An Australian Prototype Reel, by Wayne Real
This fine one off sidecast reel was handcrafted in the Ipswich Railway Workshops (Queensland Australia) over 50 years ago.
The chrome plated rolled brass back suggests early 50's. But you can never be 100% certain.
The strong Y on the back of the reel is unique. I've actually seen the same Y pattern on a timber back reel, most likely from the 1930's era, so I'm not certain where they were getting that pattern from.
Essentially the reel was crafted to emulate the famous Alvey Sidecast reels made in Brisbane, Queensland but at almost nil cost to the guys making them.
The guys weren't cheeky enough to place the Alvey name on the reel!
I believe initially the motivation may have been to create a reel just as good as Alvey, using one's collective group initiative, skills and resources.
Clearly they were a group of different people with different skills and were able to collect scrap materials.
The story goes that the reels took several weeks to complete and as people swapped in and out and experiences evolved, the reels became progressively better.
I am reliably informed that as these similar but stronger reels starting appearing on the black market, they were soon put out of business.
It is up for speculation whether this clamp down came from Alvey themselves or the internal QGR checks but the several dozens that were made, all usually a little different, were soon to become quite collectable.
The stages of production were involved from sourcing timber and turning spool and handles, as well as cutting rolling pressing stainless steel plate and rod, copper shims, spring steel wire for tensioners etc. etc. Certainly a complicated process!
The wife of the old gentleman who owned it (maybe created even it?) amusingly remarked that the only item/material not able to be sourced or created in the QGR workshops was the monofilament of the day!
For a student of piscatorial history such as yourself and your readers, I guess this recollection will be of great interest and shows something of the Aussie streak of ingenuity which I fear is fast disappearing in our sleek glossy hi-tech world we live in today.
If any reader has a similar rare ABU item of interest to me, I could be convinced to do a trade mate. I never sell any reel but do swap for like value objects that I am looking for.
Thanks Wayne! A neat piece and a really cool history behind it.
-- Dr. Todd