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  #1  
Old 06-29-2023, 10:02 AM
Mark Hatcher's Avatar
Mark Hatcher Mark Hatcher is offline
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Default The Last Great Train Robbery

I've started a 00 Woodsman for the Woodstock show in October. This guitar will be made as a 100 year anniversary commemoration build in recognition of the #13 The Shasta Express train that was robbed at tunnel #13 by the 3 De'Autremont brothers



I've been planning this build for a long time. Of course, the top has to come from that Tunnel 13 and the 00 Woodsman is just the right model for the job.
So, all aboard! (sorry, couldn't resist) and enjoy the ride.
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Old 06-29-2023, 11:10 AM
Treenewt Treenewt is offline
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Love it! I like this model a LOT, and can't wait to see what you do with this line of thought!
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Old 06-29-2023, 11:23 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Well that confused me, for "the Great Train Robbery that I am most familiar with was in the UK in 1963.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Train_Robbery_(1963)


Apart from movie makers, little good usually comes from crimes.

Nevertheless, I wish you well with the build and look forward to seeing and hearing it here.
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Old 06-29-2023, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Treenewt View Post
Love it! I like this model a LOT, and can't wait to see what you do with this line of thought!
Thanks Treenewt!

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Originally Posted by Silly Moustache View Post
Well that confused me, for "the Great Train Robbery that I am most familiar with was in the UK in 1963.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Train_Robbery_(1963)


Apart from movie makers, little good usually comes from crimes.

Nevertheless, I wish you well with the build and look forward to seeing and hearing it here.
Thanks Silly Moustache. I'll add a some context to why this is the last great train robbery as this is an American story. When this robbery occurred the news went across America like a shock wave. The way this viscous crime was recklessly carried out, like robberies from the days of the lawless wild West, it surprised Americans who thought those days were over. The robbery was a failure and aided by the emerging science of forensics the brothers were eventually caught and brought to justice. This crime is seen as a marker for the end of an era. In this way it will always be The Last Great Train Robbery.

m
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Last edited by Mark Hatcher; 06-29-2023 at 03:12 PM.
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  #5  
Old 06-29-2023, 04:08 PM
sinistral sinistral is offline
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That is going to be a Great Guitar! You should price it at $15,900. Imagine what that would be worth in today’s dollars!
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Old 06-29-2023, 05:11 PM
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That is going to be a Great Guitar! You should price it at $15,900. Imagine what that would be worth in today’s dollars!
SOLD! You can pick it up at the Woodstock Show!

sinistral,

$15,900--That was really a great, funny idea!!

Mark
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Old 06-30-2023, 12:03 PM
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Default The Shasta Special



Train number 13 was working its way through the Shasta Mountains and before entering Tunnel 13 it slowed down for a brake check before entering the tunnel. This is when the brothers climbed aboard and forced the train to a full stop just as the engine cleared the tunnel.



They were after what they thought would be about $40,000 in cash in the mail car. Using way too much dynamite the explosion destroyed the car killing the postman who had locked himself in the car.





With no money left to be found they killed the three trainmen that had seen them and ran.

Of course, there is much more to this story and there are a number of books and movies that have come out in the 100 years since. I am including one of the best books with the guitar.

So that's the gist of the story. Certainly, that doesn't directly affect the quality of the Redwood tunnel beam my top will be made from but it certainly adds to the lore of this top wood.

In my next post we'll get into to the details of why this will make a great top.

M
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Old 07-03-2023, 05:08 AM
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Default The Redwood Top

The Redwood I am using for this guitar came from Tunnel #13:



The Redwood beams used for support were set in place well over 100 yrs ago. Southern Pacific Railroad sourced the beams locally from Dobeer and Carson in Eurika OR:



This mill was huge, processing up to 15 million board feet a year. The beams where the best quality old growth Redwood from the densely forested mountains.
Now this all might sound like more lore and I said I was going to talk about the quality of the top and I am in fact doing so. Because this wood was processed over 100 years ago this wood is very well aged which means it has become stiffer, lighter, more resonate and finally age reduces reactions to temperature and humidity.
These Redwood trees grew at mountain altitudes and were densely packed. This means the trees grew very slowly and weren't burned by direct sunlight on just one side so the growth rings are more regular with less density difference between the grain lines.

In recent times the tunnel had work done on it and the Redwood beams were replaced with concrete. Due to the laws in place those contracted to do the work were not allowed to sell the Redwood removed from the tunnel. So they simply pushed them down into the gorge. That is where my wood source came in. He is a local fireman and luthier. He recognized the qualities of these woods and started hiking down into the gorge to pack out the nicest he could find:







I got a "Hey Mark, I know this guy" call from Tom Doerr that this intrepid fellow was re-sawing these beams and would have a limited supply for sale:





After checking a sampling of the tops I ordered a lot more. For the first time I sat down and tried to figure out just how many of these tops I could possibly use before I die and being optimistic I ordered a whole bunch.

