Cleaning and Repairing a Mitchell 300 Spinning Reel


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  1. #1
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    Bryan Shrum
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    Default Cleaning and Repairing a Mitchell 300 Spinning Reel

    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.

    Last edited by Whistler; 04-26-2006 at 03:04 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Cleaning and Repairing a Mitchell 300 Spinning Reel

    Continued from previous post



    The gear and slider shown here are what controls the shaft movement. Take the gear out and set it aside for now.


    The slide plate that has all the brass showing on it has a small post on the other side that inserts into a hole in the shaft. When you reassemble this part, make sure it is toward the back of the reel.


    Next take out the slider plate and remove the shaft. Set these parts aside.


    What you see here is the inside of the rotor, the plate is what trips the bail release.


    Next remove the center nut and take the plate out and the rotor of the reel body. (I only disassemble it this far for a thorough cleaning). When you remove the plate, there may be shims under it, as stated before, keep track of which shims go back. There are also probably shims under the rotor itself. This combination of shims is what determines how much head play is in the reel. Unless there is a very obvious reason, this is as far as I ever tear down a reel, not even this far if I’m just going to grease it. Now you can wipe all the parts down and clean them with the paint thinner. Apply grease to every gear and moving/sliding part of the reel as you reassemble it. Apply oil to all the external moving parts such as the bail release and the bail itself. If the reel worked good and didn’t make any rubbing/rough noise when you disassembled it, then make sure you get all the shims back in their original locations. If the reel sounds like the gears are rubbing against the housing, then add a shim(they are available from reel repair shops) to only one gear at a time to see if it has an effect on the noise. Add only one at a time until it turns freely and quietly. If the rotor has an excessive amount of play, you can sometimes just remove a shim from under the plate or rotor and get it right. Just make the rotor turns freely when you are finished. It’s just a matter of making an adjustment, trying it out and see if it worked or not. If not, then do it again until it's right. The spool seldom ever needs anything other than cleaning, sometimes I will put some oil on the center shaft of the spool if it doesn't feel right. It is very simple if you pay attention while taking it apart.
    Last edited by Whistler; 04-26-2006 at 03:03 PM.
    Member since July 2002
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    Retired Army - 1975 -1995


  3. #3
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    Default Cleaning and Repairing a Mitchell 300 Spinning Reel

    Continued from previous post



    Have you ever been fishing and had the reel work fine one minute and the next the bail wouldn’t return all the way back? Usually this is caused by a bent bail, the next 2 pics show how to fix this small problem. This can be caused by a lot of things, but it is usually very easy to fix.


    As you can see in the pic, the bail on this reel is bent out a good bit. If the screw was in, it would probably not return all way back when the reel is turned. The bend puts a good bit of pressure on the mount points of the bail. Always make this adjustment on the opposite side of the bail that the return spring is located on.


    Just very slightly and carefully bend the bail in small increments until it is sitting in it’s proper position without the screw in it. It should be just above the mount point, and stay there when pulled back for casting without the screw installed. Once you have it in this position, install the screw and make sure it moves freely when the screw is tight. That’s all there is to it. It’s the most common problem with a spinning reel. Note in the last pic there is a different handle on the reel, the one that was on it was slightly bent so I put a handle from a newer reel on for now.

    That’s it. There’s really not all that much to maintaining one of these fine old reels. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 of these reels. Mostly 300’s but also 400’s and 410’s as well. I also have the salt water series of these reels the 306, 302 and 402 as well as the ultra light series, 308 and 408. Most of my reels are more than 30 years old and all work like new. I usually get them at flea markets, yard sales and pawn shops and I won’t pay more that $10.00 for one. I used to buy them off eBay until it got so commercialized, with shipping I bought 3 reels one time for $7.50. Probably not many of you use this type of reel, but if you do I hope this article is of some use.

    Now someone needs to post a “how to” for Daiwa type baitcasters, I have two of these. I started to disassemble one once and got the 4 screws out of the handle side, took it apart, saw the 14 million little parts and promptly put it back together again and felt fortunate that it still worked. Even with the diagram I am not brave enough to do it.

    Last edited by Whistler; 04-26-2006 at 03:02 PM.
    Member since July 2002
    Staff member since September 2003
    Retired Army - 1975 -1995


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