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Lytron

By Jim Colombo (USA)

Chapter 11


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          March 1, 1966 Milan bought a vacant building that had been a wholesale

produce distribution warehouse in Stockton, California.  He invested $47,000 and

created Lytron 2.  Milan hired Tom Hiedleman from competitor Printex to manage Lytron

2.  Tom liked the slower pace of life, the bass fishing, and his wife enjoyed having a

vegetable garden.  They didn't have children and planned to retire in Stockton.

Tom and Raul spent a month installing equipment, hiring workers, and getting the

plating tanks and solutions ready for production.  Some of Raul's platers moved to

Stockton.  All of the equipment, chemicals, and laminate were delivered by truck from

Lytron 1 seventy miles away, twice a week. 

Two months latter Milan had a warehouse built to store large orders of supplies

that were now delivered to Lytron 2.  All jobs were planned in Santa Clara and Stockton

would manufacture established jobs.  They didn't do military jobs, only commercial

orders like National Cash Register, Pitney Bowes, and assembled electrical harness

Ford Motor Company in Fremont, California.  Joe asked Raul if he wanted to work in

Santa Clara or Stockton and he preferred Stockton.  Joe promoted Hal Cook in charge

of Santa Clara's plating and he would advise T & B when they needed help. 

            Raul had a brother Mondo who was not as hard working as Raul and was

working at Cirtex Circuits in Sunnyvale.  Masi was the owner, Japanese, and a very

patient man.  He tolerated Mondo's absences due to drinking. Masi didn't believe in

reviews or raises and always paid the lowest wages.  Mondo enjoyed adventure and

temped fate by having two Mexican girl friends.  As long as

Mondo contributed to the household, everything was okay.  Girl friend number one

had three children from three different gents and needed Mondo's contribution for the

household rather that his romance.  She was a plain looking woman who had

retained a few extra pounds over time.  She was a good cook and did

Mondo's laundry.  Girl friend number two was younger, skinny, and not as

understanding as girl friend number one.  Mondo spent more time with number two,

because she was a better lover than number one.  Number two was very jealous and

had a temper.  Mondo was getting tried of serving two mistresses and working at Cirtex 

so he quit his job, moved to Stockton with Raul, and started working for his younger

brother.  After four months the work load had increased, so Raul promoted Mondo to

plating foreman.  Raul was spending more time maintaining the plating baths, working in

the chem lab, and keeping track of the orders.  Tom's experience was imaging and

Raul's was plating.  Raul admired a cute Mexican girl working in inspection, but he was

too shy to approach her.

            Lytron 1 was growing in reputation and volume.  They had three shifts working

six days a week.  Jess in Purchasing had promoted his clerk Julie to junior buyer and

hired Betty as clerk.  Larry Georgetown was building his empire and hired three

planners to help Greg Kelley and Ray Moss had two assistants; one for commercial and

the other for military and prototype orders.  Rita with the great set of hardware had quit

and Larry hired a young lady that had just graduated from the local junior college.  She

was eager to please, hard working, and equally hard working after work. She

wore wore tight skirts. The lads referred to her as Thunder Ass.  If she

dropped her pen, it would be difficult for her to retrieve it, because her big butt was held

hostage by the tight skirt.  She would have to carefully reach down to retrieve the pen

for fear that the seams on her skirt might not hold.  Helen enjoyed the attention she

created and the lads enjoyed her effort.   She also appreciated any lad who would

pay for her drinks at the Dew Drop Inn  Dennis Ophim had quit and worked for

Lockheed. He was replaced with Herb Dell.  Norris had hoped to replace Dennis and

started looking at other opportunities.  Hall Cook was one of the original eight when

Lytron started.  He didn't graduate from high school, but had a talent for plating and

read about all of the new processes.

