Monday, December 22, 2014

hutch construction

As of today, I am at 427 LPs.  When I was a few under 400 I started to think about the future, and what I would have to do to make more room.  As is always the case, the most wasted real estate is always above your head.  I started to think if there was a way I could expand my current 4-bin rack and mount a 'hutch' atop it.  And I decided that if I did, I would go clear to the ceiling so I'd never have to deal with such a dilemma again.

I took some preliminary dimensions and made a sketch the night before I got started.

I built the sides like a ladder so the support for the actual shelves would be via gravity, not fasteners.  One dimension I forgot to add to my sketch was the depth of the rack.  Turns out it is about 17" but I was not willing to put off construction a day so I played it safe and built it at about 13".  I opted to use a single 2x6" for the shelves with a plan to cover them with plywood to increase the area the records had to sit on.  I was confident that the 2x6s had enough tensile strength to support what I estimate is about 300 LPs at that width.

On day #2 I added a 'roof' to the hutch.  Like the plywood backing (something I've never done before), I decided that it was as much for stability as aesthetic.  For the first time, I used nails to hold all that stuff together instead of screws.  Then I started to have some fun and add trim to the hutch.  The long pieces on the sides were necessary to me - the visable joists were just ugly to me and I knew I had to do that.  But after that it was just getting creative.  All the angled pieces you see are 60 degree because I had a fixed angle available at that degree.  What look like supports (with the triangular endcaps) in the middle of the shelves are not, but they also are not strictly cosmetic.  The plywood backing is actually two pieces and the top piece was badly warped and was arched outwards about 2" at least.  So the 'support' you see is actually being used to pull the plywood back inwards, flush with the sheet below it.  Then I noticed that the lower sheet was actually warped also (but much less).  So that support was used to push it out just a touch so everything was flush.  The third one on the top shelf is entirely cosmetic.  I am just a little bothered that I did not add a 4th for the bottom shelf but too late now.  This step of the project was my main expense - I bought two sheets of plywood for the shelving, the roof and all the trim.  By cheating on the shelves and making them about 1/2" not deep enough I was able to not use the second sheet and return it which was nice as they are about $25 with tax.  Even the paint was free - abandoned by contractors that did some work in the building many years ago.  I could not believe it was still good after a vigorous stirring.

So I covered the plywood backsplash with blue urethane fabric I had laying around.  The supports were fixed and in the way so I could not just slide a sheet in.  So I notched them out, then made a slit from the top down to the top of the 3rd support so I could open it up and slide it in from the bottom and prevent having to have two entirely separate pieces.  I did have to put it in then remove it for modifications and replace it which was much more of a wrestling match then I predicted but worked out fine.  I fixed it in with a heavy staple gun.

I had thought early on about how stable this would be with an estimated 900 records on it and decided before long that it needed something to prevent a tipover.  I was convinced it was built square enough that it would stand tall but it towers to intimidating levels and I'd like to protect myself and my guests as much as the records themselves.  Initially I searched for a stud (with a stud finder, then a drill) before realizing that this wall was some kind of an old school all plaster wall with no wood lath.  So I decided on a gigantic toggle bolt to hold it in place.  However there was only the backsplash to drill through to hold the hutch to the wall.  It is just plywood and only held in with nails to boot - this would not do.  So I mounted a giant 'spar' to the back (another 2x6") with very long screws that went deep into the 'legs' on each side.  To make up for the difference of the thickness of the molding on the bottom of the wall behind my current rack, I cut and mounted scrap plywood to the back of the spar to increase the thickness so it would sit flush against the wall and still be fully upright.

I mounted the spar but had to do this twice.  Stupidly used a torn up 2x6 and only realized how dicey it was once it was mounted.  Had to remove it, then remove the plywood backing and start over with a new board.  Besides being partially rotten the spar cracked from my screws because I had to drill close to the ends.  So when I fabricated my second one, I did NOT cut it to length initially - I cut it AFTER I screwed it on (see pics below - opted to do it via manpower instead of using the sawzall to prevent accidentally tearing up my paint job).  Then I had to cut the holes for the toggle bolts.  So first I cut away with blue urethane fabric (didn't measure, should have and had to cut it again and patch the first hole) then used a huge 2 1/2" hole saw to cut through the plywood on the backsplash and the plywood backing on the spar.  I didn't to have to get an even longer toggle just to accommodate that stuff.  Then I used a 7/8" hole saw to cut through the spar for the toggles.  I grabbed the biggest washers I could find to cover those big holes (the screws themselves are only 5/16")

Finally it was time to go home.  I realized then that it was too tall to fit into either the work van or my friends pickup truck (which has a cap).  Luckily, I have another coworker with an old, ass kicking pick up and we got it into there.  I don't know what I would have done without the toolbox he has bolted in there, used a very wide (4") ratchet strap to squeeze it to the toobox.  My first thought was to lay it flat (it would fit) but the humps for the wheels got into the way.  Glad I did not go that route.

