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Refurbishing vintage 5-Star Planetary tuners?

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May 22, 2020 - 7:27:44 AM

DIV

USA

5463 posts since 8/18/2004

Hello everyone!

I hope you're doing well during this historic time. I imagine that I'm not the only one who's been graced with more time to spend banjoing.
I want to return my 1974 Ome to original specs which means re-installing the 5 Star Planetary tuners that it came with. Problem is the tuners don't turn smoothly: they are bumping and sticky. They do look permanently closed like they are not serviceable. Before I buy a new set from Stew Mac ($123), I just wanted to see if we knew anyone who can rebuild these old ones??

Thank you


Edited by - DIV on 05/22/2020 07:29:02

May 22, 2020 - 8:43:11 AM

10796 posts since 6/2/2008

Here's a discussion from 2006.

Take your pick as to whose opinion you like concerning whether petroleum lubricants are good or bad.

In this short discussion from 2014, the prevailing opinion is replace, not repair.

One thing I've read several times over the years is that these are pressed together, so if you're able to get them open there's no putting them back together. That means any lubricant has to wick through the space around the shaft or the tuner post.

What you'll read in the linked discussions is that the original lubricant has probably congealed and so breaking it up is necessary. Again, you have to choose among opinions as to what products can do that. Or whether it's not worth trying.

Google "lubricating Five-Star banjo tuner" or "repair Five-Star banjo tuner" or some such phrase to find more discussions. Then choose what to believe.

May 22, 2020 - 9:56:26 AM

DIV

USA

5463 posts since 8/18/2004

Thank you for the great response Ken.
So it sounds that there's nothing new to change the common opinion about these old 5-Stars.
Sounds like it's easier to just replace them and move on.

May 22, 2020 - 10:55:10 AM
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926 posts since 5/19/2018

As noted above, repair really is not an option in most cases.

Replace, but keep the old set in the case with the instrument.

May 22, 2020 - 11:48:08 AM

10796 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by DIV

Thank you for the great response Ken.
So it sounds that there's nothing new to change the common opinion about these old 5-Stars.
Sounds like it's easier to just replace them and move on.


That's what it sounds like to me. But I also think it's worth trying some type of lubricant or grease loosening material, as long as they aren't too expensive. Just to see if it can breathe new life into them.

For example, you could remove the buttons, base caps and spring washers and soak the tuners in a degreaser bath for a good long time, maybe a few hours or even overnight, working the shafts every now and then to see if the internal lubricant is breaking up. Then introduce one of the previously recommended lubricants.

Here's a video (at an unpublished address) in which a Hangout member demonstrates the above process for relubricating Keith tuners.  It doesn't take as long as I'm suggesting here because Keith tuners have holes in the sides (for thumbscrews) where degreaser can be pumped in, the old lubricant forced out, and new lubricant added. Five-Stars don't have that. You're limited to what can seep in and out. Which is why this might not work.

If it doesn't work, you haven't lost much but time. Seeing as replacement is the most likely outcome, you can skip this. But I thought it was worth suggesting.  I have two from 1973 that are still working!

May 22, 2020 - 12:00:49 PM

926 posts since 5/19/2018

I got an old set of pre-war planetary tuners back in pretty good shape by doing the following:

1. Took the knobs off the pegs a sprayed the heck out of them with WD40. Let them sit over night.

2.Bought a cheap ultrasound jewelry cleaner and dropped the tuners in the bath. Let them sit in that for a good while. Put the peg knobs back on and crank them for a bit to loosen the old grease and gunk.

3. Repeated steps 1&2 a few times.

4. Remove the tuning knobs again, Drop the pegs in a bath of very pure and clean machine oil. Let them sit in that over night.

5. Mount the peg in a well padded vise and run the peg using a low RPM drill. Make sure you cover the shaft you are putting in the drill chuck with a little tape. Peg at this point should run really smooth.

Done this on some very rough pegs a few times over the years and it works every time.

Just a note of caution. If you try and open the planetary tuner, will will most likely ruin it. These guys really are sealed units.

