Conroys Maker Reel with Agate-Lined Bearing Sleeves

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David Lehmann
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Conroys Maker Reel with Agate-Lined Bearing Sleeves

Post by David Lehmann »

At ORCA/COVID Nationals, Joe Scheer was kind enough to sell me a Conroys Maker S-handle reel. This is one that fills a gap in my Conroy reel collection, so I was thrilled. The reel had an uneven, blotchy, patina and was very tight, but I thought it would clean up nicely.

I got around to cleaning it a few evenings ago and was surprised and pleased to learn that all bearing sleeves in the reel (spool and handle sleeves) are lined by polished agate. I've never seen this in a reel before. After cleaning and reassembling, the reel is incredibly smooth with no handle or spool play. It operates comparable to the finest Kentucky reels that I have.

Has anybody seen agate- or jewel-lined bearing sleeves in other reels?

Here are some pictures of the reel after I cleaned it up and of the agate-lined bearing sleeves.






Exterior of the headcap, showing spool and handle bearing sleeves.

Interior of the tailplate, showing spool bearing sleeve.
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RonG
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Re: Conroys Maker Reel with Agate-Lined Bearing Sleeves

Post by RonG »

Hey David, I haven't seen the jeweled journal bearings on a NY style reel before. It's usually seen on the higher cost Talbot , Milam and Heddon 3-30 reels.
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David Lehmann
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Re: Conroys Maker Reel with Agate-Lined Bearing Sleeves

Post by David Lehmann »

Ron,
Even with Kentucky reels, I don't think I've seen it in the handle sleeve. Also, with Kentucky reels, it's typically sapphire. I don't think I've seen agate used before for a bearing sleeve. I guess they could be garnet, but they are sort of opaque. I'm really perplexed by this!
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Re: Conroys Maker Reel with Agate-Lined Bearing Sleeves

Post by Paul Roberts »

Very cool. A beautiful reel too. Was this made for casting?
ORCA 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024
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David Lehmann
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Re: Conroys Maker Reel with Agate-Lined Bearing Sleeves

Post by David Lehmann »

Yes; heavy freshwater to light saltwater casting reel from the 1840s to 50s. Like the Kentucky reel makers, John Conroy was driven to produce reels that casted further and with less hassle than other reels that were available at the time. Tom Kerr published some neat article in The Reel News about 20 years ago that include some of Conroy's statements.
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Re: Conroys Maker Reel with Agate-Lined Bearing Sleeves

Post by Fenndango »

It's incredible how old some of the reels are!!!
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Re: Conroys Maker Reel with Agate-Lined Bearing Sleeves

Post by kyreels »

We know that early tournament casters (pre-1900) were casting 1.5oz and 2.5 oz sinkers in striper casting events. It would be total speculation as to what reels they used, but casting for stripers and other salt-water fish was done and likely dominated by NY Reels. Since distance and accuracy was the goal, these jeweled reels would have been an advantage. Seems very rare. I have never seen a KY reel with jeweled sleeves.
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