Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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

Fingerboard Hole Fills and Finish Polish on the Princess Banjo-Mandolin

So, I turned the corner on the Princess.  Things should pick up quickly from here.

You may recall I drove some small nails into the fingerboard to help align it when I reglued it to the neck.  I need to fill those holes.

I filed a small amount of fingerboard wood from the bottom of the fingerboard extension, where it will never be seen.

Then I just took some of that sawdust and made small piles over the holes, and put a couple drops of thin CA on the piles.

Side note: I had been using those Stew-Mac droppers like the one in the picture.  But I switched to using their pipettes instead.  It's a lot easier to control glue or paint with the pipettes.

Let the little piles/heaps of filler dry for a while.  It looks bad, but it will work.

To quote Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Arc, "Trust me."
When the fill is dry, I use a small scraper to level the fill down more or less flush with the board.

Did you notice all the frets that popped out during handling?  I'm pretty sure I'm just going to refret the thing.  The old brass frets are really fragile - they bend if you just look at them wrong.

Then we block sand with 220 or so grit paper.

The finished fills.

The board is still really dirty - in fact you can see the notorious Green Fingerboard Gunk in the fret slots.  So the fills look like they don't quite match, but they'll look perfect when everything is cleaned up.

It's been a couple of weeks since I resprayed the neck and headstock with nitro lacquer, so it's cured enough that I can polish it out.

I'm using my 3" Griots Garage polisher and Griot's Machine Polish 3 - which is a very mild swirl remover.

The neck has a great gloss - a bit hard to see in this picture, but it looks good.

I love necks with a contrasting strip in the middle.

The blue arrow points to the seven (!) frets that just popped out while I was working with the neck.

And the resprayed headstock after polishing.

You can still see the cracks, but they are level and glued and/or filled.

Although, I have to say, unless the cracks are awful, I wouldn't do this again.

Next I'll refret it with small fretwire.


Gluing Fingerboard and Headstock Veneer on the Princess Banjo-Mandolin

Made some big progress on the Princess Banjo-Mandolin over the last couple of days.

You may recall I had done the crack repair/fills on the headstock. Then I sprayed clear nitro on the headstock and the neck. And let the nitro cure for about 10 days.

Finally I was able to reattach the headstock veneer and the fingerboard.

I had actually made one attempt to glue the headstock veneer on and it wasn't aligned properly. The veneer wanted to slide around when I tried to clamp it. So I bailed out, cleaned up the glue and stopped to ponder a different approach.

Then it occurred to me that I should put the tuners back on temporarily to use them as a guide for the location.

If you look closely, you'll see where they're stamped "Waverly Musical Products Inc., New York." This was a nicely made instrument and used quality parts.

Then I cooked up some cauls for the headstock. The one you see at the top left is for the top surface - it's a bit crude but it is the exact shape I need.

The other one is for the bottom.

I found in my first attempt that I needed steady pressure on the whole veneer. Using clamps in four or five spots didn't enable me to line the veneer up exactly, hence the cauls.

And guess what? If I ever work on another Princess like this one, I'll have a set of cauls ready to go!

Now we heat up some hide glue and brush it on the top surface of the headstock.

Then fit the veneer and clamp it down using the caul for leverage. You can see how it fits the headstock pretty well and lets me put pressure where it's needed.

The other caul is on the bottom - it's protecting the back surface of the headstock.

Now we move on with the fingerboard.

You can see the old hide glue that remained on the neck and the back of the fingerboard.

Need to get that off.

This is one of the nice things about hide glue. I wet it some with hot water and then used a scraper to get it off.

It looks disgusting but it comes off easily. That glue has probably been on the wood for 80 years!

The neck wood is a beautifully figured piece of maple.

Here are the cleaned up fingerboard and neck.

Now we can glue the board back on.

As with the headstock, I needed something to align the board on the neck so it would stay in place when it was clamped down.

So I used 2 small brads as alignment pins. Yes, they will leave small holes, but I can file a bit of the underneath part of the fingerboard extension to get some sawdust to fill the holes. They'll be invisible afterward.

I have some fingerboard clamps to hold the board down with.

