What causes natural gut string jobs to break in storage?

Discussion in 'Stringing Techniques / Stringing Machines' started by 10shoe, May 10, 2018.

  1. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    A customer called to say that a natural gut string job I did for him nearly a year ago broke before he even used it. He has a pair of racquets, uses 1 till it breaks, then expects to use the other. In this case it was sitting for about 11 months. Personally, I am not surprised when this sort of thing happens since every natural gut string job sitting in my closet has done the same thing given enough time.

    My question is: What causes this and is there a storage regimen that can prevent it?
     
    #1
  2. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    Messages:
    14,628
    @RJYU indicated on the boards that any natural gut string job will break on its own left long enough. I didn't know this, but have seen it with some of my wood rackets strung with gut and left in storage.
     
    10shoe likes this.
    #2
  3. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Given that RJYU's clients change out their strings on a daily basis, I wonder how he'd ever encounter an old string job.
     
    #3
  4. RJYU

    RJYU Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2007
    Messages:
    205
    Not all of the people I string for a professionals. Also, I’ve got quite a few special racquets from important tournaments some of our clients have played. Eventually the gut breaks. I’m assuming it’s because the gut dries out, and this weakens the fibers. Not sure if that is in fact the reason though.
     
    mxvb, Rabbit, 10shoe and 1 other person like this.
    #4
  5. kkm

    kkm Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Messages:
    1,082
    The Tennis HOF museum has loads of racquets - wood, carbon fiber - strung with natural gut, full bed and hybrid. All those racquets have broken natural gut strings.
     
    10shoe likes this.
    #5
  6. jwocky

    jwocky Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2017
    Messages:
    139
    Location:
    Big Blue Marble
    Under what conditions was the second racquet stored?
    Was any mineral oil applied periodically?
    If it was a "string it and forget until needed" situation, then the gut breaking should not be a surprise.
     
    #6
  7. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    I'm going to assume he kept the racquet in the plastic bag and put it in his carrying bag. Won't know till he comes in.
    I have never applied mineral oil to gut and am unfamiliar with the benefits. Could you elaborate please?

    While I am not surprised his strings broke, I can understand his consternation. His other racquet was strung 2 years ago and lasted all this while, and he has of course been using it to hit balls as well.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
    #7
  8. jim e

    jim e Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2007
    Messages:
    5,241
    There was a time when some of my gut customers would break a gut string early, or when they take it out of the tennis bag later.
    Usually what happens is they shank a ball (mishit) , and stresses the string at the grommet area, and later breaks in bag.
    last few years I have been applying a lube at the main string grommet areas (I use Tri Flow) using a small round micro fiber brush, and I no longer see those early breaks. Only downside is needing to clean clamps real well after job is done .I gave this idea to the USRSA a while back and they published it in their magazine.
    Gut is a fragile string and when string is against grommet for a while it is like glued into the grommet and when stressed or dries out it can snap right at a grommet area. Have you sometimes when you remove old strings from a racquet it is really secure into a grommet and you really need to pull hard to remove it almost like it fused to the grommet, so if a mishit was against a string as such there would be no give at the grommet area, it cannot tolerate the force and snap at even a later date, or can snap at that grommet because of the stress against grommet as string dries out with nat. gut.Try the lube with nat. gut next time.It does not take much, just a small drop on a tiny micro brush and spin it through the grommet openings before you string it.It will keep the string lubed at that vulnerable spot and help with mishits as well. I only use that with the nat. gut hitters. It takes a little more time to apply and later clean machine well, so charge accordingly.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
    #8
  9. esgee48

    esgee48 Legend

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Messages:
    7,132
    Location:
    SF CA
    NG will dry out. Strands will not be bound together to support the tension when this occurs. Any weakness in the fibers and the string will break. The material is also organic and the organic bonds will deteriorate on their own over time. Add tension and the string will break.

    NG in its sealed package will last decades if stored properly.

    Not sure if mineral spirits/oil is the right material to keep NG from drying out. A higher relative humidity environ would help with perhaps a wipedown with baby oil.
     
    #9
  10. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    @RJYU
    Do you guys still use Star 4's and if so what do you use for clamps when you wear them out?
     
    #10
  11. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    You talked me into it and out of it in the space of a few seconds. Have you experimented with applying lubes to the grommet holes on a finished string job?
     
    #11
  12. jim e

    jim e Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2007
    Messages:
    5,241
    Never used after job done. If you do it before string racquet the string will rest on a lubed grommet. No big deal to clean clamps as I am sure you routinely do that anyways, it's just after you use the lube, you have to clean the clamps at that time is all. Just charge a little more for labor for nat. gut and you will not mind cleaning clamps This reminds me ,Many years back I had a player bring back a nat. gut job I did that broke real soon, and I apologized and restrung for free, later to find out from another player that said person picked up a stone and hit it with those nat. gut strings causing string to brake.That incident caused me to increase fees for all string jobs and also charge more for nat. gut as things like this happen, and its always the stringers fault, and stringing nat. gut takes more time as you need to handle it carefully. If you string gut, make your time worth your while.
     
