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...

Friday, 20 May 2011

Old Stuff...AC Machine & TatPac Supply

It would seem the more I clean up my old workshop, the more I seem to find old Tattoo related stuff...

Here's something that only an Old Timer would remember seeing or possibly have even used...
...a Tattoo Machine setup to run on low voltage AC (Alternating Current)...

...and here's one of the "TatPac" AC Power Supplies that I had specifically designed & built to run AC Machines on.

I was originally told that the majority of pre 70's Aussie Tattoo Artists were all using AC Machines, but by the early 70's, most had changed over to just using DC Machines.
I personally know of at least one Old Timer that was still happily using his AC setup into the mid 80's.

Now one of the main problems with using AC Machines was that they'd run extremely hot, in fact so hot that you could actually burn yourself quite badly..!

I can remember being told of how Tattoo Artists would throw these red hot AC Machines into the bucket of water they'd keep beside their chair...
...then they'd use another spare AC Machine until that also got too hot, then fish out the cold one from the bucket..!!

Back in 1990, Dan Robinson Snr ran a Shader/Color AC Machine that he'd use for creating certain kinds of shading effects.
It was also great for packing nice solid Color into skin that was sun hardened & tough like old boot leather.
Dan & I were discussing this old problem of AC Machines running hot & I decided to invest the time & money into having a purpose built AC Power Supply made.

The end result was the "TatPac" now we finally had AC Machines that could run cool.

Only a very small number of these Power Supplies were ever made, so if you do happen to see one, then it's a bit of Aussie Tattoo History!!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Machine building...the ultimate test

As mentioned in the previous post, this Machine still had to be run in & properly tested under load...
...that basically means putting it through it's passes by doing a complete Tattoo.

This would be the ultimate test of the Machine, even more so, my skills as it'd been so long since I'd built a Machine!

I wanted a fair & unbiased assessment of this Machines capabilities as a Magnum or Color Shader, especially when compared against what's presently available.
So what better test than to drop this Machine into Eternal Ink & let the young crew there give it a run.

The Machine (also me) passed it's tests as a Magnum (Color) Machine with "flying colors" (pun intended)
A really Big Thanks goes to Donny at Eternal Ink for graciously agreeing to do the tests & for providing these photos as well.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Machine building...assemble & tune

OK, here's that first Frame all assembled & looking much more like a Tattoo Machine or in this case what's usually referred to as the "Machine Head".

From the very outset I'd been designing & building this particular Frame for use as a Magnum.
Although it's now been tweaked & tuned, I'm technically still calling this a "prototype" as it's still to be properly run in for at least several hours whilst doing a Tattoo...
...hopefully I can organise for that to happen within the next week or so.

When that's all done & there's no major changes needed, everything gets measured, stripped down, then the Frame & various parts will be prepared for Chrome plating.
Once back from the Chromers, everything gets reassembled using those previous measurements, test run & tuned again to be sure it's all working as it was before.

And because no Tattoo Machine is complete without a Tube & Grip, that's one of the next things to tackle.

Next on the agenda...a Liner Machine 

Machine building...start from nothing

Here's the first stages of the very first Machine build...
...a bit of marking out, cutting, filing & heating, then some bending, welding & smacking with a hammer...
It's like making jewellery...only this is bigger, there's no precious metals involved & you don't wear it..!!

The entire Frame is hand made & this is very much the "Old School" way of doing it.
Trial assembly of the various components to double check alignments & spacing, followed by a bit of a tweaking here & there, it's all part of the hand made process.

All that's left is to finish off the drilling, tap the holes, then finish the Quick-change by adjusting it so that both imperial & metric sized Tubes will fit & hold correctly.

Next stage is the assembly...