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My Rod Restoration Project


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Yes I can wait Budgie.


Thank you to all those who've posted so far and in particular Chavender for pointing out that handle replacement isn't the chore it was 35 years ago (I can't believe that I didn't even consider pre-formed cork is available now). I'll try cleaning it first but it's good to know that there's an alternative.

It's never a 'six', let's put it back

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Right first of all sorry for both the delay and my inability to codense this massive topic down concisely enough! Despite trying to keep it to the minimum its been too hard.Dam subject needs a book really let alone a reply in a forum!


If Elton wants it might be better to move all this to "Articles" and put a link?


Rusty it looks like you’ve got the basics all ready from the photos (I presume you did the whippings shown) Maybe I would be better just giving you more of a "Master Class" i.e. fine tuning rather than the basics.I have however included the bsics as it was Jonjonz who really started this off with his "Rod Building" thread,


Firstly the matter of cleaning the cork handle. There is no need to look any further than a nylon nail brush and washing up liquid to clean the cork,








And after Andrew had worked on it for just a few minutes-




Obviously the more you scrub the better the end result. One dry any digs in the cork (like shown in your photo) can be filled in with "Pit Paste" this is professional cork surface filler. This you might be able to get locally but if not-




Replacing a cork handle in the traditional way isn’t as easy as it first seems. First you will need to make a "Handle press"




This keeps the corks compressed whilst gluing them together. Then to get a really nice finish (be it by turning or sanding) you really need a lathe. So I would forget that in this case and I’m sure you will be more than happy with the results of cleaning and filling the existing one.


You can how ever buy cork in pre formed lengths i.e. a dozen or so rings all ready glued together and this means fewer joints so even though you still have to sand at least where the joins are you can do it by hand as long as you are careful when assembling and gluing.


Another thing to consider at this stage though is whether you are “re building” this rod or “renovating” it. Obviously if the later then you will want to keep things as much as they are and not use different materials etc. But if “re building” then you have far more options. One of the commonest rod jobs I used to get was to replace the old style reel fittings with modern screw reel seats. An option that if you are rebuilding rather than renovating I would consider.

Edited by BUDGIE

And thats my "non indicative opinion"!

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As for your second two questions the very first job I would advise is to strip off the existing whippings and old varnish. I do this with a Stanley blade.




Carefully cut/shave away a bit of the whipping at the end so you can get hold of the thread and literally unwind it. Note Im cutting on top of the ring foot so I can't acidently damage the blank.




This will also remove the varnish.




Strip/unwind all of the old thread.




This done you will be left with a raised "collar" of varnish at each end of the whipping.




To remove this simply use the blade flat and the varnish "collar" will "peel" off




To remove the/any varnish that has soaked through the whipping and so left a ribbed effect on the blank I use the blade again but hold it at a 45 degree angle and "drag" it over the area with the blade trailing rather than leading.



Edited by BUDGIE

And thats my "non indicative opinion"!

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Some rods have tipings to the whippings that are painted on and not thread. I remove these by gently scrapping them off. It’s not really necessary unless the paint is thick as you can just cover them with the new whipping.




I prefer to use the blade method to remove any varnish that has been over whippings but to remove varnish from the rest of the blank I use wet and dry papers in various grades dependent on varnish thickness. Under NO circumstances be tempted to use any chemical type stripper as this can seriously damage the resin that bonds the cloth (be it glass or carbon) together. Last thing at this stage is to give the whole rod a good scrubbing with the washing up liquid and nail brush not only does this clean any dirt off but removes any grease which can cause problems later. I normally leave the handle scrubbing till this stage as well.



Blanks that are coloured i.e. not just a clear varnish over the natural carbon or glass are coloured in several ways. If you can still see the pattern of the cloth then the method used has simply been a colour tint added to the varnish before application. The other method used on older glass fibre rods (such as yours) was to actually spray or dip the finished blank in a paint that was then baked on and often subsequently clear varnished. Modern rods with a “solid” colour finish (as opposed to translucent) are made in a very similar way but a coloured lacquer is used.


The most common method on modern blanks is a very similar method to the early tinted varnish one but here the tint is actually added to the last coat of resin when the blank is rolled (the term used for making the blank on the steel mandrel).


