Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

My latest passion/diversion

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Headstock with custom decalWhat have I been up to lately?  Building my own electric guitar.  William and Ashley both have Fender Stratocasters, and I have bought, then sold a couple different Gibsons to try to find something I like, spent quite a bit of time at Guitar Center playing various axes.  Eventually I realized the Strat just seems perfect. 

Designed in the early 1950’s by Leo Fender, it is STILL the mainstay guitar of SO many successful musicians.  The list of guys that consider(or considered) it their main guitar stretch from Buddy Holly, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa,  Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd, to John Mayer and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. The Strat’s where it’s at. 

Rather than buy another of what we have, I decided to build my own from parts I selected myself.   It’s still the same guitar, just a ‘custom’ version done exactly like I want.  I started with an unfinished body mostly shaped and routed, then started searching for the neck and other bits and pieces I needed.   William helped me with soldering, polishing, installing the tuners, and in general, being another set of hands and eyes to help be sure everthing was set right. 

Basically, it has become my obsession over the last couple months to get it finished.  Of course, it took much longer than I thought, but I really couldn’t be happier with the result.  I have a full picture gallery of the complete process here  You can click each photo to read the description of what process I was working on, and also access full size photos.

 I used a Swamp Ash unfinished body.  A birdseye maple neck, with rosewood fretboard. I wanted to build a pretty much vintage correct Strat, with my own upgrades as I saw fit.  The basic inspiration was from Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Number One Strat(pictured at bottom of page), thought I obviously did not try to ‘copy’ that guitar, with the enhanced grain, different coloring, different wood, etc. that I used  But I used vintage style tuners, tremolo,  saddles, string tree, and real bone nut  just as would have been on a 1950’s or 1960’s Strat.  I did the contouring on the body to be similar to that era.  An amber tint to the neck gives that older, vintage, yellowed vibe rather than the bright white maple of a brand new Fender.  The decals on the headstock are Fender inspired, but my own take on them.   I even stuck a small quote from Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones on there.  The finish is old school Nitro Lacquer, just as used back in the day.  At one time used for automobile finishes, it’s too toxic for that use these days.  I replaced the modern, cool abalone fret marker dots with cream colored clay dots, to also give a more vintage look.  I think it came out pretty nice.  It’s a joy to play, when I can wrestle it out of William’s hands.

Harper Custom Stratocaster

Tobacco Burst StratocasterThe back.  Note the neckplate with big letter H and my name circling it.

This is what I started with

This is the body that I actually started with.

Copy of SRV’s #1






Above is a copy of the actual Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar that was the starting point for what I was wanting to do.  Below is a Fender replica guitar of the same.  I wanted to do something like this, but actually build a better guitar than I might buy off the shelf, with my own twist on it. 

Fender Replica

SRV Last Call

SRV was killed August 27, 1990 in a helicopter crash following a concert in East Troy, Wisconsin, headed to Chicago.  Also on stage that night had been Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan. (though obviously none of them were onboard the helicopter)











Saturday’s Ride

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Saturday’s ride…

Click on photos for full size and description. (when that page opens, you can then click the photo again for larger size.)

Out for a nice ride in the piney woodsBridge over a swampSlight error in judgementOut of the muck!


Friday, October 19th, 2007

Today was a trip for me, Emily and William to head to Gatorland.  In case you didn’t know, World Famous Gatorland, established in Orlando in 1949, and in the opening collage of photos in Chevy Chases VACATION movie.

We had a blast.  Photos at

Emily wrestling a live alligator

On a running note, I’ve got a few nice short runs in.   I’ve only ran one 4 mile run between Badwater and Furnace Creek, and I’ve been surprised now good I feel on some short, fast 3 mile runs.  They’ve been very fun.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to get out and paddle my kayak for a couple hours. 

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

By Crew, (Steve and Willy) 

The race started on time, 7:00am, the riders rode the first 24 miles without crew support. When David arrived  he looked in great shape. Fed him a banana and changed water bottles. He climbed the short uphill and then he has been going great guns. The temperature was cold when he started but by 11:00am when he reached the windmills sun was shining the sky was
California blue. 34

Furnance Creek 508 October 5, 2007

Friday, October 5th, 2007

By Crew, Steve and Willy.

