Since the dawn of 2-part epoxy wrap finishes, custom rod builders have
continued to look for that perfect combination of beauty as well as ease of
use. Last year the folks at U-40 introduced a new type of epoxy rod finish
which they named LS2000. It was released to much fanfare and many rod
builders raved about its exceptional clarity, bubble release and light
stability (the LS part of the product name). But many other rod builders
complained about the low viscosity saying it prevented good coverage even
with two applications, wouldn't level well and tended to pull away from the
wrap edges. Some of these complaints were traced to poor finishing
techniques, but others were valid. So Trondak U-40 went back to work
on the next version of LS and we received a sample several weeks ago. We have now
mixed and applied enough batches to be able to give you a pretty good idea
of what to expect.
Rarely do first impressions give you a good idea of what to expect. The new
LS Supreme was no exception here as the very thick resin and extremely thin
hardener led us to believe we'd end up with something very unmanageable.
In reality, once the resin and hardener were measured and mixing begun, we
found we had a medium viscosity mix that was extremely manageable and
forgiving. Yes, as this finish is thicker than the standard LS2000 released
last year, we were able to introduce bubbles rather easily. The LS
Supreme quickly and easily released most of the bubbles on its own. Not to the
extent of the standard LS2000 perhaps, but only a very, very brief
application of heat after the finish was applied was necessary to release
the remainder. Among high-build type finishes, LS Supreme releases bubbles
faster and more completely than any other we've yet tried.
LS Supreme goes on easily and smoothly. Again we found it to be very
manageable and was easily worked into the tiniest of spaces. Unlike the
standard LS2000, the Supreme version can be applied a bit more thickly and
will still level quite well. Yet it can also be applied quite thinly if desired, with
no ill effects or problems.
Pot life at 70F was a very generous 45 minutes! In fact, at the 45 minute
mark, LS Supreme was still more manageable than
some other high-build finishes are at just 15 or 20 minutes. With this finish,
it's okay to take your time. You can relax and do what needs to be done
without feeling as if you are under the gun to keep moving or else! Definitely
a trait many rod builders will find helpful.
Although the finish has a very long pot life/working time, it did not pull away
from the wrap edges as many complained the regular version did. It leveled
well and only about 2 and1/2 hours of rotation were needed for it to set
beyond the point where running or sagging was evident. (Remember that
we were working at 70F and the set-up time will vary depending upon the
work area temp. Always err on the side of more rotation time than needed
to prevent problems.)
We were able to easily achieve a smooth, level, bubble-free coating with a
minimum of effort. Penetration was excellent and we found that LS Supreme
fully and evenly penetrated to the blank through a double wrap of size D
over size A thread. A single application will easily cover wraps made from
A size thread and with careful application will be sufficient on wraps from
D. However, in most cases where heavier saltwater rods are being finished
we believe it is advisable to use two applications in order to get the depth
desired for the greater demands placed upon such tackle.
Surprisingly, LS2000 High-Build can, with only a slight variation in
technique, be applied thin enough to approximate the look of just a few
coats of varnish or urethane! Hopefully the "High-Build" moniker will not
scare off those of you who desire less depth of finish . LS Supreme will
give such results if you wish.
After approximately 60 days under UV exposure the clarity of the finish to
the naked eye has not been affected in the least. None of our test sticks
have shown any yellowing or darkening. While 60 days is not sufficient to
state emphatically that it will never darken, we have found that finishes
tend to discolor greatest during the first few weeks of UV exposure. LS
Supreme has come through the early tests with flying colors and we feel
confident in saying it will remain quite clear and free from discoloration
under normal use.
The finish cured hard enough within 3 days, although we could and still can
apply enough pressure with a thumbnail to dent the surface. We do wish it
would cure just a tad harder, but it is certainly not what anyone would
describe as soft in its present incarnation. Flexibility is excellent.
The folks at Trondak plan to keep the standard version, or Regular LS2000,
in the line up along with the new LS Supreme. They needn't do so. The new
LS Supreme is so versatile that it will serve the needs of those who desire
a thick, or thin coating, equally well. It is easily U-40's best effort at
epoxy rod finish to date and there is little, if anything, to complain
about. It's a good product that is easy to use and gives great results.
What more could you ask?
*(It has been announced that U-40 will be discontinuing LS2000 completely
and supplying only the new LS Supreme from this point forward.)
~ Tom Kirkman
11710 Airport Rd.
Everett, WA 98240
Ph. (800) 878-1402