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The Modern Gibson Factory P/UP Winding Machine's Despooler and Tensioning System?

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  • The Modern Gibson Factory P/UP Winding Machine's Despooler and Tensioning System?

    I'm sure many of you have seen the 'Gibson USA Factory Tour' on youtube (should start at the pickup winding part of the video): http://youtu.be/VbU1R4KDymw?t=27m37s
    I'd like to incorporate a similar despooling/tensioner system into my winder, be it on a much smaller scale. It's main appeal to me is it seems rather idiot proof in operation and considering my current rig's penchant for breaking wire, I'd like to simplify it's feed system along the same lines as what is seen in Gibson factory. What I'm wondering is if anyone knows anything about this rig or has better pictures of the entire system? What I am having a hard time figuring out is what happens to the wire just after those plastic despooler containers; does it go straight up (beyond camera view) and reverses downwards on a wheel or pulley, or does it come out of the bucket and hits that first felt tensioner at an angle? Speaking of those tensioners; am I right to assume those are drum set felts? I converted my system to this type of softer felt but I am still experiencing an intolerable breakage rate; these have worked slightly better than the harder felt pads I was initially using but is still not good enough. Any advise about this particular Gibson winder or just a more logical feed system would be greatly appreciated; and if it will help, I can post some pics of my current winder when I can find my digital camera. Thanks for you time!
    "One experiment is worth a thousand expert opinions...."

  • #2
    I didn't watch your video, but here's some pictures of the Leesona machine gibson used.
    https://www.google.com/search?source...ing%20machines
    Here's an old thread you may want to read.
    http://music-electronics-forum.com/t28900/


    "If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride!" Scottish Proverb 1600s
    Terry

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    • #3
      Originally posted by capehead View Post
      What I am having a hard time figuring out is what happens to the wire just after those plastic despooler containers; does it go straight up (beyond camera view) and reverses downwards on a wheel or pulley, or does it come out of the bucket and hits that first felt tensioner at an angle?
      Those plastic cylinders over the spools almost look like CD-R containers. It's hard to tell, but yes, it does look like the wire comes out of the tube and straight into the vertical stack of felts, then down to the horizontal felts.

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      • #4
        I've definitely become familiar with the Leesona machine, especially reading through the numerous and lengthy past threads on this forum about it. Those conversations I've found to be very informative but the primary area of interest was the traverse mechanism; the feed/tensioner topic was mainly covered in regards to the fact that the dancer set-up it came with wasn't really designed for over 40AWG and thus was likely bypassed when in use at Gibson and is known to be bypassed at the SD factory today. As for the whisker disk; SD seems to like them but some of you guys on the forum (like the OP's situation in the second link you posted) have tried them and had a bad time. So I'd be on the fence about this idea even if I could afford to buy one, of which I can't at the moment; the thought has crossed my mind to do one up DIY using something like fishing line as the whiskers connected to a low inertia center wheel/bearing type thing. I did look into the idea that the problem was at the despooling stage itself and I did rig something like this up: http://www.fisherbaker.com/ten_desp.html which worked as intended (keeping the wire off the top part of the spool) but I still was experiencing about the same rate of breakage. The conclusion I've come up with (and all evidence in these breakage incidents has shown) is that my friction based felt system is fundamentally flawed; either by the wire heating it's channel through the felt and creating more drag or my using a screw mechanism (felt is glued to each side of a small C-clamp) is too rigid and does not behave dynamically as it would using a spring based clamp (alligator clip, clothespin, ect). Perhaps it may be a mix between the two? What I don't understand is that I've seen guys on this forum who's machines can crank upwards of +3000rpm with a similar felt friction tensioner and almost never break wire while mine can at most do 1000-1500rpm and still experience breakages. Is there a specific type of felt that seems to work better or is there an optimal 'fluff' thickness (these drum felts are very thick in comparison to the stick on felt pads)? Anyways, thanks for the bump in the right direction big_teee and from this I hope to be able to find a simple but clever solution to this issue.
        Last edited by capehead; 01-05-2015, 06:56 AM.
        "One experiment is worth a thousand expert opinions...."

