I'm considering making a a roller reefing set-up for my old wooden sailboat partially because I'm cheap (well mostly), but also because it is hard to find one that fits without modification (wire size, turnbuckle type, etc.) and I can't find one that I don't think will look out of place on my boat. I know about the Wykeham-Martin and Merriman furling gears, but I would like the ability to reef and I think the awkward installation requiring extra hardware to mount them on the bowsprit insde the stay at least partially offsets the look of the drum.
I think some of the older units that have a plain stainless steel drum would look fine, but it is so difficult to find information on any particular unit to see if it will work on your boat that I have given up on that approach.
I've found a few sites on the web where people have made their own furlers (sounds better than reefers as a short way to refer to the unit), and a description in Brent Swain's book about how to make one out of aluminum including making an aluminum profile out of aluminum pipe welded together. Most of these are quite simple, which is part of their appeal, but also probably not very attractive unless you are very skilled at metalwork (I'm probably not).
I have been looking around consignment stores in nearby towns and and have seen various parts including aluminum profiles and a few drums including one plain SS drum and one bronze No 2 Merriman drum. So I have been thinking of making my own furler. If people can make them from scratch, starting with actual aluminum profiles and drums should be possible. The SS drum would be the easiest since I think it originally was a unit where the stay went through it. The bronze Merriman drum is more appealing for asthetic reasons, but more problematic since it would require isolating the aluminum from the bronze and drilling a hole through it for the stay. I don't know enough about the internal anatomy to know if this is possible.
So has anyone made their own roller furling/reefing from scratch or patched one together from parts?