16 January, 2017

Two Great Announcements

Hello gang-

How are you today? I’m hoping that this finds you healthy and happy as ever!! (Notice the double exclamation point)
Well, two pretty assume things happened this week.
One I got a mention by the Minnesota Music Coalition. They liked a blog post with it’s respective song, “Grandma’s Kitchen” LINK. Two I’ve just joined forces with a local lady  to help with her grant. I can’t give away to much information on that at the moment, but I will very soon. Stay tuned here!

The Minnesota Music Coalition (LINK) is a local organization which helps to support the community of creative music makers here in Minnesota. They do wonderful things with workshops, mentoring, micro grants, and lots more. Drop by and tell them I sent you. No, you won’t be getting a discount or anything, but it’ll still be fun. http://www.mnmusiccoalition.org/

The person I am joining forces with is a talented writer, singer from Minnesota who found me and asked if I’d be able to help with her grant and goal. Which I am very excited to do. We’ve had one meeting and since that I’ve been busy at work mastering her songs.

With the beginning of the new year I think we’re all thinking and hoping somehow that it’ll be a much better one than last year. Making smallish goals that will help ourselves and the world as humanity keeps rolling along.  For instance I donate money to different organizations every year. Some of the ones I’ve donated to are Minnesota Girls Are Not For Sale, Nature, NPR (I’ve been a member for many years), and a few others.  I don’t have money coming out of my ears or anything but I figure every little bit helps, so I give what I can. I usually try to stay away from obviously political organization.  This year I’m thinking about UNICEF, and Heifer. Both are wonderful organizations which help people around the globe.

The first UNICEF is a UN organized group which helps children all over the world. They have a huge amount of information on their website. They help to immunize children of poverty in endangered situations, and educate them. There’s really so much on their website please go and learn how you can help.  https://www.unicef.org/

The second is a great place to donate because what ever amount you donate gives some family a lift in the form of a farm animal. For instance $20 dollars will give someone a flock of chickens or ducks, $120 buys a sheep, a goat, $30 will get some family honeybees. These gifts are like helping someone with a small business, because with the animals they can sell the product. Whether it’s eggs, wool, milk, or honey. It’s all explained better on their website. https://www.heifer.org/

The van comes along slowly but it comes along. I’ve just made an appointment to have the back heating and air conditioning unit taken out. I will be bringing it to a local Midas to help me get the heating and air conditioning out. It will either need for them to take the whole thing out or they did tell me that some vans have a sort of turn off valve. Now what I’m talking about is the freon which acts as the coolant. It’s very toxic to the environment, animals, and people so I’m  in favor of having them take the whole thing out. However if there is a turn off valve then I can take care of it so long as I can turn it off. I’d hate to accidentally cut one of the pipes which are holding it and spew it everywhere.
Other then that I am just starting to get the electric sorted out. Fuses, batteries, on/off switches, inverters and the like are all to be put into the van. Elissa and I are planning on building shelves, a bed, a sink, and somehow putting a toilet on board somewhere. It’ll be a marvelous adventure.
Slowly we chug along.

Well, that’s it for this week.
Have a blast in your life.

Peace and Groovitude. 

26 December, 2016

Memories, A Table, and Baby Drool

    Right now I’m sitting cross legged at my grandmother’s kitchen table which she hated. The cross legged bit not me sitting here. It was given to me by my mother. There just wasn’t room in her apartment for it. I still find it very comforting to sit here. I feel somehow protected and connected to my grandmother as if she’s still around puttering in her kitchen or taking care of some neighbors baby as they go to work.  
    She was proud of this table and chairs it cost her a small fortune.  Well money for her was difficult to come by, so when I say a small fortune I mean...well why not ask a single parent they’ll explain it.  The table sat in the kitchen of her trailer home and the whole family will remember it.  Most of the time when everyone was there the kitchen strained to hold everyone and eventually it burst wide open like a colorful water balloon. Spilling people, children, and laughter into the living room on card tables or with TV trays as they sat on her floral sofa.  
    Almost everyone in my family was raised around this table or sat at it as adults. It has two leafs,  is oak (I think) and is an oval. The legs are solid ‘turned’ beautifully and are a dark brown color as is the table. It’s still large enough to hold all of our memories. All of the tears, and laughter all of the children, baby drool, coffee spills, smashed peas and even sunlight, and rainy days are still here squished into this table. It’s almost a world onto itself where you can still hear the chaos of our big family while you sit typing a blog. My wife and I are building our own laughter, smashed peas, coffee spills and the like right here in this world at this table. We’ve even given it a name, “Grandma’s Table”.  I know it’s so creative right.
    Most mornings find me here sitting. This morning is no different. I sit in the dark at 540 in the morning with no sound but the clicking of computer keys and the smell of coffee. I’m thinking about the table and memories from this last year.  I had a terrible bicycling accident last December and found myself in a wheelchair for the first three months of 2016.
    For the next three to four months I’m going to be having ‘year memories’ that’s what I call them anyway. That’s memories which come from big experiences which are burnt into you. Weddings, births, deaths, first times for anything are all examples both tragedy and happiness count for ‘year memories’.
    I think we must remember these things when they come. We must allow and welcome them as travelers from our past. Give them some coffee or tea and cookies. Let them sit at the table and tell you their story. For the next few months my travelers will most likely be telling me a story of tragedy and healing as I sit at Grandma’s Table. 

