1970’s Premier “2000” Snare Drum (#2). Re-assembly of internal components – Including Flobeam

One advantage of having a few similar projects “on the go” at any one time, is that things you learn on one build, can make things so much easier on subsequent, or parallel projects. Having taken the Flobeam system out of my Premier “2000” snare build “#1”, and having almost two other complete systems in various states of assembly, I already have a reasonable idea of how to get everything back together again properly. This – my “#2 snare” build, has been wrapped, and is now at a point where I can start to re-install the internal components. This will provide some valuable experience when it comes installing the other two Flobeam systems – most importantly for the “sympathetic restoration” of the “#1 snare”. For that – it would be much better to know exactly what I’m doing, before I actually attempt it. If I’m going to make mistakes – then I should probably do it on one of the “damaged” shell builds first. Just like with a guitar assembly – there are lots of details to the (fiddly) process to keep in mind, and little “pointers” to discover along the way – all of which I’ll need, if everything is to run to plan.

Re-claimed, 1970’s Premier badge with serial number

But before I begin to get to grips with the Flobeam – now that the wrap is on – I can attach a re-claimed, vintage Premier logo badge. The shell was already stripped of all other components, including the original badge, when I got it – but I’ve managed to source a period replacement, with a serial number which fits right in-between the serial numbers displayed on the other two shells. Since this shell is in a physical condition somewhere in-between the two – I figure it’s reasonable to assume that a number somewhere in-between, is perfectly appropriate.

Whoever took the badge off the original donor shell has done a pretty good job. It’s relatively straightforward to grind away the inside lip of the grommet/fastener, and that does a nice clean job – but destroys the fastener at the same time. The alternative is to carefully pick at, lift, and then straighten the grommet’s “roundover” from the inside – and that’s what’s been done here. Rather nicely. The edges only need a little bit of straightening and crimping, before the original grommet fits its’ allotted opening, properly again. Having apparently originated on a Premier snare – the grommet, crucially, also has the correct length to suit a thin metal shell, (plus the additional thickness of the thim wrap here). I have a few, spare, NOS Premier grommets in the toolbox – but they’re of a longer type, and are obviously intended for thicker, wooden shells.

Homemade “grommet installation tool”

No doubt – Premier had a special tool to actually secure the grommets to the shells. As it is – I’ve had to fashion my own from a short bolt, which has a countersunk head, and a few additional washers. One washer, which matches the diameter of the grommet, sits on the outside – with an additional, larger washer over the top to help protect the metal badge from damage, if the pliers should slip. The bolt I’m using has a slotted head and a square nut, and I need to hold the nut firmly with pliers, whilst I tighten the bolt from the inside. As the bolt tightens – the countersunk portion spreads the collar of the grommet out, on the inside of the shell. The washer on the outside prevents the rest of the grommet from distorting on the outside.

Premier also appear to have physically glued the badges to the shells, but rather than use any type of liquid glue, which might seep out as it dries – I tack the badge in position first, with some heavy-duty, double-sided adhesive tape. Once the grommet collar has been spread with the countersunk bolt – (turn just enough to spread the edges effectively – but not enough to distort the metal anywhere) – I check that the central air opening is still circular and un-occluded. If the grommet has distorted slightly into the opening as it passes through the shell – I have a tapered hole punch on stand-by, which helps establish a perfectly circular opening again.

1970’s Premier badge with serial number – fixed into place

Then, I swap the countersink bolt for a suitable flat, pan-headed bolt, and repeat the process – this time using an additional washer on the inside. The flatter surface on the inside crimps the spread-out edge of the collar flat against the inside of the shell, and clamps the badge firmly in place.

Flobeam components – Premier 2000 snare

I can now deal with the Flobeam assembly, while I have the maximum available space to move stuff around, inside the drum. I’ve pieced together a full set of components from various sources, and will attempt to follow my previous removal process from another 2000 snare – except this time – I’ll be reversing the process.

The pull rods at either end of the main beam are shown “as-installed” in the image above. In reality – only the side with the thicker side washer, (the lever end), was still fixed to the beam as-supplied. When actually photographing the bits – I’d attached the removeable rod for safekeeping – having already decided to use a spare circlip from another assembly to make the job so much easier. The tiny lock washer that is normally used is fragile, and extremely difficult to manipulate – especially in a tight space, and especially with large fingers. Using a circlip is so much easier, and a pair of needle-nosed pliers is usually all that’s required to fit it. Using a circlip like this means that future maintenance is possible – without risking damaging or losing a tiny locak washer. (Although it does also mean I’ll need to find a source of suitable, replacement circlips).

So – to prepare the main beam for re-assembly – the removable pull rod, it’s guide washers and circlip – are removed and carefully set aside.

