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Posted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:41 am 
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I am going to attempt a photo essay of two of Ocean City's big game reels and a bit of history. The reels I want to talk about are the Ocean City 612--12/0 and the Ocean City 616--16/0. It is interesting to note that both these reel designs were inspired by Edward Vom Hofe engineers before World War II. The general feeling for many years was that these reels were over built and superior to the their major competitor's reels, that major competitor being Penn.
The Vom Hofe connection came into being when Ocean City bought the Edward Vom Hofe reel company around 1940. Ocean City did market Vom Hofe reels but also designed a new series of big game reels which were cradle mounted. These cradle mounted reels were produced before and after the war and were built by a team effort of Ocean City and Vom Hofe engineers. After the war, Ocean City spun off Vom Hofe and started to sell these big game reels in the standard configuration without the cradle mounting.
Ocean City was now in direct competition with Penn Senator reels for the Light Tackle and Heavy Tackle Big Game reel market by creating the Ocean City 600 series of big game reels, which were made in sizes from 4/0 to 16/0.

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Here is the Ocean City 612. A reel in the 12/0 size is a reel designed for big fish. I weighs in the neighborhood of eight pounds and should be capable of handling Tuna and Marlin. It is not the top of the size range but it is definitely Big Game.

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The spool's axle and flanges are one piece. There is a forward turnbuckle rod clamp with very nice leather chafing strip mounted into the clamp and there are upper lugs for a harness mount. Externally these 12/0's were as strong as the competitions and priced comparably.

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The 12/0 drags are questionable. There is a drag cup which can be removed externally by simply removing the handle and star wheel. A good design for a big game reel but there were only three brake lining friction washers. For a 12/0, there should have been more brake.

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The bridge assembly has strong bronze main and pinion gears to drive the spool but there is a weak link in the drive train and that is the pinion clutch. The clutch is the steel washer with four slots cut in it sitting next to the pinion gear. Notice the bevel cuts on one side of the slot. This bevel has the tendency to wear and allow the spool to free spool forward with the free spool lever engaged. That is a major malfunction when you are fighting a large game fish or simply when you are reeling in your line.

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Here is can be seen how close the tolerance is with the clutch engaged into the spool dogs. There are four slots cut into the clutch but only two male dogs on the spool. As these slots wear the spool will slip.

When we move to the Ocean City 616--16/0 reel, we move into the Tank category. A 16/0 reel is massive, weighs over 10 pounds and will hold 1000 yards of 100 pound test line. This reel is meant for monster fish up to and over 1000 pounds. When a reel is built up to this size, extra engineering is needed but Ocean City simply carried its design forward as did Penn but the Penn design was able to withstand the growth. The same problems with the pinion clutch of the 12/0 exist in the 16/0.

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The Ocean City 16/0 is a hard to find and desirable collectible. The one pictured here is next to new. The handle knob is the same size as the 12/0 knob but the handle blade is longer, giving the angler more torque. The diameter and width of the 16/0 is greater than the 12/0 and that same strong spool is present, only bigger.

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The 16/0 adds a rear turnbuckle rod clamp assembly which the 12/0 does not have but the stand of the reel remains the same gauge metal as the 12/0 but it is wider and prone to being bent under stress. I see the stand as the foundation of a reel and it should be one of the strongest parts.

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If you open up a 16/0 head plate, what you find is a very strong looking bridge assembly but that weak link pinion clutch is still present.

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The upgrade here is the pinion gear, which is no longer bronze in the 16/0 but has been changed to stronger steel. As I look at the old clutch that mounts to the pinion gear I wonder why that design persisted. The entire heart of the reels strength is being given to the clutch and the clutch is prone to failure.

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Another strange design change on the 16/0 is the drag stack. Here Ocean City upgraded the amount of friction washers to five instead of the three used in the 12/0 but three of those five washers stayed at the same diameter of the 12/0 washers. Ocean City actually made the bottom of the drag cup a smaller diameter than the top. The drag cup is built in a step fashion which decreased the surface area of the drags.

