Replacing the Cork Drag on an 'Old Florida' Fly Reel

Lewis Chessman

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I'm returning for more advice, guys .....

I now have the reel and I've removed the old cork washer - an easy job with a fresh blade, thankfully, and it came away whole so easy to measure and use as a template later.

The cork depth is now 1.5 mm.
But what should or could it be?
Essentially, eBay sellers of nitrile rubber bonded cork sheets have either 1.5 mm 2 mm or 3 mm thicknesses. So, my question is, 'Will 2 mm sheets be too thin, too thick or just right?'

Given the drawbar design I suspect there's a fair amount of tolerance but I'd welcome other's views. Thanks.
 

original cormorant

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I'm returning for more advice, guys .....

I now have the reel and I've removed the old cork washer - an easy job with a fresh blade, thankfully, and it came away whole so easy to measure and use as a template later.

The cork depth is now 1.5 mm.
But what should or could it be?
Essentially, eBay sellers of nitrile rubber bonded cork sheets have either 1.5 mm 2 mm or 3 mm thicknesses. So, my question is, 'Will 2 mm sheets be too thin, too thick or just right?'

Given the drawbar design I suspect there's a fair amount of tolerance but I'd welcome other's views. Thanks.
On both my OF and Bauer reels the cork thickness is less than 2mm (possibly 1.5mm), but I can't see that 2mm would be a problem. After all the cork is principally there as a friction surface rather than as a packing washer.
 

Lewis Chessman

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Thanks, o.c. The issue with this one is, I think, over-compression of the cork disc - no amount of tightening imparts drag - so I think the replacement needs some sponginess to it and therefore greater depth.

Re: 'a packing washer': I have considered adding a thin disc of something to the original disc's base to raise it a little but suspect that without any 'give' left in the cork it'll be the same, just screwed down less. Though maybe a disc of rubber might work? Something compressible, anyway. Just a thought.
 

richard g

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I have had good luck with gasket cork , DIY gasket sheet and leather 2 mm plus .
All will compress a little at first even if you back off the drag as recommended .
Going a little thicker than the standard dia has been no problem so long as you don't create a gap between spool and backplate .
All gave nice smooth drags with a very small amount of neats foot oil or Cals grease .
Biggest problem was over lubricating which meant the draw bar needed extra tension
which placed side load on the bearing and made the wind in stiffer .
Tried carbon but it needs the extra tension , even un lubed , and heat has not been a problem even with the leather .
 

Lewis Chessman

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Time for an update on this wee project.
The 2.0 mm nitrile bonded cork sheets arrived and I removed the old cork disc with a sharp blade. It came away intact so was an ideal template for the new, thicker disc. I cut a fair replacement and glued it to the base of the drag plate with Fulling Mill Fishing Glue.
It was then that I discovered that the extra half-mil thickness was too much - the cage pillars didn't meet the spool's grooved rim anymore! What is more, the drag still had no effect no matter how fully engaged. I cut the new disc off and ordered some 1.5 mm sheets instead.

But last night had me pondering after a dram or two ...... If this sheet was too thick, how come the drag wasn't engaging at all? Because the ratchet pawl wasn't engaging properly, perhaps?

I looked again today. In order to create drag between the cork disc and spool the drag plate must be held stationary via a sprung pawl (on the inside back plate of the cage) which traps the gear on the plate's underside on 'the out'. This gives a fixed, oiled, cork-covered surface on the plate's upper side for the spool to revolve over creating friction/drag. But here, whatever way one turned it the drag plate could be spun. There was a click, but no holding direction.
I removed the pawl and stretched the tiny coiled spring a little to increase the pressure. The only change was a slightly crisper click!
I inspected the pawl and the gear teeth, both a little worn but nothing broken.
Next, I removed the pawl again and rotated it 180 degrees before returning it. Instant success!! The plate held in one direction, revolved with a click the other.

So, I re-glued the original cork disc, applied a smear of Reel X and reassembled. It now works fine. An anti-clockwise spin of the handle will revolve five or six times on the retrieve while at its lightest setting the drag is as heavy as I'd want to set it just to resist the pull of a river on the line. Cranked up it is practically immoveable.
I can't fathom why it only works when the pawl is in its current orientation - design or wear and tear to pawl or teeth on one side only? Dunno, but I know it works fine now as is.

