Punchman's tips

Sources of Useful Items

Very long, very strong zip fasteners are often used to secure the back of the cover of a Punch Booth. Geoff Felix supplied the following information:
Available from Cainhoe Canvas Goods of Bedford. Telephone 01234 346435. They can be contacted by email:cainhoecanvas@aol.com
Geoff reminds us that there are two kinds of zips, those which are joined at one end, and those which can be separated. You will need to specify which type you require. Also remember to to arrange your zip to fasten from the bottom to the top so that small boys cannot easily open it.
Les Clarke tells us:
What I have found a success are mini 12v sealed lead acid batteries, as used as back-up power supply in fire alarms etc.battery Available from SCREWFIX at about half the price charged by maplin for same spec they have proved to be very reliable - as long as you use the proper charger. Initially I used a charger from local electronics shop (15), and had problem with falling output, but a more sophisticated 'intelligent' one, from Maplin at 35 keeps them totally reliable and even revived a poorly one. The smallest battery at 1.2Ah will power my amp for up to 5 hours, giving 4-5 shows and virtually continuous music between. The smallest 1.2Ah battery costs 7 and is very compact at 5x10x4.5cms, almost twice the power 2.2Ah , 6x18x3.5cms costs 7.50, and 3.0Ah at 6x13x6.5cmc costs 10.60. So, you pay relatively more for the smallest size. Those with amps requiring more power should take advice on how long the 3.0Ah, or the 7.0Ah batteries (14) would last. The main advantage over car batteries is the ease of use and no heavy lifting, The only drawback of Screwfix is you have to spend 45 for free postage, but there's plenty of worthwhile stuff in the catalogue.
Stage Fabrics of many kinds are described and available from gastage.com in the US. If you can't find just what you want in the UK then it is quite easy to buy from US using your credit card. And on some things at no greater expense despite the postal charges. This site is also interesting for its description of the fabrics. They stock something called Antron "puppet" fleece which they offer to ship next day anywhere in the world. This is not described on their website but I'm guessing that its the fabric used for Muppet-type mouth puppets. You can find out more by emailing info@gastage.com, addressing your enquiry to Kathy.
Booth covering fabric can be purchased from suppliers of shop blinds and awnings. Canvas is needed for outside booths, not the heavy duty PVC material which, while being strong and waterproof, gets very, very hot inside.
Lighter fabric for indoor booths can often be purchased from large factory remnant outlets. Remember it needs to be lightproof, so you may need to line it. Lightproof curtain lining can be purchased at most suppliers of furnishing fabrics.
Currently (2002) broad red and white striped fabric can be got from a firm called Sharmas Fabrics. Their address is Victoria Market, Victoria Centre, Nottingham. Their telephone number 0115 9413542. Another number, supplied by Geoff Felix, is for Cosalt Ltd. as a supplier for booth covering canvas, their telephone number being 01502 516731.
February 2003, IKEA have some great curtains in a range called Rosalinda. Two packets of these cover a fairly large booth, although a smaller one might get away with only one set. The advantage too, to those of us who are sewing-machinically challenged is that of course a lot of the work is done for you if you use the original seams of the curtains as far as possible.

helmet Mr. Fizzo draws our attention to the chainstore The Bearfactory which carries supplies of Teddy Bears and accessories. In particular they do splendid reproduction of a British policeman's helmet which is just about Punch-puppet-size. There may be other items of interest. Look at their store on the web at www.bearfactory.co.uk

ALUMINIUM by Mr. Fizzo
I have found that the aluminium I purchased from B&Q and used to construct my lazy tongs is not sturdy enough for my liking. It has a nasty habit of bending at the most awkward of moments.
After consulting a friendly engineer i was told to go in search of an aluminium alloy known by its spec' in the trade as "6082". I found a supplier called AALCO. They have 17 branches up and down the country and you can find the nearest to you bye copying and pasting the following into your browser.www.aalco.co.uk/uk_locs/uk_locs.htm
It is 1" x 3/16" that you need and as mentioned the spec is "6082". It comes in 5 metre lengths each costing 21.20 (in February 2003)
The advantages are that it still has the lightweight properties of aluminium but it is much more rigid making for a stronger frame

Info on Locking Nuts from Les Clarke
I use NYLOC - locking nuts, (they have a nylon insert) are easy to use and a bolt fitted with washers and a nyloc bolt can be tweaked to find just the right tension.They are available from 'your local specialist supplier' and come in 'M' sizes. M4/M5/M6, M5 being sturdy but not overdoing it. Also available from SCREWFIX who do next day delivery, good value stock but I think it's a 45 order to get free delivery( in 2003). If you need lots of bolts buy a few bolts here and there in little packets it will soon mount up, bought from a specialist the cost will be about a quarter.

