Yes, Mike, this is similar to what I thought to do if I did not find a better answer. I also use the Paterson plastic reels. I thought of cutting one of the reel's shafts down to maybe 1/2 inch and then, as you say, freely slide the two reels together. They would not be ABLE to snap back because the nipple would have been cut off, so I would stuff a pieces of plastic sheeting to make the precise width between the two reels more rigid by preventing the reels from getting wider than the film width. This would work. Too bad reels are not made to accept any width and then be able to be 'locked' into position. Too few do the crazy experimentations I do. - David Lyga