These Ocean City big game reels are much harder to find in today's collector market than Penn Senators and I suspect that is because they did not stand the test of time in the world of Big Game fishing and therefore sold in lower quantities than their competitors. They are interesting reels with great history but as for fishing, I would take a Penn.

Pictures were contributed by my friend Ed Miller, who is a Big Game fisherman, IGFA member and official IGFA observer. He shares my
opinions on these reels.

Hope I did not bore you guys with my observations but I just wanted to get my opinion out. I am a fan of Ocean City and Penn reels and am trying to see a reason why one company survived and the other did not.


   

Posted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 7:08 am 
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nice Job, Mike...it's hard to imagine why they didn't immediately detect that clutch flaw and correct it...seems an easy fix. Im guessing that subbing out for metal fitting was probably noisy and they went for the aesthetics rather than strength?


   

Posted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:53 am 
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Thanks John.

The clutch design was never changed, as far as I know it stayed in place all the way to the end of Ocean City and even into the True Temper varieties of the reel. It is a relatively inexpensive item to replace but when the dogs on the spool wear, that repair expense goes way up. Go figure?

I just received a 10/0 Ocean City, heavily used, cradle reel today and the clutch is bad in that reel. It will not even drive the spool. The problem is common.


Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:49 pm 
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[quote="m3040c"]

The bridge assembly has strong bronze main and pinion gears to drive the spool but there is a weak link in the drive train and that is the pinion clutch. The clutch is the steel washer with four slots cut in it sitting next to the pinion gear. Notice the bevel cuts on one side of the slot. This bevel has the tendency to wear and allow the spool to free spool forward with the free spool lever engaged. That is a major malfunction when you are fighting a large game fish or simply when you are reeling in your line.

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Here is can be seen how close the tolerance is with the clutch engaged into the spool dogs. There are four slots cut into the clutch but only two male dogs on the spool. As these slots wear the spool will slip.

[/quote="m3040c"]

-----------------------------

Dear Mike,

A) A fantastic writeup about some fantastic reels. I wished I knew more about them.

B) Fantastic pics too.

C) Um, a small note with some carefully voiced disagreement on the clutch slots...

Please observe direction of rotation. In a driving or dragging (=clutch engaged) scenario, the torque relationship between spool and pinion gives that the spool desires to turn clockwise and pinion counterclockwise when viewed from this direction.

The slots are just fine, and there is nothing wrong here.* In fact, the bevels should be much bigger.

The bevels are there on the non-loaded side to guide the conjugate components, to more easily mate upon engagement. That is not wear shown in the pic, and the clutch is fully capable to drive and/or drag, as can be seen by the distinct square dog shoulder / square slot engagement. A similar arrangement can be found in Ambassadeur reels.

*Well, unless you mean it could've / should've been bigger or stronger, which is true. Or that the square dogs and slots are still prone to wear, which they may be (but will still take a good long time to wear into a nonfunctional state)

Anyway, thanks for showing us the reels!

Doc.


   

Posted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 2:26 am 
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hello Dr. Rob,

These reels are a interesting study. I agree with what you are saying, as a matter of fact, I wish I would have said it as well as you did. The problem I was talking about is not present in the reel I am picturing here. I ran into this condition with my OC 16/0. Possibly my 16/0 had some very heavy use, it did come from Hawaii. My 16/0 had and somewhat still has a strange quirk, when I turn the handle quickly to retrieve line, it turns fine until I stopped reeling in, the spool will then continue to spin in the retrieve direction with the handle held still and you can hear and feel the clutch slipping. My reel needs a clutch replacement, I believe. My troubleshooting of this problem could be wrong but I do not remember any other problem inside the my 16/0, other than the excessively worn clutch. I did heli-arc weld the clutch when I had the reel apart, the problem lessened but it still exists intermittently.
What bothers me about the clutch on these big game reels is the amount of engagement the clutch travel allows. When the clutch is engaged with the spool, there is only a 1/8 inch of engagement at best between the two spool dogs and the two used slots in the clutch. It simply does not seem adequate for a reel that will be used for monster fish, in my opinion.


   

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 6:47 pm 
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I started this post by saying the beginning of Ocean City 600 series of Big Game reels was the cradle reel, which was the exact same reel except it was mounted in a cradle assembly and numbered a 800 series. I say a cradle assembly rather than just a cradle because when you priced or purchased a 800 series reel it came with a super heavy duty cradle, a handle with a Gimbal end and a two piece collet which allowed you to mount any rod tip that would fit the collet inside diameter. Ocean City offered the cradle reel 800 series in sizes from 4/0 to 16/0. In the heavy big game sizes, 10/0 to 16/0, there were many interchangeable parts.

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The 810 was the smallest of the heavy big game reels and in my opinion is overbuilt for the sake of interchangeability. These 800 series reels are very difficult to find today.

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This is what you received when you purchased a Ocean City 810 in the 1940's. In this picture is a complete assembly with the front collet in place. I have found these in the past with the collect missing. It is a difficult part to manufacture and fairly impossible to find, so it is very important when purchasing one of these old cradle reels that the collect is with the cradle.

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The collect is a heavy German silver, machined piece with a large, knurled and chrome plated set nut. It is really a fine piece of workmanship. The keyway cut into the collect base aligns with a post in the cradle receiver which locks the collect in place within the cradle.

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Flipping this assembly over exposes a fine piece of casting. This cradle has a fin backbone that runs the full length under the reel. There have been many different cradles made for conventional reels but this one has to be the best. I have never seen one of these cracked, I have seen later type cradles crack but these Ocean City cradles are strong and heavy and even have extra supports molded into the cradle at the bottom center. When assembled, the rigidity of the reel frame becomes immovable. There will be no frame misalignment unless the side plate screws break. I would venture to say this is the strongest of all production big game reel frames (only my humble opinion).

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By removing the tail plate and the spool it can be seen that the bridge assembly fills the head plate from top to bottom. This is very different than the space left over in a 16/0 head plate. That is because it is the same bridge assembly and that can be verified in the Ocean City service manual.
Another interesting building style is that two of the cross bars are mounted between the cradle casting at the forward and aft end. This style of build increases the already excessive frame strength. I have only seen this kind of extra frame support on a Ocean City assembly.

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When I took the 810--10/0 bridge assembly apart I found that the internals were a duplicate of the 16/0 gear train. The same bridge, massive bronze main gear, stainless steel pinion gear and pinion clutch are used in the 10/0. This old 810 has a stronger gear train than the later model 612--12/0.

OK, I started this post talking about some of the weak links, I now feel that these questionable weak links are because Ocean City covered such a wide variety of game reel sizes with the same interchangeable internals. In the original Vom Hofe / Ocean City design, this 810--10/0 is bulletproof, weak links of the drive train only surface in 16/0--600 series reels and that is because a 16/0 is going to be used for much larger game than a 10/0 would be used for.

Or maybe not... :roll:


   

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:57 pm 
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I forgot to mention. Earlier in this post I said that I received this Ocean City 810 this week and it had a bad clutch. That was not the case.

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This how it looked when I received it. It seems that it was dropped. The free spool lever was bent and the star wheel had a bent leg. When I turned the handle, the spool would not turn with it. The drag wheel was turned all the way back and was frozen. I took everything apart, straightened the star wheel and the free spool lever. Then gave everything a bath and put it all back together. All functions returned to normal.


   

Posted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 5:09 pm 
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Mike - heres an 812 thats not in a cradle. The foot and spool are not plated like the other OC reels I have seen. Thought you would be interested in seeing it. Jeff
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Posted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:26 pm 
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Hello Jeff,

That's a interesting old OC with a twist. It would be pure speculation to say why your reel is like it is, so let's speculate.

Obviously the stand and spool does not match the reel, which makes me think the reel could have started its life as a cradle reel or at least was intended to be a cradle reel. As I have said in this post, the reels are totally interchangeable. In the early 1940's, the 800 series was all that was available but after the war and to about 1951, the 800 series and 600 series were both offered. I guess Ocean City left the 800 series available until the stock of cradles was used up.

For purposes of identification and according to the catalogs, a 800 series reel is a cradle reel, whether it is in reality or not.

