Brakes Drums? Sure, Okay.

You never know when you’re going to need a pair of brake drums, so I went to the metal scrapyard where my mom works and picked up a couple. One of them is a 10 inch and the other is a 12 inch, and they both have some ring to them. Some brake drums are very klink-y and sound dead with no ring. There’s no real consistency; these aren’t really musical instruments, after all.

So here is the 10 inch:

And here is the 12 inch:

Out of curiosity, I took my tuner to see what ‘notes’ they were. The 10 inch was around an A♭ but a little flat. The 12 inch was less than an octave lower, around a B♮ but a little flat. Well… whatever…
At first, I was just going to leave them as is, but I don’t like how my hands are brown every time I pick them up without gloves on. I took my drill wire brush that I used to take the rust of the chime frame and took it to the brake drums.

I feel like it helped, but I’m not sure how thorough I should be. The rust is pretty deep I think. I’m going to paint them with Rust-Oleum stop-rust spray paint (or maybe Julie will do that for me, since I’m apparently pretty heavy-handed with spray paint). I’m not sure if I should wire brush them more, try some rust removal chemicals, or if I should just leave it and paint it.
Julie asked what I might do with these. So I told her they show up sometimes from modern composers, and they’re also a good substitute for anvil. I demonstrated them with mallets, drum sticks, and a hammer. I may end up using them next year in the band if the music arrangements I picked out are selected. Or else, some gig might call for them. The band actually had a piece that called for one a while back, but that was before I was the section leader, so they just left it out…
I’ll update again when I’ve completed the project [if you want to even call it that].

Update for August 24, 2017. I think this “project” is complete now. I did end up wire brushing them a little more, but not much. Despite me running the shop vac while doing this, my workshop now does have some rust dust around that I need to clean up. I got Julie to spray paint these brake drums for me (since I am heavy-handed). Two coats on the top, once coat on the underside, and spot checking. Here are the results:

I realized after the fact that I never took any before shots of the underside, but here are the results nonetheless:

I think the drums look much nicer now. The paint didn’t seem to affect the sound at all, and more importantly, my hands don’t turn red-brown when I pick them up now.
And last, here is quickly what they sound like:

We just had song nominations in the Pensacola Bay Concert Band for next year’s spring concert (in May). I submitted two “medium level” songs that were more interesting for percussion. One was “Alligator Alley” Michael Daugherty [Link and Link] and the other was “Ghost Fleet” Robert Sheldon, [Link]. “Ghost Fleet” does call for one brake drum. I wanted to submit “Industria” N. Alan Clark [Link], but we don’t have all the instruments required (I think it called for 4 or 5 brake drums), and we don’t have the personnel (5 mallet players, 11 percussion, and 1 timpani). Ha! Plus the wind instrument parts were perhaps a bit too… meh… in my opinion.

Disclaimer: I’m pretty sure everything I did to these brakes drums is totally ill-advised for brake drums you would actually use on a vehicle. You have to use high temperature paint in that case. ;)


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