Modifications to an Owen take up reel....

Copyright 2007 by James P. Riser

This is an example of some custom work that I do at times (if the project interests me). A client wanted to perform the vanishing bird cage effect as described in the Books of Wonder. He had ordered an Owen take up reel as shown here:

The reel came as is customary - with the plastic backing, a Martin style sleeve clip, plus part of another style of clip (the other half of this other clip was not on the cage - go figure).

The client wanted the reel to be easier to strap on the arm, to be much more secure in its position on the arm, and to be snag free.

My goal was to alter the actual Owen reel as little as possible - so I came up the solution shown here.

The first item I made was a backing plate of extremely hard bronze. The edges were formed to better grip the forearm when in use. Next a special connector was machined and soldered to the plate. The guide tube was to attach to this connector.

This corrosion resistant hard bronze fitting was attached to the Owen reel as shown with the black nylon cording running through the connector.

The flexible guide tube (to prevent snags) was next installed. The nylon cording goes through the guide tube.

A strong leather straping system was sewn and attached to the original reel strap slots. This strap was sewn in a curved shape to allow it to naturally fit on the forearm. This strap is fitted with wide velcro for easy fastening on the arm. Below are a few views of the reel with the new strapping in place.

In addition to the reel modifications, a special pulley was required for the Tommy Wonder method. This is shown below.

A strong nylon shoulder harness strap was made for securing the heavy nylon flesh colored cording.

The attachment is shown here. Consult the Books of Wonder for details.

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