Refinishing a vintage Camco with lacquer

Too Many Drums - NAH!

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Hey guys,

I need some advice on finishing an LA-era Camco drum in Moss Green Stain. I took the shell to a friend who has a cabinet shop and he was confident he could replicate the stain but so far, no luck.

The problem isn't the shade of green (which he matched perfectly) but getting the stain to subtly show the grain in the maple. What the artisans at the Camco factory did with these colored lacquers is quite unique and very attractive, in my opinion. I really like the effect of the stain enhancing the grain rather than covering it.

Does anyone know how this was achieved? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Tom
 

stedi

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Hi Tom,

I’m far from a specialist on this matter but a recent restoration project made me think about what you just described here.

I refinished a LA Camco drum kit and in stead of keeping the set natural maple, I decided to go for a walnut type of stain.
After 2 coats a water based stain, I finished it of with 3 thin layers of a polyurethane satin varnish.
The result looks great and in fact a lot of the original maple shows through when you do it this way.

http://www.drumforum.org/index.php?/topic/93954-la-camco-overhaul/?hl=camco

What I’ve noticed is that seemingly on most of the older stain Camco drums (Oaklawn and Chanute), the wood grain is less visible. For sure compared to the drums which I’ve just restored.
To me it looks like back then, a less transparent product or a different process was used to color the maple.

Maybe on your LA Camcos a similar technique was used like what I did.

I believe that a process where you first color the wood and finish it of with a varnish is probably the way to go.
The problem is that the final color appearance only shows after the varnish.

As you can see on my pictures, the shells with just the stain look actually very dull.
Once you do several coats of varnish, the final result is there and the maple grain pattern come to life.

You would have to do quite a few of test-runs to get a match.

Again, I’m not very knowledgeable on wood-finishing techniques, I’m just sharing my recent experience.
 

Too Many Drums - NAH!

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Hi Stefan,

Thanks for the helpful advice. I know this will be a process of a lot of trial-and-error, but the results will be worth it. Seeing the grain through the stain is a novel idea which I don't recall ever seeing on anything but my LA Camco drums. It's actually quite beautiful, in my opinion.

I'll keep you guys posted on my progress. These amazing drums deserve to be refinished accurately and correctly. Thanks for any further assistance anyone else can provide.

Tom
 

antipodes

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The colour was (usually) suspended in the (nitro-cellulose) lacquer, not applied to the shell. On most of them, if the coloured lacquer chips off, you see the pure maple colour beneath.
 


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