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RFM Strapocaster

 

History and Making of the Scrapocaster 2023 @RFM Site

Hello fellow rockers! My name is Cary Clarke and with the help of some generous donations from Wesman Salvage, RFM and a dozen or so folks who donated instruments and time, I welded together the big guitar that you may have seen at the 2023 concert.

I am very appreciative of all the great comments it received and the ideas for a “next” one. Lol

There were a lot of questions about the making of it and how it all came together. Enjoy the process and pictures of the creation unfolded.

I approached Darcy and Barry a few years ago and we talked about putting an entrance to the concert with the RFM logo guitar on it. Being on limited budget and time, I didn’t have the means to get something actually on the welding table. We talked about it a couple of times and then in the spring of 2023, Wesman Salvage agreed to donate whatever material we needed so then it got real.

I borrowed a Stratocaster from bandmate Kelsey Schoonbaert and laid out plans and scale. We agreed to about 20’ tall, which grew a little bit when a final scale was determined. I had some scrap in the shop and scaled out the headstock to get a better perspective of the size of it.

I then built the neck which proved to be a bit tougher as it didn’t fit on my welding table. I designed the guitar so from the headstock to the base of the guitar would be the main structure and the guitar body would just be added on later. Wesman has some substantial solid bar that I built the neck with and tried to copy the form of the real neck. I then attached the headstock and added the tuners for the strings.

When I went out to Wesman Salvage to pick out some material, Steve Jones was showing me where the materials were and we were talking about the guitar. I was still thinking about the front entrance location and welding the guitar vertically incorporating a large pipe or standard that we could bolt onto concrete piles. Steve looked at me and said why don’t you put it on a guitar stand? We have a lot of material here, take what you need. (kid in a candy store look). I roughly figured out what I would need and loaded up a trailer full of steel.

I scaled my guitar stand and then built the full scale one. It took about 34 hours to build the stand. Standing it up for the first time was hilarious. My wife Monique filmed me pulling it up with my truck and it was a little sketchy for a moment, but it stood. This is when the perspective really started to be apparent. It was 15’6” tall without the guitar in it.

The body was next and I wanted to use lighter steel tubing but Wesman salvage had very little “small” stuff to choose from. I had to go through the big scrap pile and salvage anything I could find. Most of the material was dented, welded, painted, rusted, twisted, and crushed but I managed to find enough of it to do the job although the condition of it made it too hard to use my hand powered roller for the curves of the strat. I decided, because of the condition of the material, that I would just continue crushing it and bending it into the shapes I needed. This is where the idea of scrap-o-caster came from. I wanted it to look like it came out of the scrapyard. As long as the main structure was welded securely it didn’t matter how the body came together and that the main shape was correct. The body took 63 hours to smash into place.lol

I built the fretboard from two 2x12’s that RFM had. The frets were from a scrapped gazebo that I found at the dump. I used a tower section to join the neck to the baseplate of the body and then started on filling the body with the donated cymbals and instruments. It was a bit of a pain in the butt to work on from then on as it took up all my available room in the shop at this point.

There are 21 cymbals in the body, two saxaphones, 2 kick pedals, 2 mics and 4 mic stands, two guitars, and one bass guitar, a DJ mixer board, 2 stage lights and 29 band names welded into the body in various places. Then it got stripped down, primed and painted and it was ready to go.

Paul Roozendaal came out to help me get it loaded (Big thanks to Paul!) and that was about it. There were several discussions on where it should go and it slowly migrated to where it is now.

 

I would like to Thank all the people who donated instruments to the project: Fred Scott, Joe Stamper, John Wood, Kelsey Schoonbaert, Ken Robertson, Lyall McDiarmid, Mike Posthumous, Paul Roozendaal, Troy McKenzie, and Warren Enns.

Big thanks to the site crew at RFM who helped Paul and I with setting the stand and loading scrappy onto it: Brian Little, Barry Coutts, Chance Webb, Dallas Kreller, Darcy Bialas, Richard Betteridge, and Rob Mulligan.

Thanks to Rob and Chance for getting the power to it and Tracey Willis and Karen Hunt for touching up the paint on it and Darcy for getting the higher up parts.

 

The guitar and stand took 210 hours to build, stand 26.5 feet tall and the final weight on it was 1900 lbs. This was a lot of fun to create and I am so happy that people enjoyed it at the concert. I was going to call it Lightning lol, but Scrap-o-Caster seemed more appropriate. See you all next year!