Author Topic: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"  (Read 31425 times)

Highlander

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Thought I'd take this a bit more seriously than my "LuFear" posting...

As there are some newbies appearing, lets give you a bit of a history lesson, in brief... This is a Peter Cook Custom, estimated to have been built in 1972, possibly earlier, not been able to find out... I've owned her since the late 70's; 3rd owner. This is a rather obscure instrument made by a now "retired" English Luthier, best known for being John Entwistle's roadie/set-up specialist, and maker of a significant number of custom basses (the Fenderbirds were all his, AFAIK, and a rather exotic instrument stylised for the cover of "The Who By Numbers", which was built and used prior to the cover being created) for JAE... apart from JAE's customs, I have never seen or heard of another bass made by him, but have seen 2 differing Firebird doublenecks from the same era... as I said, a rather rare-bird... ps I have not been the most careful of owners...  :vader:

EDIT

Thought it would be beneficial for some to see what she looked like in 1979, shortly after I got my RD...

Well, it's done... the "Tequila-Bird" is dead... post the opening of the shed for business, I stripped her down, everything off, bar the nut and post inserts... Unlike Joe (with access to aviation stripper - presume that is tolulene based? What do you do for a living Joe...?) I've gone for Nitromors...


first coat, plus some scoring to start the ingress...


a good start, but not really touched the original fin, except for some crackling...


post second coat... the damage to the control area is now becoming more apparent...


an inset of the broken area... the original damage (some equipment fell on her in a studio) caused a cave-in of the area, whereupon I fitted a strat-type input, to fill in the hole, repaired the remainder and backed this with an epoxy based wood filler, to support the remaining structure...


post the 3rd coat and some wire-wool... some of you will be wondering why I went to the fin I had from this original cherry fin... You could probably make a good living as a shrink if you could find that answer...  ;)


some parts of the binding had loosened, and started to split as soon as I tried to ease it away, so stripped the lot; lots of little bits, even nice little dot markers on the edge... :sad: I regret this had to be done as it was wonderfully finished and edged up to the top of each of the frets... Can anyone recognise what the bodywork wood is yet, and I presume the facing on the neck is ebony...?


The head has started to be stripped off too - this undercoat is quite a pig to remove... cracles-up but not easily loosening...



This is my greatest area of concern... I have started on the back of the neck at the head to check the "crack" and now I've found 2 surface cracks, which I still hope are the fin; I will only know for sure once I have finished stripping the area - there is a small "dint" which is visible in both shots, where the line originates from and up to the right; the other is roughly the same direction, closer to the head... the neck is a three-part laminate...

Well, that's the start... gonna be in Cornwall (working) and Devon (drinking), which is not near here, for part of the weekend, so see you next week... (just gonna check the remainder of the new posts, and then gone...)
« Last Edit: August 31, 2009, 01:36:12 PM by Kenny Five-O »
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Dave W

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Re: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2009, 11:55:55 AM »
From what I can see so far, looks like mahogany body and ebony board.

If I were facing a job like this, I think I'd go to Devon to drink too. Still, you should be pleased when you're all done restoring it.

chromium

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Re: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2009, 02:18:00 PM »
Unlike Joe (with access to aviation stripper - presume that is tolulene based? What do you do for a living Joe...?)

Kill brain cells.   ;D


Now that's a project! :o   What do you have planned for this?


godofthunder

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Re: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2009, 05:42:30 PM »
Looks good Ken ! Just go carefully and slowly.  If you are going to refinish the bass natural like original you may have to make the consession of making a control plate for the control and input area. Now that I am thinking about it the input area could be filled with new wood or epoxy, false grained and the input jack moved to the edge of the body. Lots to think about, no rush right ? I bet there will be lots of input on this bass, and many good ideas.
Maker of the Badbird Bridge, "intonation without modification" for your vintage Gibson Thunderbird

godofthunder

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Re: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2009, 05:50:16 PM »
Ken here is my Phoenix named by Uwe years ago  looks like this now started out as a shard
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Lightyear

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Re: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2009, 07:51:24 PM »
Damn, what an improvement! ;D  I wonder what the original finish was?  Thinking that was early to mid 70's and that it was not a production build you would think laquer or some type of spray varnish.  Regradless it looking great!

I'm not sure what's in aircraft stripper but it failry easy to find over here  - I've seen it the big box home improvement places.

chromium

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Re: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2009, 08:51:28 AM »
I'm not sure what's in aircraft stripper but it failry easy to find over here  - I've seen it the big box home improvement places.

