Recording Studio

At War with Summers Lost

Lights InstalledI think of all the days this summer where we could have done something more. There was never a day that went by that she wasn’t on my mind, but now we are rushing to get everything done. I’m smiling though. As the team’s leader, it’s my job to make sure everyone buys into the mission, has clearly defined objectives, and understands when things must be done. All this must be done under budget and it must be built to last.

The flurry of texts messages and late night emails I’m getting from our team members lets me know our group is as focused on our goal as I am. At this point I’d say Pandora’s Box is about 80-85% of the way done. However, the remaining 15-20% is without a doubt some of the most critical parts.

Justin looking fantastic!

Justin looking fantastic!

The bunks are installed and the monitor is in. All the lights work, including remote controlled interior color changing LED’s (click to check out the vid!). She’s had one coat of paint on the interior, and the floors ripped out. She’ll need another coat or two before we install the flooring and trim. She still needs the main AC fixed, auxiliary AC installed, mini-fridge, microwave, safe, locks fixed, cruise control repaired, solar panel installed, and a TRANSMISSION.

J and Victor have been adamant about me field testing her after she gets finished. Trust me, I want to as well. We need to make sure there are no bugs or quirks with her before she sets out to tour the country. Victor sent me a text this week that read, “Have you been driving it around? Getting a feel for the engine? Do you think it will tour well pulling a trailer for long periods of time?”

I guess a loaded set of questions deserves a loaded answer:

Q: Have you been driving it around? A. Well, my last time driving it I took it from Jackson, TN to Jonesboro, AR with no tags, or working lights or signals of any kind, and the torque converter failed a block away from HotWired, leaving it un-drivable since July 4th. At the time I thought it ran out of gas, but it turned out to be much worse.

All the bunks slid back in place.

All the bunks slid back in place.

Q: Are you getting a feel for the engine? A. Trevor Arnold, one of our Jackson TN mechanics, did a pretty thorough inspection of the engine and concluded it’s in great shape. Austin Kelley, who came down from Missouri, looked at it a few weeks ago, and gave me the same report without any knowledge of what Trevor had told me. I don’t know much about diesel engines, but a couple of guys that work on them for a living have given me assurance that everything’s going to be fine.

Q: Do you think it will tour well pulling a trailer for long periods of time? A. We’ll find out very soon. I’ve given Trevor and his crew our budget and specifications. It’s up to them to make it happen, and make it happen quickly. I asked him to do it, because I know he can do it well.

Brandon, Justin, and the HotWired team have spent several late nights and countless hours working on this project now. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I asked these guys to do some simple wiring and help me out with a head unit. So far, they’ve had Pandora’s Box for a month and have feasted on her. Ripping apart her insides, installing new walls, lights, wires, the stereo, speakers, and helping us install the bunks. It’s unbelievable how much work they have done. I’m incredibly thankful for their work, and humbled by the passion and commitment they’ve shown to this project.

Today she started to make the move back to Jackson for the transmission work, but then I guess it was just a twist of fate, or irony, or just plain dumb luck. As I’m posting this, Trevor is stuck on I-40 at the same spot where I broke down with Pandora’s Box and Uncle Pervy. This time they weren’t even driving the ambulance, she was on the back of a truck. God speed Trevor, god speed, and I feel your pain.

Been there... done that... I'll send you a t-shirt.

Been there… done that… I’ll send you a t-shirt.

 

Thank you for listening.

 

Bo

Bunks In

Side door view of the bunks.

Bunks Out

Bunks Out

All the bunks slid back in place.

All the bunks slid back in place.

Fold Up, Down

Couch Mode

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Getting set for her trip to Jackson.

Rear Sound

Your first shot of the rear sound system.

Fold Up, Up

Bunk Mode.

Fold up bunk in down position

Fold up bunk in down position.

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The chair on the left is removable.

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In couch mode.

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With the bottom bunks out.

On the way to get stuck on I 40 near Jackson!

