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 Post subject: High-Engraved Model# 308
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:24 pm • #  
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Location: Portland, OR
Mates, just acquired this one. Most believe the high-engraved model number on early 308 reels indicates these are "Pilot" or "test run" reels. I've only heard and seen a total of six. With exception of a few anomalies along the way, they are generally considered the rarest of ULs. This one is the seventh. I believe Chris S. has two, Dreis has three and I have two (now).

This one has all the period correct attributes and is in exceptional condition too. Looks like it's been mounted, but little used. I believe I was the first to open the back plate. It still has the factory amber colored grease, untouched spanner nut and line guide screw. No paint loss. I will not disassemble and clean.

It, of course, has the round axle post (as most mid-engraved model number reels). It has no interior body casting mark.

Here is the interesting part. This high-engraved reel has a serial number. While the third numeral from the left is almost impossible to read, it appears to be a "3". This makes the number 003187. This is the only high engraved reel known with a serial number. If correct, it is also the lowest serial numbered UL known. I know of two reels in 004xxx range, but nothing lower.

My theory (and others too, I believe) was high-engraved reels were only test run reels (about 3000- 4000 of them) since they had no serial numbers, and the first serial numbered reels to date have not been found lower than the 4000 range (which are not high-engraved reels). They are mid-engraved. This reel likely proves some later high-engraved reels were meant for consumer production (once they perfected the production from the test run), as it seems serial numbers would only be on production reels meant for sale, vs test run reels.

Anyone with high engraved reels with serial numbers, or a lower numbered UL, please chime in.

Sandman


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:28 pm • #  
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:41 pm • #  
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Hi Sandman,

An exceptional find :tup and the condition of your new addition 308 is beautiful. I completely agree with your assessment but then, I don't have your expertise on these reels. Congratulations on what I do know to be a very hard to find Mitchell - especially in that condition!

It's nice to see actual Mitchell reels posted here in the Forum as I think that is what draws most member and observer interest...Thank you!

Best Regards,
Chris

P.S. I'll be adding a few new additions myself (one of which I can't wait to get your opinion on). :sHa_okay:


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:39 pm • #  
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Chris, you’ve pique my curiosity...can’t wait to see it...hope I can help...

Sandman


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 9:38 pm • #  
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Sandman,
I appreciate the picture of your 308. Until now I didn't know of such a reel. Always great to learn new things. :sHa_rollingsmilie:

Regards,
Ted Lanham


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:34 pm • #  
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I realize that I am new here, so please forgive my ignorance.

I am questioning the serial number of 003187 with 6 digits. When I look at the posted photo of the reel foot with the serial number, the spacing of the numbers looks to me like there should be two digits between the 00 and the 187, i.e. 00__187, for a 7 digit serial number. What looks like the lower half of a 3 appears to me to be the fourth digit which would translate to 00_3187.

Does anyone else think this, or am I missing something.

J.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 5:43 pm • #  
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Jr, good observation...I contemplated a seven digit possibility...but to me, the spacing doesn't work for that either, nor is there any sign of stamping in between the 00 and "3"...I'm not even 100% sure the "3" is a "3"...it could be zero...making it 000187, or in your thought 0000187...I used a very high powered magnifier and concluded it is either a 003187 or 000187...It can't reasonably be a six, because 005xxx reels are mid-engraved. While we can't definitely know this reel's serial number, a couple facts and some educated guessing, beyond the serial number, helped me to conclude this...

Her we go...as stated, there are only seven known high engraved model numbered reels (I'm sure there are more out there and would love to see them). All but this one do not have a serial number. All of them have various attributes in common that indicate (some believe prove) that they were produced before the first serial numbered reels as test or pilot production runs. Mitchell was known to produce pilot runs of new models to work out manufacturing and not place serial numbers on these reels not meant for public sale, as was common practice in many types of manufacturing. These characteristics (some exclusive to the high engraved reels and some inclusive of first versions) such as:
1) no serial number
2) no interior casting mark
3) spanner axle nut
4) old style:
a) drag nut
b) bail
c) head counterweight screw
d) line guide
e) line guide screw
f) back plate screw
g) no boxes for high engraved reels have been found
H) after recording over 150 first version ULs I've never
seen a seven digit stamping, this practice came a bit
later when they realized they would surpass 1,000,000
and even then, not consistent
I) workmanship you don't see later (both of mine have
grinding marks on the foot, yet factory paint).

I am glad to explain each of these in detail if interested.

The most telling is the serial number (or lack thereof) on the other six and no casting mark on all seven. The earliest casting mark I've recorded is 009261, so we know all of the high engraved reels were before then. All of this makes me conclude this reel was the beginning of production that was meant for sale as they used up the end of the test run batch (they must of been happy with the production after 3000 reels, or so). I imagine most of the test run reels did not find their way into the public hands in any way, which is why they are so rare. I would love to know if anyone has a four digit reel with no casting mark. It could help narrow down the serial number of this reel.

I would love to know definitively that high engraved reels are test reels. Unfortunately, like much of the Mitchell world, my evidence is both factual and anecdotal. Though surmising from an educated viewpoint may be the best we have, to date.

I'm very open to any and all other evidence (anecdotal or not) and thoughts, so thank you for the inquiry Jr, and mates, check those four digit ULs for interior body casting marks!!

Thank you,
Sandman


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 6:28 pm • #  
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Hi Sandman,

An excellent and very informative post. I think we have looked at all my early 308's for casting marks, but I'll take another look just in case I missed something.

Kind Regards,
Chris


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 12:34 am • #  
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Chris, thank you for taking another look at your early 308s. Am hoping Dries weighs in with his thoughts too.

Sandman


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