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Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Epicdermis on 07/30/10


Hey guys,

My name is Colin, a relativlely new member to these forums. I have a couple of questions for some of the more technically savvy coil guys out there. I am an artist with 12 years of experience who recently opened a new studio. I know art, health and safety, and the business aspects of this craft. What I lack is a solid understanding of the technical aspects of machines( I know a bit of basics of tuning). I am currently seeking to fill this void in my knowledge. I had a pretty bad 2 year apprenticeship in which machines were not really ever discussed, and basically re-learned everything I know about tattooing along the way after I left that shop. I worked with some killer artists here and there, but no one who ever knew much about machines. I took a few seminars, read some books, researched, but I'm still in the dark on a lot of things. I recently opened up my own private studio so that I can focus mainly on bigger custom work, and I have been looking for the perfect, worry-free set up as far as machines go. I recently got a Next Gen Orion on the advice of many people, as well as some other machines from lesser known independent local builders( also recommended to me), but I'm not super happy with any of them. They just dont have the consistency I want.

The main thing is that all of them run differently each time I set them up, using the same set up of needles and tubes. I started out my career with a set of basic National brass machines, and they did the trick for most of my career. Not the best by any means, but they were, all in all, pretty consistent from tattoo to tattoo. I knew what to expect going into each piece and could compensate for any technical merits that they lacked. Now I have what are supposed to be far superior machines, and sometimes they run great, others they let me down. One of the main issues, besides running differently each time, is with them just cutting out on me midway through a tattoo session. They are tuned to the builders recommended settings, and after awhile, they just stop running, to the point where I have to push the spring into the contact to get it going again( wrist flicking it doesnt usually work). If I adjust the contact to close the gap a bit, they run differntly of course, and not the way I want them hitting, but it solves the problem. Adjusting power does the same, solving one problem, but creating another. I know how I want them to feel and sound when they are hitting the skin and doing their thing optimally, but none of them hold the right tune for very long. The power supply( Eikon EMS300) is brand new and I love it, as are the clip cord and footswitch( the problem exists even with the use of other cc and fs). I never had this problem before with any machines I have used, but it seems lately that the more money I spend on 'chines, the more inconsistent they run. I am simply looking for a super solid and consistent set of tools so that I can sit down with full confidence in my gear and get back to doing what I love, and that is tattooing, rather than having to keep stopping to adjust this and that. I have tried rotaries, but they just dont jive with me I guess. I like coils.

So, I guess my questions are 1. What could be causing my machines to run inconsistently and cut out on me like this, and how do I fix this?
And 2. What machines are people preferring for large, multi-session pieces with a lot of detail, smooth color blends, and solid fields of black and color? I tend to sculpt most of my work from light sketch to finished piece. But lately I have also been using more solid line work and experimenting with heavier line weights from the start of the piece.

I am looking for a solid set of 3 machines, A solid liner that I can put down solid steady lines for smaller detail work, as well as for sculpting fatter lines all within the same piece, a smooth B&G shader to achieve buttery blend tonal gradients, and a versatile color machine capable of laying in solid fields of color as well as smooth blends. 3 machines for all aspects of the work. Is that too much to ask??

I dont mind spending money, but I have already dropped quite a bit on highly recommended new gear, only to be largely disappointed. I know FKI seems to be getting a lot of hype lately, but I'm a bit leary of spending that much only to be let down again. I am not talking shit on anyone here, I just cant get these machines to run consistently. And hell, for all I know, the machines are great, and it's something I am doing wrong. But I just dont see how I could run baseline National machines for 10 + years without much issue, and all of a sudden I stop setting up machines correctly. I can set up a machine with my eyes closed, hungover, with a fork stuck in my head. It has never been an issue before.

