Automatic Tanner Shrinkage

Submitted by Ernie on 9/30/1998. ( )

18 inch deer capes end only 16 inches? I use sodium sulfate on raw cape,let set overnight rolled up skin to skin. Next morning wire brush then shave with mini-shaver. Wash with brown bottle lysol and dawn soap. Put in automatic tanner with their solution for at least four hours. Drum until almost dry then mount. Cain't get it back to 18 inches--WHY?

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no strech

This response submitted by Bob coughlin on 9/30/1998. ( )

Ernie, I'm not overly informed on the use of the automatic tanner , but I'm sure that it's not the problum. You mention that you shave the skin with a mini flesher. Its possible that you're not shaving thin enough(very important)or that your drumming to long. I wold edge to the thinning of the skin.I personaly use Rittels EZ100 with excellant results. I know Bruce has tried using the EZ100 in the automatic tanner. You might want to Email him and ask about it.Bruce Rittels Email is .Good luck. Bob C.

Thinner Capes = More Stretch

This response submitted by John Bellucci on 9/30/1998. ( )

Hello Ernie, I think there are quite a few folks out there looking for a "salting" substitute, but I don't think sodium sulphate is what is needed to be used on skins. According to Bruce Rittle, a recommended salt substitute is "potassium chloride." I know one of the uses for your choice is as a salt substitute, but I'm not sure it is pre-prepping the skin in quite the right way. Plus rolling up a skin is not going to allow for proper drainage. You need to fold the cape lengthwise, and place it on a slanting surface to drain. Also you mention you're using "their" (tanning?) solution, but you didn't mention just what that product is, so I cannot make a judgement call on this issue. I can however, make a judgement call on the use of the mini-flesher! I own one, and use it -- where applicable. For instance, it is exceptional on small animals (squirrel, mink, etc.), and on the finer trimming-up of the facial details of game capes. These areas being around the eyes, nostrils, chin, front muzzle area, ear skins, and ear butt areas, to name a few. This is where I use it upon recieving my wet-tanned capes from the tannery. (I have "learned" it is more economical to send my capes out rather than consuming my time on tanning myself -- in most circumstances.) I cannot recommended it as the "main" shaving unit for the main "body" of the cape. As an example: I recently re-hydrated an impala cape that had been salt-dried since the early eighties. Not sure of the skins' ability to hold up under the "stress" of the shaving machine, I proceeded to "thin" the cape with my mini-flesher. After removing the initial membranous matter, the "surface-crud" if you will, I began what I thought was the thinning of the skin layers. That didn't happen. The way I knew it wasn't happening, was that the cape was still showing the same "rubbery" condition it had right after rehydration, following all the time I put in with the mini-flesher! This rubbery condition meant that when I pulled the cape width-wise it would just pull itself right back to its' previous dimensions. I resigned myself to take the cape over to my Rawhide brand rotary-knife or "shaving machine". After properly thinning the hide by removing paper-thin layer after paper-thin layer, the rubbery condition was gone, and there was a considerable amount of stretch to the cape. Like an original 13" neck now letting-out to a 15 1/2" to 16" neck! That's a 2 1/2" to 3" inch difference; quite a sizeable matter. Thinner shaving of the skin not only allows for more stretch it also allows for better and more COMPLETE penetration of the tanning solution! A skin that is not FULLY TANNED will produce little or no stretch as well! It seems it all comes back to your needing to thin those scalps more than they are presently being done, Ernie. Now - whether you are in a position a make that kind of purchase, I don't know. However, I can tell you that if you plan on doing ANY amount of tanning, the investment in that piece of equipment will be well worth the expense. It was the first major piece of machinery I invested in, and I have NEVER regretted it! You can many times find shaving machines for sale as "used", in the classified ads in Breakthrough Magazine, as well as other trade mags. A real word of caution would be - PRACTICE ON EXTRA SKINS FIRST! It will take some practical hands-on training to develop just the right "touch" to avoid putting too many holes in the skin. There are videos out there instructing in the proper use of the "rotary-knife". I would advise you find them and purchase one or two of them. I hope this rather long response has shed a little more light on the problem, and I hope you can overcome this hurdle. Best of luck to you. John.


This response submitted by ernie on 9/30/1998. ( )

Thanks Bob and John. I'm new at taxidermy but want to put out the best product I can. I Do own a commercial shaver but I just don't have the touch yet.I used sodium sulfate because it was on hand and was using it with Ben Mears spray tan. Would another sodium product be better? .

Try The Ol' Reliable - Salt.

This response submitted by John Bellucci on 9/30/1998. ( )

Hi Ernie, The best "sodium" product I can recommend, is good old "sodium chloride" - salt. If you look elswhere in these Forum sections: "Deer Taxidermy" as well as elsewhere in this "Tanning" forum, you will find a lot of in-depth procedure for proper application of salt to the skin, drainage, etc. Let me say that you need to use a "non-iodized" salt. The best type of salt is that used by farmers to mix with grain for feed for their animals. You can usually purchase it at feed and grain stores. Ask for pickling or grain salt. It should be 100% pure salt, with no additives. If you have trouble finding this type of salt, then you can purchase non-iodized "Morton" brand 100% salt. If you have a Sam's Club in your area, they sell this in five pound or more bags. I buy my salt from a local salt distributor, in 80lb bags. Bruce Rittle has written a stellar series of articles - "Why Tanneries Are So Successful" - in Breakthrough Magazine. The series began in issue #49 with "Salting & Drying", and continues with issue #50, issue #51, issue #52, and so on. Get these back issues from Breakthrough, and if you're not already a subscriber, then please become one. Their toll-free phone number for subscriptions is 1-800-783-7266. Hope this additional info helps. DO call for those back-issues and DO become a subscriber to Breakthrough. Best of luck to you. John.

