E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#21

Post by Short Tip »

Good stuff as always, Charlie.

To me, it makes good sense that manufacturers would try to standardize and streamline any perceived benefits of the "flaming" technique, which seems best suited to small batch production. Perhaps the ammonia steaming processes of Granger, Thomas and others achieved the same ends?

I have little else to add, save for the fact that Fred Thomas used roto-ring tip tops on some early 2 handed salmon rods. I presume they were a 3rd party product?

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#22

Post by cwfly »

Thanks for the replies. I realize that constructing pressure steaming equipment might not be cost effective unless you have the buildings and manpower to make it work.
Here is a public-source photograph of a portion of the Winchester operation. The photograph, taken at lunchtime, was also taken just over a year before Billy Edwards arrived to work for Winchester.

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#23

Post by Short Tip »

Wow.

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#24

Post by cwfly »

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Brewer anymore.

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#25

Post by Broken Rod »

Thanks for the excellent research, Charlie.

Frankly, I have a feeling that Marty Keane bamboozeled us all (and more than once). We have retrieved a number of Brewer Edwards rods in the past few years, I have three, Paul has a few (including a doozy), and Pat probably has the earliest one-- yet none of these rods are flamed.

That is something to ponder. ;)
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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#26

Post by Short Tip »

:popcorn

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#27

Post by cwfly »

A couple of years has gone by since this thread was last used but I accidentally came across another reference to a production shop, in this case Montague in 1941, heat treating and darkening bamboo by steam under pressure. Seems like Levitt's patent worked.

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#28

Post by headwaters »

As always, Charlie, thanks. Your skill and devotion to research that benefits us all is amazing!

Rupert

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#29

Post by Peales »

In reference to "chemicals, steam" from an above post regarding the experiments of Eustis Edwards.

I had a few conversations in the past(early-90's?) with Dale Langtry, who told me at the time that he was the only remaining Granger employee still living. He told me that the Granger company used 50lbs of stream pressure to treat the cane with ammonia. First just the steamed water, then the ammonia was added.

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#30

Post by cwfly »

Thanks Rupert.
And thanks, Peales. It is interesting to learn how many rod making companies used pressure and steam to cook bamboo.
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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#31

Post by Flyman615 »

headwaters wrote:As always, Charlie, thanks. Your skill and devotion to research that benefits us all is amazing!

Rupert
Ditto, Charlie, and thanks Peales for the Granger mention!

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#32

Post by Woodlakejag »

On pages 61 and 64 of Sinclair’s Granger book there are pictures of the Granger factory’s pressurized ammonia retort. The text states that the machinery was completed and installed in late 1921, so this would predate Lane’s patent.

Sinclair also states, on page 82 of his Heddon book, “when they had seasoned long enough for use in rod making, the strips were then placed in a retort - a device of Heddons own design and manufacture - for a final treatment. The treatment consisted of exposing the strips of bamboo to steam under five pounds of pressure for 8 to 12 hours. Though no record survives of the formula used for the tank fluids, it is known that ammonia was one of the components. This treatment produced the effect Heddon called Tempering, which increased the tensile strength of the bamboo as well as giving it a pleasing and distinctive caramel color.”
I’ve seen Heddon model 35s with “Tempered” on the rod shaft dating to 1926, but I suspect they started this treatment as early as 1924.

This is fascinating stuff, thanks for reviving this thread Charlie.

There’s no doubt that Heddon, Granger, some Montague and some rods out of the Winchester plant in the mid/late 1920 and 30s had dark caramel cane, but it’s hard to tell what other rods from this era may have been steamed because aged varnish has the same darkening effect over time.

Is there any indication that Leonard did this? Thomas? Edwards at Filbert street or Mt Carmel? If they didn’t, was it because they didn’t have the means to built the large pressurized retorts?

