Image Time • Perryopolis PA

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You never know what can be learned with eyes open to your surroundings.  So many people bury their faces toward sophisticated electronic gadgets.  Do they escape opportunities to exercise imagination?  Prepare for the future by exploring the past?

A typical service station waiting room appears the perfect nest of boredom.  Whip out “phones”, text furiously to important people, pace outside, shout into a line mic while gesturing animatedly.  Yes, you ARE important, you tell the world.  But maybe time waiting is time to think?  Introspection has its rewards.

Full circle was I rewarded recently by keeping the phone in its pocket.  With phoneless pacing at the tire shop I’m able to admire this handsome wall clock from all angles.  Smiles as its origin is discovered.  Right here in the Keystone State!  Pics are snapped and filed.  The thought of an article?  Not yet.

“Don’t Give Up the Ship”

But what is this Perryopolis?  Surrounded by the finest Greek pizzerias outside Italy, I’m confident of the town’s origins.  WRONG!  Perryopolis was named for 28-year old Hero Of Lake Erie, Oliver Hazard Perry.  The town?  Laid out by George Washington himself, called New Boston at the time.  

Big SMILING thumbs up for making the finest marketing clocks, Image Time!  Continental / General Tire picked a winner!  Wow, more delicious history exposed.  Uncle Jerry worked at a beer distributor his whole life, bringing home plaster Rolling Rock displays and the occasional wall clock.  Bet the clocks were made by Image Time!

Behlen Behkol Solvent

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Whiskey is for drinking.  Water content is for fighting over.

When it’s time to booze up, we have many choices.  Clyde stocks gallons of generic hooch.  With adult-proof lid, can rust, and drippy spout, we may buy in desperation or ignorance but regret our choice.  Acquire in haste, repent in leisure.

We’re dabbling into the arcane world of spirit varnishes and stains.  After the tool sharpening guy from Southern Italy insulted me, it’s likely I’ve transcended the hobbyist.  Genuine need for solvent worthy of a professional spurs investigation.

Internet research brings to mind Fido chasing his tail.  More opinions than the autumn leaves we crunch across during an evening stroll.  To filter flow & clarify consumption, we contact National Finishes Expert Phillip Pritchard and confirm what we suspect.  Hunches are backed with facts.  Myths dispelled.  When it is time to get our Varnish On, there is only one choice.  The professional choice.  Behkol.

We ask Phillip the advantages of Behlen spirit solvent over 190 proof hooch or hardware store quality denatured alcohol, when working with spirit varnishes.  We cannot possibly paraphrase Phillip’s wisdom;  an excellent quote you will have! – ATB

190 PROOF HOOCH IS 95% ethanol and 5% water.  It is designed for drinking purposes, best enjoyed after applying your finish.  Off the shelf denatured alcohol, sold primarily as a cleaning solvent, is a high concentration of ethanol and enough denaturant to prevent human consumption.  Alcohol is hydroscopic and naturally draws water from the environment; in a general purpose cleaning solvent it should pose no harm but there’s no telling how much water it contains.  

Behlen Behkol Solvent also contains a high concentration of ethanol, but it’s carefully sourced and controlled for minimal water content.  The denaturant used is less toxic than other common choices.  We add a stabilizing solvent to provide a greater shelf life for your dissolved shellac.  All solvents used in Behkol are alcohols and are carefully selected for better shellac compatibility.  This does add cost to Behkol Solvent, but it is purposely formulated for use as a shellac solvent, eliminates solvent related issues and provides higher performance when finishing with shellac.  –  Phillip Pritchard

Hartz Flea Collars

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Some like a consistently predictable & conforming life.  With bouts on the wild side.  My porch cat is an example.  While bucolic autumn afternoons beneath the maple out front are his norm, he is up to something other times.  Despite an inflated show of chasing cats off his patch, there is evidence he may be hanging with the wrong crowd.  He wouldn’t be the first cat to take a trip under the fence.

When that happens, FTIs can follow.  The dreaded transmitted feline issues.  A rare case of fleas, it seems.  Rare, because he gets the liquid on his nape.  As a Russian Blue -he identifies as Ossetian- his thick fur offers protection.  In general, he keeps his snout clean.

But fleas there were.  Banished outside for a spell, I went on attack with 20 Mule Team Borax about his crate.  And collared his condition with the name everyone trusts.  Hartz.

Back to the laid-back loafer lifestyle, his significant belly swings with a little more amplitude.  Even more cool on block patrol.  A Hartz collar is a status symbol.  His prosperous look provides him envious stares, but his Hartz collar sends a message.  He’s got health care.

Buck Bros. Woodworking Tools

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I’d seen it before.  The guy on a PBS woodworking show.  30 minutes of fantasy.  How easily shavings magically fall from his project.  Was he carving balsa wood?

When finally I tried it, complete disaster.  Chunks of wood removed.  Deep divots.  Chisel following grain instead of my will.  I accept the truth.  Repressed for years,  it is time to face fact.  My chisels are not sharp enough.

