How To Fishing Blogs

Names Withheld To Protect the Guilty, Or . . .

. . . an afternoon in the life of a reel guy.

In this thread I will show what irregular reel breakdowns/cleanouts/re-lubrications lead to, for reels that are heavily used in the salt water environment. I receive LOTS of reels in for service, or tuning upgrades, most of which I’ve serviced before. I’m a little picky as to which/who’s reels I’ll work on, as I’ve learned over the years that for what I work for (basically free labor in most cases, just the cost of parts), its not worth hours of my time to have to undo the effects of a poor maintenance regime.

The reels I’ll show in this thread are owned by guys I know and in some cases fish with, who will remain nameless, basically because I like them all. A lot. But that’s no excuse for not following the maintenance schedule that in most cases they themselves have asked for. Oh well, I can only make recommendations, its up to them to make it happen.

For the most part the reels that I normally see are actually engineered for FW use. Oh sure, a manufacturer slaps a few "Corrosion Resistant" bearings in some of them and calls them SW-safe, but that’s really not the case, as the following will show. Reels of this type include all the Abu Revos and Revo Toros, the popular Daiwa Zillions, Lexas and Lunas, all the many Shimano low-pros and Calcutta variations and of course last but not least all, and I mean ALL of the Abu round reels – which happen to be my "Speciality," as Inspector Clouseau liked to say.

The first reel is a doozy. A formerly gorgeous Daiwa Lexa 300PWR that gets fished hard and put away wet, inside the damp cabin of the owner’s boat, no less. I do not doubt that it gets a rinse after every trip, but this is simply not enough, given the use and storage that it endures. This reel was almost completely locked up, and the free-spool was basically non-existent – the spool barely turned at all. Normally I would reject such a mess, telling the owner that its best to send it back to the manufacturer for overhaul, or more probably, scrapping. But this reel is owned by a friend of a close friend, who asked that I give it a shot before shipping it off to Diawa. O.K., so I’ll give it my best effort.

When I get into a reel, especially a low-profile, I always begin with the left side plate – really, the one on the opposite side of the reel from the handle. My thinking is that any mechanisms inside that side plate are relatively simple to service and are not normally exposed to the same large amount of SW intrusion as the components inside the handle/gearbox side. Umm, sometimes not. Take a look.
3193

3194

So what we have here is a reel that was put into service straight out of the box, running only the "factory original" lubrication – and its easy to see the outcome. A severely rotted magnetic braking system and "corrosion resistant" spool bearing. Nice stuff, no? The magnetic system was toast, no saving it, so out it came. No need for it anyway, as the user doesn’t use this reel for casting. The left side spool bearing was removed (no small task, as the stainless outer race was rot-welded to the aluminium side plate. Soaked first in WD-40, then degreased with automotive brake cleaner, then blown out with compressed air, and finally re-lubed with a few drops of 3-In-One oil. A spin-up revealed that the bearing, while slightly noisier than a new version, was serviceable. A cleanup of the rest of that side plate, and good to go. Normally I would use Reel-X on a friend’s bearing, or TSI-321 if I KNEW he was diligent about his maintenance, but not in this case, the heavier 3-In-One will provide better corrosion control, at the expensive of a slightly "slower" free spool – a non-factor in this case as this reel is intended for bottom fishing, with fairly significant sinker weights.

Next up was the handle – just removing the handle nut cover screw cleanly was a minor miracle. Usually, if not hit with a SW-proof lube prior to beginning SW fishing, that screw, being made of chromed brass or stainless steel, will galvanically weld itself to the much less "Noble" aluminum handle shank. Some people incorrectly refer to this type of corrosion as "electrolysis," but that is the wrong term for this type of deterioration. In this case, using two different screwdriver sizes, I was able to get that tiny screw out of the handle. That almost NEVER happens.

