I should have been clearer instead of assuming you'd know the duration of the blanking interval of my device! What I was referring to was the 1 second of blanking that it does between the completion of one scroll cycle and the starting of the next. When I scroll messages longer than 16 characters (the number of tubes in the display) I initially show the first 16 characters, then shift left repeatedly at a readable speed until the last 16 chars are showing, then I blank for 1 second, then repeat. Or in other words I don't scroll the message clear off the left side as that wastes time and looks weird.
And the point of all the TL;DR is... that it only takes a brief moment of all-tubes-off to cause problems getting them to come back on.
Look into it later when the dust is clearing off the crater.