Category Archives: workshop

victory is mine!

210421 repaired magnifying loupe
210421 repaired magnifying loupe
210421 repaired magnifying loupe
210421 repaired magnifying loupe
210421 repaired magnifying loupe
210421 repaired magnifying loupe

i got the nuts that fit the screws, i took the loupe part off the old, broken frames, and mounted it on the new, unbroken frames, with entirely new screws and nuts, and washers from the repair kit the denmat/perioptix people sent me. the new screws are TINY alan-key drive… mcmaster-carr doesn’t have philips-head screws that are 2-64… 😒 i don’t actually have an alan-key small enough to tighten them, but i’m pretty sure i got it tight enough with a wrench on the nut side. 🔧

ETA: it turns out i do have an alan-key that is small enough, and i did get it tight enough with a wrench… HOWEVER in my final look-over before i put it back in the box, i noticed something i hadn’t before, which is that the hinge is completely broken, and, while the repair kit they sent me has a replacement hinge, it’s actually the part of the hinge that is a molded part of the magnifier, itself, which means that i cannot fix it, because it is an integral part of the actual optical piece… replacement parts for which, i already know they no longer make. 😒

210421 eyebrow hole
210421 eyebrow hole

at this point, it’s still in one piece, and functional, so long as you don’t move the hinge around too much, but the hinge has already failed and cannot be repaired. it’s just a matter of time before the whole thing falls apart. 🤬

i also burned a hole in my eyebrow, when i was grinding down the screw so that it wouldn’t poke the wearer in the eye, and i put the frames on to test them too quickly after grinding… 😉

the irritating story of the non-standard screw sizes… 😒

workshop, workshop, workshop, workshop, workshop, workshop…

there are quite a few nit-picky details i have left out, and some people who helped a great deal, who i haven’t identified, in the attempt to make this less overwhelmingly verbose. sorry.

a few weeks ago, moe asked me if i could do some improvised repair work on a magnifying loupe belonging to her clinic.

what she brought me was a perioptix loupe, which was originally mounted on a pair of safety glasses, the frames of which had broken… and then been not quite repaired (a number of times, apparently) with the surgical equivalent of duct tape.

seriously… why smart people with degrees, DOCTORS, think sticky cloth tape is an appropriate medium to affect the permanent repair of a broken surgical instrument, is WAY above my pay grade… 😕

she also brought me a set of oakley “safety” glasses (i’m not sure if they are actually SAFETY glasses, because you can remove the lenses, and replace them with shaded lenses, which were included), the frames for which would be an almost perfect replacement for the broken perioptix frames… except that the frames are a “skosh” thicker, and thus, the screws that hold the loupe on to the original frames are not quite long enough to fit through the test hole that i drilled in the oakley frames, when i accepted the project.

thus commenced the arduous and frustrating task of finding screws that would fit.

first thing i did was measure the screws. what i came up with is that the screws are NOMINALLY 2-64 threads — i say “NOMINALLY” because they’re REALLY small (although not as small as most pivot screws for most musical instruments), and when threads are that small, unless the manufacturing is INCREDIBLY precise, there are going to be not-quite significant, but noticible differences between what the “standard” is, and what appears “in practice”.

then, i started casting around for somebody who had the correct size screws, reasoning that i’ve already got washers and nuts for the screws, so, if i can find someone who has 2-64 thread screws that are A LITTLE longer, i can save having to buy nuts for them. i figured that places that sell optical equipment would be a good place to start, but they all said that 2-64 is “a lot bigger” than they use currently, and, also, if it’s optical, they measure things using metric, rather than imperial measurements.

after checking with a few optical places, i confirmed that the screws were 1) probably metric, and 2) WAY bigger than the screws that are used in MODERN optical devices…

the magnifying loupe is around 7 years old, and they have already stopped making replacement parts for it. 😒

so, i figured that it would probably just be easier to make the screws myself… because that’s a skill that i have…

however, musical instruments usually do things with imperial measurements (at least, here in the land of imperial meaurements), and i trained as a musical instrument repair technician: i don’t even HAVE a metric thread-pitch guage…

so i contacted a friend (the guy who rebuilt my trombone slide a couple of years ago), and asked him if he had a metric thread-pitch guage, which he did. i brought one of the screws to him, and he told me, with confidence, that it was a 2.4-52 metric thread.

as i said previously, unless the manufacturing is REALLY precise, there can be enough “slop” in the threads that it may actually fit in more than one die, so i went out to find a 2.4-52 metric die, so that i could make my own screws.

