In September of 2014, I purchased a severely damaged Weymann Mandolute off of Ebay. I’d been intrigued by these for years. They looked like very well made instruments, but were always beyond my price range, but this was in very bad shape and the price reflected that.
It appeared to have taken a big fall and landed on the butt end, shattering the top, back and end of the instrument. Fortunately the parts were all there, and I decided to buy it as a flyer.
The top was broken in 2 places, with the center section completely loose. The back was broken in 2 places, and coming off, the entire end of mandolin was crushed w/ damaged and missing rope binding and damaged and missing purfling around the sound hole.
I disassembled the loose parts of the top, removed all the hardware, and stored them in a tupperware box then hung up the carcass in the rafters. In the summer of 2020, while I was beginning to push Orphan Instruments more seriously, I started working on it as I awaited glue to dry on other jobs.
First, I removed the back and did some preliminary glueing of the shattered end pieces of the Mando, gradually re-building the shattered maple end. It was excruciating work, essentially a 3D jigsaw puzzle!
Now it was time to re-glue the shattered top sections. First I glued down the treble side of the top, which had broken loose from the braces. While this was going on, I also glued up the 2 major breaks in the curly maple back. They came together very nicely.
Once that section of the top was done, I first fitted the missing top section to make sure everything would glue up correctly, then I glued up the bass side of the attached top, re-attaching it to the top braces as I also glued in the missing section. There was significant damage to the sound hole and the purfling around it. I stabilized the loose trim, then cleated all the glued top splits for stability.
Then I removed, cleaned and re-glued the end block, essentially re-building that end of the mandolin. Once the end block was in place to give some strength and structure to the damaged area, I re-enforced the shattered end and the final re-glued fragments with mahogany veneer inside to add extra strength.
Now it was time to work on the pickguard. This was made from an extremely thin plastic material which was originally
inlaid into the top. It too had been broken loose in the damage and was completely off the mandolin with threads of wood still attached. I removed several of the largest wood scraps from the back of the pickguard and re-glued them in place on the top. Once prep was completed, I made sure to wash off any remaining glue from previous repairs then used Titebond to re-glue the pickguard. It was warped and hard to get to lie flat since the top arched, but lead bags held it in it place and I was able to shoot a bit more glue underneath to deal with a final air bubble.
I was unable to locate the appropriate purfling and proper sized rope binding since they no longer make these patterns, so I decided to recreate them by hand.
This was a complicated, but ultimately successful procedure. I re-creating the original sound hole purfling pattern with individual strips of colored purfling glued together, then cut to size and inlaid into the missing sections with "infinite care!" They were then sanded or filed to match the original profile and turned out quite well. The rope binding was a bit trickier and involved glueing together 4 appropriately thick pieces of maple and ebony, then cutting at an angle to match the “rope” effect of the binding. These pieces were glued into place, then filed down to the proper contour and size by hand.
With the body re-construction completed, I turned to the finish. The body was lightly sanded (400 and 600) to remove damaged finish and sections bleached w/ Oxalic acid to reduce dark stains. I did drop fill several long pick scratched, but I was disappointed to see the the super glue turned brown and made the scratches even more visible, though it did level the finish. Multiple applications of French polish made for a very nice finish. The tuners (excellent quality by the way) were then removed, polished and fully re-lubricated. Finally, a loose fingerboard was re-glued and the neck flattened in the process. I had to rebuild the original bridge for re-use, and re-used the original bone nut.
Serial Nu,her is 19950, Model 20 which dates it to 1916. In the end, it turned out far better than I ever would have dreamed. It’s a beautiful, well made instrument with excellent action, a clear, full tone and glorious sustain.