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Post 23 Aug 2021, 15:54 • #1 
Sport
Joined: 04/20/20
Posts: 68
Location: Springfield (DELCO) PA
Hi experienced rod refinishers.

I had an early System 5 show up on my doorstep the other day and have been taking some time to assess its condition. Overall, the blank appears very sound but the rod is showing its age in many areas: bubbling in the surface coat, wrap finish is cracking/flaking, wraps are loose, no gap at the spigot, etc. This rod was definitely fished hard by its previous owners.

I'm thinking about stripping it down to the blank, leaving the original grip/seat in place, and rebuilding the rod. I have a couple of builds under my belt but haven't stripped/refinished a classic just yet - I'm looking forward to it and have put the next couple of clean builds aside for now.

I do have a couple of questions to help me thru my planning phase:

1. BLANK RECONDITIONING. What's the best way to address the blank bubbling? Looking closely at the blank, it looks like the bubbling is limited to just a surface coat on the glass. If I scratch at the bubbles with my finger nail, they chip away leaving a smooth, continuous (but dull) surface underneath.



Can I cut off guides/wraps, protect what's left of the markings, remove the surface coat with steel wool/scotch brite, etc., and recoat with a thin application of spar before landing new hardware? Is there a cleaner and/or different method I ought to be using to clean the blank surface? Citrus strip?

2. RESTORING THE FERRULE GAP. I'm familiar with the standard method of cutting the female to create a new gap. On this rod, I can only trim about 1/8" from the female side before a new ferrule wrap will step over the serial number that sits just above it. I know from other threads, some have built up the spigot using a very thin layer of CA glue. When I assemble the sections, they bottom out just as you can start to feel a little bit of friction in the fit. I'm thinking a 1/8" trim isn't going to be enough.



Any recommendations on how to solve the gap issue here? Perhaps I try bee's wax first before doing anything . . .

3. RE-WRAPPING. Even though i plan to rewrap the entire rod, does anyone have any good leads on thread color matches for the two browns used for these builds? I'm sure I can eyeball a couple of reasonably close NOCPs but I'm curious if anyone has re-wrapped a System rod and can get me close on color and manufacturer. At this stage, I'm guessing I'll spar the new wraps.



4. REPLACING FACTORY MARKINGS. Is it bad form to try to replicate the factory SA logo and writing and send out to have a decal made to apply over the existing (and almost entirely gone) factory stamps?



Has anyone done this and can they provide any tips or leads? If this is a good idea, it'll solve my ferrule gap problem - I could simply cut the ferrule as needed, re-wrap it, and re-apply a new section serial at the right distance above the new wrap.




Appreciate your feedback on the long post but considering how highly regarded the System 5's are, I don't want to muck this one up too badly.

Thx!


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Post 23 Aug 2021, 16:37 • #2 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/10/09
Posts: 1519
Location: US-OH
The System 5 is a very good rod - arguably the best of the System series and definitely worthwhile restoring. You've asked several questions but I'll only respond to the one about ferrule gap. Normally I would build up the male with a light coat of epoxy and sand to fit but I see in your photo that there are a couple lengthwise cracks in the finish of the female that indicate that the glass has split. This would usually indicate that trimming the female back beyond the splits would be the best thing. However, this will ruin the serial number on that section and shorten the rod a bit. That probably is the best thing to do but if you really don't want to do that, you might get away with putting a ferrule ring on the female to prevent further splitting and resurface the male. If that doesn't prevent further splitting you can always trim and rewrap later - by that time you'll have the thread to match after redoing the entire rod. Hopefully, you'll get other advice and other suggestions. Good luck!


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Post 23 Aug 2021, 16:53 • #3 
Sport
Joined: 04/20/20
Posts: 68
Location: Springfield (DELCO) PA
Thank you tiptop. I when I unpacked the rod the longitudinal cracking in the finish on the ferrule wraps was concerning but after a closer look, I'm not sure if the blank is actually cracked underneath it. I'll have a better look once I cut them off but looking inside the ferrule w a flashlight doesn't show any signs of cracks in the glass. A partial fit and a little bit of controlled flex doesn't show any signs of separation at the ferrule end either. I hope I get lucky and a rewrap is all that's required.

