This chapter requires some careful study since it covers a simple but important process. This process is putting needle bars in tubes and adjusting the tube, bar and machine for proper tattooing- This will become second nature after awhile. Never, ever rush this process because if you're not paying close attention to what you are doing, the needie tips are going to get all damaged. You are going to have to do this every time the tubes and needles are sterilized and the machine has to be put back together. If business is good and proper sterilization is done, you could be assembling machines several times a day.
Tubesand needles should be sterilized the first thing in the morning, assembled and wrapped in clean tissue until needed later in the day. Since this process is done for every tattoo (sterilization, assembling the tubes, needles and machines), it is easy to see how a person would rush this process, especially if people are waiting. (In this day and age, you have art obligation to every customer to be sure that this procedure is done correctly).
The key is to be absolutely familiar with the correct assembly process and make it a point to concentrate every time the tubes are assembled.
New machines bought from suppliers should arrive properly set-up, but the tubes and needles are not sterile. They still have to be disassembled and sterilized. They should be studied to get familiar with a properly set-up machine. It is a good idea to buy at least two machines in the beginning. This way one will be already assembled from the manufacturer as you take the second one apart. This will be a good guide in case you forget how they go back together. Hopefully, any confusion here will be avoided with the information presented in this chapter
Take a hold of a new tattoo machine. With the tube to the left and the coils going to the right, let's study a couple of things. Study the Parts Diagram to learn just what an armature bar, springs, coils and contact points are. Notice the spring and contact points on the armature bar. Observe the loop on the end of the needle bar and where the tube enters the frame and the rubber bands, Finally, check out the tube tip with the needle tips retracted inside the tube end. Now, fully depress the armature bar against the coils. The needles move downward. Observe the gap being created by the contact point on the spring being separated from the contact screw and the length of the needle tips that are coming out and being exposed out of the tube tip. This is the electrical motion of the tattoo machine when it is being operated. Get familiar with this motion and understand it because it will come in handy when disassembly and assembly procedures are explained.
Now that the machine set-up has been explained, needles and tube disassembly will be discussed. Begin by loosening the machine screw which is located where the tube meets the frame, This will loosen up the tube by easing the pressure on it by way of the machined slot in the front of the frame- If tube is a little snug, a light prying in the jaw gap will open up the hole. This screw can be in all different varieties, according to the machine: Wing nut, sunken head, alien or even "quick-release" models, but their function is still the same, to apply adjustable pressure on the tube to cause it to lock up.
The next step after the lock screw is loosened is to lift the rubber bands up off the needle bar. Pick them up and over the needle bar and place them around the contact screw, out of the way-
Loop over binding post
Loop over binding post
Next, pop the needle bar loop off the taped armature bar protrusion. When this is done, work out the tube with the needle in it. When cube is free of machine, lift out the needle and place it in a steel tray. Once again, when handling needle bars, use caution at all times. Whether inserting needles in tubes or removing them, be extremely careful not to touch the points to any surface so they won't be damaged. The needle bar and tube are now free to be sterilized.
Assembly instructions are about the same in reverse as the disassembly instructions, but let's go over a few important details.
Slowly insert sterilized needle bar into sterilized tube. Be extremely careful not to bump the tips of the needles against anything, including inside tube walls or edges. Then insert tube (with bar inside) into the frame hole. Finger tighten the locking screw.
At this point, let's recall a couple of facts. For sanitary reasons and ink clogging, the tube tip is semi-cutaway. This is an open-sanitary tube. This opening must always be facing forward of the machine, not to the rear of it or sideways. Make sure when inserting tube into frames that the open section of the tube is always facing squarely forward, then finger tighten the set screw.
Notice that the needle bar has a loop on the end. This loop slips over a piece of tape molded onto the end of the armature bar. (If the tape needs replacing, use a piece of white surgical cloth tape about one inch long and mold it around the bar.) The loop has an "open" end. When machine is facing left (tape on left, coils and frame to the right), the open end of the loop is always away from you (or when held straight front view, the loop is always to the left),
This is very important and worth repeating. Open end of the needle bar loop is always away from you and is designed this way. Needles must always ride against bottom of the tube tip (the trough land this ensures this. Look into open end of tube in the manufecturer's set-up machine. Observe that the baritseirison lop of the needle groupand is soldered that way. The needle group rides underneath the bar against the back of the tube. When the open end or loop is away from you, needles automatically will be positioned against the bottom. With open loop fccing away from you, you caii tell at aglance if the needles are properly placed or not. it is impossible to do anv kind of good tattooing any other way. f i.e.. with needle bar positioned differently.)
With open endofloopfacingaway from you. slip the loop over the tape covered knob on the armature bar. It should be a fairly snug fit. Then place rubber bands over the needle bar like the way the machine came. Use one, moor three bands to put tension on needle bar, and keep them as low down on die machine as possible (see drawing Side View).
Now that the machine is basically put together, the tube has to be finally adjusted This will vary the length of the needle tips that are exposed when coming out of the end of the tube Press the armature bar down against the coils and hold it. Loosen the set screw and aifjust tube either up or down to allow needle tips to protrude out the end between l; IB and 1/8 of an inch when the armature bar Is fully pressed forward.
- Needle bar in tube
- Needle bar in tube
Needle group on one side of bar
Needle group on one side of bar
When in the tube, needle bar i$ on lop of ' needle group. Needle group rides against bottom of tube tip.
Let go of armature bar so it springs back up against the contact screw. Needles should not stick out from tip of tube at all, or just ever so slightly. Make sure tube opening is facing squarely forward and tighten the set screw. The machine is now set-up for some serious tattooing. The machine should be hooked-up to run and needles checked for correct movement.
(See previous chapter on machines for proper instructions on hooking up a machine.)
Good tattooing can only be done if the needles are strictly up and down. Sometimes they wobble and quiver sideways when machine is running and this is what should be checked for and remedied.
With machine running, use a power eye loupe to check the needle movement. If there is a sideways motion or a double image of the needles moving side to side, don't tattoo until it is corrected. The rubber band tension and a snug fit of the looped end of the needle bar is the way to stop the side wobble and this is done with either tape or plastic grommets. Sometimes a slight voltage reduction will also help. If there isa snug fit at the looped end of the needle bar and there is still a side wobble, move one or more rubber bands in a different position along the top of the needle bar until the right tension is achieved to further stop the side wobble. Never bend the needle bar. Keep checking with machine running always using the eye loupe to make sure the needles are runningjust up and down. Any side motion has to be avoided. Each needle should be clearly seen with no blurring or double side to side or up and down images.
When using an eye loupe to check for correct needle motion, it is also a goixl time to check the needle tips for bad points. (See Section on needles.) This should be a habitual thing because this entire procedure has to be performed before each and every tattoo on both the outliner and the shader. If you tattoo with a side wobble, the needles will rip up the skin pretty badly, tearing it and doing damage that will make insertion of the ink difficult, and while it's healing, scabbing and loss of color will result. With experience, this total operation lakes only about two minutes anil it will save a lot of time and aggravation later when putting color in and when it's healing.
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