Pushing Fishing Reels to the Extreme

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Quantum Smoke S3 PT

Quantum Smoke S3 PT

When buying new products, such as fishing reels, it is reassuring to know that they have had to meet many criteria of reliability and endurance before appearing on the market. No one wants to spend hard-earned money on items that are disappointing, under-performing, and may break in the short run. When you turn the handle of a reel that works well, you can not imagine all the design and manufacturing work that it took to get to that finished product.

I recently went to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the home of Zebco Brands with a group of specialized journalists to visit the lab in which this company has invested millions of dollars. The engineers and technicians who work there have developed a host of mechanical and robotic stations to test the reels of Fin-Nor, Van Staal, Martin, Rhino, Zebco and Quantum brands entrusted to them.

As part of the launch of the new Quantum PT reels (acronym for Performance Tuned) the designers wanted to show us what kind of test batteries the Smoke S3, Vapor, Accurist, etc. reels had to endure in order to carve out their place in the sun on the merchant displays.


Test 1: General Endurance

Pt Test Lab General Endurance Test

The first step is to simply rotate the handle of the reel, with a load of 2.5 kilos or more. During our visit, the Smoke S3 that was on the machine had largely exceeded the milestone with 1,800,000 revolutions. We were all very surprised by this performance. After a question on the subject, the head of the media tour laughed and showed us a middle-class Quantum reel that a customer had returned for verification. He candidly admitted to having completely forgotten it on the machine and when he realized it, the computer indicated more than 16,000,000 rotations. According to him, the gears were getting tired, but it was still functional. As soon as these manufacturers exceed one million rotations, it proves to them that the majority of fishermen will never regret their investment


Test 2: Thumb Bar Durability

The purpose of this test is to confirm the correct operation of the thumb bar and spool locking mechanism and demonstrate their resistance to wear. The robot presses on the thumb bar and the motor immediately turns the crank to reactivate the spool and the gear. This operation will be repeated at least a million times.


Test 3: Smoothness

To be effective, a brake must work uniformly and smoothly without jerking or binding. The machine involved in this series of tests constantly pulls the line off the spool and analyzes how the braking system reacts in the short, medium and long term.


Test 4: Salt and Humidity

Although there are many reels dedicated to saltwater fishing, the laboratory officials expose all models to extreme humidity baths at a temperature of 95°F with a high salt concentration. On-site scientists can analyze, the expansion and contraction of certain parts, the impact of corrosion and the deterioration of the finish during initial examinations. The Smoke S3, intended for fresh water, stayed for two weeks in this hostile environment and was still functioning normally afterward.


Test 5: Sound Chamber

Although these specialists can detect the various anomalies visually and manually, they also use an acoustic chamber in which they rotate the handle of the reels to identify any suspicious sounds emitted by the rotor and the gears.


Test 6: Use and Abuse

At this step, the technician applies a 10 pound tension directly on the spool. A small motor turns the handle at least 500,000 rotations. They can see how the gears react to this incredible test. They can also check the resistance of the body and the feet of the reel. If they are of poor quality they will break or twist. The Van Staal in this picture made more then 900,000 rotations.


Test 7: Pushing The Limits

This is the most vicious trial in my opinion. The reel brake is tightened down and then a belt is connected, one end to the reel and the other end to a motor. It is then rotated for several hundred hours, at variable speeds, as if it were in an endless battle with a trophy fish. The engineers then check the strength and resistance of the braking system, the CSC washers, the audible clatter of the spool, the rotor and the shaft.


Test 8: Thermo-Reaction

For this test, they place the reels in an oven at 82°C (180°F) to recreate the same kind of environment when an angler leaves a reel in a car trunk on a sunny day with extreme temperatures. After that, they transfer them to a commercial cooler at -34°C (-30°F). In each of these conditions they can validate, after these thermal cycles, the smooth operation of the reels and that the Hot Sauce lubricant is still performing efficiently.


Test 9: Torture Chamber

To verify the solidity and the resistance of the external components, the engineers placed a few reels in the steel barrel of an old Kenmore dryer machine for 60 minutes. Despite few obvious scratches, the new Smoke S3s were working just fine.

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