17 posts in this topic

me and a buddy were talking about machines the other day. i recently aquired an "original" percy waters machine. the previous owner said that he did bastardize it because the vise sucked...!!!!!! wtf!!!! so they chopped it off and just put a new on where the yoke would be(brass)..i asked him what else had been done to it..he said nothing that he knew of except for springs...well that got me to thinking..this machine has a capacitor..waters died in 1952 if i am correct...when did the first capacitors appear on machines?? i thought it was late 60s or 70s but i cant remember who or if that's even close to right...one step closer to that free shirt!! whoo hoo!!!

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The first capacitors were not capacitors at all, they were condensers, as in the "Points coil effect" of Edison applied to the internal combustion engine ignition of the points and coil adding the condenser to preserve the burning of the contact points in the ignition became necessary to prevent machines falling out of time with an enlarged point gap in need of burnishing of the contact points from the excessive snap of electricity. Working similar to the capacitor of today that fills and only releases X amount, the condenser simply arrests the spark. The true origin to the 6 volt condenser application to the later creation and application of the capacitor, as the capacitor in the form we use today post-dates in "electronic's" and not the dawn of the "combustible gasoline engine", can be found in Walter Cleveland's tinkering and among allot of his creations or experiments in the elaborate door bell concepts. The 6 volt condenser can still be applied and work, it's just BIG, you can do so by attaching the single wire spade connector to the contact screw binding post and you can still get the 6 volt and a 12 will work equally and pick them up in auto supply stores, I use early Harley 6 volt replacement condensers. The point made of the use of the condenser versus the capacitor are that the condenser works to arrest and save your points from burning quickly, in the day that the guys at the shops were running off of a bank of machines that ran all day and all night knocking out tattoos on sailors while in port for a few days strait, they needed to keep things from falling into repair and running smoothly as we all know, when things are not, it makes for more time consumption when time was essential. The Capacitor however works as just that, it limits the capacity, so two different electric components with two different applications. Lyle put in print once that Walter was the man accredited to inventing the "capacitor" in use of the tattoo machine but I don't believe Walter ever reached the days of the capacitor advent that we use today and it most likely came from necessity through someone who knew enough about transistor radios/electronics to make the switch or someone who burnt the devils lettuce and figured it and then the passage from then on became part of tattoo machine evolution. The "facts" are, the West Coast appeared to have capacitors on machines in use and photo form prior to anything else I have found. I know this doesn't answer the question of the "who and when" but it does lend to the advent of controlling the flow and operation of both mechanical and electrical evolution of the machine, Spaulding was offering them in the 1970's and I can't remember when I switched to using them, didn't use them until the early 80's.

Other things to note of Walter's experiments would be, the rubber band and coil spring controlled A-Bar machine, the side mounted nipple on the A-Bar which became antiquated by the use of constant changing of the needle bar for each customer as the needle bar was drawn tight to the nipple then to be considered "fixed" until the pins wore out, the use of mixing 8 wrap and 10 wrap coils, his work at developing a very light weight machine, square coil cores, the creation of what now has come to be known as "true spring" of cutting an angle into the A-Bar for the spring "pitch". As a footnote for evidence, I have examples of all of the above, from reworked early Waters frames and hacked Jonesy frames to what he came to use most commonly which were seconds supplied by J.G.Russell, they always appear "shop floor paint green" and have notches evident on the frame that is evident of a factory second as they are casting flaws and not always consistent. I would like to think that Walter was "the Father" of the capacitor but it is an important thing to keep the candle lit on facts when the record of history is of concern. Most important to note and to Walter's credit would be that he really invested time and care in understanding the machine long before there was so much that we see now and to mention that he had to have a love for what he did as he was born left handed and tattooed left handed for many years until he lost the fingers from a saw mill accident, Stoney mentioned he lost them in WW-I but we know now that the saw mill was the culprit, regardless, he continued to tattoo by understanding how to work with the right hand. This is not to mention all of the greats that he worked with and the circle he kept in a day and age that had no internet of cell phone. He certainly had a true love for his trade and the Cleveland Family certainly carpeted the halls we walk today and should never be forgotten.

