Saturday, April 30, 2016

stencil manufacturing 2

Stencil Manufacturing ( part 2)

We originally bought the nitrocellulose in the form of used motion picture film. A company, “Cellofilm,” removed and recovered the silver from the film reels. These rolls of film were stored in drums in a pit at the rear of the property. After one of the drums exploded we bought solutions of virgin cellulose from Cellofilm. This required adjusting the coating as the film had some camphor as a plasticizer. To make the coating solution, the nitrocellulose was dissolved in ethyl acetate and ethyl alcohol and the oils and pigments mixed in. The halowax and fatty amide were melted in a steam heated kettle before added.

When stencils were typed, the letters such as “e” and “o” on the typewriter keys would fill up with the stencil coating. This was worse after we started roll coating since the coating stayed on the bottom side of the stencil paper. I solved this problem by, instead of winding up the coated sheet at the end of the drying tunnel, adding a coating station to apply a thin coating of a nitrocellulose solution plasticized only with castor oil and carrying the web back through the tunnel and winding it in back of the unwind stand. Later, we put two coating stations in the middle of the drying tunnel. One coating on the first main stenciling coating was a casein solution, which would hold moisture and neutralize the electrostatic charge that formed when the stencil contacted the copy paper. This was particularly important for the Gestetner two drum machine. The other coating was fine diatomaceous earth which reduced the glare when the stencils were typed. This four coated stencil became the standard for the industry. For lower cost stencils we added the diatomaceous earth to the second coat.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

Polychrome as recalled by Mr. Robert Gumbinner...2 Stencil Manufacturing 1

Polychrome’s original business was in stencil. Here Mr. Gumbinner recalls early days of stencil manufacturing.

Stencil Manufacturing: (part 1)
Mimeograph stencils are made by coating a porous tissue sheet with a highly oil-loaded nitro-cellulose solution. When I started with Polychrome, a sheet of Yoshino tissue (hand made paper) from the bark of a type of Mulberry tree had been used. These sheets were mounted on a bar and carried by a conveyor chain through a drying tunnel. By this time the C H Dexter company, which was making tea bag, developed a Fourdinier paper making machine in which the Fourdinier wire instead of being horizontal was at an uphill
angle. In this way they were able to obtain squareage. That is, the fibers were dispersed in all directions. This was necessary for a stencil otherwise letters like “O” would chop out. Later we improved our stencils by having Dexter add a wet strength resin to the sheet. Since the stencil tissue was now available in rolls, we designed a method of distributing the heated drying air through a plenum to support the coated sheet. The stencil tissue in passing over the coating roll picked up five times its weight of the wet coating solution needed considerable support.

When I came on board, Polychrome was getting many complaints about the performance of their stencils. One month, more stencils than we made were returned including stencils made by other manufacturers. I worked on improving the stencil solution formula, which was basically eight parts of oil to one part of nitrocellulose plus pigments. I balanced the oils to about equal parts of oleic acid, ocenol (oleic alcohol from whale oil), and butyl stearate. We also included about 2 parts of castor oil plus the castor oil into which the pigments were ground. Castor oil was a plasticizer for nitrocellulose. Also included was halowax, and a long chain amide to prevent the stencils from sticking together and a preserv­ative. The pigment was initially iron blue for the standard blue stencil. Later we change to phthalo­cyanine blue. Chrome yellow was used for yellow stencils, titanium dioxide for white and phthalocyanine green for green stencils.  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Polychrome as recalled by Mr. Robert Gumbinner...1

This is the detailed and fascinating history as recalled by Mr. Gumbinner in his memoir and became available thanks to his son Fred. As this is quite long, I will divide in numbers of sections for upload.