I had been putting this off even longer than learning the art of flossing back molars.  Yet it was not a girlfriends’ insistence this time.  An older woman’s beckoning desires had me considering the sharper edge.

This old violin wants her bushing pegs trimmed close.  Flush close.  Pink skin on a chilly autumn morning close.  But leave the surrounding wood intact.  A visit with the old guy from Southern Italy is more than helpful.

Antonio eyes my chisel suspiciously.  It looks remarkably like a combination spackle knife, pry bar, hole punch, and packing iron.  Respectfully he does not toss it into the rubbish bin, but brushing it aside, places a newspaper-wrapped parcel upon the counter.  Lunch?

Here is a sharp chisel.  This is what you need, he tells me with many extra syllables.  Wow, is this refurbished chisel sharp!  Back at the table, boxwood bushing pegs are conquered.  Slicing against the grain, wafer-thin shavings appear.  Translucent, they remind me of ginger root prepared for tea.  Only thinner.  

The following week, taking my new chisel back for consultation, Antonio animatedly launches into a general attack upon all tradespeople.  I am lumped into “all tradespeople”.  A satisfying classification.  I am one of many, using the tool wrong.  Backwards.  Upside down.  With no formal training, I accept the professional sharpener’s compliment.  We’ve made it to the big time.

Manhasset Specialty

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he man big voiceOur gift of services was excitedly bid higher and higher at the annual ATB Charity Ball.  Privately we speculate what the winner(s) would choose for us.  3rd shift dog kennel cleaning at the animal rescue?  Working a busy birthday at Lawrence Latimer Lewis’s Llama Laughhouz?

More exciting, it turns out.  Record and host an audio book!  Far harder than it sounds.  Because everything we do at ATB, we do for posterity.  One thing which made it easy, made us look like pros?  Our old music stand.

The same music stand which drove Doc to sputtering apoplexy within the bluegrass circle is again pressed into venerable service.  Requisitioned, delivered, dusted, it is looking new.  Recording gear set up.  Microphones checked.  Red light in 90 seconds.  Producer to the Blue Room.

Everything went wrong.  Even the words on the pages kept jumping all about, but that was probably from laughing.  The constant, perfect performer?  My music stand.  The same kind we used in school.  Only this one was never tossed without ceremony into the back of a yellow school bus.  Still looking chipper but older than my favorite loafers.

The employee-owned Manhasset could make this stand a little less perfect.  Instead they make a multigenerational product, valued, cherished, remembered.  The statistics of romance and yes, marriage, between high school stand-mates are overwhelming.  99.9% of the time, love blossomed behind a Manhasset.  

Ceramic Source ◊ USA Mugs

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The recent package from International Violin included a surprise.  Only one thing could be more useful than a larger table.  What did Denny Wise include?

The timely delivery of a D’Addario & Co. promotional mug.  As with everything they do, even their mugs are of screamingly good quality.  I extract the mug from packaging and pour out my order of small luthier parts, cleverly included inside the cup.  Upon the bottom of the cup, a welcome sight:  The Stars & Bars circled by the name Ceramic Source.

Usually I see the D’Addario logo about once a week, stringing up a fresh victim upon the table.  It’ll be every day now.  And every evening washing up, the Ceramic Source logo. Thumbs up!

Hey, didn’t Ceramic Source also do the mugs for Old City Coffee?

Zona Razor Saws

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The 1860s violin had a rough life.  Through celebration and funeral,  joy and woe,  work and pleasure,  countless songs found voice.  Probably a trade instrument, sold to one of the trade musicians who supplied background, accompaniment, and main attractions before radio.

First to a right-handed player and later to a southpaw, a well-penciled calendar kept this fiddle busy for decades.  At some point, perhaps in the 1920s, the peg box could take no more abuse.  Donated to a church, and into a closet it rested, used as backup to the backup.

Neighborhoods change.  The church moved.  At their giant rummage sale this gem made its way onto a long folding table covered with relics.  Purchased and sold yet again, changing hands from New England into the Keystone was a welcome destiny.  This time not to play second fiddle.  She is getting the full spa treatment!

Everything looks wrong for this wandering minstrel, but she has backbone and spunk.  Incense wafts from the f-holes, Alma Pané informs me.  Hmmmmm!  Mystery solved?  As I ream the peg holes to round, the intriguing smell released from its wood finally explained ~ ~

She’s getting peg hole bushings.  I ream the peg holes back to round, insert and glue fitted boxwood peg hole bushings into the holes, and cut them flush with the peg box.  Then the bushings get drilled and reamed for new pegs.  A lovely experience for any fiddle, the excitement of momentarily returning to life as a violin!  But those protrusions of extra bushing are not going to surrender placement without a fight.

Just in time, I discover Zona and their lovely razor saws.  With this precision blade I’m able to safely cut within a couple hundredths of the peg box.  Far less wood to slice away with my chisel.  Papa always said, “Stick with what you’re good at”.  I’m better at cutting wood than shaving wood, so there you go!

1860 nears completion.  With D’Addario 4/4 Helicore Low Tension strings, 1860 will again be kicking up the hootenanny and serenading lovers, young and old.