Ron's Tackle Tips — Reel Disassembly

Ken Jones

Staff member
Disassembly, what a nightmare

By Ron Crandall of Ron's Reel Repair (March 1999)
If you have been following along for the last year or two you should be aware that every now and again you must completely disassemble your reel to clean and lube it. (Or in case you are mechanically challenged, or have time constraints, this can be done by a qualified reel repair shop.)

When should you do this?

1. The best time is in the off season, for whatever type of fishing you do.

2. If you dropped it in the sand, or salt water,

3. If something is obviously, just not working right, or

4. Before, a major, expensive trip, when you want your reel to be in top notch condition.

What do you need to work on your reel?

1. A parts list and exploded drawing of your particular reel. If one is not available, make sketches as to the locations of springs and the stacking sequence of the drag washers.

2. A decent screwdriver that fits the screw heads of your reel. If you don't, you will never be able to get corroded screws out and the rest of the screws will be scraped and gouged. (Think of the gunsmith, his screwdrivers fit or the gun is worthless.)

3. A work area that will let you spread parts out and leave them there undisturbed by cats, dogs or rampaging children.

How do you go about disassembling a reel?

1. TAKE IT APART SLOWLY. This is probably the most important step

2. Lay the parts out in sequence, pay special attention to where springs go and which side is up on gears and levers. Some parts may have a cupped side or a gear direction that will make the reel work or fail when you are done. If necessary use a Sharpie to mark the outside of the part. The outside is defined as the side that goes toward the outside of the reel rather than the center.

3. Now clean all the parts. (Trade Secrets: most shops use paint thinner as a basic degreaser. This should only be done in a well ventilated area.) More environmentally friendly, although more time consuming degreasers include:

a. Waterless hand cleaner to break down that forty year old tar that Mitchell called grease.

b. Simple Green to dissolve salt corrosion. This works well but requires 24 to 48 hours of soaking. c. New degreaser products are coming out daily. Some work and some just disappear.

d. Recently a customer of ours said, he used WD-40 to soften old, hard grease, and dishwashing detergent (like Joy Liquid) to clean up the remaining grease. We haven't had the opportunity to try this yet, but logically it should work, and the products are less unfriendly.

e. Let everything dry thoroughly. Use compressed air or let air dry overnight.

Now for the reassembly

1. Side plates and chrome areas will benefit from a light coat of Corrosion X or a similar product.

2. Lubrication should be done sparingly, as large amounts of lubricant will cause more trouble and collect dirt and sand faster.

3. Oil (like 3 in 1) should be used on spool shafts and level wind worm and pawl assemblies.

4. Grease should be used on gear teeth only. A light weight lube (like Lubriplate engine assembly lube) should be used for small reels and most spinning reels. A heavier grease, (like Penn/Daiwa blue grease) should be used on the larger reels.

If you don't feel comfortable doing this, or if you have attempted this and not succeeded, bring your reel to a competent repair shop. The foregoing was an advertisement, however, do watch for a future Tackle Tips on what to look for in a repair shop, and what a repair should do.