Sorry for the novel length post. Just getting frustrated lately and I want to get back to tattooing with full confidence. Any help would be appreciated, and if you dont want to to discuss this stuff on an open forum, you can email me at epicdermis@yahoo.com. Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Colin



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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Eriksenn on 07/31/10


Well, to succinctly reply... Joey Desormeaux at Infinite Irons builds very reliable machines with wonderful repeatability, and is a nice guy to boot. One thing that alot of artists ignore is carbon build-up. That junk will bog you down! I clean the contact point after every tattoo by running a 70% alcohol soaked cloth between the spring and point, using the spring force for pressure. Then I place the cloth between front coil core top and abar, depress, and pull out. The carbon is obvious on the cloth... This has helped me keep em in tune for good chunks of time. My 2 pfennigs


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Epicdermis on 07/31/10


Thanks for taking the time to read all of that and for the reply. I know about carbon build up, and I do the same as you. I use a matchbook striking strip or emmory board, lightly, on the contact point, and rubbing alcohol on the a bar/ coils. I wipe my machines down before and after each tattoo with madcide/ cavacide/ wavacide( switch it up every so often) and then again with the alcohol for the carbon build up.

Infinite Irons are also on the top of my list of builders that I have been checking out. I hear good things, good things indeed.

Thanks again. Rock on.


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by stillbirth_machine on 07/31/10


FK irons run WAY better with RCA! Trust me! Also clean the carbon off on the actual clip cord ends, as well as from the spring saddle and rear binding post. Get a good electrical contact cleaner (non lubercating and instant dry) and use that instead of Alcohol.

It works WAY better and takes off any carbon without having to file or use sand paper,etc... Use it on a cotton bud to clean out the spring saddle and rear binding post.

Power Supply wise, I personally didn't like the EMS 300. I can strongly recommend
"The General" power supply that Colin Dowling from GOLD RUSH TATTOO is currently making and selling. Consistent and clean power and your machines will run better than they ever have with his PSU. I just recently got one and love it!

It doesn't have display the CPS,Duty and all that other crap, just gives the BEST power available, which is far more important in my eyes :)


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Greg on 07/31/10


If I were in your situation I would buy from either fk irons,Aaron Cain,Seth ciferri, or soba..call the builder and tell them what your looking for specifically..buy a liner,a shader,a color packer or whatever you use to get the job done..that way you are getting high quality tools tuned specifically for you to do your work with..it will cost you a pretty penny and it may take some time for the machines get to you,but once you get them you won't have to buy any more machines for another ten years..keep your other machines around for many other purposes..having high quality tools and being a phone call away from the person who built them for you is a great thing..also all coil machines will build up carbon and eventually fall out of tune,but the better quality the components are the less that will happen..i hope this helps you and I didn't just add to all the other useless info on the net..oh yeah,your work is really nice man..and epicdermis is an awesome name!


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by gabesantiago on 07/31/10


well i have machines from different builders for different purposes, but i can tell you i love my soba pilot shader for solid areas and even light shading. i have an aaron cain liner that i love for my lines and a hand made for my shading right now but ill be looking into either a aaron or even a joshua carlton shader soon. but anyways i hear nothing but good things from workhorse and especially sobas models. they have amazing customer service and if you call them they will point out exactly what will work for you. with builders from soba , aaron cain , seth ciferri, cory rogers , and some other bad ass guys.

oh and electronics contact cleaner works better than alcohol. hope i helped.


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by GregH on 07/31/10


Years ago just out of high school I worked at a radio shack, and the manager there was an old air force electronics guy. He really turned me on to the wonders of using windex to clean electronics. The stuff is just great. Theres no need to use special electronics cleaners, it fully evaporates without leaving any residue and leaves parts completely clean. I have literally doused a motherboard with it that had caked on dirt and dust and scrubbed it clean and it worked like a charm. Madacide and all the other high level disinfectants, even if they are designed to be low corrosion, will still wreak havoc on your electronics. After every washing I wait the ten minutes until the madacide has done its thing, then I spray windex directly onto my machines and wipe them down. Also, its already been said but make sure you are using an rca jack. Theres a reason electronics equipment doesnt use exposed wire connections anymore. Personally I dont understand why the entire industry hasnt fully ditched using open contacts.

In my experience, most of the time if a machine is running clunky it is being caused by corrosion on one of your electrical transfer points - jacks, springs/contact screws, or coils/abars. Keep those suckers clean!


