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Kite Reels from McGillís Warehouse

Reviews by Joe Anderson

The reels came within a week and the shipping from Singapore to USA was very reasonable.

KR1, blue plastic, 7.5" $9.08 + shipping. ~9 cu in line capacity

The winding handle locks open and locks closed which stops the reel when folded in, a nice feature. The line guide aligns well and its swing action is nicely controllable to level wind the reel, but it steals some winding space. The ball bearings are a bit noisy, and will bind up if too much tension is on the line as it is reeled in. The handle holes are a bit small for large hands, but I was able to hold it reasonably well with my extra larges. That is only possible because the holding is done on the reel centerline and itís well balanced because of that. It stows very compactly when the reel handle is folded in. Overall, itís a nice reel without serious shortcomings, stores compactly and is very reasonably priced. It would be my pick of this lot for any application that it would have line capacity for. I wound on about 480' of 105 lb. twisted Dacron line.

KR2, Brown plastic 5.25" $3.35 + shipping ~5 cu in line capacity

The handle is too small and offset from the reel centerline, the fixed line guide doesnít align with the reel, and the reel handle screw breaks out easily as it is not anchored well and the plastic boss is too small. See the broken handle in the pix below. It broke from normal handling without even being dropped. Rated a DONíT BUY; itís small and too hard to fix even at this low price. I didnít put any line on it.

KR4, 7" Resin Reel. $9.57 + shipping ~18 cu in line capacity.

The reel sides are fiber reinforced plastic and seem very stout. It is a very nice size for medium size kites. The hub has ball bearings and it is very smooth with a nice action. The plastic cover over the ball bearing on the other side of the reel fell off; needing re-gluing. This is a very good reel with seemingly excellent strength, though probably not up to direct reel-in under high wind conditions. NOTE: all the bolts were loose, and had to be tightened before use. The thumb operated latch on the hub lacks a hold-open feature which makes it very awkward to hold onto the handle and wind in at the same time. I will probably take it off. The black handle is round and offset from the reel which makes it very hard to hold the reel in proper winding position, particularly if the line tension is high. There is a line guide, which is a grommet sliding in a slot. Initially the slot had burrs which prevented it from sliding. After fixing the burrs, I found the grommet position to be unstable on reeling in and so it was very difficult to control leveling of the line. The offset handle made this even worse and it tired my hand excessively. The line guide is probably coming off, too, as it doesnít work and isnít really needed. A swinging line guide like the KR1 is much better. I will probably make a wooden handle parallel to the reel shaft that can be rested against my tummy and make a wood handle for the top end for my left hand. Then this will be a great reel and at this price I donít mind fixing it a bit. I loaded it with 340í of 250 lb braided 2mm nylon line.

This is the KR14:
KR5, 14" Multi-arm metal reel.
$15.46 + shipping. ~30 cu in line capacity

This reel is huge and pretty serious with a smooth ball bearing hub. The reel seems pretty strong but is almost certainly not up to full line tension pulling in high winds. The line holding ďUís" are die cast and the wire ďguards" around the reel are nicely spliced with ferrules, but somewhat prone to bending if the reel is dropped or roughly handled. The line guide is fixed on the reel centerline, but this is okay due to the narrowness of the reel. The handle is plastic, a bit small and offset, making using it a bit awkward and not up to the capabilities of this reel. Better handles like the KR14 (see below, right) will turn this into a great reel with some effort. The price is low enough Iím okay with replacing the handle with something that works well. I loaded 260í of 540 lb braided 3mm Dacron line.


Estimate your required spool volume by taking the nearest higher strength and multiplying your desired line length in feet by the Vol/length, cu in/ft.

McGill's Warehouse Model #DescripUltimate Line Strength (lb) Line Wt on spool (g)Line Length on spool (ft) Est Line Vol based on Measurements (cu in)Vol/length (cu in/ft)
PFL19Polyester twine33200153511.70.008
PFL21Polyester twine49200136811.70.009
PFL23Polyester twine64200106211.70.011
PFL25Polyester twine8820079711.70.015
PFL26Polyester twine10520063611.70.018
PBL2Polyester braid25050074434.70.047
PFL29Polyester twine25420025411.70.046
PBL3Polyester braid54050026434.70.131

Nylon material will be slightly stronger per size, polypropylene much less strong.

October 2010,
Joe Anderson

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