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DIY Reel Maintenance
"To keep equipment in tip top condition it is important to service your reel. This simple task can be carried out at home and will keep your reel spinning for years to come."
Author: Brett Truitwein

Online fishing tackle

Anglers in todayís society are appreciating owning and using quality gear from high modulus graphite rods to magnesium body super tough reels, but no matter what kind of gear it is it will not last too long if you do not look after it; which brings me to the subject of this article - routine inspecting, cleaning and servicing of your gear.

Routine maintenance on reels will depend on obviously how often they are used and what conditions they have been exposed to. The most problematic situations generally stem from beach anglers and boaties as their equipment is generally exposed to salt in one form or another and this salt is like acid on any metal components and will pit, corrode or seize up reels in around a week!

In this article I will look at a few key elements when servicing your reel including basic tools, disassembly and lubrication, particularly in respect to bearings.

Laying all the parts on a clean towel will stop rouge parts going missing

Some reels require special tools but in most cases a basic tool kit is required; spanners or shifters, long nose pliers and assorted size screwdrivers. If there is a special tool that is needed like handle nuts on overhead reels it will usually be supplied in the box; if not your local tackle shop will be able to supply you with one.

Most degreasers will work and aerosol types will help dislodge grease and foreign particles. It is unfortunate but some environmentally friendly products donít work as efficiently. Water displacement products like CRC work, but more line and rubber friendly products like Inox or Lanox are generally safer and what I prefer to use. Grease can vary depending on reel types. As a rule of thumb larger reels, especially overhead types, like a heavier stickier grease whereas smaller more delicate or precise reels like a lighter yet sticky type of grease.

Disassembling reels should always be done in a clean spacious area with plenty of light. As the reel is taken apart the various parts should be spread out on an old towel or rag to eliminate any stray or wayward parts disappearing. It is good practice to place components in a container ready for washing. Bearings, fibre drag washers and the spool should be kept separate from this process as they require a little more attention.

Squirt all parts heavily with degreaser then leave to soak for around 1/2 hour as this will help dislodge any grease and grime build up

Opening the bearings

internally and externally. Proceed to clean these components with a coarse bristle paint brush and after all the parts are clean of all dirt, wash them in fresh warm running water.

Once again use a paint brush to help thoroughly clean all dirt off. A fine mesh kitchen strainer is a very useful tool for this type of work. Place all cleaned parts on an old towel and set aside to dry thoroughly.

Bearings come in all sorts of configurations, some are open sided, some are sealed permanently and others may have sides retained with a circlip. Whatever the configuration the condition of the bearing is usually evident upon inspection. If rust is visible then a new bearing may be needed, but in other circumstances a good cleanout and repacking may rectify any rough or worn bearings.

Where possible a circlip may be removed on both sides of the bearing to allow access to balls inside the bearing brace. This can usually be removed with a pin or needle of some sort. Once open a squirting of degreaser or if possible an air compressor into the bearing will remove any dirt. Then wash the bearing with fresh water and leave to dry.

Roller clutch bearing

Roller clutch or one way bearings are a little more temperamental than normal bearings because of the tolerances within the inner tube. The clutch locks may slip if over lubricated so if this bearing looks clean, it would be wise to set aside and leave it untouched but if cleaning is necessary, you must tediously remove every roller and then degrease where required. Be careful not to damage any of the nylon when removing rollers and once clean bathe all components lightly in a light general oil removing any excess and reassemble.

When all components are well and truly dry I will usually give all parts a generous squirt of Inox or similar just as an repellent to any salt and other nasties; this will also have your reel looking as good as the day you bought it.

Repacking bearings is a simple task. On large reels a heavy grease will be fine but with lighter, smoother reels a light oil is all you will need. With the side plates now open grease can be extruded through the bearing in a simple procedure: a small amount of grease is to be placed into the palm of your hand, holding the bearing at 45 degrees as shown. Then slowly draw the lip firmly into a small portion of grease and work all sides of the bearing until grease protrudes through to the top side as seen in the image. Once totally

Repacking the bearing

greased, roll the bearing in your fingers to get rid of any air bubbles and dispersing it thoroughly. Now reassemble side plates and circlips.

If lubricating lighter bearings, once cleaned and dry, replace one side plate and circlip then drop several drops of oil into it then replace other sideplate. If bearings still show wear or coarseness then you may have to replace with a new one.

Lightly grease all moving parts prior to reassembly. The drive, pinion and oscillating gear should be greased thoroughly with a fine paintbrush to allow good coverage into every gear tooth but donít over grease or you will tighten up reels, especially smaller ones. In the case of large overhead types, gears and moving parts are not as susceptible to tighten up if over greased.

Spools usually will have line on them so cleaning them with a rag with a little degreaser on it will generally suffice.

Now hopefully once reassembled your reel will feel 100% again and with routine servicing your reel will perform at its optimum all the time.