 And yes, of course it had to rain on the day we had planned for the big move.  Luckily had some used packing materials around so we covered it up with a big bag, some shrink wrap and some cardboard and it stayed perfectly dry and the strap kept it tied so tight it never budged.

Getting it up the stairs was no easy task but finally we won that war.  We hoisted it up onto the existing rack and I used a 7/8" masonry bit that was about 18" long (had to run some cable through a brick wall at work a couple years ago for a PA speaker).  I was a little worried about clearance inside the wall because the wings on the bolt were about 1 3/4" each, but there was plenty of room.  I think if it hadn't fit I would have just kept drilling until I got into the closet in my bedroom on the other side of the wall.  I shimmed up 3 of the legs to get it nice and stable and the toggles are so tight and strong I think I could use them to climb a mountain.

It is so nice to have the extra space to grow but also to be able to split up the collection into different 'piles'.  And vertical storage sucks but vertical storage at foot level is far worse - no more of that!  I am not going to post any pics because its kind of plain but you can see in the bottom pic that I also built a rack for my 7" records and I think I am set for life in that department.  I can hold at least 300 in there I figure, comfortably (I have less than 100 now).  I used only plywood and only nails - pretty proud of myself.  That unit benefitted more from the belt sander than anything else I've ever used it on (and I use it often).  I also am proud that I was able to carefully notch the three longitudinal dividers to the full height of the rack (about 6-7") so it all slid together.  I do regret not going to get some wood glue on top of the nails because it would have benefitted here but it doesn't need a ton of strength as I don't plan on dragging the thing around, or at all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pink Elephant, Elmhurst

It started becoming difficult to find new thrift stores in the area a while ago but I got lucky on a Saturday morning.  I fought through a hangover and a bus ride to make my way to Christoper's on York Road in Elmhurst where I devoured some eggs and chorizo with fresh salsa.  

Our group stopped at Marklund in Wood Dale - now the top contender for worst record selection anywhere.  They had a totally wracked copy of a platter I'd grab shortly after (see below) as well as a copy of Elvis live sans its jackets (it was in generic white sleeves - for a moment I thought it was some kind of promo, it wasn't).

We made our way to the Pink Elephant in Elmhurts where I immediately uncovered some gems.  I turned away a very clean copy of 'Help Yourself'.  I already own it but mine is worn a bit more...still, I am not quite ready to delve into doubles of my Tom Jones collection, so I passed.  However, I also found a MINT copy of the live album I had just passed up at Marklund, as well as a very early 60s Marty Robbins LP.  Only 50 cents each - can't beat it.  Also grabbed a copy of a golf bible for $2.50.  Perfect morning.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Journey to the Center of the Earth

The journey down south is a long one- 8 hrs via public transportation.  But worth it.  This video chronicles my journey.  Some other artifacts are below.  Enjoy.


Roger Miller - Golden Hits - already had the stereo version, picked up at a flea market on a hot day - now I have the mono as well

Engelbert Humperdinck - Release Me - mono version #2.  wish i had patience as i just broke down and bought one on ebay a few weeks ago

Dan Fogelberg - Greatest Hits - been listening to dan since i was a little kid, my mom was a big fan.  between that and being native to my state, i feel like i know him.  RIP.  great, great record

if you see charles, please tell him he has good taste should have picked up the s/t debut....though this one is worth it for 'think of laura'


Engelbert* - A Man Without Love - german version.  same tracks but slightly different cover (and different credit as he cannot be referred to by him full nom de plume back in germany.  besides the typically super cheap jacket material, both seams were totally unglued (but not ripped).  now reglued, it relaxes in its bin with its friends.

Tom Jones - A-tom-ic Jones - mono version

Tom Jones - A-Tom-ic Jones - ...and stereo version, both in mint condition!

Tom Jones - Green, Green Grass Of Home - stereo version, to go with the mono version i grabbed a while back

Anne Murray / Glen Campbell - Anne Murray / Glen Campbell - been looking everywhere for this (i do not say that with any reference to rarity).  i was unable to access my want list as cell reception in the dump is nil but had i been able to, i would have seen this right away.  so glad to finally have it in the collection, i want to hang a huge poster size version of that cover on my wall. so happy.

