Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thursday Review: Where Do I Go to get my Fishing Reel Fixed?

Thursday Review: Where Do I Go to get my Fishing Reel Fixed?

One of the most common questions I get from this blog is about fixing an old (and sometimes a new) fishing reel. Fifty years ago, any town of decent size had a home-grown reel repair shop, usually in the back of a large tackle or sporting goods store. These men (and perhaps women) were professionals in every sense of the term. Additionally, many manufacturers like Shakespeare and Pflueger serviced reels back at their factory. You would ship the reel out to them, and they would fix it for a nominal fee, and ship it back your way.

While some manufacturers (not all) have Warranty Repair centers today, what if you're trying to fix an older reel? Where do you go for help?

There are two ways to approach the subject. First, fix it yourself. Second, have someone else fix it.

Finding a Schematic
In the first case, you'll likely want to locate a schematic--an exploded drawing showing the parts that make up any given reel. This is far easier the more popular your reel is. For example, schematics for Mitchell and ABU Garcia are readily available and can help you identify what is wrong with your particular model. Here are a few links to help you locate the proper schematic:

Planet Seafishing: This site has a huge selection of reel schematics for many of the popular reels from the past still being used today.

The Mitchell Museum: An awesome compilation of all things Mitchell and your one stop shop for Mitchell schematics.

Wayne Real's Ambassadeur Site: Lots of information about servicing ABU reels as well as many schematics.

Zebco and Penn: The Reel Doctor has a great selection of Zebco schematics up on his web site.

Vintage Reels: The Old Reel Collector's Association (ORCA) has many vintage schematics available to its members through the Harvey Garrison Memorial Library.

Finding the Right Parts
So, now you have the proper schematic and know what is wrong (or missing) from your reel. How do you find the proper parts?

Well, there are a number of sources for reel parts (both vintage and new). We'll concentrate here on older reel parts. The more common your reel (Pflueger, Ambassadeur, Shakespeare, etc.) the more likely you'll be able to find the proper part. The first place I'd try is eBay, which usually has parts kits for these reels at a fairly nominal price. Failing that, head on over to ORCA's Reel Talk message board and place a free listing in their "Parts" want ads, a place that many reel repair guys check often. If that doesn't work, you'll have to hit up Google and see if one of the vendors dealing in vintage reel parts has what you need.

Perhaps the easiest way to repair an old reel is to find a like or exact model and, if it is cost effective, purchase it. Many times you can find a beater reel for under $10, which will provide you all the spare parts you may ever need for your reel.

Recently I wanted to repair a Shapleigh "Diamond King" trade reel made by Bronson. It is a Bronson Modern 100 reel from the 1920s, and was missing two screws and a level wind mechanism. I began searching eBay, and found a regular Bronson Modern 100 without a handle listed, which I purchased for $7.50 including shipping. I was able to replace the level wind and screws on my Shapleigh trade reel, and still have a lot of extra parts left over for other similar reels. Since Bronson used interchangeable parts, now I have a nice repair reel for any other similar vintage Bronson reels.

By the way, a new book on maintaining and fixing your fishing reel was recently published. Called Fishing Reel 101, I have not seen a copy of this but when I do I will put up a review about it.

Having Someone Else Fix Your Reel
Let's say reel repair is not your thing and you want someone else to service your reel. There are a lot of people who specialize in fixing older reels. ORCA's resident Reel News columnist Col. Milton Lorenz has been repairing reels for a living for forty years, and there are a number of other ORCA members like Dick Janak who also specialize in reel repair.

A google search will help you locate any number of reel repairers. Try to ask around and see who comes highly recommended, as the more expensive your reel the less likely you'll be to want to trust it to someone you don't know or can't find any information about.

So, now you have a starting place to fix that fishing reel of yours! Anyone with any other tips can email me and I'll post it as an addendum to this message.

-- Dr. Todd

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