Ageing affects graphite shafts, commonly used in golf clubs, in a variety of ways depending on the condition of the shaft. Graphite typically only experiences deterioration if installation or removal practices deform shaft tips or damage occurs to some area of the shaft. Most graphite products, such as golf club shafts or bicycle frames, come equipped with a protective coating halting graphite exposure. Cracks, chips and scuffs may damage this protective coating and allow deterioration.
Improperly Installed Shafts
Custom golf club manafacturer Custom Clubs of Frederick notes that improperly installed shafts may experience shaft tip damage unless installers take the proper steps to ensure shaft set within club heads well. Heads must have precise 20 degree countersunk holes to mate properly with graphite shafts and not cause damage to graphite fibres. Countersunk heads must have all burrs, sharp edges or points, filed or sanded to prevent potential shaft damage. Custom Clubs of Frederick uses a cone-shaped sandstone drill bit to finalise head preparation for shaft insertion and attachment. Shafts glue into heads using an epoxy similar to that used to bind carbon fibres together in graphite shaft production. As clubs age, weakened tips may fail and detach from club heads.
Improperly Removed Shafts
Removing steel shafts requires heating heads and shafts then twisting the heads from the shafts. According to professional golf outfitter Hireko, twisting a head from a graphite shafts usually destroys the shaft tip. Graphite shafts require machines, available in manual and hydraulic versions, designed to pull a shaft directly out of a heated head. Golf club repair and set-up shops typically must heat club heads to melt the epoxy holding a club within the head; unfortunately, the use of heat can damage graphite shafts by melting the epoxy holding the shaft together. Force applied at improper angles during shaft removal often damages shaft integrity as well. Reusing an improperly removed shaft can result in club failure.
Graphite shafts experiencing damage due to scratches, chips or scuffs in protective surfaces allow sunlight and air to break down the epoxy bonding carbon fibre strands. Any damage penetrating graphite protective surfaces often repairs easily with nothing more than clear paints. Bicycle shops often use clear lacquer fingernail polishes for protective graphite coating finish repairs. Sealing the damaged area only protects exposed graphite if damage failed to penetrate any graphite material. Scratches, chips or scuffs damaging shafts deep enough to harm actual graphite material typically render shafts unusable. With proper care and maintenance, graphite shafts may last decades with little noticeable degradation.