Dundee Artisan Festival

We’ll be participating in the first annual Dundee Artisan Festival, next Saturday, May 7th, 2014, from 10am to 6pm. Most of the festival will take place in New Dundee Park, just a couple minutes’ walk from our shop, but in lieu of a booth at the park, we will be open that day for anyone who wants to visit.

The Festival will feature various artisans, as well as food and entertainment throughout the day.


For more details, see:

Now we just have to clean up the mess that has accumulated in our shop over two+ years of isolation!

Towards a better casting day

After analyzing the problems from my bad casting day, I’ve managed, with some success, to address all the problems (numbered to match the previous post):

  1. I disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled the mould, and checked the carrying frame height on the caster bridge. I got a little lost doing the latter so I’m not sure if there turned out to be any net change in the adjustment. The result was that the type came out cleaner with little flash. A close inspection of both the matrices and the mould show little wear on either.
  2. The airpins sticking either up or down were addressed by adding a better air regulator to the interface.
  3. I didn’t address the wear on the normal wedge, but one other possible source of wrong-length lines could be stuck airpins in the front pin block. This would select a cast whose width is different from what the line length was calculated for.
  4. A few days after the bad casting run I noticed that the tank on my closed-loop cooling system was empty, so I may have had insufficient cooling water during the failed casting run. This new run did not encounter any such problems.
  5. See #4 above.
  6. The communications issues turned out to be a failing clock on the laptop. After an hour had elapsed, the time would jump back an hour, causing the computer to relive the same hour forever. Some changes to the software or a new laptop resolved this issue (yes, “or”… see the linked post).

The new casting run went much better, but still not perfectly. There are still issues with airpins sticking either up or down, so I have to look further into air supply problems. I haven’t looked at the line length variation yet, which seems a bit pointless as long as the wrong matrix row is being cast. Other than the casting not containing the diphthongs ‘æ’ and ‘œ’, which is a software problem with the MCA and font scheme, the sticking airpins are the only problem left. Perhaps contamination in the air is causing the pneumatic valves to operate improperly, and I need a filter/water trap right at the caster.

Solving caster communications the expensive way

During my Bad Casting Day, I was having problems with the communications between my caster computer interface and the 14-year-old Windows laptop I was using to drive it. They connect using a USB cable, and I thought electrical noise might be the source of the problem. The computer would apparently randomly stop receiving status from the caster interface, or would stop some of its internal test cycles that are there to exercise the caster.

I eventually determined that the problem was the clock in this aging laptop. It no longer remembers the time on power-up (and replacing the internal battery did not help) so I have to set the time when I boot it, especially if I want to browse to any secure websites (using https instead of http). As it turns out, once I set the clock, after an hour has passed it jumps back to the time I set it, so the laptop keeps reliving the same hour over and over again, reminiscent of the movie Groundhog Day.

The caster-control application on the laptop is written in Java (so it should port trivially to MacOS and many Unix clones), and uses the java.awt.Timer class to run its internal timers. This class turns out to be sensitive to unstable computer clocks. It schedules the next thing to do based on the clock, so if it schedules something for 10ms in the future, then the clock jumps back an hour, that event does not occur for 1:00:00.010. If the clock continually jumps back the event never occurs.

My code did not need most of the features of this Timer class (such as a thread pool) so I changed the code to use the lock-with-timeout builtin language support instead. This is the feature that Timer uses to wait until its (mis-calculated) next-event time anyway. This seems to be insensitive to the irregular clock so I prepared the package with the new code.

I returned to the workshop to find that the caster cooling loop (which I had just refilled after finding it dry) had blown off one of its hoses and drenched, amongst other things, the laptop. I did not think the pump developed enough pressure to blow off the hoses, and it had seemed fine up until that time. Perhaps having the tank run dry warmed up the pump, pipe fittings, and hose enough to loosen the hose.

I tried to dry out the laptop over several days, and inspected it inside for visible damage, but it was dead.

