I recently acquired the kick-off meeting note for the 81 Gold Star JD Crowe model. It states that the clear baked coating should be applied over gold plating. A photo sent from Mr. Russ Carson revealed more details.
The process is
On brass base, STEP 1: Copper plating, STEP 2: Copper flashed treatment on the necessary portion, STEP 3: Nickel plating, STEP 4: Gold plating possibly 24K, STEP 5: Clear baked coating.
See attached photos. The first one was sent from Mr. Russ Carson which shows intense wear on an armrest and nickel plating can be seen under gold plating. The second photo is from my GF20 can be seen clear coating over satin finished Gold. This is typical practice for gold-plated ornaments.
I confirmed step 1 and step 2 when I engaged in copper flash treatment. It was the spring of 1981. Engraving for specified pattern on the buffed brass base came first and then copper plating came second. I have never known the rest of process. The vintage Gold Star JD Crowe model was designed “Last Longer” adapting brass parts and baked clear coating. This banjo is 40 years old and sounds a little like Eric Weissberg's Pre-war Gibson.
Your GF20 is gorgeous! What are the black collars on the threads of your tension hooks?
Not ALL copper flashed gold plated banjos use a nickel plate in between.
Most of the 1920s gold Gibsons used gold plate directly over copper flash, with no nickel layer. When the gold wears away, you see a reddish-brownish copper color showing though, like an old penny.
Around 1929 Gibson started adding nickel on some gold plated banjos. I've seen 1929 Style 6s from the same FON lot# plated either way.
My 1927 no hole TB 3 has nickel plate (of course) over copper flash!
This is the result of Tokai's response to the high-quality demands of Mr. Keldsen, president of Saga, who sought a reproduction of the pre-war Gibson Granada. If we had a pristine Pre-war Granada, we could have used it as a reference.
What are the black collars on the threads of your tension hooks?
They are not important. The black collars are parts to prevent the flange surface from being dented by the edge of the tip of the bracket, especially for JD Crowe model. I am currently doing various tone ring and tension hoop related experiments and have many opportunities to disassemble. If the bracket is freed during head or tone ring replacement, the bracket will come into contact with the flange multiple times, leaving dents on the flange surface. Other option I made is custom-made collars with urethane tubing. They make head changes more efficient and safer. This makes it possible to keep the bracket at a neutral height when disassembling the banjo. In my case, I leave them on as an accessory when not in use.
On my 810045, I always thought much of the gold plating had some clear-coat on it. It is particularly thick on the flange and very thin (or nonexistent) on other components like the tailpiece cover.
It becomes worn on the armrest, so I wish that was thicker there.
Here is a related question: Did Greg Rich really engrave all the first 80 units?
Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.
Thanks for the info. Great idea!
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