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Thread: Seeking Info & Opinions Re: Electromuse Eye-Beam Pickup (for Lap Steel)

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    Seeking Info & Opinions Re: Electromuse Eye-Beam Pickup (for Lap Steel)

    So, I've got this no-name, junk-store lap steel that I want to fix up just to play "Sleepwalk."

    The pickup is marked "EYE-BEAM Electromuse STRING PICKUP CHICAGO USA".



    Here's what I've found out about Electromuse via the interweb:

    1. What Wikipedia says. Electromuse - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    2. A bazillion Electromuse "canoe paddle" student lap steels were built in the '40s and '50s.
    Here's one. http://www.krazykatmusic.com/wp-cont...ap-Steel-1.jpg

    3. My instrument appears to be some "store-brand stencil." It has the same control plate and 12 ft pigtail as the "canoe paddles", but the same body shape and red, white, and blue fretboard as this "Bronson". Zorko's Guitars

    4. The pickups are low output. On one Steel Guitar forum, an old timer reminisces about the canoe paddles coming with "pure iron strings" to increase output, and having to oil the strings to keep the rust down enough to avoid tetanus....



    Here's what I've found out by examination and disassembly of my instrument:

    1. The wiring is standard-issue "one pickup with volume and tone"- except the volume pot is only 20Kohm. The tone circuit is 150K pot with .05uF cap.

    2. The Eye-Beam pickup is slightly weird- basically a blade pickup turned sideways. The core is a piece of steel I-channel (AKA H-channel), magnetized across the bar so one flange is North and the other flange is South; the two "toaster slots" in the cover align with the flanges.

    3. The core is badly rusted and pitted. The cloth tape wrapped around the core split along a flange, and a bunch of inner coil turns severed.

    4. I'm not sure of the coil wire guage, but there wasn't a whole lot of wire in the coil.



    Here's how I contemplate rebuilding the pickup:

    1. Either clean up the original core or find a bright, shiny, new piece of I-channel. Also, file the ends smooth and round.

    2. Wrap the core with cloth tape, then soak the tape in nail polish.

    3. Wind as much 42AWG as physically possible onto the core.

    4. Magnetize the core with a pair of the strongest Neos I can get my hands on.

    5. And so on.



    Here are some questions:

    1. Where can one find new steel H-channel, 1" wide with ~3/8" flanges?

    2. In theory, does the Eye-Beam pickup work? Or is it like the hummingbird that can hover because it doesn't know physics?

    3. In practice, do these pickups have any redeeming values? Might I be able to get "reasonable" level from a rebuilt pickup? Would I be better off replacing the Eye-Beam with something else? If so, what would be a good example of "something else"?



    Thanks,
    -rb

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    Last edited by rjb; 07-25-2011 at 06:54 PM.

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    For the steel H-channel, you can probably clean it up and re-use it. Basically, scrape off the worst of the rust, file the surfaces relatively smooth, polish the ends of the blades that will show, and get it nickel plated.

    If you really need a new one, it's probably easiest to machine a replacement from a small bar of 1018 steel. It may take some searching to find some mild steel H-channel in that small size. I've never really looked.

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    Brain spin- "thinking" ahead.

    I am under no delusion that this lap steel is a valuable antique, and have no qualms about modifying its mojo.

    Considering that all I currently have, pickup-wise, is a chunk of rusty steel and a spool of wire, I may be getting ahead of myself here, but does anyone have an opinion whether any of these might be worth trying?

    1. Attach 6 little NEO magnets (say, 1/4" x 1/4" x 1/8" thick) to each flange of the Eye-Beam's "I-Beam". Maybe could shift NEOs around to adjust relative string output.

    2. Install a "Stratoblaster" type JFET buffer. Should its input impedance be modified to ~200K-500K?

    3. Replace the Eye-Beam with a ready-made dual-rail humbucker. Would need to remove cover and space rails to fit Eye-Beam cover. Also would need new pots- may as well get with push-pull switch for serial/parallel wiring.

    Opinions welcome.

