Cleaning and Repairing a Garcia Mitchell 300 Spinning Reel
When I was a kid many years ago, my dad and I used to fish in salt water occasionally. He believed that anything we used in salt water needed to be cleaned thoroughly and as soon as possible after our trips. When I got old enough that he thought I could handle it, he started me to cleaning our rods and reels. When I would do this, I would first take all the reels that had been exposed to the salt water and soak them in a bucket of fresh water for an hour or so. Then I air dried them with compressed air, that usually got most of the damaging salt off of the external parts of the reel. Then I would wipe them down with gun oil and put them away. About every other time we went to the salt water I would take them apart, clean and repair them as necessary. I am still using a couple of those reels today. Hopefully I will show in this post how to do this to a spinning reel. I am going to use a Garcia Mitchell 300 reel that was manufactured in approximately 1960. It is well used as you will see, but works like a new reel for me. I must note that I have a pretty extensive parts supply, but everything I use is available through most reel repair shops. Except for the unique gearing in a Mitchell 300, most spinning reels are similar and just as easy, or easier. I never tear a reel down any farther than necessary to clean and lube it. Most reels only need to have the spool removed and the side plate taken off to gain access to all the parts that require grease or oil. When you buy grease be sure that it is a type that will stay the same viscosity at all temperatures, so it won’t get stiff during the cold months. I made the mistake of using bearing grease once while in Colorado and had to cut a trip short because the reel got so hard to turn. Lesson learned! For a couple of bucks, I decided I could afford some reel grease. Any of the brands made for reels should work fine. The oil can be reel oil, gun oil or any good household oil such as 3 in1 oil. When I do a thorough cleaning, I use paint thinner to clean the gears and bearings. Make sure that the bearings are the very first thing you put in the thinner, that will ensure that it is really clean when you are done. It doesn’t take much dirt to make a gear get rough and noisy. And try not to get any of the thinner on the painted surfaces, it will turn the paint white, it isn’t permanent, but sure looks bad at the time.
This is of course, a Garcia Mitchell 300.
Take the spool and handle off the reel and set them aside.
Next remove the bail and bail return spring (only if it’s necessary) Note how the spring comes out, so it can be put back correctly later.
Now remove the side plate and note where all the gears and the anti-reverse dog are located in the housing.
Now take all the gears and anti-reverse dog off the side plate and set them aside. Notice all the worn parts, what keeps the reel working good is the shims you see in the next few pics. If you own one of these reels, the shims can keep them working like new almost indefinitely.
A better pic of the shims, keep track of where they go and don’t mix them up, even if they look exactly the same as shims from a different part of the reel. The shims are sized for the exact diameter of the shaft or gear post they go on. The discoloration in the side plate is old grease and not rust. Most of the wear you see is from the previous owner, I bought this reel at a yard sale for $5.00. I then put about 2 bucks worth of shims, grease and time into it. I have been using this particular reel for about 2 years.