Saturday, February 04, 2012

I still remember when courses used to be stamped on maps!



This statement might sound strange to most of you, but it is really true that on the 80 and beginning of the 90 there was a giant stamp that was used to print the courses on the maps. This system called Mulle and was created in Sweden (where else?!) and Portuguese Orienteering Federation (POF) had two of them that used to be always on the move to every competitions allover Portugal.

Back then maps were printed blank (without course) some thousands of them each time to be used in competitions and trainings. Before using the maps courses had to be printed on them. The Mulle system consisted in two overlapped boards and the bottom one had some fittings that allowed placing the map on the same position and also guides to lead the top board that was movable. It was on the top board that the rubbers with course elements in relief were glued (start triangle, finish, control circles, connection lines, refreshments, numbers, etc.)


I will now try to describe all the steps needed to implement this system in chronologic order. The aim of this lesson is that all of you become efficient in this task, because with this actual crises we never know when we will need to use it again…

1 – plan the courses and draw each of them on an individual blank map;

2 – glue a double faced tape on the top board (there should be a sticky area more or less the size of the map;


3 – place the map with the previously drawn course on the fittings of the bottom board (be sure to insist with the print shop to be very accurate with the cutting of the maps edges, because any difference between the maps will cause a deviation of the course. Always try to use maps from the same package that probably had the same cut);


4 – place the start triangle, the finish and the control circles on their respective positions on the map, with the printing part facing down;

5 – hold the top board and place it over the bottom one, so that the elements placed on the map get glued on the sticky tape;

6 – wet the stamp with ink on the giant pad. I hadn’t mentioned it yet but yes the giant stamp had a correspondent giant stamp pad that is soaked with magenta ink (oh… i sure missed the characteristic smell of that ink… it was worth the trouble of going to POF just to sniff it again);


7 – with the stamp wet with ink place the top board again on the bottom one, therefore printing those elements on the map;

8 – check carefully the correct positions of the printed elements and make the necessary adjustments if any is displaced;

9 – place all the complementary elements (refreshments, mandatory passages, forbidden routes, registration mark, course info, etc.) on their positions on the map and again proceed to pick them with the top board as previously done;

10 – place the top board on a table with the elements facing up and use the line elements with different sizes to connect the circles. If need used more than one to make the line (please avoid to cut them unless completely necessary);

11 – proceed to number the control points which can be done by placing them on the map, or directly on the top board which I find easier. As the number must be placed inverted special care must be used with the number 4 because it is common to place it wrong.

Now the stamp is ready to be used and the printing process can start requiring two persons to implement it. One of them will be in charge of placing each printing map on the correct positions on the bottom board and remove it after printed always checking it-s quality. (pay special attention to the registration marks to confirm their correct positioning). The second person is responsible to wet the stamp on the pad and press it on the map (he should control the printing quality and add more ink to the pad if necessary).


As for sure you have concluded by now the course printing with this system was a time consuming and exhausting task, as it had to be repeated to each course. It was very important to plan the best order to print the courses to use as much as possible the setting of the previous course to reduce the preparation work.

There were really experts on this task on the clubs, from which I point out Paulo Marques - AAMafra, that performed this task with an impressive quality. Speaking of him… where the hell is Paulo?


This system might seem to be archaic (and it sure is now) but back then it was really revolutionary because before it each course had to be hand drawn. I find it really ironic that I had to wait 20 years of not using the system to produce the best instructions ever to use the Mulle system!!!

Unfortunately most of the rubbers are completely ruined having the consistence of gum. Apparently the relation of the rubbers with the ink is not very peaceful and just the Swedish words and older classes (-65 -70 -80) escaped corrosion as they were less used.

Luís Sérgio


[see the original version HERE]

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