Help me find a reel!

edited May 2012 in General
Hi guys,
I recently purchased a sled and 1000' of 300lb line for it. The problem Im having is finding a reel/spool that will hold that much line. What brands and types of reels are out there for my needs? Thanks alot for the info!


  • You need one of these....but you need to make it....holds about 3000 feet of 150 lbs line.


    WW Stratospool Repairs - Tune UP - New String
  • WW! Wow, you're the guy that led me to this site, and you're a PA native as well! I just watched a youtube video that you posted a while back and loved that design. Ive been racking my brain all day on what I can use and how to make one. Im a welder by trade so I didnt think it would be that hard to fabricate something up. I was thinking of making one out of a bicycle but that would be a little combersome and hard to transport, then I saw your rig and loved it. One question I have about it is, where did you find the framing for it and what is it made out of?
    Thanks for the info!
  • The framing for the main bar is 1" by 1" aluminum with a solid oak core.

  • OK, thats what I thought. My dad has a wood shop, so it looks like Im going to have to put him to work! Thanks for the info WW.
  • Although I'm back and forth on which parafoil I should add to my bag, I'm convinced this is the winder I want. Having more money than time at this point in my life I wished I could just flat out buy one. Sounds like a good project for someone.
  • 300lb line is actually a bit of overkill for that sled, which I have never found to need more than 200lb. Unless the wind is strong, you will find the 300lb line drags it down a bit, so you might want to have an alternative.

    Strangely, I find the Super Sled, at 40 sq ft, usually pulls less than the Powersled 24 like the one Sue uses.
  • edited May 2012
    NZflier, I heard that on a couple other sites as well. I was between the PS24 and the SS but with 40sq ft I had assumed it would "have to" pull harder. From what im reading and you just said, Im now seeing that it wont.
    I do have some pretty strong winds here, so I figured better safe than sorry, if I find that it lags too much Ill have to make a switch I guess.

    On another note:
    I started building my reel today! Its a tad on the heavey side, well.... it is heavy. I used 1" black gasline pipe for it. I welded everything up this afternoon and after reviewing some other rigs Ive seen I may want to make a few adjustments to it but nothing major. Now the only thing I have to do is make my reel, which I have my father busy at. Im hoping my sled and line will be at my door tomorrow afternoon, my reel should be close to finished and hopefully I can set everything up to fly.

    PS Thanks for replying to my youtube question earlier, I didnt realize that..... "hey these 2 guys are the same guy" kind of ironic. I think Ive watched all of your videos :)
  • I hope you didn't watch the one where I sang on the soundtrack! I must remember to take that off.

  • WW:
    Of all the Strato Spools I have seen on the web, your is one of the nicest. I also like how you continually try to improve on the design. I am going to be using your design as a template for mine in the near future. A few questions...
    1. Do you feel bearings for the spool are needed or is the standard screw shaft fine for cranking in or letting out line?
    2. Would you save a lot of weight by using screws and nuts for the spool center rather than a solid wood core?
    3. Have you ever thought about creating a removable wood spool rather than the plastic one you originally employed?
  • edited May 2012
    My version, I used a solid plywood core, but ran bolts through it with extra large washers to spread the load. If the wind picks up then winding in under load can put a great deal of strain on the core and side plates. You really need to creat a very robust core with any winder because of the forces involved, which can crush a core and distort the side plates. Search the group for bandage effect, basically each wind of line around the core increases the amount of pressure.

    Stratospool 2011-11-16_00001 by Barry Carpenter, on Flickr

    Stratospool by Barry Carpenter, on Flickr
  • Where did everyone buy their wood rotating knobs?
  • This does not answer your question directly; however, I have successfully used skate wheels as handles. The ball-bearing mounted wheels make for a nice handle on kite reels, including the stratospool.

  • edited May 2012
    Per the questions above, see responses below. Sounds like a few "kite reel stratospool" projects underway.

    Few notes/comments: The stratospool I use is set up for heavy duty service (high wind, lots of flights, built like a truck, comes apart to fit in carry on or checked luggage). Not everyone has these requirements.

    See the following sets for a few examples.
    Set 1

    Set 2

    Set 3

    Set 4

    Youtube video showing the WW Stratospool in action.

