SERVICING – July 1975 ABU Ambassadeur 5000

SERVICING – July 1975 ABU Ambassadeur 5000

Sometime in 1976, I had an Ambassadeur 5000 multiplier. It had glossy black paint, a spare spool with plastic arbour adaptor to enable low torque casting of light lures, toolkit with spares, a black velvet bag to carry the reel out, and a leather box to hold the whole set together.

The reel was a sweet caster. It can toss a 2 oz piece of lead a long way away, easily out distancing the nearest competitor of that era which was a Daiwa Millionaire by (my hazy estimates) a furlong. At the same time, it can send an Abu Reflex flying to that lily pad without much effort. And mind you, rods of those days were whippy, flaccid fiberglass poles and lines were made of nylon monofilament with names like Abulon, Golden Stren or Damyl Imperial Steelpower which could stretch and stretch and stretch some more, like a bungee. With so much ‘give’, it’s a wonder that we were able to cast at all, but the Ambassadeur did cast beautifully and silently. The drag was sufficient for the line class it was meant to fish and was buttery smooth. And its retrieve… ahhh… it was so smooth that IMO, it could not be duplicated by any other brand till Shimano’s Calcutta broke out on the scene in the 80s.

But I needed some cash to pay for my bicycle repair and reluctantly sold it away for a paltry $50. Till this very day, I regretted that sale. The buyer knew my situation and used that to his best advantage. Now I tell my students: In every negotiation, if you have more time than the other party, you will have the advantage. But I digress.

This reel here, was collected by one of our members and he asked if I would take a look at it for him as it was not running too well. I was delighted to take this in and nurse this one back to her former running order.

First Look

The reel in classic Ambassadeur red, appears to be in good cosmetic condition, considering its 37 years of age. There were scratches, some boat rash, and light pitting. Discounting these, it looks to be in solid condition.

The short, double handles with rounded mother-of-pearl grips harks back to the original Record Ambassadeur design. For those who are interested in the history and many details of the Ambassadeur reel, will be a great resource.

Reel foot Nr 750704 means this reel was made in July 1975. It was the 4th revision from the original design by Åke Murvall. Now what were you doing when this reel was born? I was doing my PSLE and fishing with a handline!

Ambassadeurs carry the Swedish royal family’s coat of arms. The model number of an Ambassadeur tells of its character. This is a standard model Ambassadeur 5000, without ball bearings. If the model number ends with a “500” it means the reel has a high speed retrieve. If it has a suffix “C” that reel will have ball bearings for its spool shafts, which was something very special in those days.

When I got this reel, there was almost no freespool, and spinning the spool only netted me almost a half second of spin time. Drag was juddery like slamming on the brakes on a slick road and the ABS kicks in, and it takes tremendous breakaway force to send the line out under drag. There was a perceptible coarseness in cranking the reel with some line and you can feel a sort of a tick each time the handle rotates past a certain point. I hope it is just a misalignment of parts, and not the more serious chipped pinion tooth.

Doing the Left Side First

I decided to take this slowly and work on the reel one side at a time. Here are the parts of the left side stripped. The old grease had hardened to a black carbon-like structure.

After Their Bath

After a degreasing in Simple Green plus a scrub with a toothbrush followed by a rinse in warm water and a blow dry, the parts are ready for reassembly

Marine Grease Delays Corrosion

By now, you should be familiar with the routine… Cover the internal surfaces with Marine grease. Here, I take care to add more grease at the flanges and at the holes where mounting screws have scrubbed off the red anodizing. I’ve also carefully avoided the brass stub for mounting the levelwind idle gear and the bearing housing.

Fit Levelwind Idler Gear

This levelwind idle gear had yellowed with age. Drop a drop of CorrosionX oil down the copper shaft, drop in the idle gear, and secure with mounting screw. For those with an interest in supertuning the reel, offers a ball bearing conversion kit so your idle gear can spin more freely.