Polychrome was started by Mr. Halpern in the middle of the 1935 depression to mix and sell printing ink. At that time, he was also associated with Arthur Kallet and Fred Schlink in starting Consumers Union, which he had to leave when he opened a business. He and Arthur Kallet remained close friends and Mr. Halpern helped him when he left Consumers Union and started Medical Letters. Polychrome started coating stencils in a loft on 4th Ave., then University Place, Manhattan. Mr. Halpern lived in the Gramercy Park area with his wife Freda Bonime. She was his first cousin.

Before I joined Polychrome in 1944, Resin Realty, Mr. Halpern’s real estate company bought the property at 2 Ashburton Ave. from Standard Oil. The main building which was very solidly built had a row of offices on part of the 2nd floor. There was also a brick building across the yard which we called the ink house since it was used for grinding inks and pigments. Along side of it were three temporary sheds. One of which was used for mixing the stencil coating solutions. These temporary sheds were still there 35 years later.

When I joined Polychrome, Elmer Crabbs was the sales manager, Kay Moutal the purchasing agent and Mr. Halpern’s secretary, Fred Pollack was in charge of stencil coating, His brother-in-law Ernest Brunner the plant manager, Walter Shaw the shipping clerk, Fred Generlette mixed the coating solutions and made the inks. Polychrome had an office in New York. Robert McCabe was the office manager and possibly Walter Danzler was a salesman, who, when he was fifty, had a son younger than his grandsons. Fred Hozeny, who had a boiler engineer license, was the maintenance superintendent. Several women coated and mounted and packed the stencils. Among these women were Helen Stensgard, who became a supervisor and her mother. In the forties, a man, I believe his first name was Peter, was hired as a paper cutter. He turned out to be a union organizer for the paper makers union. He did organize the plant. A few years later, the bosses of the paper makers union fled to Liberia when the government charged them with stealing the union’s money. The employees then joined a Teamster local. Peter left and was replaced by Ray Lauzon who had worked in the printing industry. He was an excellent operator. Ernest Brunner left Polychrome to set up a business in one of the Otis Elevator Buildings on Woodworth Ave. to make backing sheets. Cort Briggs who was a chemist, was hired as the plant manager. After a few years he left and started a business in Ossining, NY, making paints.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Old photos from Germany pre Drupa press conference

This may have been the pre Drupa press conference organized by T. Bittner then in charge of Europe at the  Conference Room near Frankfurt Airport.

B. Hallman, D. Wheeler and T. Bittner

 Drupa Booth (late 70's ?)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mr. Halpern in an old photo collection from Germany

These are from a photo collection contained in an Osterode photo album and must have been one of the visits Mr. Halpern made to Europe.     Again some names escapes me although their faces are familiar!

Mr. Halpern between ??? and K Zimmerman

??? and Mr. Halpern

Monday, April 4, 2016

Another Luth trip this time to Paris

Another contribution came from Al Wierling..  Thanks Al!

These pics are from a Luth sponsored trip to Paris for Polychrome staff in August of 1990.    This was the second of four promotions offered by Luth for sales of their film processors.    According to the attendee list , those in attendance were Don Vogel, Don Pollock, Al Wierling, Ray Bender, Ron Carter Gordon Hicks, John Savona and wives., JohnSturgis and wives from the US.      From the UK were Gordon Hicks, John Savona and wives.    From Denmark there were Bitten and Peter Bandholm, our hosts,  and Steen Hansen, Niels Lehn and wives.    We stayed at the Hotel D'Louvre right across from the world famous Louvre.       Organized trips were arranged to Versailles, the Paradise Latin show club and a dinner cruise on the Seine River.     We all had a wonderful time and were very grateful to Luth.

Al & Pat Wierling

Ron Carter & his wife

Ray Bender & his wife

John Sturgis & his wife

Don Pollok & his wife

Wierling,Vogel and  Bender

Peter and Bitten Bandholm

final night in the lobby of the hotel d'Louvre

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Old photos from Germany, D. Wheeler, M. Ettinger and others

D. Wheeler, G. Kapps and M. Ettinger

European managers, K. van Lynden, P. Berald,            K. Zimmerman

P. Berald