How do you care for your reel?
Response by Craig Baugher - Dated 2/10/2000

How can you keep your reel operating like new?

       By cleaning and maintaining your reel. Every reel should be cleaned, oiled, and greased at least once a year depending upon use. A well-maintained reel will last longer and perform better.

       Even a cheap graphite and plastic reel can be made to perform better than new once it has been properly conditioned. Reel cleaning and maintenance is not for everyone, but most avid anglers thoroughly enjoy preparing their equipment to operate at its optimal performance level. But if you are not mechanically inclined, it might be better to leave this process to the professionals.

       I also recommend that the first time you attempt to clean, oil, grease, and maximize your reels performance, that you start with one of your older or cheaper model reels. Once you do this process a couple of times, your confidence will grow and you will have gained the experience you need to tackle your more expensive reels.

       Warning: you can permanently damage your reel beyond repair if you are not careful and you do not follow the recommended steps described in this FAQ.

What are the materials you will need?

  • Sponge
  • Tooth Brush
  • Tooth Paste or 900 Grit Diamond Dust Polishing Compound, or auto polishing Compound (not wax and Not Rubbing Compound)
  • Light Machine Oil (Sewing Machine Oil)
  • 5 feet of yarn (the fat Stuff) and/or Braided Wire
  • Philips Screw Driver
  • Pliers or Socket and Socket Extension (No Wrench)
  • Paint Thinner or Mineral Spirits
  • Tube of White Grease (Available at any Auto Parts Store)
  • Spray Silicone
  • Soft jaw vice (rubber or wood jaws)
  • Variable Speed (Reversible) Electric Drill
  • Flashlight
  • Small piece of leather (old belt) about 1" wide and 1" long

How do you begin?

       You begin by removing all your old fishing line. Then place the reel in a soft claw vice (rubber or wood jaw) so that the vice claps down on the mounting foot of the reel.

       The first thing we need to do is remove all the little scratches, nicks, etc., on the spool and line guide. Why? Because nicks and scratches in your guide and on your spool will put scratches in your fishing line and will shorten its life and strength.

       We will begin with the line guide. Thread the yarn through the line guide and pull about a 18" through. Now put some tooth paste or polishing compound on the yarn where the yarn is meeting the line guide opening. Now grab both ends of the yarn and pull it into a "v" and begin pulling the yarn through the guide opening using a back and forth motion. Start at the top and work your way around the guide opening until you are sure that every surface of the guide opening has been thoroughly cleaned and polished in every direction. Pull the yarn out and inspect it using a flashlight. The guide opening should be shinning and very very smooth. If it is not, repeat the cleaning polishing step. If the scratches are deeper, forget tooth paste and only use polishing compound.

       If auto polishing compound won't get the scratches out, go to your local tool and die company in your area and ask them if you can buy some of their diamond dust polishing compound. Tool and Die houses use diamond paste to polish their die sections to a micro 2-4 finish (Glass is equal to a 2 micro finish), and is guaranteed to remove any type of scratches and leave a very, very smooth surface. Remember to ask them for their 900 or 1200 grit paste, 600 grit will work but them you need to use the tooth paste afterwards to remove any of the very fine scratches left by the 600 grit diamond paste.

       Now its time to remove the scratches and nicks out of the reel's spool. But first you need to remove the reel's handle. Remove the Philips screw and nut cap. Remember to lay the pieces out in the order you are taking them off. Then remove the nut and take off the reel's handle and handle washer. Placing them in order on the bench. Now wrap the piece of leather around your drive shaft (where the handle was) and attach your electric drill. The leather will protect your threads. Wrap the yarn around your spool twice leave enough yarn so that you can get a good hold of both ends.

       Put some tooth paste or polishing compound onto the yarn and in between the wraps. Holding both ends of the yarn with one hand, turn on your drill and push the set button to lock it in the ON position (slow to medium speed). Grab the yarn so that you have one end in one hand and the other end of the yarn in your other hand. Now start pulling one end of the yarn than the other in a rocking motion and begin guiding the yarn from one side of the spool to the other. Even with a graphite spool this will remove any scratches and polish it to a shine. Stop and check your work frequently and continue until all the scratches are removed.

