1974, Premier “2000” Snare Drum (#1). Strip down for restoration, and dismantling a Flobeam assembly for the first time…

Having set out, with what I originally thought to be a relatively uncomplicated intention, to “build a Premier 2000 snare from parts“, and having sourced multiple parts in various combinations – (enough to actually build two and a half, 2000 snares) – I’ve now developed a plan, which will hopefully find constructive homes for all of the various bits and pieces. Something else to keep myself busy with, over the next few months.

Snare #1 (this one) – will be a sympathetic restoration and rebuild, of the virtually complete snare, (serial #7633).

Snare #2 will be a complete rebuild, using the slightly damaged and worn, un-badged, 2000 body. This body has a few scrapes and scratches, and an “average” amount of chrome flaking and pitting. It’s apparently been well polished at some point, and the chrome plating is very thin in places – displaying a few areas where the texture of the prepared substrate shows. I’ll try and “wrap” the shell with a completely new finish as an experiment, and see what that does to the overall sound. If it doesn’t work out – I’ll rebuild the drum with the shell as it is, and use it as a “beater” or “players” example.

Snare #3 will use up the last of the spare parts and, most likely, those which are in the poorest state of repair. I’ll still need to source a few bits and pieces to build up a full specification, but the drum will be rebuilt using the most damaged shell (serial #3301 – my original “rebuild” candidate). The finish is so poor on this drum, that I may actually have it completely stripped and completely re-finished. I’m currently researching options with a few, local, metal finishing contractors – but I may be able to have a bit of fun with this one.

Early 1970’s Premier snare. As received, with “broken” flobeam assembly and missing batter head

But this is the candidate for “Snare #1”, as I received it. As detailed before – this almost complete drum was sold as “broken”, and “for parts”. However, on receipt – it turns out to be in much better condition than that. A few worn parts may need to be swapped out here and there – but in general, the drum is in need of nothing more than a new batter head, and a little TLC. (Especially for the Flobeam assembly, which is missing the entire lever end).

The shell is in really good condition, with only light pitting evident in a few places, and only a couple of patches where the pitting has actually lifted the chrome plating – causing it to flake away. It could certainly do with a good clean – but I don’t want to be too agressive with the cleaner. A little bit of liquid polish will probably be enough – but I’ll have to be careful not to abrade any of the loose chrome, or get any cloth fibres stuck around the edges of the flaking areas. However – before I can do any of that – I’ll need to break the drum down, and check on the condition of all of the rest of the components.

Flobeam assembly – removing the butt plate end

The lever end of the Flobeam assembly is completely missing, although the snare wires are still in-situ, and attached to the butt plate end. The snare wires are specially made for this type of parallel system, and are stretched between two anchors – each consisting of a pair of screws, which tap into the butt plate, (and the lever assembly at the other side). Having never dismantled a Flobeam assembly before – and also having noticed numerous warnings online about the fragility of these tiny screws – I don’t actually want to touch them unless I absolutely have to, and certainly, until I can drop a little WD-40 in the right places, to ensure they eventually move freely.

Since a lack of tension in the snare wires means that the heads of the adjustment screws have pivoted back under the butt plate – I can’t easily manoeuvre the snare wires off the screws – even though they’re only hooked on. Instead – I have to remove the butt plate first. This is done by slackening off, and completely removing the strainer knob and spring, and then by removing the long grub screw from the side of the butt plate mechanism. This allows the end of the assembly to lift off. The snare wires can then be easily un-hooked from the adjustment screws.

Flobeam assembly – Butt plate end

Note: Everything I read, from all of the people who have done this sort of thing before, says to put the long grub screw back where it came from before it gets lost. These are almost impossible to replace on their own. Same with the spring on the tensioner. As I dismantle everything, I’m keeping easily lost components together, and carefully bagging everything up for storage. I aim to re-use as many of the original components as possible. Especially the original snare wires. Although they’re a little twisted when not under tension – all of the original wires are present, the solder joints at the ends still look firm, and the plates at the ends still look perfectly serviceable. I think Puresound now make replacements specially for this Premier 2000 system – but original Premier wires seem hard to come by.

Early 1970’s Premier 2000 snare. Removing the resonant head and hoop

Next – I can remove the resonant head by gradually slackening each of the slotted tensioning rods with a slotted key. Because the head is under tension – I slacken each rod just a half turn at a time first. Once the head is completely slack – the rods can be unscrewed, pretty much by hand. The head and hoop are removed as one, and the crud of ages is dusted out from inside.

