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Dry Irons for the 21st century

Dry Irons Irons Ironing heat controller

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#1 ThomD

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 09:05 PM

Irons were probably the first thing that sparked an interest in tailoring for me.  Going way back to before the internet, we had the great Iron debacle, when they stopped making irons that would work.  This was back around the time that they stopped making records, 8 tracks, bad beer exclusively, double knits, and they introduced the metric system in north america, and the catalytic converter.  Hard times.  My Mom was upset at this.  She complained that we soon wouldn't be able to iron our clothes and that some day kids would wear t-shirts to school.  Thankfully that never happened at my school.

 

It didn't make sense though.  Surely tailors still had that worked?

 

I did get one clue from the lifestyle section of the local paper, people were buying fancy Japanese gravity irons, because they really... worked.  Apparently in fancy suburbs, the laundry rooms they never used, were being outfitted with some irons that were so powerful they could lift wallpaper.  Which could come in handy if the painters never came back to finish the job.

 

But this raised as many questions as it answered.  More steam.  What about people who ironed dry.  Were the only effective irons ones that gushed steam like the Express? 

 

I passed the time waiting for these questions to be answered, watching the greatest generation keel over, and picking up dry irons at yard sales for my Mom.

 

So imagine my delight to discover there were real irons that got hot and heavy and stayed dry.  I had to have one, but my initial enthusiasm wilted when I saw the prices,  Even Indian ones were 300 dollars, and many promised to be a lot more expensive still.  So I did what I normally do, started to dream up goofy alternatives.

 

SKIP TO HERE

 

It would help to know how real tailors use their irons.  Not the archana of how they  move them in circular motion to and character to the material, and all that important stuff, but what is the periodicity of the use.  For myself, I reach for the iron, hit a detail, then move on.  It isn't like ironing shirts, it is many little touches during the process.  Is that normal?

 

- If the uses or intermittent is there a modern way to use a SAD iron.  Unlike tailor's gooses, the SAD irons as used at one time by tailors are all over the place, for as little as  .5-1 dollar a pound.  Cleanup usually required, but something that can be done.  The question is how can they be heated, maintained at temperature, and used in a modern tailoring situation.  My suggestion is an induction hot plate or heater.  The heat is only generated in the ferous object resting on the plate.  My understanding is that heat can be regulated to the degree.  You pick the iron up, it starts cooling off, but it has a big thermal mass going for it.  It is supposed to be fairly efficient.  Has anyone tried this, or owns an induction hot plate and has tried it?

 

My concerns beyond whether the idea would work at all, are things, like heating parts of the iron we don't want heated.  That the units aren't big enough to deal with a long iron, or strong enough to support one over time, though there are racks that could be made for that.

 

Second thought is that some of the electric irons I found that were desirable did not have thermostats.  These days we shouldn't have to put up with a bent piece of metal, even if the iron has one.  There are sophisticated digital controllers that cost about 20 bucks, come with a controler, a switched socket, and a thermocouple.  Basically the controller can be set for various parameters, and with feedback from  the sensor, the unit will switch on and off, maintaining the desired heat.

 

So for one thing, what heat is the desired heat, approximately.  All irons vary, but what is the watt range we would need to buy a controller for.  Anyone see this actually working?  I haven't experience rigging the controllers in other applications, though there is lots of info on it.  The ideal would be to mount a thermocouple in the iron, and while that would be fine, it might be dangerous due to the nature of the electronics, and it might require drilling holes.  A reasonable set-up would be to put the thermocouple in the stand so it would regulate the iron at rest.  The problem there is I think the iron would get juiced when one went to the clothes, the precise moment one would want it to be stable.  It would be possible, I guess to have a switch that would turn the power off when the iron was lifted, but that would not kill the programming in the controller, but it sounds complicated.  Any ideas, or experts?

 

Three, no biggie, but the cost of laser heat reading guns, that read the heat of a surface, has fallen to about 10 bucks.  I even saw them for that, name brand in Costco.  These can be very useful for testing your iron for heat, making sure it is shut down, and that nothing else in your system is overheated.  Might be time to get one if you don't have one already.  It is a point and shoot world.  We even use them to take the kid's temperatures.

 

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#2 Henry Hall

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 06:11 AM

I wouldn't have lumped in the catalytic converter and metric system with some sort of decline.

 

I too wondered about using some sort of heat source to heat a heavy iron. I saw an ad in the back of a tailor and cutter book featuring a free-standing, circular stove with irons resting around it. Provided the heat for the irons and heated the room simultaneously!

 

I have a 7lb dry iron that luckily still works from the mains (really a 1950s top-end domestic when they were still good and heavy). The other one I have has a cracked socket at the back so I use it for dry cold weight only.


