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Posted 11 May 2005 - 12:13 AM
Some guys build a certain crank and have it "down pat", with precast belly weights, laser cut bills, machined blanks, etc. Not me; I have a couple that I build more than others but I'm always trying new colors, different bills, weights, shapes etc. One tool I'm finding indispensable is a digital "gram scale", an electronic scale that can measure in grams or hundredths of an ounce, up to 6-8 ounces. I bought a Digiweigh (of course made in China) scale off Ebay for $25 incl shipping. Pretty cheap. I'm sure there are more accurate scales but as long as it's measurements are fairly linear I don't care if it is a few percent off a standard reference weight. What's important is being able to compare the relative weights of components in successive crankbaits. If you want a crank to behave in a predictable manner: floater, sinker, slow riser, suspender; it's the best way to get there. I keep notes on component weights of all my cranks - bill, hangers, line tie, sanded blank, lead ballast, painted blank, clearcoated crank, hooks and split rings. The notes make it easy to get within .02 ounces of a crankbait's target weight. And that's critical if you build successive prototypes where you are adjusting components to come up with that "perfect crank". Using one has made my crankbaits much better performers and has removed many of the "mysteries" about why things don't work as intended. Highly recommended!
Posted 12 May 2005 - 11:45 AM
Just curious... are you building balsa or foamies? How do you take into account different density of balsa or account for how many coats of Devcon or Etex the lure may require? Balsa density and quality varies greatly in each sheet. I have found Devcon to be much heavier than Etex and will dramatically change the action as well as the weight of a crankbait. Causing what was once a barely floater...to becoming a sinker. This is part of the reason I went to tuning tabs... I agree you must be as precise as possible with your components but...have found it difficult to predict the weight of the finished bait. With a tuning tab...you just file off the lead until you get the bait to position itself where it needs to be. Of course while utilizing a tuning tab, you need to offset the tab with internal weights in order to balance the lure.
Then there is another problem, sanding Balsa... I have not been able to sand 2 baits indentically. I can get them close.... but this comes from hand sanding. How do you insure you are sanding the same amount of wood away. which creates bouyancy....? It is good to be accurate...on your components, but there are other variables that cant be dealt with until the final tank testing of the baits. At that point, if you have a sinker....it will always be a sinker.
Posted 17 May 2005 - 12:19 AM
I'm a hobbist (mostly a fisherman) who builds bass and striper lures from basswood or balsa, 2-8 at a time. I use a template to trace the blanks and sand them with a Dremel and by hand. With minimal care, it's not hard to get sanded blanks within 1 or 2 100ths oz of each other. For balsa, I scribe a longitudinal center line and some lines for the contour of the head and tail. Otherwise, it's easy to go too far too fast, and get the lure out of symetry. When I want a lure that will suspend or rise slowly, I use basswood. You have to add so much ballast to balsa to suspend it that the weight kills the action, IMO. When I want a shallow lure with lively action that rises quickly, balsa is superb. Since it's so bouyant, any reasonable amount of ballast will be a floater. I take care to weigh components with basswood lures, to get slow risers/suspenders. I also use Devcon, guestimating it will add about 1/100th ounce for each inch of lure length, for most bass lures. For balsa, I also apply an undercoat of Devcon to waterproof and toughen the lure. For basswood, I undercoat with polyurethane to stop the grain rising when painted with latex paint. That's a "nice to do" , not a "must do" - a slightly raised grain will disappear when clearcoated with Devcon. You get used to working with any type wood after a few cranks and some trial and error. I think it's much easier to work with hardwoods like basswood. It works slower and you have more time to see where you're going with the shaping and sanding. Basswood is super nice - uniform density, close grain, sands beautifully. As for digital scales - I think of mine as an indispensable tool when doing a run of basswood cranks. Before using one, I sometimes had to drill out excess ballast to correct a sinker, or I found a suspender was really a floater. I hate redrilling a finished crank! With the scale, I get a consistent result. Quality control. And if I change some elements of a known design, the scale allows me to compensate for the changes and come out with a crank that will still have the same bouyancy behavior.