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Vintage Trixon Speedfire 0/700 restoration…

Here you go… a new addition to my drum collection. For those who don´t know: about a year ago, I developed a heavy case of „Trixonitis“. I had always loved vintage drums. My favourites had of course been Gretsch and Ludwig kits. I knew that Sonor had built some great drums in Germany, but apart from that I never thought the german vintage drum market had lots to offer. I thought that all the other vintage brands like Rimmel, Deri, Tromsa, etc…were basically cheapo shit. In my world, that was the case for Trixon as well. I was so wrong. I only realized last year that Trixon sets were made in my hometown of Hamburg, so I decided to look deeper into the Trixon story. In fact, I found out that Trixon kits were high quality 6 ply beech or birch shells and they were everything else but cheapo shit! Phil Seaman, Clyde Stubblefield, Max Roach….they all played Trixon sets at least once during their careers, there are even pics of Ringo and Keith Moon on Trixon drums! I had to get one.  Not much later, I acquired I black Trixon Luxus 0/200 set from 1964 with modern sizes (20″/13″/16″/16″ and a matching 14″ snare). The Luxus kit was made of birch and sounded fantastic. I did not really like the set up with two 16″ floor toms though (the second must have been added later, as it was not birch but beechwood), so I decided to try and find an additional (rarely built) 14″ tom for my Luxus. I found one in England and bought it from Dave Prince, another Trixon maniac, then swopped it with another collector from Germany against yet another 14″ tom, which was also made of birch (the English one had been beech) and rewrapped it in black. While fixing some other little things on that set I got deeper and deeper into the world of Trixon drums and drum restoration in general. A Trixon chrome snare followed. I knew I was hooked! Next followed a rare 20″ floor tom shell that I also rewrapped (it came naked) and used the hardware from the remaining 16″ floor tom which I had originally bought with the Luxus set. Now I had my dream set up: 13″, 14″, 16″ and 20″ toms along with the 20″ kick and 14″ snare. You can check out the Luxus kit here.

Trixon is most famous for its odd creations like the Trixon Telstar kits with conical shells and of course the Speedfire sets with the oddly shaped bass drums. Of course I wanted to put my hands on one. Remember the „Trixonitis“!  But these kits are hard to come by and if you find them you will pay a lot of money. I thought to myself: „Hey, you are a player not a drum collector. There is no use in trying to find a vintage Speedfire kit for loads of money and then storing it away in some practice room. Forget about it“. Then suddenly, I found this beauty on the internet for a price that was really interesting.  I could not resist! Some emails back and forth, and the deal was finalized. I paid an advance and told the seller that I do not want to have it shipped, but he should instead please wait for me to pick it up when I would be on tour in a few weeks. I finally purchased this old beauty not far from Munich while I was on tour with Jacques Palminger in June this year. Jacques pretty much forced me to take it onstage that same night in Stuttgart („If you buy this, you will play this!!“). I remember sitting in the van taking the drums apart and cleaning, checking, thinking about how to actually get this monster ready for the stage that night without having the actual tom mount. Luckily my own construction with cymbal stands and Pearl Tom holders worked out wonderfully and the kit has become the standard Palminger & 440 Hz Trio drum kit ever since. I have to thank my bandmates for letting me load this set into the tourbus in mid-tour and having it occupy one of the seats. We all had to squeeze together! Then again, they did not really have a choice. I had to take it with me. The Speedfire kit sounds very vintage, with the old calve skin on the bass drum and the tom’s open, rototom / timbales like sound. The price was very good (less than 1000 Euros) for a rare kit like this. But there was also a lot of work to be done. The shells were all present, but one plastic connector was missing, the others were damaged. Due to the age of the plastic, they often break when too much tension is imposed on them, but you need tension to really attach the toms to each other. I had the idea to fill the connectors with modelling cement to take away the tension from the thin plastic edges. It worked out perfectly. These will never break again.The spacey tom mount was missing as well and had to be replaced. Try finding one of these!!! I was able to obtain a steel replica, which is even easier to handle because its diameter is half a millimetre less than the originals. The snare throw off had to be completely taken apart and was fixed. One little piece inside had to be grinded back into shape for the throw off to have a „bed“ to rest on. I was also lucky enough to get original old stock chrome foil for the edges of the concert toms and two missing badges from the german Trixon-Pope Ingo Winterberg. The  bass drum hoops had to be glued and re-painted. In other words, the set had to be completely taken apart as far as possible. The screws of the lugs are often stuck and connected with the lugs and break away. On some lugs, I decided to leave them as they were and to not touch them again. The danger of damaging them was too high. All this work would have been impossible without Ingo´s valuable help and advice. The set is from the „latest“ original Trixon period around 1968-1970, it has the very rare silver/black badges, grey lug underlays and the latest known Trixon bass drum t-rods in rectangular shape. The finish is Glass Glitter and it is still looking quite good for its age. These have a terrible tendency to develop dark spots over the years. There are some, but they are not catching the eye . Most surprisingly, all 5 concert tom shells are made of wood, whereas normally only the 13 inch tom was wooden and the others in the odd metric sizes of 9,75″ / 8″ / another 8″ and 6,5″ were made of plastic. Here we have genuine Trixon wood shells throughout. Even Ingo said he had never seen this before. How lucky am I!

Here are some pictures from along the journey… starting the day of purchase, first night on stage, the restoration and the finished set. Enjoy!

PS: I promised to myself and to my girl friend that this will be my last Trixon set for myself. We have a deal that I may get Trixon items to restore them and then resell. I do have a Luxus and a Speedfire set. I do not really need a Telstar kit. I do not need a Telstar kit. But if you have one real cheap, please get in touch.

Here´s what it looked like when I bought it…

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With the previous owner…

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That same night in Stuttgart…setting it up on stage using different cymbal stands to balance the concert toms…

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A few nights later in Berlin…with only 3 concert toms…it was so unfamiliar to have the stand tom placed so far away from its normal position due to the small concert toms sticking out so far. The stand tom mount spring broke…had to improvise….

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My son checking out my new kit in Hamburg, last show of the tour…

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Onstage with Jacques Palminger…

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Finally home again and starting to work on the kit. First task: glueing and re-painting the bass drum hoops…

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Filling the grey plastic connectors with modelling cement. I can really suggest this method. It is much better than just approximately piling washers onto the screws to try and reach the shell surface. Filling them with modelling cement really distributes the pressure onto the whole inside of the connectors and completely takes away the tension from the edges. I wish I had done this on tour already, as some developed further damage on the road…
Fixing the snare throw off was probably the most sophisticated task. Thanks to the help of Ingo Winterberg I knew what to work on…

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One socket on the bass drum had to be replaced as it was torn apart…

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Restored the badges´missing black paint….

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And finally the tom mount replicas arrived! Ready!

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