Ajax Nu Sound restoration August 2012

This week I finished the restoration of an Ajax Nu Sound set in burgundy ripple. The kit arrived at Nick Hopkin Drums in average condition for a 1960’s kit; a few lugs were broken and needed replacing, the chrome was tarnished and dirty, the wrap was smoke stained from years being dragged around clubs…. but on the plus side there were no extra holes, all the hardware including tension rods were original and even original heads. Ajax drum kits in this colour and condition are fairly rare and all it needed to restore it to its original glory was a really good clean.

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The Ajax Nu Sound kits were made between 1967 and 1970 and were the last to be made under the Ajax name. This set is an ‘Allegro’ – 22 x12, 13 x 9 and 16 x 16. The drums feature straight grain shell construction giving a deep resonant tone; features include the lovely ‘A’ brackets for floor tom legs, cymbal holder and tom brackets which are non slip; steel triple flanged counter hoops. A nice touch, I think, is that on the toms the top lugs have the insert in the top of the ‘A’ and the bottom lugs in the bottom. Interestingly this bass drum had 10 lugs, although the drums in the old catalogues tend to only have 8. 

The restoration: I removed all lugs and polished them; all screws and washers were soaked to remove rust;  All hardware and hoops were cleaned; the wrap was cleaned of all grime and then polished. All hardware re-assembled to shells with 5 replacement lugs. All drums fitted with Remo coated ambassadors and original Ajax logo display head. Lovely. 

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Now being played and loved at a new home in Swansea. 

www.nickhopkindrums.com

 

Hayman Vibrasonic

I picked up a Hayman Vibrasonic kit a few weeks ago, from a friend who is an avid Premier collector.

A brief history: The brainchild of Ivor Arbiter, originally the drums were named George Hayman, but soon shortened to Hayman. Arbiter had identified a gap in the market for a LOUD drum set at a time when drummers were seldom miked-up outside of the studio. The original plan was to have metal liners inside the shells, and some drums were produced in this way, until settling on the “Vibrasonic” lining – five coats of polyurethane – which are claimed to be superior to Ludwig’s white “Resocote” and serve to improve the resonance and projection of the drums. The drums had a mixture of features which, prior to 1969, would only be seen on expensive American products – triple-flange hoops, which gave a more open sound (very new to British drums), non-telescopic spurs, adjustable, swivelling shell mounts and cymbal arms and an abundance of tension screws. The first test of Hayman’s projection qualities was successfully completed when Alf Bigden performed at Caesar’s Palace in Luton, a 1500 seat theatre, backing Shirley Bassey, playing an un-mic’d Hayman kit. Hayman Drums took the drum market by storm, with their fresh, modern look and attracted a number of high profile endorsers in a short time (the drums were officially launched in February 1969 , production abruptly ceased in 1975). Played by Michael Giles (King Crimson), Jim Capaldi (Traffic), Aynsley Dunbar, Bill Bruford (Yes), Simon Kirke (Free), Bob Henrit (Argent), Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience) and even the legendary John Bonham took delivery of a midnight blue Hayman kit in the late 60’s. 

So back to this kit. It looked as if it hadn’t been played in some years; tension rods were missing from the toms, the bass drum leg mounts weren’t tensioning properly and it was very dirty. All the interior screws, washers and dampers were badly corroded. Sometimes kits just need re-heading and the chrome needs a clean, but in this case the kit needed a complete refurb. On the plus side, the wrap was in great condition, there were no extra holes in the shells – something of a rarity these days on vintage British drums – and the white ‘vibrasonic’ interiors were in good condition (as they can be prone to ‘crazing’).  

Heads off. All lugs and exterior fittings removed. All interior screws, washers and fittings soaked to remove rust/corrosion. Shells cleaned inside with warm water, outside with warm, mild soapy water, then dried off. All tension rods sprayed with WD40. All lugs, fittings and hoops cleaned and polished. The brass Hayman badges, all intact,  date this kit between 1969 and 1973.

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Following  the cleaning of all components, the kit was reassembled. The snare mechanism had been replaced at some time with a Premier so there is one small extra hole from the original. Fitted with clear Remo ambassador heads on the toms, coated Remo ambassador head on the snare drum and bass drum and a clear resonant bass drum head to display the white ‘Vibrasonic’ interior. Personally, I think the kit looks new. 

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The new owner of this kit is an avid collector who loves everything about vintage drums. However, he doesn’t keep his drums in glass cases, he plays them. I’m looking forward to hearing about the Hayman’s future outings. 

Next kit lined up for a complete refurb is an Ajax ‘Nu Sound’ in burgundy ripple. Lots of vintage kits and snares for sale on my site – Nick Hopkin Drums