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Wednesday
Nov182015

Flight Case Blues: Cracking Canadian Calton Bumpers - FIXED with Sugru

The previous owner of my '32 Epiphone Deluxe had a Canadian-made Calton Case custom-built for the guitar, and once I bought the guitar, I just had to buy the case for it too. For those unfamiliar, Calton cases are considered the standard in flight cases. They are generally custom built to fit your specific guitar (though models in standard shapes are generally available), have a fiberglass shell and are designed to be checked over and over again for years and years. The main drawback is that the cases are pretty friggin' heavy - schleping one on my back around NYC did kind of suck. Still, I can check the thing and not give it a second thought. The extensive padding fully isolates the guitar from impacts, even with airline baggage handlers doing their worst.

Originally made in the UK, a Canadian franchise was opened for North American sales, but eventually, after a couple of years of poor customer service and trouble keeping up with orders, the Canadian company folded. Recently, an Austin-based US Franchise has resurrected the brand, and all indications are the cases are better than ever. But, since the US company has no relationship or responsability for the Canadian cases, it means there is basically no service or support for the older cases. 

One of the design changes from the Canadian cases to the new US ones is a switch away from plastic or rubber bumpers, because the ones they used tend to get brittle and eventually crack, finally falling off leaving an unprotected screw that can catch on things or get bashed into the guitar. 

I was able to find some information on one Canadian dealer who was still providing replacement bumpers, but even after he kindly sent me some (for free! what a guy!), more of them fell off, so I was still left with some unprotected screws. 

Eventually it occurred to me that Sugru might work. Sugru is a moldable silicone rubber that cures into shape in about 24 hours.  I've been hearing about Sugru for a couple years now as an amazing "fix it all" product, but I'd never had occasion to work with it. I finally order some last week. Here's how it comes:

So here's what I did:

And the final product:

Sugru cures in 24 hours, though they advise thicker forms may need additional time. I gave it 3 days, it is perfect. The bumper is solid, but not rock hard - ideal for being durable while absorbing repeated impacts. The second bumper I made using Sugru wasn't as pretty, but it totally works. We'll see how these sugru bumpers handle their next flight for Lindy Focus.

It was $22 for 8 packets from Amazon. That comes to $2.75 per bumper. Not bad, right? Also, I'll be watching as the other bumpers begin to crack over time, and see if Sugru might be helpful in repairing them before they fall off. 

Of course, the US-made Calton cases in current production don't use these bumpers any more, so they don't have that problem. As for me, when I had a case made for my ES-150, I went with Hoffee Cases. Expect a review of the Hoffee sometime soon. 

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