Dave and crew packed the support vehicle and headed for race check-in arriving around 3:30PM. The parking lot was beginning to fill up with support vehicles ranging from two door hondas, mini vans and trucks. The cycles were nothing but the best and fully loaded. Anyone rookie would be impressed with the competition. Dave appeared relaxed and cool. The weather was windy and cold. Just before leaving the freeway we had a small sprinkle. Upon arriving the van was decked with all the required safety equipment and the photo is of Dave and the Furnace Creek official reviewing the van safety compliance.


If you’re goin’ through Hell…

Monday, October 1st, 2007

Weekend before last, The Harper Clan all made a trip over to Tampa for a country music concert.  We went to see Brad Paisley, Rodney Atkins, and I forget the 17 year old girls name that opened for them.  I’m sure Ashley will comment here and tell me.  It was awesome.  Some rain just as we arrived, but turned into a wonderful night.  We were Jammin!  Rodney’s song, “If you’re goin through Hell…” brought back those Badwater Memories.  Every time I hear that song it takes me right back to 2006 Badwater, and William Ansick playing that for me in the van.  Details of that stroll through the desert, and the verse of that song are on my 2006 Badwater race report.  Brad Paisley was great too, it’s always fun to see people live, so much more impressive than hearing them on the radio. 

Click photos for full size.

Just arriving at concertAre we prepared for anything or WHAT!?!   Good job TAMI!2007sept-223.jpgBrad Paisley.  He does most of his lead guitar also, very good, William was impressed.

 Next night Ashley had a friend over for a sleepover, and we did a bonfire and Smores.  Kids ate those things till they were almost sick.  We also ended up baby sitting some friends Golden Retriever for the weekend.  She LOVED swimming in the pool.

I wonder just how many calories were consumed this evening?2007sept-295.jpg2007septshannon.jpg

Lastly, I got a couple really good bike rides in on Sunday and Monday.  My last of the long rides.   Furnace Creek coming up soon.  I think I’m ready!

Cycling Update

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

Time is drawing near for the Furnace Creek 508.   Three weeks away.  Training has been going great, I’ve got several 100 plus mile rides in, 130 today and finished feeling strong.  My legs feel good.   The heat/humidity here is causing problems, just making it difficult to train as hard as I’d like.  In the humidity, the profuse sweating does no good, it doesn’t evaporate, so it’s not cooling you, it’s only depleting your body.  I manage it, and am getting good workouts in, but I so wish I could spend a couple, three weeks out West in the dry air.  Oh well.

I got my Cervelo time trial bike put together and it’s working well.   It’s very fast, but also pretty exhausting to ride.  My neck gets very tired because of the very forward, low position.  But it’s good.  I’ll be riding it for most of my rides between now and race day, and will actually raise the front about a 1/4 inch right before the race, to relieve some of the steepness.  With the Cervelo for the flat/rolling sections, and the Cannondale Six-13 road bike for the big climbs and decents, I think I’ve got the equipment part covered.   And my training has been good, so hopefully, I’ve got the physical part covered.   The race itself is going to be so difficult though, I have no illusions that it will be easy.  I expect the most difficult event I’ve ever done.

 I’ve had interviews last week with two different publications, that are doing stories on my Badwater/Furnace Creek races.  As those come out, I’ll post them.  

Friday Funfest

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

I managed to get out with some buddies on our motorcycles, one of which has been bugging me forever to start riding with them.  So Friday was the day with my new bike.  What an awesome machine, and what awesome trails these guys took us on, gravel roads, fire roads, jeep trails, gnarly single track with roots, water and BIG mudholes.  About 70 miles of riding, and WOW, what a great time it was.     Biggest incedent of the day was when ‘DirtBikeMike’ got pulled off his Honda by a 1/4 inch thorny vine that caught him across the neck.  See photo, click them to enlarge.

The Boyz        70 miles of deep woods       DirtBikeMike showing us now NOT to do it!

My mighty KTM handled it all, couldn’t have asked for any better.