Early 1970’s Premier 2000 snare. Corrosion on the die-cast hoops

The reso head has a small hole in it, but it appears to be original – so I’m still not sure yet whether to restore authentic period heads, or just provide new, modern alternatives. I’ll see how the rest of the restoration goes, and see what’s available. The die-cast hoops both show a fair bit of wear and corrosion. The snare side hoop has a few large plaques of crusty white oxidation, and the batter hoop shows extensive signs of pitting and rusting – especially around the tension rod flanges. I’ll see how well these clean up – but I do have a better set of hoops set aside, which I can use as an alternative. Maybe save these for one of the other 2000 builds?

Early 1970’s Premier 2000 snare. Dampener removal

Next to be removed, is the dampener mechanism. This is secured to the shell with a small nut, bolt and washer, and once unbolted, is released by unscrewing and removing the knurled adjustment knob on the outside. Once again – after removal, the separate components of the assembly are fitted back together before the dampener is bagged for storage. It’s in quite good condition – although the felt at one side needs to be stuck down to the moving plate, with a bit of double-sided tape.

Premier “Flowbeam” assembly – viewed from the inside

With access to the Flowbeam assembly now as uncluttered and unhindered as it’s possible to be – now seems like a good enough time to “get to know” what I’m going to have to take apart. This version has transparent cover plates on the inside, and this helps in some way – since I can see how the inner parts move when the beam is “activated”.

The Flowbeam assembly is a “parallel type” snare system – designed to equally affect both ends of the snare wires, when they are “thrown off”. With a standard snare mechanism – the snare wires are anchored at one end, and kept taught against the reso head under tension. When the snares aren’t required, and the lever is thrown at one end to move them away from the resounding head – the movement is achieved by slackening the wires and letting them fall away under gravity. Some physical separation is achieved – but the tension in the wires is reduced, and the wires sag. They end up closer to the edges of the head, and further away in the middle. This can allow the slackened wires to bounce when the drum is struck, and rebound onto the head where they are still close. That kind of makes a nonsense of having a “snare off” setting with the throw lever, and requires constant adjustment with the tensioner screw.

With the Flobeam assembly, (and with other types of parallel mechanism) – “throwing” the lever at one side actually moves the entire beam vertically downwards. Both ends therefore drop away equally. Since the snare wires are effectively tensioned between fixed points at each end of the beam – as the beam drops, the snare wires move away from the reso head but retain their original tension. This helps prevent unwanted bounce-back when the snare wires are “off”, and the whole system can be “tuned” much more finely.

Premier “Flowbeam” assembly – viewed from the inside, with internal covers removed

The main problem when taking the Flobeam assembly apart, is that the main beam is slightly longer than the actual diameter of the metal shell, and the rotating cam beam is longer than the gap between the two black plastic housings at either end. The cams sit in front of the screws which hold the end pieces on – so it’s difficult to see where to start. Something has to give somewhere – to allow the beams to slide out a little on one side perhaps, which should then allow the other side to be disengaged. The question is… what gives?

Each of the transparent cover plates can be moved out of the way, by unscrewing the three obvious screws for each. The covers are still, however, threaded through the two metal beams – so the only thing is to slide them along to the centre of the drum, and out of the way. Now – by manually raising and lowering the bottom, rectangular beam – I can see how the mechanism works.

Since the beam needs to sit solidly in each of the selection positions, (lever up – snare “on”, lever down – snare “off”) – something has to physically hold the beam in place in each position. That’s where the rest of the internal components of the system come in. As the beam is raised and lowered – short, bent, “pull” rods at each end, push upwards or pull downwards at one end of a white plastic cam. (The operation is identical, but opposite, at both ends). When the beam reaches the maximum deflection either up or down, the ends of each cam are held firmly in place, by pressing against two flexible leaf springs – one on each side of each cam. (Again – the operation is identical at both ends). The cams are also held in position by the connecting, square-profile top rod, and this syncronises their movement. As the lower beam is moved up or down, the pull rods move the cams against the springs, creating a rotating motion in the top rod. This motion is duplicated in the cams on both sides of the drum, and the beam is moved up or down a precise amount – but always kept in it’s “parallel” position.

The question remains however… Just how does it all come apart?

Premier “Flowbeam” schematic – Exploded view

Getting hold of an exploded view helps a little – but the whole thing is a little bit like getting a ship out of a bottle. After staring at the thing for a half hour, after much (careful) poking and prodding, and by comparing the assembled version with my collection of various other Flobeam parts, I discover that the key seems to lie in the removal of one of the pull rods from the main beam. If I can disconnect one entirely – then it should allow the beam to slide through, and I can then free the other end. The question is – which one?

