Vistalite Makeover
I found this 1976 10-lug Ludwig Vistalite at The Marketplace, a new "American Pickers"-style resale shop just a couple blocks north of downtown on Washington St. It was all complete--completely filthy and thoroughly used. This is exactly as I found it. I also found the rest of the kit: 22", 12", 16" and hooked 'em up with my friend Derek Weed.

Within a week I had it looking like new. Cleaning, chrome polish, and a few new parts and it was transformed. I love seeing old quality drums come back to life! And by the way, it sounds GREAT. Like a cross between a wood and steel shell drum. Crush rolls are very sensitive out the edge. It's crisp yet beefy. Can tune it low and fat or tight and articulate. The coated Remo Ambassador sounds great--so what if you can't see through the head.

This the P85 Throw Off. It's about the only thing I don't like on this era Ludwig snare drum.

It was bent and the mechanism was not working. I ordered a new one.

(Yes, I kept the original in case I ever sell this to a die hard purist who wants all the original stuff.)

The butt plate and muffler were both in working order.

I am a fan of mufflers in snare drums; they're so handy for taking out just a bit of ring. And this '76 muffler does not rattle at all.

Naturally I ordered new snares.

I don't think the bottom hoop is original. It looks like a Slingerland stick-saver hoop.

I did have to replace the batter side hoop as one of the flanges was split open.

I don't think it's too much to say that it had decades of dirt, grime and nicotene on it.

The original butt plate. I brought it back to life with some chrome polish. I did upgrade to new Ludwig screws though.

(And yes, kept the originals.)

Just some cleaning and chrome polish to do on the muffler.

All the threads (both here and on tension rods & lugs) on these old Ludwigs are A+

<< Before the cleaning...

I set the shell in a sink of warm water with some hand soap and lightly cleaned with a washcloth.

Do NOT use any strong soaps or detergents on these--it can scratch the shell.

It came VERY clean and after 37 years has very little scratches or blemishes.

I did use a Honda spray cleaner/wax on it. It's made for plastic windshields plus every other part of a motorcycle.

Avoid anything harsh to clean these Vistalite shells. Here's a great website and here's a great thread with Harry Cangany.

These white pieces that go between the lugs and shell cleaned right up in some soapy water.

Here's the new Ludwig P85 throw off.

All the lugs are original and came back strong with chrome polish.

The top hoop is new.

I ordered new 2" tension rods all around. (Who really wants to polish tension rods? ;-)

(And yes, I kept the original tension rods and they were all there.)

The bottom hoop is the one that came with the drum.

I really spent very little time cleaning the shell--it came back to life very easily.

The drum really looks like new except for the brusied & scraped blue/olive Ludwig badge.

It's crooked but I'm guessing that's how it left the factory.

Chrome polish on old drums does miracles!

You can see the new screws on the original butt plate.