Here’s what it looks like when no lube is schmeared on the handle shank, before locking down the brass handle nut:

3195

Not super horrible, right? removing that nasty milky stuff however reveals some serious degrading of the aluminum. To separate this particular reel’s handle from the drive shaft was no easy task. It had chemically welded itself onto the brass shaft – and to remove it I had to use a mechanic’s steel punch and large screwdriver’s handle as a "hammer" to drive the shaft down and out of the messed up handle’s hole. My buddy was shocked at the violence it took – as his reels are flawlessly maintained and never need this sort of triage. Actually he was stunned by the entire cleanup process. Such a nice, but somewhat naive guy he is.

3196

Anyway, salt water has penetrated the anodizing and attacked the aluminum of the handle. Not much can be done about this, other than cleaning up the crud and squirting down the damage with WD-40, and then wiping it all off with a brake cleaner-soaked towel. If done so, it normally ends up like this:

3197

A thick coating of Yamaha marine grease will provide raw aluminum protection – on re-assembly:

3239

Time to get into the gearbox – the guts of the reel. There are four screws that secure the right side plate to the frame. Again, using a combination of different types of screwdrivers, and some fairly substantial hits to the top of the screwdrivers to loosen the screws in their bores, they all came out without major drama. Normally side plate screws in a reel that’s in this kind of poor shape will strip while attempting removal. This then requires carefully drilling them out on my office’s mill, followed by re-tapping, utilizing a set of metric micro taps that I keep around for such nastiness. But Praise the Lord, these came out without incident.

End Part One

Leprechaun

Kind of a Big Deal - In My Mind Anyway
Staff member
Dec 19, 2018
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Removal of the right side revealed the real issues. Severe SW intrusion, with most of the free spool actuating components either rusted tight, or completely clogged with a thickened slurry of salt and the meager factory lubricant. The gear set was nonfunctional, with so much crud inside the gear teeth, there was no turning them.

3201

3203

Removal of the gear set and drag washers came next. A general cleanup of the gear teeth with a fine steel brush and then a toothbrush, and a washing of the drag washers with brake cleaner tidied them up - not a major deal. Removal of the drive shaft itself, from the hidden ball bearing it rides on, deep in the frame - that WAS a big deal. Much pulling, rocking, and more pulling finally got it out. This is what it looks like when that "secret" bearing receives no love, prior to fishing it in SW:


3204

3205

Bad, right? Now we see why the handle wouldn't turn. The bearing was completely frozen inside its bore, and the brass handle shaft was welded to the bearing's inner race. I did not have the proper-sized replacement bearing in my inventory, so I had to go ahead and get that original bearing back in operational shape. After a TON of cleaning, involving repeated washouts with WD-40 and brake cleaner - and then a careful re-greasing with the Yamaha good stuff, it actually did return from the dead, and ran fairly smoothly at that. I do not recommend investing the time in such an adventure - replacement is ALWAYS the better choice. But my buddy was standing next to me and I was dead-set on getting this reel off my bench that day. I wanted it GONZO! So I worked it over pretty good - with pretty darn nice results.

Cleaning up the free spool mechanism and associated areas with various solvents and other magic elixirs, we eventually ended up with this:

3209

Not too shabby, right? :)

Then, a quality re-greasing of the frame's side, bearing and all the guts to an extent no factory would ever care to do, resulted in a smoothly turning mechanism, with a solid, positive-returning thumbar.

Next up was the right side plate. This is particularly important, as the anti-reverse bearing is housed in this plate. This bearing is the single most abused part in the entire reel, as it has to take the hit every time one swings hard on a fish, not to mention taking the load when a fish turns and runs out drag. This particular reel also has a back-up anti-reverse dog, but that's the resort of last chance, as it should NEVER have to come into play.

3210

Woof. Rust and other effluvia aplenty. What you cannot see is the load of rust inside the anti-reverse bearing, rendering it non-functional. To get it back to operational shape requires a thorough soaking of WD-40, then a run-around inside it with a clean Q-Tip. Repeated about 20 times, until the Q-Tip run-around comes up clean. Or pretty clean, at least. Then a blow-out with compressed air.

