Bjorn's Drum Site

'70s Premier Olympic kit

Here is a nice little refurb project I completed recently. The kit itself is an Olympic (by Premier) dating from the late '70s. The finish is called 'mahogany duroplastic; and both Premier and Olympic kits in this finish are fairly collectable due to Ringo Starr's first kit being a premier in the same finish. When I bought the kit it was in fair condition, just a little bit dusty and grimy, and the black paint had chipped from some of the hardware and bass drum hoops. All the heads were original Everplays, all dirty but usable, and the logo on the bass head would need touching up.

As with any restoration or refurbishment project, the first thing I did was to completely strip the kit. It's the only way to properly clean all the chromework, polish the shells and in this case, respray the black parts of the hardware. The wrap on the shells was rubbed with T-cut (an automotive colour restorer) first, before being polished with Autoglym car polish. The wrap on all the shells came up beautifully, especially for these drums being approx 35 years old!

Next, all the chrome hardware was polished. Sometimes I use Autosol for this, or for particularly rusty parts, some very fine wire wool. In this case I had no Autosol and the chrome was pretty clean to begin with, so I polished it using Zildjian cymbal cleaner. I enjoyed polishing the hardware on this kit as it came up so nicely but also because there wasn't as much of it as on some other Premier kits! That's one way they cut costs on Olympic drums, there were less lugs used on all the drums than their Premier equivalents. Also the mounts were painted black over the bare metal. Again, these were rubbed down and resprayed in satin black.

This is always one of my favourite parts of a project, when all the hard work (cleaning, polishing, painting, sometimes repairing or replacing parts) is done, and I can begin to reassemble the kit. Note the shell interiors and bearing edges. As Olympic was Premier's 'budget' line of drums, the shells are said often to have been 'seconds' or 'B' stock. In this case the interiors and bearing edges were easily as nice as any Premiers I've seen. Nice thin, light birch shells with beech reinforcing rings. and internally nice and clean.

Here this kit is finished. I was able to clean up the heads using some soapy water and a sponge, and I touched up the Olympic logo on the bass head using a black marker pen (sharpie). The hoops were also painted satin black like the mounts. Usually I would remove the inlays to do this but these were particularly difficult to un-staple, so I chose to mask them off instead, spray the hoops, then polish the inlays afterwards. I'm pleased with the finished result. I also used to think that mahogany duroplastic was a bit of a drab colour (well, is is brown after all), but in the flesh (or in the wrap) it's really very nice!

The Lichtensnare

This is a Japanese drum made by 'Hoshino', I think from the 70's or 80's. It nearly ended up in the bin as the snare wires were missing, heads were worn, and the silver 'shimmer' wrap was in a bad state. But then... there was a debate on the Mikedolbear forum about the use of Fablon (sticky-backed plastic wrap) on drums, and most people were dead against it. I had nothing to loose by trying some Fablon on this drum but as most of the finishes are pretty naff, I opted for a clear finish and thought about what to put under it.

The drum was stripped of all its hardware and that was all polished whilst off the drum. Then I covered the bare shell in one layer of clear Fablon to 'seal' it. I then cut out some pictures from a Roy Lichtenstein book, whose 60's Pop Art I really like. I measured the circumference of the shell and laid the pictures on the floor end to end, trimming a few until I got to the same length as the shell. I stuck broad double-sided tape around the Fablon-wrapped shell and stuck each picture on, and then covered the pictures with another layer of the Fablon. The hardware was mounted on the drum again, along with some new heads and snare wires, and that was that. Voila.... the Lichtensnare!

To be honest, it was never a great sounding snare and I wouldn't really recommend Fablon to wrap a drumkit as it's thinner and less durable than proper drum wrap and so more prone to scratches, bubbling etc. But it was a cool looking drum, and a fun little project! Sorry, no before or during pics of this one.

Premier 14 x 14 Floortom

This was a lucky find, as 14x14 floortoms are fairly rare now. I picked this one up fairly cheap as it was in a bit of a state, tarnished chrome, splits to the wrap, and missing a bottom hoop and head, rods, badge etc. I wanted this drum to replace the 16x18 floortom on my vintage BDP kit, as I found that floortom too big and boomy and visually out of proportion to the rest of the kit.

Luckily I had spare BDP wrap to match the rest of the kit (actually 'Special Grey Pearl' from ST Drums). I stripped the shell of all the hardware, removed the damaged red sparkle wrap and gave the shell a light sanding to smooth the surface. The new wrap was cut roughly to size and applied with tape this time as opposed to glue which I'd used when I wrapped the kit. I used broad carpet tape from B&Q, which was easier to work with than glue, and just as sticky. The wrap was trimmed along the bearing edges with a sharp Stanley blade.

Poor condition 14x14, and stripped ready for refurb...

I sourced a die-cast hoop, slotted rods and badge, and also rubber feet for the legs. And all the hardware was polished with Autosol, which brough it up quite nicely. Then the drum was re-assembled, and the heads replaced with Remo coated Ambassadors. It matches the kit perfectly. (Tip: if you're looking at an early '60s floor tom on the internet and not sure which size it is... the 16" pre-international toms had 10 lugs a side. 14" toms 8 lugs).

And finished! Just need a nice pic of it with the rest of the kit now!

Premier Super Ace

I'd always been unhappy with the snare on my vintage Premier kit, it sounded OK, but it wasn't original, had a HiFi badge and strainer, but slots in the shell for a parallel snare mechanism. In short, a bit of a 'bitsa'. So I was very pleased to find this snare, which I believe it to be a Super Ace from 1958-59. So around the same age as my kit. Strangely, it looked to have been brush-painted in green BUT was otherwise mint. The hardware didn't have a mark on it, the snare worked beautifully, and the shell interior is one of the nicest I've seen.

The drum as I bought it, and stripped ready for its re-wrap.

I had a little of ST Drums' wrap left, so all that this drum needed was as strip down, and a re-wrap to match the kit. As on other projects since the vintage kit, I used tape instead of glue. All other aspects of wrapping are detailed in the the other 'Projects' and 'Tips' pages. This drum needed no further parts, the hardware didn't even need a polish! I should point out that I took photos of both ends of the parallel snare mechanism, on the inside and outside of the shell, thinking that it may be tricky to remove and replace, but it came out in one piece very easily. That said, sometimes it's a good idea to take pics just in case.

Lovely shiny new wrap, and being re-assembled.

The finished article. Original wrap would have been cross-hatch style, but this matches my kit.