Color Preserver Penetration

By Tom Kirkman, (RodMaker Magazine)

Here's a question from the Volume 4, Issue #3 of RodMaker magazine:

"After reading your article on color preservers in the last issue I have solved most of my problems with my thread appearing blotchy or uneven in color once the finish is applied. Thank you for an excellent article. I do have a quesion though and it regards the penetration of the color preserver. I did some test wraps and used unthinned Gudebrod 811 color preserver. It perfectly sealed the threads and when I applied finish the color retention was perfect. But when I cut the wraps off the test stick I found that no color preserver had penetrated through the wraps and onto the blank. I would think this would lead to a weaker guide wrap than if it had fully penetrated down the blank. What are your thoughts? Michael . . .Richmond, VA"

You are correct in saying that the color preserver's lack of complete penetration can result in a weaker guide wrap than would be achieved otherwise. It can also result in finish getting underneath the thread at the junction of the guide leg/foot tunnel and darken the thread from underneath. Although the primary purpose of color preserver is to seal the threads and prevent penetration of the wrap finish, it would be nice to kill two birds with one stone.

RodMaker Magazine

In the article we did on color preserver, it was stated several times that color preserver should not be thinned except on the instructions of the manufacturer or if thinning is absolutely necessary. So what constitutes such a necessity? If the color preserver is not fully penetrating the threads through to the blank, some measure of thinning may be necessary. It's usually easy to tell if the color preserver is completely penetrating the wrapping thread by observing the coloration change of the thread as you apply the color preserver. If the thread turns uniformly dark, much as you would expect it to if you saturated any fabric with water, you are probably getting complete and thorough penetration. If, however, the thread only turns dark in spots, or not at all, the color preserver is not penetrating as well as we would like and can be thinned.

How much to thin is not easy to put in certain terms. In most cases, thinning of more than 20% is not recommended. If your color preserver needs to be thinned more than that in order to penetrate the threads, it has likely solidified to the point where you would be better off with a fresh bottle. In the case of your Gudebrod 811, I find that thinning 10% to 15% with denatured solvent alcohol is usually sufficient to get the stuff to completely penetrate and bond the threads to the blank. (The Gudebrod 811 and other urethane/acrylic color preservers dry much more quickly than most of the regular water based acrylic types, which stay wet and therefore penetrate for a longer period of time.) Try thinning by this amount and make another test to satisfy your curiosity.

The one thing rod builders should not do is to preform indiscriminate thinning of color preservers for no reason. If it needs to be thinned in order to achieve better penetration, so be it. But the common practice of so many builders to thin every color preserver 50% often results in problems that could otherwise be avoided." ~ Tom Kirkman

Publishers note:

If you have any tips or techniques, send them along! Help out your fellow rodmakers! ~ Publisher, FAOL

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