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Strato-Spool Details

Last updated September 2013

Since the Strato-Spool seems to be out of production, I am including some more photos and details here to explain how it works. In fact, upon reading this web page the original designer was kind enough to tell me a little about the history of the Strato-Spool (see "History" link above).

From the instructions that came with mine, it appears that the Strato-Spool was made in three sizes:

STRATO-SPOOL No. 86.5" dia. spool, 22" long frame holds 1000' of 50-75 Ib line, for kites pulling 10 Ibs or less
STRATO-SPOOL No. 167.5" dia. spool, 24.5" long frame holds 1000' of 100-150 Ib line, for kites pulling 15 lbs or less
STRATO-SPOOL No. 248.5" dia. spool, 33" long frame holds 1000' of 200-250 Ib line, for kites pulling 25 Ibs or less

Mine is the No. 16 model. It consists of 3 wooden components (brake handle, frame and reel) held togther with a 3/8"x4½" bolt. The bolt is secured with washers at either end and a Nyloc (non-slip) nut.

Brake Handle

The brake handle is made of oak, but I assume any wood would work. It's 18" long and about 1" wide on each side, with 3/8" and 1/4" holes drilled as shown. On edge it's tapered from 1/4" at the end to full thickness for the middle 3½". This shape gives the brake leverage to pull the spool tight against the frame when either end is pressed. The fit of the 1/4" dowel is loose, it's just there to keep the brake handle from spinning freely. The 3/8" steel bolt is tightened or loosened to adjust the brake pad/spool clearance.

The Frame

The frame is made of similar 1" square stock (actually 7/8"). It's actually slightly rectangular, but I don't think that matters. It also has a 3/8" hole and a 1/4" inch dowel (glued in place). The ends are held with glue and screws. The bottom actually has the fabric locking loop sandwiched between the handle and frame (see photo below). Two small leather pads are glued on the spool side of the frame and a large metal screw-eye is at the top. (Note: Put a dab of epoxy on the inside of the screw-eye where the hook meets, so the kite line won't catch.)

The spool

The spool is made of some good-looking 5/16" plywood. I think this kind of plywood is known as "Baltic Birch" around here. It does not have any voids. The edges are all sanded smooth. The core appears to be a solid piece of wood, 5" in diameter by 1½" thick. The knobs should be free to turn. Six 2" screws on each side attach the sides to the core.


Click to open enlarged photo in a new window.

Assembled reel:


Close-up of brake pads and holes in brake lever: