How to recover from stupidly over-coating your first FlexCoat.
First let’s look at my first coat of FlexCoat, which started off really quite nice, then got thick too soon & too fast… but I just HAD ot try to slobber it on and hope for the best.
Stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid.
The result? As I worked from the rod’s butt to the tip, my coatings got progressively lumpy-er… and no amount of spinning on a dryer could fix it:
In the following pictures I’ll show you how I carefully used a common paint, varnish & epoxy stripping agent called Strip Fast, made by Zinsser. It can be found in any Menards or Home Depot or other hardware/construction store.
Strip Fast comes in an aerosol can, and is referred to as a “semi-paste”. This means that it sprays out of the can as a fluffy bubble-filled foam, not unlike gel-type shaving cream. However, what I found was that if I sprayed this gel-foam onto a sheet of aluminum foil, it would foam up quite alright. An amount equal to half of a golf-ball is more than sufficient for a first application to all the guides on a 9 ft rod. The great thing about stripping agents is there’s NO time crunch; one spray will stay wet and be useable for easily a full hour, so take your time….
After a minute or two the gel-foam settles, the bubbles pop, and it all turns into a marmalade-like gel. This is the best time to apply it. I found that the very one-use brushes everyone uses to apply FlexCoat are impervious to Strip Fast – you can use a single brush again & again & again, so just fold the brush’s tip into a small piece of aluminum foil to store it.
Carefully apply thin, precise coats on each of the epoxy wrapping you wish to remove. Almost immediately the gel will begin to react with the FlexCoat, causing lots of bubbles to pop up while the Strip Fast softens & loosens the FlexCoat. Wait about 5 minutes per wrapping, then take a small clean paper towel folded into quarters, wrap it ’round the wrapping and with a twisting motion wipe off the gel. There’s no magic method here; just wipe & wipe & wipe, and brush and get the gel off. Then apply another thin, careful coat right afterward. The FlexCoat will begin to wipe off easily – that’s the COOLEST aspect of this method: it’s PAINLESS. The thing you have to be CERTAIN of is to ONLY PUT THE GEL ON THE FLEXCOAT. Now that doesn’t mean the gelcoat will burn away your rod’s color coating, or soak in and damage the graphite in the blank… but being logical, why take the chance? It’s simply not necessary.
Anyway, a few applications of gel, and almost anti-climatically, the wraps become exposed, and easily loosened and unwound from the rod.
At this point any remaining FlexCoat can be scratched off with a fingernail or plastic knife. Don’t add any more StripFast gel unless absolutely necessary.
The last step is the cleaning. StripFast cleans with soap & water. Neither causes harm to your rod, so used both liberally to fully clean all the areas where the gel was applied. This is critical. You have to get ALL the Strip Fast off, or it will remain – hidden in places you can’t see – and slowly & irreparably EAT your rod. You don’t want that – it means at some point your rod is going to blow up, likely when you most need it to be strong.
Once you’ve cleaned & dried the rod, it’s time to simply re-wrap the guides, which goes pretty fast.
After wrapping & re-aligning, it’s time to try refinishing. In my case I realized that what I was seeking was a thinner, more traditional finish, so I used regular spar varnish. The remaining pictures what how the varnish looked – wonderful.
Thanks to everyone for their encouragement & suggestions. For those of you who haven’t tried stripping agents, I can tell you this: It’s been 2 full weeks now since I completely my final coats of varnish, and I’ve take the rod outside for test-casting with a much heavier line than normally. The rod’s strength appears to be completely preserved, so lucky me. It I had to relate any final advice I would only say this: stripping agent is blind & stupid; it eats whatever you put it on, for as long as you let it. Keep that in mind, have lots of sponges, warm water & soap handy, and if you ever find yourself needing to recover (even repeated times like me) from a bad FlexCoat, stripping agents like Strip Fast can be used very effectively.