Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

IconProjects, musings about guitar builds, guitar repairs, vintage tube amplifiers, old radios, travel, home renovation, and other stuff.

Repairing Top Cracks on the Vintage Gibson TG-1

You may recall I have a ca. 1931 Gibson on the workbench for some crack repairs.  I've gotten back to working on it.

There are a couple of side cracks, but the trickiest to repair are these top cracks and breaks.

The guitar took a hit near the edge of the rim, probably on an angle.  The hit caused a couple of long cracks to open along the grain lines - see the red arrows.

And there are also some breaks across the grain which didn't go through the top - they split horizontally.  Those are the areas the green arrows point to.

I need to open up the long cracks, as well as the splits, to get glue into them.

I carefully used a very small flat-bladed screwdriver to lever the top upward.  Then I wedged some other small screwdrivers under the split 'planks' to hold them open.

Now we can get glue into those joints.

Not surprisingly, one of the cracked pieces broke off during this operation.

You can see how the piece was broken - the spruce is actually split in half horizontally.

In fact, three pieces came off.  This is actually a good thing, because I will now be able to get glue under them and glue them back into place.  With luck, they should fit back exactly where they came from.

I'll do that as Phase 2 of this repair.  For now, I want to get the large cracks glued up.

Did you know Paul Prudhomme makes hide glue?  Dig it!

(I accidentally broke my trusty Felix hide glue jar; it cracked after being heated and cooled so many times.) 
Into the hot water bath it goes, heated to 145°F (or 62.77°C).

I heated the cracks up a bit with a hot air gun to give me some extra working time...

... then I used a small paintbrush to apply the glue.

I worked so fast that my camera didn't have time to focus!

Then I pressed the cracks down flat.

And clamped the whole thing down.  There's a sheet of waxed paper between the top and the caul on the top of the guitar so the caul won't get stuck onto the guitar.  That would be a disaster...I shudder just picturing it in my mind.

There's also a caul on the bottom - both are there to protect the guitar.

Here's the repaired area after the glue has dried.

I'm pretty happy with it.  The cracks are all flat and the repair is very solid.  The ugly spot where those pieces are missing looks bad, but I'll glue those pieces back in next and it'll look much better.


Saab c900 Lower Dash Pad Removal

When we left our c900, we had removed the center console.  Next up is to get the lower dash pad out.

This is quite straightforward, but there are some semi-hidden bolts.

The first bolt is easy.  It's the one in the center of the pad.  The center bolt for the ashtray bracket goes into the head of this one - you can see the threads where that bolt went.

So now we just take the bolt out - it's a 13mm.

Here's the bolt after removal.  Put it in a safe place.  It's made of unobtanium.

The other two bolts - the semi-hidden ones - are accessible through the engine room.  This one is on the left side, near the fuse box.  It's the driver's side on LHD cars.

There is some wiring you may need to move out of the way to get at the bolt.  It's a 10mm.  I use a long extension on a ratchet.  You may want to magnetize your socket if possible - it's easy for the bolt to drop off when you remove it.

Something just occurred to me.  Is the fuse box on the left side of the car on RHD models?  Or is everything switched around?   And how many RHD cars were made, anyway?

The right side bolt is easier to see.

Here's one of the bolts freshly removed from the car.  Whoo hoo.

Now we go back into the car and pull the dash pad down.  It may take some wiggling, but it should easily free up once the three bolts have been removed.

Then work on the other side until the whole thing comes free.

Piece of cake, huh?

Here's the whole pad removed from the car.  Notice mine still has the original parts tag sticker on the center.


Center Console Removal on Saab c900

Back to the Saabmarine.  I'm going to put sound deadener under the carpet and behind the door panels and put a new stereo in, but I can't find the time to do much work on it.  So it's moving in fits and starts.

I took the driver's seat out, and of course it needs the same repairs that the passenger seat needs.  The seat is in The Dungeon waiting to be worked on. 

In the meantime, I took out the center console and the center bin in preparation for the sound deadening treatment.

I should say "loosening and freeing up" the console, since I'm not going to totally remove it from the car.  I don't think.

First remove the rear ashtray and take out the two screws in the back end (hee hee) of the console.

Remove the bellows from the front of the console.  It's just held in by friction.  Yours may be tight and you'll have to squeeze it from the sides.  This one was pretty loose and it easily came out.

