Rebuilding a “Very Nice” Shimano Stradic FK Reel – Part 1
Eugene L. 05.13.22
While having the latest and greatest fishing gear is nice, sometimes the newest model of a fishing reel isn’t something you’re particularly looking for. That’s the case for me, I like the previous model Shimano Stradic FK vs the newer Shimano Stradic FL. It’s a personal preference, I find the old Stradic FKs to be a bit more user-friendly for tear down and maintenance. But the problem is Shimano has discontinued the FK line of reels, so I have to look for one on the secondary market.
So after trying to find a 4000 size FK locally for a month, I finally gave in and went to eBay to try to find a used reel in good condition. And after a week of looking around on there, I found one, it looked to be in good condition and was described as “Very Nice” in condition with some cosmetic paint scratches by the seller. The price was just right at $150 with free shipping. They also had free returns, which is super important when buying used gear. You want that option just in case the reel isn’t as described. And in this case, the reel was very not as described.
The reason I avoided going to eBay for a month was because of one reason, you can’t try them out before buying them. Without having your hands on it hard to tell the condition of it besides cosmetically. Even then the pictures arent usually clear enough to tell the full extent of the damage. And this “Very Nice” stradic proved my point. While at first glance it looked fine, the more you looked at it the more you found. The cosmetic scratches in the paint were actually a lot worse than expected. To the point of actually taking groves out of the rotor material.
So yeah it was a cosmetic issue technically, but it definitely wasn’t only the paint being taken off the rotor. But that problem was insignificant compared to the next one I found. After attaching the reel handle back into the reel body, I tried to crank the reel but it wouldn’t budge. I thought oh the line must be stuck and binding under the spool around the shaft. So I take the spool off and find no line wrapped around the shaft.
This is where I realize I have bigger problems than this reel being more beat up than expected. Something is very corroded inside the reel, causing the reel to be bound up and not spin. Taking off the rotor assembly I could already evidence of rust. There were streaks of dried rust and salt coating the inside of the rotor. Digging a little more, I saw the anti-reverse was shot. All the pins and clutch were completely rusted and pitted. So that left me up at a crossroads; I can return it and get my money back or I can try to negotiate with the seller to make the reel worth fixing.
Total Cost – $160 (Reel)
At $160 after-tax, this reel needs to be heavily discounted to be worth rebuilding. So I reached out to a tackle shop first to see the cost of repair and got quoted about $65 with labor. Then I reached out to the seller with this information and I asked if they would be willing to refund back $65 to make up for the repairs needed. If not I’d have to just return the reel. Luckily they were very apologetic and agreed to that partial refund. With that all done, we could get started to rebuild the reel.
Total Cost – $90 (Reel with Partial Refund)
From the initial tear down you could tell this fishing reel had been submerged underwater and then put away wet. The anti-reverse was rusted out, and the pinion bearing was rusted as well. These two parts were probably why the reel was seized up. So under the assumption that this reel has been dunked, it was better just to order a new set of bearings and an Anti-Reverse unit from the tackle shop for this reel. That was an additional $36 with shipping for parts
Total Cost – $126 (Reel – Partial Refund + Parts)
So now waiting on the parts to arrive it was time to disassemble the reel completely and strip the original grease. You can’t just replace the broken parts of the reel, because the rust and salt have made their way into the grease. This will just eat up any new bearings you put into the reel. While I won’t go into exact details on how to disassemble the Stradic FK there are many good tutorial videos out there. But if you do this yourself be very careful and organized, there are a lot of small parts that can easily get lost.
I used an ultrasonic cleaner with Simple Green for the cleaning solution to clean the reel. While you don’t have to go this far to clean a reel, it is easy and cleans very well. If you don’t have an ultrasonic cleaner, you can use a toothbrush, hot water, and dish detergent. Takes more time and requires some elbow grease but works well too. Either way, you go about it, you want to take the reel completely apart. Then dry all the pieces individually. The parts have a lot of small crevices that can hold water. If you don’t dry the parts and assemble there can be corrosion issues in the future.
Now all the parts are cleaned and dried. All there is left to do is wait for the bearings and anti-reverse unit to come in. If there is a chance that you might have an extended amount of time between being able to work on a fishing reel. I recommend having an egg crate for organizing your parts. That way you don’t risk losing a part while you wait. In the case of older reels particularly, extra care must be taken because of the limited part supply.