       For those nicks you may have gotten along the sides and top of your spool from handling and/or digging out backlashes. Use a piece of braided wire (available in electric section of your local hardware store or hobby shop) used in slot cars. Put some tooth paste or polishing compound on directly on the wire and using your finger as the guide, start your drill and push the wire against the side and top of your spool. You may not remove all of the deeper nicks, but you will smooth them out enough that they won't cause you any problems with your fishing line.

       Believe it or not, the hard work is done. Now wash the reel with warm soap and water, using the tooth brush to get into the small tight areas and to make sure all the polishing or tooth paste is removed.

       Now its time to open the reel up. Begin by removing the reel from the vice and lay it on its side (handle side up). Remember to put the part in the layout order. Now remove the Star Drag any addition washers (spacers) that are on the drive shaft. Now using your Philips screwdriver first loosen all the case screws. Once they are all loose, go ahead and remove them. Then slowly and carefully remove the casing on the handle side first.

       Once the case is open, DO NOT TOUCH THE CLUTCH BAR, or you will shoot parts all over the place. Inspect the casing and gears for metal shavings and rounded off gears. You should also see two springs sticking up. Those springs are called the Yoke springs. Examine how they fit into the yoke and then remove them and place them in the next layout position on the bench.

       Carefully lift the reel and place it into a bowl or pot on its side and pour some mineral spirits over the gears. Then lift the reel out of the bowl and sit it down on the bench on its side, and let it air dry. Put the yoke springs back on and put the casing back on, but don't tighten any screws. Turn the reel over and open the casing on the other side. Place it back into the bowl and pour more mineral spirits to wash off the dirt.

       There is more that can be done, but without pictures it would be to hard to explain, so we will stick to the basics. Once the reel is dry, place a dab of white grease on all the bear surfaces. Put the casing back on and carefully remove the casing on the other side and put a dab of white grease on the gears. Now is the time to decide if you want to supercharge your reel.

       If yes, then you need to go to Wally Marty and pickup a bottle of Slick 50 engine treatment. Pour a generous amount Slick over all the parts, then put the case back on, flip the reel over, remove the case and pour another generous amount of slick in the other side of the case. Now tighten up all the screws, and place the reel back into the vice. Place the piece of leather over the drive shaft and attach the electric drill to the shaft as you did before. Place a piece of paper over the reel and turn the drill on high speed and let it run for about one minute. The paper is to protect you from being sprayed with all the excess Slick 50 that will be flying all over the place.

       Now remove the drill and take the case apart again. Remember to be careful when opening the case up and make sure it is on it side so that the yoke springs don't come flying out. After removing the yoke springs tip the reel to pour out any remaining Slick 50.

       If you supercharged your reel then you need to put a dab of white grease on the gears and go ahead and put the yoke spring back in and put a dab of white grease on the drive shaft bearing located in the case where the drive shaft go through and put the case back on.

       If you didn't supercharge your reel, then place a drop of oil on all the moving parts. Then flip the reel over and remove the case on the other side and let the excess Slick 50 drain out. Put a dab of white grease on the bearings and put the case back on. Now tighten all the screws. Remove the magnetic brake cover and make sure you have all the excess Slick 50 out of this area. Use Q-Tip dabbed in mineral spirits to get it out.

       Put the spacer washers back on, the Star drag, the handle washer and handle. Place the nut on and tighten it down with your fingers, then use your pliers and give the nut just a 1/4 turn. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN THIS NUT. Place the nut cap back on and tighten the Philip screw. Now press the clutch bar and engage your reel, and repeat about twenty times, so that the oil or slick 50 works its ways into the clutch system.

       If I could use pictures, I would have gotten more in depth and would have explained about removing and cleaning each of the gears with the tooth brush and clutch bar system. But without pictures, this is too dangerous to try by explaining it with just text. But if you do what I have explained, your reel will operate 100% better and if you supercharged a Graphite and Plastic reel, 1000% better. When should you do this, at least once ever year or anytime you accidentally get your reel wet (submerged the reel in water, I'm not talking about rain).

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