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CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: Mark Talmo (71.147.59.---)
Date: August 16, 2019 07:12PM

When I started rod building some 4 years ago, the tackle store I purchased my “start-up kit” from only sold ProKote so that is what I used. It has always worked well, both regular and high build, and I had no reason to change. With a few years experience, I decided to experiment with other popular brands that you other builders use and speak highly of, and discovered that while each may have subtle differences, all were quite similar. The most common among all of them is the yellowing of the hardener in the bottle as well as the cured epoxy over time which is the same as with the structural epoxies I had been using for 30 years and with which I was more familiar.
Enter Crystal Coat by CTS and imported by one of our own, Herb Ladenheim. Even though Norman Miller spoke so highly of it, I hesitated to try it simply because it is more expensive than the others. But now I am glad to have tried it as I consider Crystal Coat to be superior to all the others. The benefits noticed are; 1.) It truly is water-clear and has remained so since received, 2.) It mixes very easily, thanks to Norman’s 3R / 2H volume ratio, and is actually difficult to introduce bubbles while mixing, 3.) The thin viscosity assures full, deep penetration, 4.) The pot life is very long allowing an entire rod of many wraps to be coated at one time, even for someone as slow as me, 5.) It flows-out astoundingly, impeccably well, 6.) Bubbles, if they even exist at all, release astoundingly and impeccably well. Not only does CC perform better in these respects than any of the other brands tried, it does so by a huge margin.
There may be a price to pay other than the price itself, though. As for the price, yes, it is a fair amount more expensive than the others, but in this case, you get what you pay for. Additionally, if one factors-in how many wraps / rods can be built from one kit, it is doubtful CC will cost 50 cents more per rod, an extremely small price to pay a superior product. There are two factors which may be unappealing to some though; 1.) The thin viscosity may require an additional coat, possibly even two, if a deep, high build coating is desired, 2.) With the extended pot life also comes an extended cure time. Personally, these two issues are of little concern to me but I can appreciate others’ priorities may be different.
The mix ratio, by volume, of CC (3R/2H) falls somewhere between common, typical, for-the-masses epoxies (1R/1H) and application-specific structural/laminating epoxies (basically 4R/1H). This indicates to me “Them Aussies” did their homework to come-up with something at least different, possibly better. The ability to slightly alter the ratio to produce a harder or softer result is also a nice feature and could be considered one of the six attributes above.
Admittedly, I am playing “Doubting Thomas” on the yellowing-in the-sun issue. If CC does not yellow while exposed to the elements and bombarded by UV, then it will be the first epoxy I have encountered to not yellow or chalk-out. Considering how truly clear CC is, especially the hardener, if any epoxy is capable of not yellowing, it might just be this one. Even if it does eventually yellow, I doubt it will be to the extent of the others. One way of the other, I consider it a small price to pay for an outstanding product.
In conclusion, thank you CTS for the product, Herb Ladenheim for supplying it, and Norman Miller for giving all of us an easy, volume mix ratio. My only suggestion (other than supplying me for free) is to color-code the writing on the bottle and cap differently for the resin and hardener to avoid confusion as do most other brands of epoxy of all types.

Mark Talmo
FISHING IS NOT AN ESCAPE FROM LIFE BUT RATHER A DEEPER IMMERSION INTO IT!!!

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Re: CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: Phil Erickson (---.dsl.pltn13.sbcglobal.net)
Date: August 16, 2019 09:48PM

Mark, a good thorough report! I have not started using any of my supply yet, but have a CTS blank to build out and it will get the CC.

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Re: CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: Norman Miller (---.lightspeed.jcsnms.sbcglobal.net)
Date: August 16, 2019 10:46PM

Good job Mark. I still have samples I mixed over 6 months ago, and still water clear and colorless. The 3R:2H volume to volume ratio is given by CTS on their web site, but not in the instructions supplied with the product I found that the left over Crystal Coat mixture can be put in the refrigerator or freezer and reused the next day for applying the second coat. Herb Ladenheim had mentioned doing this in several past posts. I just placed the mixing vessel in a plastic bag to keep any condensation out. It worked great, and by stretching the use of it out over two days does cut down on waste, and thus on cost. For a single rod I mix 1 ml of Resin with 0.5 ml of Hardener, and still have enough left over to use the next day. It is also very forgiving of mixing errors, and levels extremely well.
Norm

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Re: CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: Mark Talmo (71.147.59.---)
Date: August 17, 2019 12:23AM