May 22, 2020 - 12:02:10 PM

Brett

USA

2185 posts since 11/29/2005

Is it possible, if you knew where to drill, without boogering up a gear, you could make a small access port? And maybe reseal with a little silicone after you flush and refill with the lube you choose?
I rebuild a lot of carbs, as I monkey about with old cars. I’ve found pinesol to actually work better than chemtool or any of the harsher smelling things. I put stuff in glass jars and pinesol and shake the dickens out of it several times a day.

May 22, 2020 - 2:27:04 PM

2509 posts since 4/16/2003

Put a set of Gotoh's from Bob Smakula on it.
Put the 5-stars in the string pocket.

Doing this won't hurt the value of the instrument.
Tuners that work better MAKE it better.

May 22, 2020 - 2:32:18 PM

Rebelr

USA

1 posts since 6/3/2015

You might be able to reconstitute the grease with a blow dryer or placing the tuner in a baggie and then into warm to hot water and turn the tuner as the grease softens.

May 22, 2020 - 3:22:54 PM

DIV

USA

5463 posts since 8/18/2004

quote:
Originally posted by J.Albert

Put a set of Gotoh's from Bob Smakula on it.
Put the 5-stars in the string pocket.

Doing this won't hurt the value of the instrument.
Tuners that work better MAKE it better.


The previous owner beat you to this idea as the banjo came with Gotoh's mounted and the old Planets in a bag in the case pocket.  The Gotoh's work great, but for mecme some how lack the character of the old 5-Stars and I want them back on there, so that's why the like-new Gotoh's are listed for sale.

Thank you to you and everyone else with great suggestions!

Edited by - DIV on 05/22/2020 15:23:57

May 22, 2020 - 4:04:23 PM

banjonz

New Zealand

10921 posts since 6/29/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Brett

Is it possible, if you knew where to drill, without boogering up a gear, you could make a small access port? And maybe reseal with a little silicone after you flush and refill with the lube you choose?
I rebuild a lot of carbs, as I monkey about with old cars. I’ve found pinesol to actually work better than chemtool or any of the harsher smelling things. I put stuff in glass jars and pinesol and shake the dickens out of it several times a day.


I think it would not be advisable to drill into the housing as it may introduce small pieces of metal swage into the gearing.

May 22, 2020 - 4:07:42 PM
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Brett

USA

2185 posts since 11/29/2005

True, but you could flush it out with carb or brake cleaner can with straw and safety glasses on..safety glasses on...safety glasses on!!! Maybe, maybe not, but if you can’t use them and they’re gonna ve tossed, does it really matter?

May 22, 2020 - 4:22:27 PM
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Brett

USA

2185 posts since 11/29/2005

If you could position your tuner in the jaws of a bench vise with shop towel or something around the tuner, and get it fixed good, upside down. You could maybe drill a hole somewhere on underside of machine head, where it’d be unseen when fixed back to peg-head. Particularly if you knew where you wouldn’t hit gear. But, even if you did tap a gear inside with the drill bit, if you’re paying attention you could stop. If elec drill makes you nerveous, you could rig something in drill press.
Blow congealed harder grease out best you can, with solvent spray of your choice,, drop in whatever solvent, agitate as needed, change fluid until it’s clean looking, apply whatever penetrant or lube. Clean, seal or not, reinstall tuners.
If you could find drawing of one someone took apart, you could better tell where your innards line up. It wouldn’t have to be a large spot, you’d have to use small bits. And safety glasses! I’ve been to eye doc so many times....

May 23, 2020 - 7:43:49 AM
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wtalley

USA

248 posts since 7/2/2010

I was able to rejuvenate a set of 40-year-old 5-Star tuners. Take the knobs off the tuners and place them in a small jar. Fill the jar with naptha and soak the tuners, agitating the jar several times a week, until the naptha turns color and the tuners turn freely - I think it took a month or more. Let the tuners dry out for a week and then oil the shafts with Tri-Flow. This was done about 5 years ago, the tuners still work.

