Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What's That Lassie? Timmy Fell In The What?

I went out into the back yard, today, for the first time this week, and got a little surprise...

There was a bit of a hole in the yard...

A nice, big, round brick-lined hole. I can't imagine it being a manhole, so I am assuming it is an abandoned well or cistern.

How big is it?

This big.

It's about 4 feet deep, 3 feet to the top of the bricks. My guess is that it was capped, years ago, and covered over. Our recent rains saturated the soil to the point that the weight caused it to collapse.

Now, I have to come up with about 2 cubic yards of material to fill the void. 

What next?


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Been A While

It's been a busy month, around here. Steve and I played two shows, on back to back weekends, last month at Bushwacker's and The Pit Stop. Then, I went to the western slope, for business, and was gone for 5 days. I got back in time for my birthday weekend (a Water Tower show at Herman's on Friday, and dinner out Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, along with plenty of adult beverages). And, I will hit 40 hours, at work, just after lunch, tomorrow ... but I am in the middle of something which will take the rest of the day, plus Friday, to finish.

I am a bit worn out.

While I was in Grand Junction, I picked up this 1959 Gibson ES-125 TC. I had seen it, back on our lab inspection tour, the first week of April. It took me two weeks to decided to go for it (and figure out the financing - I am selling my ti fat bike), and then I had to wait another week and a half to get there and pick it up. But, it was worth it. I'll be playing slide on it, at Lost Lake, this Saturday (8:30 PM).

We stayed at the Doubletree, in Durango, right on the riverside. This was the view from the lounge balcony, as we ate dinner on Wednesday.

 Later, after the sun was down, the lava-rock in the fire pit, along with the bits of blue glass, led us to play a little "Fire Jenga". Piling up the rock seemed to concentrate the flame, too.

Two amps ... both newly acquired. The little wooden amp in the background came with the ES-125, and was built circa 1947. It is purported to be a Kay.

The Vox is a replacement for my Roland, which died an inglorious death as I played the 125 through it, after I got home on Friday. I went to GC, Saturday morning, and test drove about 10 amps, at performance volume, in one of their lesson rooms. I loved the tone of this little 15 watt combo, so it is now part of my stage rig.

Saturday evening, Danny Mc came by and we went out to dinner. It was magically delicious!


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Modified Svord Mini Peasant No.2

 You may recall that I built up a customized Svord mini-peasant for Brad, a while back. I made the handle of his knife from Cherry wood, and I think it came out pretty nice.

 The stock version of the knife. 
(Photo from Urban Conquest)

Since then, I have been carrying a stock mini-peasant, and I really like the knife. So, Last week, I decided to start on a modified version for myself.

While I left the blade in its stock form, on Brad's knife, I decided to reshape the blade on mine. I prefer the spear-point style, and I wanted to clean up the somewhat crude cutout at the handle end of the blade. I also slightly reshaped the tang, around the lanyard hole, to make it sit nicer against my hand, during use.

The handle, itself, is made of Wenge, and has been rubbed with a dark walnut Swedish Oil finish. I had to put two stop pins in the handle (one for the open position and one for closed), due to the modification I made at the pivot end of the cutting edge.

It sits nicely in the hand, and has a pleasing texture. But, the Wenge was a bear to work with. The hardness of the wood, along with the the open grain, made it pretty hard to shape and smooth with the hand tools I prefer to use. It came out perfect, for my use, but it certainly isn't "presentation grade". To produce the nice mirror-finish polish that you often see on this wood would definitely require a belt sander and my buffing wheel. But, I don't think that would be an appropriate finish for a knife with this blade in it, anyway...

I sharpened it up to a shaving edge, when I was done, and added a leather lanyard. I did cut my finger on it, but not with the cutting edge. While I was filing the point down to shape, I let the file slip and gashed open my right index finger on the back of the blade!

