After much research and field testing, I decided to change over from balsa wood to various specialised foams for all my handmade float bodies. Foams are much stronger than balsa for their density and of course, being of a closed-cell nature they do not take on any water even if they get damaged in use. There are four types of foam used and these are described below.
HB Tech 1 Foam – This is a very special and expensive grade of foam. It boasts a buoyancy of around 15% more than a medium grade balsa. It is however incredibly strong with the manufacturers starting a compression rating of 218psi. Being a very fine grade closed cell foam which is unable to absorb water it used for a large number of float patterns in the HillBilly range.
HB Tech 2 Foam – The slightly larger closed cells in this foam make it even more buoyant than Tech1 which makes it the first choice for larger HillBilly patterns such as the Sydney.
HB Tech 3 Foam – The strongest of all the foams used in the HillBilly range with a very high density rating of 200. It is so strong it can be stood upon with little if any damage (as some have seen me demonstrate). Its buoyancy is similar to that of a very hard balsa which makes it the first choice for the “bagging” floats in my range such as the Critters and Edge Hogs.
HB Tech 4 Foam – This is an extraordinary hi tech foam which I use for the Immortals line through range. It has a small closed cell structure and is specially manufactured for use in situations where the foam needs to withstand high surface load pressures. It is so tough that it is difficult to machine without special tooling and I almost decided not to use it because of this problem. However I persevered because its excellent strength and buoyancy properties made it ideal for the Immortals range and it may in the future take over from my Tech3 foam on some other models.
Other materials used
- Carbon stems – Used where the maximum buoyancy needs to be retained for a floats physical size.
- Glass stems – strongest of stem materials and the natural choice for most patterns in the HillBilly range. The weight of the stem is often used to build stability into a float and is the ideal compromise between carbon and wire.
- Stainless steel wire stems – Used to add maximum built in stability to a float and mostly used on patterns aimed at catching silvers F1’s and smaller carp.
- Nitinol wire stems – A compromise between a traditional Stainless Steel and a Glass stem. This wire is almost impossible to permanently bend but is not quite as heavy as a Stainless stem. Used sensibly in conjunction with my Tech4 foam to produce very tough floats with strong stems whilst retaining a high degree of finesse in the build
- Float tips (antennae) – Only the best quality hollow plastic high visibility tips are used in the construction of HillBilly floats.
- Float eyes – Best quality stainless steel twisted or spring eyes are fitted with the type being determined by the float pattern or customer choice.
- Finishes – Only the best sealers paints and varnishes are used to obtain the high class finishes on the HillBilly float range.