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Pencil Problems


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16 replies to this topic

#1 jjlax10

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 20:10

Friends,

I have recently purchased my first esterbrook mechanical pencil. I have tried to put new lead in it, the lead seems to take in the mechanism, but I cannot advance the lead out of the pencil. Any tips on how to fix this problem, or who to speak to?
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#2 FarmBoy

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 00:08

Likely causes:

Graphite jammed in the mechanism somewhere.

Wrong size graphite cores. Esterbrook liked to stamp the size on the mechanism under the cap.

I can dig out a pencil when I get home and be more specific if needed.
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#3 docholt

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 16:19

Friends,

I have recently purchased my first esterbrook mechanical pencil. I have tried to put new lead in it, the lead seems to take in the mechanism, but I cannot advance the lead out of the pencil. Any tips on how to fix this problem, or who to speak to?


"EXPERT", I am not but, have had this problem myself with Esterbrook pencils due to the wrong lead size being loaded into them.
First, these pencils are not loaded by putting a stick of lead into the front end. They are a continual feed type loaded from the lead stored under the eraser. I read an Esterbrook ad that said they hold two feet of lead. I didn't measure it but they do hold plenty.
Second, the proper size lead must be used. Esterbrook listed "standard" and "thin" which translates to .046" or .036" and, thankfully, is stamped on the side of the tube under the cap. I have never found these sizes sold as today all such dimensions are metric so, you and I buy 1.1mm or 0.9mm lead (graphite, really).
Third, pull off the cap and eraser. Invert the pencil and dump out any lead stored in the tube. While inverted, hold the barrel in one hand and place the open end of the tube on a sheet of paper on the desk. Work the barrel up and down a dozen times. Often stray bits of lead will fall out. Like it says on the shampoo bottle, repeat. Now, turn the pencil over and work the action a couple dozen more times. With any luck this will have cleared most of the blockage.
Fourth, load up your feed tube with the proper size new lead, replace the eraser and cap and work the feed mechanism until you have passed two or three sticks of lead through. Put these back into the feed tube and your ready to write.
If the above fails to clear the jam the pencil will need to be taken apart and cleaned. I have never had to do this but would send it off to one of the true experts you'll find listed here on the FPN. Good luck.

#4 jonveley

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 03:56

As a pencil guy, I can tell you that 90% of pencil troubles are lead jams. With clutch pencils, using a lead that is too big (newer esties take .9mm, not 1.1mm) will cause the mechanism not to retract far enough to retract.

With my "continuous feed" repeaters, such as Esties and Skylines, I routinely pull all the excess lead out and work with just one piece in them, fed from the tip rather than as designed from the back.

You might try a low tech solution of using a small paperclip (small for the .9mm, large for 1.1mm pencils), running it up through the tip and up as far as it will go, then trying to actuate the mechanism while pushing in on the top to see what you feel. Sometimes you can run the lead jam out the back end that way.

#5 Autopoint

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 09:11

I'm a pencil guy also. +1 on all of the above suggestions.

Many times there's a substantial jam up of lead, since the prior owner erroneously used square leads, oversize leads, leads that were very soft like 2B or 3B, etc. (take your pick of reasons). Sometimes the clogging results simply because the pencil mechanism hasn't been used for so many years, and may have resided in a damp location. If there is a jam - which is pretty common - I'd suggest simply filing down the tip of the paper clip Jon suggested using, with an old nail file or something similar, so the very tip of the paperclip is shaped like a tiny flat bladed screwdriver. Bend a short piece of the other end of the paper clip at a right angle. Then just insert the shaped tip of the paper clip into the mechanism and gently rotate it against the lead jam, using the right angled bit at the other end to provide pressure and to rotate the "bit". Periodically dump out the lead "shavings", and repeat until the paper clip goes all the way through the mechanism. When it's unclogged and working, consider starting out with at least HB or harder lead, until the mechanism gets worked in a little.

This has happened to me so frequently that I now own very fine twist drills in the necessary sizes, inserted into "handles" fashioned from short wooden dowels - to give my fingers a little more torque. As long as you're gentle and use a drill size smaller than the diameter of the lead mechanism, the drill basically just finds its own way up the "lead tube" of the pencil. When properly done, a final tap of the tip of the pencil against something hard produces a satisfying shower of tiny lead shards. And voila, the pencil works perfectly again!
- - - Happy fixing, Jim

Edited by Autopoint, 09 July 2011 - 09:13.