So now I have a new laptop, I’m getting used to Windows 11, and the clock works properly, and the software wouldn’t care even if it didn’t. So the problem has been fixed by correcting the software or replacing the computer (or both), your choice.

I’ve also put hose clamps on the cooling loop and a more secure cover over the pump and tank.


More updated caster pneumatics

One of the conclusions of my Bad Casting Day was that I needed better regulation of the pressure of the compressed air which controls the caster operation. The caster has about 30 pins about 3/8″ (1cm) in diameter which must be raised by the air pressure, or drop down under the force of a return spring, in a fraction of a second when the caster is running at full speed.

Read more ›

Rebuilding composition mould 12-pt 3E3618R

After my Bad Casting Day, one thing on the to-do list was to tear down the mould because the type being cast had a lot of flash at some of the edges. Read more ›

A slightly better casting day

After the really bad casting day a few weeks ago, almost anything would be an improvement. I had taken steps to resolve some of the problems, and here is the result:

The casting run. The top twelve lines were attempts at re-casting other lines that had mistakes. Some of the lines might have odd casts at the left end where the line came up short and I manually inserted whatever odd sorts I had to fill the line.

Read more ›

Wayzgoose is Back!

After a 2-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Grimsby Wayzgoose Book Arts Fair will be returning this year, on Saturday April 30, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Grimsby Public Art Gallery, 18 Carnegie Lane, Grimsby, Ontario.

Although the number of exhibitors has been substantially reduced this year to allow for physical distancing, we’ll still have a table there selling handmade paper, marbling, bookbinding supplies, and other book arts items, along with a selection of books about the book arts.

As is traditional, even for the two missed years, there will be an Anthology produced containing contributions from many book artists including ourselves, although this will not be ready for distribution until later in the year.

For more information, please consult the Town of Grimsby’s web site, or the Gallery’s Facebook or Instagram pages.

(Updated 13/April/2022 to add the poster image)

A Bad Casting Day

Yesterday I made a try at casting a font of 12-point Caslon Old Style using composition mats and the computer interface for the caster.The results were less than stellar. A whole bunch of things went wrong: Read more ›

Thoughts on Making Lanston Matrix Blanks

There are times where it would be nice to be able to make my own Lanston-style display matrices to use on my Monotype Composition caster. Often I find that matrices made by other casting aficionados were made by cannibalizing a matrix from a surplus font. This has a few downsides: One is that the supply of such expendable matrices is finite; like real estate, they (Lanston) aren’t making any more. Another is that the original marking on the matrix are misleading if left in place, and sometimes do not leave enough room for new markings. Finally, such matrices can only be used for electrodepositing, not for engraving.

Read more ›

Relabeling Those Pesky Caslon Matrices

I recently found a pair of mis-labeled matrices in my set of 18-point Caslon Old Style, and although I could just leave a note in the storage box, I thought it would be better to just correct the markings on the matrices themselves.

Zero on the left, marked as the letter ‘o’, should have the ‘F’ mark and width *8 8, and the letter ‘o’ on the right, marked as the figure zero, should have no ‘F’ and width *8 2.

I have a set of 2mm (about 0.080″) alphanumeric punches, which I actually purchased for just this sort of work, and this would be my first use of them for this purpose.

One question was how I would obliterate the incorrect markings. The fancy way would be to mill off the marked edge, making the matrix resemble the stamped aluminum style of matrix, and put on a complete fresh set of markings. In this case there were only a couple of individual letters and digits to remove, and plenty of space nearby for the new markings, so I just opted to essentially scribble over them by punching them with an ‘X’ a few times.

Punching the markings raises the surrounding metal a bit and it it essential that any such raised area that is too near the letter itself be smoothed off so it does not impede proper seating of the matrix on the face of the mould. On these particular matrices I have enough room to keep the markings well away from this critical area, but I removed the raised parts anyway so the matrix would have a flat face overall. This also makes the markings easier to read, and it looks like I got the ‘8’ inverted. These punches are pretty small, so perhaps I’ll see if there are any orientation marks on their shank to avoid this in the future.