Also repairs and fettling - Absolute beginner - have found spining wheel - will it spin?

Hi Spinners !

Here are some pictures (in the post below) of a spinning wheel that I picked up in a charity shop today for £30. From what little I’ve been able to find out I think it is complete. I can also treddle the big wheel round and round and the little bit around the bobbin with the hooks in whizzes round and round at a fast rate of knots. The end of the bobbin has a groove on it and there appears to a functional, but somewhat Heath-Robinson loop of thread holding the bobbin still and attached via a rubber band which seems to give it some springiness. In my shed I have a couple of bags of fleece from my shearling Jacob sheep in the summer. I have also ordered some carding combs.

I’d love to know:

  1. Does it look complete?
  2. What sort of spinning wheel is it - no labels or anything on it?
  3. Is it a reasonable sounding expectation that I might be able to spin the wool I have - do I need to wash the wool first?
  4. Will I need more bobbins and if so how do I determine that any I buy will fit?
  5. Is the rubber band contraption the brake that I read controls the thickness of the thread? How tight do I need it?
  6. Was I robbed at £30?


Welcome to the forum!
Well done with the spinning wheel purchase and the photos. . I’ll bet @mullerslanefarm will be happy to help.

Hi @SpinningMum

I have absolutely no clue what kind of wheel this is. I’ve not seen anything like it. It is almost as if some very talented woodworker took parts of different wheels they found and cobbled them together is a wonderful way.

It is most definitely complete and should spin very well.

I always like having more than one bobbin, however when I had my antique wheels, I had to make due with only having one bobbin. It’s very possible you may be able to find another bobbin to fit this wheel if it is indeed cobbled together.

The rubber band does control the braking of the bobbin which controls how fast the yarn is taken up onto the bobbin. Thicker yarns needs a faster take up, thinner yarns need more twist so they need a slower take up. Don’t worry about that right now! You have to be able to control the speed of the wheel first!

The ‘mother-of-all’ (maiden uprights, flyer & bobbin) sits on a hinged table. You want this adjusted so it just turns the flyer. You don’t need it really, really tight. That just stretches the drive band.

Does your Jacob fleece need to be washed? Well, how dirty is it and how dirty are you willing to get your wheel? Some spinners like ‘spinning in the grease’. I do, however I also like getting the dirt out of the fleece & grease. When spinning in the grease, you really need a prime fleece where the locks are well defined and aligned. I keep the basket of locks next to the woodstove in the winter so the lanolin is softened and the fibers slip. It’s no fun to spin cold lanolin, you’ll fight with the fleece the whole time.

When you comb the locks you will be preparing for spinning worsted. If you were to get hand cards and carding the wool, you will be preparing for spinning woolen.

The Joy of Handspinning has some helpful articles on washing fleece, knowing your spinning wheel parts & actually spinning that I think can help you.

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Mullerslanefarm, what great info. Many thanks for the same. I will follow up with the joy of spinning website as you suggest. It seems I may have made a lucky buy then - utter novice speculates on something she knew nothing about and on the spur of the moment and ends up with a bit of complete and working kit! I’ve spent the afternoon fiddling with it and it now spins freely and quietly. A bit of oil here and there seemed to put the odd annoying squeal right. I also found a online video of a machine that worked in a similar way and it showed me how to thread yarn out of the spindle barrel which was really useful. That old bit of yarn in the photos was still attched to it so that is what I’ve been playing around . A difficult thing seems to always make it run in the same directìon, and i am also interested in how you get wool off the spindle. However, now I know it is complete I think it will be worth trying.

Anyhow many thanks for the advice so far and the welcomes.


Refer to image on this page for parts of a spinning wheel:

The way I teach new wheel spinners to spin is to first get comfortable with operating the wheel. You don’t even work with any fiber at this point. The object is to work the treadle and develop a rhythm, the wheel’s heartbeat so to speak, so that the drive wheel (aka fly wheel) turns slowly. Anyone can ‘speed treadle’ however you will not be able to draft your fiber quickly enough to create yarn at that quick pace.

Different wheels have different treadle patterns. Some operate better with a quick downward push of your toe when the conrod (aka footman) reaches just past top center. Others like a toe & heel operation. Spending time learning the heart beat of your wheel will show you what the treadling pattern works best on your wheel.

