To clean or not to clean, that is the question

You got 'em, we know how to clean 'em
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Ray Hencken
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To clean or not to clean, that is the question

Post by Ray Hencken »

Apologies to William Shakespeare (the bard not the reel maker)
A number of years ago, 15-20 years, I acquired this pair of identical Abbey & Imbrie raised pillar, nickle silver and hard rubber #3 fly reels made by Julius vom Hofe. The reel on the left is in the condition that both reels were in when I acquired them. I decided to clean and hand polish one of the reels to see what it looked like under the grime and "patina". Some prefer to leave reels in the condition which they are found and others prefer to try to restore the reel to its original condition with cleaning and light hand polishing. I would agree that brass reels should be left as they are but nickle silver reels benefit from cleaning. You be the judge. Which would you prefer and which do you think would bring a higher price?
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Deepfins791
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Re: To clean or not to clean, that is the question

Post by Deepfins791 »

In a letter dated September 5th, 1980 from Oscar Kovalovsky to Warren Shephard, noted author and fishing reel historian, Oscar writes, "I don't agree with many collectors thoughts of a 'beautiful patina'. They were not made with that in mind. I have restored all of my collection. I can't understand having a lot of junk reels just because they are old".

Cheers,
John

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john elder
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Re: To clean or not to clean, that is the question

Post by john elder »

I’m with Oscar :D
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kevinhaney1
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Re: To clean or not to clean, that is the question

Post by kevinhaney1 »

Personally, I want my reels to look as though they had been lovingly and well cared for over the years. The dirty ones look like they have been neglected, which more than likely portends other problems with them. Thus, I prefer the one on the right.

Kevin

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RonG
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Re: To clean or not to clean, that is the question

Post by RonG »

Oscar's last paragraph says it to me.

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Bill Muth
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Re: To clean or not to clean, that is the question

Post by Bill Muth »

+1 to the others, clean 'em.
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Paul M
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Re: To clean or not to clean, that is the question

Post by Paul M »

I’d prefer to buy an uncleaned reel so I can clean it myself ;)
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Midway Tommy D
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Re: To clean or not to clean, that is the question

Post by Midway Tommy D »

Paul M wrote:
Wed May 06, 2020 7:53 pm
I’d prefer to buy an uncleaned reel so I can clean it myself ;)
I can understand that preference, but I would pay quite a bit more for a well cleaned and cared for specimen. IMHO, cleaning quality can make or break an item's value.
Love those Open Face Spinning Reels! (Especially ABU & ABU/Zebco)

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RonG
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Re: To clean or not to clean, that is the question

Post by RonG »

By the way John, thanks for sharing that letter. I think it's really cool that correspondence like this exists and has been captured for the future.

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john elder
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Re: To clean or not to clean, that is the question

Post by john elder »

Recently, I was chiding a fellow ORCAn for polishing his reels till you could comb your hair in the side plates. He sells on EBay a lot and pointed out that he averaged about 2x the price obtained for about any reel relative to listing same with a “nice patina”. Apparently, a lot of us are magpies looking for shiny things to bring back to the nest!
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RonG
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Re: To clean or not to clean, that is the question

Post by RonG »

I'm sure none of use advocate "over polishing" reels. Corrosion damage is irreversible and has to be stopped. I like using a Magic Cloth to remove corrosion and surface oxide. It does not remove machining marks or round sharp edges like on a maker's mark. If the reel has a nice even patina, and not too severe, I leave it alone. Here's a Gayle that has too much Patina (although it does look pretty cool).



Kevin McJunkin
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Re: To clean or not to clean, that is the question

Post by Kevin McJunkin »

Agree with all the above comments. A wise ORCAN once said, "dirt is not patina." I like Ray's gently cleaned Vom Hofe better, but I also like Ron's Gayle. I recall when I was into coin collecting that an evenly toned Morgan silver dollar was worth more than a bright, shiny one, but coin collectors were fanatical about (not) cleaning. Maybe the difference is the utilitarian value of fishing reels - they were meant to be used and maintained.

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reelsmith.
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Re: To clean or not to clean, that is the question

Post by reelsmith. »

Another vote for clean ...

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Dean.
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Paul Roberts
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Re: To clean or not to clean, that is the question

Post by Paul Roberts »

Old reels will still show their age. And they should function, and as well as possible. Neglect is disrespectful of what reels were built to be. This is a fisherman’s perspective. An antiques dealer might disagree. Dean’s stunning reels above, though, would please their maker very much. And validate their efforts.
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