    1. Do you feel bearings for the spool are needed or is the standard screw shaft fine for cranking in or letting out line?
    - I have experimented with a few ball bearing arrangements around the main axle and have gone back to simple nylon spacer for the main load bearing.

    2. Would you save a lot of weight by using screws and nuts for the spool center rather than a solid wood core?
    - I have made a few "air core" stratospools with just the main bolts (8) taking the load....worked fine for light to medium wind....heavy wind...the bolts bent in (all 8!). Now using wood cores.

    3. Have you ever thought about creating a removable wood spool rather than the plastic one you originally employed?
    - Yes - have experimented with both the halo spools as you note (but they failed under stress). All of my wood spools are interchangable with my stratospools. Currently I have 2 set up for 90% of my KAP flights with 150 lbs line. I have two other stratospools set up with light weight line (50 lbs) for some of my nano KAP flights and just fun kite flying (which I actually do more of than KAP).

    I have a few new ideas that are on the drawing board....most likely will not see my shop till 2013....been busy with real world work...



    Wind Watcher Stratospools for Kite Line
  • edited May 2012
    A few months ago, after losing a nice Delta when I couldn't adapt to a rapidly changing wind condition, I decided it was time to build a Stratospool. On only my second outing after constructing the device, I was quite glad I had taken the time to do it, as I ended up needing to get the replacement Delta out of the way of Marine One while KAPing in Washington DC. It would have been much harder without the reel.

    I must say I was extremely grateful for all the time and documentation put forth by WW, especially in this long thread. Be sure to check out his short video demonstrating the use on the Stratospool.

    I also found this site useful, which gave some basic dimensions of the original, commercial Stratospool. I am still a little surprised nobody sells these anymore.

    For my own iteration, I followed the original design fairly consistently, including leaving the brake lever in the design. I have found this useful, though I understand how others have preferred just using a gloved hand on the spinning real.




    I think my only real innovation was the addition of a brass surface bolt as a locking mechanism. The pictures below show how this engages a routed hole in the edge of the spool side piece. I wasn't sure how well this would work until I tried it out, but I have been rather pleased with the functioning of this alteration.

    lock detail

    lock detail

    I need to add a tie down strap like WW's for anchoring the reel down while messing with the rig, etc.

    In response to a few questions above, I tested out a few wooden furniture knobs bought at hardware stores, but ultimately settled on some simple, flattened spheres from a craft store. There is a rather involved set of hardware in the knob assembly, including the bolt, two bronze sleeves (one with a lip and one without), a lock nut with a nylon insert, and an assortment of washers. I don't have a drill press, so drilling a 2 diameter hole exactly straight though the sphere can be challenging and it helps that they come in bags of 6 or 8.

    I used a solid wood core made of two thick plywood circles nalied/glued together. Though in an earlier test design I had a core made of a solid wood piece that I bought at a big-box hardware store. I think its normal purpose would have been a foot for a large piece of furniture such as an armoire. All I had to do was twist out the threaded rod. This piece was a little heavier than the plywood circles I ultimately used, but otherwise functioned fine.

    I used a carriage bolt without bearings for the main axle, again with an assortment of washers, and capped with a wing nut that can be adjusted on the fly to provide more or less friction as needed. It seems to spin fine without needing bearings. I have the pieces to make a second spool, in order to have a different line weight available, though I haven't made this yet.
  • What its the tapered "handle like" feature on the opposite side of the real that I see on alot of these setups?

    I got my spool started today:

    I have an 11" outter rim on both sides and a 4 1/2" (roughly) diameter hub assembly. Im using a piece of 4" schedule 40 pipe filled with 4" plywood cutouts for my hub, that way theres no chance of splintering with age.

    Im also working on a manual brake design, but thats going to take some time to fab up. If I can put down what I have in my head it should work great, but its no fancy disk break setup ;)
  • The tapered handle is the brake, squeeze this against the main bar to draw the axle back through the axle hole bringing the reel against the brake pads.

