Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gardening 2013: Quickie Update

Zucchini #1
After a full week of near 100 degree temperatures we finally got a break last night with some pretty decent thunderstorms. Not up to Chicago standards, but at least things have cooled down. And...

Most of the vegetables are finally starting to come around. That's our first zucchini up there. 8 ounces of sweet green goodness. And it looks like we'll have a few more by the weekend:

A More Shapely Fruit
In fact we harvested a couple of small eggplant last week that I didn't document, but more are on the way:

The San Marzano tomatoes are finally starting to ripen. There's still no hint of wilt or blossom end rot, so I'm hoping for a good crop for making sun dried tomatoes (OK, yeah, I'll probably dry 'em in the oven - it's too humid here to sun dry successfully).

The cippolini onions are almost ready to harvest. The greens have all fallen over and in a few days they'll start to brown a little. Then I'll pull 'em and spread them out to dry on the front porch like I did last year.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Gardening 2013 - Mid July Update

This has been a tough spring and early summer for the garden. We've had weeks of steady rain interspersed with merely cloudy weather. Last week was the first time in  a while when we've had even a few consecutive sunny days. Nevertheless, things are staring to happen...

San Marzano Tomatoes
The San Marzano tomatoes are finally coming along. They've made it to the top of the support frames at last and are beginning to set fruit. Obviously there has been no water stress this year. With plenty of eggshell mixed into the soil around each plant I'm hoping we're free from blossom end rot. So far there's no sign of wilt either.

Eggplant in cages

The eggplant has been slow to develop (and we won't mention the state of the peppers). I've been cutting off fruit as it sets to try to encourage more growth. I'm hopeful that a few sunny weeks will put them on track. We did harvest a couple that got away from me but for now there's nothing happening but (I hope) solid growth.

Cippolini Onions
As expected, the onions have pretty much all tipped over. I'll go out this evening after it cools off to weed and tip the ones that haven't. There are some beets and carrots in the foreground that need thinning as well.

The Zucchini was direct seeded in late May. This is the same variety we grew last year and it's doing rather well. I'll harvest that little guy in a couple more days.

Lettuce Gutter
This has been successful beyond my hopes. We've been making little salads a couple night each week and the lettuce just keeps coming. There's a drip line in there so in the event we ever go more than a few days without rain the lettuce will stay happy.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Telecaster Surgery - Installing a new bridge pickup

So, a couple years back, when I was in Minneapolis helping out Beth's sister while she had chemo, Guitar Center had, as is their wont, a President's Day Sale. Among the items on sale was an Ash body, natural finish "standard" Telecaster for $399. Now that's a pretty good guitar and it would have been fine as-is.

But I happen to be a Rolling Stones fan. Not a fanatic, but a fan. And as a guitar player, somewhat fascinated by Keith Richard's collection of guitars, not the least of which are his modified Telecasters. Many have names and the most famous is probably Micawber, a '53 blond Tele with a Gibson "PAF" humbucker  at the neck and what is said to be a lap steel single coil in the bridge. It's further modified with a modern 6 saddle solid brass bridge, with the 6th string saddle removed to facilitate Keith's open G tuning. It is almost certainly wired "Broadcaster" style, a topic for another post (along with string gauges, capacitor selection, etc.)


So it wasn't long before I ordered a new pick guard and a Seymour Duncan '59 SH-1n pickup in a effort to reproduce the Micawber magic. It actually sounded pretty cool with that pickup and no other changes, though it did get muddy real fast if you backed down the tone control a little.

The obvious next step was a better bridge pickup. And it doesn't take long browsing the Tele discussion boards until you come to Don Mare. He makes his pickups to order and it might take as long as a month to get one. About a year ago I finally ordered one of his "Keefer" pickups, got it, and set it aside, meaning to install it "real soon".

One year later...

Ready for surgery

Okay then... First step, take off the strings. No big deal. You can see each saddle has it's own position. They have to come off so we can get at the 4 screws that hold the bridge plate in place.

Saddle Locations Marked
To make things a little easier when we put it back together I lifted the saddles with a pencil and slipped a piece of painters tape underneath, then pulled the pencil out and used it to mark where the saddles go. The screws and springs tend to wander, so they go on another piece of blue tape for safe keeping. I numbered them as they came off just to be safe...

Note "dog ear" and location  of the ground lug.
The bridge lifts off and the the screws holding the original pickup come out along with the plastic spacers all of which go on the blue tape for safekeeping.  It takes a moment to un-solder the pickup ground from the connector.

Control Plate w/ saddles in the background

Now for the control plate. Two more screws go to the blue tape and we're ready to un-solder the bridge pickup "hot" wire.  That's the white wire in the middle leading down to the control cavity. Using the original pickup as a guide, I cut the leads to on the Keefer to match and...

As they say in the automotive manuals "Assembly is the Reverse of Disassembly".  

There are a few tricky bits however. You'll notice that the pickup route has a little dog-ear at the lower right. That corresponds to the pickup screw where you'll remount the ground lug. You'll also want to tuck the pickup wires in as close to the pickup itself as possible - it's sort of a tight fit.

So, how does it sound? Darn good. The Don Mare "Keefer" is a good deal hotter than the original pickup and free of the infamous Telecaster "icepick" tone even with the tone control wide open.


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