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Upgrading Bearings - Shimano Reels, What Is In There Originally

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I am looking into upgrading the bearings on all my Shimano reels with Boca Bearings but want to know what bearings the reels came with from the factory. Is there a way to tell? Is there a stamping on the bearings themselves?

 

I currently have a Chronarch (purchased December 2012), Castaic (5 or so years old) and a Stradic (probably 6+ years old). I have some others spinning reels that me and the wife use but I'm not looking at upgrading those since they are only ultralites.

 

I'm also waiting on BPS to get their new Curados back in stock so I can get one of those so I might upgrade those bearings if it's a good idea. They got 400 in for the Fishing Classic and sold all of them in two days.

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Go to bocas website and look up the reel you want to upgrade. It will list the kit and the bearings needed.

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Size is 3x10x4

 

I've read that the stock bearings are ABEC 3ish (Japan doesn't use the ABEC scale).  The S-ARB ones (corosive resistant bearing) are slightly nicer.

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I checked Boca's site earlier today. I would be about $100 to upgrade the Chronarch, Castaic and Stradic with the ABEC 5 sets.

 

I thought I read somewhere that some of the newer Shimanos come in ABEC 5's but they didn't specify models so I wasn't sure if there was a way to tell by just looking at the bearings themselves.

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I'd be looking at Hawgtech if I absolutely felt the upgrade was necessary. I have several Chronarch Es, and a good flush and lube with good bearing oil gives me more performance than I've needed. I have other reels with Bocas, ZPI, and Smooth Drags. The net gain over stock in these reels is nil over a properly oiled stock bearing. When I think of upgrading reels, I generally look at the drag washers and a CF handle with bearing knobs before I consider a bearing upgrade.

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Thanks, J Franco.

 

My plan was to do a thorough cleaning tonight on all my reels, including soaking the bearings in some acetone or lacquer thinner, then rubbing alcohol and reoil.

 

I'll then see how the feel and upgrade if I feel it's needed.

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Bearing upgrades are more of an enthusiast project unless maybe you have to replace a bad one anyway. There are no markings on the stock bearings and I've never been able to get anything more than conjecture as to the specs or ratings. 

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Bearing upgrades are more of an enthusiast project unless maybe you have to replace a bad one anyway. There are no markings on the stock bearings and I've never been able to get anything more than conjecture as to the specs or ratings. 

X2.... :Victory:

 

I have had exstensive talks with a service tech friend at Shimano (not Bantam1).

The stock bearings are ABEC3 used to be stamped but we haven't seen any stamps on my supplies of 3's and 5's.

You will find some of the really higher end Shimano reels (DC's come to mind) that do use 5's in the spool support train.

 

Before I would change any of the bearings in those reels, I would deep clean them and properly lubricate as Mike stated. You will see a giant chnge in the feel and castability.

Also I wouldn't wast any monies on bearings in a spinning reel unless the bearings are toasted, and then only with stock's.

 

Just this service techs .02¢

 

Tight Lines!  :fishing1:

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Most of my Daiwa baitcasters have ABEC7 stainless steel spool bearings. I can't sit here, and with a straight face, tell you that it was money and time truly well spent. The reels cast a little bit better, mostly a case of less effort rather than incredible distance gains. Most of the performance upgrade is used up with increased thumb or braking pressure. You need to be a very experienced caster to realize the small improvement provided by upgraded bearings.

 

You've just had three experienced service techs before me tell you to properly clean and lube your existing bearings first. Do that, and see what happens. You may very well be impressed.

 

Now, a drag washer upgrade(carbontex) and a four bearing handle are both valid improvements. I'd do those before ever upgrading bearings.

 

Your choice of lube for the spool bearings is critical. There are some very light, low viscosity oils available which will yield performance improvements. If you're one of those people who service their reels once per year, these oils are not for you. Use something heavier, and thus longer lasting. You won't get an entire season's performance with any of the really light oils.

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Yup, a proper cleaning and relub might be just what you need to have better results. Much cheaper too.

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Most of my Daiwa baitcasters have ABEC7 stainless steel spool bearings. I can't sit here, and with a straight face, tell you that it was money and time truly well spent. The reels cast a little bit better, mostly a case of less effort rather than incredible distance gains. Most of the performance upgrade is used up with increased thumb or braking pressure. You need to be a very experienced caster to realize the small improvement provided by upgraded bearings.

 

You've just had three experienced service techs before me tell you to properly clean and lube your existing bearings first. Do that, and see what happens. You may very well be impressed.

 

Now, a drag washer upgrade(carbontex) and a four bearing handle are both valid improvements. I'd do those before ever upgrading bearings.

 

Your choice of lube for the spool bearings is critical. There are some very light, low viscosity oils available which will yield performance improvements. If you're one of those people who service their reels once per year, these oils are not for you. Use something heavier, and thus longer lasting. You won't get an entire season's performance with any of the really light oils.

So why continue to do so?

 

With me yes less effort and longer distance. Over a whole days fishing & days in a row that less effort adds up on a body. Some say the less effort adds to better accuracy as well. So less effort longer distance better accuracy for $25. I feel a much better upgrade than having 2 bearing in each knob. There no perfomance gain at all with knob bearings it comes down to a knob that spins for 7 seconds vs 30 seconds and feel. A longer handle can make reeling easier for sure. If had to give up one of them Ill stick with abec7 over 4 bearings in the knobs.