Now you can lift the console up.  This is all the access I'll need - I'll probably run some wiring under it. 

I say 'probably' because I'm not 100% sure just yet.  But I'm prepared.

Now let's take out the center storage bin/console that runs from the floor to the dash.   There are actually two pieces - the main plastic bin and a carpet-trimmed piece it rests on.

Take out the ashtray and you'll find four Torx screws holding the ashtray bracket in place.

Don't misplace the screws!  I'm putting these in the ashtray - seems like the logical place.  If you put them on the floor of the car, they may get lost.  I try to keep related fasteners with the parts they go to.

There's a 13mm bolt in the back of the bracket that needs to come out as well.

Pull the bracket out and detach the ashtray light from the back of the bracket. 

I'm going to replace this bulb with an LED when I put it all back together - whenever that is!

There are 2 Torx screws holding the bottom of the bin to the floor which need to be removed.

If you have a convertible, you'll have a switch here for the top.  When you pull the bin assembly out, you'll need to unplug the connector from the back of the switch.

There are four screws holding the bin to the backing.  Remove the two lower screws - there is one on each side.

Almost there.

With the 2 screws at the bottom removed, and the two lower bin screws out, you'll have enough clearance to pull the top of the bin/console out from under the dash...

...and in doing so, you'll be able to access the two top screws.  These are normally hidden behind the lower dash pad.

You can then pull the whole bin assembly out.

A word of warning:  be careful with the two lower 'tabs' where the gold-colored Torx screws were holding the bottom on.  The tabs are thin plastic and will snap off easily if you're not careful.  One of the tabs on my other car is broken. 

I got this one off with no problems. 

Now you can see the carpet-covered trim piece - it will just slide out easily.

Here are both pieces out of the car.

Next, we'll remove the lower dash pad.


Boost Gauge Installation on Saab c900

I mentioned a few posts back that I was going to put a proper boost gauge in the c900.  There is a factory gauge, and I'm leaving that connected.  I like having a vacuum gauge to watch in order to get better mileage, and I also wanted a calibrated boost gauge, so I'm putting an Autometer 3401 Sport/Comp vacuum/boost gauge in.  So I will have redundant gauges, for whatever that's worth.  (The factory gauge is only marked with colored ranges, not vacuum or boost values).

I'm also putting some gauges in the radio slot, so I decided to put the boost gauge on the windshield pillar.  The first order of business was to remove the pillar cover.  There are three plastic plugs that hold it on.

When it's removed, you get to see the actual, unfaded paint your car had originally.

Back down on the workbench, I start to get the gauge ready to install.

This is a 2 5/8 inch Autometer gauge.  I figured I'd just use one of their mounting cups and mount the thing on the pillar.

First issue - the gauge doesn't sit all the way down in the cup!  You can see the gap on the right side in the picture.

So this is an Autometer part for an Autometer gauge and it doesn't fit right?  Geez.

The problem is pretty obvious.  The mounting studs/screws are too long and are hitting the back of the cup.


Looks like a job for Hacksaw Boy!
I don't know about you, but I'm always nervous when I have to...uh, 'modify' a brand-new something I just bought.

But I have no other choice.

I cut the studs down to near the surface of the gauge.  I'm not using them to mount the gauge anyway.

Now that the gauge will fit all the way into the cup, I connect the vacuum hose to the back of the gauge.

Another note here:  I didn't want the hose to pass through the back of the mounting cup where it will be visible - I want to run it through the bottom so it will be more or less hidden.

I couldn't flex the nylon hose enough to make a 90 degree bend, so I procured a 90 degree adapter.

You can see I painted the hose black so if it was seen, it wouldn't be so obvious.  I actually didn't need to do that.

I didn't need to do that, because I decided to run the hose and the wiring for the dial light through a piece of shrink tubing.

Here we have the gauge installed in the mounting cup.  The cup comes with a grommet to cover the hole in the back...well, there's still a hole to run wiring through.  Maybe I'll get a small plug to fill that hole at some point.

You can see how I ran the hose and the wiring through the bottom of the cup.  Much tidier I think, especially with the shrink tubing.

I just don't like being able to see wires hanging out.  Behind the dash or something where they're hidden, ok.  That's normal.  But not out in the open.

Now ve install ze mounting bracket on zee pillar trim.

