Restored 1974, Premier “2000” Snare Drum (#1). Cleaning, and first stages of re-build

My 1974 Premier 2000 (Snare #1), has already been dis-assembled for cleaning. The snare is in quite reasonable condition for its’ almost 50 years of life, and I’m not aiming to restore it to absolute pristine condition. There are a few “character marks” here and there which attest to a life of honest use – but there are also a few spots of corrosion which will need a spot of extra care.

1974 Premier 2000 snare. Shell before cleaning

Obviously – the shell is the main area of focus. Inside the shell, I have discovered the original, stamped date of build, (15th July 1974) – and this seems to have been applied with nothing more than one of those, old-fashioned, rubber, library date stamps. Even a light clean with a cloth might risk destroying this piece of original “provenance” – so the inside rims get no more than a gentle sweep-out with a soft-bristled paintbrush. The rest of the inside of the shell will remain untouched. I’ll have to be careful with my handling as I re-build the drum, to make sure I don’t smudge the stamp, or add any more fingermarks to the inner shell.

The outside of the shell is actually in quite good condition. (This is less of a “restoration” – more of a “thoughtful clean”). There are a few scratches and abrasions scattered over the surface – but the usual pitting, and flaking corrosion, often seen on 1970’s examples isn’t that widespread. A few “bubbles” indicate that corrosion may have reached the metal under the chrome plating – but not enough to cause the chrome to lift and peel too much. Most of the chrome has dulled slightly, and there’s a sort of “rash” of dull marks over most of the surface. Whether this is some sort of oxidation, or just spots of dirt and grime – I’ll have to see as I clean the metal. I don’t really want to force a brand new “mirror” polish on the shell – but obviously, a good clean up would make quite the difference. I also don’t want to rub too much at any of the flaking areas – since there’s always a risk of lifting a larger area of plating. I reckon a gentle rub over with liquid chrome cleaner might be the best approach. Much of the original shine should then return with just a buff up with a soft cloth, and the cleaner itself is supposed to help prevent further damage from corrosion.

Cleaning a crome plated drum shell. Applying a liquid cleaner

With the shell supported by a padded wooden beam – I can work on the outside without too much of a risk of damaging the inside. (Always providing too much cleaner isn’t used, and that care is taken not to let it run inside via the lug-holes). I apply a very light wipe of Autosol Liquid Chrome Cleaner, and gently work it about with a strong, absorbent paper towel. The cleaner leaves a milky residue on the surface, and after working it about a little – I can see that the dull, grey “rash” is nothing more than dirt, and it gradually disappears and is dissolved into the cleaner. Working with a paper towel means I can stop any “runs” of the liquid cleaner early, and also have enough of a gentle “abrasive”, to work away at the surface without scratching it. Also without getting any cloth fibres snagged behind the loose chrome flakes.

Cleaning a crome plated drum shell. Removing the (dried) liquid cleaner

I gradually work my way all the way around the shell – taking note of any damage, and areas which require particularly close attention. Most of the “dirt” has gathered around the edges of the lugs, under where the rims lie, or where the flanges of the Flobeam external blocks cover. The few notable scratches on the body are mainly just handling dings – although there is a significant and obvious line of abrasion just underneath the top hoop, which looks like it may be corrosion-related. This won’t completely clean up – but at least it will remain hidden when the heads are eventually replaced.

Once I’ve completed a circuit around the entire outside surface of the shell – I use a clean, dry paper towel, and gently remove the residue that has been left behind. Most of the solvent has now evaporated off, and what’s left is a light coating of a kind of dirty, chalky “mud”. As this is removed – the cleaned chrome is revealed.

Cleaning a crome plated drum shell. Gently buffing up the shine

Once all of the cleaner has been mopped up and removed – the shine properly returns, after a gentle buffing with a soft cloth. A microfibre towel is the best for this – one of the plush fibre kind – anything with loose fibres risks getting snagged beneath the sharp edges of the flaked chrome. Although raised – these flakes are still quite firmly attached, and if any strands of cleaning cloth get caught behind – they can be diffficult to remove. Care also needs to be taken around the logo badge. It’s tempting to poke a sharp fingernail or something around there, to clear out any remaining residue – but take care not to mark the chrome, or lift the edges of the badge. I actually use the pointed end of a sharp bamboo skewer wrapped in a little bit of paper towel. Using the point of the skewer against the sides of the badge, and the paper-wrapped side against the shell, seems to work well enough. Most of the pressure exerted is sideways, against the edge of the badge.