I put a bandage on it, and it continued seeping blood for about two hours. According to tradition, drawing my own blood with it makes the knife officially mine.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Stuff and Things

Just a few unrelated things that have been bouncing around in my photo file:

 A while back, the good folks at Tin Cup Whiskey sent me nice cup, as a thank-you for giving them a shout-out on the blog post I did about riding bicycles to the top of Webster's Pass.

It's a nice, double-wall stainless steel camp cup, with a carabiner handle. Apparently, you can't buy these from Tin Cup, they are a promotional item, only. I am happy and proud to have it!

Wednesday, I rode the Scrambler to work. At about 10:00 AM, I happened to walk past the door to the parking lot, and noticed that it was snowing to beat the band. I snapped this picture from the landing, outside the door, of the top of the Scrambler. I posted it up on Facebook, with the caption, "Perhaps I should have ridden the bicycle to work, today..."

By the time I rode home, the sun was out, the roads were dry, and the temps were in the mid-40s. Springtime in Denver.

I pulled into the driveway, and looked down at my odometer, as I parked in front of the shop building. I thought that seeing 123456 was pretty cool, even though that's not the actual mileage on the bike. I had somewhere around 2475 miles on the bike, when I broke the stock speedometer.

Steve and I had a good practice, this afternoon, and we wrote a song while we were at it. The first verse popped fully-formed into my head, and we just started playing it, like it was a song we had been practicing for weeks.  I love it when that happens.

It's called "Playin' In a Rock and Roll Band". I look forward to playing it live, but that probably won't be until May. We already have our set list mapped out for the show at The Pit Stop Tavern, in April.

We are also working on Summertime Blues, incorporating elements from the original Eddie Cochran version, the Who's cover and Blue Cheer's live version, all mixed up with how we hear it. It's pretty fun, and the Bigsby gets a workout!

Blue Cheer was a 1960s proto-punk/psychedelic rock band, along the same lines as The MC5. Check out the video for some groovalicious hairstyles!

Until next time!


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Custom Svord Mini Peasant

On the 13th, I posted some pictures of an Opinel #8 which I am modifying, slightly. In that post, I mentioned that I had some Svord Mini Peasant knives coming, which I also planned to modify. Brad contacted me, and asked where I had gotten the Svords, as he had tried to order one, and it was out of stock. (The link takes you to a review of the knife, which tells you all about the factory construction, etc.)

I told him where I got them, but I also had to spill the beans on the fact that I had ordered more than one, since I planned to modify one for him, as his birthday gift for this year. Brad's birthday is in August, so I guess this is a bit early.

On Friday, I decided to try and get a start on making the custom handle for Brad's knife. I had ordered in some of the plastic-handled versions, since I wanted to make my own wooden scales. I have one of the wooden handled models, as well, but they charge twice as much for them, and the handles need a lot of work, when they arrive.

At about 10:30, in the morning, I figured that I would get started on the handle, then go get some lunch, around noon. Of course, once I got started, I worked on through, until dinner time; seven hours, in all.

First, I traced the stock handle scales onto the wood, as a rough template to locate the screw holes. I sawed these out with my vintage Black and Decker jigsaw. I had to do three, because I split one, drilling one of the holes.

 Once I had the rough blanks cut out, I got to work with the knives, files, rasps and sandpaper. Other than the jigsaw and the drill press, I used no power tools on this project. It would probably be a lot quicker, and more efficient, to use a belt sander to do a lot of the work, but I kind of like the hand sanding...

Eventually, I bolted the blade in, so that I could keep the sides symmetrical, and figure out the final shape I wanted. I wanted the tang of the blade to be flush with the back of the handle, and I also wanted to add a notch for the lanyard. Having the blade in allowed me to work the wood down to the shape of the tang, with no guesswork.

 I thought that Brad might appreciate a little bit of personalization, so I added the ACW (Association of Caffeinated Wheelmen) monogram, by drilling the handle and inserting brass brazing rod to form the letters.

I also added a wood spacer at the butt end of the knife. It just gives the knife a much more solid feel, in the hand.

