Mid 19th Century Baits

Posted March 19, 2010 by tonkaprince
Categories: lures

These  baits are replicas of metal baits made by J.T Buel company of Whitehall New York. The larger bait is an Arrowhead. It is stamped with Buel’s 1852  patent . The original patent covered the air chamber and the hollow tube running down the center of the bait. The air chamber is made of copper which I silver plated. The places on the air chamber that look like the plating has been worn away were done intentionally to show aging.

The arrowhead shaped piece of the bait was made from brass that I cut from flat brass stock with snips and a jeweler’s saw. The front is Silver plated and stamped with makers mark and patent date the plating was intentionally flaked in the area of the stampings. The back side of that piece is not plated. I added a patina finish to the polished brass.The body of the bait is four and a quarter inches long and would have been used by the retired President for trolling for Pike and Muskelunge.

The second bait is a replica of an elongated kidney fly bait. The blade is two and three sixteens long. The blade is marked with the number 2 which denotes size, and the Maker’s mark J.T. Buel and Whitehall. The blade is silver plated brass on the front and brass with patina on the back. The feathers on the bait are tied to the brass shaft with the traditional whipping method used in fly-tying

Both baits have my own makers mark on them which is a micro stamp that reads Philip Allen.

I have also included some pictures of Materials, soldering and forming blocks I made to use in forming the air chamber and  stakes for shaping the kidney blade.

Arrowhead (Front)

Arrowhead (Back)

Arrowhead stampings

Kidney Fly Bait

Materials and forming blocks

Arrowhead blade-air chamber forming block and air chambers


Work bench

Part 6 of the Van Buren Reel

Posted March 2, 2010 by mljhackney
Categories: reel, rod

This installment shows the completed reel and its fitting on the rod! The mechanicals of the reel are complete, rivets peened, and the reel tuned. The only thing left to do is “age” it. My thoughts are to age the reel for the “10 year” look. Basically, a reel that has been in service and well used and cared for. I like to do this by speeding up the natural process. Brass patina is performed by fuming the reel in vinegar vapor for 8 hours. This gives the brass a golden color. I then polish the reel with sawdust and lemon juice – exactly like its owner might have done. This makes sure that the darkening stays in the nooks and crannies. The reel in the photos has been treated once and then polished. It is ready for the 2nd and 3rd treatments. Between the 2nd and 3rd vapor treatment, I will use burnt umber oil pain mixed with finely ground pumice to simulate grime and finger and fish oil build up. This mixture will be applied to the logical places (you can see where on the actual reel) and then gently blotted off. Once dry, the reel will be fumed one last time and then protected with a microcrystalline wax to lock everything in place.

Now then are the two reels side by side for comparison. I like to call this “twin reels of different makers”! (you can click the photos to see the full resolution image).

Front View

Top View

Back Side View – note the peened pillars!

Foot View

And now, the moment of truth – fitting the reel to the magnificent rod John crafted! I had to enlarge the foot mortise on the rod. I carefully mixed a concoction of finishes from John’s description and lo, it was a perfect match.

Makes me want to go fishing!

Side View

Tail End

I’ll post more photos of the reel tomorrow when it is out of the final fuming!

Part 5 of the Van Buren Reel

Posted February 28, 2010 by mljhackney
Categories: reel

Now I’ve completed the internal mechanisms – the stop latch and the multiplier gearing. Here is a detail of the stop latch:

The latch lever was a tricky little part to make! It shows the ingenuity of 19th century craftsmen. The ball on the end is oval and not round. It was not turned on a lathe (or at least it did not appear to have been). It was filed and polished by hand. At the other end is a ramp filed in to the lever arm. This ramp engages the brass “spring” that has a small metal peg (you can see that right at the angle where the foot part of the spring extends upwards. It is peened in place. Its purpose is to engage a hole in the spool to keep it from spinning when the latch is engaged. When the latch ball is pushed upward, the ramp lifts the brass spring and pin and disengages it from the spool. Simple but effective. Here it is in the disengaged position.

Now I’ll show the multiplier mechanism. First, there is a small axle for the main gear. It is turned from steel and fastened from the back with a 2-56 screw. I don’t know how the original was held on since I can’t disassemble the reel! But a small screw seems logical. I suppose it could be riveted with an integral rivet too.

Here is the gear and pinion installed temporarily. The original was also brass for the 20 tooth gear and steel for the 8 tooth pinion. Interestingly, a modern 20 tooth 32 pitch gear has a slightly small diameter. But it works fine. You can see the square end on the gear to accept the handle crank. It was filed by hand.

Next, the crank and grip assembly are installed. The original grip appeared to be ivory. I made mine from Tagua nut – vegetable ivory. Once it is yellowed, it should look pretty authentic.

And here is a top view of the entire mechanism with the cover removed so you can see everything.

Now that all the parts are fabricated, I will fit the reel foot to the rod that John sent me. A little rework is going to be required on the foot or rod or both. Once that is done, I will do the final assembly of the reel. This is a one way street since the pillar ends and pinion are peened in place.

