Penn Spinning Reel Rotor Cup Assembly

cleaned and ready rotor cup
cleaned and ready rotor cup | Source

Most of the Penn SS series spinning reels (Black with gold spool and/or crank arm) use three different style rotor cup configurations with respect to the bail return mechanisms. The cam lever bail trip (400-4500 SS and SSG reels), the jack-plate bail return trip (550-5500SS), and the fixed (Used with the 600 to 9000 series SS reels) This hub will offer explanations on correct assembly and the differences with the first two types. However, all will require periodic disassembly and cleaning to insure a good clean-snap bail closure after casting.

Dis-assembly is not difficult, just ensure you use the proper tools so screw heads are not damaged, also take your time, and pay attention to how it all comes apart. This can be helpful for re-assembly later on.

Once the rotor cup assembly has been disassembled and cleaned, it’s time to put it together. Start with the Bail trip side. There are two separate assembly instructions depending on which rotor cup you are working with.

Penn introduced different bail returns for the early lightweight spinning reels, depending on the size of the reel and its design requirements. The smaller 420 through the 4500 SS (metal) and SSG’s (Graphite), shared a spring and cam bail return trip with the bail return spring illustrated in this diagram. The 550, and 5500SS used the jack-plate bail trip mechanism described in the latter illustration.

The third style rotor cup bail trip is the non-mechanical impact bail return. This style is tripped by the bail arm striking the reel frame and tripped during the start of line retrieval. This type of bail trip is found on the 600 to 9500 series SS reels. However similar bail return spring assemblies are found in all SS rotor cups.


hold cam and loaded spring in place while sliding cam cover over the assembly
hold cam and loaded spring in place while sliding cam cover over the assembly
This illustration shows cam cover in place and bail trip lever in position
This illustration shows cam cover in place and bail trip lever in position
Cam is visible when trip lever is pushed back
Cam is visible when trip lever is pushed back

The 400 series Rotor cup Assemblies use a cam and trip lever bail return much different than the jack plate and spring bail return of the 500 series SS reels. Assembly of this rotor cup may be somewhat more difficult than the other rotor assemblies as dislayed in this diagram.

On the underside of the rotor is a small raised portion the cam lever spring slides over. Beside the left-hand side of the extrusion is a long recession the strait portion on the bottom the spring rides against. If the spring is installed properly the straight portion will align with it. The top of the spring has a small u-shaped hook that fits over the Cam and into a recession on its underside. Do not fit the cam over the extrusion yet. The spring needs to be loaded first.

To load the spring, slip the hook over the cam and while holding the spring in place, turn the cam halfway carefully slipping it past the bail arm stanchion. (See illustrations) now fit the opening of the cam over the extrusion and while holing it in place, slide the cam cover into place and install the screw to secure it. (See figure 3) You should be able to move the cam lever and test the spring operation (figure 4). The cam should be visible moving in and out on the underside of the rotor cup (See the last Illustration).

Rotor Cup Cleaned and ready to assemble
Rotor Cup Cleaned and ready to assemble | Source
Jack Plate installation
Jack Plate installation | Source
Jack plate spring with a dab of grease to hold it into position whle assembling
Jack plate spring with a dab of grease to hold it into position whle assembling | Source
Spring in position on raised portion on the bottom of jack plate
Spring in position on raised portion on the bottom of jack plate | Source
Jack plate spring cover placement
Jack plate spring cover placement | Source
Jack plate Spring in place
Jack plate Spring in place | Source
Bail Spring Placement
Bail Spring Placement | Source
Bail line guide assembly
Bail line guide assembly | Source
bail spring cover plate
bail spring cover plate | Source

Using figure 2 as a reference, grease the back of the jack plate where it rides against the side of the rotor cup. Insert it into the side; it should only fit one way. Next install the jack plate spring, for which I have a trick that will help hold it in place while assembling the rotor cup. (see figure 3) place a small amount of grease on the tip of the spring. The grease will stick to the jack plate and hold the spring in place, so you can install the spring cover plate. Note: The spring and spring cover plate is not shown in any of the existing schematics available through Penn or any other information on the Webb. Figure 4 shows the Jack plate spring cover in place and Figure 5 shows the completed assembly of the Spring and Jack plate.

If the bail trip portion of the rotor cup assembly has been completed, you are ready to assemble the bail return spring. (See figure 7). Although the bail spring shown here is used for the 500 series reels, other Penn Fisher spinning reel rotor cups use a similar spring. However, the springs are not interchangeable from one series to another (IE: the 400 series reels to the 500 series, 500-600, 600-700 Ect...) Consult the schematics and individual reel parts list to ensure the part numbers will interchange.

IF you are working on the 550, a small amount of lubricant needs to be placed on the front of the jack plate to help the spring move easier and prevent corrosion. Larger reels have no obstructions to interfere with the spring operation. To set the spring action, place the angled end of the spring into the hole located on the underside of the Bail arm. You will have to put the arm in place then turn it counterclockwise to engage the spring. The Bail arm should snap into place (See figure 9). Hold it with your fingers while you start the bail arm screw with bushing. After it is started, take a large screwdriver and screw it almost completely in.

The next step is to attach the bail wire and line guide to the Bail arm. There are five parts to this and they all are assembled together. Insert the Line Guide screw through the back of the Bail arm. Now slide the Line guide bushing and Line guide over the screw on. NOTE: The line guide bushing is directional and the side with the recession needs to face the line guide. Additionally, Penn used the same line guide on the 400 to 700 series reels and depending n the reel you are working with, there may be a Line guide sleeve that slides over the screw, then the line guide slides over it.

While holding the screw and Line guide assembly, bring the bail wire to the screw and using a small screw driver, screw the assembly together, You cannot start this by hand because the screw will be inside the bail arm if assembled correctly, and not reachable with your fingers. .

Now you can move to the opposite side, and tighten the bail arm nut. Then you can put the bail wire side plate cover on and secure it. Take a cloth and cover the chrome bail am screw and finish tightening with a pair of pliers. Once it is tight, go back to the line guide screw and finish tightening it, the Rotor cup is now ready to be placed back on the reel.


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