You can also see that I stuck the rod back into the neck and used that as a support to hold the neck in a vise.

Tip: put the clamps over the neck first. You'll never be able to get them on the neck in time once the glue is on it. I had them pretty close to their final adjustment and ready to go.

Obviously, when working with hide glue, you don't have a lot of time until it begins to set. So I couldn't get pictures of the alignment and assembly.

Here's the fingerboard clamped up and waiting for the glue to dry.

You can never have enough clamps, by the way.

I wound up putting one at the very end of the board to keep it pressed down. Hadn't planned for that, but I was able to grab a clamp and put it on at the last second.

Here's the neck after the glue has dried. I have some squeeze-out to clean up, and I need to fill those nail holes.

You can also see that four frets popped out during the reattachment. I'll probably have to glue them back in. The frets are small and don't have a lot of tang to work with. Shouldn't be a big problem.

I have half a mind to just refret the thing, but I think the original frets will be ok.


Growing Cayenne Peppers in Containers

A couple weeks ago I planted some peppers in pots.  I've had some gardens over the years, but lately I just grow a few plants in pots.

The two smaller ones are some sort of mystery peppers.  The larger two are cayennes.  I love them.  Fun to grow and eat.


Water Temperature Gauge Installation on SAAB c900

You may recall a couple weeks ago I got the oil pressure gauge connected, and now it's time to get the water temperature gauge going.  I've planned it out in my head and now I get to actually do it.

Like the oil pressure gauge, the water temp is also mechanical.  Which means we have to tap into the cooling system somewhere close to the engine block and put the sensor there.

I bought a new heater hose and the Autometer heater hose adaptor.

I could have used my old hose, but I figured if I goofed up the installation, I could just reinstall the old hose if needed.

You can see the new hose above, along with the adaptor.  You could also replace your factory sensor with the one for an Autometer gauge, but the sensor on a c900 is at the front of the block near the thermostat housing, and the cable (actually it's a capillary tube) for the sensor is sealed - it contains a liquid - and it won't reach that far. Hence Plan B, hack into a water hose.

You will note that the hose is a bit curved and the adaptor is straight.  I have a plan which I believe will allow this to work.

I had marked the ends of the hose with the approximate locations of the existing fittings on the car the hose connects to.

Then I just cut the hose with a razor saw.

The hose is a tight fit onto the adaptor, so I boiled the hose - now cut into 2 pieces - in my hot pot/hide glue heating device.

Best $12 I ever spent.

Hopefully the hose will expand due to the heat and will slip over the adaptor ends easier.


We take our cooked hose out of the water.

At this point it looks like a sausage.  Or more accurately, it sort of resembles the famous Swedish sausage called värmlandskorv. Värmlandskorv is a wonderful sausage made of beef, pork and potatoes.

Maybe we should refer to this sausage as "Värmareslangkorv,"which would mean in English, if the Bing Translator is correct, "heater hose sausage."

I bet it would be pretty rubbery if you tried to eat it.

So the two hose ends went over the adaptor ends - nice and tight.  I don't think it will leak.  Especially when it has clamps on it.

Now to see if this assembly will actually fit in the car.

You can see our korv - er...hose on the left.

The factory hose is directly to the right.

This has been too easy so far.  I expected this to be fraught with problems, I don't know why.

This is the part I've been dreading.  Removing the old hose and seeing a liter of coolant go everywhere.  I have no idea how much coolant is in there, but I put a small bucket under the hose to catch whatever comes out.

That's it!?  Wow.  That wasn't too bad.

Side story: many years ago I was helping someone take an oil cooler out of an early 70s MGB parts car (to put in my 1967 MGB).  He cut the heater hose for some reason and when the (old, dirty green) coolant came out he said, "hey, it's bleeding British Racing Green!"

Guess you had to be there.

Then we undo the clamp at the other end of the hose - the joint between the hose and the external water pipe off the engine block.

I couldn't get the bucket under the fitting, so I just stuffed a rag into it.  There was a bit more coolant that leaked out, but still not a lot.

Now a test fit.