    Thanks,
    -rb

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    D'oh

    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    3. Replace the Eye-Beam with a ready-made dual-rail humbucker.
    Assuming I want to keep the cover, this won't work- even with magnet rails. The cover slots are too close to the sides to wrap a coil around the rails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Johnson View Post
    For the steel H-channel,...
    I'll probably clean it up, as you suggest. Machining a new part may be easy for YOU, but....

    Still, I keep thinking that I've seen that H-channel before, in a different context. Did it use to commonly be used to support desk & workbench tops, or shelving or something like that?

    Thanks, Bruce
    -rb

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    i would like to see some photos of that -Either the core is magnetized or the magnet is somewhere outside of the coil- if the core is magnetised its probably not typical steel, i would clean it up and nickel plate it if you have the stuff to do so in shop or wrap it with some tape top keep corrosion at bay, remag it and put about 5000 to 7000 turns of whatever wire gauge will fit and try that before you start thinking about making something to fit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jason lollar View Post
    i would like to see some photos of that
    Oops. I kinda assumed you would be the world expert on these things. I should have had the presence of mind to take some pix before tearing everything down, but I think the heat wave boiled my brain. I've attached some mockups & re-enactments, and will try to describe it the best I can.

    Quote Originally Posted by jason lollar View Post
    Either the core is magnetized...
    Yes, the core is magnetized across the bar; one flange is North (marked with a red paint dot) and the other flange is South.

    Quote Originally Posted by jason lollar View Post
    i would clean it up and nickel plate it if you have the stuff to do so in shop
    Har. I'm a shade tree mechanic without a shade tree. I'm lucky to get to use the potting table next to the back porch....

    Quote Originally Posted by jason lollar View Post
    or wrap it with some tape to keep corrosion at bay
    I do plan to wrap it in tape to protect the coil wire, but it was originally wrapped in tape & it corroded- over how many years, I don't know.
    Would painting it with nail polish, or maybe metal primer & Rust-oleum, work?

    Quote Originally Posted by jason lollar View Post
    remag it and put about 5000 to 7000 turns of whatever wire gauge will fit
    I don't think I could get that many turns- not, at least, without adding some temporary "flange extenders". I'll see what I can do.

    But I might start out trying fewer turns.
    The original coil didn't use a lot of wire- wound mostly in the middle, not much on the sides.
    Almost looked like it was hand wrapped vs hand wound.

    I wasn't able to measure the coil DCR, but tried working backward
    using a rule of thumb mentioned by forum member "bbsailor" that says
    "the load on a pickup should be about 40 times its DCR..."

    Load = 20K ohm (Volume Pot)
    Coil DCR = 20Kohm/40 = 500 ohm
    42AWG = 1659 ohm / 1000 ft (typical)
    Coil wire length = 500ohm / (1659ohm/1000 ft) = 301 ft
    Measured Length of 10 turns = 4 ft, 1 in = 4.083 ft
    #Turns of 42AWG: 301 ft / (4.083 ft / 10 turns) = 737 turns

    Since I actually measured 21 Kohm for the Volume Pot, I figured I could bump that up a bit:
    21 Kohm load -> 525 ohm coil DCR -> 775 turns 42AWG
    Or maybe, say, 800-1000 turns for a "hot" pickup!

    Then I thought I'd try hanging little Neo magnets on the flanges. Not exactly traditional, but my hope is it would boost the output.
    Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

    Thanks,
    -rb
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    Here's a rundown on the attached pics.

    1) Front of control plate and pickup cover; note position of "toaster slots".

    2) Back of control plate. Pickup cover is held to plate by 4 tabs that engage 4 slots, then are twisted 90 degrees. Harness pics can be found elsewhere on the interweb. Pickup leads are bare wire for start and blue for finish.

    3) Inside of the pickup. You've really got to use your imagination here.
    Pretend H-channel is very rough cut; the ends look like they were chewed off by a beaver. A layer of black cloth tape bulges out the "toaster slots", pressed by the channel flanges. The channel is wedged in place by two short pieces (only one is shown) of flattened rubber tubing (or wire insulation?), one on either side. As mentioned before, the channel is magnetized across its width. It is covered with a layer of white cloth tape, then (sparsely) wound lengthwise with red magnet wire, then wrapped with more white cloth tape.