home depot and lowe’s, as expected, didn’t have it, and i drew blank expressions from the employees who i asked if they knew where i might get something that small. 🤷

mcclendon’s was a little better: they, too, didn’t have anything that smalll, but they suggested that i go to swift tools, in auburn, which “caters to machinists”. i went down there… and their showroom is closed, due to COVID. 😒 so i CALLED them (from the parking lot in front of their location), and said that i was looking for a 2.4-52 metric die…

and they didn’t know what i was talking about. 😒

they said that there AREN’T ANY standard metric dies that are 2.4-anything. if i wanted a 2.0 die, they had them, and if i wanted a 2.5 die, they had them, but they had never heard of a 2.4 die, and, while they could have one specially made, it would be expensive, and i would have to be sure that it was what i wanted before they could even start on that project, because it would be expensive, and if it wasn’t what i wanted, i would have to pay for it anyway…

reaching the end of my rope, i contacted another friend who has the ability to get just about anything, and, with A LOT of back-and-forth, arm waving, and measuring things with my micrometer-caliper (which measures down to .00001 inch), we determined that it’s NOT a metric screw, that the screw’s outside diameter is EXACTLY the standard for an IMPERIAL 2-64 screw (down to five decimal places) and that all of these people who had been telling me that it was metric were, probably, wrong.

he, then, directed me to the McMaster-Carr web site, where he gets a lot his weird shit, and, sure enough, they actually have exactly the screw i needed… so i ordered a package of five, and mcmaster said that it would be delivered on monday.

by the end of tuesday, i was wondering where my screws were. the UPS web site, apparently, doesn’t know where it is… according to the UPS site, the package left pacific (which is just down the road from us) last wednesday morning, and then the package vanished… the web site now says that it’s scheduled to arrive on friday 4/23, but it still has the package leaving pacific, on a UPS delivery truck, LAST wednesday 4/14, and it hasn’t been seen since, so i don’t hold out much hope. calling UPS is a lost cause: their automated “customer service” robot assured me that a real person can’t help me, if the package didn’t arrive, to contact the sender, and unceremoniously hung up on me without even giving me a chance to speak to a real person.

so, i contacted the sender, who, graciously, sent out another package of five miniature screws, this time by fedex, which arrived this morning. 👍


these screws are, guaranteed, 2-64 screws. the nuts that i have, which are the original, perioptix nuts, SHOULD fit…

but they don’t. 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬

perioptix, apparently, had PROPRIETARY screws and nuts made to mount their magnifying loupe, just to make things EXTRA DIFFICULT for anyone (like me) who has the audacity to repair one of their products, rather than just buying a new one. 🤬

fortunately, McMaster-Carr doesn’t JUST have screws… and, for some unknown reason, the screws were 5 for $10, but nuts that will fit the screws are 100 for $2.

they’ll deliver them (by fedex) on wednesday. 😒

workshop workshop workshop

the title is an imitation of stanley, who enjoys saying “workshop” with no context.

this, however, has context, so it’s not as amusing.

i fixed an alto saxophone for a colleague this afternoon. i started on it on monday, prepared the neck for a new mouthpiece cork, and then discovered that 3 of the 4 pads it needed were ones that i didn’t have… 😒

so i ordered pads, which arrived today.

three of the four pads were also on the left-hand side keys. the high F key is normally activated by the palm of the left hand, but it has a rocker underneath it, which is activated by the high F auxiliary lever, which is part of the left-hand stack, and activated by the left index finger… and the high F rocker was bent WAY out of whack, so that you couldn’t actually activate the high F key with the high F auxiliary lever.

so, as well as having to replace the pad on the high F key, i had to completely remove the left-hand stack, and the side E key, which is activated by the palm of the left hand, in order to adjust the high F rocker.

that was easy enough, but, because of the fact that i don’t actually work on as many saxophones as i used to, i had to assemble, and disassemble the left-hand stack no less than three times, in order to get the jigsaw-puzzle of keys to get to fit together in the right way…


i had to get the B♭ bridge under the F# bridge, which is part of the right-hand stack, and i had to get the C key, which has an actuator that goes behind and above the other keys of the left-hand stack, installed correctly, and i had to get the side E key under the top of the left-hand stack, but above everything else, which meant that i had to carefully install the side E key with the left-hand stack in place — minus the top two keys — but not held in place by the long steel that goes through the hinge-tubes of all the keys.

i ended up not having a problem, once i figured out how to proceed, but it was a hassle, putting it most of the way together, and then remembering that something had to go underneath the keys that i had just installed, and having to take all the keys off again to fix the problem.

it was definitely worth the $100 that i’m going to charge him.

maque asked me to build a bullroarer

maque asked me to build a bullroarer. i may have gone a little bit overboard…

i built a 30″ bullroarer. it’s big enough that i had to order special rubber bands to finish it. then, when i realised that i had to wait for the rubber bands to be delivered, i went crazy and spent two days going various places searching for a suitable alternative.

