sliding sleeve


Disappointed with the Kuru Toga – again 14

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. []

M&G m9 1

The m9 on a tray from Muji

The m9 on a tray from Muji

One of the pencils I bought in Shanghai this Winter is the M&G m9, also known as the AMP85405.

Price and properties

When I saw it in a stationery store1 on FuZhou Road, the book and stationery road I mentioned many times before, I just couldn’t resist. Only 15元 (~$2.30; $1.60; €2.10) for this quite handsome mechanical pencil. It is available in white, grey, red and black. It feels very well made, from some kind off metal, and with 12 g it is quite heavy for it’s size. The pen’s centre of gravity is in the middle.

Well made, including the clip

Well made, including the clip

Sliding sleeve

It does feature a sliding sleeve, but the ‘sleeve’ is shaped more like a cone than like a pipe. This means that it is not good at what I like sliding sleeves for, i.e. sliding back while you write so that you don’t have to keep advancing the lead manually, despite only needing 4 dN – 6 dN to slide the sleeve.

The sliding sleeve - or should that be sliding cone

The sliding sleeve – or should that be sliding cone

Conclusion

Great value for money, despite the sliding sleeve not doing its job properly. I think the m9 might benefit from its centre of gravity a bit closer to the front …and maybe from having a slightly larger diameter.

M&G m9


Price: December 2015

Exchange rates: January 2016

You can read about a wood-cased pencil from M&G in a previous blog post.

I have added the m9 to my sliding sleeve table.

  1. I think it was 立信帐册, house number 618, even though according to Google it is somewhere else. []

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.

 


The sliding sleeve and the Pilot Color Eno 4

Comparison of force needed with different sliding sleeve pencils

Comparison of force needed for different sliding sleeve pencils

Recently I ordered a set of seven Pilot Color Eno mechanical pencils. One reason why I bought them was that I wanted to try them for a long time: Last year I asked Fudepens to put one for me aside, so that I can get it when they get the Orenz again, but somehow they didn’t get more Orenz pens and postage-wise it wasn’t worth ordering the Color Eno by itself.

SevenColorEnos

Another reason was that they were very cheap. On eBay I paid $19.99 (~£12.80; €18.20) for seven Color Eno pencils and seven packs of coloured leads – including free postage. I ordered them on 25 July and already got them on 31 July, despite them having had to travel around the globe from Hong Kong to the UK.

Sliding sleeve and coloured leads

The reason why I wanted to try the Color Eno for a long time is its sliding sleeve, more about these in one of my previous blog posts ((I thought I found out about the Color Eno on Lexikaliker’s blog, but couldn’t find it when I looked again. )). I sometimes use coloured pencil leads at work. One of my dedicated pencils for coloured leads was a Faber-Castell Grip Matic (the auto advancing kind). If you know how to use it it was fine, but every time a colleague would grab it to write with it they would break the soft coloured leads and generally clog the Grip Matic up. An easy to handle mechanical pencil for coloured leads did therefore sound like a really good idea.

The five different sliding sleeve pencils I have compared

The five different sliding sleeve pencils I have compared

First impressions Color Eno

My first impressions of the Color Eno are not so positive. It is a nice pencil in itself, with such a close similarity to the Super Grip1 (both from Pilot), but the feature I wanted it for, the sliding sleeve, doesn’t work for me. It does work for me when I use the Super Grip, though2. The sleeve doesn’t slide back when I write. It might work for others, especially if you hold your pen in a vertical or near vertical position. My first idea was that this is because or a combination of force needed to push the sleeve back and sleeve thickness. After comparing the Color Eno to other sliding sleeve pencils I think the thickness of the Color Eno‘s sleeve doesn’t really matter that much.

The Color Eno's sleeve doesn't glide back so after a while you write on the sleeve. Not so with the Orenz.

The Color Eno’s sleeve doesn’t glide back so after a while you write on the sleeve. Not so with the Orenz.