So, that's all great, other than that I now have several unneeded sheets of Nitrile-bonded cork! ;) However, it got me a-wondering .....
Is there an 'Industry Standard' to determine retrieve wind direction?
If so, is it the same direction whether left or right hand wind?

I have one RHW-only reel, an STH Eliseo, and will compare with the direction that is pre-set in. I'm pretty sure my friend uses RHW (I'm a LHW guy) and hope this one retrieves in the direction he's already familiar with. Winding the wrong way has been known to lose fish after all!
 

richard g

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Time for an update on this wee project.
The 2.0 mm nitrile bonded cork sheets arrived and I removed the old cork disc with a sharp blade. It came away intact so was an ideal template for the new, thicker disc. I cut a fair replacement and glued it to the base of the drag plate with Fulling Mill Fishing Glue.
It was then that I discovered that the extra half-mil thickness was too much - the cage pillars didn't meet the spool's grooved rim anymore! What is more, the drag still had no effect no matter how fully engaged. I cut the new disc off and ordered some 1.5 mm sheets instead.

But last night had me pondering after a dram or two ...... If this sheet was too thick, how come the drag wasn't engaging at all? Because the ratchet pawl wasn't engaging properly, perhaps?

I looked again today. In order to create drag between the cork disc and spool the drag plate must be held stationary via a sprung pawl (on the inside back plate of the cage) which traps the gear on the plate's underside on 'the out'. This gives a fixed, oiled, cork-covered surface on the plate's upper side for the spool to revolve over creating friction/drag. But here, whatever way one turned it the drag plate could be spun. There was a click, but no holding direction.
I removed the pawl and stretched the tiny coiled spring a little to increase the pressure. The only change was a slightly crisper click!
I inspected the pawl and the gear teeth, both a little worn but nothing broken.
Next, I removed the pawl again and rotated it 180 degrees before returning it. Instant success!! The plate held in one direction, revolved with a click the other.

So, I re-glued the original cork disc, applied a smear of Reel X and reassembled. It now works fine. An anti-clockwise spin of the handle will revolve five or six times on the retrieve while at its lightest setting the drag is as heavy as I'd want to set it just to resist the pull of a river on the line. Cranked up it is practically immoveable.
I can't fathom why it only works when the pawl is in its current orientation - design or wear and tear to pawl or teeth on one side only? Dunno, but I know it works fine now as is.

So, that's all great, other than that I now have several unneeded sheets of Nitrile-bonded cork! ;) However, it got me a-wondering .....
Is there an 'Industry Standard' to determine retrieve wind direction?
If so, is it the same direction whether left or right hand wind?

I have one RHW-only reel, an STH Eliseo, and will compare with the direction that is pre-set in. I'm pretty sure my friend uses RHW (I'm a LHW guy) and hope this one retrieves in the direction he's already familiar with. Winding the wrong way has been known to lose fish after all!
might be worth a look on " reel repair buy Alan Tani "
Under fly reels there are several threads on Old Florida reels and cork drag replacement.
One by a guy called Jurealometer deals with the anti reverse change of direction as well as replacing the coil spring with belvilles.
plenty of info on cork...lube.etc .👍
 

Lewis Chessman

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Hi richard g. Big thanks for the headsup on Alan Tani's forum. Here's a page with some info and a schematic of OF No. 4-8s.
I took a closer look at the brass pawl (14 on the schematic) on this reel today, using a magnifying lens and all became clear. The brass dog has been worn away by the drag gear teeth and this has removed enough from one side as to stop it engaging all together. When rotated 180 degrees there's enough left on the pawl dog to catch the teeth and stop the drag plate from rotating, initiating drag on the spool. So, this reel is now LHW only!

That's no good to its new RHWinding owner so I'll offer to buy it off him at cost, I think. It's the least I can do as I recommended he buy it in the first place!