180506 30 inch bullroarer
180506 30 inch bullroarer

it’s a lot quieter than i expected. i’m going to have to build a smaller one, like this:

to see if smaller helps it be noisier.


yeah, i’m still here…

i was cleaning up in the workshop today and i found the keys to the thule box, which i had to have new ones made several months ago when i wanted to use the thule box for something and couldn’t find the keys. they were sitting on the surface of my secondary workbench, under a massive pile of other projects (at least 5, going back to last summer) which either got abandoned, or the detritus from finishing never got cleaned up. i didn’t finish cleaning up, but i made a significant start. maybe tomorrow.

i’ve got my DX7 on my desk, because i want to work with reason to find some synth voices that i don’t have to tweak, so that the next time i go to bellingham i’ll have something ready to play live. about half of the time that i spent playing music last week was actually tweaking the voices to get something that didn’t sound like it was part of a pop song. i would use the DX7 voices except for the fact that the internal battery is dead, and i have to take the synth completely apart to replace it. fortunately the battery is really common (i have a couple of them that are still in their blister pack), but replacing it is something that i think i want to have help with, much in the same way that i needed help replacing the brake pads in my old car… not that i don’t know how to do it, but someone who knows how to do it to make sure that i don’t do things incorrectly, and to help if something breaks.

this is after taking my piano to bellingham, in the hopes of being able to use that, but one of the first things that was done to it after i left was that one of the tines was broken (number 50) and, until a replacement is found, the piano is currently in storage in the attic, which is doubtless a lot safer place for it than where it was, under the window in my living room.

but, as much as i would like to, the probability that i will be going to bellingham in the next few weeks is low, because of the looming moisture festival and its surrounding chaos.

the moisture festival is approaching at an appalling rate, and i am, once again, playing in three out of the four bands at the palladium: The Fighting Instruments of Karma, Snake Suspenderz and The Fremont Philharmonic. i have rehearsed and/or played with snake suspenderz (or significant portions thereof) and the fremont phil enough recently to know that we’re probably going to do okay, but we could use more rehearsal, and i haven’t played with the FIOK enough to be absolutely certain that we need more rehearsal, but probably aren’t going to get it. i’m still ambivalent about my participation in the moisture festival, but my vocal ranting has been dissipated somewhat by the inclusion of snake suspenderz in the lineup of show bands… but i didn’t donate $100 last year to get a star on the wall, like i did two years ago, and, unless the “stipend” is well above where it was last year, it’s not likely that i’m going to donate this year either.

today has been a banner day for people or robots trying to crack my shit… once again, i will advise you that if you try to login using anything other than the correct username and password, you get two attempts and then you are IP blocked for two weeks. after that, you get two more attempts and then you are blocked for a month. here’s a final hint: the username is NOT admin. πŸ˜›

workshop workshop workshop

peter's flute

my friend peter brought me his flute. he had done several things to the flute that an average person, who isn’t a musical instrument repair technician, isn’t supposed to do to a flute… and then he figured he could “repad” it himself. so he bought a “repad kit” (yes, they are available, no i won’t link to one, because repadding your flute by yourself is, for the most part, one of the wrong things to do with a flute) from gemeinhardt. they come with pretty much everything you need to either repad your flute, or get into big trouble: a leak-light, a screw driver, a bunch of white shellac, fifteen random pads, a pad-slick, and poorly written instructions (which he didn’t give me). he, then, took the screw driver and proceded to…

lose a pivot screw.

they’re TINY — no more than an a half-centimetre long and a few millimetres in diameter — so it’s not particularly surprising that he lost it, but if he weren’t under the impression that one could repad a flute themselves, he wouldn’t have had this problem. compounding that was the fact that, another of the things you aren’t supposed to do with a flute, that he did, was dip it in a river… and then attempt to lubricate the lower stack with vegetable oil.

now, i can see how, particularly if one is camping or something like that, and one “accidentally” dips their flute in a river, that one might consider the possibility of lubricating it with vegetable oil a possibility… and i am also aware of the fact that, at first, it does, actually, lubricate the inner workings of your flute, but it very quickly hardens and then your flute won’t work at all… which is what happened to my friend peter.

these are all things that a qualified instrument repair technician can fix, fairly easily. they are NOT things that i would recommend doing to your flute. now, don’t get me wrong, i have worked on flutes which were in much worse shape than this, but he could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he had brought the flute to me, first…

although i probably would have recommended that he refrain from dipping the flute in a river, all together… 😐


my friend david bought a really expensive curved soprano saxophone on ebay recently — like $1200 expensive — because it had been “cleaned up and completely repadded” by… um… someone.

then he contacted me to find out if he had actually gotten a good deal or not.

on the surface, it appeared that he had paid a little too much, but not anything that couldn’t be fixed with $200 or so of competent repair work. he informed the seller, and actually got $250 back, making the instrument worth $950… still a bit too much, but it appeared that it could be rescued, so i took on the job.

140424 curved soprano saxophone

the first thing i did was remove all the keys… which is the first thing you do when you get a sax that needs to be put back into playing condition. i quickly discovered that all the keys had not been removed when it was “cleaned up and completely repadded”.