Also, the logo plate is interchangeable from one side plate to another. The rivets that hold the side plate to the head plate are pressed in, they can be removed and put back onto another side plate. I have a 6/0 cradle reel in my collection that had a broken head plate when I received it. I located a new 6/0 Ocean City head plate, which did not come with a logo plate but was drilled for one and simply removed the 800 series logo plate from my broken plate and installed it in the new plate. I was able to tap out the rivets from the inside of the broken head plate and then lightly and carefully hammer them back into the new plate.

The reel you pictured would be a interesting reel to investigate. It seems the spool is not plated and neither is the stand. Both these parts should never have left the factory without chrome. :idea:

There is another tell tale sign about the reel you have. If you look at the 600 series reels I have posted and take notice of the cross bars on the 600 series. They are straight, plain chrome bars. Now look at the cross bars on the 10/0 cradle reel. The cradle reel has a grove on each side of the bar. Your reel has the cross bars with the grove on them, which makes me think even more that your reel is a converted cradle reel or possibly a prototype. :shock:

Thanks for showing your reel. Do you know anything about its history that would be out of the ordinary :?:


   

Posted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:47 pm 
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Jeff,

One more thing I only now noticed. Your reel has a counter balanced handle. The handle knob is black, which is the correct color for a pre-war cradle reel but ALL heavy big game 600 and 800 series reels had power handles without counter weights.

The handle used on your reel is the same handle used on the Panama and Balboa reels of 1941, the last year for the Panama and Balboa. The first year for the 800 series was 1942... I am starting to think more and more that your reel is a prototype.

The plot thickens... :shock:


   

Posted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:00 am 
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Jeff,

I am going nuts here. I keep looking at your reel and finding obvious quirks. Your brass stand without plating is also not drilled for a rod clamp. :? :? :? :?

It is a unfinished piece...


   

Posted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:29 am 
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Mike , my first assumption was that maybe the stand was ment to be just thrown away when you mounted it in a cradle. Maybe this one never got to. Although the spool is not plated it does look "finished" - more like anodized then plated. It doesnt look like it has ever seen saltwater. I dont have many Oc big game reels left to compare it to but the logo on this reel is different then ones I have. It is marked Patented at the top and does not have the Made in Philadelphia logo on it. I have no background info the reel , just an Ebay purchase several years ago. Thanks , Jeff


   

Posted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:19 am 
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Yes, it is very different. I did not pick up on the different logo.

I guess it could be researched but it would be a difficult project. Speculations about it could be limited only by imagination. I would keep a reel like this for future reference. Sometimes other reel finds bring out more info.

Thanks for the interesting addition to my post.


   

Posted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:00 pm 
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Thanks! If you find out more info on the reels - please share it - thanks again , Jeff
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Posted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:11 am 
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Sure, I like sharing info. That's how we learn.

What's that button you pictured?

I feel Ocean City has a complicated history. Other folks think they possibly had too many models, which makes it even more complicated and some think added to their demise. I also think they were more involved with working with competitors more than other companies were. In their early models, it be be easily seen they collaborated with Vom Hofe and Joe Coxe and in their later years worked with Montague and eventually sold to True Temper. Those are their on the surface connections but it would be great to know of others. Many Ocean City reels sold under other Trade Names also.

Right now much of the history is lost in time. There is much to discover, that's the fun of the hobby... :)


   

Posted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:34 am 
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What's that button you pictured?

I was told it was an employee badge but I dont know for sure. Since this post is in the Show and tell form I thought you would enjoy it. Not to many other people I have talked to like Ocean City stuff so it was just an opportunity to share it. Jeff


   

Posted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 7:11 am 
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Mike: Have you found any written record of an association between OC and Joe Coxe? I know that there are some resemblances between the Orlando and the "screwed" L.A. Coxe on the outside, but I didn't see anything in the interior that looked like a Coxe product. However, I've not run into any evidence in the literature of a relationship.


   

Posted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 8:52 am 
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Hello to you OC collectors,

The 12/0 & 16/0 reels look fantastic. Ed did a great job cleaning and presenting.

Nice job on rescuing the 10/0 cradle reel from its slow decrepitation
Thanks Mike, also for posting the photos and sharing the article.

