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beezaboy - Posted - 03/27/2021:  10:31:04

Other day we were discussing a vintage Gretsch Broadkaster in this thread:

Guy wanted to know should he buy a Gretsch Broadkaster tenor that was for sale.  Bob Smakula said no don't buy it the flange and hoop will crack.  Another post said that's how Gretsch got the nickname "Wretch".

While goofing around today I found this Gretsch Broadkaster Style A Serial number 207 on Reverb. .  That is a real early serial number right at late 1928 to real early 1929.  In those days Gretsch one piece metallic rim/flanges and tension hoops that were made by the Doehler Die Casting Company the same company that made Gibson crumbly flanges.  You can see from the Reverb photos how the metallic rim/flange cracked (attached).  If you look closely in third photo at tailpiece end (also cracked) you can see the the "Doler Zink" die caster's mark.  This is how Gretsch metallic rim and hoop banjos got a BAD NAME!

Well, in 1933/1934 Gretsch began using another die casting company called "CAP" and used that company right on into the post war Gretsch Braodkasters and New Yorkers without trouble.  The "CAP" rim/flanges and hoops are much stronger and not prone to disintegrating although I take care with the hoops when changing heads because it's ingrained in us from the beginning that Gretsch metallic rim banjos just have a BAD NAME.

Edited by - beezaboy on 03/27/2021 10:40:44

beezaboy - Posted - 03/27/2021:  10:39:20

When inspecting a Gretsch metallic rim banjo you might like - take off the resonator and look at the underside of the flange back at the tailpiece end. You will see a die cast company mark. If it is a Doler Zink mark beware. However, if it is a CAP company die cast mark (attached) you may proceed without a great deal of trepidation.

Bob Smakula - Posted - 03/27/2021:  13:26:22


Though I was at your Gretsch banjo die cast rim talk at the banjo gathering several years ago and remembered that there was a company after Doehler that made significantly better castings, I appreciate you posting the reminder here. Not that I can get too excited about die cast banjo rim assemblies, but I will not be quick on the draw to discourage wretch, I mean Gretsch buyers. (Auto correct changed Gretsch to wretch. Honest!)

And now to guide the die casting subject to another brand; Ludwig also had a high die cast failure rate with the tension hoops on the Dixie, Kingston, and Stratford models. Are you aware if they were made by Doehler or another caster? I do run into those top tension Ludwig models with a cast brass tension hoop, but more often than not they are crumbly zinc alloy.

Bob Smakula

beezaboy - Posted - 03/27/2021:  14:20:05

Bob - Thanks for posting. Especially your experiences with the Ludwig pot metal style tension hoops. I don't know who the die caster was for the Ludwig models but it's good for us to share traps for the unwary here on BHO. Might save someone from some grief.

tdennis - Posted - 03/27/2021:  14:32:26

I believe Ludwig started using zinc hoops c.1927, when they offered the top tension instruments, & used zinc on their complete line, even the top tier. However, brass hoops were also sporadically used & I can't discern much of a real pattern . Their zinc alloy was the worst, & seemed to radically degrade throughout the hoop, bubbling & flaking in layers like filo dough. Ludwig claimed to have geared up to make all parts in house, perhaps they cast their own hoops.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 03/27/2021:  15:33:54

There seems to have been a lot of usage of zinc castings in the late twenties and thirties, so I would suspect that there was more than one company supplying to diefferent makers. I've seen car door handles an various other auto parts that have crumbled. Some cast toys were also prone to "zincf pest," and the Aeolean-American Piano Corp, makers of numerous piano brands have action brackets that have a bad habit of expending and then cracking wide open (I've replaced many of them-not a fun job, because due to the expansion, you have to figure out how everything was originally configured).

These castings were inexpensive and that's probably why they were used.

Apparently, the Koreans have made some mistakes with castings, too. Not too long ago, I had to replace the action brackets on a 1980's Young Chang piano because they'd begun to disintegrate. Thankfully, all those bottlecap banjos used aluminum for their rims.

beezaboy - Posted - 03/27/2021:  16:43:32

I've been doing some work with Stromberg-Voisinet who sold lots of banjos to Montgomery Ward in the 1920's. Attached is a S/V Montgomery Ward top tension model Spring 1927 and a photo of an actual SV with that top tension hoop. Not too bad but still crumbly.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 03/28/2021:  07:41:29

I've seen photos of some of those Stromberg-Voisinet Monkey Ward banjos with worse tension hoops.

Oddly, there were some Stromberg Carburetors used on autos from that same period which were made of a similar "Crumblezinc."

Brett - Posted - 03/30/2021:  05:14:20

I’ve had luck with the JB weld product that is black tar looking 2 part epoxy in a clear round plastic tube that you knead and apply. Not saying it’ll work, but it did on a banjo uke tension hoop that was pot metal and broken.

I also used JB weld product to reattach an aluminum roof rack to the back of an led ford van, so I could crap on top. You know, one of those old aluminum ladder that is attached to a door. Anyhow, at the time I weight 236 pounds and the JB weld held my big fat self.

Brett - Posted - 03/30/2021:  05:16:41

Autocorrect makes a fool of my typing. I wanted to put Kool-Seal on top of van to assist leaks and cooling for camping. So, I reattached a broken ladder to van it’s the JB weld 2 part epoxy mix. I think it might be called Steel Stik?

beezaboy - Posted - 03/30/2021:  08:04:52

Brett - The Gretsch Doler Zink metalic rims are pretty much Humpty-Dumpties. I too have used the two tube JB Weld mix on big cracks as sort of a cosmetic fix but still unsightly. I did get a Doler Zink tension hoop to stay in place (hold your breath) with JB Weld but the hoop will never come off to change the head without breaking. I haven't tried JB Weld to repair a broken off flange piece but I am not optimistic.

Edited by - beezaboy on 03/30/2021 08:06:48

Jbo1 - Posted - 03/30/2021:  12:30:58

Brett , per your comments, I'm hoping you meant you "put crap on top" of your van, and not actually "crap on top" of your van. Most communities frown on that kind of behavior.

Brett - Posted - 03/30/2021:  12:48:19

Thanks Jim, I’m educated now. No, the van had roof rails to tie stuff off on there.
Beezaboy, I know, it’s unsightly. But if it saves low value stuff that’s otherwise uneconomical to repair, I’m ok with it.
I watched a video on YouTube other day by some guy called Project Farm or Farmer of adhesives and JB Weld blew many costing several times more away. But, no, it can’t make stuff unbroken. I’ve rebuilt several antique car steering wheels with JB weld, to repair cracked plastic 60s stock steering wheels. It is sometimes amazing. Sometimes.
I broke a Blue Point plastic coated 4 pound hammer, my favorite one, JB welded the plastic handle and it completed driving out 1968 F100 kingpins from suspension before it broke the rest of plastic. Other times it won’t adhere or won’t do squat.

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