140424 curved soprano saxophone140424 curved soprano saxophone

in fact, on top of the 4 keys that i knew about that were composition cork (instead of the standard leather that most saxes have), i found two pads that were so poorly installed that they probably can’t be rescued. on top of that, i found two springs that were installed in a “haphazard” way (they were installed backwards), one of the clothes guards is missing and another one only has two of its three solder points made solid, and the neck cork needs to be replaced. also, because of the fact that it’s an old curved soprano it has D auxilliary key (modern ones don’t have it), and because of the fact that modern ones don’t have it, people who don’t know any better will block the key closed, so that they don’t have to regulate it… but that also has the unfortunate side effect of making the instrument play out of tune… which is exactly what happened in this case.

which drives the “fixing it” estimate up to $500 or so… and that’s not to mention the two top tone-holes which have been drilled out and replaced with brass tubing…

140424 curved soprano saxophone

this is why you have to be REALLY careful about buying old curved soprano saxophones off of ebay… he could have bought a brand-new, FUNCTIONAL curved soprano sax for $800… and he probably will do that once he decides what to do with his $1200 instrument that needs $500 worth of repair before it can even be played.


through an interaction with someone i didn’t know on the south king county freecycle, i found out about this gemeinhardt flute for sale for $15 on craigslist…

so i went and bought it.

it was made for me… 😎

i can repair it for probably under $10 (not including my labor, which i’m not charging myself for anyway) and turn this flute around for between $80 and $120… maybe as much as $150 to the right person… πŸ˜‰

flute pieces — all present and accounted for!

only i gotta buy some new cork cement, because the last bottle i had is about 2 years old…

soon! 😎

musical instrument repair

a friend of mine came over this evening to have his clarinet repaired. the A key pad had come de-laminated (which happens to old clarinet pads occasionally) which interfered with his practice, and his avocation as one of the clarinet players in some local orchestra or another. it turned out that the G♯ key needed its pad replaced as well, so i did that, while i had it apart. in his words, “even with coming all the way here, it was cheaper and faster than other instrument services.”

i even let him watch, which is something he probably could not have done in any other musical instrument repair shop. 😎

the END of the ugly sousaphone project!!!

The End of The Ugly Sousaphone Project!
The END of the ugly sousaphone project!

i’m FINALLY done with the ugly sousaphone! it’s not any less ugly — in fact, it’s significantly more ugly in a lot of ways — but the important part is that it is, now, one contiguous piece of tubing from one end to the other, and it will play and sound more-or-less like a sousaphone is supposed to sound.

i have to thank craig from allied supply, who built the new lead pipe, and david cole, a repair technician at kenelly keys who provided advice, encouragement and a few spare parts that i didn’t have… but that’s why i prefaced this entire project with the comment that i probably couldn’t do it all myself.

tomorrow, i deliver it to an anxious thaddeus, and he will pay me with hokum’s B-flat tuba! i can hardly wait! 8)

i have now, officially, replaced the lead-pipe on the ugly sousaphone

i added the last piece, which is the mouthpiece-receiver pipe, to the narrow end of the ugly sousaphone, and cleaned up the tons of old solder left on the instrument. now it’s just a matter of patching the split 3rd valve tube and installing a water key, and it’s a working sousaphone, once again…

i was able to cover the water key hole with my finger, and get the instrument to play… as long as i didn’t use the 3rd valve… 8)

ugly sousaphone project

it’s getting closer, ever closer! 8D

ugly sousaphone project

it’s good that i was a little nervous… it prevented me from doing stupid things like picking up hot metal with my bare fingers on more than one occasion… but it also was primarily because of the fact that, apparently, i can’t do things like “sweating” stuff like i used to be able to… it appears to be one of those “use it or lose it” skills that i haven’t kept up on… 8/

oh well, it’s airtight, and that’s really all that matters, when it comes right down to it.


today is the flying karamazov brothers show for which i earned free tickets in exchange for playing sousaphone in the parade last saturday. i was hoping to get together with dave cole this evening and discuss where to go with thaddeus’ sousaphone (pictures after most of the duct-tape was removedbleah! πŸ˜› ), but i forgot about the FKB show until this morning… which now means that i won’t get to discuss the sousaphone with someone who actually knows what they’re doing (as compared to me, who theoretically knows what to do with a brass instrument of that size and lack-of-repair) until sunday… probably…

oh well… at least thaddeus isn’t in too much of a hurry to get it back… ’cause if he was, he’d be outta luck…

on the other claw, Big Bois With Poise has an audition for America’s Got Talent on saturday, which is complicated by the fact that one of the big bois currently has a fever and is in bed — probably because of all that rehearsing and filming in the cold, wet, windy weather a few days ago. however, we wouldn’t even have the audition if it weren’t for the filming we did, because our act involves fire, which is forbidden in the ballroom of the downton sheraton hotel (which is where the auditions are being held), so it’s not as bad as it could be.

FKB parade &c.

so i was recruited to play sousaphone for a parade this afternoon, which was to drum up publicity for the Flying Karamazov Brothers shows at ACT theatre starting on february 2nd.

it was rather like the time, a couple of years ago, when i played sousaphone for the fighting instruments of karma and discovered that i knew about ¾ of the people in the band from other places: from bellingham, primarily, but i had played in various different groups with a whole bunch of people who were also in the fighting instruments of karma. i remember thinking, then, and my experience today only solidifies that thought, that this is my karass…

not too bad a karass to be a part of, with the new old time chautaqua, rev. chumleigh, the flying karamazov brothers, cirque de flambe, etc., etc., etc… πŸ˜‰

i have “reading” glasses, and “seeing” glasses, but because of the fact that the lyre for my sousaphone is so close to my face, i can’t even use the “reading” glasses to read the music when i’m playing sousaphone, so i have to not wear any glasses at all, which is fine for reading music that is 6 inches from my face, but lousy for actually seeing were i’m going or what’s around me. apart from blurs, i was totally blind for the parade… they found a 15-foot-tall banner from somewhere which was supposed to be carried in front, but because of the fact that it was 15 feet tall, it didn’t fit on the sidewalk, and they had to carry it in the street.