A little ways away from cutting thread but I'll be sure to follow up w findings.


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Post 23 Aug 2021, 19:12 • #4 
Master Guide
Joined: 02/19/12
Posts: 940
Location: Beantown
I'll defer to the experts, but I think you're trying to do 2 things at once - preserve the original aesthetics (e.g., worrying about wraps covering serial numbers) and bring back to life a rod that is reputed to be an amazing fishing tool.

Again, I'm a relative novice at this stuff, but if it were me I'd make a choice as to what's more important to me. It's tough to serve two master.

So this is purely personal opinion, but if it were me I'd strip the whole rod down to the blank (with Citristrip), cut back the female ferrule, and rebuild with a new reel seat, new cork and all new wraps in whatever color I thought looked best. Then I'd fish the hell out of it :-)


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Post 23 Aug 2021, 21:31 • #5 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/23/05
Posts: 4598
Location: US-MT
Just cut the female back. I dislike big gaps anyway so 1/8" is fine. If you need to redo the number no biggie. I would not worry too much about minor cracks at female, I have lot of crack like those(if indeed they are cracks) and the rods continue to give good service for years. Do a good wrap on female.

Those Fisher blanks often bubbled like that, real tacky looking. Not sure of the best way to remedy, let us know what works. Your thoughts about steel wool/sandpaper then varnsh should be fine.


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Post 24 Aug 2021, 02:29 • #6 
Administrator
Joined: 01/10/06
Posts: 7278
Location: Holly Springs, NC
As Tiptop stated, the Five is one the best System rods. While the bubbled finish is nasty looking, it is not uncommon and doesn't effect the fiberglass.

You won't have it finished until next season. Take your time and enjoy the process.

    Some comments on your questions;
  1. BLANK RECONDITIONING - I have not tried to remove the bubbled finish from one of these rods. I would try Citrus Strip and go from there. Depending on what is below the finish, you might not need to apply a coat of spar varnish.
  2. RESTORING THE FERRULE GAP - You will know more after you remove the wraps (post photos). Coating the spigot with a thin layer of epoxy only makes a small difference. This ferrule needs more help than that. I would plan to cut back the female ferrule and use a ferrule ring.
  3. RE-WRAPPING - When you remove the wraps, cut along a guide foot to remove the thread as an intact sheet. The back of that sheet will show you the original thread colors without the yellowed finish on top. Forum search implies medium brown with white tipping (Gudebrod 541 and 001, respectively).
  4. REPLACING FACTORY MARKINGS - making new decals to replace the factory markings seems like a good plan (add your name to the artwork).
  5. Personally, I think the System rod grip and reelseat are nicely done. If they don't need repair, I wouldn't mess with them.


Tom


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Post 24 Aug 2021, 06:57 • #7 
Global Moderator
Joined: 04/20/07
Posts: 8281
Location: US-ME
Gosh that rod has been rode hard and put away wet. Too bad, but it will be great to see the outcome of a rehab job, already pretty well covered.

Personally, I wouldn't put too much into refinishing the blank itself. Pretty sure that is a baked on finish, so there will be no end of stripping, sanding, scraping and so on to get a uniform surface on the 'glass blank itself. So before that, I would do a little test after only light passes to remove or break up the worst blisters. Then an amber-hued spar varnish. You may be surprised how dramatically this reduces the cloudy/bubbled appearance.

Here is an example, understanding that the surface finish of the rod shown was better for starters. viewtopic.php?f=6&t=18487&p=109667&hilit=quick+spiff#p109667

But I would still try it after surface prep to remove or smooth what comes off with modest effort. If not to your satisfaction, then go for it.

Take advantage of the need to clean up the wraps by replacing all the snake guides at the same time. I would want to keep the tiptop and stripping guide but wouldn't hesitate to replace them if they showed the least sign of damage or wear.

I like the S5 grip and reel seat, but again, you could rebuild and replicate or modify contour to your liking. Authenticity isn't especially important on a rod that needs such a substantial redo, so you can "retro-mod" while keeping the look of a System 5. It will still have the feel of the great Fisher-made System 5 rod.

Authenticity in wrap color isn't that important either, but you can get pretty darned close as jgestar described. Looking at other System rods in hand in both indoor and outdoor light would be the best way, but here's the other way to look.

