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Hydrological Equipment

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USGS B-56 Sounding Reel, English

Item No.:
65.00 LBS

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The B-56, 104-020, Sounding Reel is used to position stream gaging and sample collection equipment. The reel is intended for either power or manual operation. The power drive is an option and is described on the this page. The reel comes with either 144 feet (43.9 meters) of 0.10-inch (0.25 cm) or 115 feet (35.1 m) of 0.125 inch (0.32 cm) cable. The reel is equipped with a USGS-type computing depth indicator which can be furnished to read in either English or metric units, and has a clutch for controlling free-fall speed of the sounding weight or sediment sampler.

The Model 3237 (Canadian) comes with a 4-digit counter which displays the depth digitally in meters and centimeters.

The reel is equipped with a ratchet and pawl which must be engaged to hold the metering or sampling equipment in position. The reel is provided with a removable two-position crank to enable manual operation, 0.10-inch (0.25 cm) cable and a steel trunk; and it is supplied with a Type B connector.

B-56 Power Drive Conversion Kit

Most applications just require hand cranking so all the components to use the reel with the power drive unit are not supplied. The Power Option includes jack shaft, bearings, V-belt drive sheave and miscellaneous parts to allow the B-56 to be used with power. These components can be installed at the factory or are designed to be easily installed in the field with no special tools. The jack shaft gearing remains engaged at all times and when the reel is used with power, the motor is used only to raise the equipment.

Power Drive Unit

The USGS Power Drive Unit has a 12 VDC electric motor equipped with dual V-belt pulleys for use with B-56 reels converted for power drive. The DC motor is a heavy-duty, high-inertia starting motor. Also included is a trigger switch, a trunk, two V-belts, connecting battery cables, and a mounting bracket for cranes. The unit is designed for mounting on a Type A or Type E bridge crane on the vertical angles beneath the reel mounting plate. Also, it is designed to be mounted on the boat boom. Standard USGS cable cars must be modified to attach the power drive unit. Cable car modification kit details can be found with the cable cars. A heavy-duty 12-volt battery can normally be used from a vehicle, but one can be supplied if necessary. The power unit provides power for lifting the weight assembly only. Lowering the device is accomplished by gravity.


  • 104-020 B-56 Reel, English Units, 144 Ft
  • 104-021 B-56 Reel, English Units, 115 Ft
  • 104-022 B-56 Reel, Metric Units, 43.9 m
  • 104-023 B-56 Reel, Metric Units, 35.1 m
  • 104-025 B-56 Reel, Metric Canadian, 43.9 m
  • 104-026 B-56 Reel, Metric Canadian, 35.1 m
  • 104-062 B-56 Power Drive Conversion Kit
  • 104-040 Power Drive Unit
  • 104-055 B-56 Extended Length Reel