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Project Roadstars: Rehab journal for some old Ibbys

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rojo412, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Long story short, I'm just a guy who likes to work on basses. I hope to make more a go of it in the future, but still have to work on my skills (which most I've learned here, so thanks TB!). I use a very limited amount of tools, so if you feel inspired to do what I do here, it's cheap! Trust me!

    One of my TB pals, handofseven, had some project basses languishing and I offered up my help to get things back together again. It'll give me something to keep me busy in the winter months and learn along the way.
    And he gets to fill up his GAS tank, so WIN-WIN!

    Yesterday, a package showed up for me at work...


    As you can see, it's an RB680 and RB690 body, with electronics and lots of mojo. The necks are on the way. But there's no point in waiting, so I got a head start last night.


    This bass was very poorly clearcoated over a paper sticker.



    Typically, a thin layer of clear can be scrubbed away with some steel wool (I was using 00). But this was a bit thicker, so I began sanding...


    As you can see, there's areas of original poly and the crappy clear that are well defined. I had to knock down the clear a bit with the paper, then finish with the steel wool to avoid going too deep.


    So, here's some progressive pics...




    So now that the terrible clear was gone, I decided to sand it down with 600 grit, then wet sand with 1000 grit.



    The bass was super smooth and ready to be polished. And if I had a buffing wheel, 30 seconds of that would have made it mirror shiny again... but I don't.
    I have rags and Mother's Billet Polish. And scads of elbow grease!
    I clamped the bass down to my table and just went to work by hand, applying polish as hard as I could, buffing it off, reapplying, etc.
    A few passes yielded this result:





    It was getting late, so I called it a day. But I'll hit it more tonight and see how nice I can get it. The point of this will be to make them look presentable, not new. There's a LOT of mojo on these, but they can still be bruised and beautiful.

    If you have any tips to share, please feel free. I'm hoping this journal will be read and help someone down the line. But if the pros have some helpful tactics to share that may reduce efforts or improve results, lay 'em on us!
  2. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Holy crap!

    I'm very surprised with your results.
  3. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    That's exactly the reaction I want to hear! Seriously!
  4. handofseven

    handofseven Soaking up the cathode rays... Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2010
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Necks will be on their way today. NICE WORK! :bassist:
  5. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    deviated prevert
    That result from hand buffing is simply stunning. Very impressive. Really gives me hope for my beat up Jazz bass.

    Pretty sure my old Roadstars are past saving though, appearance wise. Still play great, though. :D
  6. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Well, let me start with the good news...

    The 690 was the second bass up. And while I titled the 680 "The Ugly One", it's not like this is pretty... it's just not spray painted over.

    Since the finish wasn't bad, just dinged up, I decided to just give it a polish and start reassembly. I got rid of some swirling, but not all, so this remains roadworn.
    But I did get a chance to figure out the electronics...


    I twisted the wires a bit for a cleaner look.


    Then I tucked as much of them away as I could.


    Just need a neck (which is en route!!)


    Plugged her in, tapped on the pickups, spun the controls, all is making noises as they should. The pots also got sprayed out, so they no crackle. :D

    So back to the ugly one...
    Here's where the chip on the neck pocket was glued and smoothed:


    And briefly shined up (lighting blows):


    And as much as the right camera lighting can make things nice, when it's viewed under other lights, things can be seen better.
    Namely, the finish from the first post that looked so brilliantly shiny... it's not.


    At the right angle and in the correct light, it's an onyx dream. But captured in direct light or up close, it's got a lot of markings. SO... I've got to elbow grease the hell out of it. I may even have to go with a higher grade of paper.
    Worst case: it's got swirls instead of spray paint. And it's almost 30 years old, so it's bound to be a bit used looking...
    I'm going to give it the ol' college try when I get more time.
  7. A-Step-Towards

    A-Step-Towards Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2009
    Los Angeles California
    Wow that is some nice work, I also am just a huge Roadstar lover.
  8. Adam, another great project!:D
  9. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Not much action today. I polished the Ugly one a bit more, but still looking a little streaky. I think I may just give up. Like I said, this isn't a full restoration and the bass is old.

    I did clean up the electronics and prep for install.


    Not that I had to, but I made a cardboard template for the pot layout and soldered it up as neat as I could. Not photo'd, the jack is wired for action. And I am putting a battery clip in. More pics of that to follow.

    And since these are black, one of my favorite easy fixes is to apply nail polish to the dings, chips, and scratches.


    Yeah, the pic blows, but I am doing a lot of these and when the weather turns and I can get some good shots in good light, I'll show you.
    But yeah, black nail polish + black poly finish = looks better than chipped up and it's cheap and easy. I've actually filled in chips with it. You can build a thick layer of it slowly, then sand and polish flat.
  10. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I had the day off, so I went shopping. I snagged some supplies for the basses, as well as the shop area.