Image

Image

Image

Image

I can already hear those wraps crackling as you sheet-peel them off. Whatever tips you choose, keep us posted on the next steps and the outcome, please.


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Post 24 Aug 2021, 10:25 • #8 
Guide
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 340
Location: US-TN
The wraps on the System rods were color preserved, most likely with clear lacquer. I'm not sure about the thread colors. I would try the Gudebrod #541 but I think it's too brown.

--Rich


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Post 24 Aug 2021, 12:37 • #9 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 04/12/07
Posts: 1225
Location: western Massachusetts
I spent some time last winter trying to reproduce the System wrap color scheme, and I never did find an exact match. So, what follows is not to be taken as gospel, nor to be attempted on the rod without testing first on a piece of scrap.

First I tried Gudebrod 541, and as Eastprong and Tom (jgestar) say, it was too brown. I did find that a couple of Prowrap nylon colors were very close. I estimated that the color was somewhere between #722 (almond), and #710 (bees wax). I finally decided on #716 (teak). I thought that was a little dark, but I was not trying to perfectly match to factory threads. You will have the advantage of having the actual threads to test against your choices. I color preserved my wraps with a 50/50 solution of white glue and water (2 coats).

Then I sealed the color preserved threads with 2 thin applications of Threadmaster one. Then I finished over that undercoat with Threadmaster Lite, or whatever Mudhole is calling it these days. So, you might want to try that on some test wraps. For tipping, I found nothing that really matched, but thought that Pacific Bay nylon Y100A-TN (tan) was as close as I needed to come.

I applaud your efforts to bring that old trooper back on line, but in the end remember that it is just a "fish pole" after all.


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Post 24 Aug 2021, 13:53 • #10 
Administrator
Joined: 01/10/06
Posts: 7278
Location: Holly Springs, NC
As usual, your thread color may vary. This is a photo of a System 5 and a System 6. The 5 has a ceramic insert stripper while the 6 has carballoy guides. To my vision, the two rods were wrapped with slightly different thread colors (upper photo).

I'll also repost this photo of old stock Gudebrod thread (lower photo) and a Fenwick rod. The thread colors are plain 396 Dark Brown, NCP 396 Dark Brown, NCP 541 Medium Brown, NCP 5274 Chestnut, and another NCP 541 Medium Brown. The two spools of NCP 541 show the color variation from age and different dye lots.

The take home lesson is don't kill yourself. Make your thread colors consistent for your rod, but don't worry about matching every other System rod out there.

With regards to the ferrules, the System rods have a very prominent ferrule station. The rod blank walls are considerably thicker at the ferrule than the rest of the rod. So while I still think the best repair is to cut back the female ferrule, aim for an 1/8" space between the sections. If it needs work again later, let someone else have their turn.


Tom






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Post 24 Aug 2021, 16:56 • #11 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 17622
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
There is one problem with having a System 5

so many other good rods get ignored.

Image


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Post 24 Aug 2021, 17:51 • #12 
Sport
Joined: 04/20/20
Posts: 68
Location: Springfield (DELCO) PA
jalthoff wrote:
I'll defer to the experts, but I think you're trying to do 2 things at once - preserve the original aesthetics (e.g., worrying about wraps covering serial numbers) and bring back to life a rod that is reputed to be an amazing fishing tool.

Yep. Exactly what I'm trying to do. If I'm rebuilding the rod from the ground up anyway, I think it'll be a fun exercise getting it as close to 'stock' as I can.

majicwrench wrote:
Those Fisher blanks often bubbled like that, real tacky looking. Not sure of the best way to remedy, let us know what works.

Will-do. I plan on taking my time with this (like Tom suggests) and I plan to document all the steps along the way and post what worked and what didn't.

jgestar wrote:
making new decals to replace the factory markings seems like a good plan (add your name to the artwork).

I've been looking at custom dry transfers like there here:
https://customrubontransfers.com/produc ... ernatives/
Not cheap at all but I think I can come really close to replicating the logo, text, font, etc. and doing a clean transfer before dipping the stripped blank. Like I mentioned above, I'll document all and feed back.

whrlpool wrote:
Gosh that rod has been rode hard and put away wet.

