As a Society we promote the acquisition, exchange, study, use and conservation of writing instruments, accessories and associated ephemera. It was Ian Williamson who had the idea of running training on the repair and restoration of fountain pens. 112 WES members have completed the classes since the first one on 9th May 2009.
Most people who have a collection of more than a few vintage pens have the problem of getting them overhauled and writing properly and little in the way of repair experience. It is these that the classes are aimed at alongside those who have already started to develop skills. Changing a rubber sac in a pen is potentially a few minutes work once some simple skills are learnt but, as anyone who have taken the class will tell you, there is a bit more to it than that and, of course, not all pens have rubber sacs.
The class format is straightforward consisting usually of three Sundays, roughly a month apart allowing time in between for practicing skills. On the first day, it is strip, clean, rebuild and write test lever and button fill pens. Day 2 covers Sheaffer Touchdown, PFM, Parker Vacumatics and 51s. Day 3 is piston fills including Sheaffer, Wahl, Conklin, Onoto and a Montblanc 146, and Safety Pens. At the end of it, with normal progress, participants will be able to overhaul all the common styles of pens but, further, you will have learnt to evaluate them and whether they might be good for your own or someone else’s collection, whether they are good to write with or be relegated to being a ‘parts pen’, sacrificed so that other pens can be returned to service. More important still is that participants will have gained a judgement of risk – the limits of their own skill and when to hand over to someone else.
Alongside overhauling and repairing your own pens, there is the chance to use a number of the specialist tools such as various spanners and wrenches, a nib block and pullers and burnishers for stripping and removing dents for Parker 51 caps.
Of course, WES serves a membership that is widely spread and the same content is delivered over the internet by interactive, live webinar using professional ‘Go To Meeting’ conferencing software for those who are not able to get to the Face to Face classes. Fourteen have completed this way.
Attendees have been from far flung destinations including Malta, Sweden, Vancouver, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Turkey and West Bromwich! The webinars are lively and fun. Two participants were keen to count the bottles of wine on my workshop back wall to see how many were missing since the last session alongside discussing their repair problems. The snag for those in distant lands is the difference in time zone. 8pm transmission in UK turns into 1pm in Phoenix, Arizona, with the result that one participant, leaving work later than intended, joined in from a restaurant during lunch, the session being enjoyed also be a wife and the table server who commented that she didn’t know they did that kind of thing!
If you stop by the WES table at any of the pen shows in the UK, you will find someone to talk to and to be able to read all the feedback from past participants. There is also every chance that one of these participants will be nearby and you can talk with them as well. You can leave your name there, ring 0116 275 3310 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are a few items of participant feedback:
Face to Face:
Excellent “must attend” course for those who want to work on pens with best results (and breaking fewest parts in the process). FA, Doncaster.
Everything was explained clearly with reasons given for why a thing should or shouldn't be done, in which order, what the aim of each particular process was and the most effective way to achieve it. HG, Nottingham.
We both thoroughly enjoyed the class, and learnt a great deal from it. We thought that it was well delivered and delivered at a pace that seemed to suit the whole class … we both learnt a great deal and benefited a lot. KH, Coventry
I have just completed the third module. It has been a most enjoyable experience expertly tutored by David. Made some new pen friends and would highly recommend to any future pen repair enthusiasts. JS, Enfield.
It was a very informative session. Ray is obviously very experienced and knowledgeable about his subject and is a good teacher. The small size of the class was ideal as it meant we all had the opportunity to receive good instruction and help where appropriate. The facilities were also very good. I came away enthused and am looking forward to the next session which will be more relevant for me due to the subject matter.
Thanks again for a great afternoon and many thanks to Ray for his time and expertise (and the chocolate biscuits). RK, Middlesex.
The sessions are extremely well prepared, the structure is crystal clear and all moments is easy to follow - regarding both the "visional" aspect and the verbal instructions. We are given many useful tips - both on how-to-do as well as the not-how-to-do. The participants are given time for questions and there is also time for small discussions, which both are of great importance. I´m not a beginner in pen repair but I´ve learnt many things during Module 1. II, Sweden.
Procedures explained in a simple and clear manner. Picked up many tips which will save time and produce a more professional restored pen. It’s always better to see something being demonstrated rather than reading a manual. MD West Bromwich