Makaira 50W angular contact bearing mod

Started by limitdown, March 26, 2013, 02:33:49 PM

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All of the comments that I received on my Avet 50EXW modification thread inspired me to modify my Makaira 50W. Although in its factory state, the Makaira 50W can put out more drag than I'll ever use or could possibly handle, I wanted this to be more of an experimental and exploratory modification which I want to eventually replicate for smaller reels that have serious handle binding issues even at low drag.

As most lever drag owners know, the biggest problem is the axial load (side load) on two bearings. The pinion bearing (right side plate bearing) and the left spool bearing (the left side plate bearing if you have a "push" design drag like the EXW). The Makairas have a "pull design" drag so the left spool bearing shares the axial load with the pinion bearing.

Although deep groove radial ball bearings can handle some axial load, they weren't designed for heavy axial loads. Also, if the radial bearings are small like in the small Avets, the amount of axial load capacity is pitiful and causes handle binding. The easy solution is to use a much larger radial bearing. Since most of us don't have CNC mills to machine new right side plates with larger slots for large radial bearings, we'll need to get a different type of bearing, one that can handle some radial load, and lots of axial load. The 3 types of bearings that I found during my research are:

- Tapered roller bearings
- Spherical roller thrust bearings
- Angular contact bearings

Of these 3, only angular contact bearings are available off-the-shelf with inner diameters (ie bore) of less than 15mm. The world has "metricated" (ie moved to the metric system), so it's very difficult and expensive to find inch/imperial bearings. I haven't been able to find inch angular contact bearings for my EXW50 so I've put that project on ice.

For small R4-sized bearings (0.25x0.625x0.196 inch) used in the small Avet SX, MX and JX's, angular contact bearings are either way too expensive at $125+ or need to be custom made at quantities over 500 pieces. If I can get 100 people to commit to purchasing 2 pieces each, then I'll commit the capital and take inventory risk. From my chats with a few bearing manufacturers, the best choice for our application would actually be tapered roller bearings, but they are much more difficult (ie expensive) to produce in small sizes.

Luckily, the Makaira is all metric and correctly-sized off-the-shelf angular contact bearings can be found.

Through a contact of mine in the machine parts business, I was able to squeeze in an order for some SKF 71900-sized angular contact bearings to replace the pinion bearing (10x22x6mm). For some reason, I didn't properly measure the left spool bearing when I serviced my reel a few months back. I figured that I'd just look at Alan's 50-Regular rebuild thread for the bearing size, 10x22x6. Nice, the same as the 71900. It turns that out the 50W's left spool bearing is 608-sized (8x22x7mm). I didn't realize this until I removed the left spool bearing and noticed that that the size wasn't right......

So...I was only able to mount the 71900 to the right side plate. I just happened to have some full silicon nitride (Si3N4) bearings in 608 size left over from another project so I mounted one to the left side of the spool. I'm not sure what to expect from the Si3N4 bearing. The radial load rating is much higher than with 52100 bearing steel and 440C stainless steel, but I'm not sure how it would perform with axial load. Axial load rating of radial ball bearings is theoretically about 25% of static radial load, but I'm not sure if the Si3N4 balls are too brittle and will get crushed by the axial forces. I'll be doing some torture test and will let everyone know how this Si3N4 bearing holds up. I'll try to get a proper angular contact bearing for this soon.

I haven't had time to do any pull tests with a scale, but my initial feel is that the handle is still very free-turning with the preset cranked down ridiculously and lever thrown to full.


nice work.  i forwarded this on to john bretza at okuma usa.
send me an email at for questions!


I'm still waiting to get some 608-sized (8*22*7mm) angular contact bearings for the left spool.
Even with just the pinion bearing replaced, I feel so little  cranking resistance even with the drag ridiculously cranked down.
I don't think I'll be able to test this to the limit as it would involve bolting down the reel to concrete/steel and using a car to pull the scale and line.
I'm getting close to finalizing negotiations with a manufacturer to produce some R4-sized angular contact bearings for me.  These would fit the small Avets, which need this modification much more than any Makaira or EXW.

Robert Janssen

I've found three major manufacturers of Angular Contact R4s. Awaiting more info on supply & cost. We'll see what they say.

QuoteThe Makairas have a "pull design" drag so the left spool bearing shares the axial load with the pinion bearing.

Actually, they've (Okuma) been very careful to do all they can to direct load into their proprietary bearing arrangement on the right; somewhat different from the usual drawbar thang. See diagram. I'm not sure really if anything can be gained by using an ac bearing in the left of the spool in this case.

But what the heck; try it anyway, just for fun.


I looked through the patent again and it still seems to me that the displacement of the shaft requires axial force to be placed on both the left and right spool bearings.