    I got a much brighter light for above the bench.





    Pictures don't do it justice, but it's much brighter.

    So I gave up on the hand work. I realized that I should probably look up better ways and I was clued into foam polish pads and a hand drill. You can use rubbing compound and plastic polish and get much better and easier results.

    So I went to work on ol' Ugly.



    No more light swirls! Some deeper scratches, yeah. But it looks nice.


    See, there's a clear reflection.


    With the body done, I could put the electronics in. I tried to be as clean and efficient as possible and I added a battery clip.


    And I had to add wood to the control holes to "unstrip" them. Speaking of that, I also had some holes to deal with on the butt end. Strap pins never seemed to want to stay in this, I guess.
    I chose to fill the new hole with a skewer. Since it wasn't being used for threading, it worked okay.


    I covered it up with more nail polish, so it looks better.
    The camera was away from me, and I guess I forgot to get pics, but I added brass threaded inserts for the strap buttons. And my take so far? DON'T DO IT!
    The first one sheared off and I managed to get it out and put another in. But I still feel that longer wood screws would have been much better.
    Oh well, live and learn!

    So here they are, waiting for some neckin'!

  11. That finish looks great! Never would have though it would become that glossy again!
  12. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    Solid work Adam!

    As one who especially appreciates Japanese basses of all eras, it warms the cockles of my heart to see that you and handsofseven would have the wisdom and care to restore these sleek little black beauties back to stock condition.

    Thanks for the inspiration. Keep the pics and progress reports coming!
  13. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Thanks, Roger! You've certainly helped me realize the true goodness in these MIJ basses over the years, so I want to make sure they stay in the hands of people for many years to come. They deserve to be put in the best shape they can be.

    Necks arrive Friday!
  14. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    You ever go to work and the only thing dragging you there is a package you're expecting?
    I had one of those days today :D

    The necks are here!



    Fortunately, they were cosmetically better than I was expecting, especially after seeing the 680. But save for some chips and dings, they are pretty damn nice!
    And of course, being black painted, all of those scars get covered in black nail polish.

    I managed to polish the frets with steel wool to a mirror shine and I'll be getting to the lemon oil when they are all put together.

    The 690:
    The neck was recently mounted on a Fender, I believe. What did we call it, D?


    I knew the 2 holes would need to be plugged for aesthetics, but forgot that the other 2 were redrills as well. And unfortunately, right next to each other :bawl:


    I figured that I could try something and if it fails, I'll do it right next time.
    People say to not use toothpicks or anything that would have a grain that can be pulled on. And wood filler only does so much. And of course, I don't have solid dowels or anything that would be "the right way"...

    So what I did was, I packed sawdust into the holes. I used a small drill bit and a hammer to pack it in. And I mean PACK it in there.



    (sorry the pics suck, better to come)

    I applied some super glue to the tops of the holes and will be leveling and polishing the surface (I'm posting this while glue dries).


    The 680:
    This neck has 2 issues, the finish and the nut


    I buffed off the nasty finish and that came out nice!


    The nut, which has 2 slots for the G string :ninja: will be corrected with some MacGuyvering. I'm going to fill the one slot with super glue and smooth/level it off. The other, will be properly slotted with my improper tools.

    Back to the basement!!!
  15. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    Nice rebuilds rojo, I'm enjoying watching your progress.
  16. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Well you'll love this then...

    I busied myself with another project while I let this "cool down". But I wasn't planning on sleeping until something was done.

    The RB690 was closer, so I decided to tackle that one. I put the tuners on:


    Smoothed out the neck heel:


    And I thought I had more pics of the process, but I didn't.
    What I did was attach the 2 screws at the base of the neck, string it up lightly, line it up, drill some pilot holes for the screws, then mounted the neck.
    I brought it up to tune, plugged it in and made some noise (probably to my neighbor's chagrin).

    Anyway, here's the RB690:




    I'm going to let the strings pull on the neck overnight, then check the action and intonation tomorrow. So far, so good!

    680 gets the same treatment.
    (damn real job I have to wake up for :bag:)
  17. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    That's a sleek black beauty!
  18. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I did work late last night... but I couldn't help but dive in this morning as well.
    The camera, which I suspected was ditching some of my pictures, IS ditching some pics. I had a couple of shots that didn't make it which chronicle 680's return to the earth.

    Here's the nut in all of it's glory, as well as a lemon oil shot:


    Missing was the whole neck cleaned up and oily.
    And here's what it looks like strung up:




    It sounds GREAT! I still have to set it up and all that happy horse pucky, but it's a beast.
    And a damn far cry from:


    :hyper::hyper::hyper: :D
  19. Just great! I really enjoyed this thread!
  20. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Not as much as I enjoyed making it!
    Thanks for the kind words.

    I've still got some perfecting to do and I want to get some outdoor, natural sunlight shots. So stay tuned...