Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lowther Mania

We have neglected to let you guys know that official Lowther Field Coil production has moved to Memphis. After a few revisions based on listening and ergonomics, these thirty pound motor monsters are being built up. Measurements will follow, but I think Lowther proper (UK) should be the group that publishes them first.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Identify the mammals

Tonight was a toddler sleepover and I believe 4 mammals reside in this picture

sadly, when reality sets in, the youngest one weighs in at about 100 pounds.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Santa Claus?

yep, good old Santa.. that is what the delivery man looks like to me. The internet has brought high quality HiFi bits to my door that I never would have been able to find back in the day. But after all these years, my favorite ones still come from Holmes, NY.

Check out these babies. LCR inductors. And, yes, that 80 on the side does mean 80% nickel. It also equals the best core for pulling detail from the noise floor. The stuff was designed for low level work - perfect for RIAA correctors. Oh, and it happens to also be quite yummy. Sorta like Sock It To Me Cake.... Think sugar and butter. Super yummy. When in the South, you have to enjoy the perks. The Neely family being local is definitely one of them.

I bet when you guys get boxes from Dave they have this nice, neat packaging. Not me. Look what he packed these things in! Do I blame the rabbit, the yellow dog, or Dave?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Garbage Sales

I have become addicted to Craigslist and whenever I am headed out in a specific direction I peruse the local Craigslist ads to see if anything of interest is available. Most of the time as the title suggest there is a lot of Garbage in these so-called "Garage Sales". Yesterday I was headed out and saw a listing that had three things of interest to me. Tools, Old Records and a turntable.

With the hopes of a huge score of a 301, as I approached the table it appeared to be a SL1200 but alas it was a clone. I looked through the 50 or so records and these 4 jumped out at me

I asked the woman running the sale "How much" and she said $5 each. I made a face and quickly put them back. She asked what are they worth and I replied that Garage Sale / Flea Market records are worth about $1 a piece. She then said how about 4 for $5 and I quickly picked them back up to inspect the condition. They were in good shape so under my arm they went.
The tools were old and rusted and all jumbled together. In one pile I saw this box.

wondering what was inside i popped it open to find a dial indicator set complete with mounting accessories.

Since I had recently picked up a few of these I wasn't really interested until I noticed that it had a hole attachment. Robert suggested one of these would be helpful and since it also had an attachent for my tool post I figured it was worth a question as to price.

Fully expecting to hear $20 for the set, I was shocked by the price. How could I be off by a factor of 10. I wasn't going to argue this one and simply handed over $7 and took my new purchases home. Today, I listened to those Rekkerds while I wound some LCR chokes and I'm awaiting a response on an ad Listing 100 Jazz and Blues records that included this picture... wish me luck.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rastas & Hippies.

Sure, a lot of things are common to these two cultures.... Peace, love, respect and... well... you know... that other thing. Last night I experienced an interesting mix of the two at the Woodstock Reggae Festival.

My brother Leith who turned my oldest onto Dancehall was DJ for the event. I swung by his house prior to the show as he was cutting out and he told me to come down to the show with the rest of the people at his house. I got to hang out with Sister Nancy and some of the other dancehall DJ's eating Jamaican food. When asked if it was too spicy I just chuckled and said white boy dave likes the spice. (somehow that actually is my name among many of my friends). When it was time for them to get ready for the show, I sifted through a bunch of vinyl but the tables were at the show so all i could do is drool at the stuff I wanted to hear.

The show was truly surreal. It was like a Phish concert and the only people I knew were Rastas. Understanding the patwa on the other hand is no small task. So when 5am rolled around and I was chilling trying to understand a full out conversation between a group of Jamaicans, I heard something really familiar... It was Jerimiah saying "dave.... Dave.... DAVE..." and in perfect English asked if I understood a word of what was being said. I said a bit but for the most part no. The conversations (i think) eventually turned to the large population of dread locks in the area. I could sense some surprise from many in the conversation at the large local "rasta" population when from my trance I uttered the word BUT. I believe the next words out of brother moses's mouth were something like ya all 'dem local rasta's white. This was quickly followed by a "no offence" to Token me.

