Tip #6 - Raising Pillars

Tips from The Eclectic Angler's monthly Newsletter.

Tip #6 - Raising Pillars

Postby TheEclecticAngler » Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:55 am

From the March, 2011 Newsletter

Tip #6 - Raising pillars
Raised pillar reels are a classic, timeless design. Intended to decrease weight while allowing more line on the spool, this style of reel was developed by Philbrook and Payne in the 1870s. McGowan, a London reelmaker and active between 1857 and 1882, also designed a brass raised pillar reel(^1) in this time frame. Regardless of origin, it is easy to appreciate the aesthetics of the raised pillar design. However, many reelmakers are intimidated by this design since the frame plates can not be simply turned on a lathe. Fortunately, making the raised pillars using reelsmithing techniques is enjoyable and not difficult! You can easily modify an Eclectic Angler Reel Kit - even a completed reel - to convert it in to a raised pillar reel. This tip explains how.

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Tools
  • a jeweler's saw with size #1 blades (http://www.riogrande.com)
  • a bench pin (you can make this yourself by cutting a "V" notch in a piece of 1x2 about 6" long, see photo below)
  • spray adhesive (3M) or a glue stick
  • scissors
  • sharp XActo knife or single hole punch
  • smooth file, sandpaper (4000 to 600 grit), and small sanding block
  • five 4-40 x 3/8" round head screws, five #4 washers and five 4-40 nuts - preferably brass

Preparation
Before making the raised pillars, I recommend completely assembling your reel kit first. Make sure that it is adjusted and working smoothly. Do not finish the brass frame parts above 600 grit sandpaper since you are going to continue to work on them. Once your reel is complete, mark the back frame plate and two frame rings with a permanent marker so you can re-orient them in the same order once the pillar ears are cut. If you choose not to heed this advise and work on the kit parts before assembly, you do need to remove the burrs on all edges of the frame back plate and the two frame rings. (you can click on the small photos to see a larger version)

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Download, then print and cut out the Raised Pillar template on the outside dotted blue line. Make sure to measure the 1.00" long bar to verify that your printer did not scale the print. If it did, you will need to turn scaling off (use 100%) and reprint the template. Now you need to cut out the small black circles around the perimeter where the pillar screws go and the central hole. You can use an XActo knife or small hole punch to do this. These do not have to be perfectly round, they are just to help align the template to the frame.

Practice positioning the template on the outside of the frame back plate. Make sure the holes are properly aligned with the back plate. The crosses over the holes on the template are to help center them properly on the back frame plate. It is helpful to hold the back plate up to a lamp to align the template. Once you are comfortable in aligning the template and back plate, you are ready to glue the template in place. Spray the back of the template and the outside of the frame plate with the adhesive (or use a glue stick). When tacky, carefully align the template and stick it in place. You can peel off the template and reposition it if you need to adjust.

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With the template glued to the back plate, stack on the rings and screw them together with the 4-40 machine screws. Make sure to keep the rings aligned as they will be in the completed reel (use the marks you made earlier). The rings are positioned on the side of the frame back plate opposite the template. Insert a screw through the rings and then the back plate. Add a washer and the 4-40 nut. The nut should be on the template side. Insert the remaining four screws with washers and nuts in the same orientation.

Cutting the Raised Pillar Ears
You will cut the raised pillar ears in all three parts (back plate and two rings) at once, that is why they are screwed together. This way, the parts will be perfectly aligned when you reassemble them. Make sure you have installed and tensioned the #1 blade in your jeweler's saw (see putting a blade on a jeweler's saw). Clamp the bench pin to your workbench. Position the stacked parts over the "V" on the bench pin with the template side up. I like to use a magnifying head set so I can carefully follow the drawn line.

Start at one of the foot pillars and follow the black line on the template. Stay just outside the line and take long smooth strokes with the saw. Don't try to over power the saw, let the blade do its work. The #1 reason for broken blades and poor cuts is overpowering the saw. With long, smooth, vertical strokes, follow the black cut line on the template. Make sure to keep the saw blade perpendicular to the work. The blade is very thin and very easy to control. If you find yourself wandering off path, simply backup and get back on path. If you go slowly at first, you shouldn't have a problem staying on track the entire cut. If you've never used a jeweler's saw you will be surprised at how quickly it goes. And, you are cutting three parts at once.

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When the cut is finished, use the smooth file to clean up the cut and make any adjustments. Follow with sandpaper on a sanding block. Use the edge of the sanding block to create a nice curved transition from the frame to the pillar ear. Once you are happy with the final shaping, disassemble the back plate from the frame rings.

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Reassembling the Reel
Now you can reassemble the reel, making sure to keep the back plate and rings in the proper orientation. I like to round over the edges of the back plate and rings with 400 grit sandpaper to remove the sharp edges.

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1. Classic & Antique Fly-Fishing Tackle: A Guide for Collectors & Anglers, A. J. Campbell, The Lyons Press, 1997
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