Group 18 Product Proposal 2013

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MAE 277 Product Proposal: Request to Dissect and Analyze a Fishing Reel Group 18 Christopher Ahearn, Zachary Intrabartolo, Brian Smist, Tyler Szczesniak, Michael Wik


A fishing reel is a mechanical device attached to a fishing rod which is used to collect and store fishing line. Types of reel vary in complexity from the simple fly reel, a single-action reel operated by stripping the line off the reel by hand, to large, multiplying-action reels that can be mounted and operated from fishing boats. We propose to dissect and analyze the more common spinning reel, pictured in Figure (1), a device used by many for both leisure and competitive fishing. We, group 18, formally request your permission to obtain, dissect, and analyze a common spinning reel both mechanically as well as within the greater context of global, societal, economic, and environmental factors. The remainder of this report will analyze the relationship of these four factors with the reel, examine the mechanical complexity of the reel, and highlight our current plan to acquire the reel.

Section 1: The Four Factors

Global Factors

First to consider among our four factors are global factors. As fishing is a universal pastime as well as a source of food for many people around the world, significant consideration must be given to the various settings spinning reels may be marketed and used in. Due to their use in aquatic environments, and due to the large variety of bodies of water as well as diverse types of fish, spinning reel design takes on many different forms in different areas. The size and strength of the target fish must be compensated for with the materials used, gear ratios, a drag system, and varying greases. The environment itself must be thought of as well, as a reel designed for use in saltwater must take into account the corrosive nature of salt and compensate for it, most likely by sealing internal components off. For example, deep sea fishing off the coast of Florida would require a reel with a lower gear ratio which in turn gives more torque for retrieving line. A closed sealed system with grease designed to protect the construction of the reel from the corrosive environment would also be beneficial. On the other hand, for fishing in streams and tributaries, a reel with a higher gear ratio would allow for faster reeling in of smaller fish. The internal components should again be sealed and greased appropriately, although perhaps with a different grease optimized to work in fresh water. The drag, the system that applies friction to the reel to give resistance to the fish, should also be adjusted when designing for a certain size of fish. The effects of global factors on fishing reels are highly diverse, but can be more simplified and elaborated on through that of societal factors.

=== Societal Factors Just like any other product on the market, there are numerous societal factors that must be considered when designing a fishing reel. Perhaps the biggest public influence is ease of use. While “ease of use” is often hard to quantify, reels designed to various degrees of complexity allow them to be marketed to different demographics. Certain types of reels have more components to them which can make them more difficult to operate than others, particularly for beginner fishermen. Because of this, there are different types of spinning reels that allow people of various skill levels to fish comfortably. For example, a child might have difficulty completing the series of motions necessary in order to cast a line on a normal spinning reel, so there are closed faced reels that allow for easier casting. Another societal factor going into the design of these products is safety. Together with ease of use, safety is without doubt the most important design factor. If a product is not completely safe, it runs the risk of not turning a profit. In fact, designing and marketing an unsafe product may result in a net loss for a company due to things like lawsuits. In order to stop that from happening, design teams need to ensure they take care to thoroughly test their design to ensure that it is completely safe. For spinning reels, all moving components must be either appropriately shielded, like the gears contained inside the housing, or be smooth enough to not pose an entanglement or entrapment risk, like the bail. Also, due to the fact that fishing reels are designed to be used by people, care must be taken to ensure that reels are an appropriate weight and come with appropriate instructions so they can be used comfortably without causing injury.

Economic Factors

When viewed in the scope of economic factors, a number of things about fishing reels become apparent. The first economic factor to consider is the market the product is designed to sell in, which in turn dictates the price. As far as reels go, there are three main demographics that they are marketed to. The first demographic, and by far the largest, is the casual fisherman. Fishing is a popular leisure activity across the United States and around the world, and as such there is a large market for low cost, entry level reels. These would be adequate in performance and construction, with no added luxuries to drive the price up. The average casual fisherman would buy a product that works, but would not be willing to pay an exorbitant price for it. As such, there is a huge variety of cheap reels aimed at casual fishers. The second group is that of professional fishermen who fish for a living, not just for leisure. This group would be willing to pay more than the average casual fisherman for an increase in performance and durability. While they would not be willing to pay an exorbitant amount of money for luxury models, they are able and willing to buy higher quality rods to in turn be better fishermen. Finally, the smallest demographic is the true luxury fisherman. Not concerned about the price, these are the people willing to pay high amounts of money for an added degree of comfort and ease of use.

