How to make your own Ludwig style vintage badge grommets.

K.O.

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Over the weekend I was working on a rewrap project that I'd had in the works for a bit. I was so proud of the way the badge grommet turned out I decided to show it off by posting a couple of pictures at some Facebook groups. I also mentioned that I make my own brass grommets to use on drum restorations. This was something I've (semi) perfected over the years in an effort to get a grommet with the right look vs. most of the ones you can buy. After much trial and error, spread over about 15 years, I finally devised a way to do it that yields good results (3 times out of 5).

Here are the pictures I posted of the install job of my homemade new grommet...

IMG_3904.JPG

IMG_3906.JPG


Well that unleashed a torrent of questions and several requests for grommets. Sure, I could probably profit off this in some manner, but, lacking even the most basic entrepreneurial desires, what I did instead was make a video to show how it's done (am I simply that nice or just that foolish? I don't know). So here is the video showing how you can turn a piece of 7/16ths inch brass tubing from the hobby shop (K&S Precision Metals) into a nearly perfect drum grommet in about three easy steps. You need a double flare kit (Harbor freight has them) and a bit of practice and you should be able to crank out your own. Based on several videos I've watched about how to create real double flares for brake lines I don't think my arrived at method is actually the correct way to do that, but it works pretty well for drum grommets.


This should get you able to make your own grommets if you so desire, and you can make other sizes as well. As far as the "perfect" installation onto the shell I can't offer as much assistance. I am able to get that "factory" look because I shelled out $50 many years ago for the proper tool to do so. You can see it in the video. It has machined parts that put the perfect flange in the back side of the grommet when tightened down. You can make a tool that works on a similar principle for a couple of bucks worth of nuts and bolts from the hardware store. I tried several variations on that and never got quite the results I wanted. I guess you get what you pay for and I have never regretted buying the right tool. That was a long time ago though and I'm not sure if they are still available. It will only work for this sized grommet (7/16ths) too.

Anyway I'm sharing this here for anyone who's interested. Now I can move on to the final phase of this rewrap (12/14/20 in Burgundy sparkle. 12 & 14 are rewrapped in custom made wrap from Precision, 12 is a 60's shell, 14 is a new 3 ply shell from Bernie Stone, the 20 is all original, purchased as just a wrapped shell on ebay). I just need to get the hoops, claws, and rods for the bass drum.

Geez, it just now occurs to me...If I were smart I might have sold enough grommets to pay for those remaining required parts...DOH!

burgundy.jpg


you can make them out of aluminum tubing too...

IMG_3920.jpg
 

retrosonic

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Awesome work, K.O. I mean, really, really impressive!
 

nylontip

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Absolutely Brilliant! Thank you K.O. for taking the time to make and share this video!
Gonna give it a try!
 

jccabinets

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Great idea and very well done instructional video, thank you!
 

Hop

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I've seen examples of folks using fasteners (nuts/bolts) to do the flaring... but this looks like a better solution. The grommets came out well and it doesn't look too complicated to execute.
Thanks for sharing the knowledge K.O.
 

JazzDrumGuy

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I've done the nut/bolt flaring thing and it works.......MOST of the time.....I've had a few that flared but not fully and a few that actually cracked the back of the grommet......cheers!

PS: If you start a side biz of selling grommets, please let me know!
 

drumtimejohn

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Thanks for making and sharing the video. To avoid filing, would it work to calculate the pre flare tubing size and cut then?
 

K.O.

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Thanks for making and sharing the video. To avoid filing, would it work to calculate the pre flare tubing size and cut then?
I imagine you could do that but I find it easier to have as much tubing as possible in the earlier steps. It seems to get more difficult when you get down to working with just a stub of the raw tubing. Also you'd have to calculate exactly how much will be used to create the outer flange. The filing isn't that big of a deal just takes a few minutes as the brass is pretty soft. I've cut it off with a dremel tool too but the filing method yields better results. But if you wanted to pre cut it I'm sure it could be done.
 

K.O.

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This grommet tool on ebay (I didn't see it the other day) might do the trick.


It has a machined flange on that nut that goes into the grommet. So sorta-kinda along the same lines as what I have. Although I've never used one so I cant vouch for how well it might work.
 

Hop

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Yes... that's what I've seen before... I think the flare kit you showed above is a bit more 'pro' and it probably doesn't cost much more than the 'bolts' do.
 

Santino

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Thanks for sharing your knowledge yet again. Forget selling grommets and write a Ludwig book. I'd want a signed copy! As far as the bolt assembly shown above, I purchased one from Precision years ago and I believe they still sell them at a fair price. I think they charged me $6 back then. I've successfully replaced or tightened countless grommets with that set-up without issue. Worth the $6.
 

K.O.

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Since this thread has popped back up I did want to add a bit to it in response to a facebook conversation I had with someone.

The video shows what to do but please understand that all that is the end result of years and years of trial and error trying to make grommets. Now I have it down pretty well and about 2 out of 3 turn out okay but at the beginning it was more like 1 out of 10 would be satisfactory. It all boils down to the proper placement of the tubing in the clamp for both steps. If you have it placed in the clamp too high or two low in either step it won't turn out right. The brass can split or flatten out in a weird way. Fortunately the K & S brass tubing is relatively cheap so you can experiment a bit to develop the correct technique.

So, it definitely can be done, but it's not necessarily going to happen on the first attempt. Just a caveat about that. I've had a couple of people contact me because they didn't get the expected results on the first try. Neither did I. But it can be done. I've demonstrated how but, besides the right tools, it does take some level of experience gained through actually attempting it and there is no way to easily convey that experience via the internet.

Also the 7/16ths tubing size may be a 32nd" oversized for some badges. Sometimes the tubing fits right into a keystone badge and sometimes I have to file the hole in the badge ever so slightly (the corresponding hole in the drum shell usually isn't an issue but might require slight filing as well). 7/16ths is the size that works because you are limited to the sizes on the clamp. The next size down is 3/8ths which is way too small. If you use a smaller tubing (say 13/32nds) it will not lock properly in the clamp and the tube will just slide through when you try to flare it out. Once installed 7/16ths look correct and no one will know unless they take a micrometer to the grommet.

I guess the bottom line is that if you require absolute perfection, this method probably isn't for you. Likewise if you are all thumbs and not particularly handy you might want to steer clear as well (although in that case you probably shouldn't be attempting rewraps either).

Anyway, just wanted to expand a bit on this technique after some folks expressed some concerns and issues with it.

grommet.jpg
 
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