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Old 06-07-2022, 09:30 PM
e30m20b27 e30m20b27 is offline
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Default early 40's WFL Paramount Snare Restoration - my story

Hi there! I am new here so first, I’ll say hi, and thanks for the site. I posted this on a Vintage Ludwig Facebook group recently so it’s possible this was seen already by some folks. I am sharing a project I did on a circa 1942 WFL Paramount snare drum. I thought it was such a great learning process for me, and the results turned out so great, I wanted to share what I learned. I also would love feedback and education—about the techniques I did, and about the drum itself. If anyone has experience or a story they want to share, I’d appreciate it. What did I do wrong? What did I miss? Is there anything that hones in on the manufacturer date? I assume it’s the "WFL - 1728 N. Damen Chicago" badge and the “Zephyr” style lugs that point to early 40’s but if someone has a counter estimate let me know.

The drum was offered to me by a friend in a Chicago suburb about 12 years ago when he had to quickly sell his folks’ house. He did not have the mindshare or time to find the right market for his stuff, so he sold me both the WFL snare drum, and a red Ludwig Vistalite snare drum for $70. He had played in a punk band in the late 80s as a teenager and I assume he is the one who spray painted it brown, but it’s not clear when or how that happened. It also had older decals that spelled “BUD” (a Buddy Rich homage?). I really didn’t know what I was looking at but shortly after I got it home it dawned on me, the original finish is probably under the hot mess!

Stripping the paint seemed daunting to me, since I didn’t want to damage the original finish. I asked around for advice and got no clear answers, and ended up boxing up the drum for years. In the meantime I cleaned up the Vistalite and have enjoyed it. A few years ago I took the WFL to a ‘fix-it’ bee at a hackerspace and asked around how to get the paint off. No one had a clue—the only answer I remember was to try a green Scotch Brite pad and citrus-based Goo Gone. I tried working on a square inch with that method and stopped quickly—it wasn’t working and it seemed like it could damage the finish. Back in the box it went for a few more years, until a month ago I solicited advice online about it again. Of all places, a user on iFixit.com in the ‘plastic’ space had great-sounding advice. He told me to try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I tried one, first dry, and it rubbed a little paint off without seeming to affect the drum underneath. I was amazed and immediately hopeful! I set up shop outside on a bench on a nice late May Saturday and just began rubbing the hell out of the spray paint and slowly it came off. After going through three sponges, I noticed the packaging on the Magic Eraser box said to wet them (oops, I was using them dry). Wow, wet Magic Erasers work so much better than dry—who would have guessed! So I spent the next four hours or so on two consecutive weekends hand-rubbing the spray paint off. The user on iFixit.com also said isopropyl alcohol might also work and I reserved a few stubborn spots to try it. I can report that the alcohol made me nervous because of a little bit of white film showing up, so I stopped that experiment and stuck to the Magic Erasers.

I know now that the wrap on the drum is made of high quality cellulose acetate (plastic) and can be wet sanded, but seeing as how the Magic Erasers were doing the job, I didn’t feel the need to experiment further. In fact, I don’t know this for sure but I want to say the effect of the erasers is similar to a medium/fine-grit polishing pad. After getting all the paint off that I could, I washed the outer shell with some soapy water. I assumed it could be polished but still a novice, I turned to the internet again for advice. After reading a few tips, I decided on a product called Micro-gloss. It was described as particles of silica, one-micron in size, suspended in water. Keeping with the theme of hand-rubbing this drum, I followed the directions of applying the polishing compound with a clean flannel cloth (no swirls). Micro-gloss totally exceeded my expectations! It created a smooth, glass-like shiny glowing appearance. Miraculous.

