Our Antique Tube Kits, with their solid brass, domed caps and natural aluminum bodies, are the sort that used to come standard with any quality cane rod. We’ve made them available again. Over the past many years, more and more makers have come to rely on our tube kits to house their rods with the simple and durable elegance favored by the old masters. These tubes are the truly classic alternative to the thin-walled, wrinkle-finished tubes with easily scratched, brass-colored, anodized aluminum caps. Our tubes have a wall thickness of about 0.080” vs. the 0.035”-0.050” walls of common tubes. We make them extra heavy to protect your rods from the gentle touch of airline baggage handlers, errant car tires, etc.. The end caps are milled from solid brass: they have heft, they engrave well, and they practically glow if you take the time to polish them.
You’ve invested dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars in your rods, so protect them – don’t merely house them. If you collect old rods, use our Antique Tube Kits to re-tube a cherished relic – your local trophy shop can engrave all the pertinent details on the cap for easy reference in your rod rack. The 1-5/8” tube kits are perfect for two-piece flyrods with one or two tips. The 2” tube kits are great for three- and four-piece flyrods as well as spinning and casting rods. We supply easy-to-follow instructions so that you can cut the tube to length and have it assembled in less than 15 or 20 minutes (admittedly, it will take longer if you take the time to sand and/or polish the raw tube). Once the tube is trimmed to length, which you can do on a chop saw with an aluminum cutting blade or by hand with a hack saw, assembly requires no power tools, just a mallet and a dollop of epoxy. When trimming the tube, we strongly recommend that you add 1” to the length of your rod sections to accommodate the rod sack, ferrule plugs, and so forth.
Email for custom cuts over 60”; shipping to be billed appropriately on these over-length packages.
ALL CUT LENGTHS ARE +/- ¼” to account for saw kerf.
Clarity: If you remember the Rod Tube Kits from our old website, you’ll notice that a lot more effort is being put into clarity this time around. First, these are rod tube KITS…this means you must put them together. It’s not that we can’t do it for you, time permitting and for a fee which starts at $160.00 over the kit price, but that the parts themselves are already expensive and most makers would rather do the assembly themselves. When put together with care, you’re making a tube that, between parts and labor, is going to end up being worth somewhere in the range of $150.00 – $400.00. Three aspects of assembly will determine which end of the scale you’re on, a scale that starts off at “really sharp” and slides rapidly towards “spectacular.”
First, brass cap set aesthetics. The main photos for each page show cap sets that have been polished with a Sunshine Cloth. That’s it. We pulled them out of the box. They’re nicely machined, but have a slight haze of machine shop cutting fluid on them. We polished them by hand – maybe 3 to 5 minutes per cap set. The Sunshine Cloth treatment is all they need to look really sharp – better than we suspect most traditional brass cap sets would have looked when served up with a Payne or Leonard rod decades ago. That’s a function of modern machining. However, if you’re willing to invest a little time on a buffing wheel, you can make the brass parts glow, turning each piece of the set into a golden mirror. The ‘catch’ with mirror finished parts is that they do show finger prints particularly well, so you’ll need to give them a final Sunshine Cloth treatment just before passing them off to your client or gift recipient. The glow does tend to impress. It bodes well for the expectations of the fishing that will follow when the rod is uncased, jointed, and put to use. Speaking personally, and I’ve polished a lot of cap sets, I’d say getting a mirror finish requires an additional 15-20 minutes of judicious work on the buffing wheel, plus a few more minutes to remove traces of polishing compound. Afterwards, a retentive maker might want to use Simichrome and a cotton diaper to really bring out the shine.
Second, interior linings. Visit your local hobby shop. Buy cork sheeting. Take a moment to line the inside of the lid with cork. The inside of the butt cap can also be lined with cork before you mount it to the bottom of the tube, but you can’t see it, so a thin sheet of closed cell foam rubber also works very nicely – perhaps better from a padding perspective.
Third, tubing aesthetics. Lord have mercy. This is something we’re going to address most emphatically: these kits come with RAW tubing. The tubing is custom extruded for us. It is packaged with paper interwoven between the tubes in order to minimize exterior blemishes, but it is first and foremost an industrial product and it is not blemish free. Believe it, the extruding firm is not worried about how this stuff looks as long as it’s to spec and within tolerances; they think we’re goofy for being willing to pay extra for paper interleaving in the shipping container. We’ll attach a photo or two of raw tubing. This “as-extruded” surface is the reason many firms now sell tubing with a ‘wrinkle’ finish, powder coat. The texture of the powder coat masks all the production blems in the tubes. For our tubes, if you need them blemish free, you need to make them blemish free and you must expect that this will require elbow grease. If you do it by hand, your forearms will be sore. You might want to hire your kid or grandkid or the neighbor’s kid for this work, if you don’t have an appropriate lathe set-up. That said, the best way to do this is chuck the sections in a large, sturdy lathe and sand them down, starting with 150 to 180 grit paper. Working methodically from grit to grit, get them down to at least 600, but you could certainly go past that to 800 or 1200. No matter where you stop, you’ll need to wash the exterior with soap and water to remove aluminum dust, then polish with Simichrome. This is an absolutely filthy process, but the result is beautiful. Also, you want to maintain full tube diameter where the tubing meets the cap set, so be sure to measure carefully and mask a bit off, polishing no more than 1/8” into the span that will slide under the threaded collar and into the bottom cap. For my part, I don’t go with an entirely blem-free tube. Instead, I create a spiral scuff pattern by twisting the tubing through my hand, with 180 or 220 grit paper in-hand. I twist one direction, over and over, to work up a uniform finish, then I reverse the twist and spin the tube through one more time to create a criss-cross pattern to the scuffing, then I go back over in both directions with 600 grit paper, finally I polish with Simichrome. Years ago I had a full-time rodmaker order about 20 sets of tube kits, then complain vigorously about the raw tube surface quality. He calmed down after I sent him a sample of tubing that I’d polished, but it was a learning experience. I cannot say this often enough: these are sold as kits that demand a fair bit of work. You make rods or restore rods and you can take pride in this aspect of your finer self as a craftsman or craftswoman. These tube kits offer you another chance to prove your mettle.
As FYI, there may be an alternate, non-traditional, tubing on the way. GW is exploring an account with a company that can make both tube diameters in woven, carbon fiber cloth, with a 60 thou wall. Especially in 2” OD, since it’s a common tube diameter, you may be able to source this directly, which is why we also offer the option to simply purchase the brass cap sets with no tubing.