Phil, Thank for the compliment, but I have always been one to give credit where credit is due just as inversely condemn when condemnation is due. I am confident you will be equally as impressed with Crystal Coat and I would like to learn of your experience and opinion, either here on the site or my personal email.
Norman, You offered a very good point in saving unused CC by refrigeration or freezing. I wonder if the other brands would respond as well. Your very last comment, “…and levels extremely well.” is understated and is the most outrageously awesome quality of CC that I experienced. The first time I used CC was to over-coat a lumpier than normal coat of another finish which was covering a decal, about 3in wide. Even with a much less than preferred base, the CC cured to the straightest, most imperfection-free coating I had ever produced. While attempting to achieve a perfect reflection surface on 1/2in wide thread wraps demands attention during application of the finish, it had always been trying at best to minimize the waves over a 3in span! With a minimal amount of attention, CC produces the most perfectly smooth surface over a large area of any other finish I have tried, and by a huge margin! That alone sold me on CC, but combining its other attributes puts it over the top. With the other brands tried acting quite similarly, I figured Crystal Coat would be equally similar; I was wrong!

Mark Talmo
FISHING IS NOT AN ESCAPE FROM LIFE BUT RATHER A DEEPER IMMERSION INTO IT!!!

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Re: CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: Herb Ladenheim (---.lightspeed.rcsntx.sbcglobal.net)
Date: August 17, 2019 08:09AM

Mark,
YES!!
A very fine review.
I am glad you persevered through the curing process - I did not - assuming that I had a bad batch.
Did you take note of the time lapsed that CC cured sufficiently to take off the dryer??

One negative issue that you did not mention: Longer curing time means more time to pick up lint from the air. Like me - I believe many do not have a dedicated curing room or sealed "box" to protect wraps from lint.
Regards,
Herb

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Re: CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: Phil Erickson (---.dsl.pltn13.sbcglobal.net)
Date: August 17, 2019 11:06AM

With all the references to a longer curing time, I have to ask......how long is the cure time at a reasonable temperature of around 72-75 degrees?

I consider it cured when you can touch it without fingerprinting.

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Re: CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: Norman Miller (---.lightspeed.jcsnms.sbcglobal.net)
Date: August 17, 2019 12:44PM

Phil, my experience suggests that it is tack free but still soft after 12 hrs. If needed the second coat could then be applied. I turned my rotators off after about 6 hrs. I would not fish the rod until at least 36 to 48 hrs have past when it is fully cured. Once it has fully cured it is very hard and holds up well.
Norm

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Re: CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: Mark Talmo (71.147.59.---)
Date: August 17, 2019 05:02PM

Herb,
I did not precisely time anything, so the following is only what my fossilized brain can remember. While not experiencing the 100*+ temps typical for August here in So Cal, the temp during curing the CC was about 90* and the rod was rotating at 9 RPM. 4 hours = still runny, 6 hours = runny but noticeably starting to set, 8 hours = gelling but rotating still required, 10 hours = had to go to bed; left rotating overnight in my curing cabinet with the heater (40W light bulb) with circulating air flow on to maintain a temp of 90*-95*. In the morning at about the 18 hour mark, the finish was indeed tack-free yet still a bit soft. Additionally to Norman’s comment that a second coat could be applied at this point, this would be an EXTREMELY GOOD POINT to apply an additional coat. As with virtually ALL epoxies, application of additional coats while the prior is only partially cured results in a much better, preferred CHEMICAL bond between the two rather than relying on a simple MECHANICAL bond of the fully cured and sanded prior coat. Without knowing Norman’s definition of “Fully cured”, his assessment of, “…not fish the rod until at least 36-48 hrs have past when it is fully cured” is probably accurate if not a bit conservative. While a rod coated with CC could possibly be fished after 48 hours of curing from the initial application, an extra 24 hours certainly would not hurt anything. Remember, the thread wraps secure the guides; the thread finish only keeps the wrapping thread from going “boink”.
Phil,
although I was horizontal and inspecting the inside of my eyelids at the 12 hour mark, Norman’s observation that the CC was tack-free at this point is probably accurate, but factor-in my curing temps may have been higher than his. Contrary to your definition, I consider the no fingerprint stage of epoxies as SET while the CURED, let alone the FULLY-CURED stage may require 3-10 days (or even more).
I applaud Herb’s honesty in bringing-up the “bad batch” scenario and the lint factor with the extended cure time, something I did not factor-in. While I spent the time, effort and money to build a designated, heated curing cabinet which can rotate three 12ft rods at once, I realize others may not have the luxury.
With the next opportunity, I will experiment with richening the hardener a tad. Experience in the composite industry has taught me most epoxies are quite ratio sensitive and can act in peculiar, unpredictable ways when that ratio is off. While expecting to produce a harder end product as implied by the manufacturer, I am curious as to the effect it might have on the cure time. Norman?
I wonder if “Them Aussies” are following this topic. Their input and perspective would be greatly and graciously appreciated.

Mark Talmo
FISHING IS NOT AN ESCAPE FROM LIFE BUT RATHER A DEEPER IMMERSION INTO IT!!!