What I'd like to do is to give this bearing a nice heavy coating of Yamaha grease - which would really protect it. But this cannot be done, as thick grease will make the little rollers inside this bearing hang up, causing the handle to skip backwards under pressure. And this goes double when using the reel in colder temps, which makes any grease stiffen up. What I like here is TWO or THREE drops of 3-In-One, applied directly to the little rollers. Then another light swabbing with a Q-Tip - and that's it. Any more lubing will pretty much guarantee a skipping handle - and who doesn't hate that? Here's what this side plate looked like after a thorough cleanup:

3213

And greasing:

3214


End Part Two
 
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PropellerJohnII

Well-Known Angler
Dec 21, 2018
1,133
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Hi Lep,
I use low profiles Abus ocean fishing maybe 50 trips a season. I have them serviced at a local shop once a year in December/January. Never seen a Lexa look like that. :eek:What is meant by flawlessly maintained? Just asking. And you brother are a remarkable friend . I would have said that reel was too big for my tool box. I can see you like a good challenge.(y)
BTW, I got a deal on a Abu Revo Premier Gen 4 at the WM High School Fishing Expo.Will use for ocean fluking 45 to 90 foot depths this season. Should I be worried?
THNX, CIAO, John.
 
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Leprechaun

Kind of a Big Deal - In My Mind Anyway
Staff member
Dec 19, 2018
339
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From this point reassembly was straight-forward. A greasing of the left side of the frame and it all went back together fairly nicely.

3217

3218


After assembly and adjusting the reel spun up nicely and the handle turned like it was designed to do. The re-worked bearings were very slightly more noisy than when new - but this is only to be expected, after all, they were grievously wounded.

All in all I'm callin' this one a "30 Q-Tip" success. And the best part was that we used NO new parts to get her back up and running - a very worthy accomplishment.

I have other examples of such work, and some of much less rigorous, but still interesting efforts. But I'm all typed out as of now, so those are for another day.

Lep
 

Savvy18

Angler
Dec 19, 2018
250
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All kidding aside, Pete did a very close friend of mine a HUGE favor and I greatly appreciate his efforts, his dedication, his attention to detail and his patience. Without him that reel would have been thrown in the crap heap. If that was MY REEL, it would have been thrown in the ocean!
 

Leprechaun

Kind of a Big Deal - In My Mind Anyway
Staff member
Dec 19, 2018
339
358
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40 26.470/73 32.350
John - you can refer to my thread on tearing down my own 2019 Gen4 Revo Winch - its pinned to the top of this board. Follow those pre-first use suggestions and you'l have a reel that will last for many years.
 
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PropellerJohnII

Well-Known Angler
Dec 21, 2018
1,133
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John - you can refer to my thread on tearing down my own 2019 Gen4 Revo Winch - its pinned to the top of this board. Follow those pre-first use suggestions and you'l have a reel that will last for many years.
Wow, awesome !Thank you so much.:love: CIAO, John.
 

Leprechaun

Kind of a Big Deal - In My Mind Anyway
Staff member
Dec 19, 2018
339
358
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40 26.470/73 32.350
Okay, okay! I admit it...I store my reels IN THE WATER AT THE DOCK!

It's easier than bringing them ALL THE WAY home after every trip. I tie a string to them, lower them to the bottom, tie them off to the cleat...Then I retrieve them as I board for the next trip.

I guess I didn't put enough lube on them beforehand
3391
 
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Scupper

Angler
Dec 21, 2018
712
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Lep , your trying to reform me .. I admit I am a serial reel / rod abuser ..... Hopefully reading this thread will begin to reform me ......
What is your favorite lube for saltwater reels ? Thanks .....
 
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flounderbound

New Angler
Feb 17, 2019
26
22
3
Thats a bad ars Lexa needing a major overhaul. I repair and service reels for a local tackle shop and have seen reels like the one shown. Sometimes it isnt worth my time to service bad reels but I do it anyway. When the outside screws removal poses a problem I know what to expect inside.Ive had many instances that I had to drill out screws and retap screw holes. Screw extractors dont work.Salt water is a killer on reels if not frequently maintained. I`ve seen salt inside some Penn spinning reels that have a protective gasket inside the side plate.
 
