Penn 85 Full Bake-lite Reel

1950's Early Penn with reverse lock
Credit: My Collection

Fishing is one of my many and favorite past times. But as with most hobbies, there comes a time when the tackle needs updating, lures need replacing and reels need to have the line replaced. Many anglers want the “Latest-greatest” fishing equipment. With the economy where it is and priorities placed on funds, it became important to make frugal choices when it comes to my fishing gear. Then I happened on a fishing specialty shop that had a large stock of old reels.

Antique and classic fishing equipment has a large number of collectors with an even larger number of reel manufacturers that have gone by the wayside. Keeping this in mind it is important to decide which reels to specialize in.

The sickness started for me when some of my spinning reels were not operating properly and needed overhauling. In a short time I became proficient at working on them and moved on to open-faced bait-caster fresh water reels. I was informed by the specialty shop that the reels I thought of as my favorite casting reels were antique. I never thought of them that way, after-all I purchased them new and have used them for years. It was the “years” part I never really considered. Now I understand that my Penn spinning reels, Daiwa Pro-caster‘s along with my Ryobi bait-casters are considered collectables and outdated.

I never really worried about owning the “Latest-Greatest” fishing equipment, so I continued to teach myself how to work on reels. I would purchase old reels that were no in working order and challenge myself to restoring them to working and in like new condition.

Then I started on old Penn reels, the really old reels the ones with “Bake-lite” side plate’s spools and crank handles. I restored Penn 60’s, 77’s, 80’s 85’s 150’s, 180 and 350’s. They were fun and looked really nice when I finished. But I needed more challenges, and it wasn’t long before I moved to the larger salt water deep sea reels; The Penn long beaches and soon I found myself working on Penn Senators.

Penn Senators, the mac-daddies of the saltwater fishing. These were the reels I learned to fish with when I was twelve. I was like a kid in a candy shop when I picked up my first Penn Senator 3.0 112H. I paid $15.00 for it, crusted and covered in green salt corrosion, and locked up completely inoperable. The shop-keeper thought I had completely lost my mind when I asked him for a price. However after only three hours, I had completely disassembled it and had almost all the corrosion and pitting removed. I started putting it back together. It took me three or four tries but soon I had the drags figured out and the reel was fully functional. When I took the reel back to the shop, the man simply shook his head in disbelief and back to the Old-Reel Bins I went.

I now have a complete collection of saltwater deep-sea reels ready to go. But more so is the pride and satisfaction with the knowledge that not only did I do them myself, but a piece of history was saved and can be used again for its intended purpose. I have Penn 4.0’s, abd 6’0s on Senator Rods as well as a 3.0 a 4.0 and 6.0 hi-speed Senators waiting patiently as I search for their rod counterpart. In time I would like to have the complete collection of Senators from the 1.0 to the all-illusive 16.0 but for now I enjoy working and maintaining the reels I have.

I still dabble in large surf-reels like the Daiwa BG-90s, and the Penn silver series surf-reels used on my 14’ ugly-sticks, but the big boys, the Penn Senators will always be my favorites to work on and fish with as my Love of Penn Reels continues.

SA Lawrence

Penn 85 Full Bake-lite Reel

Bake-lite was very popular in the early production stages for Penn. Many of them featured Bake-light side-plates and spools, but few were made completely of Bake-lite as pictured here.

Penn 160 dissasembly
Credit: file

Here I am removing the Handle lock screw with a #2 Flat-head driver. Using the wrong tools can result in damage to the screw heads, bright-work, and the side plates.

Penn 4.0 Side Plates partially disassembled

Here the Side-plates are partially dis-assembled and post removed.

Deep sea reels

6.0 114H, 4.0 113, and 3.0 112H

Penn Senators the Mac-daddys of Penn
Penn 9 and 109