Archive for the ‘reel’ category

Part 6 of the Van Buren Reel

March 2, 2010

This installment shows the completed reel and its fitting on the rod! The mechanicals of the reel are complete, rivets peened, and the reel tuned. The only thing left to do is “age” it. My thoughts are to age the reel for the “10 year” look. Basically, a reel that has been in service and well used and cared for. I like to do this by speeding up the natural process. Brass patina is performed by fuming the reel in vinegar vapor for 8 hours. This gives the brass a golden color. I then polish the reel with sawdust and lemon juice – exactly like its owner might have done. This makes sure that the darkening stays in the nooks and crannies. The reel in the photos has been treated once and then polished. It is ready for the 2nd and 3rd treatments. Between the 2nd and 3rd vapor treatment, I will use burnt umber oil pain mixed with finely ground pumice to simulate grime and finger and fish oil build up. This mixture will be applied to the logical places (you can see where on the actual reel) and then gently blotted off. Once dry, the reel will be fumed one last time and then protected with a microcrystalline wax to lock everything in place.

Now then are the two reels side by side for comparison. I like to call this “twin reels of different makers”! (you can click the photos to see the full resolution image).

Front View

Top View

Back Side View – note the peened pillars!

Foot View

And now, the moment of truth – fitting the reel to the magnificent rod John crafted! I had to enlarge the foot mortise on the rod. I carefully mixed a concoction of finishes from John’s description and lo, it was a perfect match.

Makes me want to go fishing!

Side View

Tail End

I’ll post more photos of the reel tomorrow when it is out of the final fuming!


Part 5 of the Van Buren Reel

February 28, 2010

Now I’ve completed the internal mechanisms – the stop latch and the multiplier gearing. Here is a detail of the stop latch:

The latch lever was a tricky little part to make! It shows the ingenuity of 19th century craftsmen. The ball on the end is oval and not round. It was not turned on a lathe (or at least it did not appear to have been). It was filed and polished by hand. At the other end is a ramp filed in to the lever arm. This ramp engages the brass “spring” that has a small metal peg (you can see that right at the angle where the foot part of the spring extends upwards. It is peened in place. Its purpose is to engage a hole in the spool to keep it from spinning when the latch is engaged. When the latch ball is pushed upward, the ramp lifts the brass spring and pin and disengages it from the spool. Simple but effective. Here it is in the disengaged position.

Now I’ll show the multiplier mechanism. First, there is a small axle for the main gear. It is turned from steel and fastened from the back with a 2-56 screw. I don’t know how the original was held on since I can’t disassemble the reel! But a small screw seems logical. I suppose it could be riveted with an integral rivet too.

Here is the gear and pinion installed temporarily. The original was also brass for the 20 tooth gear and steel for the 8 tooth pinion. Interestingly, a modern 20 tooth 32 pitch gear has a slightly small diameter. But it works fine. You can see the square end on the gear to accept the handle crank. It was filed by hand.

Next, the crank and grip assembly are installed. The original grip appeared to be ivory. I made mine from Tagua nut – vegetable ivory. Once it is yellowed, it should look pretty authentic.

And here is a top view of the entire mechanism with the cover removed so you can see everything.

Now that all the parts are fabricated, I will fit the reel foot to the rod that John sent me. A little rework is going to be required on the foot or rod or both. Once that is done, I will do the final assembly of the reel. This is a one way street since the pillar ends and pinion are peened in place.

My intent is to lightly “age” the reel. I’ve been testing various formulations for darkening the brass and steel. I will also add accumulated oil/dirt residue to the areas that an angler would have difficulty wiping away. Stay tuned!

Part 4 of the Van Buren Reel

February 27, 2010

Now I’ve completed the spool and spindle. The spindle is by far the most difficult part to make. The tolerances are tight. I used a combination of traditional lathe work and clockmaker’s lathe work (hand gravers and a tool post). The spool plates were spun. A really fun technique that I will use again. Here’s the dry assebly of the reel frame fitted with the spool and spindle prior to soldering and final fitting:

Another view showing the spun spool plate recessed into the back plate – close tolerances!

