Premier Pro symphonic timpani are just like elites but with a standard collar. Gibberish! Elites are top of Premier’s range of timpani, they have a fine tuning wheel under the bowl, and the counter hoop is three inches oversized, meaning three inches bigger than the bowl. This is the extended collar. Therefore the Pro symphonic timps are identical with the exception that the counter hoop is only one inch bigger than the bowl, which is referred to as “standard”. The use of the term collar originates from the days when calfskin was predominantly used on drums, and it is the amount the head is stretched down below the bearing edge.
When I overhaul a set of timps, there is a lot of work involved over a period of days or even weeks. My approach is to fix everything properly; I am after all a professional and that is what I am being paid to do. However not everyone is as conscientious, and in the end, you get what you pay for. So when I work on timpani, I am fixing problems associated with wear and tear, and the dogs dinner that the previous person made of the job. The posts on timpani pick out examples of problems I encounter, rather than me writing, and you reading the same thing every time I do a set of timpani (which is why I have coloured this bit blue).
The heel on the base casting is prone to wear. It is the third point of contact the the floor, the other two being the casters, so when the drums are moved the heel can drag. As the heel wears away the tuning mechanism beneath the base casting starts to foul against the floor, which obviously is a problem. Easy fix, just screw a bit of something to the underside of the heel. And this is what happens to that solution:
As can be seen, one has survived, one has fallen off leaving steel spikes, and one has been gone so long the steel spikes have worn completely away. A 30% success rate is just not acceptable to me, neither is having those steel spikes! Why have they come off? The answer is simple, the repairer didn’t know what they were doing. As the plastic heel drags on the floor it is applying a sheer force to the screws, and screws are very weak in that direction, so they “sheer” off. Secondly, plastic is softer than aluminium, so it is never going to last (durr)!
So the first major obstacle is trying to get the sheered, hard steel screws out of the soft aluminium which is not easy, and can sometimes take an hour. A frustrating, horrible job. Then I have a new block of aluminium, to bring the thickness back to original, welded to the castings.
From the top side, it can be seen that the heat from the welding burns the paint.
Which is then cleaned up and masked off, ready to be painted.
As the drums are moved about, the struts can work loose, so they need to be tightened up. This requires a bit of feel – it is a steel screw into an aluminium casting, and aluminium doesn’t hold a thread very well. I commonly find screws that have stripped their threads due to being overtightened. Now sometimes I strip a thread, but I replace the bolts. The problem is exacerbated by the wrong bolts being fit in the first instance – Yes that is a manufacturing defect regardless of age. Because I am a genius, I buy the longest screws that fit!
As Premier were developing the timpani various improvements were made. One issue was that on the larger drums, the heads were at such low tension, they had insufficient power to lift the pedal mechanism. Other manufacturers have a balanced action to overcome this problem. Premier went the same route and fit a spring to help lift the pedal. This is seen between the mechanism and casting on the left hand side.
The casters that are fit to Premier timpani don’t work. The route cause of the problem is that the casting was designed at least forty years ago for casters which have long since become obsolete. It is the brake lever on new casters that catch the frame. Premier fit spacers to lift the casters (bad idea from a mechanical engineering standpoint) and even ground away part of the casting.
Being a self proclaimed genius I use casters that fit, and they are the same as used on ludwig drums. However they are not available in europe, so I have to import them by the hundred. Once I have converted the drums to accept them, replacing the casters can be done by the customer.