Things To DO When It’s Too Cold To Do Things: Fixin’ My Guitar

I have a fairly low tolerance for self-pity, especially when it is my own self-pity. So, other than feeling sorry for myself about the loss of the bees what have I been up to this winter? For one thing I have been teaching myself to fix my musical instruments with a long term plan.

At some point I intend to fully rebuild this old Kay that I have stuck back in a closet. The model number indicates it was built sometime in the late fifties to early sixties. It is a solid guitar but it seems to have suffered some mistreatment. So expect to see some posts on this one down the road a bit.

What started me on wanting to fix guitars? Money and time mostly. A while back, with much groaning and gnashing of teeth, I replaced the saddle on my thirty-six year old Applause guitar.

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This time started when my Epiphone strap pen and pick-up jack were loose. I could drive to Independence and back home, and that equals about three hours time and about ten bucks worth of gas. The estimate from the Luther for tightening the strap pen and pick-up jack was about thirty-five bucks.

What I ended up doing was watch two videos on You Tube; about half an hour, no charge. Then I bought two quarter inch dowels I need to do the repair. Repair time was about an hour and cost was under two bucks, and I got an extra dowel. (Old Army thing, if you have to have one take two with you.) The boost to self-confidence and renewed interest in DIY stuff? Priceless.

So lets look at what is involved:

Step one: Get the instrument seated on a firm surface that will allow you to work in good light and not scratch or dent the instrument. My Hummingbird is a little over two years old and has only got one memory mark on it. I try.

What you see is nothing but a side work table to my desk with two towels. It works just great.

Step two: Firmly insert your dowel into the pick up jack. The first time I tried to fix this I supposed that I could reach in when I changed strings and just tighten her right up. Yes siree Bob, just tighten that rascal right up. Note to self, the human arm don’t bend that-a-way. So you seat that dowel in the pickup hole firmly.

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Make certain the dowel is firmly in place. You do not want to be fishing for this thing.

 

Step three: Take loose the cover that also is your strap pin. Move it back on the dowel.


Another note: I do not remove any of the hardware from the dowel. I leave it there until it is time to put the thing back together because I am not fond of the where is the INSERT NAME OF LOST TINY THING YOU CANNOT DO WITHOUT HERE game.

Step four: Push the dowel up into the guitar until you are under the sound hole. You will be able to see and reach the hole amplifier jack assembly. You do not have to remove the strings.

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Step five: You will see another small nut on the jack and two more washers. How much you need to tighten the nut depends on how loose the jack and pin assembly were. I wish I could be more specific but it will be a matter of trial and error. When you think you have it right, carefully pull the dowel with your amplifier jack assembly on it out of the hole at the end of the guitar. Once again, you do not want to loose that jack inside the guitar or you will have to go fetch it.

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So there it is, the strap pin is tightened and seated. The jack is flush with the outside of the strap pin. On top is all the tools I got out of which I used the needle nose pliers, the 3/8 wrench and one dowel.

What we are trying to do is tighten that nut until the whole assembly firmly seats into the hole prepared for it with the portion that the strap pen screws on sticking out and the rest even. You have finished you hope.

Is the whole assembly tight when wiggled? When you look at the assembly is the tip of the pick up jack even with the strap pen that closes and covers the assembly? It should not be recessed or protruding.

Of course if you have access to an amplifier,  you will pull out your chord and test it even if you do not normally play over amp. Because why? Because Mommy potty trained you with a ball bat just like me.

Happy playing pickers.

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The Long, Hard, Winter

It’s been a rough winter for us on the homestead. As Ed told you, we lost all our bees. By the way, thank all of you who offered him so much encouragement. We really appreciate it. He has decided that if we can make it through some financial difficulties, he will try again.

So, yes, we’ve had some financial difficulties, which we aren’t through yet (prayers always appreciated), and we’ve had some health issues as well. The health issues have mostly been mine, and I’m still trying to work through all that. The doctors can’t quite figure out what’s wrong, although they have some guesses (prayers appreciated there too).

Weather-wise, it has been a cold, wet winter. I have no idea how much snow and rain we’ve had altogether, but the well is overflowing. Remember that drought last summer? Yeah, we’re over that.

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As you can see, the water is actually out of the well and climbing the cinder block.

In addition to the wet, the bitter cold presented its own challenges. There were several days where the temperature was below zero, and that was without the wind. From what I understand, the local kids have missed at least fifteen days of school due to bad weather.

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Part of the elm tree on the garage and chicken tractor. Thankfully, the rest of the tree is still standing

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Our car stuck sideways in our driveway

When we finally had some pretty days, Sunny Rooster couldn’t wait to free range himself. Unfortunately, he got out one time too many, and all we found was feathers. Chicken Girl is inconsolable. We put all the chickens back in the big coop. One of Moony’s hens decided she liked laying eggs back in her old coop, so she was getting out too. Praying she’ll get over that. Don’t think Chicken Girl could take losing another one so soon.

The coop renovations never got finished last fall. With all the water, some of the posts started to shift, so it looks like we may have to scrap that idea and start over. Whatever we do, it needs to be soon so we can keep any independent chickens from leaving the coop.

