Submitted by RANDALL on 9/3/00. ( RWWRAY@WEBTV.NET )


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This response submitted by Randall on 9/3/00. ( )

Sorry... about the all caps... I read
the instructions backwards... Randall

automatic tanner

This response submitted by mike d on 9/3/00. ( )

I've been using one for over two years now and I really like it!
I use an alum tan and oil the finished skins with Liqua-Soft
from Knoblochs.
It's quick and convenient for a small shop, I have the original 15
gal. model, a volume business would need a couple (or the larger
one) to keep up.
I don't have to wait for the tannery, I tan skins as they come in
and then freeze them wet; I've been able to save some skins
that I know I would have lost if I had to salt and dry them!
Over all, as valuable a piece of machinery as my fleshing machine
in keeping my shop running smoothly.


This response submitted by Kristoph on 9/3/00. ( )

Mike about said it all and said it well, I echo all he stated and would be lost without it. When customers hear they can have their mounts back in weeks or a couple months as opposed to a year or so the word travels and your business will definitely increase. I stick to Steve Rotramels instructions and tan. If you're to purchase an auto tanner I strongly recommend you purchase a reliable flesher too.It's nice not sending things out and having all your skins under your control at all times and it's an investment that pays for itself rapidly.......nuff said from me


This response submitted by MarkV. on 9/4/00. ( )

I also have an autotanner but use Rittels EZ-100 instead of the alum tanninng method. I have ran over 100 deer capes and various other furs in it and it really has decreased my time involved in tanning. I recently tanned my first moose cape in it and it was the best I have done. I cannot say enough about the machine. We were a little skeptical at first I must say but it truly is a time saver. Good luck, MarkV.


This response submitted by deer woman on 9/4/00. ( )

...for me at least. Maybe its my water or something, but every skin i did had too much shinkage while drying.The commercial tans i have been using as well as the fully conventionally processed tans i do in shop do not shrink much at all.

At the risk of sounding self serving...

This response submitted by Steve Rotramel on 9/4/00. ( )

let me add my 2 cents worth.

First of all, for Deer Woman: I hope this will help with the shrinkage problems you've had. Please don't interpret this as confronting you in any way. Rather I hope to squarely face the problem you've had (and I can only assume others), and offer solutions.


The Automatic Tanner reduces the time needed to accomplish any tanning method by pressurizing the solution into the hide. All the different tanning chemicals I (and hundreds of others) have tried will work in the machine using the agents' specific methodology.

We use, I recommend, and we sell an aluminum sulphate tan that can be used to tan a raw skin without pickling or salting. We advertise that the tanning can be completed in three hours of actual time in the tank. This is true.

For it to work in that short time however, the hide should be fleshed very clean before it goes in, it must be shaved very well at some point during the process, and it should be well oiled either in the tank or after the tanning.

I won't go into the virtues of alum tanning again; I have done that and don't want to be redundant. Check out the archives if you'd like to see that.

The "corium" makes up the bulk of the skin, and is the part that tans the quickest and easiest. The upper part of the corium, just under the epidermis is called the "grain". Here the intertwining fibers of the corium become very tightly packed and woven, forming a distinct layer. This is the last and most difficult part of the skin to tan. If this layer is not penetrated and impregnated by the tanning agent, excessive shrinkage will result. While alum is the best hair setter there is IMHO, it is not the quickest or easiest penetrater of the grain layer.

ASSUMING ALUM TANNAGE WAS USED: Deer Woman's complaint of shrinkage is therefore a vaild one. I am assuming that the capes were properly fleshed before going in the tanner, and shaved thin and even between one and two hours later, and then returned to the tan. Several other factors can contribute then to poor penetration, including temperature (warm is better), water purity (purer is better), ph of solution (should be around 4.0), amount of moisture in the skin, and bacterial condition of the skin, to name a few. Any or all of these problems can also be overcome simply by leaving the skin in the solution longer. It is a safe storage medium for weeks if desired. Of course complete tannage is accomplished much quicker. Overnight will do in just about any situation or hide type.

Additionally, as I said earlier, just about all other tans will work in the machine, using the specific methodology for the agent. It reduces the time needed for a given step at the nominal rate of 24 hours to 1 hour, and cuts out the need for some steps no matter what agent you're using.

For everyone who uses the Automatic Tanner, we are real excited about a new tan we've developed that is a hybrid of mineral and synthetic tannins, that solves the grain penetration problem, while retaining the hair setting ability of the Alum tan. It has better stretch, zero shrinkage, and is completely washable. In our tests, we are getting very easily breakable deerhides and small game pelts in just a few hours (2 to 3), still with no salt or pickle. Samples are out and our tests are continuing. "Arrowhead Tanning Crystals" should be available soon! (I know, I know, you all were just waiting for the commercial!)

Kind regards to all who have supported us - thanks a lot; and to Deer Woman, thanks for giving me an opportunity to speak to this issue. Good luck and good tanning!

