Bob Flesher Minstrel Banjo Kit

Third Try With the Head

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Now that I have the tension hoop solidly bolted together, I am ready to try mounting the head again. I got out all of the parts.


The head itself is looking pretty ragged. I hope that it holds up through a few more of these attempts to stretch it.


I put it into the sink to soak it again. I used forks this time. I sure hope that this one works because I am running out of flatware.


OK. That seemed to work again. Here is the head all limp and ready to go. This is amazing stuff.


I put the head onto the rim, centered as best I could.

On Rim

Then, I put the flesh hoop down onto the rim over the skin.

Flesh Hoop

After that, I pushed the tension hoop onto the rim right over the skin, just like the flesh hoop. It went down over the skin with some pressure, but then there were no gaps at all between the hoop and the first layer of skin. What I have to do is to bring the edge of the skin back up through the tension hoop. But there is no space at all between the hoop and the first layer. I cannot even see any light peeking through, much less space into which I can poke the edge of the skin.

In order to get a gap large enough to push the skin through, I had to lift the tension hoop off of the rim and just place it gently on the edge. After I had done that, some space opened up and I could begin to pull the flap of skin up through. I finally did manage to get the skin pulled up all the way around.

Pulled through

This is looking promising. It even looks somewhat like the old wood engraving in the directions (which you can see sitting on the table in the background). All I need to do is to push the hoop all the way down onto the rim, snug up the skin around the flesh hoop, and we are home free.

However, a few minutes later I had to give up. There is just no way that hoop is going down onto the rim like that. I had my entire weight (160 pounds..... ok.... well... 175 pounds) forced down onto it. I literally lifted myself off the floor trying to force that hoop down over the rim. Short of using hydraulics, the hoop is not going down there. And even if I do manage to force it on, there is no way that those brass hooks are going to survive trying to pull the head tight once it is dry. I am not surprised that the joint broke on the previous attempts. That is a lot of force

The hoop is too small. There is no other answer. Maybe the skin is too thick, but that is all I have to work with so I am stuck with it. I will have to make the hoop larger in order to do this. Just for grins, I put a hook into one of the shoe holes to see what the clearance will be if I make the hoop larger. I took a closeup photo of it:


If you look closely, you can see that there is quite a bit of clearance between the hoop and the hook. I think that I can add a millimeter or so to the size of this hoop without interfering with the hooks.

The bright side of this attempt is that the joint in the tension hoop held. I put my entire weight on the hoop trying to force it down, and there were no ill effects on the joint. Now I just need to make a new plate with the holes a few millimeters apart and allow the hoop to expand a little. While I am at it, I think that I might do the same with the flesh hoop as well. If I just take the plastic tape off of it, it should size itself to the head by springing apart.

I spent about an hour on this today.

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Last updated June 11, 2006