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Jason Rodgers View Post
          Those plastic cylinders over the spools almost look like CD-R containers. It's hard to tell, but yes, it does look like the wire comes out of the tube and straight into the vertical stack of felts, then down to the horizontal felts.
          That would be quite hilarious to see that Gibson is using scrap parts on their p/up winding machines (while having the audacity to charge the sometimes ridiculously large sums of money for their products), but those for sure look like 10lbs spools and I know even the largest CD-R containers still wouldn't be wide enough to fit a spool of that size into it (although that does give me an idea of what to do with my smaller spools). Looking at them a bit closer I saw what appears to be a ceramic grommet outlet at the top, so it would seem that those containers are indeed legit specialty items; similar to ones like these: Wire de-spooler drum for copper magnet wire. None the less, even with the smoothest ceramic grade available, I'd still be a bit uncomfortable taking the wire off the despooling container at such a sharp angle; but who am I to judge when it seems to work for them? It gets me thinking that just by obtaining some of these ceramic grommets I could convert any appropriately sized bucket into one of those things; the question is where one could obtain some without having to go through a large company who doesn't typically deal with small orders to the general public?

          As for the felt stacks, you will see that the first vertical stack(s) is comprised of 7 layers of alternating felt types; the grey layers I'm almost sure is the same type used for drum cymbal stands, but the orange/yellowish layers (which it seems is the layer that actually is in contact with the wire) is of a different (perhaps harder?) felt type. On top of this vertical assembly is a spring pushing the stack layers together and these springs seem to be set not very tightly, which as I commented before in response to big_teee, may be used to allow this stack to dynamically respond to any 'catches' in the wire flow, reducing the tension for that brief micro-second. The horizontal stacks contains many more layers and again it seems that the felt layer the wire actually contacts is that lighter colored one. This second part of the tensioning system is of course attached to the traverse arm so thus it makes sense that these felts are not spring compressed, but it seems as if all the extra fluff might still absorb any hiccups from the wire without disrupting it's straight path to the guide wheel (can anyone see if the wire goes over or under this wheel?) So aside from not knowing what type that lighter colored felt is, it is a bit clearer of what my strategy could be.

          PS. Would anyone know where you could get those wing-nut tightened type collar stops (or whatever the proper name for them is)? The only regular source for these types of things I've found has again been to look at drum hardware, specifically the thing that the high-hats connects to (btw I am not even close to being a drummer nor really do I know much about the tech side of them at all). Of course the specialized (and mostly aftermarket upgrades) hardware I've found has been quite expensive and hard to justify considering that all I really need is a wing-nut threaded into a tube, which is sized to slide over a slightly smaller tube.
          "One experiment is worth a thousand expert opinions...."

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          • #6
            Simple felt tensioning is all Gibson has ever used. If wire is breaking you are using way too much tension. I use my Leesona 102's, ME-301 and Gibsom made winders daily. All are tensioned with Gibson's original felt tension system that all consist of felt and some sort of clamp. Get a tension gauge and monitor the tension it takes to break the wire then back off from that.
            They don't make them like they used to... We do.
            www.throbak.com
            Vintage PAF Pickups Website

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            • #7
              Found a potential (and cheap) solution for a spool in a bucket set-up......

              .... just be prepared to swallow your pride a little. I've been searching around different stores throughout the day looking for a suitably smooth ceramic or glass outlet point for a spool in a covered bucket system without any luck. I had since given up as I went to my last stop of day; buying a pack of cigarettes at my local convenience store. I'm waiting in line and my wandering eyes look behind the counter and notice these things: Click image for larger version

Name:	Rose in a glass crack-pipe.jpg
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ID:	836395 I've been around the block a few times so to speak and I realize full well what these things are used for (fortunately not through first hand experience), but I realized that one of these glass tubes have pretty much every characteristic I've been looking for all day so I buy one..... and the clerk hands me a pre-cut piece of scotch-brite as well without saying a word! So for the next few minutes while I'm paying for my cigs, I'm doing my best trying to explain to the clerks, whom I'm friendly with and see almost everyday (English is not their first language either) what a coil winder is.....
              Aside from this semi-embarrassing incident, I will give this bugger a shot and if anyone's interested I'll relay my results.


