Trouble-shooting a spinning wheel

There are many simple wheel problems that we can solve ourselves, often very easily. I wrote about some of them in Creative Fibre magazine in June, and here is the article.

The first question to ask someone (or oneself) when a wheel is playing up is ‘When was it last oiled?’ If the answer is an embarrassed ‘Umm…’ the cure may be surprisingly quick.

If oil isn’t the solution, you need to diagnose the trouble. It can be hard to tell where the noise/stiffness/whatever is coming from. One possibility is to start from scratch – first take off the driveband and just treadle. Is the drive wheel running quiet, smooth and straight (get someone else to watch) and are the treadle, footman and crank behaving as they should?

If all is well so far, add the driveband, flyer and whorl but no bobbin yet (assuming it’s scotch tension – with double drive you’ll have to include the bobbin at this stage). If everything is still running smoothly, add a bobbin with a very long leader, feed it in as though spinning and see what happens.

This approach can sometimes isolate the problem. I hope ‘Spinning wheel ailments’ will provide a few solutions.

2 thoughts on “Trouble-shooting a spinning wheel

  1. Karen Severn.

    Such good info here. I can always remember at a spinning camp when a friend was having major problems with a little Peacock. I had my trusty oil and Vaseline handy and all was good.
    Just reading your other article on Spinning wheel ailments where the Nagy is featured. Silly me removed the original hand made brake band. What is your preference? All the best, Karen.


    1. maryinnz Post author

      Hi Karen – yes, it’s truly amazing what a drop of oil can do. Sometimes.
      Was it the brake band or drive band on that Nagy? Brake bands need to be fine and a bit slippery. No 10 crochet cotton is often recommended. Drive bands not quite so fine and not slippery. Perhaps cooking/butchers twine? But it doesn’t want to be too stretchy. Wheels vary in what sort of brake and drive bands they like.
      Sorry, one of those maddening ‘It depends’ answers. Your wheel will tell you if it doesn’t like what you’ve put on it.



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