Here's a song I wrote about an experience around that table, and there's a link below where you can purchase that song.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/grandmas-kitchen/id1082522402?i=1082522536


19 December, 2016

Happy Holiday's and The Electric Plan

Dearest Fellows-

     This weekend was terrifically cold and so with wind chills going as far as 40 below zero I decided it would be best if I didn’t hang out to long outside and work on the van.
I did shovel it out of snow, turn it on, and drive it out of it’s stuck spot. Then I looked around it, wished it well, and promised to return in a few days when the temperature gets back above zero.
We have a lot to shovel out and last year I was in a wheelchair (go here for that story) and wasn’t able to do any shoveling. Elissa did everything which was wonderful. This year I plan to shovel all of it. That’s what I did Saturday. I shovel ours and helped with two other places down the block. Saturday was only like 10 below so it was way more doable.

     The holiday season is coming upon us quickly and this demands more time, so I hope to get out to work on the van this week but I’m not sure it’s going to happen. There are lots of things that are also demanding my time, and I hope the weather gets a little bit warmer. I mean if it’s at least at zero I can get a few things done.
    
     The plan then is to get heavy gauge electric wire and run it from the solenoid and the starter battery to the house batteries with a giant fuse in between and the whole mess grounded to the frame. You can see why I hope for the temperature to warm up a bit since I’ll be crawling under the vehicle on the snow. (My shed isn’t tall enough for van.) From the house batteries I will connect a lighter gauge wire to a DC fuse junction box. The kind you find in cars. At that point I’m a bit lost, and don’t entirely know what to do. I think I’m going to need to connect a couple of dc cigarette type plug in to that fuse box, but I’m not sure. I do know however that we will be needing an inverter. Here’s the one we’re thinking about getting. You’ll notice that it’s sort of small. Well this is why. We aren’t full time boon-docking yet. We are only going to be “trying it out” and thus won’t have the same demands as other folks do. We won’t be putting a refrigerator on it, we won’t be using hair dryers, toaster, or coffee makers. We will only be charging a few devices once in awhile also when we upgrade I’d like to be upgrading to solar charging and get the right inverter for that. This will be connected to the house batteries with the same heavy gauge wire and have a B.A.F. (Big A$# Fuse) between the batteries and the inverter. The whole thing will have a large red On/Off switch, so we can turn the whole mess off if we so choose.Here's that link.
    
     Well that’s about it for this week I wish you a happy, healthy, and wonderful holiday season. Remember this can be the hardest and most depressive time of the year, so give someone a hug and let them know they’re loved.

All my best
Trevor

A photo just for fun.

12 December, 2016

Insulating the van and snow.

Greetings fellow spirits on this grand adventure called, 'Life'.

     These are photo's, and two videos on insulating our van which we have lovingly called, 'Woody'.  First off we did buy heavy R value insulation and made sure that there was no formaldehyde in it. The R value is a way of rating how good it is at keeping the cold out or in. We went with the biggest we could afford.

     The foam board stuff was two inches thick (I think) and easy to cut and shape, but be aware it makes a nasty squeaky sound and a hell of a mess as you'll see. I found it difficult to measure all of the shapes in our van and struggled to remember what Mrs. Kleppe, my 7th grade math teacher, taught me about measuring arches. In the end I just kept cutting and shoving pieces into the hole till it was filled not very clever or interesting to see. If you're interested this is the formula for measuring an arch. (ie the wheel well)
The radius of the arch is the radius of it's finished circle which it is a part. R = H/2 + W(small2)/8H Yes, I agree with you. I'll just skip over that and stuff that hole with parts of insulation till it's full, or you could always go here and plug your numbers in. Height and Width.
  Link to carpentry website.