A neighbor, who has veterinary experience, gave our chickens some medicine for the mites. They will probably need to be treated again though. She said the coop will need to be scrubbed out because they live in the wood. One more reason for a new coop.

This picture is from a few weeks ago. Chicken Girl noticed that one of Moony’s claws was curling back into his skin, so she decided to clip it. I don’t know what Bookworm was doing. Supervising?

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Chicken Girl, Moony and Bookworm

On a lighter note, Libby is doing very well and has gained all her weight back. She still has no bowel control, but it’s solid so we can quickly clean it up. She’s obviously feeling better, except for some arthritis, and often plays with the other dogs. Both Gracie and Rex enjoy playing with her, but I think Meeko is a little jealous of “his” Libby.

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Libby and Gracie

For some reason, Meeko and Rex, who were both neutered as puppies, have decided they need to mark the house. We don’t know if it’s a dominance thing or an anxiety thing. Regardless of the reason, we need to do a deep scrubbing to make sure they aren’t just coming back the odor, which they can smell a hundred times better than we can. Great. One more thing.

Recently, I had two pleasant surprises that fell right in line with my wanting to “learn it all.” The homestead blogging network that I follow but don’t belong to had a giveaway of the introductory course from The Herbal Academy of New England. I entered but didn’t think any more about it. (I enter things all the time). I was shocked when they emailed me that I had won. So, yes now, I am working through that course, and yes, I’ll be sharing some of that info with you.

The four herb pots that I put in the basement greenhouse for winter are doing very well. The smell of rosemary and lavender is wonderful inside that little enclosure. I should have done it already, but soon, I will get some seeds started. Not sure how much we really want to do this year, but I do have a few herbs that I definitely want to start, so I’ll share that as soon as I do it.

The other surprise was discovering that there is someone here in Braymer who weaves and spins. After I told her of my interest, she invited me to a group of people who are big into fiber arts, so yes, I am learning there too. Got my first left-handed knitting lesson last week, and got to play with a spinning wheel. I need a LOT of practice. So expect to hear more about that too.

Ed has a new series of posts that he is working on that he’ll start sharing with you next week. In the meanwhile, I’m working on my own set of “make your own” posts.

Connie

Bye Bye Bees

So where have I been? Frustrated, angry at myself, and feeling like a rank failure. Oh, did I mention feeling sorry for myself? Yeah. There is that. The last I spoke to you folks about my bees, I had three healthy hives that were going like gangbusters. I had harvested enough honey to pay for the purchase of one nuc I made last year, and everything was going well.

About ten days passed as I did other things, and then I revisited the hives. Two were just gone. I mean empty. I opened the hives and found signs of wax moths, and I thought that was the problem. However, I am wondering about that now and I will speak about it later.

First, I checked the third hive, which was a good three to four hundred meters from those two. It appeared to be fine, showing no signs of problems at that point. I even pulled the lid while not wearing my bee gear to look. They seemed happy and healthy. more about that later.

When I opened the two empty hives I had my second surprise. There were not very many dead bees on the bottom board. No more than a dozen which is about what I might find if I had disassembled a healthy hive. So where did they go? I think “go” might be the operative word here. These bees were not killed; they seem to have just left.

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Why I think they just left. Ten days ago at most these were FULL of honey.

This was in late September. I kept a close eye on my final hive, and changed the top board for winter. Then the worst winter I have seen since we moved to Braymer hit us. Early in October we had a freeze that set down on us for over a week. When I checked on the final hive, the bees were dead. Not gone like the first two: dead. There was good honey and no real sign of hive beetles or wax moths. Just dead.

It was the freeze, I was not the only bee keeper in the area to lose hives to this freeze. It just happened it was my last hive. And, for me at that time, the last straw. I was heart sick, guilty, angry at myself, nature in general and, yes to some extent, God. Aside here; it is OK to get angry at God. If you read th psalms David was angry at God more than once. Just as long as you do as David did and try to end your rant with “Thy Will Be Done”. Even if you have to say it through clinched teeth. Oh, did I mention feeling sorry for myself? Yeah, that too.

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The other hive with Wax Moths I immediately disassembled and put all the parts in a freezer for over a week. This one was waiting for freezer space and I made certain nothing was getting out until I took care of it.

Things I said to my loving wife, Connie, at the time included but were not limited to, “I liked living with a farmer but never particularly liked farming.” “There is a difference between wanting to raise bees and being able to.” Cut off about five yards of that kind of material and you got the idea. Frankly, somebody probably should have given me some fruit and cheese to go with that whine.

So that is where I entered the winter. I froze all my equipment for a week, some with nature’s help. Then I went inside and tried to figure out what I was going to do about the bees. I cannot afford to buy more bees at this time. That is still where I am at today. Am I going to try to get back in the bee keeping business? If so how? I have a lead on the possibility of some wild bees and there appears to be two hives who absconded right here on the place I might could trap.

So what is God trying to tell me about the bees? Is the message, “Ed, bee keeping is not your thing.” Or is it, “Suck it up buttercup and drive on because you have not failed until you quit.”

Seriously, right now I still do not know the answer, but spring is finally beginning to break. There will be another day unless all the snowfall and the present rain doesn’t drown us all.

So I will go outside, clean up some equipment, save what I can and decide. Do I sell it, or try again? We will talk in a week or so.