Cast Control Assembly

There are 2 copper shims that line the cast control cap, followed by a green felt washer to hold the oil. You can see that the spool shaft has scored one shim deeply. To improve casting, polish the shim till they shine.

In this closeup, observe how the stray hairs of the felt washer will wick oil to keep the shaft lubricated and spinning freely.

Greasing The Left Side Frame

Grease the left side frame to prevent galvanic corrosion. Take care to wipe off extra grease from the aperture where the spool flange sits as they fit in under tight tolerances and any grease there will reduce freespool spinning time.

Levelwind Assembly

Thread worm shaft housing through the levelwind and insert to frame, shaped side to shaped side. Remember to run the levelwind guide in the groove in one of the frame bars.

Since this reel is meant for casting, oil the worm shaft with a light oil such as SpeedX and insert down the round end of the worm shaft housing.

Oil the bronze levelwind pinion gear with CorrosionX and secure with stainless steel spring yoke.

Fix On The Left Cover Plate

Fit left cover plate over frame, grease threads of the 3 domed mounting screws and align everything.

Tighten the mounting screws taking care not to overtorque. Observe how the grease oozes out from the flange and the screw holes. This will prevent corrosion at these parts. CAVEAT! If you are reading this and thinking of doing the same with your modern reel, be aware that your modern reel may have very tight tolerances and may not have room for the grease to ooze out when you tighten the screws. If this is done, the compressed grease may crack your frame.

Completing Levelwind Assembly

Check your levelwind pawl is of serviceable condition. A pawl whose crescent blade is deformed or worn will not give good casting distances, wind the line unevenly, and may even jam when fighting a hard running fish. Oil with a light oil such as SpeedX and introduce into housing. Rotate the levelwind pinion to ensure pawl sits securely in its groove.

The Completed Levelwind Mechanism

Finally, drop a drop of light oil to the threads of the securing cup and attach, taking care not to over torque.

Spool Bearings

Since this reel is not a “C'” model, it uses copper bushings instead of ball bearings. The pinch fits in a groove in the bearing housing, keeping the bushing aligned and fixed in position.

One can easily buy ABEC7 or higher grades of ceramic ball bearings to upgrade this reel. can easily supply what you need and post it over to you.

Secure The Bearing

A circlip fits into a groove within the bearing housing, firmly locking the bearing in place and keeping it in alignment. Drop a couple drops of light oil such as SpeedX to the bearing and Cast control cup and secure.

Assembling The Drive Side

Here are the sum of parts from the right side plate, degreased, dried and awaiting assembly.

Greasing The Freespool Mechanism

When I opened the reel, there was almost no grease to be seen, and whatever little grease that once lubricated this machine had dried into a brown colored stain on the base plate. Thankfully, Abu had used very high quality chrome to anodize this freespool mechanism. After all these years of neglect, there but was minimal spots of rust attesting to its robustness.

Thickly coat with Quicksilver 2-4-C Marine Grease, taking care to get grease under the swinging cams.

Attaching The Drive Train

The anti reverse shaft is floated off the baseplate by a copper belleville washer. Grease and drop it down the drive shaft with its convex side facing up.

The pinion gear, although worn, showed no signs of tooth damage and can be reused. Had damage be such that it need replacement, the Main gear must also be changed as a set, in order to retain strength and cranking smoothness. Grease the pinion yoke with Cal’s Universal Reel Grease and hang pinion to the yoke.

The Anti Reverse Mechanism

Grease anti reverse gear with Cal’s Grease and attach anti reverse pawl, making sure that the copper clamps bite onto the gear with an interference fit, and the dog is biting in the direction shown. (Note the mechanism is shown upside-down)

Drop CorrosionX oil on the drive shaft and the shaft for anti reverse pawl, then drop the anti reverse mechanism into place.

