Sunday, October 20, 2013

Plans For Cape Ann Expedition Sport

I just got the plans for a One Ocean Kayaks Cape Ann Expedition Sport. I'm not selling the Outer Island-for a change, I'll have two kayaks. 
The Plans are different. Much "fancier" and more "involved" than Jay's. One major difference is that these plans call for an internal strongback, with no alternate instructions for an external, so I'll have to build a spine, and I can't re-use my old brackets. I considered trying it with a ladderback anyway, but began to feel that the potential for screwup was far too great. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Miller's River Challenge

I had been curious about racing for a while, and had decided to try the Nauyag race, on the Connecticut River . Race Day was rainy, so I blew it off. I have a tendency to be stubborn, so I went for another, The Miller's River Challenge, in Orange, Ma.
I had never heard of Orange, Ma, or Miller's river before. Orange is near Rt. 2, between Leominster and Greenfield, a part of Massachusetts I'd never had occasion to visit.
Pretty long drive, after crazy neighbors woke me up at 4:30. Orange is an out-of-the-way, semi-forgotten little town,but kind of nice, not sad.
Driving in on Main Street

It was pretty easy to find the park and launch area.
It was a family-oriented event, lots of tandem canoes. I'd never seen "racing" canoes before-they were tapered at the ends, with a sort of "flare" in the middle, almost like a folded piece of paper. 
I entered the "Single Kayak 3-Mile" race, and saw that there was only one other entrant an hour before start time. It was actually kind of chilly and raw, did a lot of walking around. Went looking for coffee & didn't find any.

Starting to line up for the 3-mile race. I actually misunderstood one of the organizers, and thought that the canoes and kayaks would start separately. I was supposed to be at the starting line. It was rather embarrassing to scramble in with everybody watching and waiting. 
There were only three kayaks in the race. A guy in a green 'yak took off like a shot. I was paddling next to a very nice & friendly older gentleman all the way to the halfway buoy. 
After rounding the buoy, I was thinking that Mr. Green kayak was the one to catch. While I was thinking that, all of a sudden, and for no apparent reason, he flipped! I and the other Single Kayaker went over to help. His boat had no flotation, and filled up while he was trying to get in. We pulled it to the bank. 
That put me in an "ethics quandary". Were we both supposed to stay with him? The Lady suggested that I go down to the next safety checkpoint & report, so I did. That left me alone on the river. They took my picture as I crossed the finish line, but I didn't know if it would "count" or not. When The Lady finished, she seemed to make it a point that I had also helped. So, I won the race by virtue of staying in my kayak.

    I decided to drive home via Greenfield and I-91. I got a pleasant surprise on rt. 2-"French King Bridge",a very high crossing of the Connecticut river with scenic views.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Guitar From Kit

I had been wanting to get a new electric guitar, but I keep leaving the music stores empty-handed. Nothing seems to feel right, and I can't make myself "settle" on something.
I also have some kind of shyness/intimidation problem about trying them out in the store. What I really wanted to do was borrow the things for two hours and try them at home, but that's not an option.
I started looking into kits. I somehow figure that if I put it together myself, it will be more "mine".

This is a "Saga" kit. Its supposed to resemble a Paul Reed Smith. Observations:
The woodworking is pretty good, but not perfect. The body is rather heavily coated with sanding sealer-if I wanted to clear coat , it would not show a very strong grain, and be a slightly gross yellowy-blond color, so I'm going to paint.
The neck, fingerboard, and fretwork look really good.
The hardware looks a little bit "cheapo", but its replaceable.
I gave the back of the neck 4 wipes of wipe-on poly. I decided to leave the shape of the head stock well enough alone.

I also buffed the frets while the masking tape was still in place, although they were pretty good as received.
Painting the body. I decided to paint it "like a car", using automotive paint. gave several coats of sand-able primer, sanded, then went for glossy paint. Auto paint is a pain, the kind where you have to do all coats within 1 hour, else you have to wait four days before sanding.
The minute after I took this picture, I managed to drop the body on the floor. Almost back to Square One.
Used multiple coats of primer, and much sanding to correct the dings I put in by dropping it.
I repainted, waited an excruciating six days, and gave several coats of clear coat.
Now I have to wait a whopping two weeks before buffing it out. I'd better build a kayak or something. The brand name of the kit is living up to its name.

While doing all that waiting for paint to cure, I decided that The head stock shape was too "flashy" or "modern" or "macho" or something, so I gave it a new shape. Reminds me of something you'd see on a Danelectro:

After all that waiting, finally started final sanding & buffing. I went to auto parts stores for Ideas about how to get the best finish. I ended up using a foam pad on the buffer, polishing compound, and wax. It looks like a car.
I had been thinking that the painting & finishing would be the most tedious part. The most tedious part is still going on.
Initial setup came out lousy-super high action, and worst of all it didn't work. The tuners were nearly useless. The volume control acted like an on/off switch, tone control did nothing, and the pickup selector didn't work. I decided to take to a Reputable Repairman, who didn't seem to want to touch it. he did, however give me good information about what its problems were. The neck angle was "wrong", so I shimmed it with matchbook covers. Huge difference! I took a shot at filing the nut grooves, thought I may have gone too low, so learned the plastic-dust-and-super-glue trick. Filed, sanded & buffed the frets.
Now, for the electronics. I found wiring diagrams online, none of which coincided with the number of wires on my pickups. I went online and chose DiMarzio pickups through the dazzling array available. Wiring these also took two tries-the online diagrams assume knowledge I didn't have.
I also got Grover tuning machines. They were easy to install, and work well.
The finish doesn't look like the typical nitrocelluose job, but it looks o.k..
It took about five times longer than I expected, and I learned a great deal about guitar construction and setup. All in all, I don't think I'll be building another....