320GTi / 320GT2 / 321GTi Rebuild

AlanTani.comCopyright © Alan Tani Reprinted with permission of the author.

this rebuild post has been long overdue. the penn 3 series graphite reels have been workhorses since the day they were introduced. there are 5 reel sizes and 9 models, including the 310gti, 320gti, 321gti, 320gt2, 320ld, 330gti, 330ld, 340gti and 345gti.

You can order parts and access the reel schematics here:

we will start with the largest selling single model reel in the world, the penn 320 gti.

it is one of the easiest reels to work on when it comes to routine bearing service. removing the right side plate assembly (key #1) requires only the removal of four right side plate screws (key #32).

the reel breaks down to the frame assembly (key #183), the spool (key #29L), and right side plate assembly (key #1).

this gives you easy access to left side plate bearing (key #40). it's an abec 5 and the size is 4x11x4 if you ever need to replace it.

you also have easy access to the right spool bearing (no key #) in the bridge assembly (key #3).

one of the problem i see with this reel is corrosion. in the worst cases, the spool shaft is totally rusted to the pinion gear (key #13). good thing we got to this one when we did.

lube the right side plate bearing (key #40).

lube the worm gear (key #42) in the levelwind assembly.

reinstall the spool (key #29L) into the frame (key #183) and set both aside.

now for the right side plate assembly. remove the handle lock screw (key #23A).

remove the handle nut (key #23).

remove the handle assembly (key #24).

remove the tension spring (key #8) and the drag star (key #10). you may save the tension spring to reinstall later, but i typically discard these because they promote corrosion.

push the eccentric lever (key #21) forward and in gear. back out each of the four bridge screws (key #'s 16 and 17).

the bridge assembly (key #3) should fall out easily, so catch it before it does. leave the right side plate (key #1) in the "up" position so that the bridge screws do not fall out.

a quick inspection of the main gear (key #5) reveals a little surface corrosion. this will have to be cleaned out or you may have a few "bumps" when you crank the handle.

here is an exploded view of the bridge assembly (key #3) and drag stack.

now we're going to rebuild the drag stack. we will start by replacing the fiber washer (key #4), found underneath the main gear, with a penn ht-100 carbon fiber washer (part #6-875).

slap a thick coat of cal's drag grease on the drag washer.

slide the washer down over the gear sleeve of the bridge (key #3), then install the main gear (key #5).

grease each drag washer (key #6) in turn and install them in order, alternating with the keyed and slotted metal washers (key #7). don't worry about the excess grease, it will simply squeeze out the sides.

one thing to make sure of is that the little tab of the keyed metal washer seats properly in the groove of the main gear. sometimes it rises up and rotates a little and you functionally have only a single drag washer instead of 5.

you left the right side plate intact, right? ok, place two fingers over the four bridge screws (key #'s 16 and 17).

NOTES BY MizMo: Easier than holding the screws in place with your fingers.
Using removable scotch tape (Magic Tape), tape over the bridge screws on the outside to hold them. This frees up your hands to work on the inside parts. MUST be removable tape.

you can now flip it over and not loose the bridge screws.

install the pinion gear (key #13).

install the bridge and main gear assembly as a unit and turn the bridge plate counterclockwise 90 degrees.

note carefully the orientation of the dog spring (key #14) on the dog (key #15). it will be installed in this position.

lay the dog spring (key #14) over the peg first.

pull the dog (key #15) over the top of and down onto the bridge screw (key #16).

NOTES BY MizMo: Here is another place where removable tape can help you.
Using removable scotch tape (Magic Tape), tape over the dog and spring once you have them positioned. Then when you rotate the bridge into position, gently slide out the tape. MUST be removable tape.

rotate the bridge plate (key #3) 90 degrees clockwise and press the bridge plate down until it seats properly.

with a right hand assist, flip the right side plate assembly (key #1) over to give you access to the bridge screws (key #'s 16 and 17).

seat all four bridge screws (key #'s 16 and 17) halfway, then screw them all down snugly.

check the function of the anti-reverse system.

check the function of the eccentric lever assembly (key #21) or freespool lever.

lube the bridge bearing (key #3).

lube the spool shaft (key #29L). remember, you will have to keep after this. the spool shaft has a nasty habit of seizing up inside the pinion gear.

install the right side plate (key #1) and screws (key #32).

