1. This article describes how to fit a Centre Mag Brake Conversion to a flat sided ABU 5500 or 6500. They are a popular conversion amongst many casters and are probably one of the easiest kits to fit. We're fitting a Safelock Centre Mag, which is designed to prevent any possibility of accidental bearing compression, but we sell a variety of centre mag types in the Tuning and Conversions section of our shop and they are all fitted in much the same way. This kit is going to be fitted to an older 6500 Rocket and you can see from the picture above that the ratchet assembly has already been stripped from the side plate retaining just the clicker switch and the housing; you'll see why we've retained these two parts later on. We suggest that you read the complete article before attempting this conversion.
2. These are the component parts of the kit. At the top is the integrated bullet and adjuster which will simply locate in the centre of the side plate, held in place with the captive end cap; you adjust the side play of the reel by adjusting the end cap in the usual way. The Perspex magnet disc locates on the threaded part of the bullet and is moved backwards and forwards to adjust the braking by simply rotating the knob. The small stop pin (right) is fitted through the small hole in the disc and fixed to the side plate. This stops the disc rotating (so it will adjust forwards and backwards) and also stops the magnet disc adjusting too far forward allowing the magnets to contact the spool during the cast.
3. The first job is to remove the idler gear post from the inside of the side plate; this has to go as it gets in the way of the magnet disc. It is simply pressed into a hole in the side plate and is removed by gripping it firmly with a pair of pliers and wiggling it loose until it pulls out. The hole in the side plate will be covered on the outside by the ABU crest so it won't spoil the look of the reel at all and the hole can be sealed with a blob of Araldite on the inside to tidy things up. Many of the later CT versions of the 5500 and 6500 don't have the post fitted to the side plate, if so that's one job you don't have to worry about.
4. If your reel had a ratchet fitted you will have been left with an elongated hole in the side plate where the switch went. If you intend to use the reel on the beach then you will want to close this off to stop muck getting into the reel. You could just block it with tape or a dab of sealant but I prefer the neater and more permanent solution of gluing the clicker switch and surround in place. To do this you should first shorten the length of the clicker switch to about 5mm with a grinder, file or dremmel to ensure that it doesn't interfere with the travel of the magnet disc.
5. Give the side plate, the switch and it's surround a clean with solvents and then simply tape them in place with masking as shown in the picture. I generally position the switch towards the edge of the side plate but it doesn't really matter, just make sure they are taped securely and that the tape seals the assembly from the air as this will stop glue running through any gaps and making a mess of the outside of the side plate.
6. To hold everything in place simply apply a good sized blob of Araldite to the back of the assembly, trapping the shaft of the clicker switch in place and sealing any gaps so muck and dust can't enter the reel. Once the glue has set if you find that the shaft and the ball of glue are still a little too long and interfere with the backward adjustment of the magnet disc you can flatten it down with a dremmel or a small stone attachment on a hand drill.
7. With glue all set this is how the outside of the side plate will look, neatly sealed up against the elements. Its now a good time to test fit the Centre Mag Kit to ensure that everything fits properly and operates smoothly. Follow steps 8 to 12 of the instructions without any grease just to see if any holes need tweaking to get a perfect fit.
8. Make sure the grub screw on the Safelock End Cap is wound right out so it doesn't foul the thread on the side plate, apply a little bit of your favourite reel grease into the centre hole and fit the bullet/adjuster into place. The lubrication here only ensures the smooth adjustment of the brakes and plays no part whatsoever in the casting speed of the reel so it will do no harm to use grease rather than light reel oil which will soon need replacing.
9. Although not essential I like to add a little reel grease to the thread of the bullet as I think it keeps the disc adjustment a lot smoother. The Perspex Magnet Disc simply screws onto the threaded part of the bullet. Hold the disc so it doesn't revolve and then gently wind it back as far as it will go using the adjuster knob on the main assembly. If your reel had a ratchet line the hole in the disc up with the 3mm hole that originally housed the ratchet post and you are ready to fit the stop pin. If your side plate does not already have the small hole then simply use the hole in the disc as a guide to mark the required position of the stop pin hole and then drill a 3mm hole in the side plate. Make sure you carefully clean any burrs from around the hole before you fit the stop pin otherwise the pin may not sit square and will catch the disc when you adjust the braking.
10. Again not essential but I like to lubricate the stop pin with a smear of reel grease just to keep everything smooth. Drop the pin into the hole in the disc and then secure it to the side plate with the stainless steel screw provided with the kit. Wind the disc backwards and forwards a few times to check that everything is nice and smooth; assuming the pin is square to the side plate (if not see the previous point about burrs around the stop pin fixing hole) and the holes all line up there shouldn't be any problems. If there is any sign whatsoever of the disc catching on the stop pin during brake adjustment it will have to be sorted by adjusting the hole on the disc otherwise it could cause serious problems when the reel is in use.
11. Make a mental note of where the disc hole is catching and then remove the disc and enlarge the hole slightly with a gentle round file. Take your time and don't go mad here as an oversized hole is likely to cause just as many problems as one that is too tight. Only file a small amount of material off at a time, fitting everything back together to check if the problem has been fixed and repeating the process until you have got it right. Ultimately (unless you have done something seriously wrong) you shouldn't have to do too much filing.
12. Once you are happy with the fit of the stop pin and the smoothness of the adjustment you can fit the pin a bit more permanently. Although the stop pin fixing screw will generally not come loose if you wind it up tight enough I prefer to play safe; there's nothing worse than having a reel put out of action for the want of one little screw. A couple of drops of Lock'n'seal on the screw thread will avoid the risk of you having to paw about on a dark beach looking for an escapee screw.
13. A final view of the kit from the inside properly fitted and all working smoothly. Before moving on take the opportunity to remove any excess grease and double check that all dust and filings from the fitting have been removed. You can also see where I have sealed up the hole left by the removal of the idler gear post with Araldite in this picture (see 3 above). If you wanted to be flash, you could also add some foam or rubber pads to the inside of the side plate to cushion the disc when it is fully wound back but I personally don't bother as I think they just collect muck and end up becoming a liability.
14. The final part of the job is to refit the side plate to the reel and set the end cap. Lubricate the inside of the bullet (where the spindle locates) with either grease or reel oil and then slacken off the Safelock End Cap about two thirds back on it's thread (make sure the grub screw is still wound right out). Refit the side plate with it's three screws and then centre the spool and adjust the end float in the usual way. Spin the reel up a few times (with the magnets adjusted off as far as they will go) to make sure you are happy with the settings and then tighten the grub screw on the Safelock End Cap to ensure that you cannot accidentally tighten the spool tension when adjusting the brakes; don't go mad otherwise you will damage the side plate thread, slight tension is all that's required to lock the end cap. Your reel is now ready for the field or beach.
15. The finished kit from the outside (I can't show what the kit looks like on the reel as I only have the customer's side plate, he will finish the fitting process himself on receipt of the modified side plate). As I mentioned before the Safelock End Cap removes any possibility of accidental bearing compression and if you happen to be a bit heavy handed during brake adjustment the Perspex Magnet Disc is designed to be sacrificial and break before any serious damage can occur to the reel or the kit. If you want any of our Mag Brake Conversions fitted to a reel (or side plate) or have any questions about any aspect of this conversion or the parts used please email us via our Contact Us page.