On the rod I recently completed, a 6' #4, I finished the silk wraps with Gudebrod 840 Rod Finish which is a water based polyurethane varnish.  The blank was finished with a wipe-on poly prior to wrapping.  I had seen some posts in the archives recommending the 840 as it sorta worked as a color preserver.  The posts recommended using 1-2 coats and then applying a conventional poly over top (brushed and then dipped).  The wraps looked so good after 2 coats that I decided I'd just finish them off with the 840.  I got to 4 coats and the thread was mostly buried.  It could have used more, but it seemed that the more coats I put on the harder it was to keep them smooth.  I retrospect, I may have needed to thin the 840.  Anyway, I went fishing with 4 coats.  At the end of the first day, I noticed that the wraps had cracked badly on the tip - worse on the more flexible parts.  By the end of a week of fishing, just about all the wraps had cracked, mostly at the ends of guide feet and ferrules, and looked pulverized on the tips.  Those wraps had actually gone from red to a pinkish color from all the white stress marks in the finish.

I was planning on trying to save the wraps by coating once more with thinned 840 to seal the cracks and then 2-3 coats of Minwax poly.  To prepare, I gave the rod a good washing.  I wasn't surprised to see the silk darken from the water around the cracks.  I WAS surprised the see the area under the wrap ends and around the guide feet darken.  I had taken the 840 up to the edge of the wraps but not onto the blank.  The tunnels at the guide feet were saturated and solid finish was showing at the mouth of the tunnels.  I had thought the silk completely saturated and therefore water proof.  It looks like that's not the case.  I take it that the wraps separated from the blank at the edges allowing water to get under the silk and darken it.  I've had the same problem in the past when I used a CP on 'glass rods.  If I reseal the wraps and varnish, then I suspect I'd have to take the poly past the end of the wraps and onto the blank in order to seal them.  And if I do, there's a chance the varnish will get under wraps and darken the edges. I don't much like the look of taking the wrap finish onto the rod anyway.  Probably comes from my first good bamboo rods, all of which were impregnated.

At this point, I'm thinking about stripping the silk off and starting over using just Minwax poly.  Before I go through all that work, I wanted to check with the  list to see  if anyone had any bright ideas.  I suspect this is a case of live-and-learn.  (Bill Benham)

The wraps on rods # 1 through 6 were all finished with 840. Rod # 5 was soaked in a rod tube before it was discovered that the tube had gotten water in it during a rain storm, it was stored for a while, The bamboo was stained but the wraps were still in good shape. Rod # 1 has not been varnished, it has a few coats of Formby's on the blank before wrapping. Rods 3 to six were finished with Helmsman over the 840. Rod # 1 is six years old and I quit keeping tract of fish caught after about 2700 fish. It has been fished a lot. The wraps are in fine shape. I do have a crack line in the wrap finish just below the female ferrule as do a lot of other rods, no stain there.

It seems that you did everything right so I can't tell you what might of gone wrong other than the coats might of been too heavy because you mention a looking rougher as you applied more coats. This problem bothers me a lot, I just don't know what happened and would like to know why. I will have rod # 1 at the Catskill Gathering, will be glad to have anyone look at the wraps. You can get back to me off list for the Gudebrod Info.  (Tony Spezio)

Please do forward my email to your contact at Gudebrod.  When you do, you may want to mention that I got an offlist response to my query that told a similar tale.  In this maker's case, he's done 4 rods where he varnished the blank with 2 coats of Minwax poly, wrapped with silk, applied 2 coats of 840, 2 coats of Minwax poly on the wraps, and then dipped the rod in poly.  He got stress cracks at all the guide feet ends and sometimes the ferrules. 

Sounds like my situation only better because he had varnish over the 840.  On your rod #1, you used just 840 on a tung oil finished blank, right?  For the other rods, did you wrap on a bare blank, coat with 840, then varnish?  I'm wondering if the problem is putting the wraps OVER a poly finished blank, then applying the 840.  It may well be that the 840 isn't adhering to the base polyurethane which is know for being kinda slick.  I had figured that since the 840 was a poly that it would stick to a poly.  (Bill Benham)

I have not used that finish, but from what you are describing I am thinking two things.  1.  Bad adhesion probably between the varnish and the wrap coating.  and 2  The finish seems to me to have too many solids in it.  The high viscosity, and the cracking indicate a very brittle product, which in turn might inhibit adhesion.  I think Tony has the right idea.  I am virtually convinced that this is a product fault rather than an application fault.  Please keep the list informed.  I like to know these things.  (Ralph Moon)

I started to strip the wraps off the rod in preparation for redoing them.  I noticed a few things in the process.  Firstly, the 840 DID stick to blank varnish.  I had a devil of a time getting the pink stained varnish buildup (red silk was used) off the shaft adjacent to the guide feet. It looked to me as though the 840 didn't penetrate the silk completely, but rather just adhered to the surface.  When I nicked the wraps and started to unwind the thread, I was able to catch the 840 and peel off slabs of the stuff.  It seems to me that the failure was do an excess of solids in the mix.  It seemed to go on kinda thick and then level out and compress nicely as it dried.  The fact that I was able to bury the wraps in 4 coats sorta bears this out.  What I had was a sleeve of 840 over the wraps that broke away from the silk when the rod was flexed.  This allowed the water to get to the silk when I washed the rod.  The color of the silk changed because the 840 hadn't penetrated into the fiber.