I marked the trim before I took it off so it would line up the way I wanted.

It's not a custom fit like the pillars you can get for those Japanese cars, but it doesn't look bad.  Besides, most of them will fit a 52mm (2 1/16) gauge, and I wanted a 66mm (2 5/8) gauge for better visibility.

The rest of the installation is straightforward.

This is the turbo gauge hose which goes to the back of the stock instrument panel.  I just held my breath and cut it.  Then I put a T connector (comes with the gauge) in the line.

Run the hose and wiring through the pillar trim and down to the dash.  Make sure you don't foul the mounting holes for the trim (yes, I did the first time).

And connect the gauge line to the T connector.

Autometer provides a nice rubber boot to fit tightly over the connector to ensure there are no leaks.  If you do this kind of install with a boost or turbo gauge on your car (any make), and you start seeing "Check Engine" warnings, it's a good bet you have introduced a vacuum leak.

Just make sure your connections here are good.  I ran the car at this point to make sure I didn't have any leaks and also (!) to see that the gauge worked correctly.

Here's the gauge installed.  You can see how much easier the installation was with the instrument panel and fascia out of the car.

I still (as of this writing 2 weeks later...) haven't connected the gauge light to the car's lighting circuit - waiting to install the other gauges and cook up a lighting harness for all of them.

Now I can finally put the instrument panel and dash back in.  Installation is just the reverse of disassembly.  Good thing we labelled all the connectors, huh?  And guess what?  The clock works!  Replacing the electrolytic capacitors fixes it!

The gauge works great.  The only downside with the mounting is that the gauge relies on the screws to the pillar to hold it on - and it's a bit wobbly on bad roads.  I'm going to just use longer sheet metal screws and drive them all the way into the sheet metal behind the pillar to sturdy it up.  Add that to the list of things to do.


ca. 1931 Gibson TG-1 Tenor Guitar Assessment for Repair

A bit of a respite from the Saab dash.  Actually, the dash is back in the car - and the clock works (if you were curious), but I thought I'd write about something different before bringing those posts up to date.  Or something like that.

About 6 weeks ago (maybe longer...), a friend passed along her wonderful old Gibson tenor guitar for me to do some repairs on.

It's a ca. 1931-32 Gibson TG-1 to be more exact.  Early Gibby numbering doesn't enable one to pinpoint an exact year for the most part; we have to rely on features and what we know about FON (Factory Order Numbers) and serial numbers when (if) they are present.

This guitar has that fabulous late 1920s-early 1930s sunburst finish.  I'm not a huge fan of sunburst finishes, but Gibson's sunbursts from this time period up until about 1940 are just wonderful.

Plus this guitar has body and neck binding which has that nice old yellowed lacquer patina.  And check out that pointed end on the fingerboard, which Gibson reserved for its more deluxe models.

And then we have this fancy pearl inlay on the headstock.  This guitar was made during the 'transition' period where the older "The Gibson" logo was being phased out.  Guitars made during the early 30s may or may not say "The..."

And - an adjustable truss rod!

This is one of the things I'm going to work on.

It looks like the guitar sustained a hit on the top edge.  There are a couple of cracks that go through the spruce, but most of the damage is where the spruce sort of split and cracked upward.

One of the cracks has already been glued, and I'm going to see if I can get the others to lay flat and tuck back under the binding.

This damage actually looks worse cosmetically than it is structurally.

There are also three cracks on the treble side bout.  These go through the mahogany.  Should be easy to repair.

Here's a view of the top damage from the inside.

The green arrow is the one repaired crack.  It's not a big split at all.  The glue looks to me to be hide glue, which means the repair was done some time ago, and/or it was done by someone who knew what they were doing.  Very well done.

And surprisingly (and strangely) enough, there aren't any other cracks through the top - it seems that the spruce just cracked and bent up.  There is a top brace right under that area, which clearly supported the top when it was hit.

Gibson build quality was clearly not on par with Martin at this time.  The quality of the braces is good, but note the excess glue (red arrows).  You just don't see this on Martins from the same time period.

Two of the three side cracks.  Should be a straightforward repair.

Again, note the excess glue under the kerfing.

Here's the FON stamped on the neck block.  This number puts the guitar sometime in 1931 (probably). 

Now, to cook up some hot hide glue.