If you are completely stripping the blank of its finish you have to be very careful not to damage the actual top layer of the resin that is part of the blank it self. In anything other than exceptional cases I always think its best to leave this job to some one who is experienced or simply not do it full stop. With lacquered finishes simply lightly sand just to “key” the surface then apply a new coat of lacquer or if the whole blank doesn’t really need doing and its just a few odd places where the “paint” has been nicked (such as where you are replacing rings etc) then I’ve found the following a handy dodge, Incidentally to a certain degree this works with tinted finish rods as well.


Take a section of the rod to your local art supplies shop and match up the colour with a Panatone Permanent felt tip pen. These come in literally thousands of colours and shades; Use this to touch in the colour before applying a clear finish over the area. Same as spray painting a car once every thing has dried thoroughly you can “cut” the repaired area in to match with a rubbing compound. Normally even though not a perfect finish you will not have to go this far and the repair wont show unless you examine it closely.








In the case of your rod its once again back to the question of renovate or re build. The methods I’ve mentioned are the options for renovating but if you decide on a rebuild then I would simply treat it as a lacquered blank and after keying it with 1200-1500 paper respray then varnish it. Be warned though that getting a good finish on a blank with varnish is far harder than one just on the whippings! Some prefer to use the finest of sable art brush’s others use a French polishing cloth and some just their bare finger. Whichever you choose the secret is to apply sparingly to keep the coat as thin as possible as several thin layers are far better than one heavy one.


Right so now having stripped, cleaned and re varnished/lacquered/sprayed/coloured your blank it’s nearly time to put on those rings! Once again the renovate/rebuild question decides which type to use. If you want to put on new rings you first need to decide which type of fishing the rod is to be used for, what type of reel you will be using and choose an appropriate pattern. Another big subject but I will leave it for now and maybe put something together about it at a later date.


Ring type chosen you then to decide on the ring spacing’s. If you are using the same or similar ring as you removed then this is simple! As long as you were happy with the previous spacing stick to it. Simple enough if you’ve got just a varnished blank as you will be able to still see where they were. If you’ve resprayed/ lacquered the blank then before doing so it would be good to measure these spacing’s for later reference.


Now if using different rings or you wasn’t happy with the original spacing’s you will need to work these out first. Now you will hear various tales of how this is best done from rod builders and tackle companies. Some claim it is a mystical art whilst others claim it’s all been worked out on a computer…………..ok and I’m a keep fit fanatic! The way I’ve always done it is to first guesstimate roughly how many rings I’m going to use. A basic guide to this is that you need to think what the rod is going to be used for. For example a long range carp rod is only going to need a few rings as the least rings the less friction on the line when casting where a trotting rod is going to need a lot more to keep the line from sticking to the blank when wet. Very similar to the reasons you use different styles of ring. When the rings are on the rod you want them to carry the line in a similar curve to the rod when bent. This means that more flexible sections of the rod will require more rings at closer spacing’s. Once I’ve got a rough idea I like to get several of the rings out and stand them on a flat surface in line. I can then see what size of ring to use to “funnel” the line smoothly to the tip ring. The size of the tip ring being once again dependent on the rods proposed use. I play around with different sizes in this line until I’m happy and it looks right.


Next step is to fix on the tip ring. Two basic types around, the modern tip ring simply has a tube which is glued on to the tip and some older ones have legs on as well which will need a whipping as well. For gluing it is best to use a “hot melt” type glue as this means you can adjust the position of the eye and remove the whole ring if necessary at a later date easily, simply by warming it up again. Fixing the tip ring is an easy job but it is one of the most important of then all to put on right as it is this ring that all you’re others will be aligned to. We now come to the only difficult bit about putting a tip ring on and that is it must be in correct alignment to the “Spline” of the blank.