we went to the pike place market and held up traffic by parading the wrong direction on pike place. then we did a “show” under the clock for about five minutes, while people who looked suspiciously like policemen on bicycles nervously cased the crowd. i saw a whole bunch of photographers taking what appeared to be pictures of me, but because of the fact that i couldn’t actually see, i’m not sure. one thing for sure, i didn’t take any pictures of my own.

after the parade, i picked up a sousaphone from thaddeus, which i’m going to fix in exchange for him giving me (conditionally) a BBb tuba that used to be Hokum’s… and i really hope that i’m actually going to be able to fix that sousaphone, because i really want that tuba, but also because i haven’t actually worked on a brass instrument for quite some time, and i don’t have a lot of dent removal tools. fortunately, the majority of the “fixing” appears to involve soldering braces that have come loose, and/or re-aligning tubing that has come un-aligned… which i think i can do, more or less… fortunately, i’ve got a ringer, in that i’ve got a professional musical instrument repair technician who specialises in low brass to help me if i get stuck.

on my way home, i was driving down I5 north of the west seattle freeway, and i saw a newish honda civic with a license plate that said “GANESA”… the guy obviously wanted my license plate, but i already had it… πŸ˜‰

the rest

i finished three gifts, which should be the last of my x-mas “shopping” yesterday… which is the reason i didn’t get around to posting until very late yesterday. i’d post pictures of them, but they’re gifts and i don’t want to spoil the surprise. i’ll probably post pictures after the holidays, if i remember.

i also cleaned up the remainders of several projects that had accumulated on my workbench, which involved sorting of a number of tiny, almost but not quite identical parts into piles, and storing them in film containers, which took quite a bit of time, because the parts were so tiny.

i sent a message to the manufacturer of the penatrating oil that i bought recently, because the directions for the use of the penetrating oil assumes that you’re going to be using it on engines of some variety or another, and i am working on a musical instrument. i’m fairly sure what they’re going to say, but i just want to make sure before i start pouring unknown liquid into my antique horn.

hopefully i’ve got an order of postcards that will be arriving tomorrow, that i will be delivering to florentia clayworks when i get them. i’ve got a rehearsal tomorrow, a rehearsal tuesday, two rehearsals wednesday, an appointment and an optional rehearsal thursday, and three shows saturday.

the next two days posts are already taken care of. nablopomo, if it has done nothing else, has taught me about the scheduling feature of wordpress. when you’re much more organised than i am (which isn’t hard) you can schedule posts ahead of time, instead of using the “Publish immediately” feature in the upper right of the “Add New Post” page. i’ve actually scheduled a few posts over the past month, but i have also been disorganised enough that i haven’t been able to schedule everything, because normally it’s not necessary, i would normally just not post on a day that i had nothing to say. hint: the posts that i scheduled are posts that appear at the same time, down to the second, every day.


the shelf of notebooksi’ve been carrying around a looseleaf notebook labeled “BRASS” ever since i graduated from the tech school, in 1986, which contains all of the class notes, handouts and other printed materials for the brass repair sections that i completed when i was in training.

the "BRASS" notebookbecause of the fact that, for 25 years i have focused on the repair of woodwind instruments, i have actually never looked in the looseleaf notebook labeled “BRASS”, and it has langushed in various places, including currently on a shelf in my workshop with a bunch of other looseleaf notebooks.

but last night, i took down that notebook, and turned to the exact page that had the answer that i was looking for, which was techniques for freeing stuck tuning slides.

exactly the information i was looking fori mentioned to moe last night that i had never even opened this notebook since my tech-school days, and she commented that i had carried it around with me for all that time without ever being used. however i would carry it around with me, unused, for another 25 years if i could be guaranteed that, the next time i open it, i would find exactly the information for which i am searching.

fezorocity and antique brass…

salamandir, hobbit, jasonfriday i played linda lee’s open mike at the gypsy trader café with hobbit, and while i was there, i met another open mike musician named marshall who had already finished off one 40-ouncer and was well into his second (he had finished the second and was well into his third by the time it was his turn at the mike) when we came in. he immediately fixed his bleary gaze on me and my tuba, came over, introduced himself, and proceded to gush over my tuba, and how he had a “miniature tuba” that was exactly like mine, which had belonged to his grandfather, which he had determined that i should want to buy, because it was exactly like my tuba, but little. i payed little attention to him, becuase he was drunk and because i always get people raving about my tuba at open mikes anyway, but i gave him my business card and thought no more about it.

