Conway Stewart 800 Ink Visible

Once they got past the eyedropper filler stage and lever fillers came along, that’s what Conway Stewart did, with huge success. I’m talking about the original company, of course, not the various later efforts that borrowed the name but little of the enterprise.

When something works there is no point in messing with it, and Conway Stewart’s lever fillers worked well with the same – rather good – design for decades. Like Waterman they used a slide pressure bar which depresses the sac much more efficiently than the J-bar that some other manufacturers used.

Despite that great success, Conway Stewart did try other filling methods. The Speedy Phil was a complicated twist filler. There are a few around today but it seems clear that they didn’t sell all that well. Conway Stewart also made a first-class button filler, but again, the numbers surviving suggest that sales were poor. It looked like the public was telling Conway Stewart to stick with what they did best: lever fillers.

They tried one other innovation, the Ink Visible, a type of piston filler. I’ve wanted to get my hands on one of these for a long time but they don’t turn up very often. Again it may be that sales were low, but in addition they are quite fragile, and any attempt to disassemble one has to be done in the right way and with appropriate caution.

I managed to snag one in eBay recently. It had been in good order before someone started fiddling with it, pulling the nib and feed partially out and leaving tool marks. Checking visually, it doesn’t seem that the tamperer has managed to break it.

I plan to leave restoration for a time when I have nothing to distract me. I would really like to have this pen back in working condition again but I know it won’t be easy. I’m not going to be too strictly original about it and I can see the cork seal being replaced with an ‘o’-ring. The pen has a nice oblique stub and I’m looking forward to using it. More will follow!


10 thoughts on “Conway Stewart 800 Ink Visible

  1. Let me know how you get on Deborah, I have recently received a Svanstroms Royal that needs overhauling. There is no sign of a cork. so it may have been overhauled unsuccessfully previously.

  2. Deborah, I’m sorry to resurrect such an old post, but I would like to know how you got on with this pen. I have just bought a CS800 in cracked ice at a local antique shop here in NZ, and I’m wondering whether to restore or just preserve it. I’m going to put it aside for now! Thanks very much.

    1. Hi John,
      Good to see you here! If you have the Marshall & Oldfield book and can follow along with their instructions, it’s doable. Otherwise, just keep it the way it is. Certainly about the most complicated CS there is – really a syringe rather than a piston filler as I think I called it. I got my one working really just by soaking it and fiddling with it a bit – in other words the cork seals came back to life. I’m struggling to remember, really too long ago.

      1. Great, thanks. I’ve had the third edition of M&O on loan from fellow NZer Liz Manning but I sent it back to her a few days ago. I’m going to buy a copy of the fourth edition when it becomes available (next week?). The pen seems in excellent condition apart from fading of the hard rubber parts. The knob turns easily and it fills. I’ll have a more careful look tomorrow but for now I’m just happy to own such a significant model.

  3. I have managed to get it all apart and cleaned up OK, it looks amazing. I just need to make a cork seal. Dr Oldfield recommends cork from a decent bottle of wine so I’ll just have to make that sacrifice and buy something French. I remember when I was at school I used to boil up chemist’s corks to make inserts for the clutch on my BSA Bantam. Thanks for your encouragement.

      1. All done! The wine was OK too. I’ve filled the pen with Diamine “Oxford Blue” and it seems very happy with that. I think it’s going to be a favourite, for a while anyway. Thanks for your help

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