The spline, to ring a rod correctly it is important that you understand what the spline is and how to find it. Another big subject that we don’t really need to go into in great detail here but basically the spline is caused by the manufacturing process of making the blank. It simply causes the blank to be stiffer one side and softer on the opposite. This means that the rod will have a direction that when compressed it will try naturally to bend in. Bending it in the opposite direction will cause the blank to try and rotate to its natural orientation. Spline alignment can be used in several different ways to achieve various aims but to keep it simple for most rods we just want the natural bend to be in the direction that we would expect the rod to be under the most strain in. So with most freshwater rods used with a reel mounted underneath this would be when playing a fish and on a long range beach casting rod when casting. So knowing this we would want to place our freshwater rods (to be used with a reel underneath) rings on the “soft” side opposite the spline. Only thing needed now is to locate the spline.


Two ways to find the spline, by sight and by flexing. Both far more easily demonstrated than explained, and both become far easier with experience! On some blanks (normally faster taper ones) you can stand a blank section up against a fixed vertical object such as a door frame, keep it up right and slowly rotate it, you can see that the section isn’t perfectly straight but indeed very slightly bent/curved the inside of the curve is the soft side where (in this case) you want to place the rings. Once found like this simply mark it by drawing a line on a previously stuck on piece of drafting tape.


No luck finding it by sight then try this simple “flexing” method. Get a loose fitting tube style tip ring and loosely place this on the tip. Place the other end of the section on a hard, smooth floor. Hold it at an angle just off upright. Push down on the tip ring with the palm of your hand and as the rod flexes it will spin around until it is bending in its natural direction. Once again mark the soft side and put your rings on this.


So now you’ve found and marked the spline you can fix your tip ring on aligned correctly. This done we can now return to working out the correct ring spacing’s. Take the rings you’ve decided on and simply tape them on to the blank in positions and at spacing’s you think look about right. I use white drafting tape as when this is later removed it doesn’t leave a sticky residue. Once done thread up the rings/rod with a length of brightly coloured heavy mono (I use 50lb shock leader). When you’re threading this line through the rings it’s a good idea if you slide on an extra/alternative size ring in any areas where you feel you may have miss judged your initial selection. Tie the tip end of the mono to something solid, hold the other end and pull on the rod. Before doing this it’s a good idea to put on the reinforcing whippings on the joints just in case so a quick word about those!


To avoid the blank splitting at the ends when under extreme pressure you need to whip a length either side of each joint. This is done in the same way as shown for putting the rings on. The length of the whipping is often dictated by the wall thickness of the blank but a good general guide is to measure how far one section fits into another (be it put over or spigot) and whip this length and a centimetre more. No need to varnish/hi-build these whippings at this stage,











With the rod bent you can clearly see if the heavy mono is following the curve in the correct way. It will also show if you have both the correct number of rings and correct sizes. If you get a friend to bend the rod for you it’s a simple matter of removing the tape and moving the rings accordingly. This is where those extra couple of/different sized rings you put loose on the mono come in just use them (by taping in place) or leaving them as is required, You will soon achieve the optimum spacing’s and configuration for your rings…………no computer needed at all!


Now you have the “optimum! Arrangement you might notice that it doesn’t necessarily look very aesthetic! To get round this I then juggle the positions around slightly to achieve this nicer look. Normally ensuring every subsequent ring from the tip down is a proportionally further distance from the last. Sounds daft after all the effort to get the optimum spacing’s but makes a big difference to how the rod looks without majorly affecting how it works. A bit of a balancing act.


Well that done and assuming we’ve all ready done all of the reinforcing a decorative whippings its time to start whipping some rings on.


Easiest way to explain this for those who haven’t done it before is another photo sequence so please bear with the Anglers Mail comic strip type layout!


To ensure the whipping “rides up” from the blank on to the ring foot. You need to spend a few moments preparing your rings. Take a file and the ring “sharpen the end of the foot at a 45 degree angle.




Do this on both feet (if it’s a double leg ring).




Once done check that the ring will sit properly on the rod. Sometimes a bit of bending is required. Don’t worry too much if not all of the ring foot is in contact with the blank as long as the ends are. Once you start whipping this will pull the foot into contact.


Now for the tools and materials you will need to have at hand.



And thats my "non indicative opinion"!

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In the picture are whipping thread, sharp scissors, the trusty Stanley blade, a roll of drafting tape, and a rounded edge table knife. Most importantly I have cut off a length of the thread and folded it into a loop. As we go through the sequence you will see and I will explain how they are used.


