Electric stretcher - what do I do now?

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Snrbfshn, May 20, 2006.

  1. Snrbfshn

    Snrbfshn A-List Customer

    Messages:
    345
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    Now I've gone and done it. Just got me an electric hat stretcher:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8285481444&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWA%3AIT&rd=1

    I've not researched them much, and know little about them, but I'm pleasantly surprised at the price. I was prepared for twice as much, at least. Anyone know the brand, Domke & Ulm? The Amco ones seem more common, selling for $100+.

    I've bought a number of hats that through poor choice or bad description are too small. The heated stretcher may be the difference between selling those or wearing them. But I don't how to properly use it, other than what might occur to me by common sense.

    How much can I push a hat with this? Do I steam or wet the hat first? Fold the sweat down or leave up? Dampen the sweat first, or coat with conditioner? Can it work on straws?

    Any tips (or copies of vintage instructions:rolleyes: ) appreciated.
     
  2. Andykev

    Andykev I'll Lock Up Bartender

    Messages:
    4,082
    Location:
    The Beautiful Diablo Valley
    Be safe with this puppy

    First you will want to clean it up, shine up the dome and maybe take the rust off the handle....you will do that anyway. Then carefully inspect the wiring. Those old braded wires can be a problem. Don't want to burn down the house or pop those circut breakers:eek:


    To use this, you plug in and turn on..and the thing gets hot, like a soldering iron. DON'T HEAT IT UP ALL THE WAY! I have gotten mine too hot when I plugged it in and something distracted me..and I had to wait for it to cool.

    The hat goes on the dome, and you crank out the size to GENTLY increase the size. The object it to restore the hat to it's original size, and bump up slightly, maybe ONE SIZE. Then you let the hat sit and cool on the stretcher.

    Trial and error will make you an expert.

    Don't expect to wildly increase a hat, say, a 1/4 to a 1/2 as that is jumping two sized up. You will be disappointed trying that.

    Remember, don't burn the sweatband, or melt the plastic liner if the hat has one.

    Happy cooking:p
     
    DOGMAN likes this.
  3. besdor

    besdor Vendor/Sponsor

    Messages:
    1,726
    Location:
    up north
    I cant believe that's all you paid for the stretcher . They arent made anymore and whenever one comes up for action ,they usualy selll for a lot more .
     
  4. The real Henry

    The real Henry Practically Family

    Messages:
    512
    Location:
    Löhne, Germany
    There's only one right the to do with it: GIVE IT TO ME!lol

    I can't beleive you got it for that price!
     
  5. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,713
    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    I'm curious as to the shipping cost. That thing looks heavy, and he didn't quote a weight or cost in the auction.

    Could be very handy, especially with a dampened sweatband to allow a bit more stretching.
     
  6. besdor

    besdor Vendor/Sponsor

    Messages:
    1,726
    Location:
    up north
    Even if the shipping was 30.00 ,it's still a good deal . I've only found one place online for the stretchers for sale and they want a lot of money for them .


    Stevenlol
     
  7. Fedora

    Fedora Vendor

    Messages:
    828
    Location:
    Mississippi
    What a steal. I see those go for much more. You got a deal there. I would not have much use for one as I would just reblock the hat, and I assume these were used by dry cleaners back in the day who also offered hat service.


    A suggestion. Mist the hat with water prior to pulling it over the stretcher. This will create steam and allow the felt to stretch better. If you stretch up too much, you may have to iron the brim out once the crown is dry. Fedora
     
  8. Maj.Nick Danger

    Maj.Nick Danger I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,469
    Location:
    Behind the 8 ball,..
    What now?

    Start a hat stretching business? :)
     
  9. thefedorastore

    thefedorastore A-List Customer

    Messages:
    421
    Location:
    Prosser, WA til fall
    Deferred to comments below. Live and learn. I do feel that stretching up to 1/8th can be done safely without any major damage or rework. However, I use a wooden stretcher, and if I don't leave my hat in it, the hat will safely come back to original size. In the world of inexpensive hats sized as S,M,L,XL a stretcher is a blessing, as is our FedoraFelts for many folks. However, on a high-end hat, a defer to the comments below.
     
