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Feb 19, 2020 - 5:54:29 PM
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122 posts since 1/7/2019

Hello, so I got this banjo today, and it’s seen better days. I have the resonator too. I don’t think there is much chance of doing a good re-repair of the neck break. Such a shoddy looking repair. The pot is good and has a Liberty Banjo Co flathead tone ring. That rim is pretty thick and 6 ply. On the inside of the rim it’s marked King Banjos, Tunnelton, WV, #66,  10/75, but it’s handwritten on the wood inside the rim. It looks like I’m missing a flange, hook and nut. The neck is very thin! That may have contributed to the neck damage. 






 

Edited by - SWT60 on 02/19/2020 18:21:33

Feb 19, 2020 - 7:33:27 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12345 posts since 8/30/2006

Fear not All the glues let go at 160 F. I have the Wagner wallpaper steamer and a bunch of tips. I would try to steam the old glue out of there.

What's your quest?  That's a beautiful tiger maple neck.  

Edited by - Helix on 02/19/2020 19:34:10

Feb 19, 2020 - 7:54:47 PM

122 posts since 1/7/2019

I will attempt to repair it first. But like I said, the neck is very thin. We'll see how that goes. I think the pot is worth building (or buying) a new neck for. I can tell it's going to sound good.

Feb 19, 2020 - 7:59:50 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23211 posts since 6/25/2005

If you take your time you can do a good, clean repair. You may have to refinish the neck. Get Larry’s advice, and also read your way through all the neck repair stuff on Frets.com, both for banjo and guitar.

Feb 20, 2020 - 12:50:25 AM

7565 posts since 1/7/2005

Liberty Banjo Co. was a supplier of banjos and banjo parts. They've been out of business for quite a few years. I bought one of their flathead tone rings back in the 1970's. And those plate flanges were also sold by Liberty. The quality of their parts was excellent, and their tone rings sounded good. The banjo is probably worth fixing up. Looks like someone attacked it with Gorilla glue. It also is wearing a set of Keith D tuners, which are pricey items if they are in good working condition. Yours appear to be missing the knobs.

DD

Feb 20, 2020 - 4:11:03 AM

122 posts since 1/7/2019

Yes, missing some parts on the tuners. Also, a flange next to the neck, and the hook and nut.

That neck though. It's also cracked by the 5th string peg. If I were to make a new neck, I'd go just a bit beefier.

With this kind of design, it looks like you could simply remove the flanges and have an open back if that's what you wanted.

Feb 20, 2020 - 4:31:09 AM

122 posts since 1/7/2019

 

Sorry I forgot to mention this crack.


 

Edited by - SWT60 on 02/20/2020 04:33:28

Feb 20, 2020 - 1:48:03 PM

12710 posts since 6/29/2005

The neck is beautiful!  I would definitely try to repair it and using modern day structural epoxy and fillers, you could make a mechanically sound repair stronger than the wood—you'd always see there was a repair, but if well done, it adds to the history of the instrument—they do this with museum pieces, not attempting to hide the fact that there was a repair, but showing that it's a good repair. Please don't try to fix this with titebond or hide glue despite what people will tell you.

The one thing that bothers me is why did it break in so many places?—it makes me suspicious that there might be some rot in the wood.  I would poke around the breaks with a dentist-pick and make sure the wood is sound.

Feb 20, 2020 - 1:58:33 PM

122 posts since 1/7/2019

Ken, I just think it suffered some catastrophe. I once knew this guy who had a 1954 LG1 Gibson guitar. He was proud of it. One day he was going somewhere with the guitar, and he leaned the chipboard case against the car, forgot he hadn’t loaded it and ran over the guitar. It was kindling after that I guess.

Thank you all for your  comments and suggestions.

Edited by - SWT60 on 02/20/2020 14:01:14

Feb 21, 2020 - 6:09:33 AM

122 posts since 1/7/2019

Kquote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

The neck is beautiful!  I would definitely try to repair it and using modern day structural epoxy and fillers, you could make a mechanically sound repair stronger than the wood—you'd always see there was a repair, but if well done, it adds to the history of the instrument—they do this with museum pieces, not attempting to hide the fact that there was a repair, but showing that it's a good repair. Please don't try to fix this with titebond or hide glue despite what people will tell you.

The one thing that bothers me is why did it break in so many places?—it makes me suspicious that there might be some rot in the wood.  I would poke around the breaks with a dentist-pick and make sure the wood is sound.


Ken, is there a particular brand of epoxy, or will the typical 2 part epoxy do? 

 

i started taking the banjo apart and I found the Liberty Banjo Co marking on the tension hoop also. Nice parts 

Feb 21, 2020 - 6:52:05 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12345 posts since 8/30/2006

Not the 5 min, but the better grade 20 min set up time

Feb 21, 2020 - 6:58:04 AM

122 posts since 1/7/2019

Thank you Helix! I have a steamer contraption that should work. It’s an old pressure cooker with an old piece of metal brake line that fits in the valve.