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Really, spool start up effort causing fatigue? I can honestly say that hasn't been an issue for me and was never a consideration when upgrading bearings. My biggest reason to upgrade bearings? Because it's cool to soup up a reel. I don't have any issue with guys popping the hoods on their cars, and showing off mods that don't get you from point A to point B and faster. Just call it what is. If you looked at many of my reels, you'd never know what I've done to them. I like the sleeper look. If you want to add new bearings, go for it. If the five minute swap and expense is worth avoiding the process to get the most out of stock bearings, that's ok too. To say its a must isn't exactly true. Not in my experience anyway, and I've had a few reels come across my desk. In the case of OS bearings, I've never understood why anyone would pay a premium for a sealed bearing, only to remove and discard the seals. Yet they are the most oft recommended bearing. Get a quality shielded bearing, and you'll be in business with a low maintenance, quality bearing.

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As far as soaking your stock bearings, I recommend soaking in Perfect Solution, in a covered jar over night. Scrub any junk off the outside with toothbrush and warm water. Replace in fresh PS overnight, rinse in hit water until thoroughly cleaned. I use a hair dryer on low to dry mine. Give them a gentle spin test, if not smooth, repeat. Before replacing, use a single drop of oil in the gap near the races, gently spin and set on a paper towel for a bit. Put in the reel, but don't wing it full blast, let the oil disperse throughout the surfaces in the bearing with gentle rotation. Next day, and they should spin like crazy. For oils, bantam oil is a good gen purpose, Oust Metöl is a good performance oil, but needs to be reapplied frequently, after 12 hours or so of use.

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To the OP, ghoti wrote a very interesting tune up article that you should find interesting.

http://www.bassresource.com/fishing/supertune-baitcaster.html

He says in the article that it's hard to put too small of a drop of oil on your bearings. When I read that, I bought some needle drop oilers from Brownells. The drop was so small that I put another on my spool bearings. LOL

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That's part if the reason I like to let them sit on a towel for a few minutes. It lets some of the excess drain out. It'll eventually drain out during use, but it can make a mess. If there's way too much, it can get to places it shouldn't.

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I'm with J Francho 100% It's more about just being able to tinker with something.

I have boca abec 7's in a handful of my reels and the gains are hardly noticeable over a properly cleaned and lubed stock bearing. I will say that on my pitching reel is where I saw the most improvement. The easier start up of the spool makes pitching a bit easier but on any reel that I use to make longer casts with, I don't see any real gains.

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As far as soaking your stock bearings, I recommend soaking in Perfect Solution, in a covered jar over night. Scrub any junk off the outside with toothbrush and warm water. Replace in fresh PS overnight, rinse in hit water until thoroughly cleaned. I use a hair dryer on low to dry mine. Give them a gentle spin test, if not smooth, repeat. Before replacing, use a single drop of oil in the gap near the races, gently spin and set on a paper towel for a bit. Put in the reel, but don't wing it full blast, let the oil disperse throughout the surfaces in the bearing with gentle rotation. Next day, and they should spin like crazy. For oils, bantam oil is a good gen purpose, Oust Metöl is a good performance oil, but needs to be reapplied frequently, after 12 hours or so of use.

May be a dumb question but when you say the bearing must be smooth do you mean free spinning? Should you hear the bearings?

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You'll hear it yes. It'll be noticeable louder before you add oil. Just watch it and make sure there is no glitches while it's spinning.

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It's a faint hiss, with no skips.

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Yup, the bearing upgrade is a coolness issue. I do think the one area it really helps with is pitching. Faster spool start up, less effort, same old argument. I've changed about a dozen reels and some see no improvement at all (BPS Johnny Morris sig.) and some were way better Revo MGX. I do agree that a good cleaning and proper lube of stock bearings is probably all you need but there's no cool factor in it at all.

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So why continue to do so?

 

With me yes less effort and longer distance. Over a whole days fishing & days in a row that less effort adds up on a body. Some say the less effort adds to better accuracy as well. So less effort longer distance better accuracy for $25. I feel a much better upgrade than having 2 bearing in each knob. There no perfomance gain at all with knob bearings it comes down to a knob that spins for 7 seconds vs 30 seconds and feel. A longer handle can make reeling easier for sure. If had to give up one of them Ill stick with abec7 over 4 bearings in the knobs.

Well, you and I may just have to agree to disagree. LOL

I continue to do so because, first, the small gain is worth the cost to me. Secondly, stainless, shielded ABEC 7 bearings are whisper quiet when properly cleaned and lubed. That's a bigger deal to me. I believe my reels should be seen and not heard.

It all depends on your goals.If you want all out balls to the wall performance, you're going to do certain things.

What I'm after is smooth and quiet. With that said, all my reels have carbontex drags and polished drag washers. SMooth and quiet. All have 4BB handles. Smooth and quiet. Almost all have SS abec7 spool bearings. Smooth and quiet. Almost all have had a full internal polishing of all moving contact points. Smooth and quiet.

I need three more sets of spool and bearings, and two polishing jobs to complete the set, and than I'm done for a while. (yeah, right) Four Alphas, four Zillions, six Fuegos, a Viento and a TD-Z. I don't need any more reels. These should do me for a few years.

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Thanks for everything, guys.

 

My plan was to thoroughly clean everything first and go from there. That leads me to my next question. What oil and grease would you suggest? I've been using Hot Sauce since I was able to pick it up locally at Bass Pro. Bass Pro also has Ardent oil. Is that a good one to go with?

 

I generally oil my reel a few times a year depending on how much I get to fish.

 

Probably going to open a can of worms but would it be better to use Acetone or Mineral Spirits for the initial soak for the bearings? I have both so I can use either one. I would follow that up with a soak in rubbing alcohol.

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I posted a method to clean your bearings above. You can find Perfect Solution at Lowes.

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Perfect. I wasn't sure if that was something you had to order online or if you could get it in stores. Is that something like Simple Green? I've got Simple Green and Zap citrus cleaner at the house as well.

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It's ten times a better product than either if those. Seriously.

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