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New issue with Tom Sexton Fish Filler?

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by Cecil, Jan 17, 2018.

  1. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I exclusively use the Tom Sexton's half cast method which I have modified a little. Use the Tom Sexton Fish Filler from McKenzie and have had issues on and off with slow setting, no setting, and fast setting. I can deal with that. However I seem to be having a new one and wondered if anyone else is experiencing this?

    I'm getting the skin of the fish pulling away from the filler creating drumming once the skin dries. Never had this issue until recently. Usually it's just back of the fish, but had a large crappie where it pulled away on the entire fish! I took the filler out, rehydrated the entire fish and remounted. Still pulled loose on the back side but I was able to deal with it.

    At first I thought perhaps I was using wood that is too hard for the inside block, and when running my screw in to fasten a stick to -- and hang the fish from the rafters --I was stressing the skin. But the latest fish, a yellow perch, I went out of my way to prevent that, by pre drilling the hole etc. Three days later the skin has pulled away from the back just above the seam.

    Maybe my humidity is too low? But I have doubts about that as I have two recirculating aquaculture tanks just down the hall that total about 500 gallons.

    I guess I can put a layer of glue the skin before putting in the fish filler but never had to do that before.

    Anybody else use the half cast method and have this happen lately?

    BTW called today to see if they had changed something but thy are closed to weather issues. Last time I complained about the setting time I got treated like a newbie and I was making it up. Don't remember the guy's name but he wasn't anyone I had ever heard of. Promised to call me back but never did.
     
  2. hambone

    hambone Active Member

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    On my half cast pan fish I use a small wood block and put a v notch on both ends then loop a wire around back side of block and snug the wire into the notches and leave a few inches of wire stick up on both ends, this leaves me with the option of either screwing into the wood or using the wires to fasten with, this works good when attaching to small limbs and such, on another note about the skin coming loose have you changed your preserving method perhaps causing a negative reaction.
     

  3. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your response Hambone.

    Haven't changed my preserving method unless something has changed in the borax.

    Tried to call McKenzie again to see if they had made any changes. Closed again due to "inclement weather." Must be freezing their little tootsies off down there. ;D
     
  4. I changed to Smoothfill. I only use it on occasions, mostly for filling in the heads. I had issues with TS filler because of slow set and ordered another case. it set too fast(as mentioned). I actually mixed 3 different lots in small cups to time it and they all set different. It gets pretty hairy when your working with several fish at the same time and the stuff is rock hard before you finish the last fish. I started putting Borax in it to sllloooww it down. I guess you just have to be flexible!
     
  5. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Right off hand who makes Smoothfill? I know I can look it up but.. I'm getting tired of the lack of quality control too. I'm sure whoever I talk to will deny any changes anyway. Typical corporate response -- deny everything.

    The thing I used to like about the Sexton Fish Filler was it became somewhat rubbery before it really set up which allowed me to position the fish anyway I wanted to without distorting the conformity. Now it sets so fast...

    One thing I NEVER liked about the Tom Sexton Fish Filler was it's lack of strength. When doing large crappies I've had it break on me. Very annoying.
     
  6. McKenzie's has Smoothfill. John Rinehart on the bags.

    The thing I used to like about the Sexton Fish Filler was it became somewhat rubbery before it really set up which allowed me to position the fish anyway I wanted to without distorting the conformity. Now it sets so fast...

    EXACTLY!!! Some are more like cement. But.....it is what it is! They'll tell you that their shipping is cheap also!!!!!!!!
     
