Saturday, July 9, 2011

Harmony H1203 Sovereign - Odds and End Pins

I stand it all and I shake my face 
You break your promise all over the place


Summer is in full swing here in North Carolina, and I'm not spending as much time as I'd like on this rebuild.  It's just too hot to work for more than an hour at a time in my shed with our summer weather.  So, I've been spending some of my free time updating this blog with the rest of the dis-assembly process.

While taking this old guitar apart, I took care of a few things that are worth mentioning.  In fact, in between taking the back off and taking the braces off of the back panel, I reassembled the neck.  But, to make this blog easier to follow, I am showing the process in a more linear way.

The bone nut and saddle cleaned up well with some steam, a Dremel grinding attachment and some fine sandpaper.  The nut appeared good enough for reuse, and it will get some final work when I put strings on this old guitar to check the action.  The old saddle had been trimmed so far down that some of the strings were in contact with the bridge, so it was way too short to be reused.  The new bone saddle blank is much higher and thicker, and will take some work to make it fit in the existing bridge slot.



This old guitar had a really cheap-looking celluloid end pin, and I just don't like the way a bone end pin looks.  The rosewood end pin I found matches the bridge, back and sides, and has a little dot inlay that matches the fretboard dot inlays.



The little loose sliver of wood at the left of the next picture is a hardwood shim.  It did its job for awhile.  Shims get soaked with glue, so they are not reusable.  I made some oak shims to use in the dovetail joint during the neck reset.



I found a good deal for a set of gold-plated Imperial style tuners on eBay.  The original pegs work, but I wanted to spruce her up a bit.  After the Imperial set arrived, I decided they were too ostentatious for this guitar.  Instead, I played musical chairs with tuners on three guitars.  The Imperial set ended up on my Holiday Archtop, the gold-button Grover look-alike set that was on my Holiday is now on my Samick Dreadnought, and the real Grover nickel button set from my Samick will be on this old guitar.  I overbored the holes in the head stock and put the tuners in temporarily to see how they will look.  Which do you think looks better, the ones in the first picture or the set in the second picture?



The new ivory colored celluloid binding I found is a few shades lighter than the existing binding.  The options of staining the binding and mixing tint into clear lacquer did not pan out, as I could not find materials that seemed to be compatible, and I did not want to risk damaging the new binding or existing finish.  I picked up some clear lacquer in a spray can at my local woodworking supply store to put on over the new binding, and will live with it.  Fortunately, It's just the back panel.


Since I had the neck open to work on the truss rod, and the old one-way rod had to be replaced, I opted to put in a two-way adjustable truss rod.  I figured this might also come in handy since the neck might be in need of some artificial relief by the time I got through with it.  The rod I found was just a fraction of an inch longer than the original, and the channel needed to be cut just a little wider and deeper to accommodate the larger shafts of the new rod.


I used a drill bit to get it started, and finished up the process with a thin sanding block.  The new rod has a square tube steel upper bar, so it was easy to get a good snug fit that also left plenty of room for the blue lower rod to turn freely.


After reinstalling the fret wire I had pulled from the15th fret, I moved on to reassembling the rest of the neck.  To keep the glue from getting where it did not belong, I covered much of the headstock and neck with masking tape.  To hold the fretboard and nut in place while the glue dried, I used wooden shims, zip ties and an assortment of spring clamps and quick-clamps.


After letting all the hide glue dry, I removed all of the clamps shims and tape.  Next, I covered the wood of the fingerboard and the binding strips with more tape so I could do a little work on the frets.  They seemed to be in good enough shape to be left in and reused, so some mild reshaping with a sanding block is all I did to them.  I made the last passes of the sanding block with fine sandpaper, just enough to get all of the frets down to clean, shiny metal.


Removing the masking tape helped clean off the neck, especially on the headstock.  After it was all off, I buffed some shine back into her finished surfaces with some Murphy's Oil Soap.  I'll touch up where the fretboard binding meets the edges of the neck with some spray lacquer when I'm ready to do the same with the new back binding.


But, before doing any binding and lacquer work, I still have to finish resetting the neck dovetail joint with new shims.  I've already done the work on the bridge plate and back braces, and reattached the back panel to the sides.  If the weather next week keeps up the way it has been here in North Carolina, I'll likely have an opportunity to spend some time instead making a post here showing how the braces and back went back together on this old guitar.

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