On the way to get stuck on I 40 near Jackson!

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The Inner Workings of Pandora’s Box

Just about every day I get a message from someone asking me for details on what we are doing. I’ve given just about everyone pretty detailed information and some insight into our plan. The most notable exceptions to this are J and Victor.

It’s amusing to me to keep these guys slightly on edge and waiting for updates. They’re used to it being the other way around. As they record their albums, people haunt the various HURT sites combing for updates and snippets of what’s to come. I’m sure it’s got to be a rewarding feeling for them to know that so many people care so much about something they put so much of themselves into when they are recording an album. Similarly, we are taking great pride in all the attention our build is getting and hopefully giving J and Victor a slight taste of the curiosity and eager anticipation we go through during the long waits between albums.

So what exactly is the plan anyway?

Honestly, a lot of what we have planned is going to depend on how much we’re able to get donated. So things will probably change over the course of this build depending on our budget and what’s sent to us.

The most critical aspect of this project is making sure this thing runs safely and runs well. Before we spend any of our resources on anything else, all mechanical issues must be resolved.

The good news is that there doesn’t appear to be any major issues with the engine. The bad news is that the transmission is showing signs of wear and, if at all possible, we plan to replace it. The four rear tires must be replaced (one of them is already blown). The heat and air need some work, and the ambulance is full of electrical issues. From what we’ve been able to discern at this point, it appears most of the electrical issues stem from a previous owner ripping out the inverter and trying to direct-wire all electrical systems to the battery. We are going to basically rip out ALL the wiring and start again.  Depending on time and budget we may not hook back up most of the lights and siren because they aren’t needed.

The next phase involves gutting most of the insides. Once it’s gutted and the mechanical issues have been addressed, Pandora’s Box will be taking a 2 ½ hour trip to Hot Wired Car Audio in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Hot Wired has agreed to donate several days worth of shop time and labor to the project. They will be installing the electrical, audio and video equipment that will be used for both entertainment purposes and as a functioning mobile recording studio. J has mentioned AC plug-ins are prized in the band world, so we plan to run AC outlets to each bunk to provide life support for their phones and laptops.

Once the wiring is complete, Pandora’s Box will make the trip back to Jackson to be fitted for bunks. Lorie Haynes did an amazing job on designing them. We plan to install three permanent bunks, one bunk that when folded down will form the back part of a couch, and two bunks on a locking slide system that can be removed for additional head room. Austin Kelly, whom I met through this blog, will be helping us out on this part.

Four Bunk Set up

This is a model of our four bunk set up, with bunks locked in travel mode.

Four Bunk Set Up Extended

Model of how the four bunks on the driver’s side will look when extended.

Pandora’s Box will be equipped with a kitchenette and a separate cooler so the guys aren’t forced to eat fried gas station and bar food.  We plan to install an auxiliary heat and air system that can be used for extended hours without the engine running so the guys can stay comfortable and not burn gas.

Speaking of not burning gas, sustainability for the guys has been a running theme on this blog and sustainable energy is both functional and practical for a project like this. We plan to make the necessary modifications to allow Pandora’s Box to use biodiesel. She’ll be equipped with an on-board filtration system to process used cooking oil and convert it to fuel. Even using this option only occasionally will drastically cut down their fuel cost. In addition, the battery array that will power the recording studio and auxiliary heat and air will be hooked up to roof-mounted solar panels as well as the main engine.

She’ll give them life support, and it never has to end.

As always, Thank You For Listening.

Bo

Meet the House Carpenters: Our Mechanics

“There is a feeling that anything can happen in HURT’s music” –Brett Hickman of Static Multimedia

The same sentiment is easily applied to our team and machines.

These guys aren’t just country boys. They are highly skilled mechanics with a creative edge that most people lack.

It creates power, and a WTF moment when people see it work.

