Ludwig chrome plating rumor

KeenAmateur

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Does anyone see updates to really old threads? In case they do, there's a rumour I can add to the mill around lovely chrome on some Ludwig shells - it's recounted by Mike Ellis on the Drum History podcast in delicious detail. In brief it goes that, having been impressed by the quality of the chrome on English Beverly shells (made by Premier) he saw when they launched at a show in the U.S, Bill Ludwig sent a consignment of shells to Premier soon after. The company responsible for the chroming also did a lot of work for Rolls Royce, so half-decent chrome we're talking here. ;)
One of the Premier owners bought (all I think, or a big interest in) the chroming company at some point. Premier as a company never owned it. Much to the disgruntlement of Yamaha heads when they discovered this after having bought Premier and arrived on site eager to see the chroming facility that applied the renowned finish. Allegedly. All allegedly. Rumours...
...no-one will see this, will they?
 
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kdgrissom

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A few savvy (read: underhanded) ebay sellers will tout "COB", but when pressed they really mean just the rims.
 

K.O.

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Does anyone see updates to really old threads? In case they do, there's a rumour I can add to the mill around lovely chrome on some Ludwig shells - it's recounted by Mike Ellis on the Drum History podcast in delicious detail. In brief it goes that, having been impressed by the quality of the chrome on English Beverly shells (made by Premier) he saw when they launched at a show in the U.S, Bill Ludwig sent a consignment of shells to Premier soon after. The company responsible for the chroming also did a lot of work for Rolls Royce, so half-decent chrome we're talking here. ;)
One of the Premier owners bought (all I think, or a big interest in) the chroming company at some point. Premier as a company never owned it. Much to the disgruntlement of Yamaha heads when they discovered this after having bought Premier and arrived on site eager to see the chroming facility that applied the renowned finish. Allegedly. All allegedly. Rumours...
...no-one will see this, will they?
I find it hard to believe that Ludwig, a company known to save and use every last nut and screw, would ship shells to England to be plated. Especially when, at that time there were probably a hundred reputable plating companies in the immediate surrounding Chicagoland area. Including Reliable plating which put their stamp on many shells. On aluminum it wasn't always so reliable though. But that's just the nature of that metal.
 

KeenAmateur

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I find it hard to believe that Ludwig, a company known to save and use every last nut and screw, would ship shells to England to be plated. Especially when, at that time there were probably a hundred reputable plating companies in the immediate surrounding Chicagoland area. Including Reliable plating which put their stamp on many shells. On aluminum it wasn't always so reliable though. But that's just the nature of that metal.
I agree, I would have dismissed it out of hand as an urban myth had I heard it recounted by anyone other than a Premier expert like Mr. Ellis with his close acquaintances formerly of the Leicester factory. But, to be fair, I don't think he put any weight behind it being anything other than an interesting story. It does seem truly unlikely, but the chrome was good, I've a Premier 2000 COA from '74 with almost no pitting apart from a little near a bearing edge where it looks as though some moisture gathered between head and shell at some point during it's life. I think of it as a fun 'buried treasure' story - most are myths, but a few pirate and Viking hoards have been uncovered :)

The History of Premier Drums with Mike Ellis - Drum History Podcast:

 

1988fxlr

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To add more conjecture to discussion of english chrome plating, I’ve heard it said in motorcycle discussions that Triumph, Norton, BSA, etc had better quality chrome than bikes manufactured elsewhere because of the power supply being different in England. Not up enough on electricity or plating to remember if this referred to voltage or amperage
 

mpthomson

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To add more conjecture to discussion of english chrome plating, I’ve heard it said in motorcycle discussions that Triumph, Norton, BSA, etc had better quality chrome than bikes manufactured elsewhere because of the power supply being different in England. Not up enough on electricity or plating to remember if this referred to voltage or amperage
Certainly UK voltage is 240v, compared to the US standard of110v. What difference that makes to the process I'm not sure, as most platers would use transformers if they need different voltages/ amperages.
 