don't presalt hides for auto tanner

This response submitted by deer woman on 10/6/1998. ( )

I have an auto tanner- the only problem i ever have is with the seal on the lid- never a problem with using it to tan, except i don't like using the exact formula the maunufacturer recomends. I skin, flesh real well, and wash the hides, then i put them in the tanner with liqutan and about only half of the aluminum sulfate recomended- use as much liquitan per cape as you would in conventional use of liquitan. I tan for 2 hours, then shave the skin and tan for another hour- then i apply liquisoft to the skin and let sit for several hours. Next I wash the cape in dawn soap and water to remove residual oils, then tumble for 15 mins in large corn cob grit( from van dykes). The stretch is wonderfu! But do not try to get the skin on a form any bigger than 1 inch more than the carcass neck measurement- i always measure off the carcass and i use short incisions on deer. I will experiment with lutan f next in the auto tanner. By the way- the hides are completely tanned!

Auto tanner problems??

This response submitted by John C on 10/9/1998. ( )

I have used the AUTO TANNER now for 10 months with out any problems
FOLLOW the directions supplied with it. Turn all facial areas ruff flesh one and one half gallons water one pound ALUMINUM SULPHATE. one half ounce oil with one ounce BASCARYL-NB tumble for 2 hours. Remove drain and flesh on a round knife, I then return it to the same solution for 30 minutes, reflesh sew and oil. Let the oiled skin set in the fridge over night and mount. The capes always let out 2 or 3 inches. I use very small thread and caulking for glue and have abused the skins to see the tan quality, even rugged a couple cats this way.
I would say the sodium sulphate was your problem. Elk, caribou. I have tumbled elk for 8 hours. Try this I will bet it will work this way. John C

Drop the Sodium Sulphate1

This response submitted by Bruce Rittel on 10/10/1998. ( )

Ernie - the Tan supplied with the machine is Aluminum Sulphate or Alum. I would suggest using strictly Salt with it instead of the Sodium Sulphate, as the other contributors to your question have recommended also. John did have a good suggestion though, trying Potassium Chloride. However, I understand what you're saying about "I had it already", and in that sense, I guess we all sometimes try to make do with what we have. In this case however, I don't think it works well. John also talked about shaving - it may be even more of a contributor to "no stretch" Than the Sodium Sulphate (Glaubers Salt).
Shaving removes that first layer of tight fiber on the flesh, and allows it to stretch better. Since the inner(or middle) layer is not as tight - hence the cape will stretch better than a unshaven cape. Also I didnt see where you mention any Oil or Oiling. Deer Woman uses a paint-on Tan's Oil content to oil her capes after they are tanned, whereas I simply use a bisdulfited Oil instead (its MUCH less expensive, and you get more Oil), But every tanned skin should be oiled after tanning - even an Alum tanned cape! Otherwise, the fibers collapse and its extremely difficult to relax and reoil it for stretchiness. Don't depend on putting oil in the tanning solution. It doesn't contribute much to the final stretch. I dont even bother any more. Putting it in the tan seems to be a waste of good oil. I simply oil the skin AFTER its been tanned and have had excellent results. The Oil also bonds to the skin, and gives it size. It prevents the fibers from collapsing and shrinking the skin. By the way, do you know why they originally put Oils in the Tanning solution? This is strictly FYI. In wet Drum tanning it kept the skins and capes from folding on themselves and rolling in the Drum. It simply helped to expose more of the flesh to the tanning agent. Happy Tanning!

followup on my tan

This response submitted by deer woman on 10/10/1998. ( )

Ok, i have a peice of deer cape drying that was tanned how i described in my earlier post- its well oiled and has been full of stretch- its mostly dry now and i have worked it with minimum effort and its nice and stretchy- on a section completly dried i dropped some water on it- it soaked up instantly like the syntans . A friend of mine had me tan a goat cape for her- when it came time to soak it up she said it soaked up very fast- also the stretch was wonderful.At this time the deer head from which my experimental cape piece came from shows no shrinkage- it is drying rather slowly- our air has been quite damp for 5 days. But i'd say its 50-75 % dry.I understand liquitan is some sort of synthetic tan. this is what i was told by Jeff Khuns, friend of Dale Knobloch. Jeff Lives about 20 minutes from me and uses liquitan and formic acid pickle with great results( not auto tanner- the "old ' way).I don't undersatnd this discrimination towards this type of tan. Also i always had hair slip problems from time to time with conventional in shop tanning, no matter what i did- bactericide, proper PH , and
bascal S - the hides where not all bad ones. I prepickled a good cape in formic acid- did it all right as far as I know, put in auto tanner after nutralizing and so on, with ez-100- then it slipped on one part! Slipped during tanning! Please explain!
Also why do I have trouble with my tanner's seal, and the rest of you don't?

Automatic Tanner Problems

This response submitted by Chris Brower on 11/2/1998. ( )

First let me say that this is not a total put-down of the automatic tanner!!! I don't want legal problems! I was definitely looking forward to receiving my tanner, but after several weeks of waiting, the first unit came to my shop totally destroyed in shipping. Took several weeks to get a replacement unit, and after two days of trying everything I could to stop the door from leaking, including recommendations from the manufacturer, I had it picked up by the manufacturer and carried away. So you're not the only one with leakage problems. I hate it too, because it seemed like the answer to a lot of my problems, but I didn't need new ones!