Jeff, I lean heavily towards what Mike said about your 12/0 cradle reel possibly being an early model. The spool looks like unpolished stainless or GS. With the stand not being drilled or plated it seems like it never got finished.
As you stated , the logo is also different .I noticed on your reel the type above and below the central type is embossed where as the other example is debossed.
Re the OC badge :The "1066" number really hit me . 1066 marks the end of the Dark Ages and the beginning of the Middle Ages . Lets hope it is the start of shedding some light on your unusual reel.

Ray


   

Posted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:17 pm 
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Jeff. I assume that is the button that was on eBay. I almost bid on that in an attempt to make sure one of ORCA's OC students would end up with it. I thought it was a nice addition to an OC collection.


   

Posted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 8:01 pm 
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Phil , Yes I just got it a few days ago. The seller stated it was from the 1940s and was an employee badge. I emailed him after I got it to see if he could tell me who it belonged to and if he actually knew if the 1940s date was correct. He didnt know any history behind it and just thought the style matched similar employee badges from other companies of the era. I was hoping it came from a family member and could get some good information. Im always amazed at how many people cut and paste information from your website for their ebay auctions. Usually , it has little to do with what they are trying to sell. Thank you for all the Information you have shared. :bow: It is much appreciated.


   

Posted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:38 am 
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John,

I have no written info on a OC / Coxe connection but I am always looking. I feel the striking resemblance between a Orlando and a Coxe is too close to be a coincidence. Maybe someday I will find a threatening letter from Joe Coxe to Ocean City about them stealing his look.

Jeff,

I guess it could be a employee button. That may mean that Ocean City had over a thousand employees.

Hey Ray,

I think there are many people still living in the Dark Ages... :)


   

Posted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:45 pm 
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I know that this is an old subject that has not been visited since July, but I have seen another breed of animal in these reels several times that has not yet been discussed. I have seen several "800" series reels that did not have a cradle, but instead had the foot and mounting hardware of the 600 series. I am pretty sure that they came from the factory that way because they all had a third rivet in the company badge on the reel that certainly was not necessary structurally, and always placed over the top part of the "8" in the name so that if you looked quickly it looked like a "6" maybe. But they were seldom put in to such close tolerances that you still could not see the number of the reel actually started with an "8". I am guessing that OC had a bunch of name badges left over when they discontinued the 800 series and a third uneeded rivet was cheaper than a whole new badge. I have also seen a picture of a 602 in a cradle that almost certainly came from the factory that way as the owner claims his father bought it new just as it sits and I believe him. I think that OC played pretty fast and loose between the 600 and 800 series at times for reasons unknown to me, but the evidence would seem to point to that.
Here is one advertised as an 812:

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Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:45 am 
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I have seen this reel, it is on EBay as we speak.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... :MEBIDX:IT

In my opinion it is a change that was done in a rebuilding shop or some ones basement. I have rebuilt many Ocean City reels. A new side plate comes with the two rivet holes drilled in it. I have never seen this third rivet added as is done with this particular reel. I agree that the side plate could have either logo plate but the 800 series belongs on the Cradle Reels. Anyone that owned a cradle reel could have simply purchased a stand and some posts and made it a standard reel. If the factory made a mistake and put the wrong logo plate on a reel, well, that would be a mistake but they would not add a third rivet.


   

Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 2:47 am 
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Here's something I feel is a very interesting observation. Ocean City had been making a big game reel since the early 1930's. In the early 1930's the Balboa was introduced and in 1937, the Balboa was a bit too expensive to compete with Penn (IMHO), so the Panama was introduced. The Panama was simply a Balboa without the oil tank and feeder. Since these two reels flowed into the production of the 800 series in 1941, I always thought they were the same type of free spool clutch but they are not. The design is changed with the 800 series, which leads me to believe that they were having failures.

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Here is a Panama bridge, notice the square hole in the clutch disc. That clutch disc rides on a square spool shaft. Very different from the 800 series big game reels that rode on a square shaft on the pinion gear and engaged the spool.