    My main axle is a large bolt, using various washers to reduce friction between each part. I used copper plumbers olives pressed into the wood holes as bearings. The nut and bolt have been drilled to take a split pin to prevent the nut working tight or dropping off when winding the line.
  • edited May 2012
    1. How do you make your solid core? Is it made from several pieces of wood or is it one piece?
    2. Why the nylon bushing? Wouldn't it work well without it as long as the carriage bolt was unthreaded within the reel section?
    3. Does the line guide wear the line over time?
    4. Have you ever thought about lightening the spool by cutting holes throughout the spool sides?
  • edited May 2012
    Thanks, thats a good idea for sure. That would be alot easier and more simple than the idea I have for sure! I think thats how Ill make mine now, but I will put a spring between the reel and the frame that way it will stabilize the spool a bit more and it should help keep the axle being pulled in accidentally thus having the brake engaging. I planned on using copper as my main axle tube but wasnt sure how it would hold up with the friction, it is a very soft metal.

    Ive only been at this for a week now (newb) but from what Ive seen all the guys with wood cores are using multiple pieces of plywood, thats how im doing mine as well.
    The nylon bushing acts as a bearing so there as not as much friction on the axle.
    The guide shouldnt have that big of effect on the line. As long as you keep an eye on it and make sure there are no spurs on it, just like the guides on a fishing pole.
    I liked the idea of the holes in the spool as well. But after I thought about it, I dont think it would be a very good idea for me. I kind of figured that Im a little hard on things from time to time and the holes would just act as windows to the line giving it more of an oppertunity for snags, dirt, and moisture to get at it.
  • bourmb: Per your questions see responses below:

    1. I use multiple plywood circles (depending on the size of the Stratospool, 4 to 6 inches in diameter) for the reel core

    2. I use Nylon bushing to reduce friction for the high loads and duty cycle. You can use just wood. I prefer to use Nylon. If they wear out, it is easy to replace (vs. cutting and making a new wood bar). Definitely use an unthreaded carriage bolt.

    3. I use all steel line guides. Holds up well. For several years I used a combination of the U bolt and just wood. The Dacron kite line cut and made groves in the wood. I switched to aluminum cover over the wood but over time the Dacron kite line cut through the aluminum cover also....thus I only use steel. Works great.

    4. I have experimented with cutting holes in the reel sides....did not work for me....The extreme stress from winding under force is translated to the reel core and the reel side walls. Both need to be extremely strong.

    Remember - I fly a lot and sometimes under adverse conditions. Thus I built my Stratospools to be strong, tough and reliable so I can trust them in just about any wind / kite flight environments. I consider my Stratospool my number one safety device for KAPing. Hopefully the average kite flyer will not see these extremes and a less demanding design should work fine.


    - I do not recommend copper tubing for the axle tube - copper is way too soft - recommend Nylon bushing or just the wood.

    - As noted above the tapered "handle like" feature is the Stratospool break. See photo below (from an earlier version). I have since removed the break and just use a bare or gloved hand on the reel edge for a friction break.

    WW Stratospool Kite Reel - How The Brake Works
  • Stop giving me ideas, as now I have a project for a new winder this weekend. A trip to Home depot and I think I have all the supplies to create an imitation strato-spool. Any thoughts on using a bike disc brake? Probably overkill, but thought I'd ask.
  • edited May 2012
    Yea my dad suggested it and I told him it would be too soft, I really would like to put some sealed bearings in it. Where did you get the nylon bushings that you're using for your setup, hardware store?

    Here is the start of my frame...... How do I post a picture and keep my text from becoming a link??

  • Uponthehill-

    I hate to rain on anybody's parade, particularly someone new; but I will anyway. I would suggest that you anticipate replacing your "black-iron" with the time you put a spool and line on the unit and haul it round and round, chasing a kite, you're going to wonder, "why the HILL did
    I build this so heavy.....?"
    To source nylon bushings, you could try Small Parts, online. Better yet try local hardware stores. And I stress, try several; their selections will vary.
    You will find said parts in the small drawers where they sell selections of various hardware and parts. 'Hillman' is the name of one vendor.
    Don't stop now..........!