May 24, 2020 - 8:30:55 AM

3879 posts since 5/12/2010

I like Mr Talley's suggestion. Might speed the process up a bit if you remove the knobs and place the tuners into a warm (not real hot) oven for about 30 minutes before the submersion in Naptha.

If you can't find Naptha, the fuel they sell for Coleman lanterns is pretty much the same thing.

May 24, 2020 - 11:52:54 AM

2509 posts since 4/16/2003

OP:

Your desire to keep using the non-functioning 5-star tuners doesn't really make sense. They have no particular "collector's value", and I don't see where having them on the banjo will make it better in any way. I reckon they were used originally because at the time they were "available" to be used, nothing more.

If you're going to keep the banjo and want functioning tuners, use the Gotohs that are on there now. They're highly regarded modern tuners.

If you're going to sell it, do the same.

If you want a really, really good set of tuners, buy and install the new Rickard ones...

May 24, 2020 - 5:22 PM

10796 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by DIV
The Gotoh's work great, but for mecme some how lack the character of the old 5-Stars and I want them back on there, so that's why the like-new Gotoh's are listed for sale.

Worth noting that, juding from photos, Ome appears to now be using either 2-band Gotoh tuners or 2-band off-center Waverly tuners. So the character of that look doesn't bother the manufacturer.

What really is there to the look of tuners that imparts any character? If it's the buttons, those are easily changed.

May 25, 2020 - 4:28:34 AM

Brett

USA

2185 posts since 11/29/2005

I can understand the guy wanting to play with a project and save something. Naturally, removing the buttons to prevent damage to them, and soaking in hopes to get working should be first. Heat alone might get the congealed grease moving. As last resort, you could try my idea of drilling a hole, but that same hole has to serve as both vent and clean out, and I haven’t done it, so who knows.
I kept a set of 4 gold schallers that locked up on me, one at a time, for decades. I tried taking one apart, but couldn’t. Hated to throw them but finally did. But if you have time and patience, you might enjoy the challenge.

May 25, 2020 - 7:21:39 AM

wtalley

USA

248 posts since 7/2/2010

I had a 5-star tuner that would not turn and did not respond to soaking in naptha, so it was taken apart.
Taking the tuner apart was not difficult. Putting one back together should not be too hard, but that wasn't tried. The tuner had a broken sun gear, so there was no sense in trying to re-assemble it.

Having seen the inside of the tuner, it's doubtful you could drill through the housing without ruining the tuner.
 


May 25, 2020 - 10:06:49 AM

4486 posts since 11/20/2004

I just did a pair from the 70's that had been sitting in a case for 20 years. I sprayed around the stems multiple days with WD40 and continued to work them each day. Probably 3-4 days and they starting turning smoothly again. I left them sitting a couple of weeks and still smooth, so reinstalled them this morning. Before I learned to clean and relube Keith's, I had similar results with spraying them many years ago. WD seems to soften old grease in my experience.

May 26, 2020 - 3:10:20 AM

Polle Flaunoe

Denmark

5384 posts since 3/7/2006

quote:
Originally posted by lightgauge

I just did a pair from the 70's that had been sitting in a case for 20 years. I sprayed around the stems multiple days with WD40 and continued to work them each day. Probably 3-4 days and they starting turning smoothly again. I left them sitting a couple of weeks and still smooth, so reinstalled them this morning. Before I learned to clean and relube Keith's, I had similar results with spraying them many years ago. WD seems to soften old grease in my experience.


I´ve in the past had great results by just spraying the shaft and post several times with e.g. WD40 - then attach an electric drill to the post - then give the post several hundred turns - first slowly - later at high speed. This will slightly warm up the gear house and somehow regenerate the existing grease.

BTW - I do often advice my clients to "exercise" their geared tuners somewhat at every string replacement - with the string off do give the knob 4 turns forward - then 4 turns backward - then 3 turns forward and ditto backward - then 2 - etc. - this will often keep them in great shape.

My own 1975 OME Rosewood Silver Mogul tenor - with these 5-Star Planets - all perfect functioning due to frequent "exercises" - LOL!

Edited by - Polle Flaunoe on 05/26/2020 03:19:06

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