Weymann Style 50 Conversion

Weyman was one of the two great Philadelphia makers (the other was S.S. Stewart).  Weymann was reportedly in business since 1864 until WWII.  However, nearly all the Weyman banjos that I have ever seen are from the "tenor era", namely between WWI and WWII.  Five-strings are known but uncommon.

I can't find much information about the array of Weymann style designations.  I am calling this a Style 50 because of the "50" stamped in the margin of the peghead after the serial number.  Also, Style 50 5-strings are pictured in Gruhn's web gallery HERE, and at Sylvan Music HERE. The fine folks at Retrofret have a Style 70 for sale HERE. They say:

This Weymann Style 70 is rather an obscure banjo, one of the "integral rim/resonator" models that made up the company's lower priced but still professional-grade line. Weymann's original Megaphonic Orchestra model banjos are some of the most beautiful and elegant tenor and plectrum instruments ever created; the company's challenge was how to keep some of the same qualities in a lower priced instrument. Their solution was to use a molded rim - made of compressed wood fibers - mounted directly to the resonator which is laminated wood. Much of the hardware is the same as on the higher-priced Weymann models, and the overall appearance is similar but these instruments were sold at considerably lower prices. The Style 70 almost certainly sold originally for $70.00, exactly half the price of a Megaphonic Style A (the lowest grade in the Orchestra line) and was priced between the even simpler Style 50 and very similar Style 85, which may have quickly replaced it in the line.

Anyway, this instrument started life as a mandolin banjo in 1931 bearing the serial number 46228.  It featured Weymann's "megaphonic" rim, a compound rim and resonator configuration with the j-hooks running through the rim and out the bottom of resonator.  I bought this example on eBay from a gentleman in Red Lion, PA, mainly because I wanted to see how it was built.  I find mandolin banjos to be untuneable little bastard beasts so I built a 5-string neck for it.  I left the rim and mando neck unmodified in the unlikely event that someone would want to return it to the original mandolin banjo configuration.

OK, so it came to me completely disassembled.
Here are the mando neck and tuning machines.
The rim, as Retrofret says, is made of pressed wood particles.  This one has a wood insert for the head and a heavy brass coordinator rod..
Here you can see the reverse side of the composite rim.
The rim is glued directly to the resonator and is not meant to ever come off. However, the rim has shrunk a bit, causing it to pull away from the resonator.
Looking closer, one can see some crumbling of the composite material at the corners of the arches.
Here is something cool - the initials of the worker are still visible in the resomator.  I read them as "B. M.".
An interesting feature is the neck adjusters just under the fingerboard.  Here you can see how they fit into a internally-threaded cylinder which is pressed into the neck.
They rest directly on the tension hoop and can be used to adjust the action a small amount.
The neck is held on by a square nut recessed into a pocket in the heel.
The tone ring, tension hoop, head, and flesh hoop are conventional.
The hooks are conventional but the nuts (top center) have a long barrel that runs up into the rim and there are plated "cups" (upper right) that guard each hole in the resonator.
Unfortunately, the classic gold Weymann decal was damaged.
The peghead is decorated simply with a painted "WEYMANN" which is sadly degraded.
For the conversion to a 5-string, I started with a semi-finished Deering Goodtime neck.  These necks were sold at auction when the factory moved.  They are about 80% finished, needing peghead cut, heel cut, and final shaping.
First, I cut the heel length to fit the fat composite rim and made similar adjuster mechanisms out of machine screws and some brass rod.
Then I cut a pocket for the nut and later added a heel cap..
I finished the neck with stain to more-or-less match the resonator followed by 6 coats of lacquer and cut the peghead to match to mando neck shape.  The lettering is a decal made on my printer.
Tuners are inexpensive but nice-looking Chinese 4:1 planetary items.
All that remained was to clean and assemble it all.  I glued the rim and resonator back together with Titebond and substituted a mylar head for ease of maintenance.
I decided to retain the original mando tailpiece since it works fine in the 5-string configuration.  The cover was missing so I left it as it was.
The short heel is mostly within the resonator but that is fine.
Overall, it is quite handsome, I think.
The back of the resonator needed some French polishing to ameliorate the scratches.

There you are.  Nothing extraordinary technique-wise but some interesting design features, eh?

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