Here’s a Paper Mate Contour ballpoint pen that hails from the 1970s. It’s been a loyal old family friend that’s still comfortable and easy to use. The problem is of course that Paper Mate Powerpoint refills are no longer available. A quick search on Ebay unearthed a few old mouldy-looking ones mostly from the USA, and they were selling for (wait for it) £30-£45 each!
After a lot of searching around I came across an excellent UK supplier of pen refills called Cult Pens who confirmed the old Powerpoint refills are long gone. The nearest you will get is the Paper Mate Lubriglide refill which is also obsolete. Again some American suppliers were selling these on Ebay for really eye-watering amounts.
Fortunately Cult Pens has turned up trumps with a suggested alternative, namely the Schneider Express 225 which is roughly the same form factor as the old Powerpoint one. Their price (£2.25) was also very affordable and they are available in black, blue, green and red. Looking around the Cult Pens website, some other hard-to-get refills also caught my eye, namely MonteVerde equivalents for a Sheaffer ballpoint refill (much cheaper than Sheaffer K biro refills) and another for my Sheaffer No-Nonsense Rollerball pen. It wasn’t long before an order was on the way, carriage paid over £10.
In fact it arrived extremely rapidly along with a sample disposable mechanical pencil and some Haribo!
How did the Schneider Express 225 ballpoint refill fit in my Paper Mate Contour? There is a very slight difference in length as the above photo shows. In practise I found that when the biro was ‘retracted’ there was still a tiny length of tip showing, so it did not retract fully into the biro body.
The simple answer is to shorten it by removing no more than 2mm maximum from the plastic end of the refill. I did this in seconds using my Dremel and a sanding drum, but you could carefully file it down instead, taking care not to snap the plastic tip off. That worked a treat, and now the refill retracts fully and the pen is good to go.
I found Cult Pens offered a terrific service, so if you need any pens, pencils or hard to find refills check out their website straight away!