              Originally posted by JGundry View Post
              Simple felt tensioning is all Gibson has ever used. If wire is breaking you are using way too much tension. I use my Leesona 102's, ME-301 and Gibsom made winders daily. All are tensioned with Gibson's original felt tension system that all consist of felt and some sort of clamp. Get a tension gauge and monitor the tension it takes to break the wire then back off from that.
              Ah, you were the one I was trying to remember last night; the guy on this forum who actually owns a Leesona #102! There seems to have been alot of coverage about this machine and yours in particular in which you have been more than generous with helping satisfy this curiosity. As for my machine, I have experimented tenaciously with the tensioning system which includes running the tension low enough to not cause breakage; unfortunately the results of this arrangement were very loose coils that would require heavy potting to make into useful pickups. When I was younger and hand winding this prospect wouldn't have bothered me, but these days I have 'seen the light' and prefer to use minimal to no potting when I can get away with it. It is for this (and space reasons) I prefer a reasonably tight coil that is still within the well known limits of the wire I'm using. I'm sure you probably wind more coils in a month than I have ever in my life but I can tell with a properly functioning/designed machine my instincts are pretty good about what my wires will take for tension. This is why the issue has been so frustrating to me, everything else responds exactly as I intended it to and when I'm winding, it feels like cruising at speed on an empty straight highway with some good music playing..... and without warning a tire falls off! So with that, I will keep hacking at it and continue to do the research; but with the crack-pipe thing, some screw clamps and a larger variety of felts, I'm hoping to redesign this machine (for the 5th and hopefully final time) into a worry free, semi-automatic pickup winder. Thanks JGundry for your help....
              "One experiment is worth a thousand expert opinions...."

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              • #8
                I rarely pot humbuckers and I never break wire from too much tension. Try using two felts and fine tune the tension with the felt closest to the wire guide.
                They don't make them like they used to... We do.
                www.throbak.com
                Vintage PAF Pickups Website

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JGundry View Post
                  I rarely pot humbuckers and I never break wire from too much tension. Try using two felts and fine tune the tension with the felt closest to the wire guide.
                  I figure you wouldn't very often pot humbuckers, especially your very excellent PAF repros. May I ask what kind of felts your using? I'm on your site and I can't see much in detail of your machine from the pics but are the felts pinched in between alligator-clips? BTW, my machine does use 2 felt stages as you described/recommended; one just above the spool after the plastic funnel I'm using now (soon to be a crack-pipe in a bucket), that I set to 1/2 tension and the other is attached to my 'fingers simulator' where I fine tune the final tension amount.
                  "One experiment is worth a thousand expert opinions...."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It depends on th machine. All have at least one tensioner with thick felt some have an extra tensioner with thinner felt and an alligator clip and one has two thicker felt tensioners.
                    They don't make them like they used to... We do.
                    www.throbak.com
                    Vintage PAF Pickups Website

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JGundry View Post
                      It depends on th machine. All have at least one tensioner with thick felt some have an extra tensioner with thinner felt and an alligator clip and one has two thicker felt tensioners.
                      I know what you are saying now since I've looked back on some of the past threads on your #102; it does indeed look like a very efficient and simple solution which allows your machine to do what it does without feed problems. I'm pretty certain I will implement at least one clip based tensioner along side the (spring buffered) felt stack thing I've built and installed; if for some reason this is causing problems, then I will go with all clip tensioning. The only concern I would have with a system like this is the inability to fine tune the tension aside from adding more or less of these clips to accommodate different wire/pickup types but I suppose when it comes to smaller sized alligator clips though, they're in theory a more dynamic means of tension with their light spring loads. The proper arrangement for my needs I suppose will have to be figured out via experimentation but there is one question I do have which is; what grade/type of felt has proven itself to be best suited for this job? There are at least a dozen different types of felt I've run into with variances in their density, material thicknesses and composition (wool to synthetic ratios). The type I'm going to try with my felt stack thing (for the felts that actually are in contact with the wire) are those common furniture on wood floor stick-on things as they are a bit harder grade and may be more resistant to degradation from friction. Another idea I had was to cut off some material from a 'Sham-Wow' (I'm sure most of you remember those annoying commercials for these...) as the material density looks pretty dense while at the same time being very flexible. Any further advise from you JGundry or anyone else would be most greatly appreciated as I don't think I could tolerate any more than one trip back to Joann's Fabric, lol!
                      "One experiment is worth a thousand expert opinions...."