It creates power and a WTF moment when people see it work

They call this the “WTF Machine.” It was built by Trevor and Kyle as teenagers with scraps, but it was built with purpose. They used it to jump start cars until it was sold out of the back of their truck to a stranger in the Lowes parking lot for $150. They called it the “WTF Machine” because everyone that looked at it had a “WTF moment.”

My first run-in with these guys came just after they converted this El Camino to run on hydrogen for their school science fair. By the way, that hydrogen was produced from solar energy. It was a set-up they came up with after learning about making solar panels and hydrogen conversions on the internet.

Powered by hydrogen that was produced by solar power.

Powered by hydrogen that was produced by solar power

These guys were mostly self-taught creative geniuses. My role was to get them formal training and enhanced skill development at the college level.

So off to tech school they went. Their course work included classes like Drivetrain Systems, Advanced Street Rod Building, and Motorsports Chassis Fabrication. These guys were trained to work on all of the mechanical and electrical systems in a wide range of vehicles. Advanced sheet metal shaping, custom body modifications, custom painting, roll cage construction, and structural welding were just part of what rounded out their time in school.

While in school, they were part of a team that built a 1967 Mustang for the Armed Services that is used as a show car at events all over the country.

Rickie, the third mechanic on the team, won his District SkillsUSA competition for High Performance Engine Building.

These guys are the perfect combination of youth, creative minds, and formal training to bring to life Pandora’s Box.

There will be several others helping us out along the way, and I’ll introduce you to them as well in time.

As always, Thank You For Listening

Bo

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To help us with the project fill out the form below or click here.

METAL fan!

Trevor- METAL fan!

Kyle

Kyle

Rickie

Rickie

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Pandora’s Box

According to Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman. Blessed with true beauty and traits bestowed by the goddess of love mixed with some craftsmanship from Zeus, mankind’s world would soon be rocked forever. Zeus gave Pandora to Epimetheus as a bride, along with a box.

That box came with a warning label demanding it never be opened. As the story goes, Pandora would eventually succumb to her ever-mounting curiosity and take a peak. At the first glimpse of light, ghostly images raced out and filled the world with all the evils we currently know. However, the story doesn’t end there. Elpis, the spirit of hope, was left hiding in the box and unknowingly Pandora trapped hope in the box once more.

While J Loren has frequently told us “there’s no more beauty, in this world” and more specifically “there’s no more beauty in this, world,” I plan to perhaps give him a different perspective on things by building his next touring vehicle with Elpis still inside.

The life of this ambulance is a great metaphor for what once lurked inside of Pandora’s Box. Ghostly images of illness, death and emotion still haunt its cold insides. However, below all of the negative is a far greater force fighting to push through. Hope. In its prior life, that hope came from the EMTs providing life support, and the patients clinging to a chance to see another day.

Now that hope takes a different form. We, the fans and supporters of this group, are giving this band life support… hope. So many people reading this blog have shared stories with myself and the guys in the band about the hope this music has given them. It’s a self-feeding ecosystem that once set in motion can become a self-sustaining force in this world. The music gives us hope, we give hope to the music. With that hope comes sustainability; life support for all.

With that being said, the title of this blog will be “Life Support,” and the ambulance will be named “Pandora’s Box.”

For those who have hope in the project and would like to see it succeed there’s a number of ways to help.

The tab at the top of this page labeled “Parts” contains a lists of parts we are getting set to buy. Please contact me if you’d like to purchase any of the items on the list, or can provide us a discount to help purchase them.

We will be selling sponsorship space on Pandora’s Box as well as on the band’s trailer and this blog. If you have a business, or a lead for us, click the sponsorship tab for more information, and contact me.

Please follow this blog, and visit this page a couple of times a week. The more visitors this blog gets, the more value sponsors see in it.

Thank you to everyone who took part in naming the blog and the ambulance.

And as always, THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.

Shop Entrance The Driver

Trevor (Standing) Randy (Sitting) Kyle (Working on tire)

Trevor (Standing)
Rickie (Sitting)
Kyle (Working on tire)

Front

An early sketch of how the bunks will look.