    #12
  13. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    I visited Tri Flow's website. I see they have a pinpoint applicator. Is that what you are using? I'm assuming that you are pulling the string through the holes first and just before tensioning applying lube to the corners of the grommet where the string will bend. I mean, if you lube the grommets before you even mount the frame, you are going to have a greasy mess.
     
    #13
  14. jim e

    jim e Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2007
    Messages:
    5,241
    I use that pin point applicator to place a very small drop on a very small dental microfiber brush (I am a dentist and use a brush at work to apply a resin bonding agent to teeth that requires bonding resin fillings), those brushes are dirt cheap on the big auction site, get the small size ones, and just a very small drop will lube a few grommets before you even mount racquet, I am talking of a small amount of lube here, not going overboard, just to very lightly coat the inside of grommet with a very thin smear layer. It does not make a greasy mess.
    The brush is a dental microbrush approx. size is 1.0 mm, works great for small touch up of small stone chips on auto using proper paint as well.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
    10shoe likes this.
    #14
  15. milk of amnesia

    milk of amnesia Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2016
    Messages:
    380
    Changes in humidity will snap gut strings. A few summers ago the area I was living in was experiencing a bit of a drought where it hadn't rained for a couple of weeks. I was sitting at my desk with my open racquet bag a few feet away and then the sky opened up and it started to rain. All of a sudden I heard a ping, ping, ping sound coming from my racquet bag and just like that, all three racquets had snapped strings. This happened in just a few seconds after it started raining. Lesson learned. From then on, I have kept my racquets closed in the temperature control compartment of my tennis bag and I haven't come across a snapped string - but I do use my racquets regularly. I don't know whether this would be enough for long-term storage.
     
    10shoe likes this.
    #15
  16. jwocky

    jwocky Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2017
    Messages:
    139
    Location:
    Big Blue Marble
    @10shoe - mineral oil (or as @esgee48 indicated baby oil). NOT mineral spirits (turpentine)

    The oil protects the natural fibers.

    While stringing do what @jim e uses around the grommets or use the mineral oil with the tiny dental brush for cleaning braces
    PLUS
    AFTER PLAY I dust off the string bed first regardless of the surface where I played with it - clay, hard courts, and then a few dropper drops of mineral oil on a soft cloth and wipe both sides of the string bed and any string exposed around the outer frame (if not using guard tape). The oil is not supposed to make the string bed glisten like skin at a massage parlor.
     
    10shoe likes this.
    #16
  17. RJYU

    RJYU Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2007
    Messages:
    205
    Yes, still using Star 4’s. I haven’t worn out a set of clamps yet. My current clamps are the same ones that came with my machine when we purchased it. The clamps have got about 30,000 racquet stringing on them, and are still going strong.
     
    Rabbit likes this.
    #17
  18. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Wow! I bought a used Star 4 on the auction site and wore out the cams on the handles in a couple years. They won't stay closed anymore and I have been on a quest for clamps ever since.

    BTW, if I could get my hands on a decent 6 pt vise, this Star 4 would be for sale.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
    #18
  19. RJYU

    RJYU Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2007
    Messages:
    205
    2 years? I’m assuming those clamps were in bad shape when you got them.

    I’m always amazed people still want to buy Star 4 machines. They are very good machines, but there are no spare parts available. Any Star 4 machine today is old, and is one failure away from being a very large paper weight. Unless you already have a Star 4 (or several) and want another for extra parts, I can’t see why anyone should get one. We still look for Star 4’s to hopefully keep ours running a bit longer, but usually the asking price is crazy high.
     
    #19
  20. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY

    The previous owner (a guy with a busy shop in Colorado) referred to this as a "back up" machine. I don't recall how to check the stroke counts but just looking at the glide rails...this machine did a lot of racquets. I have not used it much since I got it except for the clamps. I figured out a way to mount the Star vise on my Toyo-Zouki when I need 6 pt support (not often) and have used the business end of the Star 4 very little.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
    #20
  21. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    Messages:
    14,628
    I bought the Mighty Sensor from a shop in Colorado! They just upgraded their machines.
     
    #21
  22. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Well, if he originally said the shipping would be $200 but then the UPS store insisted on packing it or they wouldn't insure it and the shipping got upped to $400...it's the same effing guy.
     
    #22
  23. mmk

    mmk Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2011
    Messages:
    2,154
    Location:
    1 AU from the Sun
    Just one data point, but I had a Wilson Advantage woodie that I'd had strung up in the early 80s with Victor Imperial, and hadn't played with since the mid-80s, and the gut held up for three decades before I played with it again, even lasted about 10 hours of use after all those years before it snapped. It was unraveling, but still played well until it snapped.
     
