Steam-powered Pickup Winder

[Valve Child] has been building a few three-string cigar box guitars. Of course he’ll need a few pickups, but three-string guitar pickups aren’t exactly easy to come by. To solve this problem, he’s built a guitar pickup winder powered by a steam engine.

The pickup winder is powered by a Wilesco D20 model steam engine, connected to the actual winding mechanism via a rubber belt. To the right of the bobbin bracket is a mechanism built out of Meccano – Erector sets for us americans – that provides a mechanical counter for the number of wire turns and a wire traverse to keep each layer of wire somewhat even across the width of the bobbin.

Previously, we’ve seen [Valve Child]’s really sweet sounding lap steel build from a log using a hand-wound pickup and a preamp tube as the bridge. It’s questionable if the guitar signal came from this lap steel via the pickup or the microphonic tube, but now [Valve Child] has a really, really good method of improving his pickup production abilities.

Video after the break.


10 thoughts on “Steam-powered Pickup Winder

  1. “Meccano – Erector sets for us americans” I don’t know about this, I’ve only grown up playing with Erector sets – in America – who would’ve thought.

    Also, I’m surprised your spell checker didn’t make you capitalize “Americans” Google Chrome does a good job making me do it, I don’t even need a text editor.

  2. when I wound pickups for my cigar box guitars, I just chucked them in a drill (oh boy, what a pun!).

    Overall turn count isn’t as important as final resistance of the coil, so you can just measure that with a multimeter as you go.

  3. Uh… a tube as a bridge/saddle? I’m not a fan of this idea.

    I’d rather go for a hardwood or, better yet, bone. Synthetic “tusq” material wouldn’t be bad either

    -son of a Luthier.

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