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                      • #12
                        Hi Capehead

                        I just thought back to my school days in the chem lab and something like this came to mind 2x Messpipetten Pipette 5ml Glass measuring pipettes | eBay or 2x Vollpipetten Pipette 5ml Glass volumetric pipettes | eBay pt=Labor_Zubeh%C3%B6r&hash=item2c85c9afb4
                        You could easily cut the glass to length and smooth off the ends with a gas lamp. Just an idea!!

                        Cheers

                        Andrew

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by capehead View Post
                          ...there is one question I do have which is; what grade/type of felt has proven itself to be best suited for this job? There are at least a dozen different types of felt I've run into with variances in their density, material thicknesses and composition (wool to synthetic ratios). The type I'm going to try with my felt stack thing (for the felts that actually are in contact with the wire) are those common furniture on wood floor stick-on things as they are a bit harder grade and may be more resistant to degradation from friction.
                          I just wound a couple bobbins last night using my new mounted tensioner: it uses some of those tan, self-adhesive furniture felt discs.
                          Click image for larger version

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                          Worked great. Actually, I ended up tightening up the tension a bit more than I initially thought would be appropriate, and I could probably crank it down a little more.

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                          • #14
                            First off, I'd like to thank everyone who chimed in with their help and relaying what has worked in their prior experience. Thanks in part to your help, I feel as if I've come to a satisfactory outcome with my winder after experimenting with numerous configurations of materials and arrangements. The most important revelation I came to is that my problem was not so much an issue of improper tensioning but rather it was how I was taking the wire off the roll; the distance between the spool and the first felt tensioning stage was far too short, approximately 12 inches from the top of the spool. The spool of wire I primarily use is a 10lbs roll of green poly which I bought in 1999 and is now a little more than half used up; the result of this was that the wire was getting pinched when it was being taken from the top of the spool. A reconfiguration of this wire take-off has it seems has eliminated this point of breakage; the first point of contact with the wire is now closer to 3ft. from the top of the wire spool. While the take off configuration was I believe the primary problem, the too 'squishy' drum felts was also a contributing factor in some instances; after much experimentation, the system now uses first an alligator clip with a strip of felt (a piece of sham-wow specifically) to reduce the flutter of the wire as it comes off the spool, and then just before the winding spindle is the primary means of tension adjustment using common furniture felts, in an arrangement similar to what Jason Rodgers suggested, thanks man . BTW, sham-wow material provides very low resistance tensioning in an alligator clip configuration, in fact too low for 42 AWG poly when used alone (and I tried up to 5 stages of tensioning). I could see this stuff being used to tension thinner gauges of wire though, so to anyone having trouble with super thin wire breaking, I'd recommend trying out sham-wow instead of felt.

                            As for my experiments using glass crack pipes as a way to feed wire out from an enclosed space, they do indeed work well for this purpose but are very fragile and are too long for most situations; if one had a gas lamp as the great waldo suggested I suppose they could be made to be shorter. I came up with another easy to find and cheap to buy alternative that is both shorter and less resistant to breaking or cracking; small ferrite toroidal inductor cores. I came about the ones I have as a clearance item from radio shack a while back, despite them no longer being made for RS I still see them at some locations for like $0.75! These are the ones I'm talking about (RS# 273-0108): 20A 6A?Input Toroid Coils 273 0108 by RadioShack | eBay These things work very well as they are technically made of hard ceramic and thus I presume they could withstand wire continuously bending over it at a sharp angle (like in that Gibson factory video) without risk of developing a groove in the hard ferrite material.
                            "One experiment is worth a thousand expert opinions...."

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JGundry View Post
                              Get a tension gauge and monitor the tension it takes to break the wire then back off from that.
                              And allow enough leeway for contraction in extreme cold way up north eh?
                              Gibson had a problem with that once somewhere around early 90's. An astute guitar tech recognized that the higher rate of failures/warranty replacements (only up here) was particular to one certain machine being set to borderline tension.
                              Somehow he talked them out of a free LP for his insight.
                              "Everything is better with a tube. I have a customer with an all-tube pacemaker. His heartbeat is steady, reassuring and dependable, not like a modern heartbeat. And if it goes wrong he can fix it himself. You can't do that with SMD." - Mick Bailey

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