Get your bear­ings

Reg­u­lar main­te­nance will keep your reels run­ning smoothly

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - ARKANSAS OUTDOORS - BRYAN HENDRICKS

When is the last time you cleaned your fish­ing reels?

I don’t mean wiped them down and dropped a bead of oil on the worm gear. I mean took it apart, re­moved all the old grease, oil and dirt, and re­freshed the grease and oil. Never?

That’s why your reels don’t turn as smooth as they used to, and why they squeal and growl when you cast and re­trieve.

Like all me­chan­i­cal equip­ment, fish­ing reels re­quire reg­u­lar main­te­nance to keep the run­ning right. It en­sures func­tion­al­ity when you need it most, and it will pro­long your reels’ life­spans in­def­i­nitely.

Now is a good time to do it, as the heat of a sum­mer af­ter­noon makes it un­pleas­ant to fish.

The mere thought of dis­man­tling a fish­ing reel used to in­tim­i­date me. There are too many small parts to keep track of, and it’s easy to re­assem­ble them in­cor­rectly.

Econ­omy and cu­rios­ity over­rode my fears, and now I en­joy it.

My lat­est projects were a Shake­speare spin­ning reel and a Quan­tum Oc­tane 100 bait­caster that my chil­dren re­cently took on a trip to the Gulf of Mex­ico.

Even though they washed the reels down with fresh wa­ter ev­ery evening, that only re­moved sand and salt from the sur­face. It did noth­ing for the salt and sand that creeps into the works from nor­mal op­er­a­tion. No mat­ter how care­ful you are, you will im­merse a reel in salt­wa­ter. It can hap­pen by dip­ping it in the wa­ter in a mo­ment of inat­ten­tion, but it will surely hap­pen when waves slam against you.

Nat­u­rally, they waited a cou­ple of weeks to in­form me of trou­ble. Both reels were locked up. I dis­lodged the bait­caster by force, but the spin­ning reel wouldn’t budge. I wasn’t sur­prised be­cause spin­ning reels, with their stacks of bear­ings, are more vul­ner­a­ble to salt cor­ro­sion.

I was tempted to pitch them both. They are cheap combo pack­age reels, but sal­vaging them beats re­plac­ing them.

The Quan­tum Oc­tane is a low-pro­file bait­caster that’s iden­ti­cal to Quan­tum’s Te­nac­ity and sim­i­lar en­try-level mod­els. It’s also sim­i­lar to some in­ex­pen­sive Abu Gar­cia low-pro­file reels.

When I dis­man­tled it, I was cu­ri­ous how this reel got its dis­pos­able rep­u­ta­tion. Yes, the Oc­tane is made in China, but I saw stain­less steel hard­ware and springs, well-ma­chined brass gears, a shielded main bear­ing and a beefy roller bear­ing for the anti-re­verse mech­a­nism. The drag was a thick Ru­lon pad. I did not see low qual­ity.

Re­gard­less of brand, dis­as­sem­bling a bait­caster oc­curs in sev­eral uni­form steps.

First, you’ll need a small flat­head screw­driver, a small Phillips screw­driver, a 1/4inch drive ratchet and a 10mm socket.

You’ll also need a sur­face to place your parts, like a news­pa­per, pa­per tow­els or a white towel. Place them in any or­der that makes sense to you. I sep­a­rate parts by com­po­nent. The han­dle parts go in one line, in or­der of their re­moval. The drive assem­bly goes in an­other line, and the spool assem­bly goes in an­other line.

First, un­screw the cap on the han­dle. It cov­ers a brass nut that se­cures the han­dle to the main axle. Re­move the cap and place it and its screw to­gether on the towel. The main axle is re­verse threaded, so turn the nut clock­wise to re­move it. Then re­move the han­dle, fol­lowed by the flat spring or ten­sion bush­ing. Place them to­gether, as well.

Re­move the star drag assem­bly by turn­ing it clock­wise. There are a num­ber of wash­ers and bush­ings be­neath the star knob. Keep them to­gether in the or­der of their re­moval. Re­move the spool ten­sioner knob if nec­es­sary.

Re­move the four small screws that hold the side­plate to the frame. Gen­tly pry the side­plate free with a flat­head screw­driver and re­move the side­plate to ex­pose the clock­work.

On the main axle are, from top to bot­tom, a shielded main bear­ing that sits atop the anti-re­verse roller bear­ing, which fits over a stain­less steel bush­ing, which sits on a stain­less steel washer. Place them in or­der, and re­mem­ber which side of the roller bear­ing faces up.

The op­po­site side­plate con­tains the spool brake mech­a­nism. The man­ner in which it sep­a­rates from the frame de­pends brand. The side­plate for the Quan­tum Oc­tane comes off with a slight down­ward twist. Pulling out the spool re­leases the spool drive gear in the clock­work, which al­lows you to re­move the gear and the main drive.

The worm gear was clean, so I left it in place.

With cot­ton swabs soaked in al­co­hol, mop out all the old grease and oil from the frame and the link­ages. Even though it might look clean, you can run a fin­ger­tip across the parts and pick up all kinds of grit. Grit and clock­work are mor­tal en­e­mies.

I sprayed the brass gears with gun sol­vent and scrubbed them shiny with a tooth­brush.

Ev­ery­thing was in pretty good shape ex­cept the main bear­ing and roller bear­ing. The ac­tual bear­ings were un­dam­aged, but the in­ner di­am­e­ter of the bear­ing was rusted. I re­moved as much as pos­si­ble with the tooth­brush and gun cleaner, and then scrubbed off the rest with 000 steel wool.

I did like­wise to the cor­roded metal parts of the roller bear­ing. and also to the main axle.

I ap­plied Penn reel grease to the brass gears and in­stalled them. I also greased the white plas­tic gears.

I ap­plied two drops of oil to the main bear­ing and roller bear­ing, and also a drop on the spool bear­ing. I also ap­plied light drops of oil to all link­age joints.

It went to­gether eas­ily, thank­fully with no parts left unin­stalled. It’s smoother and qui­eter than when it was new.

The spin­ning reel is up and run­ning, too, but it was a more com­pli­cated project. Ev­i­dently it spent more time un­der­wa­ter be­cause its bear­ings were rusted and in­ert. Due to a pre­vi­ous en­counter of this na­ture, I keep a var­ied and ver­sa­tile sup­ply of bear­ings on hand. They are Boca Bear­ings, and they are bet­ter than the fac­tory orig­i­nals.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/BRYAN HENDRICKS

Af­ter clean­ing, a small amount of high-qual­ity reel grease on all gears will en­sure smooth op­er­a­tion.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/BRYAN HENDRICKS

Re­plac­ing bear­ings is some­times nec­es­sary to re­ha­bil­i­tate badly cor­roded spin­ning reels.

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