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#33

Post by Woodlakejag »

A few more ramblings...
I agree with some of the earlier posts in this thread suggesting that the large rod companies likely used steam retorts to darken/treat cane because they could batch them in large quantities. Smaller shops probably continued to darken/treat cane through flaming because they were more concerned with the craft than with output numbers, despite the greater time and effort involved in flaming. I would guess that the smaller shops viewed the pressure steaming as a factory process that was not as “good” as flaming. Except Goodwin Granger. He, apparently, embraced it.

For more background...sometime around 1918-1920 consumers started wanting the “new” darker cane rods. Patrick Garner argues in his book, Playing with Fire, that E.W. Edwards was the first to produce these, by flaming the cane to darken it. AJ Campbell, before he passed, made some posts on this forum that seemed to indicate he disagreed with Garner and that he thought FE Thomas was probably the first to produced dark cane rods through flaming. I don’t think there’s any good evidence either way, but it was most likely one of the two, and which one we will probably never know.

If Granger started pressure steaming in 1921 I wonder if they were the first to use this process. Montague was certainly producing a lot of rods and had the facilities to hold a large retort. I wonder about Cross/South Bend and Shakespeare as well.

As far as Leonard, Payne, or Powell, etc., if they were using steam pressure, we would probably know about it.

George

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#34

Post by Peales »

There is mention of a toning process (not a surface treatment) in one of the Jim Payne catalogs. I would really like to hear about Mr Payne’s process. Seems like it could have been ammonia considering the coloration of some of his rods. Anyone have any information?

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#35

Post by Short Tip »

Woodlakejag wrote:A few more ramblings...
I agree with some of the earlier posts in this thread suggesting that the large rod companies likely used steam retorts to darken/treat cane because they could batch them in large quantities. Smaller shops probably continued to darken/treat cane through flaming because they were more concerned with the craft than with output numbers, despite the greater time and effort involved in flaming. I would guess that the smaller shops viewed the pressure steaming as a factory process that was not as “good” as flaming. Except Goodwin Granger. He, apparently, embraced it.

For more background...sometime around 1918-1920 consumers started wanting the “new” darker cane rods. Patrick Garner argues in his book, Playing with Fire, that E.W. Edwards was the first to produce these, by flaming the cane to darken it. AJ Campbell, before he passed, made some posts on this forum that seemed to indicate he disagreed with Garner and that he thought FE Thomas was probably the first to produced dark cane rods through flaming. I don’t think there’s any good evidence either way, but it was most likely one of the two, and which one we will probably never know.

If Granger started pressure steaming in 1921 I wonder if they were the first to use this process. Montague was certainly producing a lot of rods and had the facilities to hold a large retort. I wonder about Cross/South Bend and Shakespeare as well.

As far as Leonard, Payne, or Powell, etc., if they were using steam pressure, we would probably know about it.

George
George, I don't think that flaming was seen as a "more desirable" process until the time of Paul Young, and later modern makers. Most of the higher end makers, Payne, Thomas, etc., used an even toning process. The early FET Mahogany rods were stained, then later treated with ammonia steam/oven heating in some combination. I can't recall if Jim Payne used ammonia but he would have certainly been aware of it. Furniture makers had been doing it for decades. The popularity/romance of flamed rods has been increased by the number of latter day rodmakers using the process. I think to many early 20th century rodmakers it was seen as a way to hide bad cane, like calcutta. A nice even toned finish was a mark of good bamboo stock.

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#36

Post by pcg »

As a non-chemist, I’d be thrilled to have an experienced, credentialed scientist chime in on this discussion. From the small amount of knowledge I have about ammonia, the substance strikes me as more destructive than otherwise. Modern rodmakers flame their cane, much as Edwards did. Do we know of anyone using ammonia today?

As an aside, I recently acquired a Brewer-era Edwards that is so blackened it is either awesome or embarrassing. Regardless, it’s obviously an early experiment, and it’s fast. To my eye it beautiful.

