I’m tired of losing my step-by-step reel servicing tutorials that I painstakingly posted to a forum and then it closed down. So I’ve finally decided to re-post them all together in this blog.
SERVICING — ABU Ambassadeur 7000
Some background first. After I completed school (Sec 4), I went to work as I await enlistment. In that year of working, I put aside whatever I could save after helping with the household expenses and at the end of the year, I could finally afford this reel from a shop run by 2 old men opposite the then Merlin Hotel. The shop was called Chop Chin Huat, and I paid a princely sum of $130 for the reel, a savings of $20 than if I were to buy from the then agent, Chop Hock Heng, situated just on the next block of shophouses. The year was 1980, Chop Chin Huat was also the only shop that sells sea worms in sawdust in those days. Together with 2 Ambassadeur 6500C, this reel was spending Saturday nights casting out to the “Wild Blue Yonder” for Giant Stingray at the reclaimed island opposite the Changi airport runway, bottom fishing for Ongah Tanda and Kachi at the “newly reclaimed land” that was undergoing some kind of construction for a massive bridge called Shears Bridge, and pulling up giant catfish and grouper at a mangrove swamp which was to be drained and made into today’s Senoko Industrial Estate.
Then my interests took a change. I took up photography, and loaned these reels to my good friend. Almost a year and a half later, I got them back complete with scratches, salt water crystals and galvanic corrosion. From that day onwards, I had never loaned my reels to anyone else unless I was also on the trip.
Fast forward to 2012. My wife’s brother needed to borrow a rod and reel to go bottom fishing. Under such circumstances, how to say no? So I pulled out this reel which was serviced only a couple of months prior and passed it to him. Upon his return, he told me he had washed everything up. But the line was still spooled and there was a white stain on the spool flange that screams GALVANIC CORROSION. Time to strip off the line and service this reel.
So here’s a Step By Step Guide to assembly of this reel
This reel is what I call a piece of machinery that simply works! It is simple by today’s standards, but it had continued to work even today, pulling in Sailfish from Rompin and Snappers from Mapur and Linggi. Here’s the parts, stripped down, drying off after a bath in Simple Green followed by another in warm soapy water.
The inside of the right sideplate is still in good condition for its 32 years of service in saltwater. The pits from saltwater corrosion all those years back can be seen at the place where the cover meets the flange of the sideplate and at the freespool knob. Knowing this, extra care must be paid to covering these “corrosion traps” with a reliable marine grease. I use Quicksilver 2-4-C Marine grease, not because it is superior to other marine greases but simply because I have a tube of it lying around at home after servicing my Mercury Outboard.
The Inside of the left sideplate is in better condition although there are pitting also at the flange, beneath the clicker and the screw holes.
Reel Foot Number
Abu’s method of serial numbering in those days, stamps the year of manufacture on the reelseat. This is the six hundred and first reel that the Svängsta factory made in 1980.
The Swedish royal family’s coat of arms sit proudly on this reel.
Pits and scratches on the outside of the left sideplate show how it was mishandled and dropped on rock during its earlier days. OK, let’s start the assembly now that the parts are dried.
Use Marine Grease for Corrosion Resistance
Grease up the insides of the left sideplate with marine grease, taking care to butter the area beneath the clicker button and the cam. I use Quicksilver 2-4-C Grease with Teflon for this purpose as I have a tube lying around.
Protect the left sideplate beneath the clicker button with marine grease.
Lift the clicker and sit it above the cam as shown, then swing the clicker spring around such that the long end presses the clicker lever against the cam (see next picture)
Clicker spring positioned. Also remember to lubricate the contact surfaces with grease
Attach the return spring.
Oil for Shafts
Oil the bronze bush of the levelwind gear with some CorrosionX. It is better to coat the gears with some marine grease to give them some protection against corrosion.
The levelwind bar’s chrome was worn and rough. I polished it with some Autosol Chrome Polish. Remember to wash off all traces of Autosol with soapy water, then rub the surfaces till no more black residue comes off. Also keep Autosol and the polishing residue away from your lubricants and especially your bearings as contamination can lead to premature wear.