I cannot wait until next year.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

and more vintage chassis....

Here are some others from the masters of black, Western Electric.

On this one I just love the way the access door also recesses the meter.

Simple lines as on the RCA transmitter, but what caught my eye was how the relief around the edges and screws comes across as ornamental.

and here is a photo from someone who really "sees" and respects the beauty.


$115 for standing in NYC

The actual standing part that cost the coin is down a bit in this entry since I want to take the day chronologically. I was on a quest and the stars all aligned so I started out last Thursday with a serious audio plan and it worked out very well.

The day started with me picking up my good friend Win who was in town with his wife Kelly and taking them along on my travels for the day. First stop was Canarsie (that's Brooklyn) to an old prosound guy who had a number of dead altec speakers. In his back yard underneath a tarp were a few different units like the one pictured above which I gladly carted away for free. Inside he also said he had a pair of working units and he went to fetch them. He came out with a working 421A and said "gimme $10 for it". I gave him $20 and told him to give me a call if he turned up the other.

The entire goal of that stop was to come up with some dead drivers to look at the internals of and these were perfect for what was needed. The next stop was the Brooklyn Navy Yard which is where our friend Jeff Kahn has a humble shop. Like us, Jeff is an audio junkie and while Win drooled over the 5-axis waterjet the size of most NYC apartments, Jeff looked at the drivers and wondered about what info they held. Time was tight, so I pried Win from the waterjet, left Jeff the carcasses and across the Manhattan Bridge we went.

On the Manhattan side of the bridge is Chinatown and grumbling stomachs required we stop for a snack. Parking is impossible and the crowds insane. I slid over into a "No Standing Except for Commercial Vehicles" spot while Win and Kelly Jumped out to get some pork buns (sorry Jeffrey). About 2 minutes into the 3 minutes it took them I glanced to my right and the traffic officer busted me. I asked if it was too late and he said yes. I was watching and I commented what a great sideler he was and offered him some tic-tacs.

So it was $115 for standing. As we all loaded back up into the truckster, the officer said you paid for this spot, why not use it? Being skeptical I questioned him and he said you can keep this car here for 24 hours, just leave the ticket under the wiper. We took advantage of the loophole and toured Canal Street and the rest of the journey was somewhat pedestrian. Listening to a great system at a friends, a nice northern Italian dinner and a trip home.

This morning, upon unpacking the 421A that I had in the trunk it became very clear why we became lost several times in our travels when I saw what was attached to the box. That damn speaker was throwing of the male internal navigation device.

As a footnote, I could have honestly titled this post $115 for sticky buns with Win and his wife in NYC but I suspect that might have sent the wrong message.

Looking for bargains in all the wrong places.

What I needed was pretty simple, a 2" X 4" piece of 1/8" aluminum to mount a choke to. Since I didn't have any stock on hand and the need was now, I contemplated a trip to the local hardware to overpay for a piece. The above picture is the finished piece and you may wonder why the brushing. Artistic attempt? Better bond for JBweld?? Nah, it was the quickest way to remove the numbers.

Jeffrey mentioned to me some time ago how for him, buying a 4' aluminum ruler was cheaper than buying a 4' piece of the same size bar stock. A few months ago when I needed some of the similar stock, indeed a 4' ruler was $9.99 and the plain stock was $11.99. since I only needed 24" I opted for the ruler and ended up saving $2 and had a 24" ruler as a bonus.