Collector of Autopoint + Realite + Realpoint, and Esterbrook accumulator

#6 docholt

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 18:02

Jim,

The chisel point paperclip/drill idea worked very well on a jammed-up Parker 45 0.9mm pencil. Only took a couple of strokes with a file to form the cutting edge. I felt a little safer with the soft paperclip steel, less chance of me cutting into the lead guide or something else, OUCH!.
This is a front end, stick feed pencil without the through hole of the Esterbrook design so it was maybe a little slower but worked like a charm. Thanks very much for the tip.

Anyone looking for a very small drill set might check a welding supply shop. They sell gas welding tip cleaners which are little drill like cutters that come in their own aluminum tube container. One end of the container is a screw-cap and the other a handy pin-vise for holding the drill/cleaner. These tip cleaner sets only cost a few dollars, are self contained and as handy as a shirt pocket.

Thanks again,
doc

#7 nxn96

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 18:37

Just another thought here:

In addition to the other suggestions here, I've had a bit of luck aiming a compressed air nozzle down/up the barrel of a clogged mechanical pencil mechanism. Particularly with the clutch style pencils, like those used with the Parker "51" Aerometrics, it often seems as if a tiny bit of lead flake can gum up the whole works. There's a bit of a trick to holding the mechanism open whilst shooting the air down the tube, but more often than not, a good amount of dust/tiny lead parts fall out to get the system working again.

Hope this helps.

#8 OcalaFlGuy

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 01:28

As a pencil guy, I can tell you that 90% of pencil troubles are lead jams. With clutch pencils, using a lead that is too big (newer esties take .9mm, not 1.1mm) will cause the mechanism not to retract far enough to retract.

With my "continuous feed" repeaters, such as Esties and Skylines, I routinely pull all the excess lead out and work with just one piece in them, fed from the tip rather than as designed from the back.

You might try a low tech solution of using a small paperclip (small for the .9mm, large for 1.1mm pencils), running it up through the tip and up as far as it will go, then trying to actuate the mechanism while pushing in on the top to see what you feel. Sometimes you can run the lead jam out the back end that way.


Jon or anyone else who can clarify;

1-The pencil I am working on says 046 which on my calculator IS 1.1 mm. But Jon IS the pencil guy...
So which should I get .9 or 1.1, I presume the 1.1?

2-In another pencil thread, LisaN said that Sheaffer "P" erasers were the correct orangie erasers for the pencils.

Is anyone aware of a BigBox or other likely local store that would have both of these items without me having to spend $6 shipping on something that fits in a matchbox and weights less than 1/2 an oz?

Thanks in advance,

Bruce in Ocala, FL

#9 ISW_Kaputnik

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 21:42

I've got my own Esterbrook pencil now.  A pretty thing, but not feeding lead.  The indicated size for the lead is 0.46".  According to my calculation, that's actually 1.1684 mm, so I'd think the 1.15 mm leads I have would work.  I can't find a 1.1 mm size advertised, although JetPens does sell 1.13 mm.

As a pencil guy, I can tell you that 90% of pencil troubles are lead jams. With clutch pencils, using a lead that is too big (newer esties take .9mm, not 1.1mm) will cause the mechanism not to retract far enough to retract.

With my "continuous feed" repeaters, such as Esties and Skylines, I routinely pull all the excess lead out and work with just one piece in them, fed from the tip rather than as designed from the back.

You might try a low tech solution of using a small paperclip (small for the .9mm, large for 1.1mm pencils), running it up through the tip and up as far as it will go, then trying to actuate the mechanism while pushing in on the top to see what you feel. Sometimes you can run the lead jam out the back end that way.

After shaking a couple of small pieces of lead out the front, I was actually able to straighten a paperclip and push it all the way from the tip through to the back of the pencil, pulling it out the back with a forceps.  No more lead came out.  I then fed the paperclip in the back, and was able to click it through until it came out the front.  When I fed a regular lead in, though, it just sits loosely in the back.  It feeds in the hole, but whatever is supposed to grab it isn't letting it past.

 

Is it possible that, arithmetic aside, I actually need a smaller lead?  Could there be some gunk that needs to be flushed out with something like degreaser?


Edited by ISW_Kaputnik, 30 May 2013 - 21:42.

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#10 ISW_Kaputnik

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 23:14

Thought I'd give this one more bump, before I get crazy and try taking the pencil apart further than intended.  Problem as described below, but I'm pretty sure I've eliminated actual blockage as a possibility.  I think what is happening is that whatever mechanism is suppose to grab the lead isn't managing to do its job.  Whether that is because something is bent or misadjusted, or there is some small part missing, I couldn't say.

