Monday, December 16, 2013


So ... A month or so ago A left town, a local knitter, who we tempted to the dark side (spinning). Her overseas spell is to be two years she divested. Bread books came my way, yarn, and fiber ... and strictly temporary one of her wheels. I may have hinted that I would be happy to look after it, who wouldn't? Any way the wheel came to live with me, and like many things started a serries of thoughts that spiraled away. I had arranged with A to maintain the wheel, even do a little spinning wheel maintenance, so I did. I worked out that one of the pins was in the wrong hole, and moved it, I changed the drive band cause I like the responsiveness and gentle take up of a finer band. The more I worked on her wheel - the more I grew to appreciate the wheel design. Long story short, I saved a search on Trademe, had them email daily what new listings were put up under the heading spinning wheel ....and there she was, a lovely little lonely Wendy. Trademe is an online auction site, like ebay, and so there was nothing to do but log on near the end time of the auction and bid. A little bit of a frantic flutter and the wheel as mine ... and in Wellington, so my neice collected her on my behalf, and last weekend Bear and elder cub flew to Wellington for a weekend of boys things and to bring back my new old wheel.

Wendy 1969 tired and dusty

This is the wendy as she arrived, faded, tired and dusty - pretty much like all travelers. I had asked the seller if the wheel had one or more bobbins, and they said just one - but look - they didn't recognize the two on the stand as bobbins. Score, three original matching bobbins, and none with splits, chips or breaks.

Tucked away at the side, an orifice hook.

The next surprise was the original orifice hook was still there, tucked away neatly under one of the stored bobbins. Of all the things that get lost as wheels are used, this is often one of them, so the orifice hook being there indicates maybe the wheel had a careful life. The close up shows how dusty Wendy was, the seller had left her as found, with the old yarn leaders, and such - which is way better than over zealous cleaning without knowledge leading to damage and breakages, and wreaking stuff that could be saved.


But, there were some bits that didn't look so promising, much of the metal was dull and brown. Metal can be cleaned, but doing so often involves much work, and the result can be less than 'new looking condition'. Oh well, everything was there, so I knew it would work well, she might just end up looking her age.

So the very next day, my second day of holiday leave, I didn't clean house or do household chores, no surprise there, I set out to refurbish a wheel. I set out a plastic mat, and laid an old worn sheet over the top to catch any drips. My cleaning kit consisted of a box of nitrex black plumers gloves, like surgical gloves but more protection from chemicals, worn green scrubbies (a modern equlivilent of steel wool), a variety of poky things, a soft clean cotton cloth and vintage wheel cleaner/polish. The polish is an old fashioned diy one, equal quantities of turpentine, white vinegar and linseed oil. If you google the mix you will find it is controversial and many report that used over thick varnish or polyurethane creates a sticky tacky build up. Just as many swear it is just the thing to clean and rejuvenate old, dry, wood. I've used it before on vintage wheels and been very happy, although I'd never use it on a modern highly finished wheel.


So the bits that I could remove I did remove, and I gently scrubbed each one with the cleaner polish and the green scrubby. Surprisingly the cleaner polish restored a gleaming shine to the brass, and a duller gleam to any steel, well as the wood.



I workd the cleaner polish with the scrubby over the flier supports, and look - the brown grime went away! I'd love to say it melted away, but no, I had to rub it away, and rub hard, and the ere tricksy fiddly corners and spots that were hard to get at. I cut one old scrubby into strips and pulled it up and over, back and forth, side to side to polish the brown away. I did remove each screw turn, which meant I could slide the metal ring stop away from the steel hoop and that gave me easier cleaning access. Then I replaced the screw and moved to the next one. I knew better than to remove all four at once.


The flier hooks cleaned up a little when I cleaned the flier, much of the brown was gone, or maybe it was just damp and oily so not so visible. Here I couldn't really tug and rub with the scrubby, I was afraid I would snag and bend or break a hook or damage it's seating. So I made use of the dremel, and used one of the soft wire brushes as gently as I could.


That workd and aft a minute or two on apache hook the metal gleamed and was blackened steel just like on my Pipy. What I love about the hooks Mr Poore used was how hard the steel is, I've seen so many Ashfords, Peggy's and others where the act of spinning has cut and worn a groove in the flier hooks, but I've never seen that on the Poore wheels.


Then I turned my attention next to the orifice, and to those favorite stand by tools of many a craftworker, disposable chop sticks and pipe cleaners. I knew having a slight addiction to sushi and stockpiling unused chopsticks were useful vices.


I wound the pipe cleaner around the chopstick, soaked it in the cleaner, and rubbed and pushed and pulled and twirled until the inside was shiny and clean.


Which left the axels, I know from past experience that one thing that slows down old wheels is fiber. Fiber caught around the orrifice, around the flier ends, in the bearings and aroud the wheel axel. In fact - fiber finds its way into all sorts of spaces of a wheel when you use it, the oild helps it stick, and as you use the wheel the fiber tightens and winds around the turning bits. I used a long needle, the kind that is sold for sewing on toy eyes to poke around all the spaces fiber likes to hide, and as I couldn't see shiny metal I suspected there was fiber wrapped around the joint. There was, I managed to free up one end, so I kept working until the feel of metal needle on metal axel told me that there was no more fiber there.


It's not a lot, but enough to make a wheel drag, this is the yarn and fiber I recovered from the axel. The other tool I tried was a dental pick, the kind dentists use, but it didn't reach far enough, and flossing with a pipe cleaner but seemed too soft, brushing the fiber into a soggy mat rather than working it loose. The 6" needle was best,the cork is the point protector ... without that protecting the point I'd do more damage reaching in the drawer to find it.


And finally I worked on the pretty bits, the brass at the base of the footman, with strips of green scrubby, an old tooth brush (I always soak them hot water and toss them I to the cleaning cupboard), and more pipe cleaners. This may have been the bit that was the most fiddly, probably as I could see the unpolished brass bits.

All that took around three or four hours, and the only repair we need to do is to a loose leg, an easy repair, just a little glue required. Nothing broken - just the fit is loose. I think for a wheel made in 1969 I can accept one leg working a little loose after 40+ years. I've now fitted a new drive band, although I think I might fit a slightly looser one, and I've spun a bit. In doing so I discovered one bobbin sticks a little, the other two run fine. So there is a little more to do, I had cleaned the inside of the bobbins as best I could with pipe cleaners, but suspect they really need something a teeny bit more abrasive to clear away 40+ years of dried oil. By the end my green scrubby was worn to seeds and not up to being cut into strips and flossed through the bobbins, so I've left that for another day. I've waxed the leather at the top of the footman, which may have been a mistake, it's much softer and bends when I treadle which isn't ideal, but I can easily replace it with new stiff leather. Then again, the Pipy has a cord footman and as long as I am in sync with the wheel, that is no problem, soft leather can't be much different to a cord footman.

Here she is, my very own Wendy, spinning, and working rather nicely. So now I have proof she is a working wheel ... Time to park her under the tree and wait till Christmas. After all she is technically a Christmas present ...

Take care

Na stella


Linda said...

Lovely outcome for a persistent, patient labor of love: inspiring!

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

I recently got a Wendy as well, and with an oiling it was good as new. I didn't think to check between the footman and the drive wheel, so thanks for that tip. The wheel has a scotch tension add-on; I was lucky that mine came with one, but they are available new online as well (not maxed by Mr. Poore's son). Well a quick google doesn't turn it up, but I think I learned about hat from the Ravelry Pipy group. There' same picture of one on flickr here :