Drafting machines used to be a feature of any drawing office. Parallel Motions were generally preferred by Architects and Designers as they allowed the board to be clear for freehand work. Engineers and most other others found the drafting machine much faster to use as they had all their tools (scale, protractor, t.square, set square) all in one place and to see a skilled draftsman ay work was mind blowing as the drafting machine was operated very quickly. I remember going into the British Leyland Drawing Office at Cowley, Oxford. It seemed to stretch to infinity with so many machines. British Aerospace was another impressive installation.
There were two types of machine – the pantograph and the track machine. I am not going to discuss the Pantograph as it is not a machine I know well. The track machine which was very popular was that produced by Zucor and sadly no longer available following the demise of Zucor in the nineties. For many years the Zucor manufacturing side was within the Bieffe plant in Padua in Italy. For this reason the two brands were marketed together in the UK under the name Zucor Bieffe.
The machines made by Zucor included the superb EXPORT favoured by large format users producing full size drawings of say, cars. The Premier was an early machine but very good looking. The Medium was a very popular aluminium machine with a vertical black stripe. All machines used the same protractor head in either the 135 degree format or in the 360 degree format.
Let us look at some of the questions I am often asked.
1. What is a “parking area”. The machine has a vertical rail to which is attached the protractor head. You cannot draw under the rail or protractor which has to remain on the board otherwise the bottom wheel would fall off and the unit would end up on the floor. There were accessories such as an extension rail at top and bottom which projected beyond the board but this led to some draftsman having an eye removed or being emasculated and certainly not acceptable in a climate of health and safety. The parking problem had led the “extended boards” such as A1 extended (80 x 120cms) or A0 extended (92 x 150cms). An English AO board used to be 92 x 127 so adding 20cms for the parking area and heck 147 is a horrible size so 150cm is much more metric! So we allow 20cms for parking – give or take.
2. Articulation. Normally you would now expect the vertical rail to be hinged where it joins the horizontal rail but this was not the case in the past. Both our LM and SM machines are. Another important place for articulation is where the protractor head joins the vertical rail. a single hinge is adequate for drawing on paper (LM) but if different thickness of material are to be used you need the double hinge, one hinge allows the head the be angled up and the second hinge allows the head to be flat. In the past there were “floating” heads which lifted the head off the paper which was good for preventing ink smudging and not dragging dirty rubber dust over the drawing.
3. The length of the rails is often questioned. Our LM machine is the size you buy it at and not suitable for altering. The SM gives much more latitude. The top rail can be trimmed to suit and this is something we have done quite often. As I have said above not a good idea to have it projection over the edge of the board if you value your eyesight!
The vertical rail cannot be cut as inside the profile there is a counterweight which balances the protractor head and this counterweight runs on a pulley and wire which run from top to bottom. However on the SM the bottom wheel may be adjusted allowing the vertical rail to project beyond the bottom of the board. Some draftsmen liked this as they used to steady the vertical rail in their lap – matter of choice.
4. The drafting machines are supplied with a standard set of scales. There are no options for the LM but we stock various options for the SM but they have to be purchased as an extra – they cannot be exchanged with the standard set.
5. Left handed machines. These used to be available but no longer. You cannot reverse a right handed machine.
The difference between the LM and the SM is considerable. The LM is a basic drafting machine. Really good quality but at a level which is why it is only available up to A1X size. The SM has all the normal options and is based on the old Mutoh range.
Well I hope that helps. I will try and add to this as thoughts come to me.