Slide in the levelwind guide.
Slot the plastic end of the levelwind bar into its female hole on the right frame. The levelwind guide should sit in a groove in the frame. Lubricate contact surfaces with CorrosionX oil.
Lubricate the worm shaft with CorrosionX oil and drop into the levelwind bar
Yoke the worm shaft in with this stainless steel spring yoke
Drop the left sideplate over the frame after you had touched up on the marine grease to places that had been smeared off and align the screw holes
There are 3 chromed stainless steel screws for the left sideplate. They look different from the right sideplate screws in that they have domed heads.
Grease the threads to prevent corrosion and aid removal in the future. Then tighten taking care not to over torque.
Do Not Over Tighten
For those with powered screwdrivers that have a torque option, I set mine to the lowest setting when torquing these fine threaded screws.
Check that the levelwind pawl is not worn out. This one is starting on its way out… The crescent blade’s shape should be clearly crescent-shaped, and there should be no grooves cut into the sides of the blade. Replacements can be ordered online from Mike’s Reel Repairs.
Lubricate the levelwind pawl with CorrosionX, drop it back into its housing on the levelwind guide and secure with the cap, taking care not to over torque. The hole in the cap allows for oiling of the pawl. We next work on the right side.
Thickly butter the right plate with marine grease. Remember to flip up the freespool twin clutch mechanism and grease underneath too.
There are 2 shorter springs of similar dimensions and one longer spring for the freespool clutch mechanism
Attach the 2 shorter ones to the clutch cams as shown, the bigger ends of the springs fitting to bronze posts on the plate.
Then the big one goes on as shown
Grease the antirverse ratchet with a good Teflon grease. I use Cal’s Universal Grease for this.
The antireverse pawl has copper tabs that slide onto the ratchet with an “interference fit”. That means, the copper tabs must just be able to grip on the ratchet plate but not too tight. I’m serious! you can go google that term up. Note how the pawl has a slice cut off at the end.
There was a thin copper washer that used to fit into the recess at the base of the bronze drive shaft. I found that it makes the reel feel rough from early on, so I removed it. But that caused the handle to have vertical sideplay, which I remedied with a bigger circlip at the top of the drive shaft.
Drop the antireverse ratchet and pawl down their respective shafts, taking note of the orientation of the “slice” of the pawl.
Note how the inside of the pinion looks shiny? I used to surf cast with this reel. In order to get better distance, I changed out the bush for high speed bearings and polished the inside of the pinion, end cap shims and the spool spindle with Autosol Chrome Polish till they shine. Another thing to note is never to allow grease to get on this surface or onto the spool spindle as it will rob you of casting distance.
Grease the pinion teeth and groove with Cal’s Grease taking care not to get grease into the hole in the pinion, then slide it onto the yoke on the sideplate.
End of part 1. Meanwhile, go take a pee break!
Assemble the Drag Stack
The original Ambassadeur 7000 drags were made from Phenolic fibre with a greased leather disc on the other side. They had become worn and were not as smooth as before, so I’ve replaced them some time in the early 90s with Smooooth Drag’s “Super Smoothies”. I still have a few more packets of this so it will be a long long time yet before I finish using these up and can go on to Carbontex.
The big plastic washer fits on this side of the main drive with the clicker springs. Grease and drop the main drive gear down the drive shaft.
Note that the main drive with its plastic washer and spring clickers face downwards as shown.
There are 2 keyed and 1 eared stainless washers. The Super Smoothies have 2 washers with smaller and 1 with a bigger hole. They should be dropped into the main drive in the order shown, starting from right to left.
Cal’s Grease Actually give you a better usable drag range
Cal Sheets used to blueprint my Penns into 2 speed reels with upgraded drag cams. They now have this grease that works for both the drive gears as well as the drag of the reel.
Grease the first Super Smoothies drag fibre (big hole) with some Cal’s Universal grease and drop down into main drive.
The keyed washer goes in next.
Followed by a greased Super Smoothies (with the small hole).
Stainless steel eared washer goes in next.
Final greased Super Smoothies (with small hole).
Final Stainless Steel keyed washer.
