CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: Super fat 13.5" Valje conga - Huge Super Tumba restoration

Thursday, September 25, 2008

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Super fat 13.5" Valje conga - Huge Super Tumba restoration

This fine drum came to me in need of some serious TLC.

When i first saw it, i had to gasp... it looks grotesquely huge in person. Like it's a cartoon rendition of a regular Valje tumba! It's so fat, i can barely get my legs around the tub.

This tub was made by Akbar, or Valje Drums in SF. It is a full 13.5", and yes, that is measured correctly. It was made custom to 29.5" tall, which makes it even more fat looking. This custom piece of art is one of the largest Valjes ever made, and there are less than a handful over 13" in the world. It is the fattest of Valje congas i have seen, having literally played over 30 or so.

So, this tub had major cracks going on... seven in total, most on the stave line. It had one of the worst repair jobs ive ever seen, with a crack totally filled with epoxy... ug... I had to actually saw the epoxy out with a hacksaw blade, and get the staves back to where there were originally. Im sure this mal-fix was the reason the other cracks developed.

If one crack is filled, instead of 'reset' and glued in the original position, it will put stress on all of the other joints. the weak link breaks, you can fix one after the other, but if you dont address the original mal-fix, you will be chasing cracks until you reglue every single stave line. The only way to fix this so it works, is to take the epoxy out, and get the staves to come thogether as much as possible. Pictured is a before and after this major fix. It was one of the most difficult repairs to make, and im really happy with how it turned out. not only does it look alot nicer, but the staves came together to the original shape, just as i had hoped. I re-epoxyed with two part, it to make sure it is super solid. The other cracks came together nicely and are next to invisible.

As far as other large Valje's in existence: There was a 14"er (supposedly... they are hardly ever measured correctly) and it sold on ebay last month, but other than that, this is the largest Valje Ive seen. Its one rare and fat tub. The "14" was not as fat bellied as this tub, missing a band, and not nearly as sexy looking. (pictured).

And there is this picture of a cat with a fat Valje tub, but not sure how big it actually is/was.

Post script: This cat Mike, from BC emailed to say, that is him back in the 70's playing these fine drums that are now for sale, actually. He sent this picture, along with measurements of the fat tumba pictured: 12.75-13.25" playing surface. I bet its a full 13.25, as it seemed Tom liked to make the .25 sizes, for some reason.

I put a sweet medium thick cow skin on it, it came out as close to immaculate as you can get. What a fun project this was!