An Old Bamboo Rod I restored Back in the 1980's

Ard

Administrator
Messages
20,352
Reaction score
2,142
Location
Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
This is a reprint from a forum thread, the post is just too detailed to let it disappear when that thread is forgotten.

I received this rod in pretty rough condition in the late 70's or early 1980's from a friend Jerry Zapola who had inherited it from an old fellow from upstate New York.

Here we go.

This is the entire box 39 1/2" L X 3" W X 1 3/8" H The planned red oak veneer pieces are just a little under 3/16" thickness, I doubt the whole thing includinng the 5 ounce rod weighs maybe 3.5 pounds.



This bottom makes up the bottom and I believe it is poplar wood, you will see how it is cased with red oak and router-ed out.



Still viewed from bottom you can see the planned oak of the end cap and sides.



Here you see the lid and how the maker fixed latches for it. There is no fancy dovetailing or the like, crude but effective design I think.



Looking inside you see how the rod sections fit down into the lined base.



Close up of how he made the turn key latch for the sections, must have cut the copper foil for hardware himself, I've never seen anything like that.





Here you see how he router-ed the base out to fit the handle and sections.



Front of sections;



When I received this rod & box the lining was green velvet and was very worn and dried with age. The rod had been completely coated with a red tinted Shellac. It sat in my closet for years way back when I lived in Pennsylvania. Then in 1988 I got an urge to see what I had and began stripping things down.

I used an old school impregnation technique that involved submerging the rod blanks in a CPVC tube filled with Linseed Oil for 16 hours then hanging them in a cool dry room (my basement) for 2 weeks then buffing them out. All the splines were tight so I put the handle back on albeit with a new & fancy reel seat and then redressed the rod.

If I had it to do over again I might choose a different silk and use tipping but the only bamboo rods I was familiar with were Orvis and Leonard and the models I had handled didn't have fancy dressings. Since it was pre-internet I had no idea that there was a wide selection of agate stripping guides either............ Those Supper Z stainless steel ferrules came from Sweden and cost me about $106.00 way back then but they are beautifully tight and well finished so I guess were worth it.

While I'm at it here's some pictures of the finish, the shafts are just buffed impregnated oil. The Silk was Gudebrod tan and the wraps are coated with Marine Spar Varnish. this was done in 1988 so you could say that varnish holds up well over time. I finished those wraps applying the varnish with my dubbing needle.





I reused everything except the line guides, reel seat, (original had big dent in it) and I replaced the ferrules and that hook keeper.

Stripping guide isn't fancy & is small but I don't plan any casting competitions with this rod so...........



The only visible wear showing are typical circular fractures around the end of the ferrules where they meet the wood.



Speaking of ferrules here's one that cost about $30.00 back in the eighties.



Sometimes I wish I had used a raw reel seat with no insert but I wanted something fancy back then.



Here you can see the circular cracks, I've only ever used one of the tips so essentially I have a new one yet.



Right down to the old embossed leather handle the whole thing seems unique to me. It was the late Martin J. Keane who identified this rod as a Shouers for me. This fellow only made a few but always made a box with them.

In 1990 I had a fellow of some renoun who operated a shop along New York's famous Ausable River look at this rod and box and tell me that it was worthless, "These are a dime a dozen" he told me.

That was before I met Mr. Keane who you can google, Keane knew rods, especially bamboo rods. I've always thought the guy along the Ausable (who is now also deceased) must have thought I wanted to sell him the rod. I was just 35 years old back then and all excited to be fishing the Ausable with a bamboo rod. I just wanted someone to tell me it was a cool rod, I already knew it worked very well but was seeking affirmation from an 'expert'.

I trudged out of that fly shop and put my dime a dozen piece of junk into the back of my AMC Eagle Wagon and got behind the wheel like the pauper I am. Then something came over me, something I can't explain. I grabbed the door handle and hopped out, I marched right back into that shop and right up to the counter where that expert sat tying flies. I stood there like the 6'5" 225 pound nice guy I really am and when he finally looked up at me again ....................... I calmly placed a one dollar bill on his glass counter top and told him, "Here's a dollar, I'll be in the area for a while fishing, if you can how bout picking me up ten more of those bamboo rods will ya?"

Then I walked out of that experts store and drove away feeling alright about things, down a dollar but alright :cool:
 

Ard

Administrator
Messages
20,352
Reaction score
2,142
Location
Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
Thanks JP :)

I wish I had been more imaginative in the dressing and used some other silk with tipping but back then the only bamboo rods I had exposure to were Leonard's and Orvis, neither of them got too fancy with the wraps. One of these days I should take it out and catch a fish with it...............
 

Hayden Creek

Well-known member
Messages
631
Reaction score
757
Location
SoCO
Those AMC Eagle wagons were really cool.My brother and I drove one from Ecuador to Tierra del Fuego then back to Ecuador where he lived. I was 17 at the time. Great summer.
Love the rod as well.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ard

Ard

Administrator
Messages
20,352
Reaction score
2,142
Location
Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
Those AMC Eagle wagons were really cool.My brother and I drove one from Ecuador to Tierra del Fuego then back to Ecuador where he lived. I was 17 at the time. Great summer.
Love the rod as well.
Surprisingly good vehicles in hindsight I think. Mine never rusted and was subjected to some harsh off road use that I never knew whether it would make it through until I was back home. The only thing that happened on the trip to Alaska and back was a broken shock in Northern BC back when there was a stretch that closely resembled a dry riverbed. The road is far improved now over what it was in 88 / 89.

Drove the Eagle for 186 thousand miles without problems and sold it to a fellow in Georgia for $700 back in 1992.

The rod was I think made by a small time builder named Schowers who may have been building on blanks from any one of many suppliers in the late 1950's. The case was built by a fellow from Johnstown PA. in the 1960's and that was the owner of the rod. When it was given to me it had been recoated using a red tinted shellac and was quite ugly. I stripped it when weighed it before deciding on what to do. It was only a little heavier than many other 3 piece rods of that ere so I gave it a new life.

The suggestion that it was made by Schowers came from the late Martin Keen who knew his way around the bamboo builders of the mid 20th century so I stuck with that as the story.
 
Top