mpthomson

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Does anyone see updates to really old threads? In case they do, there's a rumour I can add to the mill around lovely chrome on some Ludwig shells - it's recounted by Mike Ellis on the Drum History podcast in delicious detail. In brief it goes that, having been impressed by the quality of the chrome on English Beverly shells (made by Premier) he saw when they launched at a show in the U.S, Bill Ludwig sent a consignment of shells to Premier soon after. The company responsible for the chroming also did a lot of work for Rolls Royce, so half-decent chrome we're talking here. ;)
One of the Premier owners bought (all I think, or a big interest in) the chroming company at some point. Premier as a company never owned it. Much to the disgruntlement of Yamaha heads when they discovered this after having bought Premier and arrived on site eager to see the chroming facility that applied the renowned finish. Allegedly. All allegedly. Rumours...
...no-one will see this, will they?
This is a bit of an urban legend, unfortunately, although I can see how it's come to pass. The Della Porta brothers also owned a plating business as well as Premier drums and just down the road, and it was this that did the diamond chrome plating for them. It is possible that this business also did some contract work for RR, though. The chrome work on all the Yam era Prems and Yamahas made in the UK is to just the same standard as on earlier Premier drums, though it's worth noting that Premier couldn't chrome aluminium shells well either. Most 2000, 35 and 36 drums, along with the Beverley Cosmic 21 drums suffer from the dreaded pitting just as much as the Ludalloy chromed Ludwigs do.
 

1988fxlr

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Certainly UK voltage is 240v, compared to the US standard of110v. What difference that makes to the process I'm not sure, as most platers would use transformers if they need different voltages/ amperages.
Yeah. Thats why I’m having trouble remembering the reasoning. Its been a while since I’ve seen it discussed to remember the particulars but it was something beyond 220v vs 240v and may have all been conjecture and rumor to begin with
 

KeenAmateur

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Thanks M.,
This is a bit of an urban legend, unfortunately, although I can see how it's come to pass. The Della Porta brothers also owned a plating business as well as Premier drums and just down the road, and it was this that did the diamond chrome plating for them. It is possible that this business also did some contract work for RR, though. The chrome work on all the Yam era Prems and Yamahas made in the UK is to just the same standard as on earlier Premier drums, though it's worth noting that Premier couldn't chrome aluminium shells well either. Most 2000, 35 and 36 drums, along with the Beverley Cosmic 21 drums suffer from the dreaded pitting just as much as the Ludalloy chromed Ludwigs do.
Thanks for the clarification M., no buried treasure this time then ;). Great info though, couldn't remember the Della Porta name for the life of me! My 2000 is one of the lucky ones to have kept 95% of it's chrome, but I think it's down to how careful the owner(s) before have been. It's easier to scratch the plating on aluminium because it's not as well 'stuck' in the first place, then the exposed aluminium makes that powdery aluminium oxide which spreads under the surrounding chrome.
 

flatwins

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Premier’s plating process is steeped in just about every legend ever heard though some of it might be actual truth. So in keeping with the truth, here goes: Premier’s plating division was actually headed up by Sasquatch. The plating division was located on the shores of Loch Ness and we all know what happens there. On their off days the staff of the plating division teamed up with a group of ancient aliens and that’s how Stonehenge came to be. It’s really quite simple.

Having said all that I’m a huge fan of Premier and own 3 of their kits.

And Mike Ellis (the Drum Fettler) is hilarious.
 

KeenAmateur

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Yeah. Thats why I’m having trouble remembering the reasoning. Its been a while since I’ve seen it discussed to remember the particulars but it was something beyond 220v vs 240v and may have all been conjecture and rumor to begin with
I also thought it might be a conductivity thing, but level of success seems to be down to the level of surface prep required. The very surface property that resists oxidisation so well also resists the plating process if it's not really well polished and cleaned with all sorts of nasty chemicals before plating with the copper & nickel. I assume that the level of prep on Aluminium shells wouldn't have been much different (in terms of effort spent) than that for brass in a plating firm churning stuff out 50 years ago.
 