Tony, who has had great success with the 840, tells me that he thins his 840 somewhat, and applies 2 coats and WIPES THE EXCESS OFF.  When that's dry he goes on to the Minwax varnish.  The one other maker who responded to me indicating he had a similar problem says he applied "2 thorough" coats of the 840, and then varnishing over that.  I'll assume he's applying 2 thick coats of full strength 840.  His failures were cracking at the ends of all guide feet.  I'm thinking that the 840 separated from the silk and cracked at that high stress area.  His failures weren't as catastrophic as mine because he had only 2 coats (thinner, more flexible) and had several coats of varnish over top of it holding things together.

Hey Tony - how much do you thin the 840?  (Bill Benham)

Here is what I do.

The blank is given up to six coats of Formby's. The first coat is applied right after heat setting the glue while the blank is still warm. After the second coat, I start steelwooling the blank. I apply and steel wool each coat till I am satisfied that it is filled and smooth. Then when wraps are done. (I don't use the 840 on all rods, just the ones I want to keep the thread the same color as I started with. I use it in place of color preserver.) The first coat two coats of 840 are thinned with water about 30 to 50%. The mix is applied to the wraps real heavy in order to soak the wraps. The first coat has to penetrate the thread as not to have it stained by  the varnish coats. The excess 840 is wiped off with a paper towel. I use Bounty brand.

The next coat is applied full  strength and wiped off again. I will either apply another full strength or start with the varnish. It will depend on what thread I use. I will then apply several coats of Helmsman Urethane and wipe off as I did with the 840. I do this till I am satisfied that the thread is filled. On the last two coats, I steel wool the wraps, wipe with denatured alcohol as I did the other times I steel wool. I then pass a magnet over the whole rod to be sure I get all the steel wool particles. The final coat on the rod is done in a drain tube. I only do one coat in the tube, more than one to me makes the rod look like plastic. That might be because of the coats that are applied to the blank before wrapping.

If any others have had a problem with the 840, please let me know off list. Gudebrod needs to know about this.  (Tony Spezio)

Wraps wound on too tight makes it more difficult for the liquid to soak in thoroughly.  (Ed Riddle)

I just talked to the other maker, It was not the Gudebrod 840, it was the Gudebrod Color Preserver. He mistakenly thought the Color Preserver was the 840.

Gudebrod will be notified about this also.

So far, I have not received any more complaints on this. I will wait another day or so before I contact Gudebrod.  (Tony Spezio)

I had been thinking about finishing a bamboo rod with a water based varnish, and I wondered about the ability of the varnish to "seal" the bamboo and keep water out. Seems like your experience suggests that this stuff might not do the trick like oil and polyurethane based varnishes on bamboo rods. It is not clear to me what are the chemistry influences of the oil or water bases on the final product. Seems to me that the water based varnishes may not do the trick. Any opinions on this issue from the list experts?  (Frank Paul)

I've been using J. E. Moser's Marine Shield. This marine grade water based spar varnish has been an excellent choice for me for many reasons. 1. Additional coats can be applied after an hour's drying time (three coats in two hours). 2. There is no static problem. 3. Although, I don't have more than 5 years experience, I've never had a complaint. Being water based does not mean that the finish dissolves or is affected by water after it has cured. It is an urethane based finish.  (Lee Koeser)

I am not an expert on varnishes but my understanding (from reading various wood working publications) is that the water based varnish is the same poly just in a water carrier. From playing with it on other projects I think it might take a few additional coats to finish the rod. It raises grain on wood projects but I do not think this will be a problem on bamboo.  (Gordon Koppin)


Just for informational purposes and in the for what it's worth column.......

I needed some CP (I know, I hate it too but this job required it!) and had none anywhere on the homestead. As this needed finished quickly, I couldn't wait for an order to arrive.  So I started messing around with test wraps and various compounds in the shop with very poor results. Then I saw this older container of some cork sealer (from Trondak, no financial interest BTW, really don't even know why I had it..) and thought, "why not?" and put some of that on the test threads. Viola! CP. Couldn't believe it but this stuff worked great. Go figure. Three dips later still working.

