relaxing Sunday drive refill with butterflies (and the Loving You song in the background) into a heavy metal squeeze fest (with some Rammstein song playing from a broken stereo) with thoughts in my head that the Lamy 2000 will crumble under all the pressure. In the end it did, luckily, work. According to my own refill guide the D1 diameter is 2.35 mm. Who would have thought a fraction of a millimetre makes such a difference…

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Refills* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)

Since I talked about Holbein: Radio 4’s book of the week happens to be about him: The King’s Painter: The Life and Times and Hans Holbein.

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Holbein x Rotring 600 3 in 1 120th anniversary pen

Holbein was celebrating its 120th anniversary in 2020. They are the Japanese stationery manufacturer that imported Rotring into Japan and they took on an ever bigger role after Rotring was bought by Sanford and manufacturing was moved out of Germany.

Holbein became a manufacturer in 1946, so you tend to see 1946 being mentioned as their starting date, but their origins lie in 1900 (as a retailer) and to celebrate their 120th anniversary this 3 in 1 Rotring 600 was released last year.

It comes in matt white, which looks very special, probably mainly because that’s not a typical Rotring colour. The 600 3 in 1 is a recent addition to the Rotring lineup and features a black and red ballpoint pen as well as a mechanical pencil.

You change the pen/colour by twisting the knurled top part of the 600. You’ll find more information about this pen in my video.

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