Tweaking a Pflueger Nobby

Started by Paul Roberts, January 13, 2023, 08:43:19 PM

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Paul Roberts

I guess it's Pflueger Nobby week here. Or, at least I revisited a couple 2nd-stringers I'd benched after servicing some time ago. Thought I'd see if I could troubleshoot them and bring them back to the starting lineup. Shame to have these wonderful old reels languish.

I started my "collection" of quality direct drive (DD) casting reels in anticipation of fishing with some of them. The Pflueger Nobby was on my list. I purchased several of each model I was interested in, in hopes of getting a good one that performs well. Being old reels, most come in neglected, some abused. I must say though, in general, I've found that the quality DD's, made with quality materials, have held up surprisingly well over time. And I think I'm comfortable saying, that this is esp so the Pflueger's. I do my best to find reels that appear to be in good condition to start with. But, you just don't know until the reel is not only in hand but fully serviced.

For a DD reel to perform anything close to what modern reels can do (and I'm a fisher first, collector... somewhere further down the line), these old mechanical wonders require a pretty detailed servicing job. I'd say more so than perhaps any other reel type out there. I have to say, it's a little hard to hear the low expectations given these wonderful old reels in most on-line discussions and "grandpa's reel" video's. It seems that many, if not most, anglers attempt to cast these reels without a proper cleaning —much less tuning, much less super-tuning. Now, when I see "grandpa's reel" come out, often half full of old line, I can't even watch. I know what is about to happen; Low expectations realized. And deserved!

Nobby's are wonderful little reels. Nice looking in their brushed aluminum skin. More-so to my eye than the highly chromed Pflueger models. The Nobby is essentially the same animal as most of the other Pflueger DD's: Akron, Summit, and much of the SkilKast. Same guts. Got one schematic, you pretty much have them all (excepting the SkilKast's Mechanical Thumber apparatus). The Nobby is an aluminum bodied version (side plates, spool, and levelwind housing), which effectively shaves more than 2oz of weight off the Nobby's weight, compared to its sisters, coming in at just over 5-1/2oz (on my calibrated scale).

I wound up acquiring 4 Nobby's, two of which, after complete DD servicing, were performers. Of the remaining two, one performed quite well but had some aesthetic defects having suffered some surface corrosion. This one I decided to repaint. I'm not into gaudy reels, but since all Pflueger DD's tend to be metallic I gave a gold Nobby a shot. The Nobby's handle grips are a translucent swirl gold color that are actually a good match. And... she spins like a top.

My 4th Nobby was in very good external condition. But it was less smooth, did not spin quite as long, and was a bit noisier than I'd like —giving off a raspy glitch here and there. This one I took down to its skivvies again, but to no avail. So I started looking, and listening, close while spinning the handle, trying to isolate the issue. When each spin slowed enough, it came to an abrupt stop. Holding the tailplate to my ear, I could hear the same raspy glitch when the spin stopped. This cadence suggested that the levelwind might be the culprit.

The levelwind mechanism in DD reels creates more drag on a cast than do the whirring gears or spinning handle. So they are a prime suspect in DD performance and smoothness issues. I first checked the reciprocating worm gear for damage. There was none. Next, I checked the pawl. AOK. Finally, I "tweaked" the line guide, first bending it very slightly one way, spinning, then the opposite way. That was it. The glitch disappeared, earning me another 1st-string Nobby.

The way to tell which way the guide needs to be "tweaked" (bent is too strong a word) is to watch for which direction the guide stops on a spin. If it stops moving towards the tailplate, the guide is leaning toward the tailplate. Rectify by tweaking the guide wires the opposite direction (toward the faceplate). If the guide stops when moving toward the faceplate, tweak it toward the tailplate. It can be a darn slight tweak.

What this suggests, once again, is just how important the smooth perfect operation of the levelwind apparatus must be on DD reels. Clean, polish, lube (lightly), inspect, and "tweak" if needed.

Shellbelly

Thanks, Paul!!

