Shimming A Mitchell Spinning Reel

Started by Gfish, December 21, 2022, 01:28:11 AM

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Gfish

A difficult, but now fun for me process on well used 300's. Failing at this many years ago on a version 6, 301, I realized that I was missing an understanding of exactly what the shims were there for. I thought, maybe friction reduction? After an initial clean and re-lube service the reel sounded and felt worse than before. At that stage of reel service knowledge, I was happy just to be able to disassemble, clean and reassemble a reel and have it function properly. So, I remembered that long-ago 301.

Since then, I've learned that since I lack a good feel for design and engineering, as well as the needed patience, I'd have to learn to be more stubborn and keep at it until things would come-out right.

Shims on a 300.
Continued...

Fishing tackle is an art form and all fish caught on the right tackle are"Gfish"!

handi2

I love those little (and larger) Mitchell reels. That's all we had. I would get a new 300 every year for Christmas.

Those mystery shims I call them. They are always different being installed one at a time as the reel is being assembled. The 300 and it's cousins are the only ones with all the shims.

You won't see too many on the larger Mitchell's.
OCD Reel Service & Repair
Gulf Breeze, FL

Gfish

#2
The Good;  A nice smooth functioning Mitchell is pleasure to use. Looks good, feels good, an enduring classic. There seems to be conflicting info. out there on the origin date of the 300 but 1939 comes-up often. These reels have only what I would call "1 major change" in their history: the change from a 1/2
bail system to a full bail sys. somewhere's around 1952, or '53.  All the way up until the 1980's, they've only had minor to moderate changes. That says something about the design and quality. There's so many of them used out there all over the world.
Will do a comparison thread on the differences between a version 2(possibly a 3?) and a version 6 at a latter date, with the appropriate references.

The Bad; My subjective opinions only. They designed these reels with no ball bearings and a rather complicated gear system. There is steel, aluminum, bronze, chromed brass and some unidentifiable non-magnetic metal(e.g., oscillation slide) as well as the requisite plastic. Various bushings and gear tooth surfaces will wear after enough use. Longevity solution?(I assume)—-shims! They reduce wear on moving parts, can compensate for loose tolerances due to wear and are cheaper than replacing worn parts with new ones.
Continuing with the bad, though, the shimming of 3 of the 4 major wear areas is difficult!

1)A version 2, possibly early '40's
2 & 3)Some comparison pictures, the 3rd picture shows the only shim differences between the 2 versions, latter versions went to larger dia. shims on the top of the head. old 1940's-left, 1966, ver.6-right.
3)Note the differences in the baffle plates, these are what I call moderate changes.
Also note, I removed both oscillation slides and turned around the o. gears to see the construction differences.
Fishing tackle is an art form and all fish caught on the right tackle are"Gfish"!

Gfish

Shimming; there are 4 areas in these reels that can be fixed and each has it's respective size shims: 1)the "drive gear", 2)the pinion gear, 3)the bottom of the rotating head to housing area and 4) the rotating head(head)to baffle plate area.
Fishing tackle is an art form and all fish caught on the right tackle are"Gfish"!

Gfish

#4
The drive gear is easy. The need for a shim between the cover plate and the gear is indicated by excessive lateral movement of the gear shaft/handle assembly approx. >0.5mm. There were no shims at this location on my NIB '74 300. According to the manual they are an optional item and must be purchased separately from Garcia Corp.

The other 3 shim areas are difficult to work on. Obviously, the grinding sound/vibration feel is emanating from the beveled bronze gears, oriented at a 90 degree angle to each other. Adding or subtracting shims in one area can affect the other 2 areas. Also, disassembly usually didn't show me exactly where the problem was. Tweaking one thing, such as adding a shim to say, the head/housing area required a full reassembly to test and see if there was any improvement.

So, it's a matter of experimentation and I need that stubborn discipline to keep working it. Disassemble/- or + shim(s)/assemble/test, rinse-repeat, rinse-repeat, etc, etc.

One thing that seemed to work a-little better for me, was to start-out by eliminating most of the vertical slop in the head. Try and get it to <0.3mm. Start with 2-3 shims down at the head/housing point. Then start adding the larger shims to the head/baffle plate point, until too much friction prevents the head from freely turning on that nice oilite bushing. Next remove 1 shim or replace a shim with another one about 1/2 as thick. That should get it right in the zone(remember though, it should still be slightly loose). All my shims I've collected range from 0.08mm - 0.42mm. Done now with the vertical slop thing, but what next? The pinion shims? Reposition the head shims? If so, removing or adding one of these on the head means having to do the opposite on the other end. It's a guessing game...
Note: when testing after an adjustment, full assembly is best with rotor nut and housing plate screws torqued down. The screws, as well as the bail screws, are are going into aluminum, so easy does it!
Note: don't ask, 'cause I only have shims from reels that are in pieces now... some day I'll find a supply...

Finally you get blissful, smooth, quiet reel function, right?.........Wrong! Because of the gear teeth and bushing wear factors, well used reels will always have some slight noise and vibration.

Some other pictures
1) '40's 300-left, '60's ver.6 on right. Notice the difference in the small upper drive gear vs the size of the transfer gear(lowest gear). More on this in the next thread.
2) pinion shims.
3) 2 spools from the ver.2('40's) reel. The arbor and top flange are plastic, note how they are screwed together. The bases are black aluminum and the spindle bases are all aluminum,  a steel click gear and spindle shaft. An aluminum drag adjusting nut—nice.
4) '40's bail
5)version 6-300 spool. All Aluminum flanges and arbor—as a one piece unit, plastic drag nut, spindle is metal on top, plastic on bottom and a molded in plastic click gear. Surprisingly, the 2-spools from the oldie weighed almost exactly the same as this one from 1966. This one had more aluminum than the old spools, I guess and the '40's spools had more steel, so maybe they kinda balanced each other out.