KeenAmateur

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Premier’s plating process is steeped in just about every legend ever heard though some of it might be actual truth. So in keeping with the truth, here goes: Premier’s plating division was actually headed up by Sasquatch. The plating division was located on the shores of Loch Ness and we all know what happens there. On their off days the staff of the plating division teamed up with a group of ancient aliens and that’s how Stonehenge came to be. It’s really quite simple.

Having said all that I’m a huge fan of Premier and own 3 of their kits.

And Mike Ellis (the Drum Fettler) is hilarious.
Brilliant, LOL. Yeah, I'm eagerly awaiting another drum fettler series, but it didn't materialise last year. Hope Mike's okay.
 

el_37

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I also thought it might be a conductivity thing, but level of success seems to be down to the level of surface prep required. The very surface property that resists oxidisation so well also resists the plating process if it's not really well polished and cleaned with all sorts of nasty chemicals before plating with the copper & nickel. I assume that the level of prep on Aluminium shells wouldn't have been much different (in terms of effort spent) than that for brass in a plating firm churning stuff out 50 years ago.
The issue was they had not refined the process for electro-plating aluminum back then. Crager had the same issue as Ludwig in the 1960's and 1970's with chrome plating flaking off of their aluminum wheels. Apparently the issue wasn't solved until the 1980's and it still persists on heavily used aluminum items that are chrome plated.

Are we sure Ludwig didn't do their own plating on everything else (i.e- lugs/rims/stands). Slingerland did their own plating, and I remember in the 8mm Ludwig Family home movies that were on youtube years ago, they had an army of guys polishing lugs.

Pre/Post plating polishing is the expensive part of chrome plating- especially back then since there were no regulations on the chemicals- so it would make almost no sense to do your own polishing yet send everything out to be plated.
 

HoorayGuy

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Well, I'll say one thing, I never realized Ludwig chrome pitting problems til I noticed the problem on this forum. :???:
 

K.O.

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Are we sure Ludwig didn't do their own plating on everything else (i.e- lugs/rims/stands). Slingerland did their own plating, and I remember in the 8mm Ludwig Family home movies that were on youtube years ago, they had an army of guys polishing lugs.
I wonder if Ludwig did the chrome on the hoops and hardware too. I toured the plant in 1976 and didn't see any plating operations but that doesn't mean they weren't doing it there, just that we didn't see it.
The snare shells and die-cast items came from outside suppliers so a swing though an outside plating firm before delivery could make sense. But they did make their hoops and stands in house (a lot of those Ludwig home movies were devoted to the hoop making process, although it didn't show them being plated) and it would have made sense to do the plating as well, at least on that stuff. Then again it was Chicago and at the time there may have been 4 or 5 industrial plating outfits within a mile of the Ludwig plant...so who knows?
It would be interesting to find out. I'd think WFL III would know the answer. Perhaps not the nitty gritty details but surely he should recall whether there was a plating department within the plant or if they sent it all elsewhere.
 
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Matched Gripper

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The issue was they had not refined the process for electro-plating aluminum back then. Crager had the same issue as Ludwig in the 1960's and 1970's with chrome plating flaking off of their aluminum wheels. Apparently the issue wasn't solved until the 1980's and it still persists on heavily used aluminum items that are chrome plated.

Are we sure Ludwig didn't do their own plating on everything else (i.e- lugs/rims/stands). Slingerland did their own plating, and I remember in the 8mm Ludwig Family home movies that were on youtube years ago, they had an army of guys polishing lugs.

Pre/Post plating polishing is the expensive part of chrome plating- especially back then since there were no regulations on the chemicals- so it would make almost no sense to do your own polishing yet send everything out to be plated.
I had a set of Cragar S/S “mags” on my hot rod back in the day. Turns out the wheel is steel and the center piece is aluminum. Never had any chrome flaking in any event, but, only kept the car for about 2 years.
 


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