Ray Price - Danny Boy - came across this many times before and passed.  the ray price section was insane, at least 18" across (horizontally stored).  great cover, still in the (tattered and now discarded) original shrink

when your 45 adaptors take up a number of huge boxes, you may have a decent size collection

a relic stuck to the wall in the back of beverly records.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Black Friday Thrift Store Circuit

Last March I was visiting my folks and hit up a bunch of local thrift stores with my mom scavenging for vinyl.  Woke up Black Friday and shook off my hangover then got a recommendation (from my mom of all people) to check out a new resale shop called Wings in the area.  Well Salvation Army is across the street so we decided to add that to the journey, then hit up a few more in between as well.

One of the biggest Salvation Army's around, this used to house a killer grocery store.  I stop in from time to time but they don't rotate the vinyl often.  That being said, there is quite a bit of it so it is hard to ever go through it all unless you have help (as I did with my trusty sidekick girlfriend).  The main stop is a large bookshelf near the registers.  However, you have to go on your hands and knees to check it out and you then block a main aisle.  And as big as this place is, the use of shopping carts is commonplace which leads to a lot of "excuse me"'s and irritation from all parties involved.  That rack is largely filled with junk anyway and the records do not seem to have changed even one iota in the year plus I have been regularly stopping in.  We did find that the backside of the shelf has even more vinyl but it is even more difficult to access as in order to view it you have to block the aisle to the jewelry cases.

However in the back of the store there is probably 40-50 more records on the lower shelves of a big bookcase in the book section.  But the real motherlode (where almost all of our scores originated from) are some shelves in the back of the store where the new donations come in.  The area is like a war zone and we had to displace some furniture and other stuff to be able to get up in there but it was worth it.  I only found two Tom Jones records all day and they were both Parrot releases (the other one I already had) so I was glad to add to that sub-discography.

While not exactly chronological, there are three Billy Joel albums that fascinate me.  I dubbed my girlfriends copies long ago so I was content not to own them (silly, since I come across them regularly for pennies).  But after I got one for free through a unique circumstance, and I came across another in these filthy racks (a giant relic of my childhood, a piece of vinyl my mom owned) , I have resigned to owning them all.  One left.  To my two records, my girlfriend grabbed 5 of her own.  And prices were slashed for the holiday shopping season's inaugural day - 50% off.


Next up was my mom's recommendation: Wings.  She said it was on Golf Road, then corrected herself after glancing at Google to find it was on Higgins.  She had recently made a donation and been to the store, it looks like they may have actually moved between the time she had visited and my own.

After turning around (it was less than a mile) we headed to the new location (and noticed a Savers on the way, through from the back we were sure it was a Goodwill.  Either way, it was then noted for a plan as our next stop).

They didn't have many records, only one small bin, and it was unremarkable save a single release which had one of those covers that you ask if maybe it was a joke or a parody or something.  Turns out, it isn't.

Dat face.
The standard 'Savers Bin' (wire plastic coated wire) was in full effect and the only thing worthy of note was an easy decision.  I have been doing substantial research on barbershop quartets since I found my Center Stage LP  in Kentwood a few weeks ago.  In that post I commented that I regretted not buying it - well that feeling was so intense I had a colleague who lives in GR go in there, buy it, and ship it to me.  

As can be seen on the reciept, I also picked up 3 more (they had 6!) of the books from the late 70s Time-Life 'The Good Cook' series I have been working on for a long time.  The calm of this store was soothing in comparison to the madness at the S.A. a few hours previous.  Still, we felt 'the madness' setting in and we decided to call it a day after just one more store.  I took at look at the GPS and we decided on the Kenneth Young Center as it was on the way back.  There was a Disc Replay in the same mall as Savers but we decided that thrift stores are way more fun that record stores and decided to forego a stop in there.


As we headed down Roselle Road I continued to inspect the many strip malls in the area, as so many looked familiar from my last circuit in March (linked at the beginning of this post).  They all looked like candidates but when I peered more closely everytime I struck out.  But then I saw The Shelter and remembered this one - I had picked up a nifty A&M comp last time (though I defaced it trying in vein to remove a sticker from the cover) so we swung through.  

It paid off because while I did find a record here I found nothing at our eventual destination at Kenneth Young.  This is the second Riverside album I own and the condition was so good on this one I was convinced it was a reissue.  It isn't and it is excellent.  Ironically it is neither of the brothers that attracted me to the release (besides the label) but the man on the vibes.  He actually plays on both albums, though piano on the former.