it was really nice to play music with hobbit, and it made me realise even more acutely the fact that snake suspenderz has been on far too long a “break” and i’ve got to get back into playing tuba for some band, because i really miss it… and tuba isn’t much of a solo instrument unless you’re The Tuba Man

last night i (#32) went to a fez-up with hobbit (#8) and fez-monger (#13) at the elephant and castle, an upscale “british” pub (although despite the “british” ambience and decor, there wasn’t a single brit in the entire joint) on 5th avenue that has been there for at least 20 years, but i have never been in it before last night. once again, it was great to be out with hobbit and another fez-wearer in public, and the fact that it was the fez-monger himself added honour and prestige to the whole evening, even if i was the only one who noticed it.

i’ve been playing email tag with fez-monger for a week now, and i still can’t figure out where the link to order an “order of the fez” fez is. jason assured me that it was on the order of the fez web site, and he said that he emailed me with the information, but i haven’t received email from him, and the only mention of it that i can find on the order of the fez web site says that you should contact jason at fez-o-rama, and i can’t find anywhere on the fez-o-rama web site that even mentions the “order of the fez” fez. perseverance (or, possibly, perseveration) is key when approaching things like this.

Tenor Hornyesterday, before the fez-up, i got a call from marshall, who was still obsessed with the idea that i wanted to buy his miniature tuba. he gave me enough details about it that i was able to determine that the instrument he had was probably very simlar to this one. he said that it had “engraving” on the bell (which i later determined was actually stamped there, rather than engraved, but i can’t expect him to know the difference) that said “J.W.Pepper, Importer, Philadelphia and Chicago” and that it had a serial number #24320. i determined that it was most likely manufactured around 1910 by John Distin for J.W.Pepper – a company that is still in business. i called him back and asked him if he could send me pictures, but apparently he is not technologically savvy enough to do such a thing, so i made arrangements to meet him today, to take pictures of the horn so that i could do some more research on it.

at 2:00 this afternoon, i met with him on dearborn avenue in seattle, and what he showed me was almost exactly the same as the horn that i picked out on the web, and it looked like it was in pretty good shape, for a 100-year-old silver plated instrument. it had some problems, but none that were not almost immediately overcome-able by a person with a bit of intuition and the correct tools, so i offered him $75 for it, and came away with a pepper tenor horn that is currently in the workshop with penatrating oil soaking through 100 years of corrosion on the tuning slides.

once i get the horn playing (which shouldn’t take too long, because all it really needs is a good cleaning and lubrication, and to have the lead-pipe soldered down where it’s come loose), it’s very likely going to join my menagerie.


why you should never try to remove a stuck mouthpiece with pliers


a public service announcement brought to you by Hybrid Elephant, dba Nataraja Music Service

why you should never try to remove a stuck mouthpiece with pliersreal musical instrument repair technicians have a nifty little device called a mouthpiece puller. it is a screw-and-leverage gadget that pulls from the center of the mouthpiece, while, at the same time, pushes on the edge of the leadpipe: a method that is 100% guaranteed to free the most stubbornly stuck mouthpiece in existence, without marring the finish of either the horn, or the mouthpiece itself.

why you should never try to remove a stuck mouthpiece with pliersseriously, you could actually solder the mouthpiece into the reciver, pull it loose with the mouthpiece puller, and not mar the finish of either the mouthpiece or the instrument itself. i’ve done it. 8)

the proper way to insert a brass mouthpiece to avoid getting it stuck is to place the mouthpiece, gently, into the reciever and then, without putting pressure on the mouthpiece, twist it a quarter turn. this places the mouthpiece firmly enough that you can actually hold up the horn by the mouthpiece, but it can be easily removed by twisting it the other direction, and pulling straight out. if you put your mouthpiece in this way, it will never get stuck, and you will never have this problem, but if you do, this to warn you that you should never try to remove a stuck mouthpiece with pliers or a pipe wrench.

why you should never try to remove a stuck mouthpiece with pliers
these are examples of mouthpieces which have been removed “the wrong way”. they are scarred by wrenches or plier jaws, and ruined beyond repair. if they had been removed the right way, they would still be usable. when you try to remove a mouthpiece “the wrong way”, all you accomplish is ruining your mouthpiece, and about half the time, your entire horn is an unintended casualy: a stuck mouthpiece is notorious for being stuck so firmly that it pulls loose solder joints or twists tubing instead of being removed by pliers or a pipe wrench. instead of using the correct tool and pulling your stuck mouthpiece in under five minutes, you have completely ruined your mouthpiece and have to figure out where the money for several hundred dollars worth of repair to your leadpipe is going to come from, before you can play your horn again.

a decent quality mouthpiece can cost anywhere from $20 to $200, and a new horn can cost upwards of $2,000. getting your mouthpiece stuck is not uncommon, even if you are very careful. removing it the right way can insure that you have a mouthpiece that can still be used afterwards, and can save you a lot of money and headaches.