    4) A family portrait of some of the pickup components. The magnet wire and white cloth tape send their regards.

    5) End view showing the non-symmetrical shape of the H-channel flanges. The H-channel is about 15/16" tall; web about 1/8"; total flange length about 3/8". It was cut to about 2-3/8" long.

    6) A re-enactment showing how the start wire is attached. Some red-insulated solid steel wire plays the part of the magnet wire.

    Later,
    -rb

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    Last edited by rjb; 07-27-2011 at 05:07 PM.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    I should have had the presence of mind to take some pix before tearing everything down, but I think the heat wave boiled my brain.
    I always take photos of pickups before I take them apart. That way you have a record of the pickup. Especially something rare like this.

    One way you could have estimated how much wire was on the coil was by weighing it on a digital scale before, and after removing the wire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Schwab View Post
    I always take photos of pickups before I take them apart. That way you have a record of the pickup.
    I intended to take photos for just that reason, but got lost in the heat of the moment. Or something.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Schwab View Post
    Especially something rare like this.
    I don't think these pickups are all that rare; you see Electromuse "canoe paddles" on eBay all the time.
    Of course, people want more for an old student lap steel than I'd like to pay ....

    Quote Originally Posted by David Schwab View Post
    One way you could have estimated how much wire was on the coil was by weighing it on a digital scale before, and after removing the wire.
    Or I could have weighed the wad of wire directly, after removing it from the core. If I had a digital scale.

    Oh well, no use crying over spilled wire.
    -rb

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    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    I intended to take photos for just that reason, but got lost in the heat of the moment. Or something.
    That happens to me when I'm on vacation!

    I don't think these pickups are all that rare; you see Electromuse "canoe paddles" on eBay all the time.
    Of course, people want more for an old student lap steel than I'd like to pay ....
    That's the point. I never even heard of one, let alone saw the inside of the pickup. So even if they are out there, the gut shots sure aren't!

    Or I could have weighed the wad of wire directly, after removing it from the core. If I had a digital scale.
    You want to weigh it on the bobbin, so you can then wind the bobbin to the same weight. I did that recently with a '76 Thunderbird bass pickup.

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    "You want to weigh it on the bobbin, so you can then wind the bobbin to the same weight. I did that recently with a '76 Thunderbird bass pickup."
    Did you charge the guy by the ounce, or by the pound???
    T

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    ive rewound many many lap steels- never seen that pickup or anything remotely like it. Some really old pickups didnt have much wire on them but the amps they used then had a different input than later models so it didnt take much to drive the amp. Also some of those old pickups just never sounded that good anyway
    You would need to charge up that magnet and see how much magnetism you have availible and use some 44 gauge wire or smaller if you have it or make something entirely new to fit in the cover

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    Quote Originally Posted by jason lollar View Post
    ive rewound many many lap steels- never seen that pickup or anything remotely like it.
    Oh, expletive! I really didn't think they were that rare.

    Quote Originally Posted by jason lollar View Post
    Some really old pickups didnt have much wire on them but the amps they used then had a different input than later models so it didnt take much to drive the amp.
    I have read passing mention (without attribution) that the Eye-Beam was "one of the first practical pickup designs." Might it have originally been designed to the old 600 ohm radio standard? Now I'm considering winding it to 600 ohms DCR (~884 turns 42 AWG) and using a mic matching transformer at the amp, or running into a mic mixer.

    Quote Originally Posted by jason lollar View Post
    Also some of those old pickups just never sounded that good anyway
    Yup.
    I've read a few conflicting opinions. One guy said it sounded great on a Spanish guitar, mounted an inch away from the strings. Others say the "canoe paddles" have a clangy somewhat resophonic sound, that lacks sustain and doesn't really sing. But then some blame the large control cavity ("not enough contact between the body and control plate") and/or the plexiglass nut.

    Quote Originally Posted by jason lollar View Post
    You would need to charge up that magnet and see how much magnetism you have availible and use some 44 gauge wire or smaller if you have it or make something entirely new to fit in the cover
    Just to make sure I'm not making assumptions or being a blockhead:
    Are you saying that in order to make this pickup compatible with modern guitar amps, I would have to get the magnet as saturated as possible, and use a very small wire guage in order to squeeze as many turns as possible into the limited area provided by the I-beam flanges?
    And if I did that, would I change to a higher resistance Volume pot to avoid over-loading the pickup?

