3D Printing New Parts for Ludwig Dresden Timpani

I’ve owned a pair of Ludwig Dresdens for many years and like them very much. They have some real advantages as gigging drums: suspended, copper kettles, robust bowls, a clutch pedal and a fine tuner, though it’s on the far side of the drum away from the player. Another nice touch is that the clutch pedal can be easily switched to accommodate American or German style set ups. Those are the pluses.

The minuses are considerable. The factory ratchet plate has too few teeth which makes the drums almost impossible to tune with the pedal alone. That’s a big problem. Years ago Falls Percussion made replacement ratchets with many more teeth. They were expensive but worth it and I bought a pair soon after I got the drums. Sadly, they are no longer made. I never liked the stock clutch pedal. It is only a half inch tall and I always wanted one with more surface area for fast pedaling. Another annoyance is that the fine tuner is designed to be turned with the same tuning handle that is used for tuning the lugs. It works but is too short, especially as it is situated across from the player.

I decided to start by seeing if I could improve on the clutch pedal and fine tuning handle. I have access to 3D printers in my day job as an academic technologist. The first step would be creating a 3D model to print. I tried scanning the original clutch with two different 3D scanners but never got a good result. I decided to model one in software. After trying several different CAD programs I settled on the most basic one: Tinkercad. It is free, intuitive and fun to use. Even so, it was tricky. The pedal looks simple but it has several subtle angles to it. I used a digital caliper to measure the clutch and transferred the measurements to my model. I printed out several versions before getting one that was exactly right.

Here is the finished pedal on the drum. (The holes are just for grins.)

The fine tuning handle was simpler, though I still had to print out several versions to get it to fit right. Here is the final version on the drum. For comparison, I’ve added a pic of the original tuning handle on the fine tuner. It’s nice and shiny but far too short.

ludwig dresden fine tuning handle original handle

The next project will be to print a Falls style, fine toothed ratchet. Stay tuned!