Hey, looking at the pix you included with your post, I'm happy to trade my S5 for your S5. I'll even throw in a case of the domestic beer of your choice (valued at under $25.00). ;)

archfly wrote:
I spent some time last winter trying to reproduce the System wrap color scheme

Really appreciate the thread color feedback from you and others. I did do some screen comparing of several of the Gudebrod and Prowrap colors and ordered a few spools. The colors you suggested we included in that order. We'll see how they match up.

bulldog1935 wrote:
There is one problem with having a System 5 . . . so many other good rods get ignored.

I can't wait to have this problem. A 7'7" 5 WT will displace a number of already favorites stationed at the front of the rod rack but I'm really looking forward to this project. If it turns out as I expect it will, it'll hold a special place for a while and be fished like it should be.

Thx all for the feedback! Stay tuned!


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Post 25 Aug 2021, 11:19 • #13 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 01/02/12
Posts: 1678
Location: Gig Harbor, WA
It looks like the script area on the rod is in good shape, apart from the fading of the lettering. I would cover that area with masking tape (as well as the serial #’s), remove the guides and thread, then strip the blank with Citrus Strip. If there is no crack in the female area, my first attempt to increase the ferrule gap would be a thin coat of epoxy to the male ferrule. If that isn’t sufficient, then very carefully/slowly sand the female ferrule back, don’t cut it. I agree with Majic, 1/8” is adequate gap. A thin hand applied coat of varnish before installing the guides will provide protection and offer a nice appearance. Personally, trying to recreate original wrappings is too difficult. Refurbishing what you already know to be a good fishing rod into a good looking one works for me.


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Post 26 Aug 2021, 13:13 • #14 
Master Guide
Joined: 03/09/15
Posts: 504
Location: Arkansas
Watching


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Post 26 Aug 2021, 18:52 • #15 
Sport
Joined: 04/20/20
Posts: 68
Location: Springfield (DELCO) PA
retiredfisher1 wrote:
my first attempt to increase the ferrule gap would be a thin coat of epoxy to the male ferrule. If that isn’t sufficient, then very carefully/slowly sand the female ferrule back, don’t cut it.


I appreciate this tip. I never like cutting ferrules because I can never get them straight enough and end up sanding them anyway.

Hi Panfish74: I'll keep you posted on all progress. Please don't lose patience: all replacement components are ordered and I won't even cut a guide off until everything is in-hand. This'll intentionally be a slow roll.


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Post 27 Aug 2021, 14:20 • #16 
Guide
Joined: 01/27/12
Posts: 200
Location: US-PA
Be careful on the amount of epoxy you use to coat the male ferrule. Put it on as thin as humanly possible, you can always add more coats . Surprising how little it takes.


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Post 29 Aug 2021, 11:42 • #17 
Guide
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 340
Location: US-TN
...and rotate the rod while the epoxy is curing. You're probably already doing that but I thought I'd mention it.

--Rich


Last edited by eastprong on 30 Aug 2021, 07:40, edited 1 time in total.

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Post 29 Aug 2021, 12:10 • #18 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/10/09
Posts: 1519
Location: US-OH
... and in addition to rotating, you can warm the male spigot and the epoxy to achieve a very thin, even coat. What 6footrod says is right. Repeatedly brush toward the end of the male spigot to remove excess. This is if you choose to build up the male spigot. If you decide to trim the female it may not be necessary to do anything to the spigot.


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Post 29 Aug 2021, 21:46 • #19 
Guide
Joined: 02/25/08
Posts: 183
Location: US-NM
Follow jgestar's recommendations. I have a System 5 I refinished for my "fishing" rod. Its not a wall hanger, but it looks fine. I stripped the blank with Citrus Strip and used Minwax Wipe On poly for the finish. Called Rick's Rods in Denver about matching the thread....yeah they could match it, but no, I didn't want to pay that much. I went with Gudebrod Fenwick brown and cream trim with a low build epoxy over the wraps. I had trimmed the female ferrule to a 1/8 inch gap and used all new guides and tip. Kept the original grip and reel seat. This is one my favorite rods and I use it accordingly. Don't overthink the build, you'll like the rod...a lot!


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