Here are some photos of this Old Florida No. 4:

1-P1030606.JPG


1-P1030604.JPG


Here the drag plate is sitting on the spool, cork disc underneath, gear teeth shown:
1-P1030607.JPG


The pawl, showing wear to the left hand side from previous use.
1-P1030608.JPG


The coil spring is a bit bent but still imparts sufficient push to engage the pawl. I don't think it influences the way the dog meets the teeth as the housing is pretty precisely made.
It's obviously a very weak point in the design esp. for a saltwater reel, hence the 'belleville replacement' workaround, described by jurelometer on the thread linked above, should the coil spring break.
1-P1030610.JPG


The freshly oiled disc with residue on the spool where they meet.
1-P1030611.JPG

Well, that about wraps this one up, I think. All in all a good learning experience for me and I'll happily try replacing cork drags in the future - but only if it will help! ;)

Sincere thanks, as ever, to all those who have helped.
Cheers,
James.
 

richard g

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Hi richard g. Big thanks for the headsup on Alan Tani's forum. Here's a page with some info and a schematic of OF No. 4-8s.
I took a closer look at the brass pawl (14 on the schematic) on this reel today, using a magnifying lens and all became clear. The brass dog has been worn away by the drag gear teeth and this has removed enough from one side as to stop it engaging all together. When rotated 180 degrees there's enough left on the pawl dog to catch the teeth and stop the drag plate from rotating, initiating drag on the spool. So, this reel is now LHW only!

That's no good to its new RHWinding owner so I'll offer to buy it off him at cost, I think. It's the least I can do as I recommended he buy it in the first place!

Here are some photos of this Old Florida No. 4:

View attachment 31867


View attachment 31866


Here the drag plate is sitting on the spool, cork disc underneath, gear teeth shown:
View attachment 31868


The pawl, showing wear to the left hand side from previous use.
View attachment 31869


The coil spring is a bit bent but still imparts sufficient push to engage the pawl. I don't think it influences the way the dog meets the teeth as the housing is pretty precisely made.
It's obviously a very weak point in the design esp. for a saltwater reel, hence the 'belleville replacement' workaround, described by jurelometer on the thread linked above, should the coil spring break.
View attachment 31870


The freshly oiled disc with residue on the spool where they meet.
View attachment 31871

Well, that about wraps this one up, I think. All in all a good learning experience for me and I'll happily try replacing cork drags in the future - but only if it will help! ;)

Sincere thanks, as ever, to all those who have helped.
Cheers,
James.
Glad that worked out for you James......Its an interesting site for those of us that suffer from " Reelitis " .
You never know ,but a certain Reel Guru who " ROVES" around here might be able to help with a custom replacement 😉 👍
 

Lewis Chessman

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Thanks again, Richard. I did try to register on Alan Tani's forum in order to post pics of this reel - the reel he shows differs in the sprung pawl design from mine, which is the type shown in the schematic, so I thought it might be useful to others - but the site thought I was a robot and wouldn't let me join! Anyway, those photos are here now should anyone be searching in the future. I'll certainly bookmark it anyway.

I'm ahead of you with the replacement though. Easker1 is a rather talented and helpful man. :) He made a part for me in July which converted an ABU Delta 3 into LHW and has generously agreed (with the owner's consent) to fashion a new pawl for the Old Florida.
Slightly less good news for me ..... the owner says he can happily use a LHW if necessary so I won't be buying it off him whatever happens. It's no great heartbreak but I have come to admire this reel. The weightiness will be an asset on older/longer rods, the drag is very smooth and it's not bad looking in its old style way. Oh, and the capacity .....
One 'negative'. I've twice stripped all the line and backing off in order to test RH/LHW operation. With a #7 WF this reel holds 275 m of 20 lb backing! That's a helluva lotta stripping and retrieving! ;)
 
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richard g

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Aug 6, 2014
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Thanks again, Richard. I did try to register on Alan Tani's forum in order to post pics of this reel - the reel he shows differs in the sprung pawl design from mine, which is the type shown in the schematic, so I thought it might be useful to others - but the site thought I was a robot and wouldn't let me join! Anyway, those photos are here now should anyone be searching in the future. I'll certainly bookmark it anyway.