Environmental Factors

Another significant factor involved in the making and operation of fishing reels is that of the environment. Spinning reels are environmentally friendly in their operation, as they do not produce waste and do not require a source of energy apart from the person operating it. However, although the reel does not actively contribute to this problem, pollution due to broken fishing lines is a large problem in many popular fishing places. Designers of reels may take that into consideration when designing and implementing devices designed to reduce unnecessary shock to the line, thus reducing the tendency of the line to break, and therefore the amount of broken line pollution. Also, reel designers may take into account the damage done to the fish itself during the fishing process, designing reels to eliminate unnecessary damage to the fish being hooked by reducing stress in the line. Finally, while using the reel produces no byproducts, eventually the reel itself may break or fail in another way, rendering it useless. In this case, reels should be designed with recyclability in mind, for example, being made of materials that are widely accepted as recyclable as opposed to dangerous or non-recyclable materials.

Section 2: Product Complexity

Our current understanding of the spinning reel is one driven mostly by experience, not in-depth engineering analysis. We know that the rotary motion from spinning the handle is converted to the motion used to wind the line on the spool. We also know that as the line is drawn in, the spool moves up and down to evenly distribute the line on the spool. Finally, we know that the bail wire must be lifted to cast out the line, and that the handle is allowed to rotate freely as momentum unreels the line. Possible subsystems included in the reel are power transmission, cable management, and customization. The power transmission subsystem includes mechanisms and parts involved in converting and multiplying the motion of the handle to the motion of the spool. Possible components in this subsystem are the handle, gears, shafts, and bearings. The cable management subsystem includes parts that allow the cable to be routed onto and off of the spool evenly. Components in this subsystem include the spool itself, as well as the bail wire and the linkages responsible for its movement Finally, the customization subsystem includes the mechanisms and pieces meant to be adjusted so that a consumer would be able to change the feel of the reel to fit his fishing style. Examples of this customization include adding or removing weights to adjust the feel of the rod, and increasing or decreasing resistance on the line. In total, we estimate there to be around 50 individual components inside a common spinning reel. We are fairly confident in our ability to physically dissect a spinning reel, however, due to its small size and multitude of components we may have to obtain specialty tools such as small screwdrivers and wrenches.

Section 3: Product Cost and Ownership

Since spinning reels are common equipment for even the most inexperienced fisherman, several members of our group are already in possession of at least one spinning reel and are willing to donate it to the group. As such, we are planning on obtaining our product at no cost to either our group or the engineering department. Should the reel(s) supplied by group members prove to be inadequate for any reason, our group is prepared to buy a reel as a last resort, splitting the cost among ourselves. As Walmart sells cheap spinning reels in the range of $10 to $20, this contingency will not be a terrible inconvenience to the group. If a group member provides the reel, that member will be responsible for maintaining ownership at the end of the project. If we are forced to buy a reel, we have several options for ownership after the product is complete. The most likely outcomes are for one member to buy out the other group members or for the product to be donated to the MAE department. Should the reel be completely destroyed for any reason during the project, we will take it upon ourselves to buy another one. Our ownership contract is formalized in Appendix I.


We believe that we have presented a succinct proposal outlining our plan for the project. We introduced our product, highlighted its interaction with the four factors, gave an overview of the product complexity, and proposed a plan for obtaining and maintaining our product. We hope that given this proposal, you will approve our request and give us your permission to obtain, analyze, and dissect our chosen product, the spinning reel. From this proposed project, we hope to gain a much more in-depth knowledge of the design process of complex mechanical engineering systems such as the spinning reel.