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  #1  
Old 09-01-2013, 11:45 PM
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Default Vintage Snare Restoration

Yesterday, I went to meet forum member 'StaggerLee' to pick up an old snare drum. The model is from the 1930s and was sold by Boosey and Hawkes - an old importer/distributor/manufacturer of British drums that sold under a multitude of names, including Beverley and Ajax. Much of that history is lost and information is difficult to find even with the advent of the Internet.

This particular drum has an interesting history. According to the seller, it was originally bought as a regimental drum and was used there for some years. Along the way it has been painted (with house paint and a brush, no less) at least twice and looks very sorry for itself. It needs significant work.

The hardware and shell is brass. On initial inspection, the gold lustre has disappeared over the years and is left with a nickel-like colour but the original colour is still visible on a couple of select areas.

I took most of the hardware off, soaked it for ten minutes in dish detergent (Sainsbury's own - only the finest), brushed it down and laid the hardware out to air dry. Quite a lot of dirt came off! The next step will involve buying paint stripper and getting to work and that shell.

EDIT: I've just done some digging. The snare is an awful lot like an old Black Beauty - at least in its construction. Could it be nickel over brass? If so, this is going to be tough!
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Old 09-02-2013, 02:24 AM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

that snare looks awesome and is a real treasure. think of its history, paint brush and all.
i love the old tube lugs. to me i'd pick that restorable drum over any newish, super-great, well-known snare. keep us posted.
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Old 09-02-2013, 02:30 AM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

i got rust off the screws/washers that hold my lugs on my tama kit by soaking them in vinegar for a hour. i rattle can'd them flat black.
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Old 09-02-2013, 02:44 AM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

I can't wait to see it all decked out in its finest again.
Have fun.
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Old 09-02-2013, 02:54 AM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

I am really looking forward to seeing the restoration of this great snare.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:52 AM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

Looks like a fun and interesting project. Can't wait to see the progress and end result.
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:06 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

Thanks guys.

Decided to re-soak everything overnight and over the day. I was out in London from the morning so they had plenty of time. The strainer (which was very stiff) was full of crud and rust (chrome-plated steel) so I had a go at the back of the action with a brush and a little persuasion with a screwdriver to get the worst of the rust off. I gently tried the action and got it to move (it was jammed solid) and then left it to soak with the rest of the hardware. Now it works beautifully, albeit in a disassembled state. I'm pleased because getting a replacement would have been an absolute nightmare. I'm confident that all the hardware is fine and serviceable - but I'm going to file the tops of the tension rods to get rid of various sharp edges where they've been stripped. I'm not sure about the threading on those and I'm not sure if modern threads will work yet - if they do, I'll replace with modern tension rods and keep the originals safely stored. It will take away from the vintage appearance of the drum but will be functionally superior.

I see Friday as being the next day I can do some work on the drum so I'll put up some more pictures then and we can see what lies beneath this paint job...
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:22 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

Looks very much like my old snare drum from about the same period. I put triple flanged hoops on mine (I think you are considering the same from the photos) and it makes a nice drum. I'm getting ready to use it next week for a pit gig. Yours looks like it will look a lot better than mine.
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:30 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

I like the single-flange hoops and getting metric-sized triple-flanged hoops would be a real pain. Whatever I do, I'm not parting this out in any way.

I just hope that whatever I do to the shell, it retains its (presumably nickel) coat. I'm hoping that being painted will have preserved the original plating but there are no guarantees.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:38 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

Keep the straight hoops for sure. Is that a 6 lugger?
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:39 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

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Keep the straight hoops for sure. Is that a 6 lugger?
Aye, that it be.