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Tesla

New Angler
Feb 1, 2019
8
9
3
Awesome job on that Lexa resurrection! Great tips on keeping them properly lubricated.
 

Savvy18

Angler
Dec 19, 2018
250
105
43
Okay, okay! I admit it...I store my reels IN THE WATER AT THE DOCK!

It's easier than bringing them ALL THE WAY home after every trip. I tie a string to them, lower them to the bottom, tie them off to the cleat...Then I retrieve them as I board for the next trip.

I guess I didn't put enough lube on them beforehand :rolleyes:
 

Pete21

New Angler
Dec 20, 2018
28
11
3
Great stuff , thanks Lep !
I have several lexa 100's that need to get broken down at least 2x a season, plus the over the winter maintenance. I find that the ones I use plugging and casting require more servicing than the ones I use for just fluke jigging.
 
Jan 10, 2019
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I have always been reluctant to break down conventional and baitcaster reels. I'm worried I will not get it all back together correctly. I'm gonna try to clean and lubricate one of my older ones to give it a shot. I will just leave all the pieces on a towel in order of how theh come off. Spinning reels are much simpler.

This thread has given me a little more confidence to do it. Thanks.
 
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Leprechaun

Kind of a Big Deal - In My Mind Anyway
Staff member
Dec 19, 2018
339
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Next up is a fairly sharp Shimano Tekota 500, again the owner of which shall remain nameless. This one came to me with zero complaints - no grinding, no skipping anti-reverse. No nothing needed, other than a "normal season-end going-over." Yeah, um, not so much. I could tell there was sumpthin' goin' on inside - just a few turns of the handle made me bewy, bewy suspicious. Mind you this is a reel that I see every Fall, and its never super screwed up, just a regular disassembly/cleaning/re-lubing and its back to the owner. Not this year.

Opening up the reel this time showed what was really going on. Severe salt water intrusion, with a nice mix of salt crystals and old lube. Take a gander at that anti-reverse bearing - owww-faaa! When it left my bench last Winter, all the grease was green, not rust red. Wow!:

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And here's a right side plate from yet another Tekota reel, along with a look at the "running gear" - you can see that this amount of crud inside is something of a pattern - more spray, more maintenance please!

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3293

That these last two reels live in a spray-filled environment goes without saying. Obviously, if a reel is going to be subject to this level of spray exposure, it needs more maintenance attention than a single end-of-season tear down. Miraculously, both of these specimens only needed a proper cleaning out and thorough re-lubing - all components were reused - not a small accomplishment.

Moving right along, here's an Abu 5500C4 that came to me this Fall for a thorough working over:

3296

This reel was incredibly screwed up. It ended up needed a new inner drag plate, a few bearings and some other odds and ends, man, it was REALLY in rough shape. She's back with her owner and running smooth now, after a few hours on the bench. I have to say, this was probably some of my best work - as this reel was just shot. Abu round reels are in no way as robust as say, a Tekota. Obviously more frequent tear downs would greatly serve this hard fishing owner, so to keep his gear up and running through the long season.

Now some relatively odds-and-ends type work. First up is the spool bearing in an otherwise nicely maintained and very custom Abu 4600C4. Though the reel was in great overall shape, salt water had migrated into the reel and attacked the right side spool bearing - to the point that there was no saving it - replacement was the only option:

3308

Doesn't look like much right? Compared to some of the previous reels it seems minor - but free spool was suffering and there was a distinct grinding sound coming from the bearing. All fixed now.

And here's the left side plate of a Daiwa Zillion Coastal bait casting reel. I service this reel every season - keeping it in tip-top shape is a point of pride for me, as this model - with a few suitable mods and upgrades, is one of my most favorite-est of small inshore reels:

3310

One can see that salt water has begun to attack the outer magnet of the mag braking system that prevents backlashes on hard casts. A clean-up and light coat of the green Yamaha miracle grease will keep this type of nastiness away during the coming season - and prevent it from ending up looking like the Lexa 300 in the first post of this thread.