Premier “Flowbeam” assembly – removing a pull rod

The whole solution turns out to be one which is hard to photograph and document – even harder to explain. But the basic procedure, from what I can work out, (well – it worked for me), is as follows:

  1. Unscrew the cover plates (9 on diagram), and slide them out of the way, towards the centre of the beams.
  2. Pull out the leaf springs from the housings, at both ends of the Flobeam. I used a pair of needle-nosed pliers, and pulled them straight, back out.
  3. With the white cams (8 on diagram) now free – try and slide them forwards, out towards the centre of the top rod. You can then unhook the push rods (17 on diagram) from the cams.
  4. Identify the pull rod which has two thin, black plastic guides, (as on the photo above – 15, 16, 17 on diagram. The other one has a thick black washer on one side – 14 on diagram).
  5. The guides on the pull rod are held on by a small, push-on kind of circlip. Now I might be doing this all wrong… the clip is small and quite fragile… but by gently levering the adjacent plastic guide on the opposite side to the circlip, with a fine screwdriver blade – both just pop straight off. (I hope they’ll go back on as easily).
  6. The disassembled pull rod is unhooked from the main Flobeam, and can be completely withdrawn. This allows the main beam to push through on that side, and the other end is then freed as it is drawn towards the centre of the drum – through and away from it’s plastic housing. This is where everything just seems to get a bit “improvised”… everything now seems to be moving. The two beams, (still joined by the transparent cover plates which both still pass through), are somehow wriggled, rotated and manipulated free. I just can’t quite explain how it actually came about – but suddenly, the whole beam assembly is free, and it too can be withdrawn.
  7. The black inner plastic housings at each side of the drum can now be unscrewed by removing the two screws (10 on diagram). The housings are comprised of two pieces each, and they are easily removed – leaving two remaining plug pieces left attached to the drum shell at either side. These are carefully pushed out from the rectangular openings, from the inside of the shell, and at last the whole Flobeam is out.
Premier 2000 snare. Removing the lugs

With the Flobeam out of the way – there’s now plenty of room to allow for the easy removal of the lug boxes. These are unscrewed from the inside – just enough until the restraining washers are freed. They slide off, and each lug box assembly can then be withdrawn in turn.

Premier 2000 snare. Lug boxes, swivel nuts and inserts

There are eight lug boxes in all – each has a fixing screw, (left attached for now – so they don’t get lost), two tension rod swivel nuts, two insert plates and a restraining washer. Everything looks in pretty good condition. The washers and screws are still bright, and the swivel nuts and insert plates, although a bit dirty, show very few signs of corrosion or oxidation. The lugs themselves show a little bit of light pitting to the chrome, but that’s to be expected. The lugs should clean up nicely with a little bit of polish – as will the fixings, once they’ve had a good bath in WD-40.

Early 1970’s Premier 2000 snare – showing original date of manufacture stamp

The shell is now completely stripped, and I can have a proper look. The outside has dulled – but there isn’t too much of the flaking that is typically found on these Chrome on Aluminium snares. It should clean up nicely – but I don’t want to be too heavy with the cleaner. There’s quite a nice aged patination actually. I don’t really want to go too heavy with polishing. A cautious wipe over with chrome cleaner, followed by a careful buffing should be enough to help protect the chrome, and show it off at its’ best.

The inside of the drum is a little bit dirty, and shows some apparent handling marks – but then as I’m inspecting it, I come across the original date stamp from the Premier factory. 15th July 1974. I’ve heard that these drums often have date stamps in them – but looking at how faint it is – I can only presume they get easily wiped off when people clean the drum interiors, most likely when changing heads. Certainly – on checking my other two 2000 shells – I can’t find any trace of date stamps there. One has been completely cleaned out, so it shines almost as brightly as the outside. The other has just seen way too much action, and has likely been rubbed away by handling.

Dismantled Premier 2000 snare – Ready for cleaning

So -that means I won’t be cleaning the inside, much more than a careful brush out. I think it’s important to preserve original features like this. I’ll lightly clean the outside of the shell, and then clean and lubricate the components as required before re-assembly. Most of the original parts will be going back in – although I may swap out the butt plate mechanism for one in slightly better condition. This will better match the condition of the replacement throw off lever I’ve managed to obtain. I’ll also swap the hoops, (although they still remain functional), for a set with less obvious corrosion.

All I have to do then, is work out how that Flobeam assembly goes back in – but I just so happen to have a couple of other 2000 snare builds, with which to practice my technique…

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