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Here it can be seen that the clutch engagement and disengagement is done between the face of the clutch disc and the pinion gear not the clutch face and the spool as the 800 and 600 series is. This set up has the advantage of not having to replace a expensive spool in case of a crunch but in my opinion, is still not as good as the competitors reels (of course I am bias when it comes to Penn but I am allowed to be that way :) )

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Also, it is interesting to note that if you look to the left of the spool bearing you can see two milled circles in this Panama head plate and a grove going to the head plate bearing area. That is where the oil tank and window would be mounted on a Balboa model.

So, it is my conclusion, that the Panama exists because of the competition. The Balboa was the original Ocean City Big Game reel. In 1936 and 1937 the Balboa had a price of $100, that's depression dollars. :shock: Along comes this upstart of a company named Penn, and they introduce a 12/0 reel with a price of $50 in 1937. They shoot Ocean City out of the water with the same category reel at half the price. No wonder Ocean City introduced the Panama for $60 in 1937. It was a self-defense move. :(


   

Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:11 am 
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Yes, thie above "third" rivet reel is on Ebay which is where I got the pictures, and the only place that I know of to get a picture of one at the moment. But I have seen this third rivet trick too many times on 800 series reels that were configured as supposedly 600 series to suspect that there was some third rivet punching re-seller or collector out there from the period making an aftermarket change in his garage. If you had an 800, and decided you didn't want the cradle, but wanted to bolt it to a rod conventionally, why not just buy a 600 seat and bolt it on? Why go through all the trouble of procuring the special rivet and equipment needed to punch in a third rivet that does not belong there? Or, if you broke the side plate of your 6 and came upon a 8 that would work, again, why go through the bother of adding the third rivet? I really can't think of any scenario that makes sense except it was done at the factory. As I said, they probably had a buch of badges left over and decided the third rivet to obscure the front of the top of the eight to make it look like a six got them used up for them. There is no other reason for that rivet to be there, and I have seen this a bunch of times, not just on this reel, or this size reel. I have seen it cause some some passionate arguments over whether it was an 800 without a cradle or a 600 reel with the wrong badge. My suposition still remains that I believe it was the factory. If I had seen it once, yeah, okay, some guy went through the trouble of procuring the exact rivet and needed equipment to try to make his eight hundred without a cradle look like a six hundred, even if I could figure out why anyone would want to do that. But, as I have said, I have seen it half a dozen times. It is unfortunate that in the pics that I had to use that you cannot see that the third rivet is always punched in the top and the right side of the top of the eight, which would make it look like a six if you had a good imagination. But it seldom worked out so closely that you could not see that the original number was an 8. I guess all any of us can do is formulate theories. Probably no one will ever know for sure whay this happened, but the number of times that I have seen it leaves my vote still with the factory. In a related but sort of unrelated topic that further causes me to believe that the OC factory was not afraid to use parts that were not quite kosher, I have a number of OC Long Key reels. Most are chrome plated brass. One is entirely German Silver, and I have one that is German sliver with a chrome plated brass reel seat, free spool arm and star drag wheel. These are all of the original Vom Hofe design used on the six hundrd and eight hundred series. I suspect that they started out making them in the Vom Hoff desgn in the begining, but changed and used up remainging Vom Hofe designed parts to assemble as many early Long Keys as they could because the later ones used the traditional OC pull down free spool lever. None of the early Vom Hofe design type that I have owned and have seen had a provision in the reel seat for a rod clamp. Most of the later OC types that I have seen did, though I have one of those that didn't. It is not unusual for a factory of that era to do that. Some gun companies were notorious for using up old stock of a discontinued model that was interchageable with their new revised model of the old one. We have to remember, these products were made either during, or following the Great Depression. People, including factories were not in the head set of tossing perfectly good parts out just because they were not quite kosher, but would still work. We also have to remember that Penn, started by a disgruntled OC emplyee and reel designer was kicking OC's butt at that time with a "watered down" OC design. Another reason not to waste perfectly good stock that had already been manufactured by not needed for its original intention but would work on another model. Again, just my opinion based on my knowledge of the times and what the headset of the manufacturers of the time probably was. I can't prove any of it. I can only put forth the theory.


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