I'm ahead of you with the replacement though. Easker1 is a rather talented and helpful man. :) He made a part for me in July which converted an ABY Delta 3 into LHW and has generously agreed (with the owner's consent) to fashion a new pawl for the Old Florida.
Slightly less good news for me ..... the owner says he can happily use a LHW if necessary so I won't be buying it off him whatever happens. It's no great heartbreak but I have come to admire this reel. The weightiness will be an asset on older/longer rods, the drag is very smooth and it's not bad looking in its old style way. Oh, and the capacity .....
One 'negative'. I've twice stripped all the line and backing off in order to test RH/LHW operation. With a #7 WF this reel holds 275 m of 20 lb backing! That's a helluva lotta stripping and retrieving! ;)
James....great news on the offer to fashion a new pawl.....many helpful people on site 👍.
The reels seem to have a good following , lots of fans of cork drags,im sure your friend will be pleased with it.
yes thats a lot of re spooling and at 1 to 1 ratio.... !! but all for a good cause 😊
 
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BKURTH922

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First post but here goes. I've been trying to solve this dilemma for years now as I too have a friend's Old Florida #4 that the drag didn't seem to work on. It sits on the bookshelf and every now and then I will give the internet a search to try and find an answer. And finally today I find a thread with the exact same problem. I think I can shed a little more light on your situation. Originally when I had this problem I sent the reel to Nautilus (in its early years transitioning from Old Florida) and they gave me a replacement pawl. Now If I remember correctly the pawl was not shaped like what you have or what I have now but was rectangular with a triangular pointed end, sort of like this =>, and the angle of the triangle allowed free spool one way and engaged the gears the other. What seems to happen, and what Nautilus told me was that it was a weak point and under heavy pressure or for some reason, the pawl would snap, leaving you with the piece you have now, and that I have an identical one of, which just so happens, if you stretch the spring out enough, or put something against the base of the pawl groove, allows what is left to engage and bind up the gears so that the drag functions as it normally should. Hopefully this makes sense and can help you in your journey to fix the reel.

I am interested if you find someone to machine a new working drag pawl. I would be happy to pay to acquire a couple pawls and have them sent over here to Florida so I can return my reel to its former glory chasing snook and baby Tarpon. Unfortunately where my pawl snapped does not allow it to engage the gear teeth so I get a light clicking freespooling reel...

Ben
 

Lewis Chessman

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Hello, Ben, and welcome to the forum.
Well, that is interesting indeed! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your knowledge.
The reel is currently with another forum member who is taking a look at it for me. We spoke a couple of days ago and he tells me that the pawl is hardened steel and not easy for him to replicate. However, when he tried fitting it as RHW it worked fine for him. Possibly I hadn't seated the drag plate well enough for what's left to engage? He's hanging on to it a little longer to satisfy himself it's going to stay working.
I'll pm him with a link to your post and let him know your findings. Perhaps if he can machine a new part he'll let you know?

One option you might pursue would be to contact Bill Archuleta's Reel Works in Oregon. I've often read on the North American Fly Fishing Forum that he's helped repair many older reels. There's a chance he'll have the part in stock.
Thanks again. Here's hoping you too can get your Old Florida back in action!
 
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easker1

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Hi James , i've read the post I can see wear but not a break, but as you said you cleaned out metal particles this may be so, the pawl seems to be made of hard bronze rather than steel, I have some marine bronze and I will make another pawl, but the gear appears to be made of an alloy and I would have thought there should have been signs of wear on that, any way I will try one out of the marine bronze , wish me luck , easker1
 

Lewis Chessman

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Hi, Derek,
The particles I cleaned out were finer than glitter - little goldish specks, not lumps. I looked again at my pics and agree, it looks more like wear and tear than a break. I remember examining the gear under a magnifying lens expecting to see, if not damage or wear, deposits of more flakes from the pawl - but no, neither were visible, just a touch more wear of the black anodising on one side of the teeth, as one would expect if it's always been wound one particular way.
Great if you can fashion another. Perhaps a Cricket lighter spring in a hole at the base would work? Let me know if you'd like a couple sent (stupid smoker here!).

Best of luck with it!
James.
 

easker1

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Hi James could you give me a link to the exploded view of the reel I tried to save the other one you posted but it's floating out in the ether , before I make another pawl I would like to see an original, if I make another on spec It could damage the reel, I was reading some of the specs for the reels on line and one mentioned the cork being free floating, but any way I couldn't find the schematic, easker1
 

Lewis Chessman

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Hi, Derek,
No problem, it's here about 1/3rd down.
Not really a clear pic of the pawl there, nor on any photo I've seen, I'm afraid.

Good luck with it,
J.
 
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