Purdue’s giant drum sounds better, but it’s no longer largest
The Associated Press November 29, 2013 9:14AM
Updated: November 30, 2013 7:55PM
WEST LAFAYETTE — The Purdue University marching band’s giant drum is in better shape than it has been in years, although its claim of being the world’s largest drum is no longer so.
The drum that is rolled out for every home football game underwent an extensive rehab before this season. Purdue research machinist Michael Sherwood replaced dozens of bronze brackets, hooks and tie rods that dated from the drum’s construction in 1921 with stainless steel hardware.
The work eliminated a rattle that the drum had developed, giving it a better tone, Sherwood said.
“I’ve heard the drum throughout the years,” Sherwood said. “You could tell it sounds more like a drum. It’s something I haven’t heard out of that thing before. It wasn’t a rattle. It wasn’t a buzz. You just hit it and it sounded good.”
“World’s Largest Drum” is written atop its face. But the Journal & Courier reports Purdue officials wouldn’t release details on its dimensions, saying that was a trade secret in denying a public records request.
The newspaper’s research found that Purdue announced the drum size as 7 feet, 3 inches in diameter when it debuted in 1921. The Guinness World Record holder is a South Korean drum with a diameter of 18 feet, 2 inches — and the University of Missouri has a 9-foot drum and the University of Texas has one with an 8-foot diameter.
At the newspaper’s request, Purdue mechanical engineering professor Steve Wereley calculated the drum’s size based upon a photograph of the drum on the football field. Using the field’s yardage hash marks as a guide, he estimated the drum’s diameter to be 7 feet, 5 inches.
“Basically, they’re holding it up to a tape measure,” Wereley said. “They’re always pushing this thing across the football field, which is measured really nicely.”
Spokeswomen for the Purdue administration and the marching band didn’t immediately reply Thursday to emails from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Sherwood, who declined to discuss the drum’s size, said the drum’s troubles came from mishandling and simple aging.
“I wanted to try to keep it as original as possible, but there were limitations,” Sherwood said. “The end result ended up being better than the casted parts.”