Those 6 screw Pfluegers ?
Most reel collectors these days have heard of the “4-screw Ambassadeurs” and the later “3-screw” models. Fred Ribb tells me this refers to the number of screws on the tail plate of these reels. I have been surprised the last few years how many experienced collectors do not know that at least some of the most common Pflueger baitcasting reels have an extra screw bringing the total to 6 on the face plate rather than the usual 5. This oversight has included some long-time Pflueger reel collectors.
The first clue in this particular case is the 1941 ad for the “New Skilkast” reel shown here from the February 1941 issue of Outdoor Life. Careful observation of this ad will show that there is a small, extra screw at the 2 o'clock position on the reel's face plate. The second picture is a blowup of that portion of the ad with the black arrow pointing to the small extra screw.
Dis-assembly of a reel with this extra screw reveals that the screw serves no mechanical purpose at this location. It is in fact, an extra screw, meant as an emergency replacement for the small screw that holds the metal plate in place that retains the Pawl in the line guide. Pflueger's name for this plate is the “Half Nut Cover”.
One of the great aids in studying Pflueger reels is the fact that most have the date stamped on the bottom of the box as to when the reel was given its final inspection before leaving the factory. By looking at enough boxes one can get a good idea when certain changes took place. According to the inspection dates on reel boxes, this method of retaining the pawl in the line guide was new some time in 1940 on Pflueger's line of freshwater baitcasters such as the Akron, the Summit and the Nobby.
The idea of changing a pawl with this tiny screw while out in a boat seems to me to be a recipe for certain trouble. If you are like me and regularly drop this tiny screw while attempting to get it started, an extra screw sounds like a good idea. I will paraphrase a deceased friend here and say that I have been tinkering with baitcasting reels for about 50 years and have spent more than 40 of them on my hands and knees looking for the screw I just dropped.
Careful observation of reels and boxes has shown that the Nobby, the Akron, the Summit and the Skilkast all featured this extra screw in 1941. I have seen no evidence that the extra screw was not still featured on reels produced early in 1942. With the United States entry into World War II in December of 1941, the Federal Government mandated that production of fishing reels cease by July 1st 1942. Pflueger and others reel manufacturers quickly turned their efforts toward War production. When production of reels resumed at Pflueger in late 1945 that extra screw was no longer there and was never to reappear in the future.
-- Bill Sonnett