Thursday, March 29, 2007

New Railroad Video

Although we had a slight breeze and the pollen count was nearly 6,000 today I decided to record this tune and share it. It's probably not as polished as some of my other tunes, but I really like the song.

Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pinewood Derby

Over the past couple of months Samuel and I have had the opportunity to build a Pinewood Derby car for Cub Scouts. I had promised myself that I'd make sure Samuel had plenty of help building a car, and make sure we could make it as speedy as possible.

He got his kit from the Scouts and Samuel drew several designs for the car. After going over the designs with him he decided on a shape and we cut it out. Samuel handled the bulk of the sanding and I cleaned and shaped areas that were difficult for him.

Painting was fun. It was Samuel's first time using spray paint, so needless to say we painted - sanded it all off - painted - sanded - painted - sanded. You get the idea. He finally got the hang of it and he settled on a red car with a black bottom. I thought it looked really good. We added pin-striping from the auto-parts store and a number from the original kit.

I took charge of the wheels and axles. I figured if there was to be a major contributing factor to the outcome of any of these races the wheels and axles were going to be a major link. The kit comes with four nails that are used for the axles. I carefully cleaned the burring and flashing from them and smoothed them out - finally using 1500 grit sand paper. I also beveled the heads slightly. The wheels, just plastic, came with mold marks and flashing from the manufacturing process. I cleaned those up as well.

Mounting wheels and axles turned out to be a bit trial and error and a lot of guess work at first, but I finally managed to get them in straight. The car held a good straight line and the wheels didn't wobble or pull in or out on the axle. I applied graphite to the wheels, axles and anywhere else I thought might be a contact point.

My other job was adding weight to the car. The maximum weight is 5 ounces. Not wanting to go over I settled on 4.8 ounces and hoped the scales used at the race wouldn't weigh heavier than mine.

Race #1

We took our car to the race. Weighed in at 4.8 ounces as I had hoped. I made sure everything was still straight on the car and Samuel and I checked it in.

Samuel won both of his races at the Pack Race and was 2nd place in the Tiger Cubs and tied for 3rd for all the divisions. I was thrilled, he was happy, but he came into this race knowing that he would have a fast car, and really expected to do well. He obviously had some confidence in our design and building skills. His first run down the track took 2.67 seconds. His second run was a bit faster at 2.65 seconds.

A nice surprise was getting 3rd place in Best of Show! As many times as we had sanded and painted, we really didn't expect much in terms of looks. We were just proud to get a decent coat of paint on it. The pinstripes must have been just the trick.

Race #2

This was the District Race. Unfortunately I didn't get to attend this one, but Tina filled in for me and they headed out for the race early this past Saturday morning. Samuel won 4 of 8 heats, and had an average time of 2.327 seconds - his best time was 2.310 seconds. The average scale speed was 212.5mph, his fastest was 214mph. Speedy!!!

The final results put Samuel in 5th place. He was only 0.343 seconds from the 1st place car. I was thrilled! For a couple of first timers building a Pinewood Derby car I think we did pretty good. We didn't have a lot of tools, or any way to test the car. With the exception of cutting out the car at the pack meeting on the band saw, everything we did was by hand or with small hand tools. Neither of us really qualify as "highly competitive" either. We just wanted to have a good time! We have the car on display here at home now, and we can hardly wait until next year.

If you've got a boy that's Cub Scout age, you should really get involved - even if only for the Pinewood Derby. It's a lot of fun for a Dad and Son!


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Interview - World Wide Bluegrass

About a month ago Becky Taylor from World Wide Bluegrass asked if I would be available for an interview on her show. Interview? Me? Internet Radio? Well, sure, why not. Looked like a good opportunity to get a little publicity and have some fun at the same time.

I took an early lunch to come home and set everything up. Found my way to the World Wide Bluegrass chatroom, and from there Becky contacted me through Google Talk. After fiddling with my settings on this end and discovering that I had somehow changed my recording settings from Mic to Line in we were on the air.

Becky provided such an introduction I almost wondered who she was bringing on. Turns out it was me. We discussed my early interest in banjo and music and how I learned. There was talk about some of the other bands I've performed with through the years, and about the current group I'm with, The Lone Mountain Band.

Becky played a couple tunes from Highway of Regret (Ten Mile Tennessee and Stoney Creek) and I also had the opportunity to play a few banjo tunes live. For those that are interested, my 3-finger bluegrass selection was Ring of Fire. I played to clawhammer tunes: Cluck Old Hen and Angeline the Baker.

We also spent some time talking about the Banjo Lounge and what I'm trying to do there. Becky is one of the moderators at the Banjo Lounge and has been very helpful in promoting the "Lounge."

Everyone was very great there, Becky, Gracie, and everyone in the Chatroom. I hope I didn't scare away too many of their listeners with my playing and scattered comments.

Be sure to visit World Wide Bluegrass!