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Epicdermis on 07/31/10


Thank you all. These are new machines, and all 3 have run like this from the start. Eventually I will send them back to the builders, but I have work to do and a studio to run, and who knows when I will get them back. I have alternate liner machines and b&g shaders, but my color machine is the only one i have at the moment( my other one took a dump a few weeks ago and needs rebuilt).

I have been eyeballing soba and workhorse, FKI, and Infinite. I just want to get a reliable 3 machine set up at a fair price.

What makes an FKI worth $100+ more than a workhorse, Soba, or Infinite? I like a little weight to my machines, so being lightweight isnt a selling point to me. That's not a dig on FKI, I truly want to know peoples opinions on this.


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by windex! on 07/31/10


Wow thanks for the windex tip it works awesome !!!

FKirons are not worth 500 dollars, they are mass produced. If you need proof that he is over priced look at the fact that he sells his machine parts for 2 to 5 times more then anyone else, why ? its the same shit. or "his" high tension clip cord for 20 bucks and you can buy the same exact one from many suppliers for 5 bucks, get real..noway. i could rant on about this but i really dont care too much. Its lame.


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by windex again on 07/31/10


or how about 6 bucks for 2 fucking screws ...lmfao, no thanks ill buy the box of 100 for 17 bucks and save myself a few hundred bucks. jesus christ.


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Epicdermis on 07/31/10


I dont give a fuck about them being mass produced. If he has a successful formula for the ultimate machine, why not mass replicate it? If he engineered the best product on the market, then it is his engineering skill that we are paying for, not his personal touch. Carol Shelby engineered an amazing car, but he didnt hand build each one sold from scratch.

I have custom hand built one of a kind machines from much hyped builders, and they run ok, but nothing special. If FK has the lockdown on the best geometry and assembly of quality parts, then cool. If I had that formula, I would replicate it too instead of trying to reinvent the wheel for each customer. My question is, WHY? Why are Gaston's machines supposedly superior to all others on the market, hence the hefty price. Why is his geometry and assembly the best?

I understand the price/hype game. It is quite common in this business. Public perception is such that if someone charges X amount of dollars above the average, or is booked X amount of weeks or months in advance, then they must be doing something right and are worth the extra price to those willing to pay it. While this is often true, most people have no way to actually know if the artist is just over-hyping themselves to look better. Marketing is largely psychological. I see this a lot in this business, and I have fallen for it before, which led to this post originally. The machines that I paid a good amount for and were well hyped to me, are not to my liking, and it is impeding my ability to do my job as well as I would like. I take great care of my instruments, and they are relatively new machines. They are broken in, but hardly beat up to where their performance would be eroded by excess carbon build up or spring or coil/ capacitor degradation. They are just plain inconsistent and not reliable.

Basically, I am looking for a technical explanation of why I should be compelled( or uncompelled) to shell out 500 bucks for a machine when there are other builders doing supposedly great things for 2/3rds the price.

I want the best I can get, and if it costs 500 hundred bucks, so be it. But before I shell out another dime on a machine, I want to know why I should be swayed to do so. I dont have time to wait around while my machines are in transit because I had to send them back. I have a studio to run, and tattoos to do. I started with a shoestring budget and paid for everything myself, but I dont skimp on shit. I just want reliable quality stuff that I can work with day in, day out. I am not made of money to waste on paperweights. I work alone and pay all of the bills. Right now my ability to do my job is suffering because of over-hyped machines that dont run right. I want to cut past the hype of who uses this or that or who the name of the builder is, and just get down to the plain facts.

I should by______________ machines because............

I mean no disrespect to anyone with any of this. I just want to know that I am spending my money well.


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Eriksenn on 07/31/10


I disagree regarding FKI being overpriced... Consider this: Gaston has made some good advancements to the tattoo machine. 1 . 5 coil system, super lightweight, reliable machines with very little vibration, and a ton of power and aesthetic features, How much research do you guess he has had to do? His price reflects the knowledge he has accumulated , and the quality of the gear. As far as being mass-produced, I would like to hear Gaston's response to that...


