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Thread: replacing Flatiron tail piece?

  1. #1

    Default replacing Flatiron tail piece?

    Hi Folks,

    Today, whilst attempting to tune my Flatiron Festival A (Montana, Jan. 1995) mandolin I experienced a bit of a heart-stopper!

    Basically the tailpiece self-destructed - the base plate section (with the string hooks & push-on engraved cover plate) separated rather catastrophically from the small bracket (with 3 screws & the end pin) that wraps around the end of the instrument. It looks as though it's just torn apart along the bend, I presume due to some sort of fatigue!

    So my question is, how do I best replace the tailpiece in a way that will permit continued use of the original engraved cover (see below)?

    I found a post on the Forum that suggested that the Festival A's original base-plate was steel with a brass cover. However, examining the 'torn' edge of my base plate it looks very much like brass - I can see the characteristic yellow where it has broken!

    Does anyone know what make of tail piece was actually used? There are lots of inexpensive chromed steel 'clone' tail pieces available online but I'm concerned they may not be of a exact size that will readily accept my nicely engraved Flatiron cover. I know that there are other tail-piece design alternatives but I'd like to keep the instrument more or less original. Any insights or recommendations gratefully received!

    Thanks, Sam.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: replacing Flatiron tail piece?

    The stamped tailpiece can be bought ay many placed online. E-bay, Greg Boyd's, Stew-mac, etc. The sides of your cover can be adjusted to fit the replacement.

  3. #3

    Default Re: replacing Flatiron tail piece?

    Thanks for those pointers Skip - I'll chase them up. I supposed my query here at MC was prompted by my initial & rather 'random' search online which suggested that there might be some variation in dimensions & materials in the tail pieces available, particularly the 'chrome plated' ones made in China, which all seem to make a virtue of being 'chrome plated' & 'made of steel'.

    Mine is clearly made of nickel-plated brass & I felt that - because I want to reuse the Flatiron cover - it needed to be a specific 40mm width. As you point out, there may be some small adjustment possible, but I wanted to get something as close as possible to the original dimensions.

    As I've said, I'll chase up the links you've provided. I provide another pic below of the actual brass base plate showing its stamped hooks which some may recognise...

    Thanks, Sam.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #4
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: replacing Flatiron tail piece?

    Sam, I think the one sold at Greg Boyd’s are plated brass. It doesn’t take much to fit a cover. Also beeswax also works well to help keep a cover on.

  6. #5

    Default Re: replacing Flatiron tail piece?

    Thanks again Skip. After communication with Greg I've ordered an unplaced tail piece from him. I actually only need the base part & he tells me that it is already nickel plated (possibly over stainless - not sure). Anyway, I sent him the dimensions of my original base plate & Flatiron cover & he assures me that the Prucha base will be a good fit. I found Greg very helpful! Thanks for your help, Sam P.

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  8. #6
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: replacing Flatiron tail piece?

    The last one I bought from Greg Boyd had a stainless base and was made by Prucha.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
    --J. Garber

  9. #7
    Registered User
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    Default Re: replacing Flatiron tail piece?

    The tailpiece on my early 90s Flatiron failed some years ago. At least some of the Allen cast tailpieces are an exact match with regard to hole location. I ordered a couple just in case I had a TP failure on another mandolin.

    https://www.allenguitar.com/tpcs.htm

    Best
    David
    You can't get there from here.

  10. #8

    Default Re: replacing Flatiron tail piece?

    Until you see it happen, it is hard to believe such a thing is possible.
    I built an F-5 that my brother has and he called me one day to tell me that the stamped tailpiece had suddenly just self-destructed, exactly like yours.
    But Amsterdam was always good for grieving
    And London never fails to leave me blue
    And Paris never was my kinda town
    So I walked around with the Ft. Worth Blues

  11. #9

    Default Re: replacing Flatiron tail piece?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fretbear View Post
    Until you see it happen, it is hard to believe such a thing is possible.
    I built an F-5 that my brother has and he called me one day to tell me that the stamped tailpiece had suddenly just self-destructed, exactly like yours.
    Does seem unreasonable with only about 200 lbs. pull and hardly any flexing to cause fatigue, but two other things are going on: One is weakness and crystallization caused by the bend; that is, the brass or steel was not annealed or properly softened before being worked. Or heat treated after. The other comes from the electroplating, and is called hydrogen embrittlement, which means that attractive cosmetics sometimes disguise evil. Or cause it. A nickel opinion.

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