    #23
  24. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    Messages:
    14,628
    Same same...in my case, they packed but UPS shipped and he insisted on a liftgate which took it from $200 originally quoted to $400. (He also, rather oddly, indicated that they didn't make any money off shipping. I say oddly because it never came up from my side.) When the UPS 18-wheeler showed up on my cul de sac, the liftgate was jammed and the driver an I had to lower manually. I wasn't too happy with that....but....was happy when I strung my first racket on the Mighty Sensor
     
    #24
  25. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY

    So, Littleton Colorado, right?

    He is full of it, he is definitely making money on shipping. I mean, I have to think one of the reasons Ron is using a Star 4 is because the machine is so light (for travel) and I still get pissed thinking about how this guy in Littleton played me on the shipping.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
    #25
  26. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Someone gave me a wooden racquet that is so old I don't even think it originally had a grip (just a bare wooden handle from the days when men were men) and it is strung with green gut that is still unbroken. So either gut isn't what it once was or the tensions today are just that much higher or I stink as a stringer. Take your pick.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
    #26
  27. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    Messages:
    14,628
    It was a branch of that store, but yes. Did it through Paypal so I just got an invoice. No real particulars.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
    #27
  28. jim e

    jim e Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2007
    Messages:
    5,241
    I still have a Tad/ Davis that I strung with Bow brand gut at 61 lbs.back in 1971 and still hit with it and strings still holding up after all these years.
    I use it to warm up with many times, as makes me concentrate where the ball hits the racquet being a small area to hit with.Strings still holding up nice!
    I'm sure that string job is older than some of the players that post here.
     
    Rabbit and 10shoe like this.
    #28
  29. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Were you using Triflow back in 1971???
     
    #29
  30. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    Messages:
    14,628
    Hey man, it was the 70s...everybody was using Triflow......and......
     
    10shoe likes this.
    #30
  31. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    #31
  32. jim e

    jim e Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2007
    Messages:
    5,241
    No! That was back in the wooden racquet era, and there was not much of an issue with strings snapping at the frame as the holes were deep and smooth for the most part, and strings slid nice in the openings, as there were no grommets, just a smooth hole through the wooden frame.Back then, you really did not need many patterns to follow as there were mostly wooden racquets and the T-2000, and the occasional aluminum or other metal racquets that would come along.
    I started tri flow about 2-3 years ago and it did make a difference for nat. gut jobs with todays racquets.
     
    10shoe and Rabbit like this.
    #32
  33. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Customer finally showed up with his racquets. I misunderstood the situation. The string job that broke while sitting in the bag was 21 months old. Still, he was very much wanting me to give him some sort of break in the price since the string broke before he hit a ball with it. I told him I would not. He accepted my decision, grumbling.

    He came by to pick up the racquets yesterday (Sunday) at 1 minute to closing time. He seemed intent on chatting. Began by asking me whether a ball striking the net post in a doubles game is still in play. Twenty minutes later he wants to pay and hands me a credit card even though he has been a customer for 10 years and should know better. I send him down the road to a convenience store with a cash machine. He returns with the cash, half an hour past closing time. We leave my shop, still discussing whether it makes sense to leave a racquet sitting unused for months, walk down the hall, down the stairs, as we exit the building he asks me: "Is it a bad idea to store the racquet in the car?"
     
    #33
  34. esgee48

    esgee48 Legend

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Messages:
    7,132
    Location:
    SF CA
    You should have said 'Please shoot me!' :eek:
    If you needed a picture of a clueless customer, use his. :D
     
    #34
  35. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Yes, well, I think perhaps he understands now. Although he could have avoided all this by simply reading any one of the invoices I've generated for him over the last 10 yrs which all include this:

    [​IMG]
     
    #35
  36. jim e

    jim e Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2007
    Messages:
    5,241
    I bet most only look at the price and don't even look at anything else.
     
    #36
  37. 10shoe

    10shoe Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
    Messages:
    386
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Most only regard the invoice as an annoying piece of paper getting between them and their grip.
     
    #37
  38. Wes

    Wes Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2014
    Messages:
    540
    ^^^
    Agreed. Likely overlooked all the time.
    Maybe use a highlighter, in the relevant box, to draw more attention to it.
     
    #38
  39. scotus

    scotus G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2005
    Messages:
    11,108
    Well, I have old racquets that I had strung with VS natural gut 10 and 15 years ago and the strings are still fine. Although sold now, I have also had racquets that had 20+ year-old natural gut in them in perfect shape.

    Having said this, I've had some Pacific Prime and Klip Legend gut that snapped in storage within weeks and months in room temperature.
     
    #39

Share This Page