day of depression and diarrhea

today moe left for a weekend camping trip sheepdog trial, which involves her camping out for a few nights near camas. she took all of the dogs with her, but i felt like cold ass when she got up (at 6:00 in the morning) to leave, and due to the fact that, despite the fact that she had been telling me about this for months, i “didn’t remember” it was happening until yesterday, which meant that along with feeling like cold ass, i was in a pretty depressed state of mind, and that’s not to mention the fact that i had a headache – and i very rarely get headaches, which is kind of odd for someone that has had an AVM. so i woke up depressed, feeling like ass, with a headache and moe is leaving. i went back to sleep (a feat in and of itself, all things considered), and when i woke up the headache was mostly gone, but moe was gone too. πŸ™

i have been making a list of things i need to remember recently, and i had a few things that i needed to get for the workshop, so i went out and did my list stuff. i was finishing up at home depot when my stomach did one of those growls that indicates immediate, uncontrolable pooping – which has been an on-again-off-again problem that they told me to watch out for at the hospital after my injury. they just mentioned it in passing, so i didn’t give much thought to it at the time, but every now and then i’m struck with sudden, almost explosive diarrhea for no apparent reason, and it struck as i was checking out at the home depot this afternoon. i don’t think anybody else noticed, but i was glad that it was my last stop, because i would have had to go home, take a shower and change clothes pretty much regardless. πŸ™

i actually felt the depression slip away, though, once i got home (and once i got cleaned up). i did some desperately needed work in the workshop which resulted in five new shelves and a second work space, so that now i can work on two projects at once and not have to put stuff away from one project before starting on another one. i’m feeling subdued and tired, but, as i told moe, i don’t have that “nasty, kill the whole world and then commit suicide” feeling any more.

the hole

the past couple of days have been spent sawing and chiseling out the piece of what turned out to be ⅝" masonite around the back door, which has had considerable water damage pretty much ever since we first moved into the house, and has gotten bad enough that you could see the ground through the floor. the masonite had deteriorated to the point where it was formed sawdust being held together with hope and what remained of the watered down glue by which it had originally been held together, so i broke out what i could of it manually, and then i sawed and chiseled out the rest, made a replacement piece out of ⅝" CDX (exterior grade plywood), and put that in its place.

i took a few pictures of my progress, but i pretty much stayed on task, because having a hole in the floor right outside our bedroom door doesn’t work very well.

and, once again, this is a prime example of a job that couldn’t have been done if it weren’t for the workshop, and its contents… 8)

another day

another day without moe… one less day until i see her again… how much like an old teenage love song do i sound at this point…

i put a handle and feet on my saw case today. i went to a shoe and luggage repair place that was inhabited by a couple of old korean folks. i said i needed a handle for my instrument case – something that i could see that they had in their display case – and the old lady said that she had to see the case, so she could pick out the right handle. so i pulled out the saw case and she was so non-plussed by it that she had to roust the repair guy from his bunker. he spoke even less english than the old lady, pretty much restricting his communication to a series of meaningful grunts and two word responses, which were apparently in some language other than english. i don’t know for sure that they were korean, but there was an ancient (1970s era) calendar for a korean christian church on the wall. the repair guy came out, took one look at the case, and immediately started rooting around in a box on the floor from which he produced the feet, then went over to the display case and pulled out a handle from a pile of miscellaneous parts, and proceded back to his bunker with the old lady on his heels. there was a lot of talking, mostly from the old lady (the old guy preferring his grunts and two-word answers to pretty much everything she said) for about 10 minutes, and then the old lady came out and said that they couldn’t figure out what to charge me because they don’t usually sell these things. i suggested $15, which sounded good to her.

and the saw case really did need a handle. instead of being a large, unwieldy object with no handles, it’s got a standard instrument case handle in exactly the right place. when i placed it next to my trombone and trumpet cases, i realised that “real” cases have rounded edges, and the saw case currently has rough square edges, but that’s easy enough to fix.

while i’ve been waiting…

saw case closedsaw case openwhile i’ve been waiting for my ebay victims to die, i’ve been making constructive use of my new workshop (!!!) and building myself a case for my saw. i got tired of carrying it around in a cardboard box with the bow separate and exposed, shortly after i got the bow, and i’ve had nothing better to do the past couple of days. it doesn’t have any “case cloth” on the outside yet, and it doesn’t have a handle, but it’s as much an instrument case, and made in almost exactly the same way as most trumpet cases, and it came outta my workshop(!!!) with the help of a spare scrap of plywood, a few campaign signs, a coupla hinges, a coupla suitcase hasps and some screws. i’m debating whether it actually needs case cloth. it would definitely look a lot more like a legitimate instrument, but i can cover up the more obvious gaps with stickers and it’ll be just as good. it definitely needs a handle, though… πŸ™‚

grr… woof…

i bought a whole bunch of (the wrong size) insulation to flesh out the workshop, since it has been COLD for the last week or so, and even with the space heater going full blast, it’s not enough for me to work comfortably. as i said, the insulation i bought was the wrong size, but i think i’ll be able to make it work, however i won’t be installing it the way it is designed to be installed, because it is the wrong size. it’s 16″ wide, and the rafters are 24″, so instead of stapling it in place, i will place lath on top of the rafters to keep it in place – which, of course, means obtaining some lath, which i will probably do tomorrow before the show.

