3/30/2009

Ferrule Woes


It was a pretty afternoon at a bamboo rodmakers gathering in the late 90’s up in the Catskills, I was actually listening in on a conversation between a few rodmakers about how they couldn’t get a little Leonard rod apart. Evidently there was a stuck section where the male ferrule and the female just would not budge. I watched three guys nearly turn blue trying to get the sections apart. I was having visions of arterial spray shooting across the rod rack as one of them had a vein in his neck bulge as he gripped both sections. I started getting a little worried about the rod because one of the guys had his hand over the guides, so I innocently interrupted. Having worked on many older rods not only taking them completely apart but being able to put them back together I knew that the ferrules had multiple consistencies of copper content. Generally speaking nickel silver is a combination of 65% copper, 18% nickel, 17% zinc. Early ferrules often had higher amounts of copper which caused the ferrules to oxidize easier thus making them stick. One of the guys knew me pretty well so he stepped back thinking I was gonna put some good old fashion Hawaiian muscle into this. Instead I reached into my Coke cup that was near empty and took an ice cube and gingerly rubbed it on the female ferrule, twirling the rod as I went along like an umbrella to cover all of the surface area of the female. I’ll admit I got a lot of scoffs and dirty looks, being the youngest guy in the crowd, but a small crowd gathered and the bets were on. After about two minutes I dried my hands on my shirt and pulled the ferrule apart on the first try. I got a few claps but of course the discussion on what actually happened began. I quickly explained that the cold ice shrank the male section before the female based on wall thickness making it easy to pull the two sections apart. Then some guy said that the female would shrink first followed by a few expletives, at which point I slowly backed away and went off looking for some scraps of food. I tend to be more of a sponge than a leaky faucet in such circumstances. I tend to spend my energies making rods, not getting mired down in long winded debates. The “Gatherings” always offer a wide array of personalities and opinions, I tend to interject points of view with a kind of lightheartedness, after all we are all there to share and hopefully laugh. The only bold incident I ever witnessed was at a gathering where a fairly well known rodmaker was criticizing a young ladies rod, a Paul Young taper as I recall, and it was her first rod. She was really proud of it and it was a very nice rod. This guy decided he was gonna be rude and continue berating it, until another guy stepped in and pretty much threatened to beat the b’jesus out of him if he didn’t shut up. Typically this kind of thing never happens, but occasionally when you have lots of opinions under one roof something is bound to happen. Needless to say the discussion on sticky ferrules is a somewhat interesting one based on not only the age of the ferrule but the type of nickel it has been milled from. I learned my little Shaman ice cube trick while trying to unstick a Granger rod, desperate and nearly in tears. Since then I’ve passed it on to a few people, I dunno if it’s my own original trick, but I invented it out of shear desperation, Gods honest truth. Generally speaking ferrules seem to get stuck in hot weather, after sections have been together for prolonged periods of time, or they have oxidation on either the male or inside the female sections. The trick is to be patient with these older rods and don’t force anything ever together or apart. Most of my rods that I make all have what I call “easy fit” lapping. This simply means you need not be a power lifter or take steroids to get your rod broken down and in your car. Some makers make the fit very tight but my test is whether my wife can easily take the sections apart, once it passes the test then I’m done. The last thing I want is a client calling me in Argentina with no way to get his rod home because the ferrules are stuck!