And speaking of Daiwa's small low-profile bait casters, one recurring problem that I see is the destruction of the captive spool bearing, on the right side of the spool. Changing this bearing is a bit of a PITA, as the spool's drive pin has to be pressed out of the spool shaft, in order to get at the bearing. This requires a special tool, available from companies like Hedgehog Studios in Japan. This tool is NOT robust, undercutting the thinking that anything costing $30 for such a tiny tool should live a long and productive life. In the past 5 seasons I've destroyed three of them. So there's that.

In the interest of saving my own wallet from further tool destruction, I went ahead and removed the dopey Daiwa factory "corrosion resistant" bearing for the second (third?) time and replaced it with a full ceramic bearing, sourced from one of the many Asian vendors that I buy from. No metal in these bearings whatsoever, unlike the so-called "Ceramic Hybrid" bearings that are passed off as being better for salt water use. Bull dinky. The only true way to make a bearing rust proof is to make it from something that doesn't rust - hence a full ceramic bearing. While its true that this bearing costs $29, it has solved the problem permanently - and therefore saves the owner's money and my sanity as his reel repair dude:

3311

Next is a good shot of the right side plate of a Gen 2 Revo Winch. This image shows the "Q-Tip cure" I use for rusty anti-reverse bearings. A squirt of WD-40, a run-around several times with the Q-Tip - to be repeated until the Q-Tip comes out clean. Takes a bit of time and effort, but its a VERY successful alternative to replacing a $35+ bearing. Assuming that the A/R bearing can even be replaced. With many reels this is not the case - you have to buy an entire side plate/bearing assembly - at about 50% of the new value of the reel. Yeah, not a really cost-effective solution.

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Finally, here is a shot of a Gen 3 Revo Winch's main gear, minus one of its teeth - from my own reel, no less:

3314

Unknown to me at the time that I purchased this reel, the gears in Abu's Gen 3 Revo's were made of "aircraft grade" aluminum, called "Duraluminum" - whatever those two terms mean. It appears to me to be an ill-conceived attempt at lowering the reel's weight - which weight saving is now all the craze among all the bait casting reel makers. Some current similar-sized reels are now as light as 4.5oz! Amazing -but at what cost in longevity? What it all means to me is that from here forward I have to be careful with how I fish for fluke, when I have this reel particular in my hand.

This is because the way that I deep jig is to keep the reel in free spool with my thumb on the spool - so to instantly drop back, either to stay in contact with the bottom (common) - or to give a little line to a fish that is hesitant to inhale my lure (waaay less common, unfortunately!). So when I think its time to swing on a fish, what I do is to strike HARD while simultaneously reaching up to click the reel into gear with my other hand. Sounds awkward, I know, but its how I've fished for 40 years - with pretty darn good results, so it comes second nature to me.

Only problem is that every once in a while I mis-time that coordinated maneuver and am a squinch slow at turning the handle to put her in gear, or the fish is so nice that its taking line out from under my thumb as I click the reel into gear. This results in a nasty grind of the gears - and a missing aluminum tooth. No worries when this happens with any of my other reels, because they carry brass or bronze gears - you still get the grind, but not the sheared tooth, ala: my Winch.

There's no mistaking the damage once it occurs. The reel develops an annoying metallic "tick" with every handle turn. I replaced that gear and now keep a second in my inventory - as there's no telling when Abu might discontinue offering it to the public. These dopey Abu/Korean aluminum gears are $30 each, not $12, like the Gen 2 (and Gen 4) Winch's brass gears. Eh, live and learn.

So that's it on this subject - except to say that hopefully your take-away from all this pro-level photography and endless typing is that regular maintenance, using the proper solvents and lubes, will go a looong way toward keeping your reels up and running - and your reel guy's hair up on his head, where it belongs. ;)