Feb 21, 2020 - 8:25:25 AM
like this

12710 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by SWT60
Kquote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

The neck is beautiful!  I would definitely try to repair it and using modern day structural epoxy and fillers, you could make a mechanically sound repair stronger than the wood—you'd always see there was a repair, but if well done, it adds to the history of the instrument—they do this with museum pieces, not attempting to hide the fact that there was a repair, but showing that it's a good repair. Please don't try to fix this with titebond or hide glue despite what people will tell you.

The one thing that bothers me is why did it break in so many places?—it makes me suspicious that there might be some rot in the wood.  I would poke around the breaks with a dentist-pick and make sure the wood is sound.


Ken, is there a particular brand of epoxy, or will the typical 2 part epoxy do?


 I would recommend an industrial type epoxy used for boat building and things like that instead of the kind they sell in hardware stores.  There are several brands out there.  They are all powerful adhesives, and with fillers to thicken them and fill the gaps, don't need to be clamped very much if at all

I like System Three general purpose epoxy, which you can get directly from them or on Amazon.  https://www.systemthree.com/products/general-purpose-epoxy-resin   you can get three different hardeners for it—fast, medium, and slow.  I use fast for most things.  The hardener is separate, but I notice Amazon bundles the resin and hardener together, so you can pick the combo you want.  The mixing ratio is 1:2 by weight or volume

The epoxy itself is thin, clear (slightly amber), and sinks into the wood pores, which is great for cracks and bad spots, but not for big gaps—In order to make a gap or patch type repair, you need to get some kind of filler, and they sell about 6 kinds—probably for your neck, wood flour would be the best one.  https://www.systemthree.com/collections/fillers-foam-and-pigments/products/wood-flour

After you mix the epoxy and hardener in a (disposable) cup, you need to add the filler until you get the thickness you want, which in the industry is classified as "ketchup, mayonnaiose, or peanut butter"  You would probably want peanut butter for big gaps, ketchup for smaller ones.  The amount of wood flour added the the epoxy doesn't affect the cure.  It will cure hard and can be sanded, drilled, etc.

I would highly recommend experimenting with waste pieces of wood until you get the right results.  You can communicate with the company directly, and they have helped me out with several questions over the years.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 02/21/2020 08:30:09

Feb 21, 2020 - 8:54:13 AM

122 posts since 1/7/2019

Thank you for your time and expertise!

Feb 21, 2020 - 11:31:18 AM

122 posts since 1/7/2019

Well folks, I did use some steam and got the headstock off in around 10 minutes. After I got all the glue from around the truss rod nut off, I found that the truss rod works very well. The old one-way Gibson type. Trouble is, there’s considerable back bow with the nut backed all the way off. I’m pretty certain most if not all of that is due to the poorly repaired crack around the 5th string peg. Really iffy. I think it’s toast although it is a beautiful piece of wood. What say you?

 

you can’t really see the back bow in my photo.




 

Edited by - SWT60 on 02/21/2020 11:33:42

Feb 21, 2020 - 1:04:49 PM

12710 posts since 6/29/2005

looks like it's rotten.

One thing you could do would be to splice a whole new peg head on to it, preserving the original neck.  That could be done fairly easily—it's the way guys like John D'Angelico would lengthen regular necks onto longnecks in the 50s—just a new peghead with a partial neck and a scarf joint.

Feb 21, 2020 - 4:09:11 PM

7565 posts since 1/7/2005

Anything can be repaired if you want to invest the time and labor involved. I know I've been suckered into more restorations than were justifiable, and in some cases you end up with an obviously repaired wall hanger. IMHO, your banjo may be such a case. The maple is nice, but nice maple isn't all that difficult to come by. I think the value in your banjo is in the hardware. Especially in the tuners if they are indeed old Keith pegs. ( The vintage Keith tuners were typically used only on the second and third strings.) and the tone ring.

IF, it were my banjo..and IF I had nothing else on my plate...I would make a new neck and transfer the parts. I have an old 1979 Liberty banjo company catalog and they made some VERY high end banjos back then. But the peghead in your photos is not one of theirs. It looks similar to a Gibson. So I would suspect that your banjo is an amateur-made instrument, using Liberty hardware.

DD

Feb 22, 2020 - 12:28:38 PM

Alex Z

USA

3764 posts since 12/7/2006
Online Now

Scrap the neck.  It has no historic, material, workmanship, or aesthetic value that's worth putting in the necessary time and expense to repair.

You have a solid rim, excellent tone ring, excellent metal parts, good regular tuners, and valuable Keith tuners, and resonator.  Elderly Instruments stocks parts for the Keith tuners, or you can get them directly from Beacon Banjo.  $15 in parts is all that is needed.

New neck is the way to go, and I think you'll have a very fine banjo.

Keep us posted with the progress.

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