  • Paul,

    Yea I know its going to be heavy, but for me its the best way to go. I can modify it at any time with materials that I have unlimited access to. Aluminum would be nice but its alot simpler for me to do it this way. The weight wont bother me either, im a rather big guy :). Im sure once this one gets up to par, and I actaully get to use it, Ill figure on ways to make it better and more user friendly. I do alot of fabricating on the job and in my spare time, so I enjoy that part of it.

    I have a local hardware store that has a pretty big assortment of parts like that, so Ill have to make a stop in there soon. Thanks for the help!
  • edited May 2012
    After using the newly aquired Deep Sky Reel, I have to wonder why I would need a line guide on a Strato Spool. Three things I notice about the Deep Sky Reel:
    1. My left hand that is holding the reel cramps up easily.
    2. The reel is smooth as butter, but my kites are small. Any large kite in a stiff wind would be hard to pull in due to the lack of leverage.
    3. Not having a line guide works great. I manage string winding location by slightly bending the spool to the left or right to direct the string that direction. I have to wonder if this would also work well with the Strato Spool, too.
  • edited May 2012
    One advantage of the stratospool, is that using the webbing straps as per WW's video, you can lock off the spool, resting your hands or freeing them both up to play with the rig. This is where the line guide comes into play as it prevents line being pulled off the side of the reel.

    Just a quick re link to Jim's video. YouTube
  • edited June 2012
    Well yesterday we had some pretty big storms brewing in the area.....and what do you know, I finished up my reel :)
    First time flying the super sled was a success!
    I got out there at about 7:00, and the sky were pretty dark.....hmm ben franklin anyone ;)

    The wind was very slow for the first 20 minutes or so and I could only get it about 10' off the ground for about 20 seconds before the wind would die down. Then I had a nice gust and the kite just took off, and the spool was screaming! It went up about a hundred feet of so and was over the neighbors house 2 houses down from me (about 300'). I didnt even have my tail on it and it was as steady as steady could be. After about 5 minutes the wind I felt on the ground was almost obsolete but flight lasted about 15 minutes before I reeled it in to show my wife (who didnt seem to care much). I wish I wouldnt have brought it down because I felt a little bit of accomplishment in myself for building my reel which worked flawlessly. Ive been anticipating getting the kite in the mail, and finishing up my reel to fly the thing and it was definitely worth the wait!

    I cant wait till I have a few more flights under my belt so I can feel comfortable enough to send my camera up with it.

    Thanks guys for all the help and input on the reel ideas!
  • Mine is almost done, just waiting for paint to dry (3 different oil base enamel colors @ 2 coats each takes 6 days) and for the strap connectors to arrive via the brown truck.
    Has anyone thought of modifying the Deep Sky Kite Line Reel from Into The Wind? According to a customer service rep "looks like the core is solid wood - this is not a lightweight item. It appears to be about 3" in diameter"
    At $69 it's kind of expensive but if I had saved all my hardware receipts and valued my time at $1 an hour it may not be so bad in comparison. A bit smaller diameter than I'd like but I may give this one a try for my "version 2".
  • The Deep Sky Kite is a nice reel. In fact, the man who makes them puts his home address mailing sticker right on the outer side. The reel moves as smooth as butter. The only thing I don't like is my left hand holding the reel via the hand strap gets cramped after reeling in 1000 feet of line. I also don't like the locknut that rests in my palm, either.
  • edited June 2012
    Hey UPONTHEHILL - great that you finished your version the Stratospool -- looking forward to picture of the finished product. On mine, I put the inner handle a wee bit further out from the center than normally done, for better torque - use that for light to moderate wind and fast winding.


    Re: the Deep Sky Reel mentioned above... it truly is a thing of beauty, BUT it just cannot be used in strong wind conditions without walk-down technique. Stratospool is a bit heavy duty for really light wind, so a hoop, electric cord winder, or Deep Sky would be fine there.
  • @bourmb and AerialLensGuy
    I was thinking about using the Deep Sky as the base unit for a Stratospool. That would certainly eliminate both the hand cramping and lock nut in the palm problem. It would also eliminate the need to walk down but I'm not sure if it would be up to the tortures I know my home brew kapospool (stratospool) will be able to endure.
Sign In or Register to comment.

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

In this Discussion