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Penn 420SS and 430SS Rebuilding and Refurbishment

Updated on September 3, 2013

One of the finest ultra-light Spin fisher reels came from Penn with the inception of the 420 and 430SS reels. These reels even today are bringing a premium on auction sights and vintage fishing retail facilities/ Even with their counterparts the SSG series of the same reels (although of a much lower quality with regards to durability and performance) still pull a strong selling price from those looking for vintage quality fishing equipment.

The 420 and 430SS, along with their counterpart 4300SS, have a completely different assembly from their larger brothers the 450-9500SS reels. Before beginning rebuilding these reels, as with any reel restoration, make sure the proper tools are available. Use of the wrong tools can result in damage to the screws and moving interior parts. However these reels do share similarities with the rotor cup assembly found in the 450SS and 4500SS. Rotor cup assembly Instructions for all the SS reels can be found in

Begin by having a clean work area and glass bowls for retaining the parts and mineral spirits for removing debris and old lubricants. If any parts show oxidation or corrosion, use a brass polishing wheel or 1000 (#0000) steel wool to remove the debris. Once all the parts are clean and dry, you are ready to begin rebuilding the reel.

Start with the frame of the reel. Check once more to ensure the old grease and lubricants are removed. Find the pinion gear and ball bearing. Insert the pinion gear through the top of the rotor table, sliding it all the way into the pinion gear seat. Next press the ”packed” ball bearing over the shaft, pressing it all the way into the bearing seat of the rotor table. After the pinion gear and bearing are in place, install the retainer “C” ring into the groove just above the bearing on the upper edge of the bearing seat. Pull up on the pinion gear to ensure the “C” retainer ring is in correctly and the pinion gear shaft is firmly in position.

Bail Trip Cam
Bail Trip Cam
Main Gear and anti-reverse Rachet
Main Gear and anti-reverse Rachet

Next install the eccentric and eccentric spring, the strait end of the spring is placed in a notch at the lower end of the housing (see illustration). The “free spool” lever is installed from the outside and secured in position with a chrome flathead screw. The lever should snap on and off once installed.

Mounting the bail return cam is easy, just remember to face the narrow end towards the right. it is attached with a flat-head screw from the underside of the rotor table. it is copper ,so do not over tighten it. Just make the screw snug.

The 420,430 and 4300SS use a main gear and crosswind not found in any other Penn SS series reels. It is a carry over from the "Z" series Spinning reels that preceded the SS series, and has the anti-reverse gear and dog mounted underneath. Penn refers to this as a "main gear with ratchet". But if you have worked with other Penn reels, you will recognize it as a very simple design to work with and maintain.

To install this, mount the Dog "Wings" or followers, over the Anti-reverse gear in the direction so that the square end of the dog will move into the gear.

Now carefully slide the shaft into the reel body, and the dog should fit over the axis protruding below the main gear shaft bushing. Osimply il the Dog and ratchet, do not use grease here. It will interfere with proper ant reverse functions. There is an oiler screw located outside the reel on the underside of the main gear shaft bushing where additional oil can be applied during periodic reel maintenance.

With the Main drive gear and ratchet inserted through the inside main gear bushing and through the reel body, the next step is assembly of the Crosswind arm and crosswind roller. With the crosswind arm in hand, hold the crosswind roller through the arm from underneath. Insert the crosswind screw through the Crosswind arm and through the Roller. While holding the assembly together, position the Crosswind assembly over the Main gear and Ratchet so the Crosswind screw aligns with the Screw opening on the side if the Main gear. Slowly thread the screw into the opening and secure tightly. The crosswind arm should move back and forth over the roller.

Now slide the main shaft through the Pinion shaft from the top. Push it all the way through the pinion gear and into the lower end of the Crosswind arm. Secure the shaft to the crosswind shaft with the shaft screw (Flat headed fine thread screw with a #1 Phillips head opening). Once the shaft and Crosswind arm are secured apply a generous amount of oil to the shaft and gear assembly. Once again, grease will interfere with anti-revers dog operation.

Figure S1
Figure S1
Figure S2
Figure S2
Figure S3
Figure S3
Figure S4
Figure S4
Figure S5
Figure S5

The spool and drag assembly is by far the easiest of all the Penn SS reels to work with. The illustrations demonstrate the simplicity. The 420 and 430SS reels offer a quick release spool for fast line changes. The quick release spool sleeve is a one piece unit and is inserted from underneath through the top of the spool. Slip the rear drag washer over the spool sleeve, and then slide it into the spool as illustrated in Figure S1 and S2

The first part installed over the quick release is the Teflon Drag washer (Figure S3); next the drag washer (metal) mounts over the Teflon washer (Figure S-4) followed by the drag spring (Figure S-5) followed by the drag nut. NOTE: the drag wheel may be difficult to screw on. It may be better to install the spool drag wheel after the rest of the reel is fully assembled.

Examine the top of the spool shaft, there should be four flanges tapering out from the top that lock the spool in place with the quick release. These flanges can break off with normal use over long periods of time. Even if only one is left the quick release will still operate. However, a replacement shaft should be obtained.

Once the main gear and Crosswind assemblies are complete, the side plate can be installed along with the handle. The reel is ready for use.


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    • Tom Geis profile image

      Tom Geis 

      2 months ago

      Any idea where I can find a drag knob for a Penn 4300 SS or have one made? Thanks

    • must65gt profile imageAUTHOR


      4 months ago

      sometimes these reals can be problematic due to age and corrosion. Try soaking them in penetrating oil overnight and working on them after 24 hours, repeat and in time they can release. If you wish you can send the stuck parts to me and I will see what can be done.thanks for reading and commenting

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      Have a 430 as

      Spool holder part 40 won’t come off the shaft part 39

      Button pushed all the way in but spool doesn’t come off

      Have ordered new part 40

      But shaft part 39 was not in stock

      Reel does work but will not quick release

    • must65gt profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      I well understand and this is why all my reels are vintage and easy for me to work on, I hope Penn has done something to help you and thanks froi reading and commenting

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      The Penn AF4000 has been an expensive dsotppiinament for me. After 3 months of ownership and about 7-8 saltwater trips, cranking of the reel freezes up at various intervals in the rotation. In addition to being very annoying, the sudden resistance while cranking makes it difficult to properly work an artificial lure and of course hard to land a fish. With high gas prices and inflation at a 28 year high, it is tough to spend this kind of money for this type of performance.I now need to determine if I am going to go through the pain of trying to send it to Penn's warranty center where I will need to cover all the shipping costs and hope they determine it is covered versus normal wear. All of which does not help keep me on the water with tight lines.As an aside, I have owned about 10 Peen reels over the last 8 years. They have ranged from heavy grouper reels to lightweight inshore models and they have been great. This reel has certainly been an exception.

    • must65gt profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Yes. Thanks for reading

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Do the 430 and 4300 reels use the same spool? thanks


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