From that point I took out the fiberglass stuff and started cramming it into every little crevice I could find. I reminded myself of a bird preparing a nest for a hoped for lady-friend and babies.
Stuffing it in.

I wore gloves, a breathing mask, glasses and covered all of my skin just like they tell you to.
Using a straight edge, a measuring tape, and my Swiss Army knife I did all of the cutting for everything. I'm pretty sure I'll need to sharpen that knife now.
Straight edge, Swiss Army Knife, and the dreaded insulation.
We have a 2001 Chevy Express 1500 with two TV's and a big sub speaker in the back. I took the TV's out and am keeping the speaker if I can. The TV's were mounted to a smallish black plastic square which is stuck to the ceiling. I tried to take it out but the bolts were stripped so I thought I'd cut it out with my rotary tool. Here it is before and after.
Mounting square for the TV before cutting it.

After
As you can see I was not successful in cutting it off. That cut goes all the way through, but it still wouldn't move. Yes, I even tried to break it. Cut through like that it still held my weight.

Gave up and cut around it.
Here you can see I just went around the whole thing. I hate being beat by a plastic square.

The best I could do.
You know when you look at other peoples insulation it looks so sweet and nice. Everything fits just right, and they don't have any duct tape holding it in. I totally thought this would be the easiest part, and it turned out not to be. Oh well. Next is the wiring. Here's the final video of the insulation.
We wish you all the best in everything you do.

Peace, Love, and Doritto's
The Marty's

28 November, 2016

Gutting the Van and Nanowrimo

Gutting the inside of the van and Nanowrimo.

Hello Gang-

    How are you doing today? We here at the Marty Estate are doing fine. Two thumbs up.
Today’s blog is all about the gutting of the van we’re turning into an RV. The van is a 2001 Chevy Express. They made three different types a 1500, a 2500, and a 3500 I believe ours to be the 1500 and it does have a 5.7 liter V8 engine in it. Quite the difference between that and our little four cylinder wagon.
    First though a little about Nanowrimo. It stands for National Novel Writing Month, and I have been participating in it. It’s a sort of race to see if you can get a novel written in thirty days. Now the goal is 50,000 words and I will admit that does seem like a big deal and it is, but as far as novels go that is a bit light. The type that I choose to write, an anthropomorphic murder mystery should weigh in at between 80,000 and 89,999 thousand words and that is what I’m shooting for. Having said that though I have only gotten as far as just over 32,000 words and the end of the month is only a week away. I don’t think I’ll be making it, but I still feel good about getting to 32,000 words. That’s a pretty big deal, so this weekend instead of sitting and writing all weekend I wrote a few thousand words per day and then started work on the van.
    As you’ll see in the video below there are several speakers, two T.V.’s, and a power amp thingy. The speakers are all Bose which I thought was a fun discovery, but I’ll probably take them all out. Also there is this weird air conditioner/heater thingy (don’t you love my technical parlance) in the back of the van. This two will be coming out. Besides those things the back area is gutted.
    This is exciting, because now the next step will be to sweep it out and then to start putting up the wall, ceiling, and floor. Oh and let’s not forget about the insulation and the wiring for the lights. Which means I have a lot to learn about. For example. We are planning on putting solar panels up on the the top, so we have to wire for that. Do we wait to put the finishing on the ceiling till after we put the panels up? I’m thinking, ‘yes’ because it seems easier to have that all finished before we put the ceiling on.
    There are a lot of options as far as learning to wire it and I plan on exhausting all of my options. I also plan on showing y’all every part of this transformation. Whether you’ve found this place by accident, my music, or someone pointed you doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re here now, and I am grateful. Thank you for dropping by, and please bookmark this and check back. I post another entry every Monday, and some have video’s like this one.
Thanks again for stopping by.
I wish you good health and happiness. 

Trevor Marty
 

Trevor Marty

21 November, 2016

Hey All-

     You know I’ve just noticed that I like to do blog entries as if they are letters to you. A letter from a friend you’ve never met. It sounds nicer then just reading yet another blog entry from yet another dude who thinks he’s got something to say that will change your life.  That’s not our relationship. Ours is more of a nice little letter.

     Today’s letter is all about my new antique guitar. I bought it through Reverb.com via Chicago Music Exchange.  It’s a wooden bodied resophonic guitar from the 1940’s. It’s most probably a Regal. The Regal company bought bodies off of the Dobro Manufacturing which split off from the National guitar. There’s your history lesson.

