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By Ron Mc
When we were all housed-in in April, many of us took on projects. My buddy Lou took on a wooden kayak.
I took on remaking two Abu CT tournament reels into new reels for me.
I bought two 1995 Ambassadeur C3-CT non level winds with the goal of making better Talbots.
One is a US-model Blue Yonder, and the second came from the UK, sold in the rest of the world as blue Elite.
I started this because I saw the beautiful barstock frames available from the UK, where they love these reels in the surf.
Here's a good history write-up of the Ambassador CT Tournament reels - http://www.realsreels.com/customABUReco ... Brown.html

Also keep in mind, both reels have been fished in the surf for 25 years, and I intended to have new reels inside and out.
One of the original frames was already showing pitting beneath the chrome - kinda made me feel good that I could justify these barstock frames.
Decided to build one to 5500 width for lures both inshore and the surf, and keep one at 6500 width for 2-oz spider weights in the surf. The spools are Avail microcast from Japan, made shallow and light for braid - 200 yds on the 5500, and 300 yds on the 6500.
Also used the Avail internally-adjustable mag add-on, which helps with both light lures and wind in your face.
Most of the new slick went into the spools, and the mag is the way to control them while still getting out-of-sight casts
Again, since these have been fished in the surf 25 years, went for all new drives with stainless gears - found it was cheaper to buy fully assembled brake plates with ball bearing drives from Rocket Reel Co., than to buy the parts individually.
Also replaced the IAR roller bearings with new stainless. Raced out bearings in the spools, and even 3 ball bearings added to the spindles.
Counting the handle knobs, they went from 2+1 BB to 10+1
Since they had to come apart anyway for lube, I moved the complete new drives to the original brake plates.
The drive shaft BB has a shouldered thrust washer beneath so the outer bearing race is free
btw, both reels showed outrageous pinion gear wear
They shed a lot of weight, e.g., chromed brass frames replaced with barstock alloy, and 90-g steel handles replaced with 20-g alloy and titanium handles.
Here's what I ended up with
Since the reel feet on the frames are 78 mm long, it also required a custom rod with a split reel seat (L3 on one-piece reel seats is 75 mm).
I had Rich Hedenberg build my first rod, and it just arrived Tuesday.
8' 1-pc light in hand Toray graphite, moderate action, 1/4 to 1 oz. Rich was trying to get the rod to me before our Estes trip, but sadly, lost his father in the current health crisis.
So I'll fish it next trip.
Later I'll have Rich build me an 11' 1-4 oz rod for the 6500 surf reel.
You cast these reels without end tension, and with 1 mm end play on the spindle. Centrifugal brakes only apply in the initial acceleration, and tournament casters don't use those. The primary casting brake, mag brakes are linear with spool velocity, and the kind the tournament casters use are turned off while waiting on their long cast. I have the Avail mag that matches my spools, and want 2-pin centrifugal for start-up, because I want reliable casts without backlash for fishing - I don't care about giving up the extra 50+' that matters to tournament casters. Likewise, I need to see the lure land.

It casts like a dream. I was throwing a Trout Support Lure (1/4 oz) in the back acre, because that's the lure I'm targeting for the 5500.
150' casts were easy, and repeatable, made a couple of mag standoff adjustments in 15 casts, and it's fairly idiot-proof casting.
In 15 casts, I did get one minor backlash, but only because I was trying to defeat the mag with aggressive movement.
ImageIn comparison, this cast distance about doubles what I normally fish on my Lew's Super Duty casting the same lure on 7' MM, or my 7' ML with Lew's Inshore and 1/8-oz.
The big difference comes from not needing to use spindle tension (Cast Control on graph), larger diameter spool, along with the raced-out spool bearings. Compared to other round baitcasters, it simply doesn't have the inertia of moving the LW mechanism, similar to modern low-profile reels (and those great 100-y-o Meek and Talbot NLW).

Where I was discussing this project on FFR, people questioned the absence of level wind. Playing with them today, as I anticipated, line stacking is not an issue with the thin braid, as long as you install the 200-300 yds with hand level wind.
Working line can't stack high enough to affect the spool,
if you do need to adjust the line lay, it just needs an occasional thumb touch.
If you get a really big fish that takes you down the spool, you'll be holding the front grip anyway, with easy thumb level-wind on your recovery.
and like fishing your 100-y-o Talbot with silk braid, you can restore your level wind after you get home using a line winder.

ps - took the combo to the back acre again today for some focused two-handed casting. Keeping the lure low, 150' no problem. Aiming up, it was going a lot farther, and quit after I threw one over the fence. Nothing even close to backlash. I'm sure I could fish this reel in the dark as long as there was nothing out there to hit; i.e., in the surf or from Arroyo dock
If I want to cast farther, will have to take it to the park - or take it fishing.
Ron truly a pleasure meeting you and Lou also and I look forward to the next time.
Great write up and project you pulled off there. I bet it does cast forever, can’t wait to see it in action.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
This tinkering stuff can go on...
Planning to set up both reels also with deep spools for mono (copolymer) to swap out for the shallow braid spools

I set up the 6500 first this way - the deep spool holds 400 yds 16-lb copolymer.
The mass of the line on the deep spool needs more mag brake adjusted-in, and it won't quite cast the distance of the sweet shallow braid spools with thin braid.
But if you've ever dealt with braid backlash, backlash in mono is a lot easier to recover.

Stacking during retrieve - the mono is pretty well-behaved on the wide spool, but you do want to ooccasionally clean it with a quick hand-level-wind between every half-dozen casts or so - not a big deal throwing bait in the surf.
Note for swapping out spools, you need to leave just enough room on your spool to also wrap your heavy fluoro shock tippet.

Since I was filling a spool and taking photos, here's how to get perfect level-wind loading your NLW reels:
From R to L I'm pushing down with my thumb to make a side-to-side tight, intimate line lay - the slower you do this part, the better result you'll get;
from L to R, I lift the line and move it quickly across the spool for a wider lay in the opposite direction.
The 16-lb Sakuma copolymer is the same diameter as 12-lb fluoro, and 40% thinner than nylon mono.
It's also hard, and rough on your thumb for 400 yards - I cut a piece of bicycle innertube to use for a "thumb glove"

I mentioned on another thread how to load your line tight and under slight tension:
I put the reel on a rod in a clamp rod holder, run the line only through the bottom rod guide.

Put the new line spool on an axle clamped in a bench vise,
and run the line through a phone book with a weight on top to maintain tension.
If you need a break, you can also walk away from this set-up, and everything stays under tension.


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