The weather And The Glass Bender
I can remember that day like if it was yesterday, i had been practicing bending glass only about a month but my main job before i started practicing during a regular work day was pumping (Filling the units with gas either neon or argon) almost all neon glass benders started that way, you were the pumper and on your time off you practiced bending or if there was no work then you practiced, so my teacher was bending while i pumped and i started to see that the units were coming out kinda weird, the red units were coming out pink, so i told my teacher so he pumped a unit to see if i had done something wrong but it was the same result, he checked everything and could not find anything wrong with the equipment, i didn’t know then but the equipment did not have a vacuum gauge so there was no way to check the vacuum, it was a very old manifold system and pump, they had been using it since probably the 50s and it was 1988, so my teacher gave up, mainly because he didn’t have the time to keep looking for the solution to the problem because he had his own shop to take care off. My father in law who was the owner of the sign company knew everything about signs except neon, he was mainly a sales person, in other words, he was a natural leader and good at giving orders and putting people to work , so he called his brother who was a very experienced glass blower with more than 30 years experience and who lived in Yuma Arizona, and after my father in law described what was wrong his brother asked him “Has it been raining lately?” and he answered “Yes and a lot for several days” ok said the brother, this is what you are going to do ” Drain all the oil from the pump and put new oil, then you will turn on the pump with the main valve closed, leave it working for about 6 hours, then drain the oil again, then you are going to put new oil and you turn on the pump again but this time you leave it on all night, when you come in the morning, pump a new unit, a red unit and put neon gas, and see how it comes out” so that’s what we did exactly and in the morning the units started to come out perfect, problem solved, so i called my father in laws brother to thank him and ask what had happened, and he told me that when it’s raining or when you live in a very humid environment and you are pumping, that’s what happens when you don’t cover your tubes while they are in a shelf or whereever you have them stored, humidity gets in the tubes, humidity will get into the pump anyway if it has been raining for a while and you have been pumping so water gets deposited with the oil in the pump and the water will not let the pump work efficiently and it will not vacuum down enough so the units wil not come out good, so conclusion, humidity after a rainy season will kill your eficciency,and you will produce bad units, so the best thing to do is cover your glass very well so humidity doesn’t get in the tubes and change the oil on your pump if you have been pumping while it was raining.
This is the pump we used to use in my father in laws shop, probably from the 50s, i still have it in my shop but it’s not in use, i just keep it as a vintage piece, it will likely end up in a museum in the future.
My father in law past away in 2004 at the age of 95, his shop was closed after he went bankrupt after having his business opened for about 40 years, then his grandson went into the same business and picked up where my father in law left, and still in business.
My father in laws brother passed away about 10 years ago of cancer, my teacher is about 75 years old right now, his son took over his business but he is still bending glass, not as much as before but still bending glass.
It’s incredible how time flies by so fast and you are not aware of the years gone by, but i have never regretted my decision to go into learning to bend glass and now that i am teaching glass bending in my shop i see how my students have this joy of learning and i hear them talking about their plans to make neon art, and i see how they are sometimes blown away from what they are learning that it makes me remember when i was learning and that feeling of joy when you finally see some progress in your bending, it’s a real joy to teach, i wish more people would want to learn.