    Might these schemes work instead:

    1) Use fewer winds (knowing that the output level, DCR, and impedance would all be lower than a modern pickup) and a matching transformer to compensate.

    2) In addition to 1), hang small neo magnets (1/8" x 1/8" x 1/16") on the ends of the flanges to boost the magnetic field and the output level.

    Thanks, Jason

    -rb

    PS- Sorry again for not taking gut shots.

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    Last edited by rjb; 07-28-2011 at 03:07 PM. Reason: Changed "larger volume pot" to "higher resistance Volume pot". I have plenty of room & don't care about the pot's volume.

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    I used to own an Electromuse with an "Eye Beam". It sounded great, not weak at all. The cheapness of the guitar itself was what sort of dragged the thing down as a utility instrument- especially the "bridge" which contributes to the resonator like quality alluded to in a previous post. Certainly the one great thing about mine WAS the pickup. Did this pickup work or was it dead when you got it? Also, these aren't really all that rare, but aren't "common" either - I have seen maybe 5 of them through the years. I'll add that any "old timer" who had to "oil" their strings to keep them from rusting and uses that fact as some measure of the quality level of an instrument is, in my book, officially a "coot"!

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    "You want to weigh it on the bobbin, so you can then wind the bobbin to the same weight. I did that recently with a '76 Thunderbird bass pickup."
    Did you charge the guy by the ounce, or by the pound???
    T
    By the gram!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    I used to own an Electromuse with an "Eye Beam". It sounded great, not weak at all.... Certainly the one great thing about mine WAS the pickup.
    That is encouraging news!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    Did this pickup work or was it dead when you got it?
    Good question. I got the lap steel in the '80s and vaguely remember it had "issues". Used it as a wall decoration for many years. When I recently opened it up, I found the pickup's core had rusted; the rust had "bubbled up", splitting the protective cloth tape and severing inner coil wire. But I did have a flood in the '00s that destroyed the original chipboard case- that may have been how the rust got started. So I can't say the pickup was dead when I got it. Uh, what was the question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    Also, these aren't really all that rare, but aren't "common" either
    I've been finding that out. The other big kids already yelled at me about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    I'll add that any "old timer" who had to "oil" their strings to keep them from rusting and uses that fact as some measure of the quality level of an instrument is, in my book, officially a "coot"!
    I'm sure he's a coot, but was fondly remembering an old playmate. He said he stopped oiling iron strings when Gibson's monel strings came out.

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    I was just taking guesses never having seen one but when I hear it only had a few turns of wire on it it makes me think maybe it was made for an amp with different input impedance which I have ran across once in a while but apparantly thats not the case- youll have to charge up the magnet and see what it does if it seems extremely weak.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jason lollar View Post
    I was just taking guesses never having seen one but when I hear it only had a few turns of wire on it it makes me think maybe it was made for an amp with different input impedance which I have ran across once in a while but apparantly thats not the case- youll have to charge up the magnet and see what it does if it seems extremely weak.
    It sounds as though it was intended to be used with a transformer, like a low to high impedance microphone transformer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Sulzer View Post
    It sounds as though it was intended to be used with a transformer, like a low to high impedance microphone transformer.
    Cranking up the speculator:
    I've seen (presumably) older ones online that came with a jack for a removable cord. Mine came with a 12-foot pigtail with standard 1/4" phone plug on the end. So maybe they were originally designed for low impedance, and the internal design never changed when they switched the "interface".

    Like Jason said, I'll just have to crank it up & see what it does.

    -rb

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    Last edited by rjb; 07-28-2011 at 10:23 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Schwab View Post
    You want to weigh it on the bobbin, so you can then wind the bobbin to the same weight. I did that recently with a '76 Thunderbird bass pickup.
    So... I can use any wire, as long as it weighs the same? Is that to maintain balance and avoid "neck dive"?
    -rb

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    Just gathering information...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    I used to own an Electromuse with an "Eye Beam". It sounded great, not weak at all...the one great thing about mine WAS the pickup.
    Mr. Finger (or do you prefer to be called Sweet),

    Could you tell me:
    1) What the Electromuse was plugged into?
    2) Whether the hand rest (or whatever you call the metal "U" that arches over the pickup) was installed?