David Flores, You, Stewart Robson and 4 others like this

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wow! thats great stuff...thank you very much..very informative

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IMG_7113.jpg

I hope the post of this picture comes through, it shows the top left machine of Walter Cleveland's using the Condenser, the 2nd and 3rd from the left are the two frame styles he used and came to be known for. The two of his rubber band/coil spring A-Bar machine are chopped Bill Jones squareback frames and considered his first attempts in making them a working machine. Something to note is that these machines really work well! Amazing the way the rubber band machines work, the machine with the longer teeter totter on it is the shader and the shorter the liner. Also, when you connect and disconnect the condenser, it appears to have no less effect than a capacitor, the spark is arrested. I called Scott and spoke with him at Tattoo Charlies in Baltimore, Scott learned from Dennis Watkins and Watkins from Charley, point being, Dennis's machines have the oldest form of a capacitor I can find. After thinking about the question, I figured as to what the earliest could be so I looked to the earliest example of a capacitor on a machine and what I found was Dennis Watkins from Tattoo Charlies to be the earliest I could find. Scott is gonna get back to me after he ask's around about it. Also bear in mind that Dennis worked closely with Paul Rogers and there would be a likely connection, I just hate to assume and post anything without backing it up with hard proof. Enjoy the pic.

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I dont know you,But,this is some cool shit. I would love to see more evolution posts from you. you seem to be quite a machinist. much of the posts on here seem to be about feelings and such. this is historical mechanical truth, love it.

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IMG_7113.jpg

I hope the post of this picture comes through, it shows the top left machine of Walter Cleveland's using the Condenser, the 2nd and 3rd from the left are the two frame styles he used and came to be known for. The two of his rubber band/coil spring A-Bar machine are chopped Bill Jones squareback frames and considered his first attempts in making them a working machine. Something to note is that these machines really work well! Amazing the way the rubber band machines work, the machine with the longer teeter totter on it is the shader and the shorter the liner. Also, when you connect and disconnect the condenser, it appears to have no less effect than a capacitor, the spark is arrested. I called Scott and spoke with him at Tattoo Charlies in Baltimore, Scott learned from Dennis Watkins and Watkins from Charley, point being, Dennis's machines have the oldest form of a capacitor I can find. After thinking about the question, I figured as to what the earliest could be so I looked to the earliest example of a capacitor on a machine and what I found was Dennis Watkins from Tattoo Charlies to be the earliest I could find. Scott is gonna get back to me after he ask's around about it. Also bear in mind that Dennis worked closely with Paul Rogers and there would be a likely connection, I just hate to assume and post anything without backing it up with hard proof. Enjoy the pic.

Could the fact that Dennis also liked to tinker with drag racing (engines, ect) have anything to do with him tinkering with the electronics of the tattoo machine? I only mention this because I know dennis messed around with automotive engines and LOVED to drag race his car and the there was a mention of capacitors being used in gasoline engine electronics!

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I also was thinking....someone mentioned the West Coast.....again....drag racing!

Could they have adapted advances in automotive electronics on tattoo machines???

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I don't think Tony Polito was using caps on his machines even 10 years ago... may not be using them today

You and Bunny Switchblade like this

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Its posts like this that keep me coming back to LST. Great information and fun to read too. I'm sucker for history and machine design, so this had it all.

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The machine I use that was put together by Tony Polito and Richie Montgomery has no cap and the one Tony used on me a week and a half ago had no cap!

I am going to be replacing a front spring soon on mine though.......those who know will understand.....and those who don't "get why" don't need to know!

Machine runs like a dream and is one of my two main shaders I use!

Gloomy Inks likes this

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@CultExciter .... No I am not!

I am using 4 hamsters and a big wheel they run in which hooked up to a motor from a small wind turbine! It's not great for long tattoos but it works well for small kanji and doing lettering! ;)

As long as they are happy and running I can make money!

But mostly I use magic.....he he he

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@CultExciter

But mostly I use magic.....he he he

Hahaha, it's true, you have to jiggle the flux capacitor on top of the turncoat spring. It's the only thing that gets that pesky needle bar to move up and down.

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Actually I was just out, talking to the super in the building. He can get me rats, but according to Health Dept. regs here they're fine to use in a wheel power supply, but I have to run chords from the dirty room.

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