I have a deep inventory of Redwood from tunnels 13, 14 and 15. I had a lot of wood from tunnel 13 to choose from to make this guitar. This 00 guitar will be BRW backed, with a short 24.75”scale so here is what I choose:



It is 6.12 gr/in³ which falls right between typical WRC and Sitka. I count a remarkable 54+ grain lines per inch. It is stiff both with and against the grain. It taps well for bass, mids, and trebles and the sustain is very impressive.



It is very well quartered which helps with stiffness and crack resistance.



The top shows ample medullary rays confirming the well quartered cut and adding cross grain stiffness and crack resistance. I can find no run out what-so-ever.

I also selected this top with the dark streaking as a reminder that this Redwood was in a tunnel that was burned by dynamite.

This is great wood with a great story but to be a great soundboard has a lot to do with what I as a luthier do with it. I'll start in on that on my next post.

M
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Last edited by Mark Hatcher; 09-17-2023 at 04:11 AM.
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  #9  
Old 07-03-2023, 10:56 AM
sinistral sinistral is offline
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Looks great, Mark! Now that you have a lifetime supply of redwood tops from various tunnels, you probably don’t need any more. Just curious if you have spoken at all with Butch Boswell about the wood he sourced from the “Lost Tunnel” that he recently located?
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Old 07-03-2023, 11:16 AM
tommieboy tommieboy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Hatcher View Post
I've started a 00 Woodsman for the Woodstock show in October. This guitar will be made as a 100 year anniversary commemoration build in recognition of the #13 The Shasta Express train that was robbed at tunnel #13 by the 3 De'Autremont brothers.
Too bad there weren't #13 De'Autremont brothers involved in the robbery. It would have made a better news story. I look forward to this build in any case.



Tommy
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  #11  
Old 07-03-2023, 02:18 PM
Larrison Larrison is offline
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I'm a complete sucker for a story- I know I should have a robotic allegiance to tone above all else, and I do appreciate tone obviously, but I'm so drawn to the Tunnel redwood origin story.

I have a Tunnel 14 top lined up on a build next year and I appreciate you posting this thread with all the info and pictures.
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  #12  
Old 07-03-2023, 04:02 PM
NTS NTS is offline
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Cool story and idea. Nice score getting the tunnel wood too.
I’ll come along, on what’s looks to be a fun ride.
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Old 07-03-2023, 05:50 PM
Treenewt Treenewt is offline
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That is some mighty fine looking wood. Sheesh Mark this is going to be fantastic!
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Old 07-03-2023, 06:47 PM
rule18 rule18 is offline
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Wow Mark, that's gonna be one heck of a Woodsman (and my Greta's top will have a brother LOL).
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  #15  
Old 07-04-2023, 07:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sinistral View Post
Looks great, Mark! Now that you have a lifetime supply of redwood tops from various tunnels, you probably don’t need any more. Just curious if you have spoken at all with Butch Boswell about the wood he sourced from the “Lost Tunnel” that he recently located?
I haven't spoken with Butch about his "Lost Tunnel" Redwood. As you said I have a lifetime supply of tunnel Redwoods so I just haven't been in the market for more Redwood.
I do have a good selection of Carter Redwoods which I would consider a bit of an upgrade over the tunnel woods. Of course, they are priced accordingly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tommieboy View Post
Too bad there weren't #13 De'Autremont brothers involved in the robbery. It would have made a better news story. I look forward to this build in any case.



Tommy
If you are going for 13s you should look up the Winchester House .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larrison View Post
I'm a complete sucker for a story- I know I should have a robotic allegiance to tone above all else, and I do appreciate tone obviously, but I'm so drawn to the Tunnel redwood origin story.

I have a Tunnel 14 top lined up on a build next year and I appreciate you posting this thread with all the info and pictures.
Yeah, for whatever reasons there is a subset that seems to believe you should sacrifice everything to the glory of tone. I'm just not one of those. When I build I try to make as many touch points as I can think of between the artist and their guitar. One thing doesn't have to come at the cost of another. The thought I put into everything I do when making a guitar is me saying, "I'm devoted and thorough and my standards are too high to sacrifice the details".

Quote:
Originally Posted by NTS View Post
Cool story and idea. Nice score getting the tunnel wood too.
I’ll come along, on what’s looks to be a fun ride.
Glad to have you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Treenewt View Post
That is some mighty fine looking wood. Sheesh Mark this is going to be fantastic!
Thanks Treenewt!
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Last edited by Mark Hatcher; 07-05-2023 at 03:48 PM.
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