Bamboo Restoration

Discussion in 'Rod Building' started by Ethan G., Sep 4, 2008.

  1. Ethan G.

    Ethan G. I do science.. on fish..

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    OK, so I'm going to get into rod building this winter. I have an old bamboo rod, a Horrocks-Ibotson Governor, that I got from my godfather. Anyway it's in pretty bad shape since I loaned it to a few people and has been temporarily retired as a wall piece. I know it's not even that great of a rod, but as my flagship project I want to completely strip the rod down to the blank and rebuild it with better quality, more modern components. What do you guys think, too much work? How could I strip the original varnish off the rod? Thanks.
    -Ethan
     
  2. herl

    herl Member

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    I think it would be a fun project, but yes a lot of work and it can get kind of spendy, so if it were me, I would start with a higher quality rod. You could easily put $100 of materials into that rod, not counting labor, and end up with a $40 rod.

    Great for practicing on though - maybe do that one along side a slightly better one, practicing each step on the Governor first. Some of the materials, like the striping agent and varnish will not cost you any extra to do two rods.. Check out Clark's classic fly rod forum for details on the refinishing process.
     
  3. Scott Keith

    Scott Keith Member

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    Ethan,

    I don't like using striping agent whatsoever. Maybe it's just me, but I don't want to put anything on the rod that could potentially soften the glue. I have restored a lot of bamboo rods and I always use a razor blade. I hold the edge at a 90 degree angle from the rod and scrape. I've never ever had a problem nicking the 'boo, I don't scrape into the power fibers. People might have other opinions but it's worked well for me. The first rod I ever redid was my grandfathers H&I Vernley rod. I love that rod and fish with it every once and awhile. My personal opinion on redoing rods is to restore them to original specs or to at least keep the classic look. I only use silk thread (Pearsalls' silk) and double foot snake guides. I will increase the size of the guides to better fit the bigger fly line that is in use today. When you get it ready for a new coat of varnish, if you want to head over to Everett, you can use my dip tube and my "secret" formula. Perfect coat everytime!
     
  4. Ethan G.

    Ethan G. I do science.. on fish..

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    I never thought of the razor blade idea. Sounds like a good alternative to stripping the varnish chemically. How do you think a fine-grit sandpaper would do?

    I also want to keep the classic look. The original components are pretty cheap to say the least. New brass ferrules, a nice reel seat with a complimenting wooden insert, snake guides wrapped with red silk thread, and a new cork handle would do the rod wonders. I really do like the action of the rod, it's really slow (something that is pretty rare in today's high tech rods) and is a great dry fly stick.
    -Ethan
     
  5. Tom Bowden

    Tom Bowden Active Member

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    According to Michael Sinclair's "Bamboo Rod Restoration Handbook", the H-I Governor was a mid-level model in the 1930's, priced at $12 in a range of $2.25-$30.00. It had a nickel-silver cap and ring reel seat. Wraps were black and white jasper with red trim and yellow border wraps. In the 1940's and 1950's, the rod was down-graded to red wraps with no trim, and a plastic reel seat.

    How you do a restoration is a personal choice. If it was me, I'd to try to maintain the original hardware and spec's as close as possible, especially if your rod looks like the 1930's model. If you plan on selling the rod, you might not get anything extra, but you'd have the satisfaction of restoring a mid-level classic rod. On the other hand, some old rods can be greatly improved as fishing tools by adding a few extra guides, spacing them properly, and upgrading the stripping guide.

    Like Scott, I usually scrape off varnish rather than using a stripper. The hardest things to do are replacing ferrules and straightening the rod. Avoid these steps if you can, but let me know if you need some help or tips.


    Tom
     
  6. ShuksanRodCo.

    ShuksanRodCo. New Member

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    scrape/sand/file off the finish, be careful and work slow to maintain the hex's angles/ridges and not leave any marks on the cane.

    Try as best you can to save the hardware and reelseat, how's the condition of the cork?

    If this particular rod has 'sentimental' value consider buying something else to cut your teeth on first -you'll make mistakes and learn a lot on which ever rod you do first.

    have fun, welcome to 'boo.

    http://shuksanrods.wordpress.com
     
  7. Scott Keith

    Scott Keith Member

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    Ethan,

    I have a big bundle of old bamboo pieces. If you want something to practice on I'd be happy to ship you over a few (you pay shipping...) or you can pickup in Everett.

    Scott
     
  8. Joseph Freeman

    Joseph Freeman dUMB aRKiE

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    Ethan, I have refinished many bamboo rods in the past, and have become a builder. The best tool I have found is an old blade from a plane, it doesn't have to be that sharp, just where it will nick your finger nail. Hold it at a 90 degree angle to the the rod, with the blank on a firm hard surface, like a table or work bench, don't press to hard just enough that you cut only the the finish, and scrap away. You will appreciate the extra holding surface on the plane blade. As for the refinishing, any good high gloss polyurethane will do, I thin mine with mineral spirits or naphthalene (about a one to five ratio, doesn't have to be exact), tape a bit of string to the small end of the rod piece to to form a loop. Start at the small end with a 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide short bristled artist brush, and brush downward. keep a small pair of twezzers handy for picking out a bristle in case one dislodges in the finish, when you have arrived at the bottom, hang it a dry warmish, out of the way place, for a day or so. then,play with it. For more tips and how to's there is the page where I learned http://www.bamboorodmaking.com/, Joseph
     
  9. Ethan G.

    Ethan G. I do science.. on fish..

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    Does anyone have any tips on how to remove the cork and reel seat without damage to the rod? The cork is in bad shape (cracking and basically dissintegrating) and the reel seat is a crappy marbled plastic, as it is from the late 50's. At any rate, I want them removed so they can be replaced with stuff in better condition.
    -Ethan
     
  10. Ethan G.

    Ethan G. I do science.. on fish..

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    Nevermind. I managed to remove both today with minimal damage to the blank. The greatest loss of the day was the H-I decal. It was in pretty good condition, but I reduced it to basically nothing when removing the winding check. A bummer for sure, but maybe I can get a replica made on one of those decal printing sites.
    -Ethan
     
  11. SpringCreek

    SpringCreek Addicted to Cane.......

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    I have rebuilt several rods and built about many over the past 10 years. I always use Citristrip to take off the old varnish. It is safe and non-toxic and does a great job. Simply use a Q-tip and do small sections at a time and you will be amazed at how effective it is. Once done use 0000 steel wool and rub the rod down and it will be completely bare and you will not have to worry about any delamination.

    Your next big challenge is going to be finishing it again. Since you have the cork removed I would recommend you finish the rod before installing the new cork and guides. There are several simple methods that you can use to do this without the need for expensive equipment. The easiest is the "turkey baster" method. Simple and almost impossible to mess up. Some people may laugh, but Thomas and Thomas uses this method to finish their rods and they sell for a couple of thousand dollars.

    Good luck and feel free to send me a private message with any questions you might have.

    Jim
     

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