 

I've acquired another Esterbrook pencil for less money, in better condition, and it works.  Disassembling the good one and comparing with the bad one has left me no wiser.

 

I've got my own Esterbrook pencil now.  A pretty thing, but not feeding lead.  The indicated size for the lead is 0.46".  According to my calculation, that's actually 1.1684 mm, so I'd think the 1.15 mm leads I have would work.  I can't find a 1.1 mm size advertised, although JetPens does sell 1.13 mm.

After shaking a couple of small pieces of lead out the front, I was actually able to straighten a paperclip and push it all the way from the tip through to the back of the pencil, pulling it out the back with a forceps.  No more lead came out.  I then fed the paperclip in the back, and was able to click it through until it came out the front.  When I fed a regular lead in, though, it just sits loosely in the back.  It feeds in the hole, but whatever is supposed to grab it isn't letting it past.

 

Is it possible that, arithmetic aside, I actually need a smaller lead?  Could there be some gunk that needs to be flushed out with something like degreaser?


Edited by ISW_Kaputnik, 13 June 2013 - 23:14.

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#11 pencils+pens

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 12:04

There is a chance that your lead may be the right size but wrong at the same time. Seen the article "Plus or Minus How Much?" on Dave's Mechanical Pencils http://davesmechanic...s-how-much.html

If all else fails, I would try another brand of lead.

I had the right size/wrong size problem with a Uni Shift 0.7. The pencil worked great with the original lead. When it ran out I put my "works in everything else" Pentel lead in it. The pencil jammed. I used the paperclip method to clear it. I tried a different tube of Pentel lead and got the same result. Then I read the article above. Uni lead is the thinnest on the list; Pentel is the thickest. I bought a tube of Uni lead and the problem went away.

#12 ISW_Kaputnik

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 13:15

There is a chance that your lead may be the right size but wrong at the same time. Seen the article "Plus or Minus How Much?" on Dave's Mechanical Pencils http://davesmechanic...s-how-much.html

If all else fails, I would try another brand of lead.

I had the right size/wrong size problem with a Uni Shift 0.7. The pencil worked great with the original lead. When it ran out I put my "works in everything else" Pentel lead in it. The pencil jammed. I used the paperclip method to clear it. I tried a different tube of Pentel lead and got the same result. Then I read the article above. Uni lead is the thinnest on the list; Pentel is the thickest. I bought a tube of Uni lead and the problem went away.

 

Well, it's certainly something to think about.  Actually, I have a tube of old Scripto leads that I had for my Skilcraft mechanical pencil, mostly broken, but some are still long enough that they ought to work.  No luck with those, or with the Retro Tornado 1.15 mm leads that I bought new.  The "good" pencil may actually have been previously unused.  It had a bunch of leads sitting in the top.  I tried one of those in the bad pencil.  Still no good.

 

But it's possible that the tolerance is off on the pencil itself.  I actually thought of trying a .9 mm lead, although I wouldn't think it would be that far off.


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#13 FarmBoy

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 14:18

Esterbrook made pencils for two sizes of graphite cores.

The correct size is often stamped on the mechanism barrel.

You can try using a short piece of drill rod as a substitute to push out any accumulated stuff and as a proof of concept that it works.
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#14 FarmBoy

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 14:20

I think I repeated myself...
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#15 ISW_Kaputnik

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 01:49

Esterbrook made pencils for two sizes of graphite cores.

The correct size is often stamped on the mechanism barrel.

You can try using a short piece of drill rod as a substitute to push out any accumulated stuff and as a proof of concept that it works.

 

Yes, the size stamped on both my pencils is .046 inches, which comes close to a 1.15 mm size.


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#16 FarmBoy

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 05:37

Check to see if there is damage to the tip or if one of the fingers is sprung.
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#17 Sesheta

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Posted 28 July 2020 - 13:50

Hello. I've just scored a lovely red dollar pencil on Ebay. Judging by the cap it's a late model so '41-'42.When it arrived it was jammed with lead and someone had jammed an eraser into the end with no collar. I've cleared both blockages but when I reassembled it the brass collar in the cap came out. I put it back but it won't sit down far enough. Could I use heat to be able to push it a little further in a similar manner to reassembling & disassembling J series pens? Not sure if the plastic would be ok though. Does anyone have any experience of fixing the caps?






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