Here's a question from the September/October 1999 issue of RodMaker magazine:
"I read everywhere about having the "right tension" and not "too
much tension" on thread wraps but that's pretty vague. Any idea
just how much tension (poundage wise) a guy should use? I can
put a scale on the thread after I get the spring do-hicky
tightened down on the wrapper but what should I set it to?"
Gary, Williamsburg, OH
"Assigning an optimum amount of tension via some sort of measurement
would be an excellent idea, except for the fact that the vast
majority of thread tensioning devices in use on rod wrappers and lathes
today do not contain any tension reading device. For this reason,
no one I am aware of has taken the time and trouble to develop optimum
tension settings. Perhaps this is something that should be looked into.
In the meantime however, there is a general rule of thumb that you
can reply upon for good results. After wrapping a guide, if you cannot
move it slightly to either side with moderate pressure from your fingers,
it is too tight. What you would like to achieve is a wrapping tension
that allows you to slightly adjust and align the guides after wrapping,
with only firm finger/hand pressure. This accomplishes two things;
first, it allows you to correctly align the guides, and second, it
prevents undue pressure being applied to the blank by the guide feet,
which in some cases can result in damage and ultimately failure of
the blank itself. Poorly prepped guide feet and extreme thread tension
have no doubt resulted in many, many brokem rods, particularly on
today's thin-wall high modulus blanks.
It is important to remember that thread tension is cumulative, it
increases with each wrap of thread. Many rod builders apply far too
much tension in the mistaken belief that extreme tension is needed
in order to keep the guides from shifting when the rod is used.
Modern epoxy finishes do much to anchor the guides in place in
place as well as protecting the underlying thread. Most standard
freshwater and light saltwater rods simply do not require copious
amounts of thread tension.
It is also important to remember that on thread tension devices
where a spring or some such device places tension directly on the
spool rather than directly on the thread, the amount of tension
will increase as the thread's diameter on the spool decreases.
On such devices, it is wise to check tension every so often and
adjust as necessary.
Obviously, big game trolling blanks can withstand, and require,
more wrapping tension on the guides than ultra-light spinning rods
or light line fly rods. Keep in mind the type of rod you are
working with, the job it is expected to do, and the wall thickness
of the individual blank you are working on and wrap accordingly.
While this may be equally vague, remember to wrap "snug" not
"tight" and you should be okay. (And we'll give the thread
tension scale idea more thought!)
~ Tom Kirkman
If you have any tips or techniques, send them along! Help out your
~ Publisher, FAOL