    Thanks,
    -rb

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    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    Mr. Finger (or do you prefer to be called Sweet),

    Could you tell me:
    1) What the Electromuse was plugged into?
    2) Whether the hand rest (or whatever you call the metal "U" that arches over the pickup) was installed?

    Thanks,
    -rb
    Call me what you want, just don't call me between 4 a.m. and noon!
    Mine was missing or never had a handrest/arched protective cover. I probably had it plugged into the shop test amp- an old Crate G-40C. I had to re-crimp the cover back down over the pickup on mine, and being the curious type, took a gander at the assembly before packing it back in. I remember thinking that it was a pretty cool and unusual pickup design considering its age. It might be the earliest sidewinder design on the market. Personally, I think you should use the original magnet(if you have it) and wind the coils with 43 or 44 up to where they fill out the internal dimension of the cover. I remember mine was a pretty tight fit under the cover. If you don't have the magnet, you'll probably have to use a ceramic bar from a cheep-o single coil because its unlikely you'll find an alnico bar with the correct orientation. Neos are going to have way too much string pull. Maybe someone can dig up the original patent for the thing.
    Another thing- It is possible that I redid the harness in mine. Don't remember. If I did I could have put any value of pot in.

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    That H-beam looks like it was cast. How hard is the metal? Can you file it?

    It may be alnico or cobalt steel or the like. To retain a magnetic charge, it will be pretty hard, physically and magnetically.

    Anyway, if it's what I suspect it is, it will be pretty hard to replicate in small quantities.

    I would just clean the old one up by wet sanding with a 3M sponge-backed wet-dry sandpaper pad, dry carefully, and varnish.

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    We're a maroon.

    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    ...maybe they were originally designed for low impedance...
    The Electromuse lap steels were often sold with a cosmetically-matching, Valco-manufactured amplifier- one model similar in design to early Fender Champs. So, presumably, the pickup was "meant" to plug into a "normal" guitar amp.

    D'oh,
    -rb

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Gwinn View Post
    That H-beam looks like it was cast. How hard is the metal? Can you file it?
    What you see in the photo is after a session with Mr. Rotary Tool and his grinding wheel. I removed much corrosion and pitting; before I rounded the ends, it was obvious the piece had been cut (or snapped?) from a long bar. The ends were pretty jagged.

    I'm a novice to this stuff, and originally thought it was "plain old steel" because it looked to me like a piece of common hardware. I agree it must be something else, but couldn't tell Al Nico from Cobalt Steel if they were wearing name tags.

    Thanks for the advice and information,
    -rb

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    Mine was missing or never had a handrest/arched protective cover.
    I asked because something Jason said on his site made me think the cover might help boost the signal level:
    Supro® Steel Guitar Pickup
    "The steel plate that goes over the strings spreads the magnetic field to surround the strings. This increases the pickup's sensitivity and reduces magnetic pull on the strings which increases sustain."


    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    I probably had it plugged into the shop test amp- an old Crate G-40C.
    ...so, the Eye-Beam produced a healthy signal into a "modern" amp....


    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    It might be the earliest sidewinder design on the market.
    I thought a sidewinder was something else. The Eye-Beam is a single coil-wrapped magnet oriented parallel to the strings. I thought a sidewinder has a steel bar or line of polepieces in "normal" configuration, with a pair of coil-wrapped magnets oriented parallel to the strings, facing in to the bar or polepieces. (I didn't say that very well, but David Schwab can explain it better). So the Eye-Beam might be a pre-cursor to the sidewinder....


    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    Personally, I think you should use the original magnet(if you have it) and wind the coils with 43 or 44 up to where they fill out the internal dimension of the cover. I remember mine was a pretty tight fit under the cover.
    Hmm. Mine didn't have all that much magnet wire, and most of the winding was "clumped" in the middle of the bar.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    Neos are going to have way too much string pull.
    Even little baby Neos?