(2003) From Tony Clarke: Homemix Radio Microphone. £ 49.75 I purchased one of these quite cheap mics from Argos just to see what it was like, if I had not liked it, I was going to take back. It is great value of money. I have used many times now and I am still on the same battery in the mic (the base station only works on electric, so no good if you do not have a power supply). Here are the details for Agros: Hand held microphone set. 20m range. VHF system. 6.25mm jack lead included. Batteries included. I recommend it if you want the freedom of no wire on your mic and do not want to spend too much money.

(2003) Tony Clarke writes: Here are a couple of items you can purchase at Argos at the moment. I have both and they make a great addition to my ever increasing amount of equipment taken to shows. The power station is indispensable, and at £ 24.99, I am thinking of getting a back up to the one I paid over £ 50.00 last year, but worth every penny. Hilka Multi-Purpose Rechargeable Power Station/Compressor. Was £49.99 750/5649 £ 24.99 • 400 amps of starting power, this portable 12V power station can jump start car and van engines up to 2500cc for petrol and up to 2000cc for diesel without the need to use a mains power supply. • Pair of heavy duty booster cables and integrated air compressor for inflating tyres etc. • Comes with a built-in worklight and 12V cigarette lighter socket output for powering 12V spotlights, vacuum cleaners etc. • Maintenance-free, sealed battery with mains charger and 12V cigarette lighter adaptor for in-car charging. Clarke G-900 700 Watt Portable Generator. 705/2556 £ 369.99 • Ideal for powering lighting, power tools, heating pumps, fans etc. at work, home or when camping, caravanning or boating. • Quiet easy-start 4 stroke petrol engine, power output up to 700 watts at 230V. • Includes 12V DC battery charging facility - 8.3 amps max. • Includes 2 x 230V AC sockets plus 2 plugs, AC and DC overload protection, low oil level indicator, fuel tank capacity 1.5 litres approx with approx 2 hours running time on a full tank. The portable generator was I have to admit a bit of an overspend, but I spent quite a bit on a nice electric amp and could not use it most places, so thought what the hell. It is not the quietest one you can buy, but it is quite cheap, so most of the time it is OK at fairs and fetes, but if I cannot use, I just use the battery amp and power station, so I have it for all occasions. If you send any money on your show this year, get the power station, very good for the money.

(2003) Les Clarke adds: The Jump Start looks a good buy, I have one on standby in winter for my car and it has come in useful to power a 12v spot for evening work. I always use sealed lead acid and can get away with small ones as my amp is only small. For these sealed lead acid batteries I use an 'intelligent' charger, as the more basic ones don't charge correctly. It is important to follow the recharging instructions on these 'Jumpstarts', in that they should be charged immediately after use and charged fully, otherwise they will lose their overall capacity to hold a charge. Because I haven't used my Jumpstart much, over a 2 year period , even though I periodically charged it - via it's inbuilt charger - it's capacity declined. When I rigged up a cable to charge it from my 'Intelligent' charger it was restored to full power. Maplin sell an 'Intelligent' sealed lead acid charger at £29.99.

(2003) And this from Mark Andrews: There is of course another option, which is to invest in an amplifier combined with tape deck speakers and an inbuilt/rechargable power unit, such as those sold by Coomber. There is no messing with having to carry car batteries, or connecting leads to sealed batteries etc. You make sure it's charged up over night, then take the whole thing with you, switch it on, either plug in your microphone or better still if you have a radio mike verion, switch on the mike, and it's ready to use. up and ready to go in less than 30 seconds! OK the cost is high starting at £376 + VAT for the non radio mike version Or for thge radio mike version you're looking at £498 + VAT Their are many other rechargable portable PA systems on the market, i use a Coomber and another system made by Mipro. Coomber website is www.coomber.co.uk I purchased the Mipro PA from http://www.proaudiosystems.co.uk/acatalog/MiPro___MA700_Series.html TOA and a few other companies also sell similar products take a look at: http://www.paspecialists.co.uk/Portable%20Sound%20page.htm

From Prof Carl Durbin comes the source for custom embroidery of badges and logos for t-shirts and the like. If you are interested click here!

From Prof Mark Poulton comes a useful source for carpet thread in different colours - used by Punch men who also have marionettes - and collectors of Pelham puppets>

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