Saturday 28 May 2011

Machine building...when things break

Back when I was Tattooing, I typically liked to use a newly built Machine for a minimum of 3 hrs, even better to get 5 hrs of run time on it.
This gives the Springs & the Contact Screw time to properly bed in & run smoothly, also everything needs to be checked just to be sure nothing is coming loose.

So given this newly built Magnum Machine has only had about 1 hour of running under load (that's actual Tattoo time), I really wasn't that surprised when Donny said that the Machine was no longer working.

Donny had the Machine & was about to start another Tattoo when suddenly it sounded very strange...
...a quick glance revealed that it had broken a Front Spring. (aka Top Spring)

Obviously I'm going to need to change that Spring, but that's all I'll be doing to the Machine at this point.

Some old advice for young players out there:
To isolate the cause of a problem, you only change one thing at a time.
Too many changes that are done all at once, means you'll never know exactly what caused that original problem.

Chances are that everything will run sweet again & this new Spring will be there for many years to come.
If this newly replaced Spring breaks again within a short space of time, it'll mean there's a bigger problem & I'd need to start looking at the other possible causes.

Possible causes:
It's been about 16 years since I last built a Machine & in some cases my original sources for components that I preferred to use are no longer around.
Of course this now presents me with a number of problems to consider & overcome.
  • Finding a new source for the component.
  • Establishing if this totally new component will match up to my original needs.
  • Will it run correctly with everything else.
  • Will it last the distance.
In this case, the Spring material is one of those new components so it's quite possible I've over stressed it, causing it to fail.
I'll only know this by replacing the Spring, running it in again & seeing if it fails for a second time.
If it did, then I might also need to consider changing to a different source for my Spring material.

So there's a few more tests awaiting this Machine...


  1. From Graeme Iles.
    It's great to see you back in the fold mate, i personally have never forgotten or given up the "old ways" that were so greatfully given to me, and i still live and work by them still today.Ater 32 years some think i'm a Dinosaur but it's my way, and most importantly it still works.
    Look forward to catching up. Warmest Regards,Graeme iles

  2. Thanks Graeme for those kind words.
    I'm all for progress & doing things in a whole new way...
    ...just as long as the Old Timer knowledge isn't lost in the process.
    Glad to hear your still keeping it alive.

  3. I am hoping you can provide some insight however first I want to be upfront in acknowledging that I am just starting out, however I would appreciate it if you would spare me any clich├ęd remarks and/or assumptions you may have.
    I was recently fortunate enough to purchase 3 professional quality machines which were built for me by a gentleman who saw my potential and decided to take a chance on me despite my amateur status. Unfortunately after approximate 2 hours of use the tip broke off of the front spring of my shader. The springs are rolled and considering the obvious craftsmanship behind these machines I assumed it was due to an error on my part. Thus, I’ve been hesitant to inform him of the break, although I am certain he will replace the spring.
    After reading your blog, I am curious to know if this is in fact a common occurrence in new machines.

  4. Hi Gena, my advice would be to advise the Builder that one of his Machines broke a Spring, then let him replace the Spring for you.
    If he's seen your potential, then I'd imagine he'd be more happy to help in teaching you how to maintain them too.

    A broken Spring isn't something that happens often, it's usually related to pushing a Machine past it's limits.
    On a newly built Machine with unknown limits, it's sometimes how your going to find them...

  5. Thanks for the advice, I really appreciate it.