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.
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.
Things can break – of course they can, but I was still surprised when a pen and an eraser, both not used much, broke.
Items can be ‘worn out’, but with good stationery you will usually have used up the item in question, or will have refilled it a few times, before that happens. Both items this blog post is about are from renowned manufacturers, so you don’t expect them to ‘wear out’ so soon.
Items can be misused, e.g. when excessive force is applied. The items in question were however treated carefully. The pen was always in a pen cup on my desk. It’s a pen cup I have used for many years, but that hasn’t been shown in the Pencil Pot of the Month series yet. The eraser has always been in a protected, padded compartment in the backpack I bring to work.
There can be manufacturing defects, but based on the reputation of the manufacturers and the specific mass-produced nature of the items that doesn’t seem likely.
The items in question are
an eraser from Mono. This is the version without writing on the sleeve so that it is permissible in Japanese exams
and a Schneider Slider Xite. One of the best looking and best writing ballpoint pens I know. The design is IMHO nearly on par with the uni-ball one. The uni-ball one is of course no ballpoint pen, but if we were to compare the look of the pens the uni-ball would only win narrowly because of the nicer clip and the matte plastic of the main body whereas the Schneider is produced with a less attractive glossy surface. Schneider’s Viscoglide ink is really great. If you haven’t tried it out yet, please consider doing so at the next opportunity.
Back to the topic of the two items breaking: The best explanation I can come up with is that there might be some sort of design or material flaw or the materials used got ‘exhausted’.
Please excuse the fibres / lint on the eraser ..nearly impossible to remove and based on the appearance the little fibres must be from my backpack. Why did it break? I’m not sure but my best guess is that at some point the eraser must have gotten a tiny crack that got bigger over time.
In the case of the Slider Xite I wonder if the biobased plastic is to blame on the early failure. As mentioned earlier, the pen was always in a pencil pot on my desk, so it shouldn’t have been exposed to any strong forces, e.g. during transportation. Interestingly enough the sticker on my pen says that the pen body is made from 90% biobased plastic. The current Schneider web site for the Slider Xite mentions however 70% biobased plastic in the pen body. Could it be that the plastic mix was changed because of issues with the plastic durability? Another hypothesis is that the pen was mishandled in the shop where and before I bought it ..and I didn’t notice until it was too late. In any case: some Sellotape stuck in the right place means that I will use this pen until the refill (original fill?) it came with will be used up.
The latest addition to my Caran d’Ache 849 Claim Your Style collection has arrived. I couldn’t resist getting a turquoise one myself after getting one for my wife earlier this year and seeing how beautiful the colour looks. To properly claim it as my style it is again engraved with a computer-related font. The Pen Company did another excellent job with their free engraving. I’m also always amazed how quick they are. I ordered it in the afternoon and it arrived the next morning, engraved exactly how I wanted it.
I fed my new 849 with Schneider’s Slider 755 XB – extra broad and blue. A very smooth refill that offers a lot of line variation compared to normal ballpoint refills, but that, of course, doesn’t lay done a line quite as nice and saturated as a gel refill.
Last year I made two videos about the 849 which might be of interest to you.
While looking through The Pen Company‘s products last week I came across a slightly unusual pen from Scheinder: the Base Senso. The description read ‘This rollerball can sense when too much pressure is being applied, and will warn by illuminating the light at the end of the pen‘. How curious.
Easger to find out more I went to Schneider’s web site which provided some further information: The pen ‘indicates when too much writing pressure is exerted and teaches how to judge the right pressure for fluid writing. Ideal for beginners and for people with motor difficulties‘.
There’s even a seal that implies this pen has been developed together with a a joint expert.
An interesting idea. I’m just imagining a classroom full of children with blinking pens…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.