First of all the whipping thread it self-




Comes in different materials, many colours, big or small spools and importantly different grades (thickness’s), The grades are normally denoted by letters A,B,C etc “A” Grade being the thinnest. The choice of grade will really depend on the average thickness of the blank and the size of the rings. As a guide I only use “A” on the lightest of fly rods or finest of match rod tips and “E” on beach casters. Most modern threads are made from nylon. Olden days silk was used and later a cotton based thread. Both

Of these older materials had very little stretch so needed to be treated with dope to tighten then and also before applying varnish a “colour preserver” needed to be brushed on to stop the varnish discolouring the thread. Modern nylon thread has none of these problems and unless you are doing a true renovation then I would suggest this is best choice. There are several makes but if you stick to Talbot or Gudebrod you won’t go far wrong.


For photo graphic purposes I’ve used a bright yellow thread here to hopefully make it clearer! Well let’s get started-


First we have the ring held in place in the correct position with a strip of tape on one leg. When ringing a complete rod you would start at the tip and work down using the tip ring (which as you will remember was fixed correctly in relation to the spline) as our reference point. For demonstrating the whipping sequence I have just shown a butt ring I have rewhipped.




Next the thread is offered up to the blank-




The thread is then crossed over itself-



And thats my "non indicative opinion"!

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Keeping the thread under tension and slightly angled up the rod you rotate the rod “winding” the thread on-




Make enough turns to secure the “tag end” of the thread-




Once done pull the tag end tight at 90 degrees to the whipping-




And then cut it off with the blade-




Carry on winding the thread up to the ring foot-




When you get to the ring foot carefully ensure the thread climbs up it ok and doesn’t over lap itself. This is where the few minutes spent preparing the ring pays off. Try and keep the turns of thread touching bit don’t worry too much if there are a few small gaps. This will improve with practice and can be sorted out anyway as you will see in a bit.


Just before you reach the end of the ring foot (you don’t want the thread going up the legs) pick up your loop of thread you prepared earlier and catch it in under the thread-




Take a few more turns to the end of the foot and then cut the thread, Take the end and put it through the loop. Everything needs to be kept under tension here else it will simply unwind!



And thats my "non indicative opinion"!

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Pull the tag ends of the loop and this will draw the thread back under the whipping-




Take away the loop of thread and just gently pull the end of the main whipping thread so it is snug to the edge of the whipping-




Now bend the tag end back the other way slightly too just open a gap between the threads either side of it-




Carefully cut down between these threads to trim the tag end off, done like this it leaves no bump -




Now all that remains of this stage is to tidy the whipping up i.e. those unsightly gaps we spoke of where the turns of thread didn’t quite touch. Take your table knife and using the back of the blade push the ends of the whipping up tight and even at both ends-






Just concentrate on the ends and don’t worry about any gaps in the middle yet. It should look like this-




Do this to both ends. Then using the handle of the knife and start rubbing it over the whipping from the ends into the middle-



And thats my "non indicative opinion"!

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This “cheat” known as burnishing will even out the whipping and close up any gaps leaving you with an even and neat whipping-




Next check the alignment of the ring again and carefully adjust if it’s moved at all. Now turn the rod around and whip the other side of the ring by simply repeating the steps. Once finished check the alignment again! Can’t stress how important it is to keep checking. If you don’t you will find your rings starting to “spiral” out of line.


Simply repeating this procedure and constantly checking the alignment will give you a fully rung rod. All we need to do now is to seal/protect the whippings by either varnishing or hi-building them. I’m hi-building a 40mm butt ring that I replaced on a carp rod recently tomorrow so will get Andrew to take a few shots of this process and I will add a bit of information about it and varnishing tomorrow evening.

And thats my "non indicative opinion"!

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Budgie, thanks enormously for the time an effort put into that, you’ve answered all of my questions.


Phase one starts tomorrow and I’ll keep a photo record of the results. Agree that it might be better if Elton moves this to another section of the forum otherwise it’ll be continually bumped.

It's never a 'six', let's put it back

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