Custom Reels UK – there’s life in the old dogs yet!

Subsurface Editor Gareth Fareham takes some time out from compiling Issue 2 to pen a few words about having some new life breathed into his SS 3000’s.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t look after my fishing kit. It gets chucked around, dropped, thrown in bushes and generally clattered about left right and center. As long as it works, I don’t really care too much. Reels get dipped in the lake to wet the spools prior to a big chuck, occasionally fished too close to the water in awkward swims so they spend some time partly underwater…or on the big pits that are used by speedboats more than the occasional ‘wave’ sees them disappear under the surface on probably too frequent a basis for the bearing’s liking, and that’s just the beginning… Some lads seem to have these little regimes where they regularly clean and take care of their kit, after each session everything will get dried out and given a little clean, and readied for the next session. Mine on the other hand doesn’t even make it out of the sling, ever. My brolly will often stay wet for weeks when the weather is rough, the only opportunity it gets to dry out is next time it is stuck up on the bank behind a set of rods. Rods and reels stay wrapped up in their sleeves until next time, wet, muddy, gritty…however they fell. It isn’t a conscious decision to neglect everything, it is sheer necessity. There’s too much else to do and fishing a couple of worknights a week, packing up in the wet becomes part and parcel of what you do, it becomes all you know, even in the summer on dewy mornings it is rarely away dry. Prepping spots, walking, looking…drinking a mate’s tea all fall way higher on my list of important jobs than cleaning my kit.

As you can imagine, my trusty old SS 3000’s are not treated with any due care or attention either, the best they get is dipped in the pit once in a while to clean off any excess grit, and a regular change of line being the only ‘servicing’ they ever get. Really I should take better care of them, I love them to bits, and get real pleasure from sitting behind a cult classic of the carp reel world. I’ve never been one for shiny kit, reels that look like the Starship Enterprise and rods that look like machine guns, in fact I hate all that. It’s just a matter of taste and preference, but I do love the old fashioned looking bits and bobs; my swan neck bars, little white bobbins, full duplons, and the SS’s, nice simple, no frills, minimal kit. Silly really, but I’m drawn to the aesthetics of things, and those things just look nice to me, and represent an older fashioned set of sensibilities and ideals about carp fishing, I couldn’t really care less if they don’t work quite as well as the shiny new kit…but that’s just me.

This season, finally, the SS’s decided they’d just had enough. One felt like the handle was going to fall off every time you wound in, and the other two ‘good’ reels sounded like coffee grinders…ah, the sweet sound of an old Diawa winding in at first light drifting across the misty pit…ahem. It was time to man up and do what everyone else does and get them serviced, I wanted them to last me another 10 years and despite being great at ignoring the obvious, I’m not stupid, so realised that if I got them sorted now, I might just be able to hang on to them for a few years yet, plus Meeky had been on at me for ages for neglecting the poor things and I must admit…his did look and feel like a million dollars. He put me in touch with Garry at Custom Reels UK and hence here we are today.

Garry offers a whole host of upgrades, tweaks and service options and can tailor his service to your needs. In my instance my SS’s, despite being old ‘originals’, are not the very first ones that came over, so spares are still available and bearing and gearing can still be replaced which was a good job really as the internals were in a sorry state of affairs. The line lay was pretty poor due to some incorrect spacing of washers under the spool so these were replaced with a custom set to correct the spacing and re-align the spool. Then we got down to the nitty gritty and the root of the awful grinding noises and ‘wobble’ I’d grown to love…it turned out that the worm shaft and drive gears were pretty worn and had a fair amount of free play so these were re-shimmed to make them tighter and smoother and I also had new drive and pinion gears fitted to sort out the grinding.

Alongside all that, the reels were fully stripped of their guts, de-greased then cleaned ultrasonically, including all the bearing assemblies. They are then re-assembled using a salt water corrosion proof Teflon grease on the gearing, and a Ceramic grease in the bearings. The rotors were balanced and the float on the drive gear and worm shaft was measured and shimmed accordingly. Once assembled, the reels are then coated with a special Teflon polish to protect them against dirt and water in the near future – or from my various forms of abuse!

Originally I was just planning on having a full service, but knew Garry offered some anodizing and other upgrades so decided to ‘de-glam’ the reels a step further than they already are by getting the spools anodized black. They are stripped, cleaned and then re-anodised which gives them a really nice retro feel and gets rid of that shiny silver spool and branding. I still had the hideously un-friendly line clips on there and although I’d never actually had an issue, the ‘pinching’ and slight damage you get from the old triangular Diawa clips always did make me wince a little…the newly anodized black spools were fitted up with the sprung loaded line clip conversions which are made from anodized alloy and use a stainless spring to avoid any potential corrosion. Along with that the steel clutch washers were also machine polished and then coupled up with the carbon washer upgrade Garry offers to make them super smooth, and ‘speed’ them up to roughly 3 turns, a blessing on the rather slow original clutch systems on the SS’s.

Personally I’ve never been one for buying much new kit, I get quite attached and sentimental over bits of my old stuff; unhooking mats I’ve had certain carp on, stove pouches I’ve had since I was 17, reels that have been with me through tough times and glorious ones…so for me, to give my old churners a new lease of life was a bit of a revelation. They were second hand and not in the best shape when I bought them a good few years ago, since then they’ve been through turmoil and trauma in various guises. Garry promised me they would feel like different reels and he wasn’t wrong, they truly are as smooth as silk, the ominous wobble and grinding noises are long gone and the little tweaks like the line clip, black spools and clutch upgrade have all added that little ‘je ne sai quoi’ to an already loved and cherished set of reels. If you want to hang on to your history for a bit longer, or just like the idea of a tweak up, then I can wholeheartedly recommend Garry’s work. Efficient, excellent contact and info and a great service. One thing I should mention in this day and age of backhanded biased reviews in exchange for free kit, I paid full price for all the work and parts, it wasn’t cheap but I would pay it again at the drop of a hat.

Custom Reels UK offer a wide range of tweaks and upgrades, from the ‘everyday’ bearing, line clip, clutch and servicing to get your reels running smoothly again all the way through to much more personalized finishes in the form of handle upgrades, paintjobs, effects and all manner of other tweaks. Whether you want a completely de-branded, lo-fi styled set of reels in cult black, or something more spangly, Garry can tailor a service to whatever you require, that is the beauty of a service being ‘custom’ after all. Drop them an email and see what they can do for you, or check out the regularly updated Facebook page for more info and images of what they can do.


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