Here are the frame and spool parts prior to assembly. Assembly of these reels is a one-way street. The 3 posts are peened over on the back plate side and crimped on the front. The reel must be assembled from the inside out and adjust as you go.

And here is the spool with the spun plates soldered to the spindle. They run dead true! First time!

Cheers, Michael

More of the Van Buren Reel

February 26, 2010

Here are some photos of the reel foot and bracket and this assembled to the front and back plates. I am fabricating the parts using only hand tools and leaving tooling marks as on the original. It’s interesting, the original has a very refined reel frame and spool but the foot and bracket are “rough”. This could be because a lathe was used on the plates and spool whereas the foot and bracket were obviously cut and filed by hand.

The Van Buren New York Reel

February 21, 2010

The reel is nearing completion so I’ll start to post photos showing how I put it together. I started with the front plate. This is a hollow chamber that contains the transmission for the multiplier and the stop latch. After close scrutiny of the original, I determined that the case was turned on a lathe. I started with a 1″ long piece of 2″ brass rod. After facing both ends, I hollowed the backside of the plate. Once hollowed, I cut the front plate from the bar and held it in the lathe chuck to face the cut end. I then turned to the thickness of plate and left a little protrusion for the bullet area in the middle that covers the spindle. I carefully lathe file the bullet shaped profile to match the original. Finally, I rounded over the edge and cut the decorative grooves on the face and side wall using a very narrow “V” tipped graver. Here is the result:

Once the front plate was completed, I fabricated the back plate from the same 2″ bar. This plate has a small lip for the front plate to sit in to. The backside of it is also hollowed out to allow the spool side plate to recess in to it. Here are some photos of it:

And here are the parts assembled:

These are unfinished parts at this point. They will be polished and after the reel is assembled, distressed lightly to simulate usage.

Reel Foot Drawings for John

November 6, 2009

John, here are the drawings I made by measuring the model reel’s foot. I used a circle template to determine the radius of the foot. The thickness (0.040″) is an estimate. The original foot is hammered on its inside radius and is not a consistent thickness throughout. I will be using the same technique to make the new reel. The foot itself is fairly simple and attached to the reel foot bracket with 2 rivets.VanBurenReel

The Reel

October 21, 2009

I’ve done some research on 1840-50s reelsmiths and reels that President Van Buren may have used. Since Van Buren lived in NY (just south of Albany) and likely traveled through NYC on his way to and from Washington, he would have had access to reels imported from England as well as those built by the early New York makers. I would like to think that President Van Buren would have supported American manufacturers and turned to one of the New York makers. Makers like John Conroy, who started producing reels as early as 1830. Conroy was later joined by his son under the name J. & J.C. Conroy. J.B Crook was another prolific early New York reelsmith. There were perhaps a dozen New York reelmakers by 1850. Unfortunately, many of the reels from this period are unmarked. The Old Reel Collector’s Association (ORCA) forum and its publications are a great source of reel history.

The reels produced by these makers were primarily either single action or multiplying reels. A single action reel has the handle attached to the spool spindle so one rotation of the handle turns the spool one time. A multiplying reel is distinguished by having a handle offset from the spool spindle and a geared mechanism. One revolution of the handle typically revolves the spool 2, 3 or more times. This multiplication was particularly useful given the very small diameter spindles that spools on these early reels had.

The other consideration I had was the rod Dr. John is building for the exhibit – a Porter General rod. This was a versatile rod that can be reconfigured for a variety of fishing styles. A brass multiplying reel with a stop latch would be a good match to this rod. I was fortunate to locate several reels in private collections that the owner’s were willing to lend me to photograph and measure, and in one case, completely disassemble! This yielded a wealth of information on how these reels were constructed, materials and manufacturing techniques. Here are some photos of the reel I’ve chosen to duplicate:

(you can click the photos to see a bigger image)

I am working up the drawings/plans for this reel now and will post those when complete. I’ve also ordered most of the materials. I do have to make a decision about the handle grip. The original appears to be ivory. I have the option of using synthetic ivory, bone or some other material like rosewood. I have some time before I need to finalize the choice.