DIY Epoxy Rotor
Build your own epoxy-drying rotor out of some scraps and a disco mirror ball motor
By Martin Joergensen
If you tie flies incorporating epoxy, you would probably have great benefit from a rotating drying foam disc. These can be bought in most flyshops, but often retail for quite a lot of money. For people like myself, who only occasionally tie with epoxy, a less expensive solution might do.
We should be dancin', yeahhhhh...
Remember when disco was big? Remember those mirror balls hanging under the ceiling, casting their magic, moving spots of light on the walls?
Well, that's where we're aiming.
Not the disco, that is, but the mirror balls.
And not even the balls, but the motors that turn them.
Such a motor runs with less than 5 RPM and often down to one or less. That's what we're looking for. We need a motor that can turn fast enough to keep our epoxy from sagging, but not so fast that it gets spun off by the centrifugal forces.
Such motors can be had for as little as 10 USD or 8 Euros. I paid 85 Danish Kroners for mine in an electronics shop. That's about 15.-$/11.-€.
If you were a DJ back then, you might even have one lying around...
You just need a light one, for the smallest possible weight, but make sure it's the flat type. They also come in a longish, cylindrical style, which is a bit more difficult to mount. Also ensure that the axis is as thick as possible and flat on the end.
Apart from the motor we need:
- A couple of small bolts. 5mm Ø (1/4") is fine, but the size is not critical. The length should be about 1.5-2 centimetres or approx. 2/3 of an inch. One can be shorter and must fit the mounting holes in the motor flange.
- A bunch of nuts and dishes for the above
- A piece of scrap wood - 5x10 centimetres or 2x10 inches and not too thick is good.
- An angle iron (angle bracket) of suitable proportions
- A couple of wood screws
- A dish of plastic, 10-15 centimetres Ø (4-5") and some soft foam to pad it with
- A dish of hard foam, similar diameter
- Double sided adhesive tape
This is just a suggestive list. As you will see, it's not really critical in any way, and you can improvise with what you have.
What we're aiming at is getting the motor to sit with the axis horizontally and a foam dish mounted perpendicular on that.
Here's what I did:
All I needed to do now was to press the foam into the disc and plug my rotor in, and I was ready to dry epoxy flies.
- I glued a bolt head first to the axis of the motor - with epoxy, what else? I made sure the two were absolutely in line and let the 5-minute epoxy set for 24 hours before continuing.
- I cut the top of a plastic lid for a bunch of writeable cd's. I found that to be of a suitable stiffness and diameter. I just left a small rim to sturdy the disc and facilitate mounting the foam
- I cut a disc of thin foam from an old camp mattress scrap. I just pressed the disc into the foam and cut along the depression
- I drilled a small hole in the centre of the disc
- Now I dug out a piece of scrap wood and cut off a 25 centimetre or 10" bit
- In my workshop I found a large angle iron
- I mounted the iron on the wood with a couple of screws
- I then mounted the motor on the iron with a bolt
- Lastly I attached the disc to the axis/bolt with a couple of nuts and discs
This construction has one major drawback: because of the thin foam, it doesn't hold large flies. For my use it's sufficient, but if you want to dry really large saltwater flies, you need thicker and sturdier foam.
My basement is full of old boxes from computers and electronics, and some of these are stuffed with foam padding of different qualities. If you are like me and save these things, find a suitable block of foam, cut a couple of discs and get rid of he rest! You won't need it anyway... but that's a whole other story.
This foam might be sturdy enough to be able to mount directly on the axis, but you may also just stick it onto a disc like the one described above with some double-sided tape.
Just plug your newly constructed rotor into the wall socket and let it run. Use one-hour epoxy to enable yourself to cover a lot of flies before it settles.
Prepare a whole bunch of flies. The disc on my rotor easily handles 15-20 flies. Now coat them with epoxy in your rotary vice and transfer them to the rotor. It runs so slowly that you can easily stick the fly in a vacant spot without turning off the motor.
Let the flies turn for as long as you please - and more than the single hour prescribed - and you will probably have some very neatly coated and smoothly finished flies once the epoxy has settled.
Don't feel tempted to check the progress of the settling by poking a stick in a fly. You will most likely draw strings from it and mar it. Check the remains of the epoxy in the container you used for mixing. When that isn't sticky any more but hard as glass, you can turn off the motor and pick out the flies.