    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    Maybe someone can dig up the original patent for the thing.
    I know Wikipedia calls it a patented design, but I can't find a Patent Number or "Patent Applied For" anywhere on the pickup.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    Another thing- It is possible that I redid the harness in mine. Don't remember. If I did I could have put any value of pot in.
    Mine has the original Allen-Bradley pots. 20K volume pot is another reason to think low winds.
    Maybe they switched at some point, and I've got an earlier version....

    OK, I've got to stop wasting time with the computer, and get moving on this (and other, more important, things).

    Thanks,
    -rb

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    Regarding the Lollar pickup. The Eye-Beam isn't a "string through" pickup like the old Supro or horseshoe Ricks.

    I may have assumed that it was a sidewinder based on the two outside blades and center core. I didn't disassemble mine.

    Is the "H" shaped chunk of metal itself the magnet? If so, I'd just wind a big fat coil and move along. If the "H" is not the magnet, or is only weakly magnetized, my inclination would be to wind it as a sidewinder- Glue a bar magnet right in the center and wind your coils on either side. Your backup to that is to dump the "H" entirely and wind a flat Dearmond "Hershey bar" style coil and stuff it under the cover with a facing of whatever you wanted to show through the toaster slots(black plastic, gold foil, pearloid).

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    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    What you see in the photo is after a session with Mr. Rotary Tool and his grinding wheel. I removed much corrosion and pitting; before I rounded the ends, it was obvious the piece had been cut (or snapped?) from a long bar. The ends were pretty jagged.
    What triggered me was the black pits and organic shape.

    Alnico and cobalt steel are pretty brittle, so snapping could well have been the approach.

    I'm a novice to this stuff, and originally thought it was "plain old steel" because it looked to me like a piece of common hardware. I agree it must be something else, but couldn't tell Al Nico from Cobalt Steel if they were wearing name tags.
    Can you file the metal, or does the file just skate on the metal?

    If you grind the metal in a dark room, what do the sparks look like?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    Regarding the Lollar pickup. The Eye-Beam isn't a "string through" pickup like the old Supro or horseshoe Ricks.
    By itself, the Eye-Beam isn't a "string through" pickup. But with the hand guard in place, it does have a steel plate over the strings.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    Is the "H" shaped chunk of metal itself the magnet?
    Yup.



    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    ...with a facing of whatever you wanted to show through the toaster slots(black plastic, gold foil, pearloid).
    Wow, I hadn't thought of using anything other than black cloth tape.* What a great way to customize my axe!**

    * True; not being snarky.
    ** Approaching snarkiness.

    Thanks again,
    -rb

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    Last edited by rjb; 07-31-2011 at 04:52 AM. Reason: "plate" was "sheet"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Gwinn View Post
    Can you file the metal, or does the file just skate on the metal?
    I tried a few different files, and it didn't exactly cut like butter. I switched to the grinding wheel pretty quickly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Gwinn View Post
    If you grind the metal in a dark room, what do the sparks look like?
    I actually did grind it in the dark, by the light of a citronella candle. But I have no specific recollection of the sparks. They weren't polka-dotted, or three feet long....

    Sorry,
    -rb

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    Magnet Coatings

    Quote Originally Posted by jason lollar View Post
    i would clean it up and nickel plate it if you have the stuff to do so in shop....
    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Gwinn View Post
    I would just clean the old one..., dry carefully, and varnish.
    This got me into thinking about and looking up different magnet coatings.
    I did find a thread containing recommendations for Cassell's electrloess nickel plating kits.
    I also found Possum's thread in search of bullet-proof lacquer.
    But I'm wondering if anyone has experience with any of the following (and if yet another thread on magnet coatings is warranted):


    1) On-the-Cheap DIY Electroless Nickel Coating.

    I've found several "how to" tutorials online, and they all require the same ingredients: double nickel salt, sal ammoniac, aluminum foil, and water.

