Visiting a high-tech engineering factory on a Saturday is quite a spectacle. All seems quiet as a church on a Monday, except for a small corner where the young Werner Helsen crafts the Conid Bulkfillers designed by the senior Francis Goossens. Both instigators know each other since Werner was 12 and that shows: they are generous and good-humoured, laughing and teasing each other all the time.
Francis is undoubtedly a fountain pen guru. He’s always on the lookout for beautiful materials. In his pouch: unique Bulkfillers made of celluloid, ebonite, precious metals and high technological plastics, with titanium trims and exchangeable barrel covers, delicate intarsia from tiny pieces of quail egg or the disassembled inner workings of a ladies watch. There is a magnum version with an extra logo on the pen itself or one with a self-closing ink cut-off, driven by a spring in the cap and a small rod just behind the nib.
Francis has strong opinions on fountain pens. Steel or 14k nibs write best, many pens are flimsy made or impractically designed. It’s the combination of years of designing pens and repairing too many that brought him to the Conid Bulkfiller and that’s where his buddy from Komec comes into the picture.
Werner is the younger one and he’s constantly thinking about the future of his factory and its 40 plus highly skilled workers. They are specialists in very tight tolerance machine tooling where precision smaller than 1/100th of millimetre is not uncommon. Fountain pens are his pet plan.
This German made machine produces barrels with a tolerance less than 1/100 mm.
While manufacturing a Bulkfiller, nothing is left to chance (e.g. joints are double sure with two O-rings each), work places are meticulously clean – there is even not an ink spot in sight, except on our fingers as a trade mark of a real fountain pen aficionado – and Francis’ eagle eye immediately spots the slightest deviation from his design so we can rest assured of the high standards the Bulkfillers are made to.
Jos Gysenbergs, April 2013.