May come in handy for someone sometime. (Dewey Hildebrand)


Because most white silk will become translucent and clear under varnish, does anyone have any experience with getting true white wraps that will stay white after varnishing on a honey blond rod.  Have a request from someone who wants one  wrapped in his university colors of blue and white, not exactly something seen among the classic rodmakers of old.  (Bill Osler)

I had a similar request, red-white-red, for the flag of country of origin. I tried shellac, U-40 color preserver, and bothe of those by soaking in shellac or the CP before wrapping. None worked well enough to want to put it on a rod. I think the closest would be the "CP-impregnated". It might work well with a heavier silk, but gossamer didn't have a prayer and YLI 100, one the CP dried had a lumpy feel to it. Still an interesting problem.  (Henry Mitchell)

Best color preserver to use?  Al's Premium Cane Finishing Products from Anglers Workshop has a product called Al's Color Rite Thread sealer and color preserver. After seeing AJ Thramer recommend this over at Classic Fly Rod Forum.  (Will Price)

You seem to be sold on this CP.  Since my experience with Gudebrod CP was so poor, I've gone to vanish only but I have one favorite green that gets too dark with varnish so I'm interested in Al's goop.  My question is this:  Do you have good adhesion onto the blank with Al's CP?  The Gudebrod stuff has NO adhesion and when I went to rewrap my guides I cut the thread and the whole wrap peeled off like a shell, no effort required.  (Al Baldauski)

I've been experimenting with Color Rite on a rod I am finishing right now. The color preservation is the best of all the methods I have tried, even better than AeroGloss. In addition there has been no bleed through or streaking when I applied the MOW varnish. This is being done to an impregnated blank so I am varnishing the wraps by hand and after 3 coats of Color Rite I get a real nice smooth finish with only 3 coats of MOW. Color Rite also makes the threads lay nice and flat so I have not had to deal with a single fuzzy in the varnish! I did a couple test wraps before doing the wraps on the rod so tonight when I get home I'll sacrifice them and see if they peel off easily compared to transparent wraps with MOW alone.  (Larry Puckett)

I'd be keenly interested in your results with this product.  (Al Baldauski)

OK, I just cut the wraps off. I had one that was coated with Color Rite and MOW, one with AeroGloss and MOW, and another with Walnut Oil and Amber Varnish then MOW. They all peeled off as slick as a whistle. Let me point out that for this test I had put the wraps on a plain old cane plant stake from a local hardware store with the enamel still on the cane. They're pretty slick so that might have been part of the reason they came off so clean and easy. I'll be fishing the rod that I just finished wrapping using Color Rite all week from 5/12-18 so should be able to report back then how well the wraps hold up on an impregnated cane rod.  (Larry Puckett)

I've used Color Rite on about 8 rods, like all color preservers, it works when it wants to and fails for no apparent reason, at least in the dip tube. The only way to get good results with any color preserver that I know of is to varnish the blank first, then wrap and varnish the wraps with a needle or a brush , DON'T dip after wrapping or you are pretty much guaranteed to have blotches in at least some wraps. I'm convinced that color preserved wraps worked on the classics because they weren't dipped, they were either brushed or sprayed.  If you look at the very few makers rods who did dip, namely, Garrison and Dickerson (after a certain date), they didn't try to color preserve.  (John Channer)

I've used Al's on 8 or 10 rods, mostly restorations that require color preserver to match original. It's just like every other CP except the old formula Varathane 900, namely, there is no adhesion to the blank at all. If you want the thread bonded to the blank then forget color preservers and stick to varnish.  (John Channer)

I didn't see your message 'til Johns message came through (must be the gremlins again). It's like John said, BUT there are times when you need color preserver and this stuff works better than any other CP that I've used and it's easy to use and no mess. Only 1 hour drying time is necessary between coats and 12 hours drying time between last coat and start of varnishing.  (Will Price)

Al's stuff from Anglers Workshop works to seal in thread colors. I always use 3 coats and make sure the edges and guide foot gap are securely sealed when coating. I have not had any problem with this stuff.

I am now using 4 coats, thinning the first two a little for absorption.  (Frank Paul)

You can get the results you seek by using nylon thread. Use NCP white as the trim along with a regular light blue. When varnished the blue will turn translucent and be slightly darker and the white will stay white. Look at this picture for a similar effect:

Fultz 3 Colors

(Jeff Fultz)

I don't have any experience with it but you might try silk from Janome.  It is supposed to not require any CP at all. Possibly a search of the archives will reveal the original post regarding this product.  (Steve Shelton)

Try using rayon, or nylon.

If that doesn't work try talking your client out of white - it will turn yellow in a little while anyway. (UV light)    (Rudy Rios)

There is an epoxy called Threadmaster that is designed not to yellow over time and is obviously marketed for rod making. Andy Dear makes it, but I think he now sells it through Angler's workshop. It is pretty amazing stuff and if you deal with light colors it is worth looking into. He has demoed white fiberglass blanks with white thread with his product and some competitors and he has left them out in the blazing Texas sun for weeks at a time with almost no noticeable yellowing at all.  (Scott Bearden)


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