Chasing The CRESCENT With My Woadie, Cleaning and Restringing The Electric Guitar

by Jim on 2013/05/31

[Jimbaux knows that success is his only option; failure is not.]

Back To Trains

So, you didn’t care for the sentimental pizza post?  Hey, I’m going to miss my woadie William, but although we do have trains in this post, we also have several other indoor pictures of another project as well as some pictures of another local friend.

On the morning of Saturday 25 May, my woadie Kurt and I chased Amtrak’s Crescent from New Orleans to Slidell.  He had wanted to do this, and even though I’ve done it enough times before, the social aspect of this outing – so much of railroad photography is a solitary activity – made me very willing to partake in this chase.

Not What We Had Planned, But . . .

Kurt had envisioned some shot from the cemeteries at the end of the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal track.  We arrived on the scene at about 06:50, but the cemetery doesn’t open until 08:00.  Since the train will be by here at 07:15, this doesn’t really help us, does it?  We relocated to nearby East City Junction for the shot of the train emerging from the NOUPT track onto the Norfolk Southern Back Belt line, where a westbound-southbound interchange train was parked on the southbound mainline.

We decided to not risk missing this train on Lake Ponchartrain, and we therefore made no additional attempts to photograph the train in the city proper.

He Gets High With A Little Help From His Friend

Since Kurt had never done the lake shot before, since it essentially required a telephoto lens that he didn’t have (at least to pull in the background bridge and New Orleans skyline), and since I’ve done this shot enough times before, I let Kurt use my Canon 70-200mm/f2.8 lens to grab the image that he published on his page.

Jimbaux, using his more conventional lens here, grabbed this image at 07:50:

Do you see the New Orleans skyline in the background?


As usual, after doing the North Shore shot, we get to Slidell just in time to position ourselves to get the shot of the train leaving the station, in this case at 08:04:

And, we see our friend Kurt getting his shot here:

After that, I finally made my somewhat ‘triumphant’ return to the Slidell Starbucks, which is a block from here, reclaiming my territory where I had not been in nearly three years.  I had meant to go there on 11 September 2011, but after a revealing stop by an Amtrak special agent, I just plain forgot.  I’m much better now; thanks.

The New NS MofW House

I first noticed and photographed this new NS facility and its boat when I was here shortly after Hurricane Isaac.

Do you see the boat parked next to the building?

End Of Foam With Friends

After this, Kurt really had to get back home, and the only reason why I wanted to stay out was that I was already out.  Actually, the weather was unusually cool – dry, really – for this late in May, and I just wanted to enjoy it while I could.  Anyway, we headed back to the city, and after I dropped off Kurt, I missed one train at East City Junction but decided to not bother chasing it.  I, too, had other things to do, as you will soon see.

Just Fix The Electric Guitar, Already!

A big part of the reason why I stopped playing my old electric guitar years ago was that the performance waned because of wiring and dust (which I didn’t realize at the time) issues.  Why didn’t I fix it then?  Was it lack of ambition?  Ambition is a big topic explored in the pizza post.  I don’t know what to think.  I wish I had done something like this before, but I’m just glad that I’m doing it now, I guess.  The last time I had played this thing was in late 2010, and only because I was trying to sell it (shortly after getting my acoustic guitar.)

Anyway, prior to this day, I recently fixed the connections on both the guitar and my amplifier, the latter thanks to help from UK.  I had theretofore erroneously thought that it was my cable that was problematic.  Anyway, since that was out of the way, let’s work on the guitar itself.

So, this thing – this Squier Stratocaster – is filthy, and we need to change the strings that have been on here since the 199os.  This will take both some trial and some error.  First, let’s show how nasty it is behind the strings between the pickups.

Yuck!  We’ll take care of that once we remove the strings.  First, let’s turn this thing over, remove the screws from the rear plate, and get ready to blow out the dust from inside.  Lacking canned air, I used the rocket blower for my camera.

As it eventuated, this was all that I really needed to do to remove the strings, but lacking any experience in taking apart an electric guitar, I didn’t know any better.  Now I do.

I needed to blow some dust out of here, and I did.

Now it’s time to unwind the strings from the machine heads and let them only be attached at the bridge now.

Once again, this was really all that I needed to do before pushing the strings out of the back, but I was too ignorant to realize this at the time.  I hope that you appreciate me taking you along with me on this journey of discovery.

The Biggest Mistake

Here we see me doing what I did not at all need to do.

No, the bridge did not need to be removed, and those screws go deep in there.  We’ll see why later.  Furthermore, we did not need to remove the saddles, as we see beginning to happen here.

While we are making this mistake, though, let’s take a look at it happening and see what we can learn from it.

Again, I didn’t realize at this time that this was a mistake.  While we are doing this, though, we can at least clean the parts that we have removed.

Now, I finally figured out how easy it was to remove the strings, since I saw no clear way from the front that they were attached.  We’ll just simply have to shove them out.

Do you see them hanging out in the above picture now that I’ve pushed them out?

The really narrow strings were impossible to push out with my hand alone, as they’d bunch up, like as if you were trying to push a piece of cooked spaghetti or a string.  So, I found a toothpick to help shove them out like so.

Okay, so now we have disassembled this guitar as much as we are going to disassemble it.  So, now it’s time to clean it.

One thing that I did was use some dental floss to remove dust from the control (volume and tone) knobs.

I don’t know if that helped, but I don’t think that it could have hurt either.