In the meantime while I was working on the shell, I soaked the hardware for a little over two days in Evaporust, another amazing product I only learned about a few months ago from a bicycle restorer. Evaporust works really well with the right balance (in my opinion) between rapid results and conservation. As far as I know, it doesn’t eat away at metal aggressively. Instead it simply gets rid of scum and mild/moderate rust. After two days all rust is gone and the metal color went from a nicotine-stained rusty surface to neutral cold color, smooth, and clean. Obviously there are still small defects but 90% of the hardware is wonderful. I wiped off the residue with a rag and that’s all I did on the rust. No elbow grease there! Not even a wire brush! The only problem I ran into was how to submerge the hoops and I didn’t really solve the problem. I bought a 17” livestock feeding tray but the hoops still didn’t fit well in it…unless I bought a gallon more of Evaporust to drown them, and I opted to go cheap. So thinking I was clever, I tipped the tray at an angle, let the liquid pool, and put a slice of the hoop in, turning it clockwise in the liquid every eight hours or so until the entire hoop at been submerged for roughly two eight-hour shifts. This did work, but it left small hard-to-see lines delineating where the hoop was jutting out of the surface of the liquid. I wouldn’t do it this way again, I would pay for more Evaporust and just submerge the whole hoop in the liquid at once. Or find the right size bucket. The hoops still look really good compared to what they started out with, and I think I’ll forget about the defects, but I still could have done better. By the way, Evaporust is also not harsh (they claim non-toxic) and reusable—you pour it back in the bottle when you’re done. I should note I was missing eight tension rods so I used modern ones on the batter side, which is why they clash if you study the photo carefully. After the rust remover, I tried a metal polishing product an acquaintance recommended called MAAS. I hope I didn’t end up doing damage with it, since this was the least researched product I used! It appears to chemically wipe off a tiny layer of the metal surface, and combined with buffing, increase the shine from a low satin to high satin. I can’t say it polished the metal a whole lot, but I also didn’t mind where it ended up. So after one round of buffing, I called it done. And, no steel wool was used.

Putting the drum all back together was interesting because I could tell how hand-made it was. Even though this was made in a factory, each lug had minor variations of shape and hole location—I didn’t number them when I took them off so I had to fish around and see which one fit on which set of holes, and in the old indentations left in the wrap. A couple of the drill holes were significantly off! You can’t tell in the final assembly though. I used a Remo Weather King Diplomat snare head and Weather King Vintage “A” General Purpose “50th Anniversary” batter, and the “1963” Ludwig set of snares. The strainer has 10 individual holes, I assume for individual snare wires or gut wires. Thinking about using those seemed too fussy, so I just went with the modern way. After finally getting it all sorted I was able to play it and it sounds great! It’s got a big and tastefully ringy sound. With a dampener it sounds good—nice and poppy. I tried some rimshots with those big hoops, and they sounded like a Cadillac—big, classic, and stylish. Bringing this snare to life has inspired me to start practicing more! I have to get my chops up to par with this drum! Thanks for reading along with my tale. If you want to chime in, feel free to drop comments or advice for the next one.
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Last edited by e30m20b27; 06-07-2022 at 09:42 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-08-2022, 05:26 AM
grantro grantro is offline
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Cool Re: early 40's WFL Paramount Snare Restoration - my story

to the VDF!!

You did a fantastic job on the restoration...Kudos to you!! That is a beautiful snare drum and definitely worth the time you have invested in it...

Enjoy!!

Cheers
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1976 Ludwig Mach 4 Thermogloss 26-18-14-14sn
1978 Ludwig Stainless 22-22-18-16-14-13-12 c/w 6-8-10-12-13-14-15-16-18-20-22-24 concert toms
1975 Sonor Phonic Centennials Metallic Pewter 22-16-13-12-14sn (D506)
1971 Ludwig Classic Bowling Ball OBP 22-16-14-13
1960's Stewart Peacock Pearl 20-16-12-14sn
1980`s Ludwig Coliseum Piano Black 8x14 snare
1973 Rogers Superten 5x14 & 6.5x14 COS snares
1970`s John Grey Capri Aquamarine Sparkle 5x14 snare
1941 Ludwig & Ludwig Super 8x14 snare
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  #3  
Old 09-13-2022, 05:11 AM
DrumBob DrumBob is offline
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Default Re: early 40's WFL Paramount Snare Restoration - my story

Very nice. I feel like taking on a resto project now.
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'01 DW Collector's, Oyster White: 8/10/12/14/16/22.
'72 Slingerland Red Tiger Pearl: 12/13/16/16/22.
'64 Slingerland: 13/16/20/22 (to be restored).
'68 Slingerland Green Sparkle: 12/13/16/14 chr./20/20.
'65 Slinger/Leedy, Blue Sparkle: 12/14/20.
'67 Ludwig Burgundy Sparkle: 12/13/16/22.
'69 Ludwig Black Diamond Pearl: 12/13/16/22.
'70-ish Ludwig Std, Burgundy Oyster: 13/16/22.
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  #4  
Old 09-13-2022, 08:24 AM
jda jda is offline
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Default Re: early 40's WFL Paramount Snare Restoration - my story

Classic, Gem
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Old 09-13-2022, 10:23 AM
green glass drum green glass drum is offline
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Arrow Re: early 40's WFL Paramount Snare Restoration - my story

Oh Yeah!! Beautiful.That's Candy Givens good.
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  #6  
Old 10-02-2022, 12:09 AM
Olimpass Olimpass is offline
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Default Re: early 40's WFL Paramount Snare Restoration - my story

She’s a beauty! Loving those Zephyr type lugs! Congrats!
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