adding washers to bongo lugs

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adding washers to bongo lugs

Postby Mark Brodie » Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:14 pm

Hello,

My Matador bongos have extremely long lugs. I've added half a dozen or so washers below each of the lugnuts to make up the difference. The washers are all the same size and thickness.
bongo lugs.jpg


I have to do this because I'm using a ratchet rather than an open wrench to tune them up, and the ratchet often isn't long enough to reach the lugnuts. Adding washers raises them up.

Can anyone see any problems with doing this? Thanks!

Mark
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Re: adding washers to bongo lugs

Postby Chtimulato » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:19 pm

Hi.

Yes, I see a problem : too much metal washers can damage the thread. I did it for a long while, till I was told it could damage. I suggest you to use nylon washers except for the first and last ones. I mean, you can put as much nylon washers as you may want/need, but you'll have to insert them between the two metal washers. That's what I do.
Another tip is using a kind of tube you can put between the upper and lower washers, for instance socalled 'spacer bushings' (or 'bushing spacers', I don't remember).

The best is here : http://www.manitopercussion.com/lug-extenders/
Depends on where you are located. In my case, the shipping costs were higher than the price of the product itself, so I didn't order them and made my own, buying and cutting a piece of tube in a DIY shop.

And here's another tip : a famous conga maker, who is well known on this forum, taught me once that "steel eats steel". That's why he uses bronze nuts on his lugs, to preserve their thread. I follow now his advice, and use now bronze nuts too. If youre lugs are in metric system (I live in Europe), use brass or bronze exhaust manifolds nuts from Fiat 500 (in M8, 8 mm diameter).
If they're in the imperial system, either 3/8" or 5/16", use then Mini Austin brass or bronze manifold nuts. You also should be able to find some in ship supply shops or sites.

If you use nylon washers or tubes, and bronze nuts, you can't go wrong.

You can also have a look here : http://www.manitopercussion.com/products-page/custom-hardware/set-of-6-tuning-lugs/, especially on the 2nd picture http://www.manitopercussion.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/1-DSC_00091.jpg.

Hope it helps.
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Re: adding washers to bongo lugs

Postby Mark Brodie » Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:50 am

Thanks for the info, that’s very helpful. When you say “damage the thread”, is that because the tension is too high with the washers or because of the type of metal used in them?

I’ll also look into the spacer bushings and nylon washers you mentioned.

Thanks again!

Mark
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Re: adding washers to bongo lugs

Postby jorge » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:58 am

I have also damaged tuning lugs on congas even without extra washers when the bracket on the side of the drum is not exactly perpendicular to mounting plate and the threads of the tuning lug scrape against the inner edge of the bracket. I think the Manito tubes or the nylon washers would prevent that. I like the idea of bronze nuts, I have used stainless nuts, also slightly softer than the steel lugs, for the same reason.
That said, I think you are less likely to have a problem on the bongos shown because the aluminum bottom ring looks like it will support the washers more perpendicular to the tuning lugs. Those lugs do look long, however. Is your skin mounted really low?
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Re: adding washers to bongo lugs

Postby Chtimulato » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:50 pm

When you say “damage the thread”, is that because the tension is too high with the washers or because of the type of metal used in them?


Regularly screwing and unscrewing (if you play everyday, or gig several times a day and have to tune/detune a lot) can damage (wear down) the thread in the long term. Hence the bronze nuts and/or Jorge's suggestion, stainless steel.
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Re: adding washers to bongo lugs

Postby jorge » Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:50 pm

Also, the threads of the tuning lug scraping against the inner edge of the u-shaped bracket on the side plate can flatten the threads. This totally destroys the ability of the nut to turn on that part of the lug, so when the skin stretches, the nut can not tighten further because that involves moving up the lug to the area where the threads were flattened.
The T-shaped nylon tube on the Manito Percussion website looks like it would completely prevent this problem.
Also frequent (~every few months) loosening of the nuts and greasing the threads will help prevent thread wear on the nut or lug.
But again, I think these problems would be more likely on congas than bongos. Nylon washers would not completely eliminate the problem anyway if you used steel washers on the top and bottom of the stack. You will probably be fine on your bongos as is.
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Re: adding washers to bongo lugs

Postby Chtimulato » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:38 pm

Yes, the best idea seems to be the nylon bushing, as long as the inside of the the u-shaped bracket is wide enough. But they're rather hard to come by here (in France). Should order some at Amazon's, which I try to avoid when I can.
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Re: adding washers to bongo lugs

Postby Mark Brodie » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:18 pm

Thanks for all the feedback here, guys. I actually decided to completely take all the washers off and have bought a different wrench instead (an open ratchet rather than a socket wrench).

Worse, I actually discovered that I'd accidentally put a different number of washers on each lug and as a result the rim, skin, and drum on the macho all got out of round. I've had to buy a brand new rim and bongo head (an expensive lesson!) I think once I get the new rim and head on there the shell will correct itself. The hembra was also slightly affected from the same mistake, but looks okay since the tension wasn't nearly as high.

I don't think I'll be experimenting on my bongos anymore without checking here first!
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Re: adding washers to bongo lugs

Postby Chtimulato » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:08 pm

For your out-of-round drums, I suggest this :

first try to reput the original skin, as it was (I mean, respecting the "out-of-roundness") ;
then try to rotate the skin 1/4 of turn ("put 12 at 3 o'clock, if you understand me right)
put the rim on, and re-tighten it ; wait a few days, and if needed, change the skin then, but maybe the rotating of 1/4 of round should be enough.

You can also ask a conga builder/repairer or a cast iron worker to make an alma for you, but it could (I'm not sure) also damage the shell and make it crack, you'll have to reglue the staves then. But it's a good experience. We all learn out of our mistakes.

And when you have spent sweat, elbow grease, love and patience working on a drum (or another instrument, or a car, or a piece of furniture, etc.), you can then really say it's yours...

BTW : Jorge also had an interesting question about your skins : did they came very low down ?
Last edited by Chtimulato on Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: adding washers to bongo lugs

Postby Mark Brodie » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:40 pm

Hey Chtimulato, thanks for all your help here! Unfortunately, the rim is completely warped, so I’ve already ordered a new one—the old one is beyond repair, I’m afraid. The hembra rim looks okay (only out about two mm). As for the question about the skins, no they didn’t come down especially low. I’ve been pretty happy with the Matadors, even the skins which I know some people don’t like.

Appreciate all your good advice!

Btw, the macho shell seems to have rebounded somewhat and is only a fraction out of round now.
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Re: adding washers to bongo lugs

Postby Chtimulato » Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:19 pm

O.K.

Of course, a drum without a skin on it is not so stressed, so it can become a little bit rounder. I've been there too.

You'll have the pleasure to repair and to refurbish, which makes the instrument really yours, as I said.

Matadors are not so expensive, so you can also buy another pair one day, and keep the old one for spare parts. Or leave one set in your band's rehearsing place if you play in a band. Or you can get used to it, and buy some other stuff...
But take care, you gonna end up like most of us here, buying and collecting, and selling or trading to make some room, and get something new... :D

Have a nice day.
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Re: adding washers to bongo lugs

Postby Mark Brodie » Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:22 pm

It’s already starting to get like that with me (buying and collecting) Ha ha!

Thanks again!
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