of course i didn’t actually discover the fact that it was the wrong size until i had already bought two packages of it, opened one of them and lugged a single piece, and a stapler, up the ladder to the ceiling, and, because of the fact that i’ve been running the space heater in the workshop since this morning, it was nice and toasty up there, which didn’t help much when i realised that working on the ceiling is a pretty warm job to begin with. i actually succeeded in getting two 48″ strips of insulation more-or-less adhered to the ceiling with a multitude of staples (most of which didn’t actually penetrate anything except the first inch or so of the insulation) before i decided that there had to be an easier way. i honestly don’t believe that it would have been much easier if the insulation had been the right witdh anyway, and it probably would have been significantly heavier.

a sigh of relief… and then back to work

080924 new computer/keyboard workstation

things are starting to get back to normal after the battle of the computer. although i really hate having to re-create things like my calendar, which has already screwed me up and forced me to contact a person to say that i wouldn’t actually be performing at his event because i had already made arrangements to be a performer at another (paying) event. i also really hate that i have to re-create about 100 hours of database entry, which was just beginning to take shape when the computer died last month.

on the other hand, once i get the chaos sorted out, i will actually have a fair amount more room in my “workshop” that isn’t being taken up by computer/keyboard stuff, and now that my computer and keyboard stuff aren’t in the same room, i can do more stuff that involves my band saw and drill press – the former of which is visible in the lower right hand corner of the photo, having not been moved to its final location due to the aforementioned chaos – because of the dust which i didn’t want to infect my computers and keyboards… which means that, potentially, i may get my pipe-making back on track again, and i’ll certainly have more room for musical instrument repair as well.

of course that doesn’t mean that the idea of putting my workshop in a dome is dead. i have already planned the dome and done some work on pricing out the constituent components, and some figuring out of where i can get some more esoteric building materials such as star plates. i want to build a 16-foot diameter 2V Icosa Alternate dome, because it has more space at the level of a workbench than a standard icosahedron. i believe that star plates would still work, except for where the equilateral triangles come together. i still have to work out how to connect 6 points, which means i still have to figure out whether to use lumber or metal for the edges. if i use metal, i can just flatten the end of the tubes and bolt them together, which is an effect i saw used at burning man, but if i use (cheaper) lumber i may have to figure out where to get – or figure out how to create – star plates that have six slots, rather than five. i talked with the people at stromberg’s chickens, and they said that they were marketing a device that was left to them by the original engineer when he died, and they don’t want to mess with the design out of respect to him, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out what they should look like, the hard part is getting them manufactured.


i’ve got a tenor sax to work on. pictures as soon as they’re taken.

i’ve also got 600MB of And More music to work on, but that’s probably going to happen after i get a good start on the tenor sax, and i’ll have to clear off my keyboard, which is probably going to take an hour or so, since i just cleared off my workbench and most of the stuff has gone into the place where, if i cleared off my keyboard i’d put stuff, so there’s bound to be a certain amount of shuffling stuff, and finding new places to put stuff, and even a certain amount of throwing stuff away (gasp) before any of that happens.

so, what you get until there’s more artwork to look at and listen to is a link dump.

Worshipping Shivling at Home and Energisation of Rudrakhshas need to be reformatted and uploaded to ? ??? ?????

Page2RSS – i get the impression that this is sort of like FeedBurner, except that it works with any web page.

Sign up to be a part of Spencer Tunick’s upcoming art installations. there’s one in vienna, and one in ireland.

The Bongo Project – a project to see if it is possible to communicate with TCP/IP using bongo drums… it is… at 2 bps. remember the 14K modem days? remember 2400 baud modems? this makes even a 2400 bps modem look blindingly fast.

ever hear of Fusarium oxysporum, otherwise known as panama disease? there’s a good chance that you’re going to hear about it eventually, because the CIA has been using it as a way to control (which is to say, eliminate) the coca plants in south america… unfortunately, what they’ve succeeded in doing is wiping out bananas, instead. and this isn’t the first time! the banana that i grew up with, apparently, is banana 2.0, based on the vietnamese cavendish banana, which took over from the “Gros Michel” (“Fat Mike”) banana, a bigger and more creamy version, which was the world’s most popular fruit until the 1950s, when it, too, became extinct due to Fusarium oxysporum infestation. the whole sordid story is over at metafilter.

The Drug Test Consultant dot com – drug tests are a violation of our constitutional right to privacy and protection from self-incrimination (first and fourth ammendments to the U.S. constitution), they are no more than 75% accurate most of the time, and we’re currently in a war against drugs, while at the same time many states (like washington) have legalised medical cannabis. but this company has a franchise to sell people (for $10,000!!!) who are interested in getting started in the business of providing drug testing services to employers. if there was a more apt occasion for me to use the very big stupid category, i don’t know what it would be… 8/

A Kinder, Gentler Torture and America’s Democratic Collapse are reasons why, in spite of the fact that american society is founded on the idea that all men are created equal, it’s definitely not the case any longer… which sort of explains why the drug test consultant dot com folks aren’t so worried about whether or not their products are a violation of our constitutional rights. at the same time, they’re both very good reasons to flee the country while you still can.


i fixed a flute for jeremy today. there are pictures if you’re interested in seeing what a flute looks like with no clothes on.

i wrote a haiku about myself a long time ago:

i am not in school
i do not have a job and
i can fix your flute

it’s still true… 8)