  10. Art Fawcett

    Art Fawcett Sponsoring Affiliate

    Messages:
    3,662
    Location:
    Central Point, Or.
    I'll defer to those with more experience here, but I would never stretch the felt with this device. What you will get is oval front and back and straight sides and no real way to control the stretch ( been there) . I use mine only to heat the leather before stretching or setting onto the formillion. I don't believe this was ever intended to stretch felt, only leathers.
     
  11. mthatter

    mthatter One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    Wild wild west
    erased by mt
     
  12. Fedora

    Fedora Vendor

    Messages:
    828
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Glad to see I am not alone in regards to the stretcher. I have heard some folks use it to stretch out a hat that was sold to a customer, but was too small. Instead of resizing the hat with a rebock, or taking some drum out of the sweat, this was used. My experience has always been a stretched sweat is unstable and insists on returning to its original cut size. Better to get the sweat to the right size by making it longer without stretching it. As far as stretching a felt body out, I am with Art. It messes up the block shape, and does wierd things to the tip of the hat. Fedora
     
  13. SHARPETOYS

    SHARPETOYS Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,425
    Location:
    Titusville, Florida
    Thanks guys...

    I am not sure why I continually find myself delusioned by the frequency of dis and wrong information disseminated on the internet.

    It sure is nice to have some real hatters give us the correct information here at The Fedora Lounge. :)
     
  14. milandro

    milandro One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    196
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Well this is a a serious resurrection of an ancient thread.

    Did anyone ever come across the instructions on what to do with ( and how to do it) an electric hat stretcher?

    I see then now advertised on Alibaba or Taiwan trade as “ Portable cap blocking machine”
    https://www.ttnet.net/ttnet/gotoprd/MN116/999/0/451303033323231373.htm

    I am not so sure that the electric part ( some modern machines include pressurized steamers steam holes and attachment which seem to iron caps ) is meant to be used to stretch a hat and I may be inclined to believe that they have multiple, uses among with you have stretching capabilities (albeit making the oval shap more pronounced ), but one can use the device to somewhat block a hat too but heating the aluminum elements up could really be meant to “ iron” the crown.

    Yet, regardless of how they are now and in practice used but hatmakers and hat lovers, it would be nice to see how they were intended to be used when the machines were made new. Perhaps someone has kept the original instructions?
     
    steur likes this.
  15. deadlyhandsome

    deadlyhandsome I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    7,494
    Location:
    Central California
    Are you planning on removing the leather sweatbands and blocking/stretching the felt and then sewing in a new (larger) sweatband? I know what I’d use it for, but I’m not sure what your intentions are.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
     
    steur likes this.
  16. milandro

    milandro One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    196
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    I don’t know exactly what I would be using this for.

    My machine is similar to this one
    [​IMG]

    At this stage of my development as a Hat person, I have successfully done some conversions which included reshaping or even blocking the crown ( with the only block I have) and altering the brims, but I haven’t, yet, considered replacing leather bands. Indeed this would be an interesting move since I find, very often, smaller sizes than the one I need (witten sizes are another mystery, my hats vary from size 59 to size 62 all featuring more or less the same fitting) and acquiring the ability to seriously stretch the hat would give me a more ample choice. It much depends which way I will want to go. I have already a number of hats to wear and that is well above the bare necessities. But I may decide to take my hobby in a different direction. At a later stage I may decide to take a course and attend a workshop in hat making. There are a few but they are mostly targeted to women’s hat which I am not interested about (and for the most part of it is targeted to the decoration of existing hats).

    I have also wondered whether this portable hat blocking machine included the possibility to use, on top of the two expanding elements, of other aluminium shapes where one could effectively block a steamed or wetted hat?

    I occasionally see fixed domes with an electric element (thus non expanding) obviously not meant to stretch. They must have a similar function minus anything requiring expanding.

