Life of a Cardinal 44 into a 4

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BeechmereLake
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Life of a Cardinal 44 into a 4

Post by BeechmereLake » Sat Jul 23, 2016 7:51 am

I was asked many months ago about the many different Abu Cardinal 44 models there were and why the reel remained visually the same for several years, it was hard to explain all the differences so after a chance email with Davejass I said if I found time I would do my best to give a post on the 44 and its changes over the years. Here goes nothing then :Wink:

First released in 1969 the Cardinal 44 was better known as "The Special Foot 44" the reel was green and cream with an elongated name plate, had a black plastic spool, tear drop bail arm, 5:1 ratio gearing and "ABU SVANGSTA" cast into the top of the reel foot. It also came with two different stickers, a red/brown and a black.
We know for sure the black sticker was original but there seems a little doubt about the red/brown model which is after all the most sought after.
In 1970 the reel remained the same but the "ABU SVANGSTA" was now missing from the reel foot.

Recently I came across this Abu Cardinal 1st version "Svangsta special foot" reel, for those who have read the post on page 4 will know about the serial number being a little more than I bargained for when buying it, its very possible it will change what history we have documented on these super reels, here are the pictures of the said reel

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The serial number clearly shows the date of May 1968 which is the date on the paperwork obtained by Marco the editor of the Abu Reelstown book
this is for sure the earliest reel I have seen, a reel that was once in the collection of editor Ben Wright.
I have a copy of his 3rd edition book from 2002 and the supplement and value guide which was an update to the 2002 book in 2006, in there he mentions the reel but still dates it from 1969, I guess its possible he got the reel for his collection well after publication of his book, sadly I will never know as Ben Wright passed away back in May 2016. :(

So here goes with the rest of the story

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1971-mid 73 saw another odd change from something that was the best reel Abu made, the sticker on the side plate was now "ABU" and the main gear was thicker in size, its also quite a hard to find reel today

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Now around the end of 1973 beginning of 1974 abu went up to a 6:1 gear ratio reel in the shape of the 44 Express, again some modifications were made to the gearing and along came for the first time a spool designed for light lines, the spool came with a white plastic base to it which acted like a chenille to the reel preventing light lines getting underneath the spool and causing fowl ups. Notice also the side plate has now a sticker on its face and no metal name plate, this is quite something to remember as the next reel you see is a very rare reel indeed and has certain cosmetic changes. Remember here the other models were still available.

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OK so 1974 the 44 Express above was released but at the end of 74 came a reel now known as the Cardinal 44X, still had all the same characteristics as the Express reel but now came wearing a metal badge, also had the 6:1 ratio gearing, now this reel like I said is very rare as it was only made for 3 months which makes the dating of the reel very critical. You will notice the side plate just like the 44 express side plate has no casting mark for the badge to sit in, the badge sits straight on the flat face of the plate like the express sticker did.

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1975 would see this reel as well as the original cardinal 44 on the shelves in tackle shops but a small change came in the way of the side plate, as I said previously the intermediate reel above had no casting mark in the side plate to take the badge, so yes you guessed it, new for 1975 was the same reel but with a recess to the side plate for the badge to sit in. There was also a change in spool release button, the spool had a large flat button and gone was the black nipple type release button, there was aslo a change in bail arm too, the tear drop bail was gone and replaced with a line roller version.

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OK so I've not forgotten the Cardinal 44, here you can see the model wearing a clear sideplate, 5:1 gear ratio reel with small aluminium badge, this reel carried on from the 1973 reel with just "ABU" sticker on it, this was better known as a 3rd version 44. This reel too had a change of bail and spool, here you can see the new bail with line roller though I much prefer the tear drop bail.

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These side plates were available as a spare part, here you can see one still sealed in its original packet, reels with them on are sold
as salesmans models to make more money

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1977 saw the new cardinal 44X, same reel as before but now Abu did a color change for the reel, it came in a rich cream and metallic brown color, probably one of the most desirable reels out there, again 6:1 high speed gearing, BLACK drag knob on the rear of the reel and a metal spool with a flat black release button, you will find these with the later spools on with white writings, maybe a collector cosmetic thing that makes the 44X/66X/77X reels look superb, they are also made from a new type of plastic not metal. There is also a red Chenille around the base of the spool now.

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1978 saw a major change of color for the reel and it was now maned the Cardinal 4, first version Cardinal 4 had a very poor paint work known as Champagne but is held in high regards by many across the world as the reels to collect, Japanese collectors go mad for these reels. Same 5:1 gearing but now a champagne and black paint system was used, also had plastic black release button spool. These reels lasted 1 year before Abu went over to a different paint finish, knowing from feedback the champagne paint was too thin and rubbed away very easily they painted the reels with a ceramic paint, this paint was a lot more hard wearing but instead of wearing through it just chipped away in pieces should you slightly abuse or knock the reel when using it

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There was also the high speed reel made known as the 4X, came in the same Tan ceramic paint finish with a bronze rotor, this did come in Champagne but is a reel Im yet to find, will also take a fair wedge to obtain one too.

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As said above I was yet to find the 4X Champagne reel but now I have obtained one, a rare reel indeed. Here is the reel sitting left of the picture

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Here you can see the new paintwork which was now called the tan and black model, also had a like a black spotted overspray to its finish, in my eyes the nastiest paint system on an Abu 4.The reel also did away with the metal badge and was now wearing a long sticker at the base of the side plate.
This reel went on until 1982 with no changes to report accept for the boxes they came in, times were getting hard for ABU trying to compete with Japanese reels and it wasn't long before the end of an era came, the fish box reel here is one of two I have ever seen and for me is the last of the great abu Cardinal reel.

