1930 bakelite neck National Triolian neck reset

" [...] In the 70's, Dopyera pointed to the failure of the Bakelite neck Beauchamp had tried to introduce on National Triolians. George [Beauchamp] was collaborating with Adolph Rickenbaker who used the early plastic to make Kleen-B-Tween toothbrush handles. In 1935, George and Adolph would successfully introduce Rickenbaker electric guitars made with a seemingly stronger bakelite formula. Neverthelless, the material was never ideal for guitars, as customers with defective-necked Nationals had allready discovered. Beauchamp's vision of the Bakelite neck did fail in Nationals, and John [Dopyera] did say, 'I told you so'. [...]"

     from "The History and Artistry of National Resonator Instruments" by Bob Brozman

Not many bakelite neck Triolians exists today, as lots of them were sent back to factory in early 30's for new neck installation. Most of the survivors can be used for lap-style playing only, some of them (especially the ones with original paint on) are collector items.
The example described is a Walnut Sunburst Bakelite Neck National Triolian in it's original paint.
The serial number A1222 referring to Mark Makin's book www.markmakin.co.uk places it in 1930. The instrument was purchased as a project guitar for not a big money, as Bakelite Neck Triolians are usually considered to be "unrepairable" which effectively scares away National players.
Happily, after couple of evenings spent at my work bench, I managed to complete the project and achieve this result: a Bakelite Neck Triolian - collector and player in one.

a crack as found in the bakelite, marked with red line

the same crack viewed from the threads' side

oil poured into bakelite thread to avoid wear when screwing in metal bolt (same was done with any bakelite surface exposed to sharp metal screws

a bakelite light bulb socket - for testing how bakelite acts when drilled

drilling a hole for the bolt - preparation for the bracket installment

hole for the bolt ready. The circled area is where the highest tension will appear: this part is responsible for the neck straighness from now on

a sensitive task: I've machined out some bakelite from the broken area, making a cut in the bare steel rod inside. The cut will allow to bend the neck exactly in the marked position, and give it back it's the proper angle. The process of straightening the neck has been repeated three times (followed by a complete guitar assembling/dissassembling) to achieve optimal neck angle, and not going too far with the final neck heel grinding (!)

After straightening the neck, the broken thread's bore got smaller, so I had to tap it again to the original dimensions

parts ready for assembling: a bracket made of steel, painted black is visible here

a trial assembly: to avoid extra holes in the steel body, the final assembling is done after the neck pole goes through the body (!), as the cut-outs it the body are to small to let the allredady installed bracket go through

inner parts, all ready for assembling

a new National Reso-Phonic Hot Rod cone installed, under the original, perfectly levelled to match the cone, proper (no patent pressed) vintage biscuit. The insert is cut off from a high grade violin maker's piece of maple, seasoned by me for over 6 years.

Just before the final assembly, the coverplate screws were given a bit of an "oil bath", to protect them from rusting into the body 's threaded holes in the future.

strings action after final bridge adjustment and frets levelling

after couple of years: a cone swap! Original, prewar cone purchased, only 24,2 grams light (modren hot-rods are arond 29 grams

The original cone sounds amazing, and a comparision sample was made, where the cone that "calls" is a modern Hot-Rod, and cone that "responds" is the prewar one. Same miking, strings, same strings tension, biscuit and insert material in both cases. Plain sound, unedited. You can listen or download it by clicking here