I've got a browning reel made on a lews patten or how ever it goes when browning bought them out several years back almost 20 yrs ago and have not had any problems out of it all, but clean my reels regularly. On my 25 wedding anniversary I caught a 28" red that weighted in at 8 1/4 #'s that I have mounted plus 3 flounder, an 5 good trout all in the mouth of yates bayou. That was 16 years ago.
Wasn't Lew's bought out by Zebco or something eventually? All we used to throw were Lew Childre's reels back when. Went over to Shimano and never looked back. They were good reels for their day but I would think harder to upkeep in saltwater unless designs have changed.
They have a few different models, usually Black or Silver in color. Black ones are for freshwater...Silver is their Saltwater reel. I have used my black ones in salt, but AWAYS clean ALL reels afterwards.
ALL of these reels were designed by Lew Childre
There are a couple different sizes with the black ones, look for the model numbers which are always on the housing, handle side.
If you are asking about the SILVER Lews...the Saltwater model, (BB-25SW), I can tell you this as I own a few of them now...and about 8 SpeedSpools overall.
These are the best casting reels made, period. I will put them up next to ANY of the newer japanese reels when it comes to throwing lite baits into the wind...for whatever reason, they don't have the tendency to backlash like other reels. Also...it is a personal thing, but I love the classical design. As for "wish "x" was better"... all of my black reels have a slight bit of "play" at the hookset (maybe 1/4 of an inch)...Shimano made a living off of advertising their "superstopper", no play. On the Saltwater Lews, there is no play.
If you are wondering about the drags...Let's just say this...last year I caught and landed a 60",75lb Cobia, or Ling as it know in these parts on my Saltwater reel with 12lb Sufix line. Fought the fish for 45 minutes and landed him. Not too many drags on "bass equipment" would have held up to that battle. If it is new...I say jump on it, plus those that know fishing equipment will see it as a conversation piece. If used, unscrew the side plates and take a peek. Hopefully the guy cleaned his reels and this will tell you if he did.
I've had 5 of the Lew Childer's reels and used them all exclusively in Salt Water for many years. I loved them for their ease of maintainence and cleaning as well as durability. The only things I changed out were the bearings every 3-5 years, but I do that on all my reels... The only modifications I ever made were changing out the handles because they would get too slick when wet, so I installed aftermarket handles on all of them.