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As of December 2014, work has just begun on this restoration. The guitar arrived with the back already removed and a restoration begun. This restoration is not satisfactory and much of the work will need to be redone.
Perhaps the most unusual aspect is the label. It appears there has been an attempt to change or smear the date of 1831 though I cannot understand why this might be useful. Also there are signs of an earlier label and it's position can be seen in the photo. My own opinion is that this looks like it is a genuine Louis Panormo guitar.
The back has been removed with heat to soften the joints at the slipper heel and the lower end block. Possibly a clothes iron has been applied to a damp cloth on the back, softening and destroying the varnish. The cloudy marks are from steam created when a wet cloth is touched by the hot iron. The cloudy marks are repairable, the marred varnish is not.
The pine lining on the inside has been planed off. It is totally unnecessary to do this and will result in a guitar 3 or 4mm less thick than when originally made. The slots cut into the pine lining are now too shallow and no longer large enough to accommodate the back bars. The slots will have to be cut deeper.
Inside the guitar, large irregular mahogany plates have been use to reinforce the soundboard. I'll remove these and use light pine for the same job.
There will be plenty to do to restore this guitar to playing condition and I will post photos as I proceed. Despite its current faults, I suspect this guitar is going to play well when restored.
Removing the tuning machines proved to be difficult. They were attached with steel or iron screws which had rusted and were nearly immovable. The screw on the left is being heated with a soldering iron - the contraction and expansion caused by the heat will loosen the screw. On the left, an attempt to remove the screw resulted in the head shearing of the shank of the screw. Here, wood is being removed from around the screw shank to allow pliers to remove it.
With the shank of the screw removed, I filled the resulting hole with doweling. This will be hidden behind the tuning machine when they are re-installed.
The Rance tuning machines cleaned and lubricated. Curiously, one of the barrels has been replaced with black rubber-like tubing. It's functional but a bit visually surprising!
Removing the mahogany plates, re-gluing the bars and beginning to put new reinforcement under the soundboard.
Left, loose bars on the soundboard are sometimes hard to find, but careful probing with a very thin steel strip reveals un-glued areas. Right, the underside of the soundboard, cleaned up with all cracks reinforced and thin hardwood plates below the holes in the bridge.
Creating a support to go under the bridge with grooves for the bars, the black in place under the soundboard and the bridge being glued into place. The bridge is supported by the block allowing plenty of pressure to be used.
Now that I am confident that the soundboard and the body are as strong as new, I can begin to prepare re-unite them. The first step is to plane the heel so it is the same level as the body. As mentioned before, the height of the guitar, from back to top will be reduced by a few millimetres. On the right, the back being glued to the body.
When the back was removed in the previous restoration attempt, the bindings were lost. The Panormo body is made from Brazillian rosewood, but I made replacement bindings from Indian rosewood. The new bindings is not as neat and tidy as the original as the guitar seems to have changed shape - some binding is thick, some very thin. The black barrel has been replaced with a white one.
The original coffin case and the restored bridge. I suspect that the only original bridge pin is the larger one on the left.
The finished guitar which played very well indeed. It was returned to its owner in April 2015.
String length: 630mm
Overall Length: 922mm
Width of upper bout: 227mm
Width at waist: 174mm
Width at lower bout: 283mm
Height at upper bout: 84mm
Height at lower bout: 89mm
Nut width: 46mm