I bought two Cardinal 3 spinning reels back in the mid- 1970's. I like them better than any other spinning reel I have ever tried. Of course they quit making them before 1980 and when a new model was introduced a few years ago, it was just not the same. I liked the old "green" Cardinal so well I swapped a brand new reel for an old worn out Cardinal a couple of years ago. I still use all three of mine on almost every fishing trip.
How did I revive them and keep them working after 20 years of hard use? Pete Sprague in LaGrange, Georgia keeps them running for me. He is the owner and operator of Pete's Customs and Repairs, a business that repairs rods and reels and also custom builds rods. He has been able to get parts for any of my reels needing repair and gets them back in service quickly. He recently made two Lew's Gold Spin reels like new for me.
A couple of pointers from Pete will help you have your reels longer. He says if car owners waited until something broke to service cars, there would be a lot of stranded motorists. Reel owners tend to wait until the reel breaks to do anything. A little preventive maintenance would go a long way.
You should always wash your rod and reel after use, especially if used in salt water. Cleaning the insides and putting a light coat of reel grease or oil made for that purpose on the gears on a regular basis will make them work better and last longer. Use light weight machine oil on the outside moving parts like the level wind on a bait caster or the bail on a spinning reel. Garcia Reel Lube is excellent for extremely hot or cold conditions - it will continue to work. Then if you need repair work, Pete can do it.
A tip from Jim Berry, owner of Berry's Sporting Goods in Griffin, GA is to check the alignment of your bail if it does not work right. A broken bail spring can cause it not to work right, but so can a bent bail. The end where it attaches to the reel must seat squarely and properly for it to work. Dropping your reel is a good way to mess it up. You can carefully bend the bail back into place to solve it.
Check your rod guides! If you have metal guides, make sure the line has not cut into them and made a grove in them. It will cut your line if it has. If you have ceramic guides, watch for cracks in them. Cracks will also cut your line, usually when you are fighting a big fish!
Store owner Jim Berry repaired reels for many years and you can reach him at 770-227-3048. You can reach Pete at 706-882-0322 in LaGrange, Georgia. He provides a service that is almost impossible to find anywhere else in this area of Georgia. Call them if you can't find a repair service in your area.
Check with local sporting goods stores where you live first. It is great to be able to get a favorite reel repaired and in working order again.