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Discussion Starter #1
What parameters define a bench made reel? How does the use of a CNC machining center vs a manual setting lathe or Bridgeport miller affect the definition of 'Bench Made' reel?

I am very interested in hearing the comments about the two questions above. The term 'Bench Made' has been mentioned many times and I am not sure what exactly it means. It will be interesting to see the comments from our members.

Thanks,
Doug
 

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So called 'bench made' reels are (mostly) designed and put together by one person using power equipment- lathes, drills etc.usually one at a time or in small batches, they may include custom features. CNC machine use would not count.
Bench made reels these days are fly reels and centre pins.
 

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A master bowmaker I know bought one of those huge 8'X8' CNC machines to cut out certain things. he can and has made bows with hand tools for many years since he is old, and his father was a master bowyer in the UK. But he preferred the CNC for certain things simply because it was far more accurate and prevented problems down the line (like a bow blowing up in your face at full draw).

I am not trying to start an argument at all. I am completely on the fence about how much technology in the manufacturing process stops something from being "bench made" or bespoke. For what its worth, the same debate rages in the sartorial world around made to measure vs bespoke suits, shirts and shoes.

I guess I too lean towards preferring all hand made goods as the imperfections are the charm. But then, I personally would CNC the screws to make life easier, and would probably rely on cnc for quite a bit after a while just because I would get sick of dealing with 1/10,000th of an inch errors. When making things, having precision equipment is a godsend.

Full transparency, I hand carved a weathervane in the image of my dog, and I used a Foredom to do the detail work because it still took me a year. My friend wants a copy, and I took it to a scanning shop to get a CAD image and I plan to either 3D print it or have it made by CNC. But then, this is not my profession and he is not paying me....

So how much automation in a piece moves it from the cherished "bench made" category to the dreaded "CNC" category (and ist it funny that CNC is considered top shelf for the mass produced reels.)
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I think Malcolm (MHC) outlined it pretty well. Normally bench makers do not have the capacity or sell enough reels to justify purchasing a CNC machine for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. So that is why they use a lathe, milling machine, etc. Also most start out making just a couple of reels and kind of grow from there so they have these non CNC machines as less money to invest in equipment to get started. Joe Saracione is kind of a bench maker however he has a manufacturing co so in addition to reels he makes other things so he has the volume and diversity to be able to use or have CNC machines. While most bench makers are only making reels and in limited numbers.
 

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I would say that bench makers do so because there is a definite market for entirely hand made items. The cost is higher, the wait longer however precision will not be as high as a CNC'd item, but that's not the point of a bench item.
Collectors will not see a CNC reel as valuable as a bench item as volumes are much higher and it's not seen as difficult if cut out by a computer controlled machine - even though there may be a lot of hand finishing required to get it to the production stage. Top/mid price range CNC'd reels would also be in competition with the cheaper Asian CNC'd reels which IMHO is a losing battle; so bench makers are now ironically (if they make it) more future proofed and provide a natural way of separating themselves from the crowd.
Charltons are one of the few CNC'd reels (the original) whose value increased like bench reels, but I guess that production had stopped on those and he has now passed away so that numbers are finite.
Joe Saracione has both CNC (his MkX series) and his bench (DeluxeII) and are priced accordingly. This may be the perfect scenario as his MkX series are well respected and there is a big demand for them, and the orders on the DeluxeII reels will be fewer, take longer to deliver but bring in a higher income per item. Win/Win, and the bench status is still maintained. You would require a reputation like Joe's to pull this off however.
 

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'Nowadays, with the advent of Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines, reel castings are no longer required. Solid aluminium billets (bar stock) are placed in a CNCmachine, a button pressed and the finished part is taken out a few minutes later. The skill now lies in the initial design, the writing of the computer programme, the setting up of the tooling and the quality of the finish.'

So wrote James Hardy, managing director at Hardy's during the period (post 1987) when such production methods were introduced.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
This has been a good thread. Many replies have made the point of non-CNC machining on the bench made reels and the value of the reels when compared to commercial high volume CNC produced units. Even when doing low quantities of reels in batches, Most machine shops typically would utilize like type runs. For example, if the tooling is set up for spools- you turn out a dozen or so of the same size. This brings in the problem of interchangeable parts. All of the spools must fit in any of the side plates you are going to make on another day. That means tolerances must be controlled or you will be doing a lot of rework and hand fitting.

