I bought the same one as JohnT and it worked well for about 3 months then it started to sag. I have a 20x40 and a 12 mil clear cover. It gets real heavy and the reel buckles and it is a PITA to roll up. I have to roll the handle and have my wife and kids pull the cover at the same time.
I am going to try to add those extensions to my reel to see if it gets more support and does not sag. When I bought it the rep talked me out of a cheaper one and said that the reel would sag and said the model I bought should not sag as much). He recommended a more expensive one that can handle larger covers.
If that does not work, I will probably order a thiner blanket next year.
It's hard to tell the thickness if you haven't had solar covers before. As long as it is in fairly good shape; you might as well use it until it gets briddle and starts to fall apart. Some online pool stores have a deal on buying a reel and cover together.
I tried my reel with a 16 mil cover and will never do that again. I junked the 16 mil and bought an 8 mil solar cover. That works great and I get rid of the cover at the end of the swimming season. Next year, I buy a new one. That way I don't have to clean and store it. If you store it out side, the mice will find it and build a home in it. In the spring, you'll end up getting a new one anyhow.
First tried a Leslie's low-profile reel. Ehhh. Next went to Rocky's Reel, which we've now used for several years. This reel is heavy duty and works very well, but the initial setup is non-trivial. Putting the thing together took some time, as the length of the roller is adjusted/set by drilling through the metal rather than using set screws found on cheaper/flimsier models. The reel also anchors to the pool deck via screws, which means that you need to drill into the deck to set the sleeves for the anchors. Finally, the straps holding the pool cover are affixed to the reel via self-tapping screws, rather than velcro and adhesive.
But that investment in setup time was worth it for us. We have a 20x40 free-form IG pool, and I (a small woman) can get the (12 mil) cover on and off the pool by myself, without struggling, with the Rocky's. It is easier when someone helps, but it's not absolutely necessary. The reel doesn't sag, and because of the anchoring screws doesn't tip. The Rocky's people were really helpful: I sent them a fax of our pool dimensions, and they suggested which model reel to buy, and where to install it (at the widest part of the pool, not the end--something not mentioned in the Leslie's installation instructions). The only thing that I can imagine would be easier would be an automated pool cover, but that's a whole heckuva lotta money.
I hate putting on a new cover, so anything I can do to keep the cover lasting as long as possible
I've heard good things about Fehrer (sp?) reels, too.
great info BALAGON, we also have a 20 x 40 and our reel can be a pain. it seems strong and sturdy but, its a tipper (I'm terrified that the thing will finally fall in the deep end)...I guess we could look into bolting down somehow (it seems to be a old reel).
did you say you are using it from your wide side 40'??? we are at the end side 20' across....I would love to get a auto cover but, that is some big money.
For those that have a free-form pool, did you just buy a rectangular one that was big enough to cover the entire pool and cut it to form? I'm thinking about doing this but have no idea how much trouble that would be. Does thickness matter if you're cutting it to size?
chrisa, our pool tapers at the ends, and the pool itself is kidney shaped, with a jacuzzi in the kidney indentation. So, the widest section of the pool alone (that is, where the pool is 20 feet across) is maybe 5 feet from the deep end. That's where we anchor the reel. I know what you mean about worrying about the thing tipping into the deep end! When the cover is rolled up on the reel, if it's only a few people swimming, I will leave the reel in place rather than roll the reel entirely away from the pool, because I'm worried about dumping the thing into the deep end.
akelley, yes, we bought a rectangular cover for our free-form pool and then cut it to form. You unfold the cover on the pool and let it sit for a day or two to uncompress before trimming. If you use a reel, you will want to have the seams of the cover be perpendicular to the reel (I always forget this, thought I'd remind someone else ). I suppose you could leave the thing untrimmed if you are not using a reel, but the part not sitting on the water will degrade in the heat and sun, so you might as well trim it to start. It's not too big a deal. Thickness matters in the same way as for a non-trimmed cover: heavier is going to be better, except when it's so heavy that you can't manage it. And a too-heavy cover will not work with a solar reel system unless it's super-heavy-duty. Our low-end Rocky roller can handle a 12 mil thickness cover, but something from Leslie's or similar would probably only be able to handle 8 mil.