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Re: CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: Ed Kramer (---.hrbgpa.fios.verizon.net)
Date: August 18, 2019 12:06AM

Mark,

You mentioned a curing cabinet. I have often thought about that to reduce the possibility of dust intrusion, etc in addition to providing a good environment for finish. Some questions:
1. Would be please provide the details of your curing cabinet?
2. What is your process? I.e. Apply finish outside the cabinet and insert for curing, or insert rod in cabinet, preheat rod, apply finish in cabinet, and allow to cure in cabinet, or something else?

Thanks

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Re: CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: Bill Sidney (---.gci.net)
Date: August 18, 2019 12:54AM

Have you looked at MUD HOLE drying tent , just an idea , I know nothing about it, out side of what I got from there book ,

William Sidney
AK

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Re: CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: Adam S McClain (---.bla1.nsw.optusnet.com.au)
Date: August 18, 2019 01:05AM

Great to hear as I have a few rods to coat and was debating if should use CC.

Btw CTS are from New Zealand not Australia! We call them KIWIS! lol They are across the ditch off our east coast.

We Aussies like to claim kiwi actors and musicians ;) Love to claim CTS but will give this to the kiwis ;)

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Re: CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: roger wilson (---.hsd1.mn.comcast.net)
Date: August 18, 2019 10:05AM

Ed,
With respect to a curing cabinet or tent.

Normally dust falls from above. So, normally, if there is a clean wide shelf above a drying rod, the accumulation of dust on a rod is close to zero.

If you need an infrequently used drying cabinet, the use of a cardboard box from - say a refrigerator - trimmed to size can do an excellent job.

If you do use a drying cabinet, normally the process is to do the rod coating outside the cabinet and then move the rod to the cabinet. This is especially true if the dryer inside the cabinet is a multi rod drum style dryer. With a drum style dryer, is is virtually impossible to get to all sides of the rod for finish application and inspection.

However, if there is only a single rod, or a series of wall mounted or bench mounted single rod dryers in the cabinet, one could leave the rod in the cabinet for drying and additional coats of finish.

However, the cabinet is typically going to limit the total free access to the rod so normally, it works better to remove the rod from the dryer and place it on a stand a lone dryer outside the cabinet for finish application and ensuing inspections and additional coats of finish.

If you wanted to make a dryer, simply make a three sided box with a clear plastic access door on the front to open for access and rod insertion and removal. Normally, one will add lights and or some source of heat and heat control to give a predetermined temperature for the rods to dry in a controlled environment.

A simply way to make the dryer cabinet would to to construct a frame of any material you find suitable and then skin the box with a thin light material that will provide the dust free controlled heat environment for the rod drying. Think about the frame of a home that is sheeted with insulation on one side and an interior finish on the inside. No need to have solid lumber like plywood to form the sides and ends of the box. A light frame with a thin light skin will work very well for a drying cabinet. You could even make a light frame and then use cardboard stapled to the frame to provide for with an excellent drying cabinet.

Best wishes.

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Re: CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: Mark Talmo (71.147.59.---)
Date: August 19, 2019 04:25PM

Adam, thank you for the country correction. I hope I did not offend any Aussies or Kiwis.
Ed, while I could certainly use my curing cabinet to apply finish due the hinged Lexan covers, I typically use my power wrapper and then transfer to the cabinet. If you care to do so, see the five photos titled “Mark’s Curing Cabinet” under Equipment and Tools in the photo section. I can appreciate most would consider my cabinet over-kill and not worth the time, effort and money involved. It will individually rotate three rods simultaneously, is heated by whatever wattage light bulb is required, air circulated full length by a computer fan (filtered twice), internally lit by full-length LED strip lighting and the three 4ft sections nest inside one another and stand on end when not in use to minimize storage space required. It works exceptionally well.
Bill and Roger have offered viable alternatives but I wanted something better. Being a fabricator and usually not satisfied with available products, I enjoy designing and building a multitude of different things and the over-kill aspect lends itself to dependability, ease of use and enjoyable service.

Mark Talmo
FISHING IS NOT AN ESCAPE FROM LIFE BUT RATHER A DEEPER IMMERSION INTO IT!!!

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Re: CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: Ed Kramer (---.hrbgpa.fios.verizon.net)
Date: August 20, 2019 02:31PM

Mark,

Thanks for the pics. Being an engineer myself, I can appreciate your attention to detail and desire for something better. Very nice stuff!

Ed

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Re: CTS Crystal Coat Rvisited
Posted by: Mark Talmo (71.147.59.---)
Date: August 20, 2019 05:32PM

Thanks, Ed.

Mark Talmo
FISHING IS NOT AN ESCAPE FROM LIFE BUT RATHER A DEEPER IMMERSION INTO IT!!!

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