Hurricane Katrina   Workpage 
B&D Silver Bell Tenor

  17283 rim / 17668 dowel
Project #2
B&D Silver Bell Tenor
  23271 Rim / 23271 dowel



(Purchased form Lars Edregan, New Orleans LA.)
Lars is the banjoist at the Preservation Hall as well and other venues.
He lost these 2 in the flood and I will show you the devastation

17283 rim

Resonator back completely missing, only the sidewall remains
A good view of the laminations on this and the rim bottom for reference purposes

The sidewall is in strips of maple

Each  one is numbered with a pencil

All glue joints are compromised
Inside veneer is rotted

17668 neck

Some inlay missing

Necks still in transit, this is an initial pic from Lars
May have backbow and other unseen damage, can't tell yet.

23271 Rim

Total submersion causes many issues, when it comes to saltwater
The wood is ruined, the hardware can be stripped and replated

heavy oxidation on this one


What is left of the back is a good reference for showing the cross laminated veneers in the construction

23271 Neck

Again, more severe damage on this banjo

New neck pics (Arrival)



They are about what I expected, they waterline is about halfway up one neck, 3/8 up the other
All glue washed out of the laminates.
Nothing I haven't seen before, many cellars up north flood as well.

17283 rim / 17668 dowel
LARS Project #1

Severe Saltwater damage, full delamination of veneer and rim laminates

Glueing down the lifting fingerboard areas

Resealing the delaminated heel

Heel cap rebuilt
I will leave some of the old water worn finish on this neck, and shade over it.
I call this "Katrina Patina" and feel some of its history so be left alone.

Replacing the missing fingerboard sections

New binding installed, missing inlays replaced ( non original shapes),  ready to fret

Adding the new colors onto the neck
All maple laminates were scraped back to natural to highlight the colors


Fretwork complete, and ready for side markers

I will add clearcoats, and prepare to reinstall the dowel

Ready to begin regluing the rim laminations

I mixed a thinned glue, and made some cauls to aid in the clamping, with one kerfed to go to the inside

Filling the joints

Using my adjustable clamps to work the glue in

And C clamps to squeeze for the cure, only about 5" at a time will I work.

Sealing it up nicely
The wetted wood glue allows the wood to soften and rebend quite well.
There will be nothing done about the swelling around the  anchor shoe washers, thats just more "Katrina Patina" now.

Moving on around the periphery
When completed, a new bottom side laminate will be added on.

Dowel was warped, so I am heating and clamping it to pull it back around,

All glueing completed, and rough sanded

Adding some bottom side veneer
Oddly enough, these are scraps from the cellar Dale Small which also had flooded in the past, and this was too warped to use as large pieces so from one flood to another, it goes.

ready to stain dark walnut

Standard BD color going onto the rim

Ready for clear

Auguring out the glue residue from the tenon hole, with my Forstner.

reset, ready to final finish

Changed the rim # to match the dowel when old one got sanded out

Angle is good, ready to apply about 5 more clearcoats then build up the rim

Dowel cured, large hardware final buffed and waxed.
No replating will be done, and no fancy finish for this old "Battle Axe"
5 coats of clear on the rim and neck
It will be a players banjo !!

I decided to add a little history that would always be with it.
A helter skelter time it was, and the lettering was skewed a bit to go with the wave effect.

Half the hardware machine buffed, with the threads wire brushed

ready for  head, I will choose clear to show off its "survivor" brand.

Good neck angle, ready to add some tuners and tailpiece


  Grover "Pancake" tuners, ivoroid buttons
Neck finish was 0000 steel wooled, then polished to make a more satin effect

Setup on 9/16, the banjo already has what I consider the "top end of the scale"  tone, for BD Silverbell configuration.
Its light and airy, and full of clear tonal note separation up and down so yes, it sounds like a high end banjo, not a "Drum with a neck attached"!
Great action , easy to play up and own the neck
Thats a big plus, the Banjo Gods looked favorably on this project so far..

Now the resonator is a project of its own, and will be in process while I work on the other neck and rim

Removed the left over sidewall from the old back


I had a couple of old back plates here that were experimental , and odd sized so I have decided to cut both of them down so I will have backs for both Bells.
They are happy to down size and finally be used on something else, and it will save me $$ .

After I have 90 percent of the overburden removed from the sides and beginning the taper
I am doing  on a belt sander , what was done on a lathe originally so it is a slow process

Deep enough to now add the binding

Bound and final sanded, ready to stain

Inside will get 2 coats of clear, I like it thin on the inside

Bindings final scraped, and back is taking on clear after tint, and edge fade.

Final pics

I chose to run the stripes vertical, with the straight grained neck
6 coats of clear, and some steel wool and a light buffing
Again, this is a player, not some super fine finish

Farquhar bridge will stay, I like the tone its giving


Fabricating an armrest

I will use some brass stock similar to the original
This one was already cut out and was going to go onto a tension hoop with screws but I will make it the hook attachment style

Positioning the hooks to work as functional hooks and armrest attachments

Ready for engraving or just plating

She is ready to make music once again and she will be looking for a new home
A good banjo, brought back from the brink of death, a labor of love and proof that persistence beats patience any day of the week.
Not to mention a tone that will hold it own with the rest of the best.
Thanks for watching,

I spoke with Lars Edegran all thru this process and he decided to have it back once again, so I mailed it out to him a week ago for testing and here is the report

I played the Katrina banjo this morning again at a funeral for one of our premier Creole plasterers, Mr. Earl A. Barthe. My friend Seva Venet (local guitarist) played his recently aquired (on Ebay) vintage  Gibson L-7 as well. Great instrument.
Now I'm quite happy that I got enough guitars (3) and banjos (3) and tenor guitars (also 3) to hold me for a while. My Vega Artist is really nice (and beautiful) but I think the B&D got the edge on it.

So this made me feel like it was all worthwhile and it's back home again and making music in the "Big Easy"

Go to this link to view the other restoration