Sunday, November 20, 2011

November Meeting

How lucky were we to have not one, but two interesting guests at our last meeting?

Russ Quon mods guitars. He started in the 60s when, as a player, he found himself frustrated paying for repairs that weren't always to his standards.
In those pre-Internet days, he began searching through books, building up a tool collection and learning the basics of electric guitar systems. Soon he found himself being asked to repair other players' guitars, and it was only a matter of time before he started improving cheaper instruments that he was given or had picked up inexpensively.
This Hello Kitty was a beginner-level guitar that a niece lost interest in. Russ added a tone circuit, reshaped the neck and buffed it by hand over a couple of weekends. He also polished each of the frets with #4 steel wool, a simple change that he feels makes a huge difference in playing.

His 1974 Gibson, shown in the top photo, was an even bigger transformation. When Russ got it, it had a broken neck and had been partially sanded down as if someone had intended to refinish it. Russ completed the sanding, refinished the Brazilian mahogany body, and repaired and straightened the neck to create a custom vintage guitar which he now treasures.


Our second guest was Jeff Stewart, brother of our community mentor Jim. Jeff's specialty is in building and restoring steam engines. He told us about his fully restored steam tractor, which he uses annually to make apple cider on his farm in Washington.
He also brought a couple of interesting engine models to show us. The first, shown above, was a Stirling engine, a design developed in the early 1800s which uses heat to operate. In this case, the heat came from Jeff's cup of coffee and ran the tiny engine atop it for close to an hour.

The second engine was called a flame eater. I didn't get a photo of it but did find this personal page full of information on engine modeling (with a little help from Google Translate).

Finally, Jeff brought out a piece of nitinol memory wire, which sprang back to its original shape after being dipped in the same hot drink that ran the Stirling.
Thank you to Russ and Jeff for a particularly educational meeting which left us all with plenty of food for thought.