Those of you who run standard or deep relief bases know that standard gauge pins, such as the Megill adjustables, cannot be used because there isn't enough clearance. They get crushed. Most printers either cut their own guides from chip board or thicker card stock. Some use Henry Adjustable guides which are, essentially, double sided foam, like Tiger Tape or Carpet Tape.
They all work, of course, but the devil is in the resetting and adjustment of these guides which have one thing in common: adhesive. Some how they are either taped down or glued down or in some way affixed. To adjust, the adhesive must be worked loose which tears into the tympan paper, making a rough surface and reducing the ability of the adhesive to adhere for the second, third, and fourth time.
Henrys work great, btw. But being a foam type pad, the stock does not glide smoothly. Some talc can take care of that, for a while. So it was still not the same as using traditional gauge pins.
Trad pins can be used off the base area. For this reason, some printers either get a smaller base, or they keep their pins in an off base area safe zone, and adjust their print area accordingly.
After enjoying some of these frustrations, I thought I might try to adapt my own low profile gauge pins. This post is the result of what I came up with.
What gave me the idea were my spare Megill standard gauge pin guides. I had far more than I needed! They are made from brass so they are easy to cut and to bend. They had no inherent 'give', save for their native springiness.
I began with the sliding brass Megill sliding tongue itself. I needed to do something to make it grip the tympan when inserted, and hold, not permitting the fed stock to slide under.
Using flat nosed snipes, I straightened out the slide grips of the brass Megill tongues. This is step one. Flatten the sides.
Notice that little tab thing in the center of the "T"? That will come in handy later. For now, all we need is a straight brass "T".
Next, I used wire clippers to cut the "T" bar edges as shown. Note the angle. This is purposeful, to create two gripping points when slid into the tympan paper.
The two sides of the "T" are now bent down. Note where the bend is. Also, care is taken to ensure the bend is perpendicular to the main shaft body.
Here is another close-up showing the generally low profile of this pin. Can you see that even if contact where to be made, the flat of the pin is flexible and will give way. The sides are spread apart enabling them to flex further outward in case of a miscalculation of depth is experienced although, using a standard relief base, I have yet to make contact with the pins.
The last step is to cut and file or hone the back end of the shaft to a point. This is what is going in and out of the tympan, securing the pin and enabling adjustment. These pins adjust like most Megill pins, save for their larger single-slice mounted adjustables. The point should be sharp indeed.. I used a smallish metal file to make a sort of pointed blade
Here is a mounted low profile pin, the very one shown in the photos above. Ideally, the entry point should be a few mm's back from that edge... to provide some slip way should the need present itself. Best to use an Xacto Knife with a pointed blade to create the entry and exit holes for these kinds of pins. I do that for the standard Megill pins, too.
Here, we see a good comparison between the pin and a 90lb card. That little lip across the "tee" zone that I pointed out early just covers the edge of the paper, but is surprisingly effective for holding on to the card during the printing process.
A parting shot of the low profile gauge pin. So far I have completed three print orders using these pins, all with a good results. Once taped down, they do not budge. Not a single mark on the Boxcar Base.
Recently, Ally, printer at 9th Letter Press came to visit. She tried out these pins, and they held firm for the entire run. We did about four hours of printing on the Open Kluge, double rolling. each cycle. The stock slid into place not unlike with the original Megills. Although low in profile, there is enough room to run even thicker chip board.
Here is a shot of one of the cards coming off the platen. Looks like it's just laying there with nothing holding it, doesn't it?
To be sure, on occasion I did lose a couple cards which landed in the "basket" behind the Kluge, that also happens on every other gauge guide, quad or pin I've ever used at one point or other. In all, I'd say "mission accomplished"!
That's it for today's blog entry. Thanks for joining me.
gary // Paper Wren Press.