    I know sal ammoniac is sold in block form as solder iron tinning block.
    I know double nickel salt goes by several aliases (ammonium nickelous sulfate, nickel ammonium sulfate, ammonium nickel sulfate...)
    I haven't the foggiest idea where you'd buy or how you'd make double nickel salt.

    Has anyone tried this procedure, without shelling out for the Cassell kit?
    Where'd you get the double nickel salt?


    2) Porc-a-Fix (Porcelain patch enamel)

    Porc-a-Fix is marketed for patching porcelain appliances and water fixtures.
    It looks a lot like the stuff DeArmond/Rowe used on the inside of their backplate-as-bobbin-flanges.

    I'm trying some (thinned with mineral spirits) on the Eye-Beam magnet
    (but am having some issues- I bet it works better at 72 F and 50% RH than at 102 F and 85%RH).

    It may be kinda pricey (especially if you want "decorator colors"), and thick for some uses.
    But it seems quite tough, and I think it might be useful for DeArmond restorations and similar applications.



    3) Fortified India Ink

    Somebody painted my Electromuse's handguard (and part of the body) with battleship-grey brush-on paint. I stripped it and found deteriorated plating.
    On a whim, I slapped on some waterproof India ink.
    It applied easily, adhered well, dried fast, and looks good. I might just topcoat it & see how it holds up.

    But here's what I found:
    The most common formulation of India ink is lampblack and water, with shellac as a binder.
    Wikipedia sez:
    "Once dry, its conductive properties make it useful for electrical connections to difficult substrates, such as glass. Although relatively low in conductivity, surfaces can be made suitable for electroplating, low frequency shielding, or for creating large conductive geometries for high voltage apparatuses. A piece of paper impregnated with India ink serves as a grid leak resistor in some tube radio circuits." India ink - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    This wacky site 75 MONEY MAKING PLANS & TRADE SECRETS - small business ideas lists a formula
    How to make a cheap ink that will write on glass or bright metal: 5 parts India ink to 1 part of water glass (sodium silicate solution).

    Sodium silicate is listed at Amazon for $12.77 pint.
    It also might be found at auto parts stores (poured into radiator for temporary head gasket repair), is used in home beer & wine making, and is a fixative for textile dyes.
    Or, it can be made from Drano and dessicant gel beads.

    I suggest that waterproof India ink, fortified with sodium silicate, might be a useful magnet coating in applications where you want to ground the magnets.
    Is that a goofy idea, or what?

    Later,
    -rb

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    Last edited by rjb; 07-31-2011 at 04:37 PM. Reason: Improved India ink description, added Wiki quote, <B>&<I>'s

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    Sodium Silicate is Water Glass

    Sodium silicate is also known as "water glass", and is pretty cheap.

    Sodium silicate - Wikipedia

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    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    I tried a few different files, and it didn't exactly cut like butter. I switched to the grinding wheel pretty quickly.
    If it were alnico, file would not cut at all, so it's probably something like cobalt steel.


    I actually did grind it in the dark, by the light of a citronella candle. But I have no specific recollection of the sparks. They weren't polka-dotted, or three feet long....
    Details do matter, and one can tell a great deal from the sparks. Spark testing - Wikipedia

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Gwinn View Post
    Sodium silicate is also known as "water glass"
    I thought I said that:
    "5 parts India ink to 1 part of water glass (sodium silicate solution)"

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Gwinn View Post
    and is pretty cheap.
    So, where do you get yours?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Gwinn View Post
    That's where I got my info, too.

    -rb

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Gwinn View Post
    If it were alnico, file would not cut at all, so it's probably something like cobalt steel.

    Details do matter, and one can tell a great deal from the sparks. Spark testing - Wikipedia
    This is interesting information. But, at this point in time, I think we've established:
    1) The "I-Beam" is made of some magnetic material.
    2) It is not a common item you can pick up off the shelf.
    3) I've cleaned it up and am going to use it as is; I'm not going to try to replicate it.

    It would be nice to know exactly what the magnet is made of. It is nice to know a method of differentiating ferrous metals.
    But, in terms of the goal of getting the pickup working, is knowing the exact composition of the magnet a detail that really matters?

    Thanks,
    -rb

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    Last edited by rjb; 07-31-2011 at 02:28 AM.

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