Almost forgot

This response submitted by Steve Rotramel on 9/4/00. ( )

as a last resort, auto tanner makes a pretty good little boiler. Just add water and skins, light a little fire under it.... (hahaha had get that one in Dave!)

Heck, use it for marinating meat, making whiskey, carpet cleaning, birthing babies, de-tasseling corn, etc, etc.

Failed to mention

This response submitted by Kristoph on 9/4/00. ( )

In my shop the tumbler I use for everything is BIG, 8' long and 6' around, not big in relation to some in tanneries but a good size for a shop. I had experienced some trouble with frail birds ie: woodcock, dove etc. By trouble I mean the birds would exit the tumbler in more pieces than had entered, the auto-tanner makes for the best gentle bird tumbler I've met. It's got a nice slow rotation [9rpm?] and furthermore the "drop" from top to bottom in minimal, causing no damage to the birds.I haven't found anything that I couldn't tan in it, a few bears were too big but cutting them in half and resewing after the tanning process seemed to work out well. I can't sing the virtues of my machine loud or long enough.....thankyou Steve

New Tan

This response submitted by Art on 9/4/00. ( )

Be sure and post it when you have that tan ready for us.
I love my tanner :)

from deer woman

This response submitted by who else, deer woman on 9/5/00. ( )

Steve, I always fleshed very well, really thinning the lips and so on, then shaved it nice and thin after the first run ( on deer). Put them back in for the next 2 hours, they came out real nice, i oiled, let soak in oil for overnight, then washed in detergent to remove oily residue ( i never could get it out with solvents in my tumbler). When i was mounting, everything felt fine, but when they dryed, lips pulled out, eyes started looking funny, etc. Everything was tucked and worked the same way as i do with any deer. Since using ez-100 the old way or using East Coast Tannery done skins( syntan), I have not had any of those problems, in fact there is VERY little shrinkage. Am i washing things out when rinsing in detergent? All this is moot anyway, with my bad back I can no longer tan more than does or spike buck capes myself anyway ( and some small game i still do too). The auto tanner was last used to lock fur in on a roadkill fox pup i got from a local sporting goods store that had been laying all day. I had skinned it and not even fleshed or turned or anything, just mixed water, a little bit of salt, bactericide, and alum sulfate, and put it on for an hour. I took it out, turned ,fleshed,washed, and placed in a real briny pickle, and did the rest the conventional way. At this point I am using it as a hair lock in device. I would like to try the new stuff you are coming out with, maybe it will solve some of my problems and i can throw all my foxes and misc small game skins in there.

deer woman-try this

This response submitted by -Kristoph on 9/5/00. ( )

I think you hit the nail on the head, it sounds to me like you're washing the tan out. Try your regular "pre-tan" you mentioned, flesh and thin, then do your wash or degrease. Toss it back in for the final tan a couple hours. I introduce the oil right into the final tan, unless it's for a rug in which case I heat the oil and brush on when all done tanning, fold skin to skin and freeze for a couple weeks before "breaking" the hide. Let me know how you make out, I get the same stretch as I do from anything Joe and Eric do for me. I got the machine because my back is held together with 12 titanium rods and bolts and couldn't tan myself anymore with out it, it makes the fleshing/shaving so much easier.......


This response submitted by Steve Rotramel on 9/5/00. ( )

Yes, you are probably right about the wash-out. This is and has always been one of the beefs against a straight alum tan. The fixation to the fibers of the skin is slower, and the propensity to osmotic action is high. Therefore, a thorough scrubbing immediately after tanning will lower the tannage in the skin resulting in excessive shrinkage. Using the oil in the tan decreases the amount of wash-out. (By the way, our oil is 25% cod which hydrolyzes to an aldhyde. An example of what that does is chamois cloth tanning, which is done with 100% cod oil, no other tannins.)

Several factors help the alum to permanently fix to the fibers. Just time is one, oiling helps, and drying seals the deal. Again since most of the big, well known and trusted tanneries use alum, and I used one of these tanneries for 9 years and am still grateful for the excellent service and product, it has been abundantly proven that it works great and does a permanent tan.

I recommend though that if you wash after tanning (I prefer tumbling), use your alum as a pickle and then use one of the other excellent tanning agents avilable. You still save a lot of time and steps.


This response submitted by Randall on 9/6/00. ( )

Thanks to everyone for all of the information and advice.


This response submitted by TIM on 9/18/00. ( )


The Auto Tanner

This response submitted by Sidney on 10/2/00. ( )

Well, I just have to say that the Auto Tanner is the most perfect machine I have ever used, or close to it. It makes things so simple in the shop now, not much worrying anymore. I do have a question for Steve Rotramel however. I have been worrying a little about neutralizing the tan. The question came up with a fellow taxidermist who swears I must be leaving something out. OK, he got me a little worried. I am wondering if he is right and I am stupid. Should I be rinsing the hides out in soda ash, or will I be rinsing out the tan like Deer Woman? On the whole though, I have absolutely no complaints whatsoever. I love my tanning machine! Thanks Steve, your machine is a great advantage in my shop!

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