Direct Drive reels have a special place in my time on the planet.  Like learning a standard transmission, I believe everyone should master these reels before pushing a button or lever.  Nobby is the first Pflueger I acquired, then Summit, and on to a few more.  I learned on the Shakespeare's and at the time, didn't know Pflueger existed.  Just a little bit young then.  Those reels put me many steps ahead by the time my Dad handed me something called a free spool and changed my life!  It was all downhill from there.

Good stuff, Paul!

   

Paul Roberts

Shell, freespool isn't downhill in my book. Just a different path to the same essential place. :fish And... some places along the way an old DD simply can't go.

Shellbelly

Agreed.  Downhill is translated in here to mean all the good and easier things associated with the fishing bug... including automatic transmissions to get me there :D

Paul Roberts

Ah yes. Agreed. Not giving up my modern reels for anything. Unless, possibly I figure out how to get 28ipt, and skip casting, from my DD's. ;D

Shellbelly

When I was looking at these reels for my collection, it was frustrating to see corrosion in between the studs and the knobs on otherwise very clean reels.  Especially when it caused the knob to degrade and crumble.  From your experience, what is the most reliable lube to prevent this blemish?  I know I could oil it but I'm concerned that oils will also degrade or discolor the knob.

Paul Roberts

Corrosion is much worse in the reels I have that have seen saltwater. A number have pitting through the chrome. Once the chrome is compromised even air humidity can create new rust.

I don't know what is best. Since I recently moved from an arid region to a humid one, I'm probably going to be asking the same question. Lemme know if you discover something.

Reeltyme

Good morning gents. As for a good oil, I use Hoppe's gun oil. I'm sure any quality gun oil would do the same. Gun oil is designed to keep out moisture. As I not only live in Florida (very humid) I live next to the Gulf (salt air). All I can say is that it works for me.

Paul Roberts

Thanks for that. I noticed recently that the gun oils tend to be very low viscosity, which might be ideal for DD reels. I do have some Rem-oil.

Sonnett

Paul I fish (as you know) with only pre-WWII baitcasting equipment. Having tried over many years different oils, in the end, Hoppe's oil won out. It is water clear and for me is the right viscosity for a working reel. For at least 25 years the Nobby was my go-to reel for everyday fishing. I have owned more than a dozen. In general, the earlier the reel's production, the tighter and smoother it has performed. Being aluminum it is inherently somewhat noisier than its heavier Pflueger stable mates. I would pass on this tip. I get my quietest results out of most Nobbys when the spool is positioned as far from the crank side as possible. The second observation is that early on I purchased a Nobby that had the gears lapped with powdered toothpaste. This had been done at a slow speed for many hours with a small electric motor by the previous owner. To this day it is the quietest Nobby I've ever cast. Several experienced casters have been amazed at how quiet and smooth this reel is and Warren Platt long ago named it "ol' number one"

Paul Roberts

Thanks so much, Bill. Your use of Nobby's was the reason I searched some out. And you've inspired me to try to get the most out of my old DD's. Lapping is one thing I've yet to try.

Sonnett

#11
For the past few years Paul I have used almost exclusively pre-1950 Coxe 25N's. Thee are not the aluminum framed Coxe Coronet 25N's but rather the german silver framed ones that were introduced in 1941. A couple of vintage tackle fishermen came to visit me a few years ago and after trying mine have gone to them completely. Smooth, quiet, and the distance that is easily achieved is noteworthy. They can be difficult to find but perseverance pays off. Coxe 25N's & 12 Oct Julia 013.jpg

Paul Roberts

I have a couple of 25's. No N's yet. They are nice to cast with, but I can see I'll need to heed your advice on keeping my thumb on the spool and the handle in check!

Sonnett

All it took was two big blow-up strikes followed by two big blow-up backlashes to teach me to rely entirely on my thumb and not the crank when setting the hook in a fish. I find the free spool aspect as a fish takes line from the spool with only my thumb providing resistance to be easy and a lot more fun than using a star drag on a more modern reel. DSC02248.JPG

Paul Roberts

I can't wait! There is light at the end of the tunnel. It's just still a bit distant yet.