It would seem that Allcocks had no intention at all of making a classic fishing rod when the Lucky Strike came to the drawing board, rather perhaps, a short handled boys rod.However, they used quality cane and the tapers just seemed about right for a general purpose rod and the rest is history.
Chris Yates has at least one in his collection and can be seen to use it adeptly in the wonderfully evocative A Passion For Angling. This has perhaps added to the rods mystique and it is now highly prized and sought after by the cane enthusiast.
My rod came into my possession in what can only be described as a dilapidated state, here are some photos of the rod as I received it.
It is my intention to restore this rod, not to the over-restored flamboyant specification we see in some quarters but to a useable 'sympathetic to original' grade, with the slight improvement of agate lined tip and butt rings. This will be my first ever rod refurbishment ( a knackered classic, yep, ol' Gurn's gone in at the deep end ), and I will take you with me on a warts and all journey. I will no doubt make classic beginners errors but hope to take you up to a time when I catch my first ever fish on what will become, hopefully, my most special rod.
The first job in hand was to lay the rod down, section by section, and to mark on paper all of the positions of all the guides, ferrules and intermediate whippings. I used the last length of a near used till roll rescued from the bin at work for this job, laying the roll out trapped beneath a glass at each end, next to the rod , and not forgetting to mark each section (butt, middle,tip) and marking an arrow pointing to tip end on each.
The next task was to remove all the old rings and whippings...
To remove the whipping thread I used a craft knife (scalpel-type). I've seen articles telling that it is best to cut along the thread and pull the whole lot off in one go, this is not the approach I took fearing the possibility of damaging the cane. My chosen method was to nick the thread at the end and unravel taking things very steadily..it worked a treat. It was at this stage that I encountered my first surprise; I know that Allcocks whipped the Lucky Strike in two colourways, early models are all blue and later models yellow tipped with black, and black intermediates, it is, however, not an exact science. Take a look at my photos, I thought that my rod, although an early one, had the yellow and black, that is until I removed them, They are actually blue, the yellow being the degraded varnish. The ferrules seemed to be sound so I left them on, they did however, have some surface corrosion and didn't fit together, this would have to be addressed later.
The next job was to remove the old varnish, I've heard that some people use various stripping potions for this job and that it can be completed quite quickly. I did have some concerns that a stripper might seep into the cane sections and cause de-lamination so I opted for the alternative method of manually scraping it off. I used the back of the craft knife blade for this held against the blank at a right angle. It was much more difficult and time consuming than I had anticipated but I took my time and so far have not had a 'FFS' moment. I was surprised to see that the cane was darker than I thought it would be, I'm guessing that this is a product of heat treatment in the factory. Once the varnish was removed, I used the finest grade sandpaper (not wet & dry) I could find, and smoothed down the whole blank, until it looked like this...
The next thing I tackled was the Allcocks logo, I did smooth the varnish above it by using ultra-fine flour paper and took things VERY slowly. I must admit that I am not sure if it made much difference. Anyway, afterwards I gently cleaned the area with a solution of washing up liquid dabbed gently with cotton wool.
Once everything had dried thoroughly I stabilised the area with a single layer of artist's acrylic varnish...
Here is the logo after restoration, not perfect, but much, much better..I used Faber-Castell Indian ink art pens in gold and black.
This what they looked like at this stage........
I now turned my attention to the cork, once again wire wool was employed to clean fifty years worth of grime away, some advise against this practise (soapy water with a scotchbrite pad or white spirit and rag are alternative methods).....
At this stage the brass was clean and gleaming, some choose to leave it that way, but originally these fittings and ferrules would have been 'blued', I know this because I had cleaned through this layer.
I obtained a product with the impressive name of Birchwood-Casey Brass Black Metal Finish.....
I would imagine that the 'bluing' procedure is much easier to do if all the fittings are removed. As I didn't want to do this, it was a case of masking off the cork and cane around the fittings. I then cleaned the brass with white spirit before applying and even coat of the Brass Black with some of Lady Sarah's cotton buds, I then left it to do it's magic for two minutes (even though it said one minute on the label), the fitting was then rinsed under the tap and patted dry with kitchen towel, five minutes later I polished the fitting with tissue paper......this is a very time consuming procedure and I had to repeat it many times to get the desired colour.
The final finish was slightly patchy but I intend to wax the brass fittings after the whipping process to gloss and even the colour...
....and so, onwards to the whippings. The thread I have used is Gudebrod Nylon Royal Blue in grade D, I hope this will be pretty close to the original.
I don't own one of these all singing and dancing whipping stations, so improvised with an old rod-pod that I never use. When whipping the rod I placed a duster over each rest to protect the blank.
I gave each whip a dowsing of colour preserver as I went along leaving the tag ends of the intermediates on for this first coat, with two more coats to follow.
If I'm honest, I hadn't looked forward to whipping the rod, but it was in fact, the only part of the restoration so far that had been easier than I'd anticipated. Sure, I've done the odd repair before, but intermediates on a tip section, never.
The done thing is to reverse the tip section to even up the fifty years worth of 'droop' the section may have accrued. I must admit that the rod is remarkably straight for its age, and this may sound strange, but after much deliberating, waggling and flexing, the rod 'told' me not to do this, so I didn't.
Also, those 'Luckys' whipped in silk or grade A nylon in yellow and black do look lovely, and I understand aesthetics count for much, with some....but, they're not 'right' are they? Well not for me, or my rod anyway, and that's the important thing here, myself and this rod already have a rapport...and so to varnishing.
Everyone has their preferred varnish and each will tell you theirs is the best to use, the list just goes on and on.
In the end I listened to someone who's rods I'd seen and I trusted and opted for Humbrol gloss.....
First, I gave the whippings and intermediates a couple of coats using a fine brush and allowing two days between coats. It is important to turn the rod for the first two hours of the drying process to avoid runs, for the whippings I did this manually propping each section between two equal height objects and turning them 45 degrees by hand every few minutes. This allowed me to do all three sections at the same time.
For the varnishing of the full sections I was lucky enough to blag a rod turner from a friend, I would imagine the job to be far trickier, but still do-able nonetheless, without one.
You can see that the rod is held in position by three bolts forming a chuck. These are tightened to the male ferrule which has been protected with masking tape. The motor turns at a slow even pace and helps to avoid runs in the varnish.
I found the varnish much easier to work with if the whole tin was submersed to three quarters of the way up in warm water...
Having finally varnished each section, the only job left to do was to wax the brassware. Once again I masked everything, then polished all 'blued' brass with Granville Wax Polish.
There you have it then, my first rod refurbishment went remarkably smooth. It is time consuming, it is, at times tedious, but the sense of achievement is fantastic. Let's see some before and afters then..
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