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Recently reintroduced by Penn, here’s how to stretch the life of this workhorse and make a good reel even better.
By Ralph Vigmostad
A modified Penn 706Z ready to fish.

The Penn 706Z has been a popular reel among surfcasters in the Northeast for many years. It is dependable, easy to disassemble, and not pricey, with readily available parts from Penn and local tackle dealers. Fortunately Penn has reintroduced this reel, and with proper care, your current reel can remain serviceable for many years to come, and parts remain available. In this article, we’ll cover the lubrication of ball bearings, adding counter weight to the rotor cup, how to construct a new side plate, and drilling out the spool and rotor cup.

The 706Z has three ball bearings. The main pinion bearing takes most of the abuse but is easily maintained. You will notice that the original bearing from Penn has a metal shield on both sides. These are not needed and must be removed and discarded. This will facilitate the easy and thorough lubrication of the ball bearing. The shield you have just removed is actually useless. No piece of sand or grit can get past the reciprocating spool shaft and the rotating pinion bearing housing. The photo shows the bearing with the shields and shield retainer ring removed. Not all bearings have the retaining ring; some seals are press fit. This operation will require damaging the shield but it is to be discarded anyway.

Now we have an open ball bearing that can be greased easily and the best way to do this is shown in sketch A. Purchase a cartridge of auto chassis grease, preferably one with a lithium base and superior clinging properties. Now you must construct a disc with a diameter to just fit inside the grease cartridge, about 2 inches and a middle opening of 3/4-inch. This disc can be made of 1/4-inch Luan plywood or Masonite. With the grease cartridge vertical, place the ball bearing over the 3/4-inch hole and place a 1/2-inch wooden dowel in the middle of the bearing. Press down firmly on the wooden dowel. The old grease is forced upward and out, and the new grease is injected into your bearing.

With normal maintenance this cartridge will last for decades. If eventually a new ball bearing is needed, you will save money by buying it at a ball bearing distributor, such as Beardslee Transmission. They are in Long Island City, Mineola and Hauppauge. It will cost from $7 to $11, depending on where it is made (China or France). It will come with a non-metallic shield, which is easily removed and discarded. This pinion bearing is a standard #R6ZZ. It is also used in the Penn 704, 750 and 850SS reels. The smaller gear ball bearing is not standard and will probably have to be purchased from Penn. The roller ball bearing is a standard SSR15632 and is also used in the Slammer reel and the 950SS. A 7-millimeter wrench removes this bearing, which should be oiled regularly.

On the Penn SSM spinning reels, the term “techno-balanced” rotor is featured. This was not done on older models such as the 706Z. If you hold the 706Z in your hand (not mounted on the rod) and spin it fast, you will notice a slight wobble. It’s no big deal, but this article is aimed at the perfectionist. Take note of the photograph. The cup is balanced from a center nail. It does not lean or fall in any direction. This cup has added weight installed by me. Without the counter weight, the cup will lean toward the roller side.

Sketch B shows how to fabricate this counter weight out of 3/16-inch thick aluminum. It is installed over the existing counter weight in the rotor. It is held in place by two screws, 6NC32, stainless steel, flat head, 3/8-inch long. You will have to drill and tap the rotor cup. A drill press is almost a necessity. Do not drill this hole too deep. A 6NC32 tap will be required. The aluminum plate can be fabricated on a bench vise with a hacksaw. Finish with a crosscut and mill bastard file (1/2-round file for the inside). Do not use aluminum thicker than 3/16-inch, as it will interfere with the reciprocating motion of the spool.

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