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Posted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:43 am 
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A few months ago I became aware of a method to fill gaps in materials using certain types of "superglue" combined with an "accelerator". It occurred to me that the technique might be useful to stabilize the cracked ivory grasps on some of my antique fishing reels. I finally got around to buying the specific glue product recommended for this experiment and tried it out tonight on a few subject reels. I think it works pretty well and may be of interest to other collectors and restorers of old reels.

This method worked using "Zap a Gap" which is a widely available superglue (cyanoacrylate aka CA) made by Pacer . [Here is a link to the MSDS for your personal safety. This stuff bonds skin immediately so don't get it on your fingers and avoid breathing the fumes.] NOTE I previously tried this technique using another brand of super glue from the local discount store and it didn't work. So the viscosity of the glue and the way it reacts to baking soda is extremely important. I don't know the details of why this combination worked but this particular product worked for me.

Typically, super glue is low viscosity almost like water and runs easily. However, this product has a thicker consistency and allows you to adjust it a bit while it is still wet. Then, if you sprinkle baking soda onto this glue while the glue is still wet, it sets hard as a rock almost instantly. By applying a line of this CA into a crack and sprinkling with baking soda, you can start building up layer after layer of rock-hard filling. Presumably I could have used bone dust to try and match the ivory but I just used the plain baking soda and clear CA.

In these examples, I have solidly stabilized severe cracks but pretty much left the appearance as it was. Of course, the glue and baking soda crystallizes with a rough surface so it is important to use very small amounts of glue at a time and sprinkle tiny amounts of baking soda, then brush off the excess baking soda before adding more.In the end, it was necessary to gently cut/scrape off the excess "rock" with a sharp blade and sand it gently to get the surfaces back to the original levels. I also rubbed a bit of lemon oil into the ivory to bring back a bit of the gloss. Ivory patina will be rubbed off in this process but I think it is a good tradeoff.

Subject 1 was a Talbot reel from the 1930's with a thin ivory grasp that contained many age cracks. You could actually feel it give when the grasp was held. It is now very solid but looks very much the same as it did.


Subject 2 was a 19th century Chevalier Bowness and Sons folding handle winch with a more severely cracked ivory grasp. I was really careful to avoid touching that reel after I bought it, fearful that the knob would just fall off but now it is solid as a rock. The grasp retains the cracked look but it isn't going to fall apart now, even if it is inadvertently knocked around.


Posted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:00 pm 
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Great tip, Paul! That will surely save a lot of old deteriorating grasps.


Posted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:34 pm 
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Are the grasps now glued to the shafts, or do they still rotate?


Posted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:07 pm 
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Seems like a great tip for certain circumstances, especially the later one where the knob might get totally destroyed. I do like the notion of using ivory or bone dust, would be interesting to see.

Since Tony D retired, there is no one I know that will make a new ivory knob, but I am sure they are out there. To me, an old knob repaired is better than a new knob.

Thanks for posting this.


Posted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:34 pm 
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Ivory or bone dust will not work the same. The cyanoacrylate super glue is reacting with the OH hydroxide ion from the baking soda. Super glue normally reacts with the hydroxide ion in moisture in the air. Since baking soda is a better source of OH it reacts almost instantly.

Burnish the stuff with a very hard polishing stone like a white dremel point.

Repairing ivory with ivory dust also opens up a huge can of worms with respect to regulations on possession, transportation and sale.

-steve


Posted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:16 pm 
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jimbofish wrote:Are the grasps now glued to the shafts, or do they still rotate?


In example 1, the grasp on the Talbot still rotates freely. Most of the filling lays near the outer surface, never getting close to the shaft. In example 2, the shaft itself was corroded and it never turned from the time I bought it. Given the delicate condition, I didn’t want to push my luck (although now that it is strong I may try to give it a light handed twist to see if it can be rotated. I did let a bit of the glue get near the shaft on the handle arm side). I am sure that if the grasp had been broken completely in half to give me access to the shaft, it could have been glued together in a way that allowed rotation and then filled to improve stabilization and cosmetics. In any case this ancient reel is a permanent shelf-dweller so operation is not an issue.


Posted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:57 am 
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That makes sense. Thanks.


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