Reels are very convenient for most kite flying and quite necessary for high flying where so much string must be let out and wound in again, but an absolute necessity for events where racing is an important feature. Many devices have been used at our tournaments and some have been very clever. A simple and effective reel can be rigged up in a kerosene box. The box is long enough to allow a seat for the kite flyer, a foot brake can be arranged, and an all around satisfactory reel can be made at light expense. Fig. 193 shows such a reel fully equipped. A portion of the top is cut away so as to expose the spool of the reel, it being necessary to see if the line is winding properly, to see if it is nearly off, and to watch for knots or entanglements. A measuring device might also be attached, similar to cyclometers used on bicycles. The end of the box is partially cut away but not the full width of the box, the portions remaining at the sides preventing the kite line from getting off the ends of the spools. The portion remaining should be a little wider than the thickness of the flanges of the spool. The axle will usually be a broomstick owing to the ease with which it may be obtained and being hardwood, is very satisfactory. A piece of pipe can be used but is hard to drill thru for the pins that hold spool and crank to axle, also the holes that take pins on each side of box to prevent slipping endwise. Iron washers are used on the outside of box and between spool ends and inside of box.
Fig. 193. Figs. 194, 195, 196.
The crank is shown in the drawing and needs no special directions. The pin holding the crank to the axle might be a small bolt with a nut, which adds strength in the prevention of splitting of the end of the wood. A good spool for the reel might be found at a hardware store. Chains come on well made spools that are excellent for reels. These can be fastened to axle by slanting pins; nails will answer if they are not left out too far thru the outside of the flanges of the spool; also pins may be put down thru the drum part of the spool thru the axle. In this case small holes would have to be drilled from opposite sides of the drum.
Other drums can be made similar to Fig. 194. The axle is secured to two wooden disks and the center is built up of other pieces as in Fig. 195, or by wooden rods as in Fig. 196.
A brake is a great convenience when letting out string, as the reel sometimes runs ahead of the kite and so entangles the string; by a little pressure of the foot on the brake, the unwinding ceases. The brake should act directly on the edge of the flange of the spool. The lever of the brake would pass thru the left side of the box, not more than two inches up from the bottom, Fig. 197. In case the spool is too short for the width of the box, wooden blocks can be used to fill in the space, but the opening in the end of the box that the kite line passes thru must be no wider than the distance between the flanges.
Another axle that has been mentioned is made of pipe. The pipe can be one inch in diameter, and must be drilled for the pins that fasten the spool to it. A three-eighths or five-sixteenths hole can be drilled near the end of the pipe outside the box, in which an iron rod is riveted with its outer end bent at a right angle. The rod forms the crank of the reel. If one has access to a heavy metal vise, the axle and crank can be made of one piece, Fig. 198. If one wishes the reel to run very easily, a washer that fits the axle nicely can be fastened to the side of the box with two screws, Fig. 199. The hole in the wood should be a little larger than the hole in the washer, thus making the washer a bearing for the axle. I have one that turns very freely this way. The wires running down to pegs in the ground, shown in Fig. 193, are for the purpose of anchoring the reel when the pull of the kite is on.
Figs. 200, 201, 202.
Thus far the box has been the real support, but other frames can be made as well, Fig. 200. The brake is applied at the rear on this reel, and is operated either by hand or foot. The heavy wires are for anchoring purposes, otherwise the construction may be the same as in Fig. 193.
Another way of securing the metal axle to the wooden spool is as follows: Drill two holes thru the pipe just far enough apart to allow spool to fit between. The holes should be just large enough to allow a 16d or 20d nail to go thru. Cut off the heads of the nails, fit in holes with spool on axle, and with good sized staples fasten pins (nails) to sides of spools, see Fig. 201. For the crank, a 3/8" hole can be drilled at the outer end of axle to receive a 3/8" rod bent at one end to form the handle. The end of the crank that passes thru the axle might be threaded about 1 1/4" so as to put a nut on each side, see Fig. 202.
A Large Reel. The two general plans given above are for comparatively small reels. Fig. 203 shows a reel that winds in over four feet at a turn. It has but one bearing, being attached to the standard by a large bolt for an axle. It would be well to have a piece of pipe just large enough to allow the bolt to turn freely and just long enough to reach thru the wheel as a bushing, for this is much more like a wheel. The sides or flanges are made of two ply wood, in one-half of the thickness the grain runs one way and the other half at right angles to it, so that it prevents warping and is not liable to split. There is no real drum, but small wooden rods, or slim bolts, hold the sides together, also apart, and are set about two inches in from the outside circumference. In the drawing, the wheel being 18" in diameter, the bolts or rods are in a circle 14" in diameter. The bolts or rods should be about eight in number. If wood rods, doweling, are used, they would he glued at both ends and no other posts would be necessary, but with the bolts, posts will be needed to prevent the sides from coming together. Four posts will be sufficient. No crank is necessary on this reel as a handle can be fastened to the side of one of the large discs. A brake can be attached underneath as in the last reel. The axle must be made very rigid in the standard as it has to support all the pull of the reel. This is a first class reel for fast work.
Discs can be obtained at some box factories for seven and ten cents apiece for sizes 15 1/2" and 19 1/2" in diameter, respectively. They are made of two ply wood and make good reels. A good way to get the holes opposite is to clamp the two discs together and bore all the holes thru both at the same time. Others make reels very much like our grandmothers' yarn reels. Two arms are halved together and short cross-pieces are attached to the ends, Fig. 204. For speed they are made with long arms and take up a good length of string at a single turn.
Another way of building up a reel is shown in Fig. 205. A square block has fans nailed or screwed to each side. The ends of the fans are shaped out to receive the kite line. The end of the square center piece can be rounded so as to pass thru a round hole of the framework, or a hole can be bored thru the square piece and a pipe or rod inserted as with the others. For heavy work where large string pulling kites are used, geared reels are practical. Fig. 206 shows a picture of a boy and his reel rigged up with a chain drive, utilizing parts of a bicycle. This was devised for speed, but it needs flanges at the ends of the drum. If one wished to put time enough on a reel, he could rig one up out of parts of a bicycle that could be manipulated by the feet. A coaster brake would let out the string and the winding in could be made as swift as any kite would stand. The wheel used for the drum portion would need quite a little modification to prevent the string from jumping off. As the usual frame would not admit of any widening, some additional framework would also be necessary to make it stable enough. If one is going to do much kite flying, it pays to take time to make a good reel, not the last one described necessarily, as that is more for speed, and is not as convenient as a number of others, but a good simple reel is a great satisfaction.