Grease the teeth of the main drive and work the grease evenly between all the teeth.
There are 2 Belleville washers, one larger than the other.
Drop the larger Belleville washer down the drive shaft with its cupped side facing down. The smaller one goes down next with its cupped side facing up. In short, the Bellevilles should oppose each other in this manner: )(
Drop in the keyed block with its bigger end facing down.
Install the Sideplate
Coat the right side plate with marine grease taking note to apply at places that are the trouble corrosion spots, then attach to the right plate.
The 2 screws for the right sideplate are different from those for the left. Right sideplate screws have flat heads. Grease the threads and secure the right sideplate, taking care not to over torque.
This plastic tube has a tab on one side which fits into a groove in the handle housing.
Grease up and fit in.
Ambassadeurs from days of yore practice a simple convention in their model names. The bigger the number, the bigger the reel, and a name with a “C” suffix denotes the reel has Ball bearings instead of copper bushing. I had gone back to using the original bush for this reel after my modified bearings had worn out or corroded away. Since I don’t use this reel for distance casting, the original copper bush is now the most ideal for my application.
There are additional copper shims supplied with the reel. These are to help centralize the spool. Polishing these shim till they shine helped with casting distance.
Lighter Oils give better Casting Distance
There is a slot in the bearing housing that corresponds with a pinch on the copper bush. Align pinch to slot and drop in, then oil with a light oil.
Talking about light oils, I find that Shimano reel oil is pretty light. Do not use WD-40 even though it is lighter as it tends to dry up and cause stickiness. If your right thumb is highly educated, (meaning you are casting well even without braking pellets), then you can try an even lighter viscosity oil. I find that the valve oil used for trumpets are very low in viscosity. Be careful as it will cause a big birdnest if you’re not fast enough. The latest oil that I found to have ultra low viscosity while giving an amount of corrosion protection is REM Oil, made for Remington rifles. This has viscosity so low that I think it is more liquid than water, certainly lighter than WD-40! I’ve been using REM Oil for the past year and am quite pleased with the performance even on critical bearings like ABEC 7 ceramics, and best of all, it is dirt cheap, when compared to those fancy high speed reel oils like Xtreme Reel+ or TSI 301.
Drop the correct number of copper shims into the end cap, oil lightly with a light oil and secure.
Grease the threads of the star drag and attach.
Grease the spring washer with a marine grease and attach. See the many holes on this inoxidable washer? Galvanic corrosion did this.
Protect the handle with a coat of marine grease. Grease prevents the electric current from passing when salt water comes in contact with 2 dissimilar metals, thus preventing galvanic corrosion from happening.
Synch down the star drag tight first, then snap on the circlip in a clear plastic bag to secure the drive mechanism. My circlip looks huge because I had removed the tiny copper washer at the bottom of the drive shaft, and had to use this big circlip to compensate so as to prevent the shaft from having too much lateral play.
Screw on the handle nut
Attach the lock plate and retaining screw.
Drop the copper bush into the bearing housing of the left sideplate. Secure with circlip and drop in a drop of light oil.
Put in correct number of copper shims to the spool tension cap, drop in the felt washer and oil with 1 drop of light oil. Then secure and you’re done! Well almost, so hang in there a while more. Drop a couple drops of CorrosionX oil into the plastic handle and work it through the shaft. Wipe off the black stained oil and reapply till only clean oil is worked out.
Finally, the reel is almost done, but it has grease on the outside which make it unpleasant to handle.
Cleaning Up and Respooling
Wipe off the oil and grease with Simple Green sprayed on a rag. You don’t even need to rinse off!
I got my Simple Green from NTUC supermarket.
Finally, to spool back the line. PE line needs a length of monofilament attached to its end in order to bite onto the spool arbor. Failing this step, you might find your line slipping even when you had applied full drag. PE line also need to be reeled in with slightly more tension than Nylon monofilament. Here, I’ve recruited an old Penn reel to put consistent pressure on the line as I spool it back to the Ambassadeur.
That’s all there is to it.
HTH, and do drop a comment below, if only to say Hi 🙂
Text and Images © Lawrence Lee
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