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Mvskoke

Old ABU 5500c upgrade or buy new

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Have a old 5500c that im wanting to put on a 10ft steelhead rod to toss small 1/2oz to 1oz bucktails and poppers at tailwater stripers. Would it be worth my time and money to install ceramic barring and new drag washers or buy a 5500 c3. Thanks have a great day.

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Just personal preference, but I'd always go for the old reel. All things being equal, if you're going for hybrid ceramics, you'd have to do that with the c-3 too, as well as a ball bearing level wind and idler, carbon fiber drag disks and so on. 

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OK, your present reel is already a "C2", the third bearing in the C3 is the Instant Anti Reverse - replaces the AR dog in the previous reels such as the one you have. BUT - the 5500C has a whole lot less drag washer surface than the 5500C3 - 2 plastic washer stack vs 4 - and the top three in the C3 are Carbontex not plastic. Having said that I would still replace the stack in a 5500C3 with a Smoooth drag set (see fleabay) because the upper 3 are bigger than the Abu version and the replacement for the lower one is Carbontex - not plastic and a larger surface also (my calcs tell me you get about 20% more Carbo surface than the Abu set). I am assuming you are capable of stripping, cleaning, relubing and rebuilding the reel you have - see "Alan Tani" if not - and a digital camera is your friend as you disassemble regardless how experienced you are (it can be a long while until those replacement parts show up and our memories fade). You can soak/clean the bearings in acetone and see if they turn quick and smooth - if not good Abec 7 stainless bearing are cheap - ceramic if you prefer, The carbo set for a 5000C is cheap also. If you are targeting small stuff a rebuild would be cheap and a learning experience. If that does not appeal to you post a WTB in the BST forum for a 5500 or 5600 C3 or C4. BTW you need time in and 15 contributive posts to get into the BST and be very sure to read the rules posted at the top of the BST forum before you post - they are, for very good reasons, strictly enforced.

Welcome Aboard and Good Luck

Puck

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As I get older my opinions are migrating from "fix the oldie" to fish the current model 5500/6500C3.

The curent models with the bent handles have 3 ball bearings and the A/R roller bearing. There is absolutely nothing "wrong" with a new out of the box ABU. The spool bearings are excellent (same quality and part number as for the past 30 years). The carbontex drags are more than adequate for the size of the reel. If you ever wear them out you can get the "better" drags if you want.

I've been fishing my 6500C3s a lot and couldn't be happier. 

There is hardly a measurable weight difference in the 5500 and 6500. I use the clicker/alarm feature of the 6500 and have modified my 5500 with the same clicker.

You have a choice of retrieve ratios: C3 = 5.3-1, C4 = 6.3-1

 

To answer your question-

Buy the new 5500C3, you can rebuild it in 20 years.

I think you can cast further with a 6500 due to spool dynamics.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

 

I would do is go ahead and buy a ‘Made in Sweden’ Abu Ambassadeur (Note - the models that end in “S” such as the 5500S / 6500S are NOT made in Sweden and are of low quality).

You will enjoy using the new reel and have many years of good fishing with it too.

Also, give your old reel a basic service (clean and lube). You may not need to replace the ball bearings with ceramic or any other - just clean them out in gasoline, dry them and lube them with oil. Provided they are not corroded and still spin freely. You can test them after cleaning with gasoline and drying them, before oiling, by wedging the bearing into a sharpened pencil point and then spinning the outside race. 

Clean out the drag washers too – wash them in gasoline, dry them and refit them back in. They may still have lots of use left. If they are worn out or damaged then replace them with the newer carbontex drag washers.

Clean out the levelwind mechanism and lightly oil it.

Put a bit of grease on the gears.

My old 1970’s Ambassadeurs still cast well (far is relative, but I would say far enough to catch fish) with the original ball bearings / bushings and not upgrading the levelwind.

This exercise will help you to know the insides of the reel and if you wish to upgrade with aftermarket parts later it will make doing so easier.

Just my 2 cents with. Keeping things simple often works.

Edited by Mangrove Jack

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I would fish the old model.Parts are still available.These are some of the most durable baitcasters ever made.In my opinion more bearings are not better.Seems like they cause a lot of trouble.The trend nowadays is the more bearings the better the reel is.Sure you can get more distance more drag with a newer reel but is it nessasary.The one you have is a classic made by the boys in Sweden when quality counted

 

 

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20 hours ago, chrisham61 said:

I would fish the old model.Parts are still available.These are some of the most durable baitcasters ever made.In my opinion more bearings are not better.Seems like they cause a lot of trouble.The trend nowadays is the more bearings the better the reel is.

 

 

Exactly, more bearings spell more trouble and more maintainence. 

 

20 hours ago, chrisham61 said:

Sure you can get more distance more drag with a newer reel but is it nessasary.The one you have is a classic made by the boys in Sweden when quality counted

 

 

A well tuned old Ambassadeur with the external spool bearings will give you similar distances as the newer reels. In real fishing conditions especially plugging one may not be able to tell the difference. In fact my old Ambassadeur with brass bushings casts as well as the newer ball bearings ones do. 

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No reason to save something that doesn't wear out.If he fished enough to wear this reel out I am sure he would not have to ask this Question.I have been trying to wear one of these out for about 40 years .I think it is probably me that will wear out first.

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