An early sketch of how the bunks will look.

Falls Apart…

It’s finally here. I can’t call it by its name yet, because we’ve yet to name it. I’ve kicked around several (lame) titles for the project, but ultimately it was decided that naming things was not my strongest attribute.

It got here on life support to say least. Actually, it was put on the back of a truck and hauled through several states to the backwoods of Tennessee. It wasn’t going to make it any further than where it almost killed J Loren. (And I learned my lesson the first time HURT left me the keys to their ride, but that’s for a future post.) He was having to nurse the ambulance because of some tire issues and persistent electrical woes. However, when the cruise control stuck accelerating the vehicle and forced the musician to do his best Ricky Bobby on the interstate in an ambulance, J decided enough was enough.

When I got the phone call and heard what happened my first thought was “man this keeps happening to this guy,” and my second was “it’s not happening again if I have anything to do with it.” I’m not sure if J called just to vent or if he was asking for advice/help. It didn’t matter. The mission was clear; how do we get him a vehicle that can meet all the strenuous demands of the road on a budget that might be stretched far enough to get a good Daewoo?

I’ve spent the last several years recruiting for the automotive industry and I’ve made some connections with the people that supply the talent for several of the automotive shows that air on various channels. I started to pitch J how we could buy him a gutted old bus and get it on one of these shows. The first words out of my mouth were “the first thing we need to do is get a budget.” Immediately J responded with “I have a budget, and I have a vehicle stuck at a dealership.”

‘My plan B’ was instantly pulled out of my ass. [I’m calling it ‘my plan B,’ because I’m not sure how many plans J had before calling me became the best option. I was about 700 miles away from him at that point.] ‘My plan B’ was to get his vehicle to a technical college located about half way between where the vehicle was and where it was going to end up. Just in case that didn’t work, I gave J ‘my plan C’ as well. [A technical college closer to me, but further away from J and the ambulance.] After we ended the conversation I began working the phones like crazy to pull everything off.

Ultimately, after a couple of weeks of phone calls and emails, I ended up going with ‘my plan D,’ none of the above. I had the vehicle towed to a shop outside of Jackson TN. Why Jackson TN you might ask? A little over a year earlier, I met two young guys from there that were doing INSANELY challenging projects. I talk to countless people in the industry every day with years of experience, and these two guys just out of high school were taking on projects that others with way more experience wouldn’t have the knowledge to handle. I quizzed them about these projects to make sure they weren’t exaggerating, and what I found were two guys that where extremely passionate and dedicated to developing their craft at the highest level. (They reminded me of a certain musician I know.) I helped get these guys into one of the best technical colleges in the country to hone their skills. They didn’t disappoint me, and I’ll feature both of them in an upcoming blog post.

After it was decided where the project was going, it was time to create a game plan. Emails of sketches and ideas were bounced back and forth based on the basic things J was asking for. We had a few pictures of the ambulance but no measurements, and no real good grasp of what the interior looked like, or what kind of work was actually needed. But a crew was assembled based on everyone’s skill sets.

In case you’re wondering, that’s my skill set. I have very limited automotive range compared to the countless mechanics I’ve helped get careers for. However, I can network with the best of them. I called seven states before I decided that starting this project just outside of Jackson TN in a small shop about two hours from my home was the best bet.

But back to the ambulance. The driver called me at 7:30 Friday morning trying to figure out how exactly he was going to get his truck with an ambulance on it down the narrowly winding backwoods road to the shop. After I gave him a little positive reinforcement, he was convinced to make the delivery at the proper destination as agreed.

An hour later I received a text message from Trevor, the shop owner that read “This thing is pretty sweet, but it does need a lot of work.”

“Perfect,” I thought while smiling. As soon as I finished my work for the day I made the drive to his place to see exactly what I’ve gotten myself into…

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If you’d  like to help with the project, please fill out the form.

 


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