I'm making a replacement reel - now I've made a stratospool at last - now in two parts!

edited July 2017 in Technique
(See bottom of this page for the new stratospool)

I'm making a replacement reel


It's the same style as the old one which has given 7 years of faithful service. We made it in 2008 after seeing them at Appeldoorn Vleigerfeest in 2007 where "everybody" had them and we'd never seen them before.
I'd had to redo the handle area on holiday by putting it on the other edge of the reel. Then I dropped it on Dieppe stony beach which cracked another part of the rim. It still worked but was obviously not going to last much longer.
I'm making the new one a little bigger to make more space round the skateboard wheel in the centre and it will have a bit more leverage too.
I contemplated making a stratospool but like some of you I like the portability of the ordinary reels. I've bought a bigger rucksack which should hold the reel and both Power Sleds (14 & 24) gloves, biners etc
Photos here http://www.ipernity.com/doc/suestorey

Fly High



  • Cool! I think I made mine about a year after you made yours. It's still working, but I've been meaning to make a lighter one for a while. Mind my asking what thickness wood you're using, Sue?

  • edited September 2014
    That's some fine looking plywood Sue has there. She ought to be building furniture ! I use
    "Baltic Birch", still, I think, made in "Russia". Beautiful stuff, about 8 laminates for " 1/2".
    I don't know your ready availability on the island; I would look at wire, rope, cable spools
    etc. They often smile at you from dumpsters.... save me..... they are usually bolted, using
    a " useless-to-us " cardboard core. Ask at hardware stores, lumber yards etc. I have one in
    the barn I could break down and send you but that seems a bit ridiculous...
  • @ Tom
    It's 6mm and is 5ply + the very thin oak veneer which I use as the outside. I'm pretty sure that it's waterproof ply as it took no harm when it went swimming in the R Rhine a few years ago. As I said, the old one has been strong enough for 7 years so I'm using the other half of the same piece of plywood - and the same tin of varnish! Things sometimes the "too good to throw away" stuff does actually get used....trouble is there's so much I have kept which doesn't. See the link above for a photo of the garage.
    I've just done the 3rd coat of varnish and hope to put it together as soon as that's dry today. The only parts of the old reel I will be using are parts of the nuts, bolts and sleeves from the centre and the handle but I'll replace anything which is a straight swop like the actual bolts etc. I'm treating it to a new skateboard wheel and wooden handle. I've seen some reels which use a skateboard wheel as the handle too but they seem a bit bulky but possibly pleasanter to use. I'll use the old design for now but think about replacing the handle when I have more time.
    Good suggestions for sources of ready made reel parts. We used one from the B&Q DIY store for a smaller reel once. I ought to throw it away as parts of it have been used for others . In fact I'll do that as soon as I've finished my coffee.

    Fly High

  • edited September 2014
    I've seen the skateboard wheels used as handles, and almost did myself. I've chosen instead to stick with the handle I scavenged from a Sky Claw (?), a bobbin type line winder from Into the Wind.
    It is essentially a 4 inch long wooden handle, similar to that for a rasp or file. It rolls freely
    on a long bolt attached to the reel crank.
    I like the smoothness of the SB wheel, but don't like winding with my wrist twisted. I find it much
    more comfortable to rest my fingers on, or grab the handle, which is at right angles to the direction
    of travel of the kite line.
    Keeping fingers clenched 'round the wheel, with the wrist turned vertical, seemed like it would
    get tiring real quick.
  • SueSue
    edited September 2014

    Out with the old - in with the newThe finished reel

    I decided to use the Skateboard wheel as a handle as it could be fitted quite easily with a pile of Penny washers making up the difference in size.
    @ Paul
    I like the reel to be fairly compact so it goes in a rucksack. I hope the new handle works better than the small door knob I used on the old reel
  • Beautiful! I really should make one too.
  • Sue,
    Are your fasteners what we carpenters in the states call " sex bolts " , one externally threaded
    parts threads in to another long, internally threaded part ? I am used to seeing them packaged
    with commercial hydraulic door closers, such as would go on to metal " fire-doors", usually in
    a commercial application.
    A big advantage is that the don't have the large profile of the head and nut in a conventional set-up.
    If that is what they are, may I ask where you got 'em?
  • @Paul
    That sounds like mine. There is a photo on ipernity of one unscrewed alongside a ruler and a piece of aluminium tube.
    We bought them at a local car boot sale 7 years ago so that's no help is it?
    I used 12 of them with the tube as a spacer.

    It will be in use tomorrow at Wakefield kite festival. Sunday 28 September 2014

    Fly High

  • Paul, I used those fasteners on my winder. I got mine from Home Depot, though I think it'd be cheaper to order them from a fastener supplier in bulk. Home Depot wanted over a dollar a bolt, if I remember right.

  • Thank you both ! Another source, another idea....
  • SueSue
    edited August 2016
    A couple of weeks ago I started tidying the garage and throwing things away. Now it has a little more space to move in I've at last got round to making a stratospool but without the brake. I'm using the same 1/4" plywood as the last two reels as I (hopefully) won't be flying in extreme conditions like Jim WW does. I do have some thicker plywood if I find I need it.