Rather than jumping in the family truckster and heading out, I decided a 20" ruler would still be almost as useful as a 24". I'm sure at some point in the not to near future, I'll have a 2" ruler so next time a see another 48" one at a good price I should snag a few.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chassis styles.... RCA BTA-250L

I have spent a lot of admiring and then drawing chassis of late. It is time to really make the line level gear look the part. No more aluminum front and rear panels and flat slab with tubes sticking up. The old chassis was good in that it allowed me to build custom circuits underneath and still deliver for a reasonable price, but the new phono is sounding so good that I think it is time to give it a permanent home. You will see more on that in the next few days, but what I want to show you today is this fabulous RCA transmitter. Not my style exactly, but wow, what a beauty. Simple lines give it style. You just don't see this at all in modern enclosures.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Curie is way hotter than your Curry.

Lately Jeffrey has been bragging about all the curries he has been enjoying and I just have to one-up him now that I have experienced a curie that makes all others pale by comparison. The traditional method of rating hotness is by the use of the scoville scale. For my curie, I needed a whole different scale and while it only goes to 2500, I assure you it packs far more punch than anything served in a Thai place.

The true test of this curie is to subject something to it and look at the results. With good reason I chose something British in the form of a Lowther PM2A magnet whose gap had closed during shipping. Below is the good magnet from the pair and the damaged magnet after the curie had hit 1700.

Well our British friend doesn't look like he handled the curie very well bat a slight tap with a hammer proved the experiment to be a success.

The one thing seemingly missing from the above image are the rods that hold the magnet structure together while the glue holding it together sets. Since they cannot be magnetic, I always thought they were bronze. Well since they disappeared while imbibing in the curie I guess they were of some other alloy. Below is a picture with a magnet-less Lowther structure showing the missing rods.

Next step is to sandblast things to clean them up. At some point down the road there will surely be a post about how my amps are so much larger than your pesky mili-amps when it comes time to recharge these babies.

More Dirty Hill Country Blues...

First, apologies to all the phone calls I missed last night - Boiling Frogs, Roman, Slaggle... I have realized that I have been working way too much and not been getting my live music fix often enough, so last night Lisa and I sneaked out again... and I think I actually get more work done as my filaments get rejuvenated to full emission...

As I noted a while back, these two guys from Akron, OH play the music of the master Junior Kimbrough. I guess I listen to a lot of different music, so bear with me occasionally... if you like blues but think it needs that edge sometimes, I bet this raunchy electric stuff may be for you. This is not quiet, sad, simple music. It is heavy, funky, get your inner devil out via exorcism music. Here is a recent 10" that I picked up a while back. Not as full tilt as the later stuff, but very real.. very full of emotion.. This is a YouTube link for the earlier work. For something more full tilt, try this one.

Lastly, I have two random comments. One, I am not a fan of the new ticketing system. It is not paperless, and you still don't get a real ticket stub.

And then there is the required "really?" photo. Man, this is one way to keep African-American people out of the Grand Ole Opry... I cannot imagine what Junior would have said about this sign staring him in the face during a show. I suppose Minnie Pearl didn't really listen to much Ornette Coleman....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Davey has another new toy,

It has come to the point where my lack of communication skills has made it quicker and easier for me to do it myself for the proto stuff rather than try to spec something out. The frustrating nature of this has lead me to shoehorn this into my limited work space.

Granted it isn't a South Bend, and it comes from a land far away but it fits nicely into my limited work area.

Project #1 was turning down aluminum for the lowther field coil mandrels which went really smoothly.

Next up is some steel as a first line of defense in the battle of hum for some SUT's .

Stay Tuned....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Phase plug tweeters, PT II...

The tweeter that I am using for the phase plug tweeter that goes in the Lowther front horn is finally back in stock. They have been back ordered for nearly a year. I am not sure how long they will available, so speak up if you want one of these. I will turn them from maple or mahogany, your choice. Lead-outs will be 30 gauge magnet wire. In Dallas we rolled these in with a very small cap - 0.33uF - and it blended well. Quite a few people remarked on the clean treble. Pessetto was as effusive as an engineer can be. (I am an engineer as well and am therefore qualified to make fun of him).