''Yes it is', not 'that it be''!
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Old 09-03-2013, 05:03 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

Sorry Duncan, I completely missed this thread :(

That's a fair job you're taking on there, but a very interesting one. Am I seeing extra holes in the shell? Love the snare beds :)

A word on stripping ;) Be very careful what you use to strip the paint if you want to protect the nickel plating. Any acid based stripper (typically HCL or similar) will eat nickel in a heartbeat. You're safe with organic solvents, but each solvent will only be effective on certain paint types. You might consider very careful use of the good old blow torch or heat gun. Heat applied very quickly so as to avoid localised heating of the shell is the way to go on that method, but it does have downsides if you get it wrong (distortion).
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Old 09-03-2013, 06:03 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

Thanks for that Andy. That's exactly what I was worried about in terms of stripping the nickel. I know the brass underneath is good - I can see it in parts that are significantly worn so if all else fails I know I can take it back to that but I really don't want to.

I'll see if I can borrow Dad's old heat gun. He might have a fit if he finds out why but I'm sure I can subtly visit and 'borrow' it without him noticing...

Those snare beds are something, right? Very deep!
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:10 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

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Love the snare beds :)
Quote:
Originally Posted by BacteriumFendYoke View Post
Those snare beds are something, right? Very deep!
Yep, very deep indeed...

Love the project Dunc, I look forward to the updates and the final result :)
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:32 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

Looks like a heck of a challenge, but also a lot of fun.

Good luck on the resto
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Old 09-04-2013, 08:04 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration



I bet a lot of that hardware is brass. I used a Dremel tool with sanding drums and then a buffer to polish the clips on this custom I built.
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Old 09-06-2013, 09:28 AM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

TBH, if some of the nickel is gone, I'd be tempted to remove it all. Applying heat is something you should undertake with extreme care. A blow torch is better than a heat gun. More vicious, & flashes the paint off (if used very quickly) rather than heating the shell. Still, last resort stuff really. Such a shell may well respond poorly to relieving/creating of stresses brought on by applying heat. Have you checked that it's already round?

The safe way would be to go for a full chemical strip job. Something that will eat nickel but not brass, then either re-plate (bright nickel is so nice ;), or polish the brass & lacquer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BacteriumFendYoke View Post
Thanks for that Andy. That's exactly what I was worried about in terms of stripping the nickel. I know the brass underneath is good - I can see it in parts that are significantly worn so if all else fails I know I can take it back to that but I really don't want to.

I'll see if I can borrow Dad's old heat gun. He might have a fit if he finds out why but I'm sure I can subtly visit and 'borrow' it without him noticing...

Those snare beds are something, right? Very deep!
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Old 09-07-2013, 08:40 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

I only just read Andy's post. Curses!

I had a go at it this evening. I bought a heat gun and I've spent about two hours on the shell. The black paint came off with (bizarrely) Brasso. I only discovered this by accident, after polishing the lugs. Some Brasso went onto the shell and after I wiped it off, it took a lot of black paint with it. The black paint is basically tar-like. It's horrible - it sticks to everything and hasn't dried in all the years it's been on the shell.

I applied the Brasso treatment to the outside. I took the vast majority of the black paint off and spent some time getting acquainted with the heat gun. Eventually I discovered there were two settings, ouch and hotter than the sun. Using the first, I made a few passes and got a lot of the white off.

Given how much effort it's taken, there's no way I can get the rest of the white off with the heat gun. It's done a fair job but any more would be adding too much heat to the shell (which is still round as far as I can tell). I discovered that the brass under the nickel is exposed in one section and so it's off to get some Nitro-Mors at some point to continue. I'm glad I got as much of the white paint off as I did before chemical treatment because my skin isn't too fond of the chemical stuff...

EDIT: I've cleaned the remaining muck off the exposed parts of the shell. It's much brighter. The nickel that is there (around 80% of the shell) is sound and easy to polish.
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Old 09-08-2013, 04:53 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

That's one heck of a project you've got going there. Looks like a big mess now - ha ha.
But if you keep at it, hopefully it'll get to where you envisioned it. Good luck.
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Old 09-08-2013, 05:16 PM
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That's one heck of a project you've got going there. Looks like a big mess now - ha ha.
But if you keep at it, hopefully it'll get to where you envisioned it. Good luck.
Getting there. I'm in the process of applying chemical stripper to the paint right now. It's taking several coats of stripper to get back to the bare metal but it's going quite well so far.

