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Reel Talk
November Issue

Lube It Right
If you’re lucky it happens during a cast. Maybe even on the drop. But bad
things do happen to good fishermen. Will that squeaking, grinding sound
shrieking from the bowels of your reel happen with your trophy fish
yanking out line like a locomotive pulling a shopping cart?

Not if I can help it.

A little maintenance goes a long way, and in this article we will discuss
the do’s and don’ts of Lubricating the second most important tool an
fisherman owns, his reel.

Grease vs Oil
Just the basics here, we needn’t go into viscosity indices and pressure or
temperature ratings for the products used in lubing a reel. Basically oils
flow freely, and grease doesn’t.

If you need something to resist pressure
and temperature, and stay put, use grease.

Oil things that get light
pressure and need to spin freely. Oil forms puddles, so use it sparingly.

So how about some specifics?

First lets discuss the exceptions. Levelwind mechanisms have gears, usually
two. The gear that looks familiar to all gearhead is on the end of the
levelwind, and is turned by the action of the reel handle or spool.

The second gear is the worm gear, the one that controls how your line is wound
around the spool. So what’s the exception? Use oil on these, not grease.
They are not subjected to high pressure (although they do get hot) and need
to have minimal turning resistance to maximize casting distance. Grease will
slow down the levelwind, reducing casting distance. Grease often gets flung
about during a cast, making a mess of line. And grease attracts and holds
dirt, the single most common reason for levelwind pawl failure.

Use Oil!

Most gears inside your reel look like, well, gears. They have teeth which
mesh with the teeth of other gears. When under the stress of thousands of
casts, or a fish peeling line or having your entire spool of line sucked out
of the reel as it winds around your prop, the gears need to be lubed with
grease. A good grease stays in place and helps reduce wear on the gears due
to high pressures and temperatures from the above hijinks.

Grease should be used sparingly and placed carefully at the base of teeth, not just wiped
around the rim where it does little good.

Use grease on other internals as well. This includes anything that slides, glides or flicks. Grease will help prevent grooves forming where they are unwelcome, as well as keeping mechanisms operating as smooth as their designers intended.

Other Greasables
When you take apart a reel, be sure and put a tiny dab of grease on the thread of assembly screws once you put it back together. Some reel handles require grease, particularly those with handles that unscrew. Thoughtful.

What a Drag!
washers were designed to be run dry as a bone. That includes the surrounding
metal washers as well. They should be dry, dry, dry for proper operation. One of the first signs of a misapplication of grease is when someone has grease that is flung from somewhere else in the reel on to the drag washers. This creates that herky-jerky feeling from our reels we all love to hate
with a fish on.
Keep ‘em dry, and you’ll never cry.

Penn HT100 drag washers are the best in my opinion. They last a long, long time and SHOULD NOT BE GREASED. They dissipate heat well, are very smooth and resist water very well. If you have an older Penn, and it does not have HT100 drags, in it, have it done during your next service. In our shop we
often upgrade other brands of reels with the HT100 washers.
Shimano, Daiwa and Okuma drag washers are designed to be greased. You can’t
use any old grease. There is only one choice. One. Official Shimano drag grease, nothing else. A light coat, really light is all you need on each washer. That’s it.

A light coat, and a happy boat.

Bearing the Truth
Let’s bear in mind that we haven’t discussed bearings yet. Ball bearings are shipped with grease from the factory most of the time. Since factories assume people fail to do yearly maintenance, they put in the most maintenance-free option available in their bearings. Problem: a greased bearing is a slow bearing. Upgrade bearings are often shipped without lube because many reel tuners like to use a particular lubricant in their
bearings to achieve a particular goal. This might be maximum cast distance without concern for control of backlashes, or just backlash control. Most of my customers want something in between. Good casting distance with control by an educated thumb can be achieved using a quality oil of the right visosity in bearings. Oils of different viscosities will change the qualities of a reel into
whatever you desire.
In the photo below you can see the clean bearing on the left with minimal oil added. On the right is a bearing with factory grease overflowing out the seals.

That's it for this month. If you need any more specific information about reels, visit the website or email me direct. Thanks for reading.

Entire Contents Copyright 2003 Al Chirinian/ReelMeister.com. All Rights Reserved.

[ 11-16-2003, 11:47 AM: Message edited by: reelmeister ]
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