Pawl Testing at Higher Speed

This is the seventh posting in this blog on durability testing of ratchet and pawl materials. Previous posting are:
1. Picture of tester based on a “gearmotor”, 25 rpm (30 May 2010)
2. First results from tester (22 Aug 2010)
3. Retraction of first results; “gearmotor” was unreliable (6 Sept 2010)
4. Retest results with 20 rpm gearmotor (16 Nov 2010)
5. Picture of higher speed gearmotor, 220 rpm (13 Apr 2011)
6. Add two more plastics to 20 prm results (7 May 2011)

So far the tests have concentrated on plastic materials. My first group of reels used Delrin pawls running on bronze ratchets. When I would run a metal pawl on metal ratchet, there would always be excessive wear, but I was using soft and easily machined metals. Another problem with metal pawls was that they were too loud.

I initiated some discussion of materials on Rod and Reel Maker’s Forum. Success with tool steel was reported. However, several factors have kept me from any work with tool steel:
1. The machinability index is very low – important when working with Sherline mill.
2. It would still be too loud.
3. It would have little corrosion resistance.

Seeking a more suitable steel, I have settled on 416 stainless. This is a free machining grade that can be hardened, and has about 13% chromium for improved corrosion resistance. It does not solve the sound level problem. Impact resistance is slightly higher than for A2 tool steel. I have made two sets of ratchets and pawls from 416; the first set was tempered at 700F. Because this temper could lead to “blue brittleness”, I did a second set at 600F. Two recent posts ( 8 and 17 Aug 2011) cover heat treatment.

In this post I report on results obtained with the higher speed gearmotor (220 rpm). It emphasizes impact over friction. Unlike the low speed tester, wear cannnot be easily measured, so I can only make qualitative observations.

Here is the 220 rpm tester, along with some of the test items. My standard test is to run a ratchet-pawl set for 15 hours, resulting in about 6 million impacts on the pawl. When I ran a Delrin pawl on a bronze ratchet, there was no significant damage to either. The Delrin pawl was marked on the flank where ratchet teeth strike, but there was insignificant material loss.

When I ran the first 416 stainless pawl on a bronze ratchet, much bronze debris was created, but there was little damage to the pawl.

When the first 416 pawl was run on the first 416 ratchet, the pawl was eroded (perhaps half of its useful life) but the ratchet appeared to be only polished.

Here is the second stainless pawl (600F temper) before testing. The hardness of this part is Rockwell C 43.

And here it is after a 15 hour run on the second stainless ratchet. The tip has lost material, but not as much as for the first stainless pawl. This suggests that the lower temperature temper may have helped.

I also ran Delrin pawl on Ertalyte ratchet, Ertalyte pawl on Delrin ratchet, and Delrin pawl on Delrin ratchet. The edges of the pawl tip and the ratchet teeth acquired a slightly grimy appearance, but there was no visible wear in any case.

Is pawl wear a problem? Apparently it can be. Here is a photo of a well-used Hardy “Green Princess”.
Photo courtesy of “jhcoffeebum”, used with permission.

I have decided that Delrin is the best choice of the materials that I have evaluated:
1. Lighweight
2. Widely available
3. Corrosion resistant
4. Easily machined
5. Superior wear characteristics
6. Relatively quiet.

Update 13 Oct 2011: It has just come to my attention that the material that I have been calling “Delrin” is actually acetal copolymer. There is a minor difference, read here.

Update 3 Nov 2011: Swedish reel maker Anders has also been using acetal, for ratchet as well as pawl. He has now conducted a test to confirm the material choice. Here is his photo.
Test parameters: 45 ratchet teeth, 220 rpm, 11+ hours.
Wear is nearly unobservable.
You can see Anders’ reels in his forum posts as “swedtool” (Reelsmithing, Rod and Reel Maker’s Forum).

Addendum 6 Dec 2011: Why bother with testing ratchets and pawls? Here is a guy with a Hardy LRH for which the ratchet is “shot”. In my opinion, a Hardy reel should have the same warranty as a Craftsman tool: show that it is broken and you get a replacement. Regardless of who bought it and when.

This entry was posted in Click, Pawl, Testing. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Pawl Testing at Higher Speed

  1. Swedtool says:

    Hello Dave
    When you made your tests did you ran them in both directions, in and out

  2. Swedtool says:

    What about the spring, did it get “tired” or deformed ?

    • dave49 says:

      Your question caused me to go back and look again at the spring that I used for these several tests.
      It looks as if there is no permanent set; the wire is still perfectly straight. I cannot say what may happen over a long period of time.

      For the first group of reels that I made, I was very concerned about permanent deformation of the spring. So I made a very conservative design, a long spring with very little change in load.

      My newer design is less conservative; the ratio of maximum to minimum stress is greater.

      The material is stainless music wire which I buy in 1 foot straightened pieces (see P/N 8908K26, “spring-back type 304 stainless”). On the “Rod and Reel Makers Forum”, I have seen the opinion that SS wire is not as good as carbon steel music wire, but no background was given for this opinion. I decided to take my chances with deformation rather than with corrosion.

      • Swedtool says:

        I am doing your test right now. Not that I dont trust your results
        but is fun do see if I get the same result.
        It has been running now for 6 hours now
        with 220 Rpm My geer has 45 teeth and that’s 6 miljon clicks in 10 hours
        I use almost the same stainless piano wire as you.

  3. dave49 says:

    Please report when you are finished.
    If you have a photo of the test fixture, send it and I will post.

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