 

A little warning regarding my chart: I have neither the training, nor experience, nor the equipment to take these measurements properly, so you better take these measurements with a pinch of salt, or even better with a whole lorryload full of salt.

Comparison of force needed for different sliding sleeve pencils

Comparison of force needed for different sliding sleeve pencils

The Pentel Orenz works with 0.2 mm leads. The sleeve has an other diameter of ~0.6 mm. You need less than 1 cN to slide the sleeve. You might have read from Lexikaliker that the Orenz will be available in Germany from autumn 2015. The good news is that the Orenz will officially come to the UK, too. From January 2016 it will be available in 0.2 mm and 0.3 mm.

The Staedtler Microfix works with 0.5 mm leads. The sleeve has an other diameter of ~1 mm. It is not being manufactured anymore. You need less than 5 cN to slide the sleeve.

The Pilot Super Grip works with 0.5 mm leads. The sleeve has an other diameter of ~1 mm. You need less than 2 dN to slide the sleeve. My version was bought nearly 15 years ago, so I am not sure whether the current version needs the same force to slide the sleeve.

The Pilot Color Eno works with 0.7 mm leads. The sleeve has an other diameter of ~1.1 mm. You need about 6 – 8 dN to slide the sleeve (different force needed on the different versions I have of this pencil).

The Caran d’Ache 844 works with 0.7 mm leads. The sleeve has an other diameter of ~1.05 mm. You need about 1 N to slide the sleeve.


Price: July 2015

Exchange rates: August 2015

More about the Color Eno on Sola’s Blog.

 

  1. It didn’t realise this when I saw pictures of the Color Eno. I only noticed it now that I have it in my hands []
  2. The Super Grip must have been the first mechanical pencil I bought after I arrived in the UK in 2001. It has been available since the 1990s. The Super Grip Neon was released in 2014. []

Why did the sliding sleeve disappear? 15

Getting to know the sliding sleeve pencils again

Thanks to Lexikaliker whetting my my appetite and with some help from Shangching I got my hands on a Pentel Orenz. I have been using it for a few weeks now and like it very much. A blog post will follow, hopefully, once my time permits.

One of the nice features of the Orenz is the sliding sleeve. You don’t have to keep manually forwarding the lead to be able to keep writing. Instead the sleeve will slide back while you write until there’s no sleeve left. Only then do you have to forward the lead – and the sleeve will slide out again.

You start writing like this...

You start writing like this…

Retractable vs sliding sleeve

Just to clarify, when I write about a sliding sleeve I mean a one that slowly slides back while you write. The other type, a sleeve that is either completely out (for writing) or completely in (for transport) is the type I call a retractable sleeve. I hope these labels are correct, I’m not sure, but this helps to avoid confusing both types. Please let me know if the names I use for the sleeves are wrong.

In the past

The sliding sleeve is nothing new. The Staedtler Microfix1 I used in school could do that. At that time Staedtler sold mechanical pencils with three different types of sleeves: fixed (F models), half slide (HS models) and full slide (S / SL models), but as far as I know the sliding sleeves have disappeared in the late 1980s.

...after a while it looks like that

…after a while it looks like that

Why are they gone?

Unfortunately these types of mechanical pencils are quite rare. I can see the advantage of a fixed sleeve for an engineer who needs his or her pencil to create precise drawings, but these days that kind of work is done on a computer – so why did the sliding sleeve not come back? In my opinion it provides a much better writing experience than a fixed sleeve mechanical pencil.

You can still get mechanical pencils with sliding sleeves. One example is Caran d’Ache’s 844 pencil, mentioned previously, but the 844’s sleeve is quite wide meaning it will prevent full contact of the lead with the paper – the sleeve is in the way when you are writing.

Orenz, Microfix and 844

Orenz, Microfix and 844

You can still buy new old stock (NOS) of the Microfix, but it’s not cheap (If I were to win the lottery this weekend I’d buy the whole set).

Do you know of any nice sliding sleeve mechanical pencils still available?

  1. Available from 1977 until 1988. []