I don't know how Stan Bogdan was able to make 9k+ reels with the machinery he had in his shop. Even in the Bogdan book, I don't remember seeing a single engineering drawing. There were some sketches of parts, but no formal drawings. He was a remarkable man and talented toolmaker/machinist to keep all of these factors in his head.

Thanks for the replies to my original question of what defines a 'Bench Made' reel.

Doug
 
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I would say that bench makers do so because there is a definite market for entirely hand made items. The cost is higher, the wait longer however precision will not be as high as a CNC'd item, but that's not the point of a bench item.
Collectors will not see a CNC reel as valuable as a bench item as volumes are much higher and it's not seen as difficult if cut out by a computer controlled machine - even though there may be a lot of hand finishing required to get it to the production stage. Top/mid price range CNC'd reels would also be in competition with the cheaper Asian CNC'd reels which IMHO is a losing battle; so bench makers are now ironically (if they make it) more future proofed and provide a natural way of separating themselves from the crowd.
Charltons are one of the few CNC'd reels (the original) whose value increased like bench reels, but I guess that production had stopped on those and he has now passed away so that numbers are finite.
Joe Saracione has both CNC (his MkX series) and his bench (DeluxeII) and are priced accordingly. This may be the perfect scenario as his MkX series are well respected and there is a big demand for them, and the orders on the DeluxeII reels will be fewer, take longer to deliver but bring in a higher income per item. Win/Win, and the bench status is still maintained. You would require a reputation like Joe's to pull this off however.
Yeah I have to agree, it’s similar to making a Rolls Royce or 50 000 dollar watch......I imagine many of the people learning skill be it cars reels or watches like’d to make the best of the best... they likely don’t dream of low tier outsourced pieces of plastic (I’m being hyperbolic) . though I’m sure designing such a thing becomes great fun and has its own challenges
I just can’t imagine bogdan or Godfrey were Settling when deciding to make such reels vs some cnc reels
 

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I'll add to the comments about Joe Saracione I had cunningly lost the oil cap on my Deluxe . Joe offered to make another as he had changed the TPI since his original batch . He also offered to update the drag as mine was getting rather weak .
His original cork drag design was subject to slipping when wet . All his Deluxe's as Seville315 had mentioned were hand tooled Joe had mentioned that it would take "some time" so i rode it out to season's end by covering the hole that the oil cap would go into with some Duct Tape . I shipped the reel off to Joe and over the next few months he machined a new oil cap and drag mechanism . All at no charge ! It doesn't get better than that for customer service I highly recommend his reels .
 

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BULL DOG!!!!
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Devil’s advocate here but I’ve owned a few total bench made reels that have fallen apart on me while fighting fish or the drag spring break while stripping out line to cast.
i dont own those anymore and was thankful to be rid of them.
now my go to reels are Saraciones one disc one click and pawl and have never ever had a single issue and to be frank the Saraciones feel like the reel deal while the bench made ones felt tinny in comparison 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Brian,

Could this be your reel??

377703


I could never guess who owned the Saracione reel with Duct Tape. I always thought it was a stranger parked on the Petite.

I am glad Joe machined you a new oil cap and tuned up the drag. Like you said 'Great customer service.'

Doug
 

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Thought I'd add a centre pin to the mix. I guess it's not a true centre pin since I eliminated the centre pin in favour of ceramic bearings and tight tolerances.

378146


378147


Here's a link to the spin/runout test.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
As a mechanical engineer, I appreciate and admire the design work (drawings etc.) and lathe time that went into eotr's reels. The work is outstanding.

The drag design on the Perfect was really unique (as steelhd32 said). The Multiplier reel just takes your breath away.

Doug
 

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The drag on the Perfect style reel is very interesting - is it your design? It appears that it could stop a freight train!
Yes - the drag in the Perfect style reel is my design. The original drag probably would have stopped a train. After I completed the drag I found that it was a little over engineered:rolleyes:. If you look closely at the drag shoes you can see where I had to relieve the contact area in order to get the spindle to move.
 

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As a mechanical engineer, I appreciate and admire the design work (drawings etc.) and lathe time that went into eotr's reels. The work is outstanding.

The drag design on the Perfect was really unique (as steeled said). The Multiplier reel just takes your breath away.

Doug
Doug

Thanks for your kind comments. I don't often run across anyone who understands the whole process from design to finished product. I usually spend far too much time tweaking the designs - after all the fish don't care about 0.0002" tolerances. There is always a tense moment when I assemble all the parts, give it a spin and hope for the best. The center pin reel was a fun build and rewarding to watch it spin with virtually no axial or radial runout.
 
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