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Apr 20, 2019 - 10:30:14 AM
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11716 posts since 6/29/2005

I don't know if this has happened to anyone but me, but I have installed many many tuners and never had a 5th string one break until a couple of weeks ago.

I set up the banjo, played it, let it settle in, then Fedexed it to the customer who loved it, then one day later, I got an email saying the gear was just backing out of the 5th string tuner !!

We went through a brief exchange of emails, because I thought the retaining pin had come out of the shaft and it could be instantly fixed.  She assured me the pin was still in place—I immediately sent her another tuner and asked her to send the broken one back because I wanted to see what on earth had happened. These things are very simple and trouble free, and this wasn't one of the cheap ones.

Turns out that the end of the worm gear that forms the end of the channel for the retaining pin had broken off , so the retaining pin had nothing to retain.
Here's a picture:

I was able to clean it up and silver solder the part back on—I used a rod that melts at around 1150-1200F  so as not to do anything bad to the brass.

I then had to clean the groove with a needle file.

You can see where the groove in the gear lines up with the hole where the pin goes, I coated the worm gear with grease, and put it back together.  Works great!!  I will use this on some internal banjo and not put it on one I'm sending out just to be safe.

Obviously, it was more trouble to do this than to just buy a new tuner, but it's Easter weekend, and if this would have happened as I was setting a banjo up, and I didn't have another one, it would have stopped me dead in my tracks, so it's good to know that you can fix them in an emergency.

Apr 20, 2019 - 11:11:47 AM
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

13907 posts since 3/27/2004
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I had one of the capstan right angle fifth string tuners lock up.  I purchased it from StewMac, too long to remember the brand, but they immediately sent me a replacement.

I drove out the pin and freed it up, but I don't remember what had actually happened to make it lock up.

Apr 20, 2019 - 12:21:56 PM

3571 posts since 10/13/2005

I tell ya, fifth columns are sabotaging us everywhere, even our banjos.... banjered

Apr 20, 2019 - 12:44:59 PM

1749 posts since 4/7/2010

quote:
Originally posted by rudy

I had one of the capstan right angle fifth string tuners lock up.  I purchased it from StewMac, too long to remember the brand, but they immediately sent me a replacement.

I drove out the pin and freed it up, but I don't remember what had actually happened to make it lock up.


At one point Stew-Mac was selling Schaller 5th tuners under the Waverly brand name. I remember a certain period (1990's?) of Schaller 5th tuners seizing and requiring replacement of about 20% that I sold.  Just a short blip on the usually flawless Schaller manufacturing.

 

Bob Smakula

Edited by - Bob Smakula on 04/20/2019 12:46:27

Apr 20, 2019 - 12:45 PM

38 posts since 8/6/2011

Ken:

Great description and pictures. I'm surprised that solder would hold the broken piece.

Apr 20, 2019 - 1:27:25 PM

banjonz

New Zealand

10629 posts since 6/29/2003

This is very common, especially on Asian made tuners. Usually one ends up replacing the tuner. Good for you that you repaired it. Hope it lasts.

Apr 20, 2019 - 1:28:23 PM

11716 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by jgaughan

Ken:

Great description and pictures. I'm surprised that solder would hold the broken piece.


Thanks!

It's not soft solder used for plumbing—that wouldn't hold, as you say— it's silver solder which is much stronger and is actually brazing with an alloy that has a silver content. I used an acetylene torch, but you could braze something this small with Mapp gas.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 04/20/2019 13:31:47

Apr 20, 2019 - 3:28:33 PM
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

13907 posts since 3/27/2004
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Bob Smakula
quote:
Originally posted by rudy

I had one of the capstan right angle fifth string tuners lock up.  I purchased it from StewMac, too long to remember the brand, but they immediately sent me a replacement.

I drove out the pin and freed it up, but I don't remember what had actually happened to make it lock up.


At one point Stew-Mac was selling Schaller 5th tuners under the Waverly brand name. I remember a certain period (1990's?) of Schaller 5th tuners seizing and requiring replacement of about 20% that I sold.  Just a short blip on the usually flawless Schaller manufacturing.

 

Bob Smakula


That's the right time frame, so it was most likely a Schaller.  It was in use a very short time, but StewMac's customer service was then, as now, exceptional.

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