            Milan was too busy to play summer league soccer, but Bill continued playing.  Bill

enjoyed life at a slower pace than Milan.  He was comfortable with the size and pay of 

T & B Circuits he received, he was married, and had a one year old son.  Ron De Luca

now worked only for Milan and was a partner in Milan Enterprises. Business was good,

but the hours were demanding for ever one exceed Milan who thrived on long hours and

challenges.               

            April 1967 Milan bought the building next door to Lytron 1 and began Lytron 3 for

more production manufacturing.  Bill Borg was spending his time and money on a new

process; multilayer printed circuit boards.  Printed circuit boards were typically doubled

sided 0.062; 5/8 inch thick. The first multilayer boards consisted of two 0.018 or 3/16

thick boards with four 0.002 sheets of epoxy that were pressed with heat creating an

0.062 finished board.  The board consisted of layer one, the solder side or bottom, with

the inner layer two, the exposed fiber glass side of the 0.018 board.  Inner layer three

was the copper ground side for the component top side, layer four 0.018 thick. Then

combining the two 0.028 boards with epoxy sheets created the 0.062 finished boards. 

The heat temperature and pounds per square inch varied with the panel size when

laminating the boards and trial and error eventually found the correct pounds per square

inch used. The manufacturers for laminate and epoxy sheet were eventually limited to

two suppliers for fiber glass laminate and one supplier for epoxy sheets. .             

            Two years passed and it was 1969.  Bill Borg was improving his yields and had

established T & B Circuits as a good source for multilayer design and production. 

Typically a prototype order consisted of a lot charge for two or three good boards,

because of design or manufacturing errors.  Lots would start with ten boards to produce

two or three good boards. Some Engineers and proto board shops were not as

knowledgeable as Bill and he would offer design help that improved the yield.  Bill's

scrap rate was low and he offered lower pricing because of better yields    Bill was also

exposed to the latest technology improvements and had mastered four layer boards

design with circuitry on inner layers three and four.  Bill created targets on the boards to

line them up when manufacturing. A target was a small area on the top of the board

depicting how each layer line up. For example each layer was numbered in a small

rectangle and if the four layers were correctly laminated, they lined up one, two, three,

and four in the rectangle.

            Doubled sided boards had fewer problems with proto runs and the money was in

producing large production orders.   Bill had passed on his knowledge to Joe when

making complicated military proto jobs.  Milan was interested in Bare Copper Over

Solder Mask, referred to BCSM. The bare copper process clamed to save money by

reducing the processes used.    After copper plating the board was solder masked

reducing the need for tin lead plated traces.  It was a cost effective method for cheep

large volume order. 

         Hand held calculator began about 1970 with large eight by six inch versions

made in Japan.  By the end of 1970 Commodore and Bomar offered smaller

versions that would fit into a shirt pocket.  Joe was making 10,000 per month of Bomar

boards for a quarter each month. The bare copper process reduced the finished price to

nineteen cent   The Commodore process required gold flash traces, 0.0005 thick or a

human hair equally divided into six parts.  It was a demanding process.  The board

surface had to held in baths of hydrochloric acid prior to plating, then the surfaces were

slightly sanded and cleaned in a conveyer machine referred to hydro-squeegee to 

improve adhesion,  bonding copper to laminate, allowing gold flash to plate on copper.

Contamination, the percentage of gold salts used in the plating baths, and the quality of

vendors supplying gold salts used all contributed to frustrating process. Many times Joe

told Milan that making Commodore boards weren't worth the effort, so Joe asked Raul if

he would make Commodore boards, and he would give it  try.

            Mondo was gambling and continued to drink Coor's beer.  Raul tolerated his

brother's drinking, but was not aware of his gambling.  Mondo was charging each

Mexican plater twenty five per hour for the privilege of working at Lytron 3.  They didn't

say anything because they needed the money to send to families in Mexico.  Some of

the Mexican platers did not have a social security number, so Mondo used his.  In

February 1972 the IRS inquired how one social security number could have so many

names.  Mondo was discovered and quickly left for Mexico, never to return. 

            Adios Mondo.

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