Second to last page

".......when the shaft 16 is driven by the spanner 18 (comment:ie drag lever) to move rightward  to the second  position,  as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, the shaft 16 forces the spool 20 to move rightward by means  of the retaining ring 55, the spring washers 56 and the left bearing 54  (comment : the left-most E-Clip is used to push the bearing into the left side of the spool), keeping  the brake pad 30 in contact with the first disk 44. At the same time, the shaft 16 forces the second 40 disk 48 (comment : the brake disk closer to the spool) to move rightward  by means of the retaining ring 58, the  spring washers 59, the right bearing  57 (comment : the E-Clip on the right side of the shaft is used to push the right spool bearing into the thrust bearing) and the thrust bearing  60, keeping the second disk 48 in close contact with the brake pad 30. Thus, the shaft 16 exerts a pressure to both of the spool 20 and the second disk 48 through  the support  set 52 (comment : there are two sets of "support sets", left and right side of spool).........."

It seems like the force on the left E-Clip is used to push the left bearing into the spool. This then moves the spool to the right thereby engaging the right-most brake plate to engage the carbon washer. The E-Clip near the right spool bearing is used to push the other brake plate rightward to engage the carbon washer.

The axial load exerted on the right spool bearing is neutralized by the thrust bearing. However, I still see axial load on the left spool bearing that isn't neutralized.

Please let me know if I'm missing something.


All I can say is that there is a lot of talent on this site. Keep up the good work guys, and yes, if you can figure out a way to improve the Avets, that would be a Godsend. Thanks.

Robert Janssen

Hmm yeah, lookit that... My bad; brain fart. Funny y'know, after reading and analyzing hundreds of patents to death for years and years, i gotta admit i seldom read the darn things anymore- just look at the diagrams.



Quick update
I finally received a correctly-sized angular contact bearing for the left spool.
I've only been able to test drag up to 70lbs. Beyond that, I would need to secure the reel to something solid and use a car to pull the line.
At 70lbs, I still have free spool and there was no resistance whatsoever when turning the handle. This was only with the lever pushed up to the number "5" setting.
At the "6" setting, there is still no resistance when turning the handle in high gear. In "Full" setting, I was finally beginning to feel a slight bit of resistance in high gear. In Low gear, the handle was still able to "fall" on its own weight.

It's safe to say that I am getting over 70lbs of drag with free spool and no handle resistance.
Total cost of the 2 bearings, around $30
Metric angular contact bearings are much easier to find and are much cheaper. It's the very small inch ones that are troublesome.

I actually never tested the drag, free spool and turning resistance with stock bearings. For people who have the 50W, what kind of numbers are you getting?

Bryan Young

This is awesome.  For the price of a Makaira, I'd say it's money well worth spent.  Can you imagine if the guys on Wicked Tuna could lock down the drag on 400# braid and leader to 70# and still crank in the fish in low gear.  It's stop that tuna in it's tracks.  Not sure how the boat gunnels will hold up though.
:D I talk with every part I send out and each reel I repair so that they perform at the top of their game. :D


Projects like this is one big part of why I love this site. The other part is all you guys who start up project like this and share the your knowledge, talent and results for us other guys who only want to walk in your footsteps.

Peace and respect!

"Fish," he said softly, aloud, "I'll stay with you until I am dead." - Santiago, Old Man And the Sea

Robert Janssen

Oh yes this reminds me yet again about the AC R4 bearings for the Avets... I'll get back later on that Avet  thread, but the short story is that i found three suppliers in the USA who had them, but was met with such incredible idiocy- absolute, utter, complete moronica- by some of the bearing suppliers and retailers that i just could in fact not contend with such simpletons and let it be for the time being.

Anyway, glad to see metric AC bearings are available all over the place and being put to good use.



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Quotealso,there are no ratbags.
except thee and me  ;)
:D ;D
Fortitudine vincimus - By endurance we conquer


with all that has been going on at home, i've been walking around with those bearings in my computer bag for who knows how long!  would you like me to forward them to okuma?  that would seem like the best place for them.  actually, avets need them more.   :-\
send me an email at for questions!


Quote from: alantani on May 22, 2013, 04:44:04 AM
with all that has been going on at home, i've been walking around with those bearings in my computer bag for who knows how long!  would you like me to forward them to okuma?  that would seem like the best place for them.  actually, avets need them more.   :-\

As a background.
I actually sent some AC bearings to Alan in hopes that he would slap them into his 50 II and post up some numbers!

I sent out a 10x22x6 and an 8x22x7 AC bearing. But looking back at your old post on the 50 II, it looks like the 50 II and 50W have different sized left spool bearings, so the 8x22x7 might not work. You might need 2 pieces of the 10x22x6's

Perhaps Alan can send them to another member who has a 50W and has the time to do full tests. Or send them to Okuma if they promise to give you full results.