A nice haul of records on a great day to spend doing...not much. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fantastic Andy's, Kewanee IL

Went for a road trip to visit my girlfriend's home town for the weekend and stopped by Fantastic Andy's, a place she had already told me about.  I was eager to check it out after hearing some wild stories.  

A very important record was purchased here (by her) over a year ago - still probably my favorite and definitely the most important Engelbert record to me, 'We Made It Happen'. At that time she was just beginning to branch out on her interest in Engelbert's music (she was barely more familliar with his discography than I), she gave me the record and said 'I might like it'.  Of course that has proven to be a wild understatement and that record has honestly changed my life.  So back to Mecca I went, to see where gold is spun and magic drips from the walls of Andy's consignment shop.

I questioned my own motives as my hunt began as I pulled out so many records that I wondered if I was just getting carried away and buying stuff I didn't need because I was excited to be there.  But as I have since sobered from the intoxicating ways of these four walls, I can attest that indeed I carry no regret with my purchases.

Glen Campbell - The Artistry Of Glen Campbell
Normally I'd stay away from Glen's compilations but the packaging is beautiful and it is in insane good condition so I could not resist.  I may go ahead and play C1 at the next Bar Mitzvah I attend.  Also jammed inside was a huge full color concert program - total bonus that I'd bet did not come with the actual release.

Mike + The Mechanics* - Mike + The Mechanics 
I did not buy this for A2 but A1, a song everyone knows but not by title.  Such a great track and this record will fit well within the virtual bookends of my growing 80s collection which also contains Benny Mardones and Gino Vanelli (amongst others).

Sade - Promise 
Like the record above, I continue to evade the obvious justification for purchase.  It is actually A1 that brought this one home, by far my favorite Sade song and one of my favorites in general.  I was introduced to the track by MF Doom (by way of the Molemen) on the title track here, later renamed 'Kon Queso' (which I later appropriated for my own music video)

Alvin Lee & Mylon Le Fevre* - On The Road To Freedom
I don't have a clear reason for this one besides that it called out to me.  I am aware of Alvin Lee's work with Ten Years After and his general guitar bravado but the cover just looked interesting.

Tom Jones - I (Who Have Nothing)
#11 in the Parrot discography so far - this one is still in the plastic wrapper.

Dionne WarwickGlen CampbellBurt Bacharach - On The Move 
A very odd promo record for Chevrolet which drew me in for the Glen Campbell tracks and put me in the sleeper hold for 'Walk On By', which I think has some of the most ingenius producing ever.  Such an excellent and haunting song with sparse instrumentation.

Suntones, The - Somewhere
My barbershop obsession continues.  The '61 International champs record even contains a mailorder form to order their other LPs - AND an envelope to boot to put it in! There are oxidation marks on the inner sleeve where you can see that neither item shifted inside the jacket for many years.  Where things get really odd is that this is the 4th barbershop album between my girlfriend and I - and all are autographed.  Three were found in thrift stores (the other on eBay) and its just a strange coincidence that this trend continues.  May it never cease!

My girlfriend bought my favorite Elvis record (which I already have, addendum forthcoming) for $3 which is a steal considering its in good shape and the original custom inner sleeves are intact.  I on the other hand paid $11 for mine and its warped (we joke that it has been 'plier-ed' - the act of being damaged purposefully with a pair of pliers).  She relented after I complained of this unfair fact for a couple hours and said I should just have it.  Now I feel disgusted with myself and plan to return it to her tomorrow, so that I may live on for eternity with my plier-ed special edition.

There is just no way at all that this many great records should be housed in this small, cluttered space.  The groups of vinyl I grabbed pushed me over the edge of 400 LPs (includes my scant couple 10" records but not 7"), which is exciting.

I also saw a copy of everyone's favorite Ray Price album (well that's not totally true) which was ironic given that my girlfriend's grandmother (who lived and died in this small town) held that as one of her favorites, and its another album and artist that I was introduced to via the same method as Engelbert.  
Grandma -> girlfriend -> and me.

I'll close with this smattering of pics from inside and outside the store.  Andy's small notes stuck in the most random places are excellent stuff.

this was taped to an item that had nothing to do with liver sausage, recipes or food at all)


the other album she bought besides Live in Hawaii is visible here.  Andy's hat simply says 'Sport'.

Goodwill, Kewanee IL

Just a tiny sampling of vinyl at my 11th Goodwill (on this blog at least).  Almost all Xmas music clearly put out recently for the occasion except for one very odd disco/rock record which I almost bought.  (Something/somebody needs to keep Macho company).