U-40 Color Lock


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Product Description

One of the best color preservers out there. Thin with distilled water for the first three coats (1x 50/50, 2x 75/25), then apply full-strength coats. This helps to mitigate mottling, especially with silks.

I get so many questions on using Color Lock that I’m going to post the little blurb I usually email to folks who have questions. This is entirely ‘Off Label’ methodology, not endorsed by U-40. But it works. Don’t trust me. Try it. Prove it for yourself, in your shop, on your test wraps.

When using Color Lock, try this:
1) First coat 75% Distilled Water/25% CP
2) Second coat 50/50.
3) Third coat 25/75.
4) Fourth coat 100% CP. Add a fifth coat if you think the wraps need it….test wraps will tell you a lot.
5) Make utterly sure you’ve sealed the little tents alongside the feet, or the varnish will leak in there and “stain” the thread from below. Tip: use a needle applicator for fly head cement to squirt CP in alongside the guide feet on both sides (I haven’t tried this, but recently heard about it and it makes sense).
6) Make sure you trim tag ends before your final coat(s) of CP, or the freshly nipped thread will act like a wick and suck varnish down into the thread, making an unsightly blotch.
7) Practice…..

The maker of the CP strongly disavows this method because he feels the diluted CP, with its low solids content, doesn’t form a coherent bond as it cures (I’m dramatically shortening and paraphrasing his position). I actually agree with what he has argued, but that’s why I don’t stop at a diluted coat or two. I’m not a chemist, but I think what’s going on is that the diluted CP is building up within – and on – the threads, and each successive, “thicker” coat is bonding in with the previous coats, slowly getting you to a full strength coat or two, in a way that eliminates the mottling which so often happens when you apply full strength CP as the first coat over silk. Again, it’s a matter of practice, experience, and adapting the methods and materials until you discover a process that works for you. It’s tough to argue with a successful process, no matter how much you don’t like that process. And in nearly the same breath, I can’t promise that what works for me, will work for you. There are simply too many variables…water quality is one, which is why I suggest using distilled water vs. tap or spring water….ambient humidity is another, because your ambient humidity really effects how quickly the water portion of this CP solution evaporates and that may have some effect on penetration of the silk and other things I’m simply not chemist enough to comment on….your subtlety with a brush is another variable…my notion of a thin but sufficient coat is probably less that what many folks are thinking…so often, with varnish, I get pics of wrinkled finish over wraps, which is almost always a result of too-thick a coat (or coats) of varnish or not enough cure time between coats…less is more…if you’ve had any experience with spray painting a vertical surface, you’ll understand…far better to hit it three or four times than to try and get it coated in one fell swoop, because too much finish all at once will sag. Enough of this…go slow, be methodical, adapt as necessary, & good luck!


Dan wrote:  Russ, question for you, should I apply colorfast to the silk thread on my fly rod prior to epoxy?

Here’s my response:  I want to give you an answer that will let you sort out the best answer to your question.  I really suggest making a few test wraps and finishing the wraps with and without color preserver prior to applying epoxy.  See which suits your eye, and your project, best.  Color preserver certainly has its place….it helps to manage aesthetics, especially on dark blanks where the underlying blank color can immediately dominate the thread color if it ‘shines’ through the wrap.  On the flip side, if the color preserver is preventing the epoxy or varnish from reaching the blank, you can imagine what this does for the durability of the rod.  When the varnish or epoxy finish is allowed to soak through the thread and bond with the blank, the wraps become an integral part of the rod and the rod is maximally durable.  When the finish is merely topcoating the preserved wraps (and hopefully bonding at either end of the wrap with some direct blank contact), then the bond of the wraps to the blank is much more tenuous.  If you’ve ever had to cut wraps off a rod, you’ll know that it is easy to remove preserved wraps and an absolute bear to remove unpreserved wraps neatly.  Personally, I reserve color preserver for restorations where it’s often times visually necessary, and for very light tackle if, and only if, the client insists.  For my own fishing tackle, I avoid preserver, preferring, strongly, to bond the thread to the blank by allowing the primary finish to soak into and through the wraps.  I should add here, color preserver is essential to installing feather inlays over a silk underwrap on synthetic blanks…but the feather inlay itself is decorative, not functionally essential when casting and catching.