here is the upgraded spool tension control cap (key #26B). the flare on top is large enough to insure that the cap will not fall off. quite a few of these have. remove the old cap and install the new one.

install the star drag (key #10) and turn it down until it clears the shoulder of the the gear sleeve (key #98) that the handle (key #24) rests on.

we are going to upgrade the reel with a 4/0 senator power handle (part #24-349H). the price just went up on these and are now $24, from $13 several months ago.

install the new power handle (key #24) and the handle screw (key #23).

install the handle lock screw (key #23A).

and you're done! congratulations.

now for a couple of comments. first, the positives - it has a 4/0 senator drag set capable of delivering 25 pounds of drag or better. the drag #6-320 drags have the same inside and outside diameters as the #6-113H drag washers from the 4/0 penn 113h. here you have 113h drags on the left, 320 drags on the right.

the difference is the thickness. the #6-113h drag washers on the left have a fiberglass core, making them thicker. the #6-320 drag washers on the right do not. the performance of these washers is identical.

the gears are similar as well. you have a #5-320 main gear with a 4:1 ratio on the left and a #5-113h main gear with a 3.25:1 gear ratio on the right.

note, however, that the teeth on the main and pinion gears of the penn 113h (right side) are much larger than the teeth of the main and pinion gears of the penn 320 gti (left side). the smaller teeth of the 320 main gear will shred much easily than the heaver teeth of the 113h main gear.

i damaged the main gear of this left handed penn 321 when i cranked the drags down to 28 pounds. well, um, i was curious. just ordered a new main and pinion gear. it was a $23 mistake. let's keep these drag settings under 20#'s of drag from now on.

the 320 has a small spool that will hold 300 yards of 80# spectra. the soft brass main gear limits the drag range to under 20#'s. i would not call the 320 a true third generation reel, but it can take excellent advantage of the new spectras and high test monofilaments. the spool in the middle is from a penn 320 gti. on the right is a jigmaster spool, on left is a squidder spool.

there are a pair of spool bearings that can easily be cleaned and lubed to deliver excellent freespool times.

and finally, there are also handle options available for this reel.

now, the negatives - the levelwind is the single most problematic assembly that i have ever dealt with. maybe it's just me, but i order up alot of worm gears from i believe this is due to the drag sticking under a heavy load when the line and the leveler are 180 degrees out of sync. special care must be taken to always keep the line and the leveler in sync and the drags can be greased. this should take care of the levelwind problem.

but think about this. what if we took the levelwind assembly out? you would have to remove the idler gear (key #64), the line guide carriage (key #46), the pawl (key #47) and the pawl cover screw (key #48). you can actually leave the worm assembly (key #42) in place so that you don't have holes in the frame. here's a left handed penn 321 gti that has been stripped down.

since this reel is going to have to cast well, we will pull out the left side plate bearing (key #40).

we'll pull the shields off, clean out the old grease, lube it with corrosion x and re-install the bearing open.

to service the bearing in the bridge (key #3), you need to gently tap out the bearing with a hex socket. careful here. by banging on this bearing too much, i damaged and had to replace it. if your bridge bearing is still smooth, please service this bearing just from the outside, leaving the bearing in place.

the bearing is an abec 5 measuring 8x16x5, just in case you need a new one.

remove the shields, clean out all of the old crud and lube it up.

i used the sanding bit for a dremmel to open the bearing cup a little. now the bearing slides in an out more easily.

with the bearing installed open, the new owner will be able to pull the side plate, remove the spool and service (or at least relube) both bearings after every trip. he will be casting for yellowtail. clean bearings are critical.

and this is the result!

so now you have a pocket rocket with a very strong light graphite frame, easy to throw all day long, a small spool that's gives you great casting distance, the capacity to hold 300 yards of 80# spectra and a short 30, 40, 50 or 60# topshot, a drag stack that will deliver 20#'s of drag, decent spool bearings, plenty of handle options and (ta da!) a levelwind option. ok, i know that's lame, but you actually could put the levelwind assembly back in. it's also available in right hand and left hand models.

i would still call the shimano tld star 15/30 the best reel in this class, but the penn 320gti, 320gt2 and 321gti have to be the most versatile!

written 4/30/2008 at

Copyright © Alan Tani Reprinted with permission of the author.

Order parts online for this reel(s):

Have more questions? Submit a request


Please sign in to leave a comment.
Powered by Zendesk