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Fishermen's Journal

Basic Reel Maintenance
and Reel Schematics for Avet and Penn

by Chark (a.k.a. - Mark Smith)


If you want to get long life (essentially a lifetime of service) from your quality built Penn fishing reels some basic maintenance is essential. If you upgrade your Penn with Accurate or Tiburon components, you'll find that basic yearly maintenance is even more critical to the long term enjoyment of your reel. With a little time spent performing some simple servicing you'll find your gear performs better, and will give you a lifetime's worth of service. If you've lost the reel diagram and parts list that came with your reel, don't worry. At the bottom of the page you'll find links to schematic diagrams, and a link directly to a page produced by Penn that allows you to view (using Adobe Acrobate -w/free download) diagrams for all their reels.


One thing that I've begun doing is taking my hard use reels at least once a year. I replace the drags, and re-apply grease to critical areas of the reels. I didn't always act so responsibly, and almost ruined a reel with an expensive Accurate sideplate upgrade a couple years ago. Several components froze up due to corrosion, simply because I didn't take the time to perform this simple service. Thanks to the wonders of LimeAway, I was able to free up the parts, and save the sideplate and bearings, but I had to replace several components. This was totally my fault, and an easy problem to prevent. So, here's a suggestion for keeping your reels in top condition.


tools Required supplies for the task of lubricating your reel and replacing drag washers include: Penn Reel Lube, Blue Grease, Lime Away (if necessary) and WD40 (optional), and some new drag washers. A screw driver and sockets are nice to have, but the wrench and driver tool supplied by Penn with your reel is fully adequate for the job at hand.


dragsNext up you'll need to figure out which washers you want to use for your drag replacement. There are several alternatives available. Smooothy offers a couple options a zinc / fiber material - the same as you'd find on an International, and a green silicone impregnated fiber material. Penn offers an economical and well proven drag and drag plus steel washer kit as well. This time I decided to upgrade my 4/0 narrow frame yellowtail special with the Silicone Smooothies (on the left). I've found that these drag washers are smoother than the standard drags, and are very reliable. I've used the super smoothies on my 500's, and trust these drags a great deal as well.

parts The first thing you'll want to do is remove the reel's sideplate. To do that, first remove the handle, keeping the parts together and organized (this is something that is a good habit to get into...). Then, remove the six screws securing the sideplate to the frame. Some folks like to totally take down the reel, dis-assembling the other sideplate at this time as well. I prefer to finish one side, then take care of the other. But, this is personal preference. Either way, you'll want to re-lubricate both sides.

plates Once you've removed the six screws securing the sideplate to the frame, you can proceed to take apart the rest of the reel, exposing the drags and gears. There are four screws behind the star drag which secure the bridge assembly to the sideplate. While carefully keeping pressure on the bridge, unscrew the bridge from the sideplate.

bridgeIn my hand is the bridge assembly. This is where your old drags will be found. Very carefully take out the drag washers, keeping them in order so you'll have an easy time putting them back in proper order. You should take apart the reels eccentric spring and lever and re-apply a good coating of Reel Lube or blue grease prior to re-assembly. (This is the lever that engages the reel's gears taking it out of freespool).

dragsI like to spray some WD40 on a towel and polish the reel's components at this time.
dragsNow, it's an easy job to replace the drag washers, keeping the sequence the same as when you took the parts out of the reel. Do not grease the washers (especially important with Silicon Smoothies). Apply a small coating of Penn's Reel Lube to the gears and parts that may be exposed to saltwater and friction. Do not gob on the lube, a very light coating is preferable. In fact, you'll only mess things off if you do lube your drag washers, or load up grease on the gears. You'll end up holding the salts in suspension with the grease, increasing the hazards of corrosion.

lubeFinally, the last job is to re-assemble your reel. You may have a little trouble with the eccentric jack (a small component that works with the mechanism which puts the reel in and out of freespool). Also the anti reverse mechanism may cause you a little frustration, but it's not impossible to get things back in order - so don't give up. To help you further, I've included links to schematics for several popular Penn reels below. Prior to securing the sideplate to frame, and the gear mechanism to the sideplate, apply a liberal coating of blue grease or Penn Reel Lube to all screw holes. This will prevent corrosion from attacking your reel. This is especially necessary when you do upgrade components to fancy aluminum frames and sideplates. You've got dissimilar metals coming in contact, combine that with a bit of saltwater and you have the potential for problems.


117And since I brought up corrosion, just take a look at this sucker! AgentBlack a frequent contributor recently made a pretty good buy on a couple Penn 117's. The winches are big, but as we found out, at least one of the reels was in terrible shape. The corrosion of the gears resulted in the side panels being coated with a significant layer of rust. The damage was terminal for the heavy duty gears, requiring a pretty expensive overhaul, with lots of new parts. If the original owner had taken the least amount of care, and opened up the reels yearly the parts would have lasted a lifetime. But, on the other hand, once we finish up with this beast the reel's owner will have a heck of a rock cod rig.117


I hope this brief guide helps motivate you to take on this job. You'll actually enjoy taking your reel apart, learn a bit about what makes some reels better than others, and get better use from your gear. If I can be of any help finding schematics or parts please feel free to send me a note.
Penn Schematics: 500, 113, and 114 series

Avet Schematics:
SX, MX 4.5:1, MX 6:1, LX/JX 4:1, EX diagram, EX parts list
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Last modified: 06/09/13.