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Servicing Your Reel

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Servicing Your Reel

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine came up to me and handed me a pretty expensive reel and said, ?Ya want a free reel?? Surprised, I looked the reel over. The reel looked to be in good shape. I asked him what was wrong with it. He said ?it just doesn?t cast like it use to.? ?I spent all of that money and it is already slap wore out.? So I took the reel home, spooled it up with some 12lb. test and took it to the back yard to make some casts. I tied on a ? oz. practice plug and made a cast. The thing just made a loop and slapped into the ground. I made some adjustments and made another cast. It threw straight, but the distance was less than impressive. I kept playing with different adjustments, but it still did not perform well. I finally understood his point. But, I knew what the problem was. The reel just needed servicing.

Whether you paid $10.00 or $300.00 for a reel, they all need some TLC to keep them at optimum performance. So what I am going to share with you now are the procedures that I did on his reel to get that performance back. It is not rocket science and you don?t need to be scared to death to do these steps on your own reels.

First, make sure that you have some time to yourself and that you are in a quiet place where you won?t be disturbed. Trying to do this stuff with kids running around or the wife asking you to stop for whatever reason will just distract your attention and have you looking for that tiny screw that you just removed. Lay out a piece of news paper on a table top so that you have plenty of room to lay stuff out. Get some Q tips, tooth picks, a clean rag, and a screwdriver along with your favorite reel oil and grease.

The first thing that I like to do is get all of the visible dirt off of the reel before I start taking it apart. The rag and the Q tips are great for this. I like to dampen the Q tip with hot water on one end and leave the other end dry in case I need to remove any excess water. Some folks like to use WD 40 instead of water. WD 40 is a solvent. It is not oil. If you get it on gears or working parts, then both oil and grease will not adhere properly to those parts without a thorough cleaning. Next I remove the reel handle, drag star, and the side plate that covers the gears. WARNING: If your reel has a flipping switch, take your time in removing the side plate and pay attention to how the switch sets to the internal workings on the frame. Some of these switches are easy to work with and some have springs and such that can be a real pain to reassemble. Personally I like to wipe and clean off each part as I remove them. Lay your parts in a straight line down the side of the news paper. As you remove a screw, nut, or part then lay it in front of the previous part that you removed. This way once the reel is disassembled and ready to be put back together, you can start at the bottom and work your way back to the top of the row and all of your parts are in the order that they need to be when you reassemble the reel. Keep the gear side of the reel facing up. If you turn the reel over in your hand and the gears slide off then you could be in for some headache. Take your Q tip and get any excess grease off of the inside of the reel. Use the tooth pick to remove any old excess grease off of the gears. If you use the Q tip for the gears, the cotton fibers may pull off and get on the gears. You don?t need to get the parts sanitary clean, just remove excess stuff and dirt. Then apply some grease to the teeth of the main drive gear. Not a lot, a little dab will do ya. Don?t worry about the pinion gear (the little gear next to the drive gear), it will get some grease from the drive gear once you put the reel back together and turn the handle. You can also put a little grease on the gear that is connected to the worm gear at the front of the reel. Next, put a drop or two of oil at the top of the shaft that your gears sit on. Now reassemble the reel. You have just taken care of the guts of the reel. Take off the tension adjustment cap and put either a drop of oil or grease on the middle inside of the cap. Usually you will see a brass shim on the inside of the cap. The end of the spool shaft rides on this shim. It needs to be lubricated. If the shim has a deep dimple in it then remove it and just flip it over. This can really aid casting distance and smoothness.

What you want to address now is the spool and the bearings. Remove the other side plate and slide out the spool. Again, lay out your parts as you did for the previous side. If you look at the hole on the gears side of the reel where the spool shaft goes, you will see the bottom of the pinion gear and the bearing. Put a drop or two of oil on the bearing. Look on the side plate that you just removed and you will see the other bearing and just put a drop or two on it also. Clean the spool off and wipe off the shafts. Put a drop of oil on the shafts and put the spool back in the reel and put the side plate back on.

For the worm gear, just wipe off the excess grease and shoot in some new. Again, don?t get carried away applying the grease. You want to put 1 drop of oil on the back of the handle grips. If you put too much oil then it will leak out all over the place and become a mess. Also, put a drop of oil in the center of the rails that your line guide travels on. Turn your reel handle a few times and get everything spread around. Your reel is now serviced.

