Restoring My Dad's Old Handline

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Gathering' started by Ahnkochee, Dec 28, 2016.

  1. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    I was going thru some old boxes in storage, and came across my dad's old fishing handline. This handline is at least 10 years older than me, purchased by Dad when he lived in post-war occupied Japan. He was one of the first American troops landing in Japan after the surrender in September of 1945. He landed in Aomori, Japan (directly from Manila, Philippines), and was in charge of disposing of the weapons of war in that area. About 6 months later he was transferred to US Army Headquarters in Tokyo. He liked it so much there he wound up staying in Japan for 21 years until 1966 when he was transferred (kicking and screaming) to Hawai'i. Anyways being a New England Yankee with fishing and dories in his blood he bought a house near the beach in Chiba, Japan in 1949 and had a local boatwright make him a rowing dory which he kept on the beach. He purchased several locally made wood handline reels which he used to fish from his dory in Tokyo Bay. This wooden handline reel the last of his Japanese made reels he continued to use into my teen years always preferring a handline to a rod & reel. The center pivoting handle was long-gone but still usable as is. It was loaded with about 200 feet of 1/8" tarred nylon twine which I'm guessing he loaded on the reel in the late '60s replacing whatever natural fiber twine that was on it previously. This tarred nylon is still in great condition. I removed all the line (in my truck bed) and went to work trying to restore some of it's previous glory especially the center pivoting handle. Originally these reels contained no metal parts, and no glue held together instead with tight friction fit and wood pins. I used a length of 1/2" wood dowel for the center pivot/handle forcing it into the old holes in frame then pinning them in place with bamboo skewer stick sections then trimmed flush. I used a 4.5" length of PVC pipe as handle that the 1/2" dowel could spin in which is great for paying line out letting the reel spin. I kept the old bent outer dowels of the frame.
    Retrieval of line is all by hand- hand over hand the reel only used as a line storage device. I used 2 nylon washers to prevent PVC pipe from rubbing against the wood frame and a brass cotter pin that I use to keep the handle on. Not 100% restoration but a slight improvement to original design for ease of use. I sanded the PVC pipe rough and coated with brown shoe polish for a faux wood finish. The wood reel itself I coated with an exterior Watco oil in a dark finish I had on had. The old wood really soaked it up good. Tomorrow I will rewind the old tarred line back onto the reel, and hopefully I can try it out bottom fishing in Kailua Bay the next time I take my dory (inherited from Dad) out. Apologies for the long-winded story.
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  2. Haggis

    Haggis Guide

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    Great story, and good to see a family heirloom put but into service,,,
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  3. mjh

    mjh Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks, can't wait to see the photos of you out in the dory with the handline pulling in a wahoo or some other such taste morsel from the deep......I like to use suitable gloves when using a handline....
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  4. GoodOlBoy

    GoodOlBoy Scout

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    I want to thank you for posting this. It's always amazing to see family heirlooms with good stories behind them like this, and always nice to see them being used. Don't apologize for being long winded, this is a great great story. I love military families (being from one) and love old fishing gear and tales (we always did alot of fishing)

    God Bless, and One Love.

    Richard
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  5. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    I loaded up the reel with the original tarred nylon line and tied on a heavy duty snap barrel swivel at the tag end (after picture taken). Can't wait to give it a try.
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  6. halo2

    halo2 Scout

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    Neat restore and great story.

    Looks a lot like the ones we used as kids in New England, except for the handle type rod. We were usually fishing for cod and flounder with bait dug in the mudflats.

    Good memories.
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  7. southron

    southron Scout

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    Thank you, I enjoyed reading it.

    Amazing the history families have that need to be preserved and written down for later generations.

    Jim
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  8. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    Aloha guys, Mahalo for all the positive feedback. I wish I took a "before" picture of it. I think I have a picture of one of my older siblings fishing with it back in Japan in the early '60s, gotta dig it up and post it.
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  9. Subdood

    Subdood Ex-bubblehead Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    That is just cool. Can't wait to see what ya catch with it!
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  10. wmulder01

    wmulder01 Tracker

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    Amazing story and bit of history, thanks for sharing

    Sent from my SM-J700T using Tapatalk
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  11. Gii shi kan dug

    Gii shi kan dug Supporter Supporter

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    Very nice, cannot wait to see what you may catch on it.
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  12. highlander

    highlander Supporter Supporter

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    Looks like a project for this week. I have some wooden dowels and some scrap. These could be made using basic hand tools...I like projects like this
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  13. WoodyGraham

    WoodyGraham Tracker

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    Great story and history behind that treasure. Hold on to that reel, it looks like something to be passed down through the generations.

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