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Epicdermis on 07/31/10


I dont give a fuck about them being mass produced. If he has a successful formula for the ultimate machine, why not mass replicate it? If he engineered the best product on the market, then it is his engineering skill that we are paying for, not his personal touch. Carol Shelby engineered an amazing car, but he didnt hand build each one sold from scratch.

I have custom hand built one of a kind machines from much hyped builders, and they run ok, but nothing special. If FK has the lockdown on the best geometry and assembly of quality parts, then cool. If I had that formula, I would replicate it too instead of trying to reinvent the wheel for each customer. My question is, WHY? Why are Gaston's machines supposedly superior to all others on the market, hence the hefty price. Why is his geometry and assembly the best?

I understand the price/hype game. It is quite common in this business. Public perception is such that if someone charges X amount of dollars above the average, or is booked X amount of weeks or months in advance, then they must be doing something right and are worth the extra price to those willing to pay it. While this is often true, most people have no way to actually know if the artist is just over-hyping themselves to look better. Marketing is largely psychological. I see this a lot in this business, and I have fallen for it before, which led to this post originally. The machines that I paid a good amount for and were well hyped to me, are not to my liking, and it is impeding my ability to do my job as well as I would like. I take great care of my instruments, and they are relatively new machines. They are broken in, but hardly beat up to where their performance would be eroded by excess carbon build up or spring or coil/ capacitor degradation. They are just plain inconsistent and not reliable.

Basically, I am looking for a technical explanation of why I should be compelled( or uncompelled) to shell out 500 bucks for a machine when there are other builders doing supposedly great things for 2/3rds the price.

I want the best I can get, and if it costs 500 hundred bucks, so be it. But before I shell out another dime on a machine, I want to know why I should be swayed to do so. I dont have time to wait around while my machines are in transit because I had to send them back. I have a studio to run, and tattoos to do. I started with a shoestring budget and paid for everything myself, but I dont skimp on shit. I just want reliable quality stuff that I can work with day in, day out. I am not made of money to waste on paperweights. I work alone and pay all of the bills. Right now my ability to do my job is suffering because of over-hyped machines that dont run right. I want to cut past the hype of who uses this or that or who the name of the builder is, and just get down to the plain facts.

I should by______________ machines because............

I mean no disrespect to anyone with any of this. I just want to know that I am spending my money well.


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Ryan on 07/31/10


kingpin sells the exact same clipcord i believe for $10. That's were gaston got his before he started selling them, or so he told me when people first started having consistency problems with the aluminum machines due to loose clipcords.


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Ryan on 07/31/10


I've got 5 of Gaston's production machines. I've tried a Soba Pilot (consistent as hell but a little too punchy and long for my hand speed and style), two Junebug (joe ryan) custom bluedog machines (both very consistent machines), Pulse solution (fine machine), next gen orion (can't seem to keep it in tune), and a few other handmades from reputable builders, but my steel Fks are my go-to shaders and the other ones are just collecting dust. You do have to maintain them of course but they run for me day in and day out. I have an aluminum pyro and galaxie which are great as well, but they don't see as much use as my steel ones... gotta send them in to get tuned up again haha. I'm not one to contribute to hype or anything but the FK's are really all I use now. They are just more reliable and suite my style more than any others I've tried thus far.


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Madmosher666 on 08/01/10


I really can't speak for FKIrons but for me the most consistent machines are the production type of machines such as Micky Sharpz, Sunskin, Pulse etc...This i feel is because they have certain models that have been perfected over time. Whereas one offs are just that. They are a one time build which hasn't gone through the various different incarnations to iron out any imperfections. These are more likely to work the same every time you pick them up, providing they are maintained correctly.


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Gaston - FK Irons on 08/01/10


In regards to such an inaccurate statement (mass produced machines):
FK Irons machines are built the same way that most top machines out there are built: one at a time by hand!

If you considered any machine mass produced due to high a demand for the product, go ahead and call it however you like, but the reality is that FK Irons are built the hard way, one by one:
- Hand wrapped coils that are hand insulated and soldered,
- Hand built
- Tuned and broken in before shipping.
- We spent the necessary time for that machine to leave running like you dreamed it.