Now it’s time to put the new strings on!!

Now, let’s start by putting the low E string on, which I actually have left tuned to E♭ since so much of what I like to play is in an E♭ tuning, but we can’t tune it just yet anyway.

To do this, I need to re-install the saddles, which I didn’t need to remove in the first place.

In the above image, I’ve only reinstalled one of the saddles, the one for the sixth string, which you see me stringing out to the headstock below.

The bend in the below picture should actually be on the other side of the hole in the machine head, and I fixed it shortly after taking this picture.

Okay, so now we have the first (or last) string on.

In the above image, we can now see the costly mistake that I was making, reinstalling the saddles without reinstalling this long bridge screws.  Below, I’ve reinstalled all of the saddles, yet neglected to reinstall the bridge screws.

This mistake would finally be discovered when I was tuning the guitar, but not before the below picture was made.

It Is My Cup Of Tea

So, below we have what appeared to be the finished product, at least on the front side, since you can see that I hadn’t yet installed the rear plate, which is why I hadn’t noticed that I had six long screws that hadn’t yet found a place to be installed, complete with the wrappers for each string show each’s gauge, and, yes, my cup of tea.

Playing guitar is really once again becoming my cup of tea, which is why you haven’t seen much new railroad photography here lately.

Fixing One’s Mistakes

That could have a deeper meaning, like the mistake of putting the guitar down years ago, but we are referring to the removal of the long screws that attach the bridge to the frame of the guitar, which we see being remedied below.

As I said, I figured this out in the process of tuning the strings, which really puts plenty of pressure on the bridge.  The bridge started twisting outward, and I wonder if I almost broke it.  I had to use a scissors to shove the bridge back so that the screw holes on the bridge would align with the frame.  I got it done, though, but the saddles are now unfortunately in a manner that has the strings not coplanar.  Does anyone know how to fix this?

Anyway, I sat playing for an hour, but then it was time to clean the place up and head to bayouland for the night where my services were needed and where I had other things to do.

Rising Waters

I had been wanting to get some shots of the very high water levels in the Mississippi River recently, and I didn’t do as well as I had hoped here.

Normally, the part you see here up until the superstructure is dry, and it has been a staging area for bridge expansion construction.  Yes, that’s a train on the bridge crossing the river to the eastern side, towards the frame; it looked like Union Pacific’s QLINSL.

A Train?

Actually, there are three of them in this picture, and I was hoping that the intermodal train would depart so that I could chase him westward on my way to bayouland, but I lacked the patience, as I do plenty on such matters lately.

Do you remember when I used to really care about photographing trains?

The Next Day

You may have already seen that the next morning, I did a new shot on the Lafayette Sub.

That’s all for the trains and pictures, and that may be true for awhile, at least for new stuff.  Don’t expect much in the way of new pictures over the next few months.  I doubt that I’ll be taking many pictures, and I’ll probably post most of the one-offs that I might get on the Facebook fan page.  However, if I find the time, I can process some pictures and type some “five years ago today,” “three years ago today,” and “one year ago today,” postings, as, respectively, 2008 was the year that I spent the summer in North Dakota and driving to-and-from there and getting plenty of cool pictures, 2010 had me doing some interesting travel too, and there is still some unpublished train stuff from around here from 2012.  We shall see.  My musical projects – including one in which I need help finding a fiddle player and a video crew – are my priority now.


Words From The Young, Wise, Ambitious, And Pretty

“Fortune favors the bold,” she told me, as she explained her plans for the next few years, and the risks and sacrifices involved in them.  Her words sounded inside of me like a gong, but I should not have been surprised to hear her say it, and I was not really that surprised.  I admire her greatly, and she is quite inspirational.

It has taken me too long – but maybe not too long – to see how right that “fortune favors the bold” statement is, a statement I’ve heard dozens of times before she said it but that now has new meaning, and it has caused me to reflect upon my own life and the decisions that I have made.  Perhaps I misunderstand diligence and hard work for ambition, and perhaps that means that, at least about some things, I am lazy.  I don’t know.  How can a person who is so often described as passionate also be lazy?  What does it mean, anyway?

Yet, logic tells me that not only are the things in front of me the only things in the world that I can control and influence, but that I should exert every bit of influence and control over them that I can, that failure is not an option, but only assuming that this so-called “failure” is due to lack of ambition, not lack of ability.  Perhaps I am forgetting the effect of courage in the dynamics.  I really don’t know.   If one has sufficient courage, can lack of ambition be a good thing? or a not-necessarily bad thing?


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nitro May 31, 2013 at 15:36

Ah , another nice post with something else that is yet different from you with a mix of the foam . As Mr. Ray D. Said I like your diversity in things you post and show us in your life . It is a welcome change from the diligent yet boring at time hard core foamers . I wish you the best of luck with what you pick up in life , yours truly deacon Nitro .


2 BisonBill June 1, 2013 at 09:03

Unfortunately, misfortune also favors the bold!


3 Ray Duplechain June 1, 2013 at 22:10

I believe those of us who have the courage to change direction, focus on a different interest, unload old interest are well “programed” to accept all the benefits that life provides to those who are adventurous. It is okay to set aside an interest to start a new program; why not?
It is kinda like reading a book; when you are finished, you set it aside, select and start a new one.


4 Mid City Marine June 6, 2013 at 15:36

Do not forget that Fortune often neglects the reckless. Be bold but not rash; think through your decisions and have a plan b if things don’t work they way you expect.


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