We picked up this wheel at an antique store for $50 and are brand new to the world of spinning wheels. I have an engineering/tinkering background and thought it might be possible to get it running again. We've watched dozens of Youtube videos and I think I have a good understanding of what all the basic parts are and the mechanics of the whole things. However, I may be in over my head with this one. I am hoping to get some guidance from anyone with knowledge on this specific topic, and this seems to be the place! I've looked through all the older forum posts about spinning wheels and learned a lot, but I still have some questions which I'll list here. I'm including images as attachments to this post. Thank you for taking the time to read this!
1. The first thing we realized is that it is missing the entire flyer. We went back to the store to see if it was there, but it was nowhere to be found. Is this something that we will be able to find and retrofit to this wheel? I was hoping to take some detailed measurements and possibly find something from a seller on Etsy that will fit. Is that a good plan?
2. Does anyone have a guess as to this wheel's history/origin? I can provide more detailed photos of any part of it if that will help.
3. At the store, the treadle was attached to the crank with a leather (or faux leather) cord. In my research I have mostly seen solid wood footmen (footmans?), but I did see a few designs where the crank was attached with a cord. I couldn't figure out the difference. It seems to me that a cord wouldn't work as it can't push the crank up against gravity. But perhaps the centrifugal force is enough and you need only pull the crank down with each revolution? Is there a way I can tell which type of footman or cord I should use for this wheel?
4. The hub is different from any I have been able to find though googling. The axle (not sure if this is the right term) is inserted right into the hub with no bushing or housing of any kind separating it from the wood. There are a number of metal slivers that have been hammered in around the axle, likely to ensure that it fits tightly and doesn't rotate at all within the hub. It seems that lack of rotation is very important for smooth revolution of the drive wheel. When we first brought it home, we made the mistake of removing the axle from the hub. This probably broke a who-knows-how-long fusion of those two components. We re-inserted it, and wedged the metal slivers back in around it to try and give a nice snug fit again. It fits quite snuggly again, but unfortunately it does slip ever so slightly when cranked. Has anyone seen a hub like this before? And/Or do you think it's possible to repair this? I am imagining that it may require someone with more wood and/or metalworking skill than I have.
What do you think? Is it a lost cause? Thanks again for your time!
What you've got there looks a lot like the old flax wheels that turn up around here (northern Sweden) quite often.
I've picked up a few and worked on making them useable, with varying levels of modernisation. If we lived nearby, I'd be delighted to help get you started. As it is, I can offer encouragement and advice as you go along.
I've added pictures of two of my recent projects: they started as a pair of identical (almost destroyed) wheels. One has been returned to almost original style, with a larger orifice grafted onto the original flyer.
The other is now my favourite; I wanted a large capacity and more compact style, so I used the parts to build a Louette-type wheel and made a complete bobbin and flyer from scratch.
On both wheels, all the original parts are blue and the rest I've made myself.
I could ramble in, giving all the tips I learned from these adventures, but don't want to hog the space and of course you're very welcome to send me a moosage any time 🤠
I haven't had an axle come loose like that, but all the wheels I've seen here have been dry-fitted, or with the occasional dab of hide glue, so it's not unexpected. If you have engineering skills, apply them with care and you'll be fine.
Tony, thank you for your response! Looking at the pictures you posted is really helpful. And knowing someone else has done this is reassuring. I imagine I may take you up on that offer of messaging as I progress through the project! I hope to end up with something as beautiful and functional as you have there!
Two questions I did if you have time:
I noticed yours have a curved crank, whereas mine has a straight crank. Does that effect the type/configuration of footman that should be used?
If I was going to try to get rid of the slippage of the axle, would you recommend hide glue? Or something else?
I'm not sure the crank shape makes any difference, but I'll gladly be told otherwise. The modern wheels I've looked at just have a stud embedded in the face of a disc (have a look at the Louette on which I modelled my 'Frankenwheel')
These old wheels only applied power on the downstroke, so your leather cord would have worked fine, with the wheel's momentum carrying it over.
No problem if you're treadling like crazy to get lots of twist into thin linen, but for a more leisurely experience, my first modification was to fix a solid footman with very little play and extend the treadle plate for a 'heel and toe' action, which applies a bit of upward power as well. Of course, that means the axle needs to be well secured in place as well; new solutions bring new problems 😉
As for the axle, I'd be inclined to clean out the opening and consider using good epoxy cement for a permanent fixation. If you're trying to be more sympathetic to its history, perhaps hide glue and freshly cut wooden wedges?