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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Drilling holes in the flange..

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don_mattingly - Posted - 02/01/2019:  10:28:39

Hello Forum!

I have a 1960s VegaVox Plectrum Banjo that I love, but has put many a hole in my suits where my arm rests on the metal armrest. So I got a Nechville armrest, and I think it's going to solve this problem perfectly, but now the trick is installing it on the uncoventioanl design of the VegaVox banjo. Thankfully I figured out the perfect way to do it, that will work quite well I think, but it just involves drilling two holes in the flange of the banjo. Actually, one of the "holes" is just expanding the existing hole of the flange so that it lines up with the screw socket on the arm rest. See the attached pics, I drew little dots with a Sharpie where I want to drill the holes.

So, long story short, does anyone know how to drill holes in metal, specifically banjo flange?? Any help is greatly appreciated, thanks!


Edited by - don_mattingly on 02/01/2019 10:30:12


Tony Mabe - Posted - 02/01/2019:  11:43:45

Use a drill press, or variable speed drill using a piece of wood as a backer. Go slow, using a high speed steel, or good metal drill bit of appropriate size. A little oil on the bit helps. Center punch where you want the drill to go, using a sharp punch or nail first so the bit doesn't skip around.

Dan Drabek - Posted - 02/01/2019:  14:16:07

I always start with a punch mark as Tony indicates. For difficult holes, I might then follow with a machinists pilot hole bit to make sure it won't skip around.

However, I don't like the looks of your hole locations--especially the one right on the edge of the flange hole. I can't see what kind of attachment bracket you have on the armrest, but I would think it over and try to come up with something more secure. Maybe by silver soldering a small plate to the underside of the flange. 

Also, it looks like your arm rest is set up awfully far out from your tension hoop. Can you bring both holes closer in to the rim, and get a clean hole for each stem? There are lots of possibilities, but it's had to diagnose without having the banjo in hand.


Old Hickory - Posted - 02/01/2019:  15:45:22

Banjomate Thinline tailpiece mounts to hooks on any banjo, regardless of spacing.

Helix - Posted - 02/01/2019:  16:13:26

Don, yes you can drill holes in that kind of metal.  Yours looks like nickel-plated steel or cheaper plated steel allow.  Use a magnet. 

Look at these photos carefully, I mean carefully. You don't need no stinking flange bs sticking out at all, You can use the same resonator mounting kit.

I know this is not your question. And your question has been answered

In the second photo, same short shouldered type flange made of steel, the others are just simple pot metal, but be careful. Pot metal

Pickles after the war because it has a shelf life. They needed zinc during the war more than they needed steel which was more plentiful.

A simple band saw is lubricated by the lead in the pot metal.

In the 3rd photo, it is the middle banjo, no steenking WTE#, same resonator mount. Good luck, or go to a machine shop and pay them, they just might play banjo.  If steel, they will have the right blade to use. OK?

Edited by - Helix on 02/01/2019 16:17:16


The Old Timer - Posted - 02/02/2019:  06:19:33

I'm fairly sure all the metal on Vega pots is plated brass. They used to brag about the "all bell brass" construction in their brochures. Should be easy to drill, done properly.

don_mattingly - Posted - 02/02/2019:  08:04:25

quote: Originally posted by Old Hickory
Banjomate Thinline tailpiece mounts to hooks on any banjo, regardless of spacing.

Thanks, those armrests look great, but the hardware would run into the flange. The VegaVox is really a unique design.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 02/02/2019:  08:38:01

I'd be inclined toward modifying the armrest mounts before I'd modify the banjo flange.

I agree with Dan Drabek: think it over. Especially agree that the hole at the edge of the flange opening is badly placed.

trussrod - Posted - 02/02/2019:  10:09:31

You don’t mention whether the sleeve wear comes from the tension bolt heads or the inside edge of the stock armrest. Prewar Vox armrests have a rounded shape and will bolt right on, either to the tension hoop with 4-40 screws, or under the tension bolts. I have seen them in the aftermarket. If the problem is the bolt heads perhaps you could make a wood insert to fit between the bolt heads and the existing armrest and even with the top of the armrest, perhaps even shape it to cover the bolt heads. Luthiers who build or work on Vox type banjos have spare parts. You could buy 4 or 6 bolts and modify the heads in such a way to solve the interference problem with your sleeve. Store the orig. bolts until you sell the banjo.

If you are locked in to using the armrest you purchased, how about locating it inward a bit so that the mount goes through the flange opening, you could then use a washer and nut on each side of the flange.

Remember anything you do to a Vegavox that cannot be easily undone will diminish its value when it’s time to sell.

trussrod - Posted - 02/02/2019:  13:12:54

Here is my PW Vox I showing the banana armrest. This is my "beater" banjo that has seen 88 years of hard work from 3 owners.

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