It may not look like it lines up, but I trimmed a bit off the end nearest the camera, and it worked great.

The "T" joint the hose connects to at this end has enough flex in it due to the other hoses connected there on the other sides that I have plenty of room to maneuver the hose and the fitting to get them to mate.

Here it is.  It works perfectly.

Note I put the clamps back on and put clamps onto the hose where it meets the adaptor.  Snugged them up and all looks good at this point.

Put some thread sealer on the big fitting which goes into the adapter...

...and tighten it up.

This is the actual temperature sensor and its fitting going into the brass fitting we just put on.

This whole line is sealed - it's sealed at this end where the sensor is, and it's also sealed at the gauge end.  It's actually a capillary tube that contains a temperature-sensitive liquid that controls the movement of the gauge needle with changes in temperature.

Here's the adaptor, hose and sensor all installed.

Now that I see this picture, I realize I could have turned the adaptor to the right and run the capillary tube under that A/C hose.  I can always change that later.  On second thought, those fitting nuts might be hard to access.  Hmmmm.

Incidentally, the engine was running in this shot - note there are no leaks. Yes!

Moment of truth inside the car.

With the engine getting up to normal temp, still no leaks, and now we have a calibrated water temp gauge!

And to think I envisioned coolant everywhere.  This went very easily indeed.

The factory water temp gauge is still connected, so I now have 2 working gauges - I guess redundancy is a good thing. The factory gauge is uncalibrated - it just reads "L" to "H," so it's nice to know the exact coolant temperature.


Attack of the Hummingbirds!

I was in the desert for the last five days.

Some friends there have a couple of hummingbird feeders and I managed to get pictures of those amazing little things! 

If you've ever seen hummingbirds in action, you know they just zip around at super fast speed.  Hard to get a close look.

I saw five or six different ones, I think.

Most of them actually stopped and perched for 30 seconds or so to load up with nectar from the feeder.

Most of them have quite striking colors, but some of them are relatively plain.  I wonder if the females are the plain ones - that's the case for most bird species, I believe.

Look at how large their wingspan is.  When you see them fly, their wings are going so fast they look like dragonfly wings.  But they're pretty conventional once you see them sitting still.

I saw this cool green one a number of times.

Lookit his little claws.

You can see this one's tongue out of his bill.  They use their tongues to drink.

I wonder if they ever sleep.

This was one of the coolest ones, but it was also very hard to photograph.  He wouldn't land on the feeder - he would just suspend himself over it and feed.

This one also did the 'flying while feeding' thing.

Aside: all of these hummingbird pictures made me think of my hummingbird toy.  (I wrote that post six years ago!)

Here's that purple-headed one actually feeding.  Look at those wings go!


Headstock Veneer Replacement on Princess Banjo Mandolin

You may recall in our last episode we were left hanging with a new piece of rosewood glued to the back of the peghead.

The piece was more or less rectangular shaped and overlapped the peghead so I could trim it back.

This gives you an idea of how much I had to work with.  You can see the long section has already been trimmed - this contoured section at the top remains to be done.

I used a couple of small files and 220 grit sandpaper to trim the excess.

And here it is finished.  I still need to smooth it out a bit more, but it's there in terms of the shape.

I think this is going to work.

Lesson learned:  don't try to remove old veneer to fix cracks.  Leave them on the instrument and fill them.

There is a seam between the old veneer and the new.  The old piece is about .058 of an inch (about .58mm) thick, and the new one is about .010 thicker (.1 mm).

I just block-sanded the new piece down to the same height as the old one so it would match up.

Here it is.

I think this is going to work out.

Fortunately the original pieces were black.

I filled the seam with rosewood filler, sanded it flush and then used Fiebing's leather dye as a finish.

I had also sanded the old finish off the mating piece on the "heel" of the headstock.

The dye is like stain - messy, goes everywhere and will spread like crazy through porous surfaces.  I spread some on the top, and used a very fine paintbrush for the edges.

Came out well I think.

Now I'll spray clear nitro lacquer over it as it had been finished originally.  I think it will look good.

Just need to wait until the humidity outside drops some so I can spray outside.