Cleaning the cast hoops. Signs of corrosion and oxidation

I’ve got two sets of die-cast hoops to clean up, and choose from for this restoration. The first set is the pair that originally came off the 1974 snare. They’re showing their age a bit more than the shell, and there are signs of pitting in the chrome, over most of the surfaces. Most of the dirt and grime is trapped around the lug flanges, and this should clean off relatively easily – although there are a few areas on the snare side hoop, where the chrome has flaked, corrosion has set in, and an oxidised build up has crusted over the surface. There are a couple of similar spots on the batter hoop – but this is in generally better condition, although there is quite a visible scratch on the rim edge.

I have a second set of hoops, obtained separately – and these are in a similar condition, although there aren’t any corroded spots, and the top hoop is scratch-free. Of the two sets – these are in “better” condition, but I’ll clean both pairs up, and select the most appropriate set for the re-build. (Condition isn’t everything. As long as both hoops are functional – then a little bit of character isn’t necessarily a bad thing on a “restoration”).

Cleaning the cast hoops. Treating areas with corrosion and oxidation

The corroded plaques on the hoops are treated with WD-40, and are rubbed back flat with 0000 grade wire wool. This isn’t too abrasive when lubricated with the WD-40, and the surrounding chrome isn’t noticeably scratched – whilst the areas of corrosion are gradually removed, and the surface made as regular as possible again. Areas with pronounced pitting also get similar treatment, although the little raised chrome plaques associated with the pitting tend to remain.

Fine wire wool is also useful for digging out some of the compacted crud, which has accumulated under the head rim. The lug flanges also clean up easily with a little bit of lubricated wire wool – just remember to clean out the lug holes afterwards. The wire wool is quite fragile, and this produces a fair amount of oily, powdered metal dust.

Cleaning the cast hoops. Polishing after cleaning

Once the worst of the corrosion has been removed – the chrome still displays the signs of damage, but the affected areas have been reduced to a minimum area, and remain as smaller, dark spots on the surface. They’ll need an eye keeping on them, and regular cleaning – or, alternatively, a little wipe of oil every now and again – should help prevent the corrosion from getting such a foothold again. The hoops are now given a good general clean with the Autosol Liquid Chrome Cleaner, and a final buff up with a soft cloth. They don’t look that much different to a casual glance – but the accumulated dirt has gone, and there’s now a lot more “fire” to the reflections in the chrome.

Cleaning the lug boxes. Polishing after cleaning

Next – the lug boxes get some attention with the liquid cleaner. Again – I have a couple of sets of these to choose from, but both are in much the same condition. A little bit of light pitting here and there, and some ingrained crud around the edges of the mouldings. I’ll stick with the original set for the re-build, and after cleaning and polishing – they shine up just as nicely as the shell and hoops.

Cleaning the swivel nuts, washers and insert plates

Finally – all of the other lug components are given a clean. This is a hateful, fiddly, long, drawn out process which is better handled if you can zone out for a bit, and just plough through it. Everything gets a good long soak in WD-40 first – then the washers and insert plates are scrubbed clean of most of the accumulated dirt and rust, with some 0000 grade wire wool. The swivel nuts themselves are the worst to deal with, and these particular ones seem to have an added layer of, what looks like solidified linseed oil, or something similar, caked around the outside. They’re fiddly to hold onto whilst the worst of the grime is scrubbed away, and whilst I slowly work my way through them, I begin to wonder just what it’ll take to design and build a special jig to do all this automatically. Once clean on the outside, I twist a length of rolled up paper kitchen towel down the inside threads of each – to clean out years of dried-in oil and gunk. There are sixteen of these little buggers on a 2000 snare, and it took me the best part of a morning to clean this little lot properly.

Once the lug components are looking “fresher” – I give them all a wipe over with a lightly oiled cloth. Something I’ve used to remove excess oil from other processes. It just seems to leave a light protective film on the outside of the freshly cleaned metal. It can make handling the cleaned chrome a bit tricky – but that’s what cotton gloves are for. Just before I begin to re-assemble the lugs – I give each of the swivel nut internal threads a wipe over, with a cotton bud which has a tiny drop of gun oil on it.

Lug box assembly

Then, I can begin to assemble the lug boxes, and begin the re-build. Eight casings – each with a swivel nut at each end. The flanges on the swivel nuts seat into slots cast into the casings. Each nut is also threaded through one of the insert plates, and these seat into their own cast slots alongside. Once the lugs are attached to the shell, the design keeps the swivel nuts captive – but still allows for a little bit of leeway, in terms of alignment with the tension rods.

1974 Premier 2000 snare rebuild. Attaching the lugs

Each of the assembled lug boxes are then attached to the shell using a single screw, and a raised washer. Finally – once all of the lugs have been installed – the two, black plastic external blocks for the Flobeam assembly are cleaned with soapy water, dried carefully, and then pressed into place in their respective openings, on the shell. The lever end block, (the one with two additional grooves next to the central, vertical slot opening), is placed on the side where the snare throw-off lever will be required. In my case – on the left hand side.

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