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Swordfish bill preservation

Old 06-23-2019, 03:06 PM
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Default Swordfish bill preservation

I have researched and read everything THT has to offer and still some questions. I have never actually tried to preserve and paint a bill myself. Not interested in hearing about all the people you can buy them from, that isn't the question. The question is what techniques do you use to get it ready for painting? Working on 2 bills at the moment. One bill is significantly larger, 90 lber and 200 lber.

Both bills sat in a crab trap for 2 or 3 weeks
Removed from the trap and covered in Borax for a couple of weeks and the pictures are where we are. The big bill is still pretty dark. I also noticed that I think the big bill simply needs to dry out more(look at the picture where you can see into the open end of the bill).
Where do we go from here?

End point is to get it ready to coat it with epoxy and eventually paint them. Thanks for the help.






Old 06-23-2019, 07:28 PM
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Ants and maggots are your friends. Put them in a plastic pipe outdoors and let nature’s surgeons clean them out.

you can fill them with bondo and then square-cut on a chop saw. Flex Coat is a good final finish and helps to use up old resin.

Disclaimer, I’ve only done Marlin bills, those swords look a lot different.

Last edited by Lone Ono; 06-23-2019 at 09:41 PM.
Old 06-23-2019, 11:27 PM
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Trash can with dishwasher soap and a bubbler, need to change water every 2-3 days. I run a piece of wire up the four holes in the bill to remove fat between water changes. I usually go 7-10 days for the soap and water then do a 50/50 hydrogen peroxide/water for 1-3 days.

If you put the bills in a construction trash bag then in the trash can of water, it only takes a bottle or two of peroxide to get it done.

You can probably skip the soap at this point and just do the peroxide. A matte clear helps the bill take artwork easier, use a few coats.
Old 06-24-2019, 05:11 AM
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I did forget to mention we did run mono through those holes. Also wiped with peroxide yesterday. Didn't soak them though. Thanks for the suggestions
Old 06-24-2019, 09:31 AM
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Let it soak off the dock for a few weeks, spraying the algae off every couple days. Hit it with clorox bleach cleaner a few times after and youre good. The bill should turn white not yellow. That does not look right.
Old 06-24-2019, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Gatorzone19 View Post
Let it soak off the dock for a few weeks, spraying the algae off every couple days. Hit it with clorox bleach cleaner a few times after and youre good. The bill should turn white not yellow. That does not look right.

Both were in a crab trap for 3 weeks. We did clean them every few days. I am sure the larger bill needs more time to dry and both bills have been treated about the same. The smaller bill is closer to ready than the big one.
Old 06-24-2019, 04:34 PM
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This are mine. I leave them in a Igloo cooler like 2 month with water and salt .. then freshwater, a healthy squirt of Dawn dish detergent and approximately two ounces of bleach like another month.




Old 06-25-2019, 06:25 AM
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Jags- Nice bills indeed!
Why not let them dry and leave them natural? Maybe clear coat them
Old 06-25-2019, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by JoshPtJudith View Post
Jags- Nice bills indeed!
Why not let them dry and leave them natural? Maybe clear coat them
Don't know exactly what we will do with them yet. I lean towards the bone color and something that looks like scrimshaw. But the bills that are painted look great also. Either way, they will have to be coated with something to keep them looking nice. Right now, just trying to get them to the point where they are ready for finishing.
Old 06-25-2019, 11:45 AM
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I have done quite a few bills over the years. After you have the bill to the point where its been bleached and there is absolutely no more "smell" you can tackle the finishing part. On mine, I want them with a near-perfect, smooth finish that can be sprayed any color or have artwork done. A very durable primer is to brush on West Systems epoxy mixed up with 410 microlight. mix to a consistency that is thin enough to still allow you to brush it on. I do it with the tip hanging down, but that usually means two coats. Start sanding with 150 working to 220. You will have to sand out any bubbles or hardened drip. Next I used original "Kilz" as that makes a good primer for awlgrip or a laquer finish. I think I sand the Kilz to 320. Then, the easy way is to spray your color coat with one part laquer or an appliance epoxy. Finish with 4-6 coats of clear. The west epoxy stabilizes and encapsulates the bill and gives you something to build on. Also gives a bit of strength to the thin areas....For getting a clear finish, I've done several with the West special clear epoxy, no microlight. That will however require quite a few coats with a lot of sanding. Filling the grain is the goal. Final finish is again a clear, sprayed topcoat. As you know, what seems like a very large, long bill shortens up quickly when the fleshy stuff at the base dissolves or gets eaten away....then, you realize you need to get back out and catch a bigger one!
Old 06-25-2019, 01:05 PM
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Thanks Tom, a lot of good info. Over the years, I've always given the bills away(to the person who reeled it in). Would like to start keeping some and doing a little work on them to see what I can do.
Old 06-25-2019, 01:29 PM
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I do a 3-4 week soak in the canal in a mesh cylinder I built. Then a I put them pointy end down in a 4' x 4" PVC pipe (capped on bottom end and screw cap on the top). Pipe gets filled with clear ammonia. I soak them in the pipe 1-2 months at a time for 3-4 soaks. This gets them virtually grease free - they are extremely greasy. Then lay them flat and in the sun and brush on household hydrogen peroxide. 1-2x of brushing on the HP and letting sit several hours in direct UV will whiten them up.