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I thought the reel above was the holy grail of Abu Cardinals with a champagne finish when I bought it, sad to say it was a repaint, not a bad one, from Italy, may just of paid a tad too much for that one :hairpull:

As always when possible I update the thread when a reel becomes available so having secured this holy grail of Champagne reels better known as an Intermediate reel I thought I could show you just what it is, carried on in the champagne paintwork for 3 months but took on the new cover plate elongated sticker, soon after this the paint finish became the ceramic type paint, better known as the Tan and Black, the Black makes reference to the speckled finish on the Tan coloured surface not because the rotor is Black. This is one rare reel

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The hardest of all boxes to find is this one, just before Abu were about to hit the dirt with their range of reels the last of what I call great reels were shipped in these wonderful boxes, better known as the fishes box, I recently managed to obtain both of these reels from people in the USA with my sole intention to buy just the boxes, the Cardinal 4 box is rare but the 4X was not known to exist, I now have 5 of them :Hahaha:

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Last edited by BeechmereLake on Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:40 am, edited 34 times in total.
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Bobby Marlene
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Re: Life of a Cardinal 44 into a 4

Post by Bobby Marlene » Sat Jul 23, 2016 8:02 am

BL, thank you very much for this overview. The ABU 44 is my favorite reel. Thanks to your info I now know that Ihave the 1970 version. Fantastic reels that you have there. Thanks again, Bobby

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Paul D
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Re: Life of a Cardinal 44 into a 4

Post by Paul D » Sat Jul 23, 2016 8:29 am

What a clear informative post, thank you for that, lovely photographs :Hat:
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BeechmereLake
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Re: Life of a Cardinal 44 into a 4

Post by BeechmereLake » Sat Jul 23, 2016 8:46 am

Its my pleasure to document these wonderful reels, there maybe the odd reel I have missed out but Im pretty sure they are all covered here, the last reel in the box was a surprise to my good friend Marco Malevasi who wrote the book Cardinal reels, he was so surprised to see I found 1, he was even more surprised when I told him I bought two from the same seller :Hahaha: Having two gave me the info that this reel did exist, it was one I figured may of been out there but never was sure about as one had not been documented before.
Hope you all enjoy the post, I may do 66 and 77 models next :surrender:
" It is a sinister place yet powerfully fascinating"

"BB"

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Davejass
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Re: Life of a Cardinal 44 into a 4

Post by Davejass » Sat Jul 23, 2016 9:03 am

Thank you Beechmere lake. I am so glad I put the original post up. It helped me a lot and also many others by the look of it. Incidentally I have now got a Cardinal 40 but have no idea of the date of it till it arrives!!
Dave@ Hastings

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BeechmereLake
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Re: Life of a Cardinal 44 into a 4

Post by BeechmereLake » Sat Jul 23, 2016 9:19 am

Ah yes the old Cardinal 40, a reel I fished with for may years when I was a newspaper boy :Hahaha:
Made from around 1974 the "eco blue" models were not a bad reel, later around 78 they bacame black and tan in color but also had the suffix "A" added to the name, so blue its 74-78 and black its 78-80.
Look out for super rare model in black with Champagne color rotor, serial number critical ££££££ :Thumb:
" It is a sinister place yet powerfully fascinating"

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Nobby
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Re: Life of a Cardinal 44 into a 4

Post by Nobby » Sat Jul 23, 2016 10:18 am

Nicely done, BL!

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Olly
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Re: Life of a Cardinal 44 into a 4

Post by Olly » Sat Jul 23, 2016 2:51 pm

Well having been assisted with my two newly acquired ABU Cardinal 77s by BL - I now think I will be looking for a pair of green 44s!
I hope they would be suitable for roach/bream/perch and the like, perhaps even tench & chub on lightish gear.

And thanks again a very informative document on ABU Cardinal reel types.

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BeechmereLake
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Re: Life of a Cardinal 44 into a 4

Post by BeechmereLake » Sat Jul 23, 2016 3:14 pm

Olly, for sure the Cardinal 44 is a very capable reel, like the cars they built in Sweden they are at times over engineered and built to last, I have picked up some reels which indeed look to have been totally abused, hardly any paint left on them and boat rash as our American friends call it all over the reel, you wind it and it feels more like a modern day Daiwa reel, infact one of the 44X reels I have I bought at Redditch from a seller who used it when fishing for Bone fish, that reel still feels like a new one even now, If they can handle those brutes they can handle anything our waters have to offer thats for sure. Just let me know if you want a pair and which model you want, my friend who I do Redditch with has too many of them, sure he could help you out.
Just to let you know 1st versions are not cheap neither are 44X high speed models, doesn't leave much does it :Hahaha:
" It is a sinister place yet powerfully fascinating"

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BeechmereLake
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Re: Life of a Cardinal 44 into a 4

Post by BeechmereLake » Sat Jul 23, 2016 10:44 pm

Just to let you know I have added another picture of the clear side plate in its packet with part number sticker still attached, this plate can be found on the Champagne Cardinal most of the time, there were two different types as the original cardinal 44 has two small holes in the side plate to locate the badge. I do wonder why a clear side plate was made for these reels, nice gadget I suppose but an expensive one too, these sell for anything over £60-85
" It is a sinister place yet powerfully fascinating"

"BB"

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