Flobeam components – Silicone lubricant for plastics

It also makes sense, at this stage, to pre-clean and then lubricate, (if necessary) all of the components – whilst there’s still plenty of room to do such things. The ends of the main beam, (where they pass through the plastic end blocks, and move up and down against tiny rubber “stops”), will move much more smoothly if they’re lubricated – and because there’s metal, plastic and rubber all together in these locations – I’m choosing a silicone based lubricant. I think Lithium grease might also work – but since there’s a small risk that any petroleum-based grease might possibly soften the plastic and rubber parts – I’ll stay on the safe side, and use silicone. A small amount is smeared, as required, on the main areas of contact – using a cotton bud.

The cam rod has been assembled with a plastic cam at each end – together with two block cover plates, which have been threaded onto the rod, in between. (Make sure that the cams are the right way round, and that the holes in the ends are on the same side of the rod). The metal has been wiped clean of any previous contaminant, and the plastic components have been previously washed in soapy water, and then carefully dried. Once assembled – the ends of the cams, which will eventually insert into sockets, within the end blocks, are also given a wipe with the silicone grease.

Flobeam components – End blocks, shims and leaf springs

The Flobeam assembly is held in place within the drum shell, by two end blocks. These sit inside the shell, and are screwed into the external plastic plugs, which have already been fitted to the shell. The blocks are identical at either end, and because their square profiles need to sit tight up against the curved, inner surface of the drum shell – each block has a thin shim plate, to help conform to the curve.

Flobeam components – Leaf springs shown in-position

Both end blocks support the two beams, and each block accommodates two leaf springs, which serve to hold the rotating cams, at each end of the cam rod. The springs are given a light clean with an oil-soaked rag, and the plastic components are washed in soapy water, and then carefully dried.

Flobeam Assembly

Premier Flobeam components – Exploded diagram

Now – with the components cleaned and prepared – I can work out how to install them, (and try and do it all efficiently and professionally). When I took my other Flobeam apart previously – it all eventually came out – but at the last, it really sort of flopped out, and I was aware that things were getting in a bit of a tangle. i couldn’t actually work out what was happening at the time, and couldn’t therefore work out exactly what had moved where. I can’t exactly do that again in reverse – so here goes on a logical, step-by-step process. I have an exploded diagram to hand, a bit of first-hand experience in taking the previous assembly apart, and I can study a couple of other Flobeam assemblies, in various states of build. I’m going to concentrate on just the internal section of the assembly for now, (the external snare ends and lever – I’ll save for later). Here’s how I eventually did it…

Step One – Install the end blocks and shims

Premier Flobeam – Fitting the end blocks

This first bit is easy. The end blocks and shims attach to the external plug ends, via two, side-by-side screws. As a reminder – the external plug ends are fitted with the receiving screw holes towards the top of the plugs, and the rectangular shell openings. The external plug on the lever side also has two extra cavities in the moulding – either side of the vertical slot. Since the attachment screws for the internal end blocks are metal, and they’re tapping into plastic – don’t overtighten, or you might risk stripping the threads.

Step Two – Thread the beams into place

Premier Flobeam – Fitting the beams

This is where it all starts to get fiddly – and if you miss a step, or get anything the wrong way round – you may not discover right until the very end of the process, and then have to dismantle everything, and do it all over again. Perhaps more than once. (Don’t ask how I know this).

It helps to lay out the components, and fit things together, resembling the image above.

  • The main beam needs to be the right way up. That is with the “Flobeam” stamp on the side of the beam, also reading the right way up. You’ll notice that the hooked ends of the beam point downwards, and that the up-raised, hooked end of the attached pull rod, points inwards.
  • Before the main beam can be threaded through the shell – it needs to be threaded through the ends of the block cover plates, (which are also currently threaded onto the top cam rod). The cam ends need to be present at the ends of the cam rod – and oriented so that the pull-rod fixing holes are mirrored, (ie: they’re both on the same side of the rod).
  • To allow for the main beam to be threaded through the shell – the “removeable” pull rod must be removed first.

Then – with the main beam and top rod still connected by the block cover plates – the whole assembly is lifted into position, with the main beam pushed through the butt-side block assembly, and out far enough to allow the other, (lever-side) end to drop down inside the drum.

Step Three – Securing the lever-side end

Premier Flobeam – Securing the cam at the lever-side end

The main beam is now pulled back into the shell – but this time, the loose end is threaded back through the lever-side end block assembly. With the transparent block cover plates pushed into the centre – the end of the top cam can now also be inserted into the cam socket on the same end block, with the cam sliding along until it’s pushed back firmly into the socket. As it’s pushed back – the hooked end of the pull rod is pushed through the hole on the end of the cam. It helps to not have the leaf springs installed for this, and a flat screwdriver blade carefully hooked behind the end of the rod, can also prove handy.