 I finally went to "lunch" at about 5:30 and, on the way home, stopped by Ace Hardware for some supplies. Once home, I finished the wood with a Danish Oil cherry finish, and hand rubbed it. I did three coats on the outside, two on the inside.

I then did the final assembly with a different blade, which has a nicer grind and a better edge. The blade I was using in the build process got swapped into the stock wooden Svord handles. I will do some work on that blade, later, and make it a little nicer.

Here is a comparison of the stock wooden handle, and the one I made. You can't see it in the picture, but the scales of the stock handle are asymmetrical, and the finish is quite rough. Plus, I don't care much for the pointy end, and the amount of curve on the spine.

So, there it is, a "rustic", inexpensive edc knife to go into the bike bag or pocket. 

I didn't modify the blade on Brad's knife, but I will be modifying the one I put together for myself. Stay tuned.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Today's Project

Awhile back, I removed the passenger-side step rail from the Dodge, because it was rusted almost in two.  When I bought the truck, it had only the one step rail. I guess the driver's-side rail had rusted through, beforehand.

After I removed the one rail, I started looking on craigslist, hoping to find some inexpensive, used rails for the truck. I found a set in Parker, for $300.00. There was a set in Commerce City, for $400.00, which needed to be painted.  And, every other set I found was priced similarly.

So, I looked on Amazon, just to see what the rails cost, new.  I was shocked to see that, brand new, I could buy stainless steel rails, powder-coated black, for $139.00, with free shipping. So, I ordered a set, and they arrived a few weeks ago. There was snow on the ground, when they got here,  and the temps were quite low. So, I decided to wait until the weather was better, and then install the steps.

Today, it was close to 80 degrees F, in Denver, and the sun was shining. After running some errands, I decided to install the step-rails on the Dodge.

It took a couple of hours, all told, to get the rails attached, and braced up. It was worth the effort, though. The Dodge sits up pretty high, above the ground, and the steps sure make it easier to get into the seat. I really wish I had been able to use a step to get into the driver's seat, back when I was dealing with a broken rib, back in January!

The old truck is a bit long in the tooth, but I like it. And, now, I like it a little more.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Frankenstein's Lab

 The 2005 Flying V went back on the slab, today.

I had gathered up a Bigsby B5 tremelo unit, and all of the pieces I needed to mount it on the guitar. So, I figured that today was as good as any time to install it.

 First, the original stop tail piece and Tune-a-matic bridge came off.

 In the original bridge's place, I installed a roller bridge from Stewart/McDonald. The rollers help keep the strings in tune, as they are slackened and stretched by the tremelo.

 This adapter installs with screws replacing the original tail piece studs. It allows the Bigsby to be mounted to a guitar without drilling any holes. This not only prevents damage to the guitar, but it also ensures that the tremelo is installed in the correct place.

 The bigsby mounts to the adapter with 4 screws.

 Stringing a Bigsby is kind of challenging. The little barrels on the ends of the strings fit over the pins on the roller. Getting them to hold, as you bend the string around the roller is almost impossible.

 Bending the string, at the ferrule, helps hold it in place, as you hook the other end up to the tuner.

All strung up and ready to go. I probably need to throw a little graphite in the nut slots, particularly on the low E string. That string wants to go sharp, if I really work the trem. Other than that, it stays in tune really well (better than I anticipated, to tell the truth).

It's funny, to me, that this guitar has become the workhorse of my collection. I pretty much just bought it because the price was too good to pass up. I wasn't shopping for another V, when I got it, and I was actually a little afraid I might have spent my money unwisely.

And, maybe I did, because it has idled all of my other guitars. With the new pickup I installed in the neck position, in conjunction with the stock humbucker at the bridge, this Flying V pretty much covers all bases for my playing, from country-tinged tones to flat-out gut-wrenching distorted blues.

It's really a lot more versatile than most people, including myself, in the past, give it credit for.