Pictures when it's finally stripped and polished up. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow.

EDIT: A tip to anyone that's thinking of doing this. My shell has a beading around the middle. This part is a real pain to strip. I started off using a toothbrush to pull the paint off, I then realised that I'm due for a new head on my electric toothbrush and have a new one sitting around. The electric toothbrush is the best tool for removing the paint from the 'awkward' parts after applying the stripper.
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Old 09-08-2013, 05:45 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

If you're going to re-plate it...why not use a wire wheel on a drill?
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Old 09-08-2013, 06:02 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

I've decided not to re-plate it. I can't afford it! Looking at the way the shell is turning out, the variation between the brass and nickel layers is quite attractive and I can always choose to do the work at a later date.

Add in the fact that I don't have a drill (I know, sacrilege!) and the fact that I've used the chemical stripper many times before (I restored an early 60s bass drum last year that was covered in glue) and I'm just more comfortable doing it this way.

The screws are probably going to get a clean and a coat of paint. They're rusted. The tension rods are going to be tough to replace so it might have to be similar treatment. I'll think about it when the time comes.

EDIT: Here's a picture with the chemical stripper applied. The light is appalling but you can see that most of the white paint is off. The inside of the shell is still a mess but it's mostly black paint so it will be easy to remove. The bearing edges need work. They're covered in the bloody paint.

Yes, this is my bathroom. No, I'm not currently under any statutory mental health teams...
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Old 09-08-2013, 07:11 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

That is one nasty ass looking drum shell.
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Old 09-08-2013, 07:35 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

That's all the stripper.

The nickel isn't as good as I'd initially hoped but it's ok. I'll just have to polish it to high Hell and back.

I'm just doing the bearing edges and the inside now. Getting there...
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Old 09-08-2013, 07:55 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

Wow how did I only just find this?! Cant wait to see what happens :P
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Old 09-08-2013, 09:02 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

Right.

Shell stripped, insides stripped. Nostrils stripped I'm sure. Hands blackened by polishing and this is what I get. The nickel really isn't in good condition and the results are patchy but I quite like the 'weathered' look and the shell is sound.

If you compare the original pictures, you'll see how much effort this has been!

EDIT: This drum is almost certainly an 'Ajax Senior No. 1' from the early 30s. Apparently, that's a good thing.

The only issue now is that I have to start thinking about heads. Oli included a fitting resonant head (that is in bad shape) which I've used for measuring purposes. I've found somewhere that sells that size but I'm going to measure it 1,000 times before I take the plunge. I could get single-flange 14" sized hoops (this is a pre-international drum) and add small gaskets under the tube lugs to prevent any lug splay. Of the two options, ordering a pair of heads the right size is much cheaper but in the long-term, the bigger inconvenience.

Ideas? Suggestions? I'm fairly sure I'll be getting the pre-international heads (after payday, a couple of weeks away!) but my other option is going fully native and making my own calfskins for this drum. I'd like to try all three in an ideal world!
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Old 09-08-2013, 11:38 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

After all this, have we come any closer to seeing a seam?
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Old 09-08-2013, 11:59 PM
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After all this, have we come any closer to seeing a seam?
I forgot to mention.

I have found a seam! A very neat affair, roughly 80 degrees from the snare bed. It was under a lot of grot.

I'll post pictures in the morning.
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:29 AM
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Yes, this is my bathroom.
I applaud your lack of male grooming products ;)

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I quite like the 'weathered' look and the shell is sound.
Agreed - leave as is, unless you go for a full "modern" renovation, & then there's hardly any point in getting this drum. A sensitive return to near former glory is a cool path to take me thinks :)
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:40 AM
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You've met me, Andy. You can probably tell on many levels that I'm not a vain man...
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:53 AM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

I like your mug Dunc :)
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Old 02-19-2014, 04:28 PM
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Default Re: Vintage Snare Restoration

So how is this going now then? Any update?
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