This is such a time consuming small job that I don't really want to take any future single orders for these. I will make a group of them now, and then it will likely be a while before any are made again. Pricing will be between $750 and $1250, depending on how many orders come in...

Thanks everyone!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Jam Session Pt II - The Green Machine

Lisa and I were about to leave the Jam Session photography exhibit that we had crashed when she bumped me to look at a plaque laying on a table right next to the door. It was a Handy Award - lifetime achievement for my friend Herman Green. I laughed and smiled and then I hear this familiar voice. It was Herman.

Herman is the man. He has played with everybody. I mean everybody. When he came back from Korea, he came through San Fransisco. He wisely stayed for a while as the leader of the house band at the Blackhawk. When Herman tells you a Coltrane story, it is first hand. He also ran the music lineup at the late night jam club out there. Check out this photo (sorry, I got the glare) of him with Trane at the bar of the Blackhawk.

He of course got onto me for not coming to see him lately. I made the excuse of kids and work, but that we were free that night. He was actually sitting in that night with the same fusion band that I used to see every Sunday night all through my twenties: Freeworld. It was good to see the guys still stretching out some tunes on Beale Street. They have had to add more Memphis tunes due to the touristy nature of Beale these days (think Bourbon Street in New Orleans), but Herman was able to really dig in on a few tracks. We had a great time. If any of you guys ever get to memphis, you can do far worse than Freeworld on Sunday nights.

Check out this link on Herman. I own some Lionel Hampton vinyl with Herman on it as well as some bootleg cassettes of my favorite Herman era, the psychedelic rock they were playing in the late 80's. Oh, and there are also some cd's out there of his Green Machine and quite a few Freeworld CD's...


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Four days, four curries, four hifi's...

I just got back from Chicago. It was a truly wonderful trip. I ran far too short on time, but still managed to listen and hang out with some long time friends as well as some new ones.

As is best on a blog, let's let pictures tell most of the tale. First was Bruce's rig. It is big horns done properly - all digitally crossed and aligned... bi-amped when I got there, tri-amped when I left... all SET's... even vinyl is digitized via pure vinyl... I know, I know.. I am a purist remember? but let me tell you 24/192 is *really* good.. I could easily tell what was a 44/16 cd, vinyl, or reel tape... easy.. vinyl was still that huge airy thing that it is... and the 45 rpm 'trane was nice, too...

Next was Van Halen's house... field coil Lowthers by, well, us.. open baffles with 15's in a sealed box below... really liquid sound.. biamped.. GM70 SE on top, Pass on bottom... no etch or grain or hardness.. really nice ella and louis.. and strings that make you weep...

Then a new guy to the EM/IA team... I only got to hear the weekend condo system, but it was Magico and dartzeel (sp?) with TW black night, three arms, and my phono... (big grin)... really nice and clear mids and treble.. I think the front end was passing the beauty straight from the vinyl.. very well controlled... (and fabulous espresso)... view from condo:

then Mats.. what can I say.. his rig is most like mine.. too many horns.. and too many knobs.. but makes music... no horn shout.. he may want a touch more romance in teh middle, but really nice vinyl and digital reproduction.. music came right on through...

and now the good stuff... I had Thai four times.. ahh.. four days, four curries... yummy...

on the way back from this restaurant, I got a quick peak at one of Julie's gardens.. that woman has talent.. I really wish I could sit on that porch and see the seasons change.. to only get to see one season was a crime..

And now the one you won't believe. Truth is truly stranger than fiction. After the fourth Thai restaurant, we were able to sneak into a used vinyl store for their last few minutes before closing. I was running through the new arrivals and found the South African pressing of Rodriguez - Cold Fact. What a score. Literally. Inside the album was a baggy of white powder. No Lie. After listening to the psychedelic folk, I agree that this would be my stash album. All we could do was laugh. Thank goodness we were in a used record shop in Chicago. Had I been further down in middle America, it would have been a scene. See random driving pictures below for what I mean.


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