I went and looked at the container, and it says it contains Methylene Chloride (Dichloromethane), ethyl alcohol, and methanol - all the things a growing boy needs!  Like Lightyear says, you can just walk in anywhere here and buy it.  You might not be able to get it across the pond...  seem to remember talk of that at the Reranch forum.  If you want me to package some in preserves/jelly jars and send you a care parcel from "your loving granny in the 'States" just let me know.  (kidding, of course.. we don't want to end up in the Phil Spector thread  ;D)

I started out by slathering it on, wrapping the result in plastic garbage bags (a tip by those more experienced than I), and letting it cook, sizzle, blister, and pop outside (really ornery stuff - quite a sight to watch and listen to it attack!).  Most of the finish gave up the ghost quickly, but there are a couple stubborn patches I still have to work at.  To quote my project manager friend: the first 90% of the job takes 90% of the time, and the final 10% of the job takes the other 90%...

drbassman

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Re: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2009, 12:15:27 PM »
They carry it here at the Auto Zone store.  Works well.

That bass looks pretty ragged right now with some of the finish off and some still on!
I'm fixin' a hole where the rain gets in..........cuz I'm built for a kilt!

Dave W

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Re: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2009, 01:46:51 PM »
Not sure what's in Nitromors but it's a heavy duty paint and varnish remover with the usual hazard warnings about the nasty stuff it contains.

drbassman

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Re: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2009, 08:30:30 AM »
Nasty stuff for sure.  It also roughs up the wood a bit, so I think it's best to get it off as soon its done its work.
I'm fixin' a hole where the rain gets in..........cuz I'm built for a kilt!

Highlander

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Re: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2009, 02:03:19 PM »
Well, the Nitromorsing's done...


spent the day sanding... yep, beards finally gone...  ;D


yep... whatta mess;  a little work with my fret-saw and now fully removed pre my timber hunt... it is just visible in the front shot where you can see evidence of where I previously repaired the body where a chunk near to controls was smashed out...


pretty much ready for routing and preping... you can now clearly see the construction methods - 3 part thru-neck with a 1/4" backing section to the rear - the head has an approx 10 degree angle...

I've wetted down the surface to get an idea of what she would look au-naturalé, but not sure if good enough timber (grain-pattern wise)... will post for opinions...


Now then Gentlemen, with a case like this, what is going to look cool filling it...? got this real itch for something left-field and out in the car-park in the next State... er, excuse US-isms; got all over excited just thinking of the possibilities...  :o

Ps neck not cracked at headstock... once the original fin was fully removed there is no trace of a crack, but there is some ingress of material into the timber, presumably from the crack in the fin over the years...
« Last Edit: August 31, 2009, 02:17:05 PM by Kenny Five-O »
Staring at the event horizon is a dirty job, but someone has to do it...

chromium

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Re: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2009, 03:50:25 PM »
Looking good, Ken!

Now then Gentlemen, with a case like this, what is going to look cool filling it...? got this real itch for something left-field and out in the car-park in the next State... er, excuse US-isms; got all over excited just thinking of the possibilities...

Man with that case, I'm thinking some iridescent flip pearl kandy metalflake craziness with pinstripes, dingle balls and a chandelier!   :o  ;D








I'd probably avoid the cherry and natural finish (due to the upcoming repair at the control cavity) and go for something opaque, vivid, and fun!

Pilgrim

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Re: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2009, 04:40:54 PM »
Perhaps the "Mystic" metallic paint that changes color depending on how the light hits it?
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Dave W

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Re: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2009, 09:56:19 PM »
If you really want to finish it natural or transparent, you might consider an inlaid panel of a contrasting hardwood as a control cavity front cover. Like 1/4" ebony. Just a thought.

Highlander

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Re: The Phoenix... the restoration of a rare custom-made "Thunderbird"
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2009, 11:41:19 AM »
Love it Joe...! love the colour on that top car (yes, I know, a heathan Brit that wouldn't recognise a classic if it drove right over him...!) ... gonna wander over to the "peelings" now...

Al... been thinking along those lines... the issue will be what mix of colours... my down-home country-lovin' Kentuckian wife has a guilty-sin - she would like a car in this type of paint... totally out of character... nearly fell over (daughter AND me - Roshina's ideal car is a beetle-bus - split-screen T1 variant, upper section painted sky-blue with fluffy sheep like clouds and the lower section like some fields with cows and flowers; I digress; what's new ;)) when she told us a few years back when they started to become more visible on the streets... but a utility van (Zafira to the Euro crew) ...?

Dave... nice idea - had some thoughts over facing the front with something exotic - the three sections and the head -  but still a thought in transit...

Scott... seriously impressed with that rebuild... what a Phoenix...  8)  8)  8) to the max...!

I keep coming over surrealist, though... gotta start doing some serious eBaying to generate funds...  ;)

Where would I hang the chandelier...?
Staring at the event horizon is a dirty job, but someone has to do it...