When discussing FET, remember he stained his rods during the same time frame Edwards was flaming his rods. We presume that was to compete with the appearance of EW’s rods, but of course we don’t really know.
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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#37

Post by Short Tip »

pcg wrote:As a non-chemist, I’d be thrilled to have an experienced, credentialed scientist chime in on this discussion. From the small amount of knowledge I have about ammonia, the substance strikes me as more destructive than otherwise. Modern rodmakers flame their cane, much as Edwards did. Do we know of anyone using ammonia today?

As an aside, I recently acquired a Brewer-era Edwards that is so blackened it is either awesome or embarrassing. Regardless, it’s obviously an early experiment, and it’s fast. To my eye it beautiful.

When discussing FET, remember he stained his rods during the same time frame Edwards was flaming his rods. We presume that was to compete with the appearance of EW’s rods, but of course we don’t really know.
Hey Pat,

Gary Lacey used this process on a lot of rods. He had a homemade steam cabinet he used outside. It worked, but dangerous as hell. Other modern makers have played with it as well. And as I said, it's a well known process for making "fumed oak" or "mission oak" furniture, which precedes rodmakers' use by quite a while, AFAIK.

A.J. Campbell and others disagreed with the "competition" idea, isn't it just as likely that all these guys were just looking for a marketing hook? I still don't see Fred Thomas "chasing" E.W. Edwards as a competitor, seems more likely he was lending him a hand.

Here's an FET Mahogany from 1918. By this time, Fred was using the Browntoning process, not a stain. Worked pretty well I'd say, and almost certainly used ammonia steam.

Image
Last edited by Short Tip on 01/24/20 17:17, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#38

Post by Woodlakejag »

Paul, I think the Paul Young style of flaming that became popular is different in that it was not an even color, but mottled and created dark streaks rather than a caramel tone of the entire cane. That early Thomas rod is stunning!

Patrick, I would love to see your Brewer era. I have one, but it’s beat up, and the old varnish makes it hard to tell what color the cane is underneath. I agree that hearing from a chemist about ammonia would move this discussion along, and I am also curious about the different ways it was used; direct coating, with steam, and/or in a pressurized tank.

The Lane patent application talks about how the pressure treatment opened the pores of the cane and allowed the glue to bind the sections better. Maybe that’s one reason so many Granger and Heddons are still kickin’.

Peales, there are a lot pictures of the Payne shop in Hoagys book “8”, but no indication or mention of a pressure tank or other ammonia use.

The 1924 winchester fishing tackle catalog has a two page detailed description of their rod making process with six pictures. No mention of steam pressure tanks, retorts, or ammonia. And from the rods I’ve seen, I think they started pressure treating after Lanes patent and after Eustis left.

I don’t know how competitive Edwards and Thomas were with each other about their processes, but I have little doubt that Granger, Heddon, and Winchester were great American factories, fighting tooth and nail to make a buck and better rods than the competition. Once Granger started pressure steaming batches with ammonia, Heddon followed suit, and then Winchester. It was probably the most cost effective way to supply the dark rods that consumers wanted.

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#39

Post by roycestearns »

Be careful in assigning our thinking to the early makers/buyers thinking.
I think to many early 20th century rodmakers it was seen as a way to hide bad cane, like calcutta. A nice even toned finish was a mark of good bamboo stock.
The reverse is true ... Calcutta was preferred, early Tonkin adopters were using ink to add marks to imitate the burn and harvest brands on the calcutta cane.

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Re: E.W.Edwards/Winchester question

#40

Post by Short Tip »

roycestearns wrote:Be careful in assigning our thinking to the early makers/buyers thinking.
I think to many early 20th century rodmakers it was seen as a way to hide bad cane, like calcutta. A nice even toned finish was a mark of good bamboo stock.
The reverse is true ... Calcutta was preferred, early Tonkin adopters were using ink to add marks to imitate the burn and harvest brands on the calcutta cane.
I'm sure some did that at first, change is hard. But by the time period in question, the superiority of tonkin cane was well known. The only way I have to think about this is with my own brain!

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