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Make Those Bearings Sing

Make those bearings sing

 

Whether you have a brand new reel or an old favorite, there are things you can do to improve the performance or ease of operation. One of the best areas to make these improvements is the spool bearings. Since the reel companies to not know if the new owner will ever lubricate their new reels, they pack the bearings with grease. While this grease ensures the bearing will last a while without any attention, it prevents the bearing from spinning as free as it could if it was lubricated with oil. Since some reels use plastic or bronze bushings instead of bearings on the spool shaft you can make some big improvements by replacing the bushing with a bearing.

The reels I am using in this article are Shimano but the ideas are the same for other brands and models. We will outline how to clean and lubricate your spool bearings and what products we use. We will also show the bushing to bearing conversion as well.

First you need to locate and remove the spool bearings. On the Curado we are using, one is located in the left side plate and the other one is under the cast control knob. The Citica has a plastic bushing in the left side cover.

This bushing can be removed and replaced with a bearing to improve performance. Remove the left side cover and pull out the spool. Next, remove the cast control cap and spring. When you look into the left side cover you can see the bearing being held in with a wire retainer. Be very careful when removing the retainer as it can fly away and disappear. Hold your finger over the retainer or put a small piece of tape over it and use a small jewelers screwdriver to gently pop it out of its grove.

To remove the bearing I use a little tool I made out of a piece of a buzzbait frame. I bent a small hook on one end and a handle on the other. Make sure the hook is small enough to fit in the hole in the bearing. Using this tool you can pull out the bearing. Next look into the hole under the cast control cap and locate the other spool bearing. You can use your bearing remover to pull this one out.

Now that you have the bearings out you need to clean all of the old grease and dirt out of them. I use Ronsonol Lighter Fuel to soak the bearings. I put just enough in a small coffee can to cover the bearings. Throw the bearings in and let them soak for 10-15 minutes. After they have had time to soak, remove them and let them air dry for a couple of minutes.

After the bearings have dried I like to put one on the end of a pencil and slowly rotate the outer race with my fingers. While rotating the bearing feel for any roughness for binding. If you feel anything other than a totally free bearing, throw it back in the lighter fuel gain for another soak.

 

If after a couple of cleanings you still feel roughness or binding, you should replace the bearing. This would be a good time to try a set of ABEC-7 bearings. If you replace one stock bearing with an ABEC-7, you should replace both of them since the spool will only be as free as the tightest bearing.

After you have cleaned your bearings or replaced them with ABEC-7 bearings, there is one other thing you should check. Look on the spring side

of the cast control cap and you will see a small brass shim. If you see a dimple wore in the shim just take it out and flip it over to the other side and put a small drop of oil on it. Mow look in the left side cover at the hole the other bearing came out of. .

In this hole is a small black shim. Check this shim for a dimple and flip it over if it needs it. Be sure to put a small drop of oil on it also. Now you should use a Q-tip and wipe out the brass ring in the side cover that your brakes ride against.

With all of this done you are ready to lubricate your bearings with Rocket Fuel and put them back in. If you are using the stock bearings, fill them with Rocket Fuel but if you are using ABEC-7 bearings, be sure to only use one drop on each bearing.

Pop the bearing back in the left side cover and put the wire retainer back in its groove. Place the other bearing in its bore and put the spring and cast control cap back on. Lip the spool back in and install the left side cover and you are ready make your final adjustments and try it out.

You will probably need to adjust your brakes or your thumb for a while to get used to the improvements. Your reel should be able to throw lighter baits or throw your regular baits farther. With a little time and effort you can make your reels operate better than new.

Buck Creek Rod and Reel - Let us keep your reels working like new.
by Buck Creek Rod and Reel Repair


     

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