1973 Ludwig 3 pc. maple kit before it's transformation.(see below)
Do any of these questions sound familiar:
Should I restore my drum even though it would alter the drum’s originality or should I leave it as is?
I’m not getting the sound I want from my vintage drum. Should I have the bearing edges recut?
What are the best materials and techniques to use in restoring my drums?
Should I try to do the restoration myself or have a professional do it?
How do I glue down the seam that’s coming up on the wrap finish of my drum?
There are hairline gaps between the reinforcement hoops and shell of my Radio King snare drum. Should I glue and clamp, use a wood filler, or leave it alone?
I can help you answer these and other questions concerning your next restoration project.
As a restoration technician for 18 years, I have repaired hundreds of vintage and not so vintage drums and offer you extensive, expert experience.
Wishing you all the best,
THE IDEAL WOOD FILLER FOR DRUM RESTORATION
The best wood filler we have found for drum shell repair is “Plastic Wood”, a product made by DAP. With its high cellulose fiber content this wood filler is designed to stay tight. It doesn’t shrink or become brittle – so it won’t crack or loose its bond when the shell flexes or vibrates during tuning or playing, or when the shell expands and contracts with changing weather. When used for bearing edge repair, Plastic Wood even stands up to the intense friction and pressure produced by the drum head. The makers of this product say it “Looks and acts like real wood” and they mean it. Plastic Wood can be sanded, cut, drilled, planed, varnished, painted or lacquered.
This high performance wood filler comes in a quick-drying solvent formula, and a slower drying non-toxic latex formula. We recommend the non-toxic formula. Unlike the solvent based formula, it’s non-flammable, has no harmful vapor and does not require protective dust mask when being sanded. Both formulas come in assorted colors including maple and mahogany.
Plastic Wood can be found in most hardware stores. For information on where to purchase Plastic Wood in your area call DAP at 888-327-8477.
HOW TO REPAIR CRACKS IN LUDWIG VISTALITE DRUMS
Plastics distributor and manufacturer, GE Polymershapes, Inc., offers a line of special glues for repairing cracks and breaks in acrylic plastic. Formerly known as “Cadillac Plastics” during the 70’s-80’s, this company produced the acrylic material for the Ludwig Drum Company’s “Vistalite” drums.
The glue, made by “Weldon”, comes in 3 different viscosities:
1) “Weldon 3” – has a watery consistency and penetrates into hairline
cracks. It molecularly bonds (melts) plastic together and permanently
seals the crack.
2) “Weldon 5” – has a consistency of syrup and is used for joining together
3) “Weldon 10” – is thicker than #5, has a consistency of honey and is used
also for joining together breaks.
Both Weldon 3 and 5 are clear and colorless; Weldon 10 has an opaque cast and therefore best when used where it would be least conspicuous – i.e. – on darker colored Vistalites, or for re-joining unglued seams. Before using these products, be sure to read the directions and precautions concerning proper ventilation, etc.
GE Polymershapes can be reached at: phone – (800)274-1000; address – 1218 Central Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55413; website – http://www.gepolymershapes.com
Lastly, here’s a tip on preventing cracks. If you remove lug casings or mounts from your Vistalite drums, be very careful when re-mounting them. Tighten the screws and bolts just enough to be slightly snug, but not any more. Over tightening can cause hairline cracks in the shell around the perimeter of the mounting holes.
REMOVING TENSION ROD RUST
You can quickly and effectively remove rust on tension rod threads using grade “0000” superfine steel wool, a Drum Accessory Bit Key and a power drill. A dust mask is also recommended to avoid the inhalation of superfine rust particles.
First, mount the Drum Accessory Bit Key (made by Evans) into your power drill, then set the drill on “reverse” mode. (Note: A home-made version of the bit can be made by cutting off the stem section of a drum key. Place the cut where the stem section connects to the wing section.)
Next, nestle the shaft of the rusty tension rod into a thick wad of the steel wool. Squeeze the wool tightly in your hand. Then place the key on the head of the tension rod and press the trigger.
The tension rod will then start to “unscrew” from the steel wool. When it is almost out of the wool completely, release the trigger and switch the drill’s direction mode to “forward”. Then “drill” the rod back into the wool. Repeat both the forward and reverse steps until you see all of the rust gone. Be sure to squeeze the steel wool as tightly as you can while you’re “drilling”.
For better results, especially on heavy rust, use a vice to squeeze the steel wool instead of your hand. It will also be easier on your hand. When using the vice, be sure to sandwich the steel wool between two thin strips of wood or dense cardboard as a protective bushing to prevent any possible stripping of the tension rod threads due to contact with the jaws of the vice. Use plenty of steel wool, as it compresses down when the vice is tightened.
Each time you “drill” the rod in and out, tighten the vice slightly to compensate for the loss of friction caused by the wearing down of the steel wool. The vice should be tight enough so that the drilling resistance or “feel” of the tension rod is similar to that of a wood screw going into soft wood.
If even the vice and steel wool do not get rid of the rust, remove the steel wool (and protective strips of wood or cardboard). In its place, insert two strips of masonite and follow the same procedure as you did in using the steel wool. The direct contact of the tension rod against the masonite will in some cases do the job when steel wool won’t.
If that fails you might consider re-plating the rod if the rust is too unsightly or using a motor-driven wire wheel. This will strip off the chrome or nickel plating on the tension rod and is recommended only in cases where the plating has deteriorated to such a degree that its removal would actually improve the appearance of the tension rod.