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#3 Alievens

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 06:57 AM

So for one thing, what heat is the desired heat, approximately.  All irons vary, but what is the watt range we would need to buy a controller for.  Anyone see this actually working?  I haven't experience rigging the controllers in other applications, though there is lots of info on it.  The ideal would be to mount a thermocouple in the iron, and while that would be fine, it might be dangerous due to the nature of the electronics, and it might require drilling holes.  A reasonable set-up would be to put the thermocouple in the stand so it would regulate the iron at rest.  The problem there is I think the iron would get juiced when one went to the clothes, the precise moment one would want it to be stable.  It would be possible, I guess to have a switch that would turn the power off when the iron was lifted, but that would not kill the programming in the controller, but it sounds complicated.  Any ideas, or experts?

 

 

 

Most dry irons I've seen seem to have a relatively low power consumption (<1KW)

According to wikipedia, silk min 140°C, linen max 240°C.

 

I inherited a heavy dry iron some time ago. No thermostat but I wanted some way to control heat.

I've given it a lot of thought but decided to skip the sensor, since you cannot properly mount it to accurately follow temperature changes.

When you place a hot iron on a wet damp cloth I'm sure the temperature would seriously drop on the surface, however the top or side of the iron will probably not immediately reflect this change. Unless, indeed drilling and mounting it straight on top of the sole, a thermo sensor is probably not worth it.

 

I decided to make a little controller that resembles a simmerstat, but instead allowed me to implement some other functions, like giving it a manual power boost every time I use it with water or damp cloth. It still requires me to adjust the heat (pulse width), depending on how frequently I'm using it, but it will take a LOT longer to burn down the house.

 

 

(the laser thing looks interesting though)


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#4 ThomD

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Posted 02 February 2015 - 07:36 PM

I wouldn't have lumped in the catalytic converter and metric system with some sort of decline.

 

I too wondered about using some sort of heat source to heat a heavy iron. I saw an ad in the back of a tailor and cutter book featuring a free-standing, circular stove with irons resting around it. Provided the heat for the irons and heated the room simultaneously!

 

I have a 7lb dry iron that luckily still works from the mains (really a 1950s top-end domestic when they were still good and heavy). The other one I have has a cracked socket at the back so I use it for dry cold weight only.

 

Well the metric system never got fully implemented in the US, while in Canada we boy scouted our way to full implementation though our major (and at the time we were the US number one trading partner) were on a different time line.  The jury is still out I guess. 

 

 

They sell those stoves with some frequency on ebay, maybe a pellet version would be a nice project.  I am now thinking of a silicon blanket, they will make them up in any size.  That would neat up the SAD iron, probably not as efficient, but more likely to get the whole surface evenly heated.  There is a seller from china that is quite cheap on Ebay.



#5 ThomD

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Posted 02 February 2015 - 07:39 PM


I decided to make a little controller that resembles a simmerstat, but instead allowed me to implement some other functions, like giving it a manual power boost every time I use it with water or damp cloth. It still requires me to adjust the heat (pulse width), depending on how frequently I'm using it, but it will take a LOT longer to burn down the house.

 

 

(the laser thing looks interesting though)

 

Would you have a picture of your controller?  Love to see it.



#6 Alievens

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Posted 03 February 2015 - 04:12 AM

Not much to see.

One knob to set the heating pulse-width and a pushbutton to override and heat for 30 seconds (or whatever I set it to)

Pushing the rotary knob down toggles power on/off.

 

This is connected to a relay in a big box with a huge 220V -> 110V transformer.

The whole thing probably cost me more than a used iron with a proper thermostat but It's almost impossible to find one locally and they're too heavy for shipping.

 

controller.jpg



#7 ThomD

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Posted 08 February 2015 - 02:40 PM

Thanks, I see what you mean.  The issues you mention seemed likely to bedevil me, I just got lucky and picked up two irons off the bat. One has a thermostat, so I think I am covered for anything I need to do.  I need something insulation to lay it on, that won`t catch fire.  I have some ideas for that, given that it doesn't fit regular rests.  I noticed Rory Duffy was using a piece of wood, but I think there are some better, and none the less cheap alternatives.

 

  I did find a SAD iron locally for about 10 bucks.  It is a 16 pounder, badly rusted, but it will be easy to debark on the grinder.  I have a quote coming on the blanket.  I think I have the iron rest issues worked out.for using it with a heat blanket.  If I get anywhere with all of this I will put up a video or something.  There are a lot of SAD irons out there that nobody has a use for.  Not much good for a whole lot of ironing, but for tailoring they might hold heat long enough.



#8 Edward Noir

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 06:11 AM

Hello,

Do any of you know where I can purchase a 12lb electric sad iron (uk). I've scoured the net and am coming up short, I'd be very grateful for any advice on the subject.

Best,

Edward





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