Product Reviews

LS Supreme Test

by Tom Kirkman, publisher RodMaker Magazine


Since the dawn of 2-part epoxy wrap finishes, custom rod builders have continued to look for that perfect combination of beauty as well as ease of use. Last year the folks at U-40 introduced a new type of epoxy rod finish which they named LS2000. It was released to much fanfare and many rod builders raved about its exceptional clarity, bubble release and light stability (the LS part of the product name). But many other rod builders complained about the low viscosity saying it prevented good coverage even with two applications, wouldn't level well and tended to pull away from the wrap edges. Some of these complaints were traced to poor finishing techniques, but others were valid. So Trondak U-40 went back to work on the next version of LS and we received a sample several weeks ago. We have now mixed and applied enough batches to be able to give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Mixing

LS2000
Rarely do first impressions give you a good idea of what to expect. The new LS Supreme was no exception here as the very thick resin and extremely thin hardener led us to believe we'd end up with something very unmanageable. In reality, once the resin and hardener were measured and mixing begun, we found we had a medium viscosity mix that was extremely manageable and forgiving. Yes, as this finish is thicker than the standard LS2000 released last year, we were able to introduce bubbles rather easily. The LS Supreme quickly and easily released most of the bubbles on its own. Not to the extent of the standard LS2000 perhaps, but only a very, very brief application of heat after the finish was applied was necessary to release the remainder. Among high-build type finishes, LS Supreme releases bubbles faster and more completely than any other we've yet tried.

Application

LS Supreme goes on easily and smoothly. Again we found it to be very manageable and was easily worked into the tiniest of spaces. Unlike the standard LS2000, the Supreme version can be applied a bit more thickly and will still level quite well. Yet it can also be applied quite thinly if desired, with no ill effects or problems.

Pot life at 70F was a very generous 45 minutes! In fact, at the 45 minute mark, LS Supreme was still more manageable than some other high-build finishes are at just 15 or 20 minutes. With this finish, it's okay to take your time. You can relax and do what needs to be done without feeling as if you are under the gun to keep moving or else! Definitely a trait many rod builders will find helpful.

Although the finish has a very long pot life/working time, it did not pull away from the wrap edges as many complained the regular version did. It leveled well and only about 2 and1/2 hours of rotation were needed for it to set beyond the point where running or sagging was evident. (Remember that we were working at 70F and the set-up time will vary depending upon the work area temp. Always err on the side of more rotation time than needed to prevent problems.)

Results

We were able to easily achieve a smooth, level, bubble-free coating with a minimum of effort. Penetration was excellent and we found that LS Supreme fully and evenly penetrated to the blank through a double wrap of size D over size A thread. A single application will easily cover wraps made from A size thread and with careful application will be sufficient on wraps from D. However, in most cases where heavier saltwater rods are being finished we believe it is advisable to use two applications in order to get the depth desired for the greater demands placed upon such tackle.

Surprisingly, LS2000 High-Build can, with only a slight variation in technique, be applied thin enough to approximate the look of just a few coats of varnish or urethane! Hopefully the "High-Build" moniker will not scare off those of you who desire less depth of finish . LS Supreme will give such results if you wish.

After approximately 60 days under UV exposure the clarity of the finish to the naked eye has not been affected in the least. None of our test sticks have shown any yellowing or darkening. While 60 days is not sufficient to state emphatically that it will never darken, we have found that finishes tend to discolor greatest during the first few weeks of UV exposure. LS Supreme has come through the early tests with flying colors and we feel confident in saying it will remain quite clear and free from discoloration under normal use.

The finish cured hard enough within 3 days, although we could and still can apply enough pressure with a thumbnail to dent the surface. We do wish it would cure just a tad harder, but it is certainly not what anyone would describe as soft in its present incarnation. Flexibility is excellent.

Conclusions

The folks at Trondak plan to keep the standard version, or Regular LS2000, in the line up along with the new LS Supreme. They needn't do so. The new LS Supreme is so versatile that it will serve the needs of those who desire a thick, or thin coating, equally well. It is easily U-40's best effort at epoxy rod finish to date and there is little, if anything, to complain about. It's a good product that is easy to use and gives great results. What more could you ask?

*(It has been announced that U-40 will be discontinuing LS2000 completely and supplying only the new LS Supreme from this point forward.) ~ Tom Kirkman

Trondak, Inc.
11710 Airport Rd.
Everett, WA 98240
Ph. (800) 878-1402



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