Fishing tackle is an art form and all fish caught on the right tackle are"Gfish"!

Bora

Uff, trials and tribulations of shimming old Mitchells... something I became familiar with first time last week.

This is a great breakdown of the process and focus areas. Unfortunately I still haven't managed to get a lot of success - maybe I need some more of that patience too. Or I might have more luck with some of the different size models, let's see..

One piece to add, especially for those looking for some early positive reinforcement when shimming 300s: start with shimming the handle knob. It's probably the easiest to get right and really helps tightening up the feeling of the reel, at least in my case. Then onto the finer tuning.

Good luck!

foakes

The main reason that the 300's need to be shimmed when restoring or servicing them after 10-30 years of use —-

The material that the gears and pivot centers is made out of is an alloy which is primarily aluminum.

The thin shims restore the reels closer to their original tolerances for better operation.

For me, sometimes I can leave a couple out, or add one or two more, or replace the worn ones with new.

The only tricky ones that require trial & error are the thin ones that go under the rotor head and beneath the rotor-attached pinion.

Shims are not used much on larger Mitchells (or the smaller 308/408's) —- because the construction and gear materials are bronze and real metal —- as opposed to softer alloys.

That is why Keith got a new one every year when he was a kid.

Best, Fred
The Official, Un-Authorized Service and Restoration Center for quality vintage spinning reels.

D-A-M Quick, Penn, Mitchell, and ABU/Zebco Cardinals

--------


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Gfish

Quote from: Bora on December 21, 2022, 06:33:01 PMUff, trials and tribulations of shimming old Mitchells... something I became familiar with first time last week.

This is a great breakdown of the process and focus areas. Unfortunately I still haven't managed to get a lot of success - maybe I need some more of that patience too. Or I might have more luck with some of the different size models, let's see..

One piece to add, especially for those looking for some early positive reinforcement when shimming 300s: start with shimming the handle knob. It's probably the easiest to get right and really helps tightening up the feeling of the reel, at least in my case. Then onto the finer tuning.

Good luck!
Thanks, Bora. Actually, did have some ss washers and shimmed all but 2 knobs, but should have added that. It is as you said, a good starting point.
One thing(theory), I did mention was the wear factor. Like Fred was talkin 'bout, there's an aluminum thing goin on with 3 of the 5 gears that will wear-out teeth and bushing surfaces, so shimming will probably never get 'em perfect. The head-gear and the pinion gear and the drive gear shaft seem to have bronze oilite inserts that "look & feel" like they are not wearing too much...
Fishing tackle is an art form and all fish caught on the right tackle are"Gfish"!

handi2

OCD Reel Service & Repair
Gulf Breeze, FL

Gfish

Keith was a lucky kid! Didn't get a 300 'till I's about 13yr. old. After some cheap spincasters and bargain spinners made in Japan, the 300 seemed like the pinnacle of quality, then latter-on, my little brother got a Quick 110 and...I knew...
Fishing tackle is an art form and all fish caught on the right tackle are"Gfish"!

handi2

Quote from: Gfish on December 21, 2022, 08:33:50 PMKeith was a lucky kid! Didn't get a 300 'till I's about 13yr. old. After some cheap spincasters and bargain spinners made in Japan, the 300 seemed like the pinnacle of quality, then latter-on, my little brother got a Quick 110 and...I knew...

The reason I did get one yearly is because it was used on the Pensacola fishing pier located on the GOM. You can't get much saltier than that!

The 300 was used to catch Threadfin Hearing or Cigar minnows to be used on my 302 for Kingfish and Cobia.

OCD Reel Service & Repair
Gulf Breeze, FL

jgp12000

#11
IMO the 300 was the best looking reel ever produced. This is a great breakdown Gregg, I know shimming can be frustrating. A perfectly tuned 300 is great, and it will handle big fish! I prefer the 308 and 304 for my type of fishing, simpler on the inside too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vJ_qSr_2RI

Gfish

#12
Cool James!, Thanks. I liked the nostalgic "50's video with the pro rep. Cool musical score, pants up over his hips and all. The best was the dude with the "Minnisooota" accent on the old vs new video. Blood filled ticks for bait? It takes a lot to disgust me, but that one got me. I had to cut one out of my leg once. How do they "prepare" them? What poor mammal do they use?
The new Mitchell's look pretty good, but I really like aluminum over graphite and will stick with those.
Fishing tackle is an art form and all fish caught on the right tackle are"Gfish"!

Paul Roberts

Yes, great write up. Thanks for this. Shimming is an option for some reels, if you can find the shims to use. I've had to get creative here and there. Won't know how effective, or lasting til they get a true workout.

I loved my 300's until they wore out. Wasn't the die-hard tinkerer I am now so I never tried fixing them and ended up moving on from them.

Would love to figure out a way of resurrecting worn gears. Too many lovely old reels end up... unfishable.

thorhammer

Would love to see one of our fab guys make brass gears for the 486 / 488. I bet Keith would appreciate those and it gets me two to one vote over some guys needing 489 with wrong hand (The Man!!! :d )