PREVENT FINISH FADE
Continued exposure to direct sunlight will, over time, discolor the mylar wrap on your drums. If you leave your drum kit set up in your home, be sure that the drums are far enough from a window so that direct rays of the sun can not reach them.
“Simichrome” is a very special soft paste polish made in Germany. This product not only polishes metal to a brilliant luster, but also leaves a protective film. It can be used on nickel, chrome, brass, copper, aluminum, steel, silver… virtually any metal. Although Simichrome is safe enough to polish even Plexiglas without scratching, we don’t recommend it for use on lacquer finished metal drums – such as vintage Ludwig “Black Beauties” or Leedy “Black Elites”. Simichrome is available in 1¾ oz. tube for $7.35 or in an 8.8 oz. size for $22.15. It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way. To find a store closest to you that sells Simichrome, call Competition Chemicals at (641)648-5121.
CLEANING AND POLISHING VISTALITE DRUMS
Like a window, Ludwig’s Vistalite drum with its transparent acrylic shell gives high visibility to accumulated dirt and film not only on its exterior surface, but on its interior as well. In addition, unlike most vintage drums wrapped in pearl and sparkle patterns, the Vistalite with its non-patterned finish provides no camouflage for dirt. That’s why Vistalites require more frequent cleaning and polishing than most other drums. Using the right cleaning methods and products is essential, otherwise a gummy residue, streaky film or static charge could result – or even worse, scratches and hazing.
“Windex”, a well-known household glass cleaner is a popular item with some collectors. But because Windex does not lubricate as it cleans, dust and dirt trapped between the cloth and surface can leave super-fine scratches in the acrylic. Over time, this can develop into a light grade haze, diminishing the optic clarity of the acrylic.
The best products we have found for cleaning and polishing Vistalite drums and mylar wrapped drums are made by Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze. Their excellent line of products are even approved by the United States military for use in military applications.
“Meguiar’s Clear Plastic Detailer No. 18” is a quick spray-on and wipe-off cleaner/polisher recommended for regular maintenance. It leaves Vistalites sparkling clear and with an anti-static finish. The Detailer is also great for use on eyeglasses and all types of other clear plastics.
“Meguiar’s Clear Plastic Cleaner No. 17” removes not only dirt and film, but light hazing and light scratches as well. Here are some tips for using the cleaner: (1) work it into the finish with a terry cloth and wipe off the residue, (2) apply it by hand and not with a rotary buffer, (3) always use it when the acrylic is cool and in the shade, (4) follow with “Meguiar’s Clear Plastic Polish No. 10”.
“Meguiar’s Plastic Polish No. 10” refines the finish and restores optical clarity. It also leaves a static free coating that repels dust. When applying the polish, follow the same usage tips 1, 2 and 3 as the cleaner.
According to Meguiar’s, the selection of toweling is almost as important as the selection of cleaners and polishes. They explained, “It is impossible to achieve perfect clarity when using the wrong type of toweling. The best toweling is 100% cotton deep pile terry cloth. Synthetic fibers blended into cotton toweling create a slower wipe off because they will not absorb, scratch the surface because they will not soften, and are more prone to create static. Deep pile 100% cotton terry cloth reduces effort and labor time by wiping off excess product faster and protects the surface from being scratched when dust and particles are trapped between the cloth and the surface.”
To remove abrasions that won’t come out with the hand applied Meguiar’s 18, 17 and 10, the company offers an assortment of machine-applied products including more aggressive scratch-removal compounds and “Unigrit Finishing Papers” for sanding. I asked Mike Pennington, Meguiar’s product specialist, if any of the machine-applied products could be used by hand with some measure of success. He confirmed that “Meguiar’s Machine Glaze No. 3”, their light abrasion remover, could be used.
For information on a Meguiar’s dealer nearest to you and for technical assistance on using their products call Meguiar’s toll free at (800) 347-5700.
NEW HI-TECH HI-BOND DRUM WRAP
Standard 5pc Kit $99.99
AT LAST! a simple way to re-cover drums without removing the old wrap that can sometimes be impossible to remove! I have spent hours and hours with heat guns and putty knives trying to pry off the old wrap and usually taking some of the wood with it. I have searched high and low and found a new strong thin wrap that looks amazing! And it's simple to put on...You just remove all the hardware, clean the old wrap, take the adhesive backing off the new wrap a little at a time, smooth it on and wow! The results are amazing. It sticks solid. This way you don't risk changing the sound of the drum.
You can make your drum set beautiful again by Covering it with this strong hi-tec hi-bond wrap. I have wrapped Rogers, Ludwig, and mapex with awesome results. And it was simple. The hardest part is taking off the hardware. I include 7 pages of instructions with photos...Measuring & cutting is an important part, and I offer FREE CUTTING (on request) & 5 airvent GROMMETS! Try it, you will be amazed at your new looking kit! Comes 24" X 144" long. (Enough to do a 4-5 piece kit! (depending on your shell sizes) You can buy the thick sheets for $300-$400, rip off the old wrap, or wrap right over the old wrap and have a new looking kit and save hundreds! Thanks for looking.
These are maple shells with a finish ply of macassar ebony. Will include die cast vintage style tube lugs, die cast hoops on the toms with 2.3mm hoops on the snare.
We cleaned and scuffed up the shells. Installed a new finish ply of Macassar Ebony, re-finished and trued the the bearing edges, re-drilled all the mounting holes and added a satin lacqure finsh. Drums are now ready to be packed & shipped.Notice the wooden hoops have also been re-finished on the inside of the hoops as well. Stunning.