The frames and precision parts such as coil cores, frames, binder and even screws are CNC cut for ultimate precision.
CNC is expensive and time consuming, but the best route to deliver the same precise product to the artists.

All our frames are polished to a mirror finish before being anodized. We manufacture all of our parts.
Even the CNC machine requires a lot of hand work and extra labor to rotate the piece and build jigs to support the part while being cut.

Anyone is free to charge what suits them better. We use prime materials in the construction of the machines, like the 2024 T3 aluminum ( I don't know of any other machine built with this grade). After paying for materials, time, etc my machines are price to make sense with my investment. Despite the fact that prices of metal went up to the roof. $450 and $485 seems like a pretty reasonable investment for a machine that offers so much and can make you a lot of money. Otherwise don't buy it. That simple.

The key feature of my machines are performance and I stand by that.
If you think it's not

It's easy to talk when you can't see all the hard work and money you need to invest to put in the market machines that will perform flawless right out of the box, (or a least that's the idea.)

One thing that comes with your FK is great post purchase customer service.
If you have a problem with any of my machines you called me, and I'll take care of you asap. I don't have any extension or answering service, you call directly my cell.

Bottom line, no machine is perfect, no matter how much you pay for it but I strive to put my machines closer and closer to the perfection line.


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Epicdermis on 08/01/10


Awesome reply Gaston. I hope you dont think that I was implying that your machines were mass produced. I was simply responding to another guys post that claimed that. I have heard great things about your machines, and if you have the best formula on the market, then why not replicate it. That's what I figured was meant by mass produced anyway. I have heard a good many machine builders knock on use of CNC. But I just want reliable instruments. If that makes the most consistent running tool of the trade, then I'm all for it. I had also heard a lot of good stuff about these other machines that have been letting me down. Basically I have had a string of bad luck with machines lately and much of my post was out of frustration, but it wasnt directed at anyone. I'm just trying to break that cycle and spend my limited budget as well as it will carry me.


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Gaston - FK Irons on 08/01/10


Hey man my answer was also general. I'm had to offend!
Call me up 305.992.6024
I'll fix those machines you have for free (if they don't require extra parts) they may just need some TLC.

Regarding people knocking the CNC I don't mid what others think as long as what I do works for me.
A lot of people tend to knock the cnc for the simple fact that it will cost you and you can't find steel stock at home depot. Before going to cnc you have to get your solidworks drawing on the dot.

Call me


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by Gaston - FK Irons on 08/01/10


Hey man my answer was also general. I'm had to offend!
Call me up 305.992.6024
I'll fix those machines you have for free (if they don't require extra parts) they may just need some TLC.

Regarding people knocking the CNC I don't mid what others think as long as what I do works for me.
A lot of people tend to knock the cnc for the simple fact that it will cost you and you can't find steel stock at home depot. Before going to cnc you have to get your solidworks drawing on the dot.

Call me


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RE:Agh!!! more machine questions

Posted by www.hanzzarate.com on 08/01/10


Hey Colin,

If your next generations are running inconsistent, then I know what you are going through. I bough an Eclipse and was EXTREMELY unhappy with it when I got it. Later I had it sent back and the coils replaced, much better but then I faced the issue with inconsistent machine performance. How did I fix the issue you ask? Well, I changed the BRASS contact screw to a STERLING silver one from Lucky Supply. I noticed that it had made a massive difference. Not only with not losing power but the spring wear was a hell of a lot less. Copper also works. A quick test you can try is, when your Brass (stock) contact screw gets dirty, run it, then lightly and I mean lightly file off all the carbon build up from the screw and see if it runs like it did when you got it.... which I am sure it will. If it does, then just change the Contact screw. It sounds like a simple solution, but little shit like that makes a huge difference. I personally feel brass sucks because it builds too much carbon, it is a crappy conductor, and it wears the front spring too quickly. However, if you do decide to change the contact screw, sand it flat and smooth like the original next gen screw. I figured I would suggest a cheap solution first before purchasing new machines all together.


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