The Drag and Main Drive

Butter the phenolic washer with Cal’s grease and sit flat on anti reverse gear

The Steel Main Drive

The main drive had rusted at some spots. Perhaps this is where the tick is felt. I had scrubbed the rust with a brass brush and it seems like it can be recalled back to service. Let’s assemble it and try if it works. Grease main drive and pinion with Cal’s Grease, taking care to work them between the teeth, but avoid getting grease contaminated in the pinion hole, as doing so will adversely affect the reel’s ability to cast light lures.

Traditional Leather Drag

Grease the original leather drag with Cal’s Grease and sit securely in the main drive. It should not get caught with the clicker spring.

Corroded Clicker Plate

Clicker plate is pitted on the outside, but the underside is acceptably smooth. Grease up with Cal’s Grease and drop into main drive.

Drag Spring

This Ambassadeur 5000 only has one belleville spring washer. It’s internal diameter fits the key shape of the drive shaft. Insert with the concave side facing upwards.

Thrust Washers

Coat chromed thrust washer with grease and place above stainless belleville washer.

The black plastic collar is next

Followed by the 2 thin copper washers. I was tempted to place one copper washer below the black plastic collar as it makes more sense. However, I decided to fit it back exactly the same way I found it when I opened the reel, so the 2 copper washers go together on top of the black plastic collar.

Protect With Marine Grease

Grease right sideplate with marine grease.

Fiddly Fit

Fitting the right sideplate over drive mechanism is a fiddly affair at best, since the hands are greasy. Align cover flanges and screw holes over their respective positions, grease threads of flat head retaining screws and loosely start to screw it half deep.

Do not tighten yet. The sideplate will not seat squarely at this juncture. Half depress freespool lever while firmly pushing down on sideplate will free the engagement and seat it squarely.

Tighten retaining screws taking care not to overtorque.

Fixing The Bearing
There is a groove halfway down the bushing housing. Snap circlip into this groove.

Repeat the procedure for fitting the bushing. Use light oils eg SpeedX for the copper bush

Star Drag and Handle Assembly

Grease threads of star drag and screw it down drive shaft. Grease oval spring washer and insert with concave side facing up.

Grease contact surfaces of the handle and fit drive shaft through its key hole.

Seat locking washer squarely.

Secure with locking screw. Tighten with a broad flat blade screwdriver

Cap with the oil cap and tighten with a 10mm socket wrench.

The Completed Reel

Spray some WD-40 down the handle shafts and work the knobs till dirty oil comes out the other side. Repeat process till only clean oil appears at the opposite side. Dry off WD-40 by a blast of compressed air. Drop two drops of CorrosionX oil down each shaft. Assemble spool, taking care to add in the tiny centrifugal pellets and fix on the sideplate.

Wet a rag with some Simple Green and wipe off grease and oil from the outside.

With this simple clean and re-lubrication, the bare spool is now capable of 3 seconds free spin – a good timing, considering the levelwind is adding a lot of friction and the reel runs on stock 37 year old copper bushings! The tick that was felt when cranking is gone, and drag is now smooth. Should be fun to spool in the line and cast this reel again.

Hope this helps you fix your own reel, and do drop a comment below.


PS: 25 December 2012, 0015Hrs. The owner of this reel showed up at my doorstep, shoved this reel into my face and said “you deserve to have this reel more than I do as you will care for it better. So I’m giving it to you as a present. Merry Christmas!” I was stunned and didn’t know what to say!

Text and Images © Lawrence Lee
All Rights Reserved
If you want to use any content for your own publication, please write me @


4 responses to “SERVICING – July 1975 ABU Ambassadeur 5000

  1. Someone essentially help to make seriously posts I would state. This is the very first time I frequented your web page and thus far? I surprised with the research you made to make this particular publish incredible. Magnificent job! gdffcffdadke

  2. thanks saved my abu 5000! It’s an older version but seems like most of it is the same apart from the clicker plate. Some parts are in brass in my version which is plastic in yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s