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Permanent marking for tubes?

1/14/2004 4:33 AM
Mark Lavelle
Permanent marking for tubes?
I've been picking up more & more Russian tubes (from KWTUBES on eBay) that have Russian designations and cyrillic markings, and it's occurred to me that life could be a lot simpler if I had some way of permanently marking them. I really don't want to have to always remember that a 6Π14Π is an EL84/6BQ5.  
Has anyone here found a way of marking tubes that doesn't rub/melt/peel/burn off too quickly? Something that works on glass, but better than a Sharpie (which rubs off with very little handling, and can be hard to see on some tubes, anyway)...
1/14/2004 12:36 PM
Sean K

Maybe some of the spay paint used to paint exhaust manifolds?,just spray a bit into a thimble and then brush on quick.
1/14/2004 4:59 PM
Mark Lavelle

Interesting idea that would certainly work, but not very practical for more than a handful of tubes at a time (messy, too!).  
I have a glass-artist friend who thinks she knows of a usable product. I'll report back it it works out...
1/14/2004 8:34 PM
Rob Mercure

I believe that either phosphoric or flourboric acids will etch glass - I can't believe that discrete use would etch deep enough to compromise the bottle.  
1/14/2004 9:11 PM
Dave Rich
Sharpie makes a heavy duty version that says "Industrial" on it. We have them here at work.  
It says on the pen, "Remains permanent under most chemical washes and extreme heat and steam (up to 500 degrees F.)"
1/14/2004 11:36 PM

"It says on the pen, "Remains permanent under most chemical washes and extreme heat and steam (up to 500 degrees F.)""
I'd guess tubes get hotter than that. A pal of mine foolishly draped his jacket over his VR once. It was on fire in about 5 minutes. Paper is 451. Cloth must be similar.
1/15/2004 12:39 AM

I use the Industrial Sharpies too because they hold up best on hot power tubes. I sometimes get carried away writing, and end up with a lot of info on some tubes, like Gm and milliamps when I am matching tubes. plus many times a V# to remember what socket it came from.  
They are just the same size as the regular sharpies, but it says Super Permanent Ink in red letters on the pen.  
The regular sharpies will evaporate from the hotter spots on the glass faster than the industrial ones.  
They really are solvent resistant in a differnt way. The old ones would rinse quickly off with a spray of acetone, toluene, or lighter fluid or just about anything like that, sometimes like with alcohol better to be wiped away before the solvent dries. The indutrial ink stays on or at least lasts longer except for alcohol which takes it away easily and cleanly. When I need a clean slate I use small paper towels or qtips and alcohol to wipe the ink off the tube carefully only where I have written. And I never write over the original markings.  
Also never wash with water the RCA tubes having the octagon marker, it rinses right off even though it is super permanent regarding tube heat. I think the old Sylvania dark gray permanent numbers might be like this too.  
I think the GE tubes with the frosted markings might have been etched using hydrofluoric acid or one of its relatives which have the uncommon strength to be able to dissolve glass. I sometimes work with dangerous things like alcohol or acetone using appropriate safety precautions, and I'll do it again in the future. Years ago I did have experience handling agressive fluorochemicals, never again would I want to do that in the future.  
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