    [​IMG]

    I wondered then if the extra expanding capability of my machine wasn’t so much intended to stretch hats but was intended to fit, from underneath and inside, various aluminum blocks, in different sizes, which would need being warmed up for blocking. ( this one here appears to have a block mounted on a contraption similar to the one above)
    [​IMG]



    The thermostate and temperature reach 200º C in my machine which, I think, think vastly exceed the need of a reshaping function for direct contact but may have been meant to heat up a subsequent aluminum hat block.

    There are indeed even some of these machines sold, new, in the western world at seriously high prices such as this one
    http://hatblockstore.co.uk/millinery-equipment/
    called an “
    Electric hat stretcher £1399.00 + VAT
    Electric heated thermostat hat stretcher
    Polished aluminium construction, Size range 53-64cm, Heat range 0-130c Table top mountable,Suitable for stretching all materials

    The original function , I thought, would be explained in the original instructions which, someone, somewhere, must have kept.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
    TheOldFashioned and steur like this.
  17. steur

    steur I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    9,798
    Location:
    Nederland
    I have never seen the instructions for the use of these electrical stretchers. I own two, one that does no longer have the electricals inside and one that does (and might actually work, haven't tried it yet for fear of blowing out all hte fuses). I think they were intended for and do pretty much what the tin says: stretch hats to fit. I don't think they were ever meant to be used for blocking hats. I think the seams of the two halves would show up in the felt if they were used for that. The heat will help set the new size. Upsizing smaller hats to fit you is a bit of a crap shoot in my experience. Half a size to a size can be done, but takes patience and there's no guarantee that the sweat won't be damaged. They were probably used in shops to no more than nudge a hat up a quarter or half size maximum.
     
    M Hatman likes this.
  18. milandro

    milandro One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    196
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Of course if you would use it without another outer aluminum shell (which is what I suggested above) over the two halves, it would show a seam. I just supposed and suggested that all those unheated many aluminum blocks that I see on the market might be fitted on top of the two warmed halves and therefore heated up to block a hat in a less than industrial setting.
     
    deadlyhandsome and steur like this.
  19. deadlyhandsome

    deadlyhandsome I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    7,494
    Location:
    Central California
    I have one of the non-adjustable heated metal blocks similar to the one you showed. I rarely use it heated as you have to remove the liner and either remove the leather sweatband or be very careful not to touch it or otherwise get the leather hot. I use it primarily as a cold anvil inside the crown when I iron the outside of the crown. It’s great for removing old creases.

    My experience is the same as Stefan’s: half size is about all you can usually size up a hat without needing to reblock it and replace the sweatband. Others report success with more drastic resizing, but I’ve ruined hats when I’ve tried so I don’t do it anymore. A nudge to adjust the size rather than really resizing. I’ve had better luck changing the shape than the size (standard to a long oval).

    Maybe one of our accomplished hatters can chime in, but I don’t see the electric hat stretcher as something they use often if at all. Maybe I’m wrong?



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
     
  20. humanshoes

    humanshoes Vendor

    Messages:
    1,163
    Location:
    Tennessee
    For what it's worth, here is my understanding of the intended purpose of the heated hat stretcher.
    First, take yourself back to a time when hat shops were plentiful, men generally owned no more than two hats, and there was a vested interest in keeping those hats as properly maintained as possible.
    Over time your hat shrinks from daily wear and exposure to the elements and starts to fit a bit too tightly. All you need to do is walk into your favorite hat shop where the hatter will spray your sweatband sparingly with water or alcohol and place it on the heated stretcher. He will then stretch your hat a bit to take it back to your original fit and the heating element will dry the sweatband so your hat will be ready to go while you wait.
    I don't think heated stretchers were ever meant to alter hat sizes drastically or do any type of radical stretching/shaping of sweatband or felt, but rather just to help maintain the customer's original hat size which is exactly what I use mine for. More of a tune-up thing than an alteration thing.
    All this being said, there is very little written, that I can find, about their originally intended purpose so I could be completely wrong.
    If you don't already have a copy of this wonderful book, then here's a link. Highly recommended reading for any hatter or hat lover. https://archive.org/details/scientifichatfin00erma/page/20
     

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