Unusual JF & BF Meek Reel

Use this forum to share your stuff so round up your favorite reels! Questions can still go to the Reel Talk - General Forum
Post Reply
User avatar
David Lehmann
Advanced Board Poster
Posts: 303
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2016 3:32 pm
Location: Rochester, NY
Contact:

Unusual JF & BF Meek Reel

Post by David Lehmann »


I was fortunate to recently add this early (1840s) KY reel to my collection. The reel had a Pflueger Summit handle when I received it, and the click spring was broken. The incomparable John Elder built a reproduction handle to the specs of an early Meek & Milam handle for me and made a click spring. (John's initials are on the back side of the handle to identify the handle as reproduction.)

Any JF & BF Meek reel is unusual, but this one has an added feature that I have not seen nor heard described on any other Meek reel: it is built to be fished under the rod. The click button is below and to the right of the handle, if the reel is placed in traditional orientation. I have not seen that click position in any other Meek (or for that matter, any other Kentucky) reel. When I was bidding on the reel, I thought it may be a left-handed model. But the handle screw is set up for right hand retrieval. If the reel is positioned under a rod and retrieved with the right hand, the click can be pressed on with the thumb.
User avatar
Steve
Star Board Poster
Posts: 3944
Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2003 6:11 am
Contact:

Re: Unusual JF & BF Meek Reel

Post by Steve »

But the handle screw is set up for right hand retrieval.
What does that mean?

Steve Vernon
ORCA Honorary member

Book: ANTIQUE FISHING REELS, 2nd Ed.
Websites:
Antique Fishing Reels
Kopf reels
Hendrick reels

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."
User avatar
David Lehmann
Advanced Board Poster
Posts: 303
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2016 3:32 pm
Location: Rochester, NY
Contact:

Re: Unusual JF & BF Meek Reel

Post by David Lehmann »

If you reel left-handed, you work against the thread direction of the handle screw, and the screw will likely back out over time. If you reel right handed, friction between the handle screw and the handle will tighten, instead of back out, the handle screw.
User avatar
Steve
Star Board Poster
Posts: 3944
Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2003 6:11 am
Contact:

Re: Unusual JF & BF Meek Reel

Post by Steve »

I assume you refer to the crank screw that holds the crank (handle?) and drive shaft together, not the screw that holds the grasp (handle?). So all left-handed reels have reversely-threaded crank screws? Here's a left-handed Terry with a right-hand threaded crank screw.

Steve Vernon
ORCA Honorary member

Book: ANTIQUE FISHING REELS, 2nd Ed.
Websites:
Antique Fishing Reels
Kopf reels
Hendrick reels

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."
User avatar
john elder
Star Board Poster
Posts: 8553
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2003 2:44 pm

Re: Unusual JF & BF Meek Reel

Post by john elder »

Steve, your point is well taken that makers never always used reverse thread with left handed reels, but i can tell you this one will unscrew if cranked left handed. The handle screw and washer are made as one piece on this reel and that might contribute to the drag that causes it. Makers got away from doing that, perhaps for that reason.
ORCA member since 1999
Honorary Life Member

Specializing in saltwater reels...and fly reels...and oh, yeah, kentucky style reels.....and those tiny little RP reels.....oh, heck...i collect fishing reels!...and fly rods....and lures
User avatar
David Lehmann
Advanced Board Poster
Posts: 303
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2016 3:32 pm
Location: Rochester, NY
Contact:

Re: Unusual JF & BF Meek Reel

Post by David Lehmann »

Steve,
Something to remember, in the mid 1800s, left-handedness was discouraged. Most children who were naturally left-handed were taught to write and perform other tasks right-handed. This practice continued through much of the 19th century and, in some more religiously conservative settings into the mid 1900s. My grandparents told me stories of teachers whacking kids' hands with rulers if they tried to write left-handed. Pre-1900 lefthanded products were much, much scarcer than they are today.

Can I say for certain that the reel was designed to be used under the rod instead of with the left hand? Of course not, because only the person who ordered the reel and the maker knew for certain. When I bid on the reel, I thought it was left-handed. (I am not aware of another early left-handed Kentucky reel.) But as John pointed out, it seems more likely that it was designed to be fished under the rod, because the handle screw backs out if it is fished left-handed.

For that matter, can you say for certain that your Terry reel was designed to be fished left-handed? It also seems to be most optimally designed to be fished under the rod with the right hand. I'm not sure when the first left-handed fishing reels were advertised, but I'm not aware of advertisements or catalog listings before the 1920s.
User avatar
Steve
Star Board Poster
Posts: 3944
Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2003 6:11 am
Contact:

Re: Unusual JF & BF Meek Reel

Post by Steve »

Can I say for certain that the reel was designed to be used under the rod instead of with the left hand?
David, I think neither of us can. Here are your pics with my grotesquely-drawn arrows showing the direction the crank would be turned while retrieving (left) right-handedly with the reel below the rod and (right) left-handedly with the reel above the rod. And you guys insist the crank screw would unscrew if turned as shown on the right.


But here's something else to consider. The arrow shows a pillar with grooves made by the line after a lot of reel use. We see these a lot in old reels. The grooves are on the top surface of the pillar. Unless the pillar isn't fastened tightly, this suggests to me that the line was on the top of that pillar when the reel was in use. Tough to explain unless, perhaps, this grooved pillar was put in the wrong position during reassembly by the owner.


Steve Vernon
ORCA Honorary member

Book: ANTIQUE FISHING REELS, 2nd Ed.
Websites:
Antique Fishing Reels
Kopf reels
Hendrick reels

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."
User avatar
David Lehmann
Advanced Board Poster
Posts: 303
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2016 3:32 pm
Location: Rochester, NY
Contact:

Re: Unusual JF & BF Meek Reel

Post by David Lehmann »

Steve,
Regarding the line grooves, yes, that is one of the reasons that I initially was thinking of this as a left-handed reel (along with drag button orientation). But John's argument is fairly compelling, and he is right that screw will work itself out if consistently used left-handed. At least it will now. But if it was torqued very tightly prior to 100+ years of use, maybe it could have held. The pillar could have been placed back in the wrong position at some point in the past, but there are not indications that it was. (More importantly, swapping position with the other side pillar still leaves the grooves on the wrong side of the pillar for under the rod.) Maybe the best that can be done is to say that the line grooves are consistent with left-handed above the rod retrieve; reel design is best set up for right-handed below the rod retrieve; and the handle and drag positioning would work with either!
Post Reply