  7. BVC

    BVC New Member

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  8. BVC

    BVC New Member

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    Cecil, you can make your own fill using plaster and paper pulp, you "can" use glue to strengthen the mix but for fourty plus years I have never had a problem with the plaster being not strong enough, but I have never used a northern pike for a diving board, that said I only filled small fish with the fill and when they got larger I used foam and fill, or a layer of what I refer to as mache "plaster & paper pulp" with sawdust in the middle or excelsior along with the wood block, J.T. Reese and Pfluger marine taxidermy way back fifty years ago used this method before going to strictly fiberglass reproductions, now to the setting time, most mache's are a plaster base and I am generalizing saying this but the plaster is very moisture sensitive after opening up the bag, it will suck in moisture when not sealed up and this will effect the setting time, it could take a long time to notice this if you lived in Arizona where it I'd very dry, or in a month if you live in Florida where it is humid, now your particular mix could be sensitive to moisture, I live in Florida and have always had a fairly sealed drying room with a dehumidifier where I keep my mache and open bags of plaster in it, this has kept my setting time consistent, maybe this can help you some, Bruce
     
  9. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Thank you BVC!
     
  10. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I used the Tom Sexton Fish Filler again yesterday for a big crappie but this time smeared the white caulking I use for glue on mannikins on the inside of the skin before using the filler. Still have the same problem. A couple days later skin pops loose and drums. Tried calling McKenzie to ask if they had changed something, but if I didn't know better I'd think they have reduced the number of operators as I was put hold for a while. Seems that is happening more than it used to.

    And while I'm at it whining and complaining :) I went to put a large northern on a piece of driftwood and the block in the fish was really close to the head area! WTF! This is the second time that has happened. No more pike and musky forms from McKenzie. It's going to be all from TASCO. Had to carve out a depression for a piece of plywood and glue it into the mannikin. PITA after the fish is mounted!
     
  11. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Placed an order today at McKenzie and had the operator ask if they had made any changes to the Tom Sexton Fish Filler. The answer was no and was told the person she talked to had a lot of experience blah blah blah. Nice lady no problem with that. I told her politely I have been dong this for 35 years and have won many of the top ribbons and trophies so it's not like I'm a beginner.

    So ordered 25 lbs. of Matuska's filler. No more Tom Sexton Filler for me. Another product I won't purchase from McKenzie due to changes and poorer quality.

    I think what's happening is the filler has become so soft it shifts slightly when I run a screw into the embedded block popping the skin loose. This is before hanging the fish to dry from the rafters after attaching a length of furring strip. Even predrilling makes no difference
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
  12. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Just for giggles guys, have you tried using a little vinegar instead of borax with the filler to slow it down? I know borax and water based glues can react so maybe there's some type of reaction going on that's causing the filler to contract? Maybe there's borax in the filler to begin with and perhaps they increased the amount? Really sounds like an incompatibility issue to me. Why it's happening is the question!
     
  13. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    You could be on to something, but I haven't been adding anything to the filler except once a while back. But maybe the supplier is? Still sets pretty fast for them adding something to slow it down. That said won't be buying it so it isn't relevant anymore. I did see on Facebook someone else is having the same issues. You would have thought at least someone on this site was too... BTW I can see why people are leaving this site and going to Facebook. They don't tolerate the bullshit there they do here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
  14. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I too certainly wouldn't waste too much time trying to figure things out if another product will work. I thought you guys were adding borax to it to slow it down, my mistake. Another thought that I think you guys have touched upon would be humidity. Maybe the product is coming from a high humidity area (North Carolina?) and the product itself might be tainted by high humidity or have a shelf life and it could be old before you get it. The only other thing I think would be they changed the recipe.

    P.S. It does come from North Carolina. My money says the product has been tainted by their high humidity...
     
  15. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Perhaps but it's in plastic bags. Shouldn't that prevent that problem? I know where you're coming from though. I made the mistake of allowing some plaster to be exposed to open air one summer and it wasn't worth a crap!
     
  16. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    It probably comes to them is something much larger then they break it up into smaller bags. I get mache's and other dry products sent that are oftentimes hard and clumpy - which I think means that at some point some moisture got to these products. It wuldn't take much in a high humidity environment.
     
  17. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Makes sense.
     
  18. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Got the filler from Matuska today with a snicker's bar. :) Can't wait to give it a try.

    No not the Snickers bar although I consumed that right away. :p
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018