Recently I have developed some distinct improvements in my reels. I’ve discarded the old tongue profile (ie for the check mechanism) which was never right from day one and at last have developed a far better component, a more lively check performance, much more ‘life’ in it and with just enough room for the new tongue to turn 90 degrees for it to be ‘parked’. I’ve also gained insight to the characteristics of the spring material, which I need to order a further batch at a larger cross section for eventually bigger reels – that will be another £250 out at least, as the rolling mill has a 25kg minimum order. I’ve other mods though only sucessful purchasers get to see whats been done when they open the box.
I’ve also scrapped my existing stock of nickel silver regulator wires made ten years ago as I have evolved a much easier to operate version for older (me) or cold numbed hands. Also scrapped is the cast nickel silver reg wire bridge replaced with a machined from solid version, stronger, less liable to malfunction if dropped and hopefully requiring less time to ‘fit’. The styling of it, the design mentality reminds me of the illustration in Le Corbusiers ‘Vers Une Architecture’ of the engine compartment of a pre-war Bugatti.
The backs are cast gunmetal, filed and papered, machined, papered and buffed to a flawless finish, a fabulous deep colour; note that the reel seat is the bit on the rod it attaches to. You would be hard pressed to find anyone in any factory that has the skill to do this nowadays, its pre-war standard and First at that. The back is secured by the traditional press fit dovetail and secured by two R.Kell made (as are all my screws) being ‘up tolerance’ close fitting nickel silver screws. The reels are not lightweight models, yet I think they combine well with a cane rod. To recap, at Hardys the ‘back’ was always part of the reel and the ‘reel seat’ was the bit on the rod.
As Chris commented on my first post below, re making a ‘Bougle’ style reel from Jamie Maxtone Grahams prompting, I only ever make what is in my own head – good or bad! To people across the pond my reels may look very Hardy though that might only be because its all I have experience of, even repairing reels for Jamie, generally re-building crumbled broken drums – it was all Hardy work. If I’d known nothing but Vom Hofes then I would be probably making a very Vom Hofe type reel.
Re the pricing of my reels. I have agonised over this, in 1986, then during my three year two thousand hours 1995-98 and now again in 2008-9. I originally was selling at £300GBP in 1998, that was my ‘target’ price, though found it tortuously low for handmade work. Looking at the man-hours consumed to keep the show on the road, I have pitched at what I think is appropriate. No con or flannel or hyperbole, just what I think is required. Even a cut to the bone little one-man business like me overheads are £12k pa (2009) before I make a penny. Twenty five years of being a price-work self -employed toolmaker helps me ascertain the area I need to be. ……and still only two thirds the price of a pair of handmade Lobbs!
Postscript: My 3-1/8 inch back flange is seeming to be in demand, so my standard width of 0.810 inch between flanges and a wide version at 1.010 (ie 0.2inch wider) are seemingly the ones first available. A good sized reel capable of plenty of work, I’ve a couple of tricks on this including a beefed up heavy click check mechanism. Also, there is no brass used at all in any of my reels; for the money I’m asking you get better than that.