My intent is to lightly “age” the reel. I’ve been testing various formulations for darkening the brass and steel. I will also add accumulated oil/dirt residue to the areas that an angler would have difficulty wiping away. Stay tuned!

Part 4 of the Van Buren Reel

Posted February 27, 2010 by mljhackney
Categories: reel

Now I’ve completed the spool and spindle. The spindle is by far the most difficult part to make. The tolerances are tight. I used a combination of traditional lathe work and clockmaker’s lathe work (hand gravers and a tool post). The spool plates were spun. A really fun technique that I will use again. Here’s the dry assebly of the reel frame fitted with the spool and spindle prior to soldering and final fitting:

Another view showing the spun spool plate recessed into the back plate – close tolerances!

Here are the frame and spool parts prior to assembly. Assembly of these reels is a one-way street. The 3 posts are peened over on the back plate side and crimped on the front. The reel must be assembled from the inside out and adjust as you go.

And here is the spool with the spun plates soldered to the spindle. They run dead true! First time!

Cheers, Michael

More of the Van Buren Reel

Posted February 26, 2010 by mljhackney
Categories: reel

Here are some photos of the reel foot and bracket and this assembled to the front and back plates. I am fabricating the parts using only hand tools and leaving tooling marks as on the original. It’s interesting, the original has a very refined reel frame and spool but the foot and bracket are “rough”. This could be because a lathe was used on the plates and spool whereas the foot and bracket were obviously cut and filed by hand.

Creel final

Posted February 25, 2010 by drbaits
Categories: Uncategorized

Other than a bit of “aging” and minor mods to the tackle box lock, I think it’s done.

The Horse Hair Fishing Line

Posted February 23, 2010 by mljhackney
Categories: line

In addition to the reel, I am producing a horse hair fishing line. Early horse hair lines were built from short (24 to 36″) “snoods” of furled hair. These snoods were knotted to make a line of arbitrary length. These lines worked well with loop rods where the line was fixed to the tip of a long rod (12′ and longer) and did not have to pass through guides. As reels and rods with guides came on the scene, lines needed to be developed that would not hang up in the guides – but it would be a century before silk lines with its long continuous filaments came in to wide spread usage in the west. In the interim, anglers learned to make continuous and knotless horse hair lines. I rediscovered this process last year and have been producing lines and teaching folks how to make their own. Here is an overview of the process. You can read the full details on how to make a line using this technique here Horse Hair Fly Line.

This is a laborious process but allows the angler to create a continuous, knotless, tapered line of any length from horse hair. It takes me about 2 hours to make a 30′ line like this one for the exhibit.

The woodcut in the upper left is from the original source showing the technique. Next is a hank of prime horse hair – 34″ long white stallion hair. The tools are made of “three pieces of deal and goose quill sections”. The 3 strands being furled are made up of 6 hairs each at the butt end of the line. These are knotted and staggered in length as shown in the drawing. Each strand is twisted and then passed over the other 2 as shown in the middle two photos (with the yellow arrows). As you reach the end of the length of hair, you simply add a new hair to replace to continue at the same line diameter or drop the hair to begin a taper. The instructions linked to above give complete details.

The last two photos are the 35′ line I made for the Martin Van Buren exhibit using these tools and techniques.

The Creel

Posted February 23, 2010 by drbaits
Categories: Uncategorized

Well, one assignment I had was to make a tackle box for the display.  After looking around for examples, I decided a creel would be more appropriate with a box inside to store lures and paraphenalia.  working wicker is not in my wheelhouse and not likely to appear in the near future, but I found examples of wooden creels…a little closer to my skill set.  I decided to make the box of white poplar, since it is light, yet sturdy.  It’s not as light as wicker, but not too bad. I still have to put on a leather strap that I’ve rounded up and hinges, but we’re pretty close.


Posted February 22, 2010 by roycestearns
Categories: Uncategorized

In progress

Aged and accompanied by an old wallet
wallet & flies

a wallet and box of flies

my VB sign

one more of some of the hook steps

The Van Buren New York Reel

Posted February 21, 2010 by mljhackney
Categories: reel

The reel is nearing completion so I’ll start to post photos showing how I put it together. I started with the front plate. This is a hollow chamber that contains the transmission for the multiplier and the stop latch. After close scrutiny of the original, I determined that the case was turned on a lathe. I started with a 1″ long piece of 2″ brass rod. After facing both ends, I hollowed the backside of the plate. Once hollowed, I cut the front plate from the bar and held it in the lathe chuck to face the cut end. I then turned to the thickness of plate and left a little protrusion for the bullet area in the middle that covers the spindle. I carefully lathe file the bullet shaped profile to match the original. Finally, I rounded over the edge and cut the decorative grooves on the face and side wall using a very narrow “V” tipped graver. Here is the result:

Once the front plate was completed, I fabricated the back plate from the same 2″ bar. This plate has a small lip for the front plate to sit in to. The backside of it is also hollowed out to allow the spool side plate to recess in to it. Here are some photos of it:

And here are the parts assembled:

These are unfinished parts at this point. They will be polished and after the reel is assembled, distressed lightly to simulate usage.