Expert in Drivelines, Jim Reel, on Episode 49


Forty-seven years in any industry makes you an expert, in drivelines, that makes you Jim Reel.  Listen in on Episode 49 as Jim takes Big Rich through the intricacies of drivelines and why we see failures. Hint:  it’s not the driveline.  This is a very informative interview with news you need to hear – including how to measure your replacement driveline.

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3:06 – ruined by age 19

7:42 – 47 years in the industry

10:36– comfort is becoming a lot more important

13:07– working with trophy trucks for solutions for them

14:35 – “you’ll be out of business in two months”

16:05 – this is what we really do

17:59 – make it worse to make it better

21:26 – it’ll whip

25:13 – innovations in drivelines

29:08 – let’s talk math and wear points

35:26 – how to measure a driveline

39:11 – Rzeppa ball and cage joints and their impact

41:14 – did you say Carbon Fiber??

51:39 – what’s the future hold?


We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.


[00:01:20.220] – Big Rich Klein

All right. On today’s episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Jim Reel with JE Reel Drivelines. And Jim is out of Pomona, California, married to his beautiful wife. Cindy we’ll talk all about that and Jim’s career and what got him to where he’s at now. So, Jim, thank you very much for coming on board with us today.

[00:01:41.760] – Jim Reel

Well, thank you very much for having me.

[00:01:45.030] – Big Rich Klein

Let’s get right into this and let’s talk about where you grew up.

[00:01:50.010] – Jim Reel

Well, I was born in Pomona Hospital. I grew up in Montclair. Moved to Downey area briefly back to Montclair, and just went to high school there, and now I live in Upland of all right in the same area other than. Six months of working in Long Beach for an electrical contractor and about eight months in Chandler, Arizona, for a truck, electric outfit, all been right here in Southern California in the same neighborhood.

[00:02:24.950] – Big Rich Klein

Wow, that’s amazing. When you grew up there in that area, I would imagine it’s not it’s not nearly as crowded, overgrown as Southern California is now.

[00:02:36.140] – Jim Reel

No, absolutely not. Where I live in Upland, this was orange orchards and two blocks up, we unload our motorcycles and ride up in the mountains. Now it’s all houses.

[00:02:46.240] – Big Rich Klein

The same kind of story we’re talking with with John Currie as well as some others. Yes.


So let’s let’s talk about those early days of motorcycles and stuff.


Did you when did you start riding or when did you start driving

[00:03:06.500] – Jim Reel

was on a mini bike at about seven years old and six or seven. And, you know, after that and went to a HODAKA 100, Yamaha 250 and then a Yamaha 400 and a three ninety husky. And some people will notice I limp around and hurt a lot. Well, that was all by 19. I pretty much ruined my body motorcycle racing. So it’s not a not a good move for me.

[00:03:38.570] – Big Rich Klein

Now I understand in a lot of our listeners will understand as well. So with with riding in that area, it was a lot of desert riding trails, that kind of stuff.

[00:03:49.130] – Jim Reel

Yeah, a lot of desert, you know, because we’d go out by Victorville and, of course, the Lucerne in that area. And then, you know, there was just a lot here in the local mountains and foothills. And then down in Chino, you could go down there past the dairies and that was all wide open into the hills. And now it’s all houses.

[00:04:11.750] – Big Rich Klein

Right. Let’s let’s talk about, like high school. Did you participate in any sports or any clubs or were you a lot like a lot of us where you kind of did your own thing?

[00:04:27.650] – Jim Reel

Pretty much did my own thing, you know, the motorcycles I tried went out for football my freshman year, got on the team and, you know, just decided, you know, three or four practices out of all this ain’t for me. I was a car guy or motorcycle guy and basketball football.


None of that’s ever interested. Me too much.

[00:04:48.170] – Big Rich Klein

You like sports that require two balls, right? Yep. OK, yeah, that’s that’s that’s a lot of us of that same way. So let’s let’s talk about school though. Did you did you take any auto classes or shop classes or anything like that.

[00:05:08.960] – Jim Reel

I didn’t take any auto shop because I worked for my dad at a diesel truck repair shop from, you know, started sweeping the floors down there when I was young and was learning to do brakes and different things and, you know, rebuild carburetors. And he did, you know, the big gas engine trucks to the like Ryder vans and stuff. Right. So, you know, I was learning all that in seventh and eighth grade and. You know, so I just took mostly metal shop and welding and I took all all of that, I could, you know, two or three hours, you know, get my other classes in and then try to do, you know, two hours of metal shop and things like that that, you know, I could spend more time doing that stuff than which I should have spent more time learning grammar and English stuff where I hurt.


But it wasn’t fun.

[00:06:06.320] – Big Rich Klein

Yeah, but then you’d end up like a teacher or something. And yeah, my life could have been worse.


Exactly. So then from from in high school, did you continue working for your dad or where did you split off. And you know what happened after high school.

[00:06:27.500] – Jim Reel

After high school, I went to work for a electrical contractor in North Long Beach, you know, supposed to get in the union and have this great electrical job. And then, you know, you found out that only, you know, one hundred a year were hired out of thousands. So I did that six months delivering to, you know, the different job sites and then decided to do something else. So I went back to work for my dad and I went out to Chandler, Arizona, and worked for Nick’s Truck Electric to learn how to do starters and alternators for six, seven months, eight months, something like that.


Then came back and worked for my dad and, you know, started doing the alternators, doing the drive lines. I’d done a driveline, you know, a couple of them learning when I was like 15 and, you know, so I just kept doing more. I like to driveline part of the whole lot better than diesel brakes or turning drums or, you know, that stuff. So I just kind of naturally ended up there.

[00:07:36.950] – Big Rich Klein

That’s awesome. So you’ve been you’ve been in the driveline industry then a a fairly long time.

[00:07:42.940] – Jim Reel

Almost forty seven years. Forty seven years.  READ MORE

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