This method came through trial and error and a ridiculous amount of time on taxidermy forums.

I'm sure it works for others but I avoid bleach as they are very brittle and will crack/split length wise.
Old 06-25-2019, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Southern Hooker View Post
I do a 3-4 week soak in the canal in a mesh cylinder I built. Then a I put them pointy end down in a 4' x 4" PVC pipe (capped on bottom end and screw cap on the top). Pipe gets filled with clear ammonia. I soak them in the pipe 1-2 months at a time for 3-4 soaks. This gets them virtually grease free - they are extremely greasy. Then lay them flat and in the sun and brush on household hydrogen peroxide. 1-2x of brushing on the HP and letting sit several hours in direct UV will whiten them up.

This method came through trial and error and a ridiculous amount of time on taxidermy forums.

I'm sure it works for others but I avoid bleach as they are very brittle and will crack/split length wise.

Agree on the bleach. Have been reading about ammonia but haven't done that yet. Thanks.
Old 06-25-2019, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by JAGSARE1 View Post
Thanks Tom, a lot of good info. Over the years, I've always given the bills away(to the person who reeled it in). Would like to start keeping some and doing a little work on them to see what I can do.
Tim, you are on the right path. My prep prior to the actual finishing involves soaking in the water inside a bait pen, soaking in a PVC tube with various chemicals, laying out on my roof, and then ignoring the darn thing for a few weeks while the critters eat up the last bits of organic material.
Old 06-25-2019, 07:24 PM
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Thanks. Messed with them today and although I agree, on the right track, we still have a way to go. Decided to use the Dawn in water idea but I have some heavy duty degreaser concentrate. Poured that in the tube diluted with water and left it for a few minutes and noticed the degreaser was discoloring everything it touched so decided that might not be a good idea. Removed it, poured the mixture out and re-filled with Dawn and water. Check that in a few days to see where we are.
Old 08-09-2019, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Southern Hooker View Post
I do a 3-4 week soak in the canal in a mesh cylinder I built. Then a I put them pointy end down in a 4' x 4" PVC pipe (capped on bottom end and screw cap on the top). Pipe gets filled with clear ammonia. I soak them in the pipe 1-2 months at a time for 3-4 soaks. This gets them virtually grease free - they are extremely greasy. Then lay them flat and in the sun and brush on household hydrogen peroxide. 1-2x of brushing on the HP and letting sit several hours in direct UV will whiten them up.

This method came through trial and error and a ridiculous amount of time on taxidermy forums.

I'm sure it works for others but I avoid bleach as they are very brittle and will crack/split length wise.
What strength ammonia do you use?
Can you reuse the ammonia or do you need to use fresh stuff each time round?
Old 08-09-2019, 06:49 AM
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Biggest thing is getting all of the oil out of them. When they stop stinking you're done. Id say soak them a bit more and leave in the sun.

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