     The guitar had to have a neck reset, so I brought it to my friend Kari Larson from Stringworks Studio who is a working Luthier. She took several photo’s while she did the work. I thought you might be interested in what happened and how.

     The first photo you see she is steaming off neck. She’s drilled a hole in the fingerboard at a strategic location and inserted her home made steamer. Nope, I can’t tell you what it is, or she’d whip me with a wet noodle. It’s a secret.

This photo is actually from later in the process and is of her putting the neck back on, but I thought it would be great for you to see it like this at this point too. Yes, dear friend you will also see it later.

Here you see the body and neck separated and the finish blushed a bit from the steam. Later on you will see how she fixed the blushing.

Removing the fingerboard takes some time and specialized tools. The one you see here is a hand made tool Kari told me about. It’s a worn out band saw blade with it’s teeth knocked out. It’s been rounded and sharpened to help remove the glued-down portion of the fingerboard.
First the fingerboard needs to be heated to help loosen the glue then the gentle probing and digging begins. She made this tool in luthier school.

Once the neck comes off it’s the perfect time to fix anything else that might be needing attention, and with an instrument that was made around the second world war you will probably find something. Even on an instrument that was treated well it’s entire life like this one. In this photo you see the sound well was loose and needed fixing.

Here is the original cone and bridge. This is a different style of cone and bridge then a biscuit bridge and it has a very different tone. This is called a spider bride.

Here is the new cone and spider bridge with wood blanks. Many steps follow this one. The wooden blanks for instance need a space carved for the strings. There is a great deal of mathematics and precision in the carving. If you get it wrong the intonation is off and thus the tuning too. Also the spider part itself needs to be evenly sanded.



 Here is a photo of the guitar, neck, and new cone and bridge yet to be assembled.


These next two photos show the flattening of the spider feet. In the first one Kari has marked where it needs to be flattened with a black marker. The second is where she is flattening the feet on a flat surface with sand paper. Nice even strokes win the day.
She is using the glass from a framed picture because of the reliability of it’s flat and even surface and the sandpaper is 120 grit.



Once the neck comes off you will sometimes find other things that need a little love. As was the case with the fingerboard. In this photo you see an extension she put on in the shape of a wedge. This helped with intonation.

If you are ever looking on the Steward-MacDonald repair website you’ll see what are called ‘blanks’. These are saddles which need to be carved. Some will come with the spots already made for the strings, but others will not. In this case Kari carved out a blank to fit the particular needs of this guitar. In this photo you’ll notice how she marked the spots and then did the work. In an earlier photo you’ll see the new resonator spider, cone, and wooden blank before and this is the after.

Before she put the neck back on she fixed the finish. If you look in the photo you’ll see slight discoloration which is common when you steam off a neck. Here she is correcting that. In a later photo you’ll see it finished. You can’t see it at all.

This photo is on twice, because it’s at this point she is beginning to fit the dove tail back into the body. If you look on the body you’ll see how she corrected the finish from the steaming off process.


In these next photos you see the neck being glued back on. Did you know there were so many clamps in the whole world? (Pretty colors too.) With even pressure, attention to detail, and the mastery which only comes from A. knowing what you’re doing and B. doing a lot of them she puts the pieces back together.

This one is a bit closer and a different angle. If you look closely you’ll see that each clamp has it’s own barrier between the fretboard and itself for protection. Oh and let’s not forget that super cool toothpick holder.

A view from the sound well toward the neck.

Once everything was put together came the finishing finesse, and part of that was intonation.  In this photo you see some spacers she put in to hold the cone in place and help to correct that.


Below is a little video I did with the new guitar. You'll be able to hear it in action. I'd also like to say thanks for popping by and don't forget to stop by next week for more.
Thanks and have a great day.
Trevor


14 November, 2016

Trip to the South-West part 3

     Hey again. I just love chatting with you folks. I don't care what they say about you. You're okay in my book. In today's edition we see the final chapter of our journey to the South-west.
     On our road home we drive through New Mexico and our first stop was Pueblo, Colorado. We had the best Chinese food while there. Of course after traveling for that many hours any Chinese food would be good. The next day we drove through Colorado into Wyoming, and finally stopped in Rapid City, South Dakota. We ended up seeing a parade and had tons of fun there. Our final day was driving back home to Minnesota from Rapid City.
     We had a really wonderful time traveling through the United States and hope to do more traveling as out time permits.

     Thanks to all the folks that helped to make it possible.