Once you have performed this procedure, then all that you have to do to keep the reel up to speed is to put a drop of oil on the bearings, reel spool shaft, and the rails for your line guide once a month. If you don?t use the reel a lot you can do this less often.

For spinning reels, I remove the handle and the side plate. I then clean off excess or dried grease and grease the gears inside of the housing. I then remove the spool and wipe off the shaft that the spool rides on. I put a drop or two of oil on the shaft and rotate the handle to get the oil spread out on the shaft and replace the spool.

Other Stuff:

. If you don?t feel comfortable getting to the gears of the reel, then have your reel serviced by a professional service technician. However, you will still need to learn how to remove your spool and lubricate the shaft and the bearings. Normally this will cost between $20.00 to $35.00. If they do it right, the greasing will be good for 1 or 2 years depending on use. Grease can dry out. When it does the residue can literally become as hard as a rock. It will destroy your gears.

. Grease is for preventing wear. It should only go on gears. Oil is for lubrication of the spool and bearings. Some use a mixture of oil and grease on the worm gear. I really don?t like this idea. As the line guide rides back and forth on the worm gear, excess lubricant can get pushed into the inside of the reel through the side holes that the worm gear threads through. This can really cause a sloppy mess inside of the gear housing. Also, once oil is applied to a part, grease will not adhere properly to that part again unless the part is thoroughly cleaned.

. One thing that I did not get into was the maintenance of the drag. Some manufacturers use light grease on the drag washers and some run the drag washers dry. If you really want to get into this, drop me a private message and I will work you through how to do this. But first you should check with the manufacturer and find out if this should be done on your particular drag system. If in doubt?. run it dry. If you have an outdated reel and the drag washers are shot, then you can make new ones out of gasket material. Some of the older Diawas used leather drag washers.

. For your grease, any good reel grease will do. Quantum came out with the Hot Sauce grease that has tackifiers in it. They claim that this stuff will impregnate itself into the part that it is applied to. I have used this grease and it is very tacky and slick. But you have to be careful that you use it sparingly and get it where you want it. It is hell to clean off. Other good greases are made by Penn, Abu, Shimano, and Diawa. Most manufacturers make their own grease for their reels. All of my reels but one are Shimano, and I use Shimano lubricants for them.

. Over the years there have been new ?super oils? developed for bearings and spool shafts. What most of this boils down too is a very clean yet thin oil. If you use this stuff you will have to oil your parts more often. Usually one drop on the bearings and spool every 3 times the reel is used. These oils will get some extra distance out of your equipment. Bearings work better with thin oils. If you are not a habitual person at doing reel maintenance, then use your manufactures oil.

. If you want to test the bearings on your reel to see if they are worn you can do the following. Remove the bearings. Pay attention as you remove them to make sure that you know what is the top and bottom of the bearing and how they were installed. It is important that you put them back in the same way that they came out. Soak the bearing in lighter fluid for about 20 minutes to remove the oil. Tap the fluid out of the bearings on a paper towel and let the bearing air dry. Put the bearing on the end of a pencil and spin it. Rotate the bearing around with your fingers and see if you ?feel? any flat or bad spots. If it spins freely, then it is good. Also, grab the bearing and work it back an forth to make sure that there isn?t a lot of play in it. If there is, then this is a sign of a worn bearing. If everything checks out then reinstall the bearing and lubricate. If it is bad then replace it.

. Schematics for most brands of reels can be found on the internet. Even for reels that are no longer in production. Some manufacturers also place schematics for their reels on the company website. Do a search for Abu schematics on the internet and just see how many hits you get.

. There are a lot of after market tuning parts for Abu, Shimano, and Diawa reels. You can get bearings, spools, gears, and all kinds of other goodies to hot rod your reel. You can check this stuff out at www.japantackle.com and http://www.heartlandtackleservice.com But be warned, you better have a strong heart when you see the prices on some of this stuff. The sites also have some excellent articles for the reel enthusiast.

One last note: I serviced my friends reel and gave it back to him. He called me up and said that he spent the first couple of casts picking out backlashes because he was not use to any of his reels performing that well. He said that he had to get use to it all over again. I told him what I had done to it and he asked if he could come over with another reel and if I would show him how to do it. I said sure. He showed up with 9 reels. I showed him how to do one and sent him home with the rest of them.


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