Hurricane Katrina Silverbell Workpages
Bottom 23271 Rim / 23271 dowel

Project 1  numbers
Top 17283 rim / 17668 dowel
View it here

(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


 23271 Rim / 23271 dowel
LARS Project #2

BD has a Sequence of pearwood laminate, maple, pearwood, then it is ebony on top for the fingerboard
No fingerboard is present in this pic.

Both heel and lower fingerboard are glued and clamped

All neck laminates sealed, new heel cap installed, ready to start the staining and a coat of sealer
I always like the new stain and seal on before I go on, this allows stain to set well in fresh wood and keeps things like superglue from penetrating raw wood because when it does, it will never take stain in that area so this is merely a precaution as I go forth.

That will do for now, time to splice the missing upper fingerboard into place
I have the new Dark Vintage Maple dye on the peghead, I will steel wool the MOP to clear it before moving on

I'm recycling Roger Hales old Tubaphone deluxe fingerboard,.
I have flattened the used side until the fret slots are just lines, and will glue it into place with hidden  pins to hold it centered

Ready for glue, you can see where it is pinned on the bottom, 2 more will be at the top

I'll wipe the excess in 10 min, allowing for squish to complete

Under the radiant heater, which pushes heat thru the projects very well, better than lamps
It s 89 degrees with the laser temp checker at that level, perfect for a normal dry time
34 degrees outside the shop tonight.

I have the new section profiled and leveled and slotted, and have begun to install the new wire
For those of you that realize I did no inlay before fretting, I want to complete the neck to check it for integrity under string tension.
I can do this on another rim assembly I have in the shop so before it leaves Ill check it after I reset the dowel at the angle I wish.
I can easily slip in the inlay, fret wire or not after that test.
The dot you see is a locating pin, yet to be drilled out

Disassembling the rim

This is the section that sat submerged the longest

All the big hardware has been plastic wooled to remove oxidation, and the neck is fretted, bound and taking on a couple coats of clear before I test it on the other rim..

Curing under heat
That bit is what I enlarge tuner holes with.

Clamping off where it is already cured , and kniving in glue on the final section

Everything is going as planned, good tite seams

Bottomside complete, ready for bottom veneer

Moving around the  top of the assembly,glueing squishing, clamping

Bottom veneer installed and profiled
I will use Shellac as a barrier coat to hold back any contaminants left in the rim
Shellac is far superior as a sealer compared to lacquer.

Thats Gold, not silver.
I like the gold better, like was used on the #4s and up

2 coats of gold, ready for outside stained lacquer.
Shellac is already applied and cured

I chose Medium brown, very reddish, it will be pretty.
Final coat of sealer applied, ready for clear coats.
That is Andrew's plectrum in the background, going together at the same time.
You can see I have begun to clean the flange, that is 000 steel wool first.
I'll do one spot for contrast

"Wicked" metal polish, some of the best in my opinion

That is without machine buffing

Mock up, ....that will buff on up pretty nice considering what its been through!

You can see the later model F holes are larger than on Andrews.

SHIFT to 17 fret neck
A friend of mine who plays Irish Traditional Music s saw this instrument and I told him I had a 17 fret Silverbell neck that would fit right on it and we struck a deal.
I will still be working on the 19 fret neck and someday that neck will be on a banjo as well.

Its a nice flat neck, minimum divoting, nice inlay, good frets
I see no reason it wouldn't be a great player

I will restamp the rim to reflect this ser#

Yellowed finish will be removed

Small splinter missing from overlay, Ill mend that and stick in a newer inlay of my choice.

Grafted in maple and ebony, inlay installed, ready to stain

headed back to Playerville
Fade at peghead and heel

The gold is just prettier than the silver.
Now for multiple clear coats

Shoes and screws brass brushed then polished on the buffer

I'm going with Renaissance, an excellent ITM head

Hooks brushed and polished

This is all original plating, showing the resiliency of Nickel plating

Matching numbers now

The "Old and the New"

Showing it with the  flange area that has been cleaned

Flange removed from Deadwood

It appears a little Electrolysis went on here, maybe the electricity flowing in the floodwater.

All buffed and polished, the bent areas on the flange have been hammered out


Ready to String up

Neck hardware and tuners installed

Strung to pitch on an original Bacon 1/2" bridge and Tensionator tailpiece in GDAE tuning
The missing hook is where the armrest attaches, I have to make that.

Very nice clear tones up and down even at first setup, very encouraging.
Now to start on the resonator plate while I dial this on in


I have decided to recycle this old Gibson style resonator with a 2 piece solid maple back, for this project
I have began to Hot knife the seam where you see the separation beginning

I will use the original mounting ring as I continue to try and recycle all of the original pieces I can.

Glued and clamped
3/8 dowel makes great gobar style clamping on these radius'ed backs
Wax paper to make sure it does'nt become part of the work table.

Ready to profile

Lets get some gold in it

I'll add another coat, I wanted to see if my stamp would run out OK on the enamel

Then I will bind it and start on the back

Bound, Fine sanded and ready to stain

Final profile scraping completed, stained, and taking on sealer

A little more fade to the edge and now some more clear

Clear coated and branded
I also wrote some hidden history up and under the flange lip, good for ID'ing  if it gets stolen
"I survived Katrina" and my initals and date

And underside of the backate logo plate

10-10 UPDATE
Owner saw something else I had that he wanted, so I took the instrument back in trade
That happens often, in the world of banjos!
So now that it is back from the arid clime of New Mexico, I will do a few more things to it.

 Now to try it on a Calfskin head, a premium vintage hide from the era.

Nice unbranded Rogers head, that needs the top layer of dirt removed in my normall method
320 grit paper...

Moving the armrest back from the "Lefty" side, thats how Mike plays them.
he thinks he is Jimi Hendrix I think :)

then some wax paper to revitalize the top with a moisture barrier.

The wax paper works well al over a banjo actually, you wouldnt think abiut this normally but Ive used it a long time for quick  "spruce'ing up"

Now that the head is actually "at tension" the Bacon bridge sounds very lively, but I will try others as well.


When these pieces all came in from Lars I didnt see there was any chance for a playable instrument much less two!
 Thanks for watching

View the other project here