Step Four – Securing the butt-side end

Premier Flobeam – Securing the cam at the butt-side end

The main beam is now in place, but one of the fiddliest manouevres is to get the loose end of the cam rod into its’ socket. The best way to do this, (without pulling everything else out of place), is to push the cover plates towards the middle, so that the loose end of the cam rod can drop all the way down alongside the main beam. It’s then just about short enough to allow the fixed, (lever side), end of the rod to push all the way in to its’ socket, and to allow the loose end to slip past the edge of the inner block at the other. (Things may come adrift at the lever end – but the cam can easily be pushed back along to the end of the cam rod, and back into it’s socket again. If you do have to do this – remember to re-attach the lever end pull rod as you go).

The missing pull-rod now needs to be installed back onto the main beam. This will fix the whole assembly firmly together, since it reciprocates the movement of the other. It needs to attach with the hook end pointing back, into the drum shell. (It mirrors the rod at the other end). The black plastic guide washers are fitted on either side of the beam as the rod is threaded through. Finally, the “removeable” pull rod assembly is secured with that spare circlip. (Try this yourself, and you’ll realise just why I’ve opted to replace that original spring clip. I can barely see the thing – let alone manipulate it with any accuracy. I bet Premier had a special tool for this too).

With the top rod now able to run properly, between both of the cam sockets – the remaining cam is slipped along to the end, and pushed into its’ socket at the butt-end side. Once again, the hooked end of the pull rod is slipped into the hole in the cam, as the cam is pushed back.

Step Five – Securing the cams and inserting the leaf springs

Premier Flobeam – Hooking up the cams

Take a bit of time, and check that the cams are properly hooked-up at either end. The cams themselves need to be pushed all the way back into their sockets, with the pull rod ends pushed all the way through the cam ends. The cams will eventually be held secure by the covering transparent plates – but for now – they can easily slide forwards and become disengaged.

Premier “2000” shell – with Flobeam internal assembly fitted

Ensure that the main beam is fully engaged in the “down” position at both sides. This will pull the rod ends of the cams down to their furthest extent of travel. It’s relatively easy then, to slide a leaf spring in at each side of each cam, at one of the block ends. Then – after a final check – the cover plate can be slid along the beams, and into place. It’s secured with the three fastening screws. (Once again – when tapping metal screws into plastic – don’t overtighten). The process is repeated at the other end, and then the assembly is given a final check, to see if it functions correctly. Raising the beam at both ends should cause the cams to flip and the connecting top rod to turn. Lowering it again, reverses the action. The springs should be sturdy enough to firmly “capture” the cams at each limit of movement – and there should be no “travel” in the mechanism, at all. Snap up / snap down – that’s really all there is to it. If it moves freely and stays firm – it should be perfectly functional. One last check that there’s lube where it’s required, and then sit back and breathe again…

Premier “2000” shell – with dampener assembly fitted

Finally for this section of the re-build – I can install the dampener mechanism without it getting in the way of anything else. This dampener came from my “#1” 2000 restoration, but I have another set aside in the project box for that, which is in slightly better condition. This dampener needs a little bit of a clean, but it’s not in bad condition. Some corrosion on the securing bolt gets a soak in WD-40, followed by a rub-over with some wire wool. Finally, a tiny drop of gun oil is wiped around the bolt threads. The adjustment knob is also removed, and given a clean with liquid chrome polish. Again. the thread is oiled with gun oil, and the knob set aside with the attachment bolt and washer.

The felt on the dampener is lifting slightly at one side. It seems to have originally been attached in the Premier factory, with an orange-coloured glue similar to the kind used to fix the serial number badges in place. Again – rather than use a glue – I use a small strip of heavy-duty, double-sided adhesive tape to secure the loose side of the felt back into place. The whole dampener assembly is then fitted, via the two vacant holes on the wrapped shell. The lower, smaller hole for the securing bolt, and the upper, larger opening to allow the adjustment rod to travel through, from the inside – out. The whole assembly is secured by tightening the fixing bolt, with the assembly held in the proper, vertical orientation – with the damper level, and parallel to the plane of the head. Once the armature is held straight and firm, a tiny drop of blue LocTite resin should stop the nut working loose on its’ own. Finally, the adjustment knob is threaded onto its’ thread, on the outside of the shell. A brown leather washer helps to protect the finish as the screw is tightened on the outside, and the thread is wound up to tension the dampener. Once the dampener has been adjusted to a position underneath, but away from the plane of the head – the job is complete.

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