Monday, December 5, 2011

Hofner Colorama II restoration project (part 9) - fixing up the tremolo unit

The tremolo arm on our vintage Hofner Colorama II is supposed to be held on with a type of thumb wheel screw, but that’s obviously been lost at some stage and the remaining stud/screw had been hammered down to act like a rivet and hold the tremolo arm on, irreversibly damaging it (the stud) in the process:

The tremolo unit has already been removed from the guitar, but can be disassembled further by removing the big screw holding the arm lever on:

Here's what we're left with:

I've previously drilled into the stud to remove the arm, and the remaining stud has to be unscrewed as it is completely destroyed. That can be forced out with a pair of mole grips (vise-grips), by turning it in an anti-clockwise (counter clockwise) direction:

There's quite a bit of rust on both this part and the tremolo unit itself, so a wire brush is used to remove it:

I'm also rounding the front end of the lever, since it was originally square in shape and was catching on and damaging the tremolo cover.

A look through the parts drawer gives us some components that might be good enough to make a new arm mount. It won’t be completely the same as the original, but it should be close enough:

Here they are put together to check on compatibility and fit:

And here's the whole tremolo unit put back together with its new thumb wheel, allowing us to remove the tremolo arm any time we wish:


Houcem said...

Dear Stu
The job you do is simply amazing, it's obvious that you are very smart and resourceful. For now i'm trying to restore a Hofner Model 173 year 1963 but i have a problem with the tremolo/vibrato system. First, the tremolo dosent have a front cover and second, the tremolo cavity is empty, there's only the tailpiece and the tremolo arm, no sping or any other thing. I still dont understand well how the tremolo works on this guitar so if you could help me that would be very appreciated. I can upload pictures if needed. Thank you very much ! Greetings from Tunisia !

stu said...

Hi Houcem,

Thanks for the lovely compliment. If you can upload some pictures that would be very helpful.

The tremolo is not very complicated and should work fine without the front cover (although you can pick the covers up on ebay from time to time). I've heard you can use springs from Bigsby vibratos in place of the original Hofner ones, though I have never tried this myself. I mention it because it is easy to get replacement Bigsby springs.

Anyway, I can tell you more once I see your pictures.


jojo said...

Anyone have a tremolo-arm and back-coverplate colour red pearl c1963 Høfner mod 173 SOLIDGITAR

Unknown said...

Hi , I'm just about to start restoring my two 1962 Coloramas and your posts are the best thing I've found on thr internet.Thanks a million for all the valuable information you have given me

stu said...

Hey Paul,

You're more than welcome. I'd love to know how you get on with your restoration. My email's if you're willing to share, or have any questions.


Unknown said...

Yeah these guys speak the truth, your step by step is just great and you've taken the time to share your experience - legendary chap.
I have just bought a 1963 173 in a crazy vinyl finish, it's missing the trem arm - thinking about trying to source the Colorama arm and fitting that.
I'll send photos oblnce I have picked the guitar up, maybe do some before and afters, might help someone in the same way you've helped us.
Thanks man, keep it up!

Lucho said...

Hey did you manage to replace the arm? Which part did you use? Any pictures?