Bjorn's Drum Site

Drum Project Tips

The tips below may be helpful if you're thinking of restoring or refurbishing drums, Premier or otherwise. Keep in mind that these are just my opinion and what worked for me.


Choosing a project

1) Do your homework. What kind of kit or drum do you want to restore and will parts be easy to find? Will you be able to get heads, older Premiers (and some other makes) used pre-international sized heads, which can now be quite difficult to find. Will the kit's original parts/hardware/stands stand up to regular playing (if that's what it's for), or should you sacrifice some originality for practicality?

2) Scour internet forums and don't be afraid to ask questions. This is most helpful for the the above. Check my 'Links' page for helpful sites. Although most potential projects or parts can be found on eBay, don't forget other sites like Gumtree.com and Adtrader.co.uk, aswell as local papers and drum shops, you might be surprised by what they still have lying around 'through the back'!

3) Think about value. Will it be for you to keep or to sell on? Many projects will cost as much or more to complete properly than what the finished article will be worth, this is fine if you plan on keeping it long-term, but if you're restoring something with the intention of selling it on, it may not be worth doing or you may have to look at ways to cut costs while still making the project the best it can be.


Disassembly & Reassembly

1) If you haven't already got them, you will need tools. Flathead and Crossdrive screwdrivers, mole-grips, clamps, scrapers, blades, tape measure etc. Exactly what you'll need will depend on the project but make sure you are well prepared before you start.

2) Most drums are very straightforward to strip and put back together, but there are some with more complicated snare mechanisms etc. I recommend using a digital camera to take pictures as you disassemble, so that you can refer to them when it somes to putting everything back togther again.

3) I often find that a full strip down of a drum or kit is useful to assess the condition of all the parts or find out what's missing or may need to be replaced. At this point you can also check the shell interiors and bearing edges. Once a kit is stripped, separate various hardware parts and seal in labelled bags, (for lugs, screws, tension rods etc. those little food bags are perfect). Clean and polish each batch of parts and return to their bags, this keeps them safe and makes it easier when it comes to securing the correct parts to the correct shells.

4) A little grease or vaseline in any threads will make things easier to put back together. I also put a little bit on tension rods, it makes it smoother to tighten and tune the drums.



Cleaning

1) Most regular cleaning products around the house are fine on drums. For shells, after wiping with a damp cloth, furniture polish like 'Pledge' or 'Mr Sheen' will give them a nice shine. I also use car polish. 'T-cut' can also be used on any wrap or finish that's particularly scratched or dirty, before polishing.

2) For cleaning chrome hardware I usually use 'Autosol' metal polish, have also had good results with 'Barkeepers Friend' and occasionally use some very fine steel wool on badly pitted chrome.



Wrapping

1) If you are thinking about re-wrapping a kit, is the original wrap glued or taped on? I have been able to remove glue residue from shells without too much bother (using medical adhesive remover) but have heard of many people who have been less succesful. Taped-on wrap doesn't give you as much work.

2) Likewise when it comes to sticking on your new wrap...
I have used both glue and tape for re-wrap projects and have had better results using tape. It's cleaner to work with and easier to get a smooth finish on wrap (as glue can leave little globs and bobbles underneath). It's down to personal preference, but I'll probably use tape from now on.

3) If you do decide to use glue, make sure you spread the glue as evenly as possible, and very quickly as it dries fast. I can't stress enough that you should do this in a well ventilated area and preferably even wear a mask. Contact adhesive is not good for your lungs, eyes etc! Also when using glue to secure a wrap, cable ties around the edges of the wrap are an excellent way to secure it round the edges while the glue dries, saving you from buying too many clamps.

4) Most wraps come in sheets of 24" x 54", some cheaper wraps come as one big square sheet. Either way, make sure you measure and mark out the pieces you'll need for each drum before you cut anything, remembering to add a little for the overlaps. Before you cut... measure again, quality wrap is not cheap! When cutting I always use a fresh new stanley blade and cut against an aluminium metre rule.


Detailing

1) Heads. If you're spending valuable time and money on a project, put some quality heads on it too. If you are on a tight budget, old heads could be re-used. I have used smooth white (Everplay) heads again which were dirty and had some stickmarks but otherwise OK. Using T-cut and car polish can clean them up very well.

2) A single hard rubber floor tile makes great gasket material and is usually already adhesive on one side. Use this on any bass or tom mounts (or even under lugs if you like) to ensure they don't vibrate or come loose. I usually also stick a small rectangular piece to the bottom of the bass drum hoop where the pedal is clamped, to help prevent damage to the hoop.

3) If you can't find new ones, most grommets in badges or air vents can be re-used if you drill them out carefully from the inside of the shell in the first place, and use some superglue when installing them again.
Also, when replacing badges, a little skim of clear silicon sealant underneath will keep them in place and prevent them rattling.

4) Can't find the correct vintage logo for your bass drum head? No problem. With quick search on the web you should be able to find just about any logo. Print this out and go over the outline in pencil. Tape your piece of paper with logo facing down, on the back of a sheet of vinyl (about 3 a roll from any DIY store) and rub the paper (like those bark rubbing things you did as a kid) The logo ends up on the back of the vinyl and will be facing the right way when you then cut it out with scissors or a scalpel. Alternatively there are now various sellers on eBay who can professionally reproduce logos for just a few pounds.

5) Don't forget feet! No matter how great a kit looks, it still looks unfinished to me without rubber feet on the bass drum spurs and floortom legs. Modern or vintage style rubber feet can be bought cheaply on eBay.


Most of all, if you're doing anything like this. Have fun !!