@frank: Sometimes I struggle just to get it in (dear lord ) but after getting it in, It seems to get snagged half way or run off the track.
@Rick A: Yes I have a changing bag, but because of the heat and humidity, I don't think I can handle being in a room (I have a small space under the stairs, but I have to keep the door open to let air in and I'm not in a position to modify the space in any real way). Would a changing tent work?
@Matt King: They are lucky I chose not to really express myself . As for the bending back tape, I tried it once, and all the film in that batch had dissolved tape over it. Not sure why, it might have been because the film I tried it on was old so maybe the tape was close to decaying already.
Consensus seems to be (other than trying to fix the infernal things) the SS reels. They look harder to me, but I don't mind giving it a shot (takes about 2 weeks for items to get to me though, so I rather be reasonably sure before ordering). I saw a video on Youtube of someone loading a Hewes and it did look slick and easy.