Hopefully this will help budding Medalist fans to better understand their reels. Sorry for the picture quality, I took these "hand held" under my desk lamp as I was servicing one of my 1494 1/2 DA reels. I'm a Pflueger lover and use the 1492 and 1492 1/2 for 3 and 4wt double taper lines respectively, 1494 for 5wt WF or DT, 1494 1/2 for 6, 1495 for 7, 1495 1/2 for 8 and 1498 for 9/10 as a working collection. In the pictures below I'm actually changing my 1494 1/2 from LHW back to RHW. With the stock drag ratchet plates I prefer my 6 and under reels RHW because I believe the reel is a bit smoother that way. Installing a One Pfoot drag plate changes everything - that plate makes the reel quite smooth in LHW.
Below you see pics of 2 reels, one set for LHW and one for RHW.
Below is RHW, the way the reel will likely come to you if you buy one that hasn't been serviced. Note the 4 pockets - these make the 4 clicks on retrieve and play an important part in the unidirectional drag system.
Below you'll see the plate for a reel set up LHW. Note the 8 pockets. Normally these would make for the 8 outgoing clicks, but with the plate installed like this you'll have 4 outgoing clicks because the 4 pockets will be facing downward (see the pic above) and 8 clicks on retrieve. The problem with the 4X8 stock plate when it's installed in LHW mode is that the reel can "rock" 1/4 turn before the drag engages rather than 1/8 turn in RHW. When fishing for large, powerful fish like carp with a light 4lb tippet this may cause a shock on the first run that can break the tippet if you're not careful. If you want a classic Medalist set up in LHW for larger species, I can't recommend the One Pfoot plate more hightly. The One Pfloot plate provides 8 detents on each side using a harder, better machined plate. I use the One Pfoot plate in my 1495 1/2 and 1498 reels exclusively and I keep those set up for LHW. I have all my reels for lines 6 and under set up RHW, except where a reel comes from the factory LHW. Call it personal preference ...
You'll see two small screws on the metal disc (drag plate bearing) holding in the drag (ratchet) plate. These are removed when changing wind direction. I find it helpfull to fully dissassemble the reel frame. This level of service should be done once a season for heavily fished reels or every other season for those you fish 10 or 20 times on more casual outings. The reels I have have survived and still work perfectly, in some cases thirty years after I've purchased them. Below is a shot of LHW and RHW together. LHW set-up on left, RHW set-up on right.
Once you remove the drag bearing and ratchet plate you'll uncover the drag pawl and spring. This pawl is a "hat" fitting over a spring and it sits in a cup. Note the dimple on the outside of the reel in the picture below. This is the drag pawl cup. Of the Medalist reels I have that have failed, it's typically because they've been dropped on rocks and bent. Dropping a Medalist is about the only way to destroy one ... This cup is delicate enough that a rock hitting it just right can render the drag frozen (I lost my very first Medalist DA, purchased for me by my grandpa, to this damage - I still have the reel but it can no longer be fished) If you are purchasing a reel, look at this dimple. If it's dented or deformed, don't buy the reel.
Here is the drag pin removed. Note that it has a chisel finish. The top of the chisel faces into the ratchet plate cup, the angled end following the ramps on the 4 or 8 detent sides of the plate. When removing the drag plate, be careful this pin doesn't come out causing you to drop the spring. One Pfoot sells springs and if you're doing an overhaul and installing the One Pfoot drag plate then I sugget ordering the spring at the same time since you'll have it out anyway.
Below you'll see the top of the stock reversible DA model drag plate and the bottom. Note the ramps. The ramps and straight cuts are the simple mechanism by which the drag is unidirectional. You'll rarely encounter a bad drag plate unless grit, sand or detritus has worked its way in and/or the reel is very heavily used. On very early Medalists the (non-reversible) ratchet plates are 2 x 8 (or 2/4 - I'm working from memory on that one). I have an old 1495 1/2 from the first generation of these reels that I'll do an overhaul on this winter. I'll photograph that overhaul when I get around to it, too.
Top with RHW
Bottom (when RHW, top when LHW). Note the ramps - they are a bit steeper. This difference in number of detents and the angle of the ramps, creates the difference in "feel" on LWH and RHW. The One Pfoot plates use this topology on both sides of the plate - 8 detents.
The drag-plate bearing holds the drag plate in place and provides a bearing surface around which the drag plate rotates. You see the outter edge has a "top hat" configuration (this part is shown bottom-up - the part on the cloth is the part where the screws are countersunk)
Put a thin film of reel grease around the lip of "top hat" of the drag bearing to lubricate the surface between the ratchet and the retainer. I like to use Garcia silicone reel greese, but there are many alternatives. I've been using the Garcia since the early 1970's without issue. Use a drop of reel oil in the cup where the drag pawl sits. You don't want grease there, it may prevent the pawl from moving freely. Put the pawl and spring into the cup. Align the raised tip perpendicular to the detents and with the higher side facing the blunt cut in the drag (ratchet) plate. The slope of the drag pawl matches with the slope of the drag plate detents.
Put a little grease on the drag plate where it will contact the drag pawl. This makes the reel click quite smooth and buttery, but remember if the reel is exposed to lot's of silt that silt can contaminate the grease requiring more frequent cleaning. This reel is tough, it's unlikely it will be damaged from being submerged in even the most off-color water. Try to keep any grease from the edge of the drag plate - it won't hurt anything but a bit of grease between the drag plate and drag bar may cause uneven performance as the drag is played. You can clean up any leakage with a pipe cleaner.
Here I have the plate installed for RHW. I would put a thin bead of reel grease on top of the plate, careful not to put too much or allow it to run to the edge of the plate. Also a drop of grease on the top of the spindle where it conacts the retaining clip in the spool cap and a light drop of oil on the shaft completes the service.
Add a drop of oil to the threads of the drag screw (just below the drag bar and out of sight in the image above, see the very first image in this series for a better view) and add a drop of oil to the retrieve pawl pin and spring on the spool (picture below). I like to use a can of compressed air to blow out this pin/spring before adding fresh oil. I've never tried removing this pin/spring, and suggest you don't either unless its broken.
Hopefully this series of pictures will help you understand what's happening in your DA series Medalist and make changing from RHW to LHW or servicing the reel a bit easier.
The next series of photos, showing the spool cap and retaining mechanism, will be posted shortly. The next series will also show how to wieght a spool to match reel balance to a rod.