    My stratospool has a 2cm square aluminium shaft which is 2ft 5" with wooden T ends. I'm going to push a piece of wood down the centre to strengthen the place where the reel is bolted on. I found a cupboard door handle for the line guide which is a two legged T which I will use to tie off the line. I've put this at an angle towards me so that the line will not rub on the wooden T end.(Edit - it does still rub on the wood unless the kite is flying high)
    This part is complete apart from the hole for the spool bolt. (I've not been using my normal saws as I couldn't find them till I'd finished work today then I found then in one of the new drawers)
    In the spring I bought a few bolts of different sizes to choose from. I put them somewhere 'safe' and so will be going back to the shop tomorrow!
    I've charged up the batteries for the jig saw so I can make a start on the reel after the visit to the hardware shop.
    I'd like to have it finished for the weekend as it's Beverley Kite Festival.

    Buy the way, Gerhard and Daniela Zitman are guests at the festival so it will be good to meet them again.

    Fly High

  • Sounds good Sue. Post pictures of the final product!

    Fly high!

  • Sure. And I'll post some of it while in the making too.

    Fly High

  • So, two days later I have all the parts made and even managed to give the wood a light varnish. It won't get a second coat before it it's assembled as it's raining at the moment (good forecast for later and the Beverley kite festival weekend though)

    Fly High

  • Finished. It's looking good. I can fill it with line when I'm at the kite festival. It weighs 1.4kg empty.


    Now I can Fly High

  • Hi Sue,
    very well done

    very fast from the idea to the complete stratospool

    I hope that is only FAST and not FAST AND FURIOUS,....

    SMAC from Italy
  • Thanks Sandro
    There's no wind just now so it is a good time to wind the 300m of line on it.
  • SueSue
    edited August 2016
    I used the Stratospool today and it was good to wind in easier than normal. The wind was stronger at the end if the day so waiting for it to die down a bit and walking towards the kite made it easier too.
    I found two problems with the folding handles. The first was that the pin it folds on comes out so a piece of tape keeps it in. The second was that one of the handles came uncrewed but I was able to screw it on again tighter using the folded handle to tighten it. So far so good.

    Fly high

  • Hanging Grimston 2016 Aug 5 (185)

    I Flew High

  • Looking like a pro! Queen of KAP!

  • Absolutely love it, Sue! Need to make one myself.
  • Thanks for your compliment O King of KAP from the Queen of KAP
    Thanks matthewL Yes you "need" to get making one. It's a definite improvement on the skateboard reel. (I've put a shorter line back on that now)
    I made the handle long enough so my arm is straight if the kite flies high. When the kite is at a lower angle I just hold the bar lower down or have the one on my waist a bit lower.
    I put a big screw eye in the centre of the bottom bar and the belt goes through that as does the string which loops round the inside handle and works ok. The double T at the top is useful if I want to go totally and securely hands free to attach the rig.

    Going to Fly High again soon.

  • Looks great Sue!
  • Sue
    your excellent Stratospool has got me keen on making one. I like the idea of just using bolts for the core - no heavy wooden drum, but I'm a bit worried about the stresses when you wind in line under tension. Have you seen any distortion or being of the bolts?

    I guess given the relatively small amount of line we use here in the UK (no need for the 1000' or more people like Jim use in the US) maybe the stresses won't be too bad.
  • Thanks Mike.
    Dave. As you will realise, I'm not as strong as a man so the pressure I can put on- even on a stratospool - would be a lot less than you could. The bolts are the same as on the skateboard reel and sometimes there was a lot of pressure on it. They never bent. I wait for the wind to drop a bit or, as I said earlier, I walk briskly downwind to take the pressure off.

    Bolt and spacer

    I expect that the aluminium tube spreads the load. They were as exactly the same length as each other as I could make them so all would press evenly on the plywood , through the big washers
    Go for it. If I can make one You can. You really NEED a stratospool Dave.

    Then you can Fly High with ease

  • My stratospool project is nearing completion, It's closer to Sue's design than Jim's - looks like it will weigh about 3.5lbs loaded with line.

  • Well done Sue and Dave!

    Welcome to the Stratospool club.

    Fly high and long!

  • Looks great! I found that the bolt for the center shaft of one I made was making holes in my shirt as I would let out line quickly. I covered it with a piece of rubber hose.
  • Among the bits of work left to do is trimming several of the bolts to size, Larry - the ones holding the wooden bars are too long too. And I've got to fix the waist and brake straps too (you can see them in the parts pic).
  • SueSue
    edited September 2016
    Great project Dave.
    I had the problem with one of the folding rotating handles that the shaft of it broke INSIDE the handle. I now have use the stub to wind in.
    Also the T loop I used for the line to go through fell apart and when I put it together, it cut the line twice before I realised what was happening. Thanks to Jean-Daniel and Patrick and Katia for retrieving my kite each time. I was lucky enough to find two like Dave's at a car boot sale but it works fine without the loop.
    Dave. You might want to put some plumbers pipe insulation round the wood which you press into your body. It's a lot more comfy.

    Fly High with ease
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