Once you can treadle slowly and keep the wheel moving in the same direction at a slow speed, stop your wheel using nothing but your feet. When you are spinning, there will be plenty of times you will need to quickly stop the wheel and your hands will be full of fiber! Knowing how to stop using only your feet will help you out greatly. Now try to start your wheel, again using nothing but your feet. In a short amount of time, if you are working on just your treadling and concentrating on where your feet are when you stop and start, you will be able to do these actions without thinking. When you start spinning, your mind will be on the fiber and your hands will be busy with that. Having previously developed the muscle memory in your feet of being able to stop and start your wheel will lead to one less frustration as you begin to learn to spin.

This is the part of spinning my students dislike the most because it’s boring … they want to jump directly into spinning fiber. 90% of the time, once they do jump into spinning and get frustrated, they go back to just practicing their treadling. :slight_smile:

Next up is getting used to having the fiber run through your hands and learning the tensioning nuances of your wheel. Once again, we’re not spinning yet.

Remove the yarn that is currently on your bobbin. (Let it come directly from the bobbin. You can wind it into a ball or around your elbow & hand to make a skein.) Next, thread commercial yarn through the orifice, over the hooks & tie to the bobbin. You will want no tension on the brake band at all. Start treadling. Increase the tension on the brake every so slightly by turning the long, white knob (I’m assuming it turns) until you feel the yarn start to move from your hands on to the bobbin. Keep treadling and let the yarn wind on to the bobbin holding onto the yarn with a slight grip.

Keep an eye on your bobbin. You do not want to fill up one end quickly but disperse the yarn over the whole bobbin evenly. To do this, you must stop the wheel and change the yarns position to a different hook.

The reason this step in learning to spin is important is two-fold: it teaches you the tensioning of your wheel and the 2nd frustration beginning spinners have is not letting go of the fiber to feed onto the wheel.

Above all else, Have Fun!

Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Be sure to tag me, ( type in @ and my username should pop up) since I don’t frequent the board that often, which is why @salmonmac always has to tag me! (Thanks again!)

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@mullerslanefarm I can’t thank you enough for this introduction, it has answered many of the questions that I was already forming about the wheel, such as how to always make it go in the same direction (apparently practice), how to make the hands and feet do different things (you teach the feet first :slight_smile: ), is the speed important (cleary - yes it is). I shall enjoy the process of learning to control the wheel I think. It is a most satisfying thing to treddle and make go round. Since I don’t have my wool prepared at the moment it will be interesting to familiarise myself with the wheel.

Regarding the white wheel to tension the bobbin and allow it turn or otherwise - this wheel is absent, however the tensioner has been tied to a piece of branch stuck in a hole. I had been considering how to adjust the tension of the bobbin since reading that it was important. I had toyed with the idea of increasing the distance that the piece of wood stuck into the hole, but of course and as you suggest, the way to adjust the tension is indeed to twist the knob or piece of wood! and thus shorten the distance of the brake string (I should have thought of this!). In this knowledge I have a lathe and a brother and I am sure I can fashion a suitable knob with a hole in it to tie the string too and then I will indeed have a knob that I can turn to adjust the tension on the bobbin. I can also see why the bobbin tension is important - when un-tensioned the bobbin spins at the same time as the hooks - thus it won’t wind on the thread, When the brake is applied/tightened the bobbin slows down and as the hooks spin faster they wind on the thread and thus the speed of that winding can be adjusted - yes? How clever - such a simple premise, but I can see how it would work,.

I’ve had a look at the parts of the spinning wheel pictures. I think my spinning wheel has most of those parts, but I don’t think I have this bit:

D. Flyer Whorl – A pulley attached to the flyer and operated by the drive band. The different sized grooves on the flyer whorl determine how fast the wheel will spin.

My flyer does not have a separate drive band. The drive from the flywheel directly turns the flyer by running directly onto a single groove which is part of the flyer assembly there is no secondary grove or separate drive band - I assume this is not a problem?

So the only puzzlement I have at the moment is that I have spotted that there is a hole in the front of the ‘backbone’ of the unit (I still haven’t read the bit on naming!). At the same end as the mother of all on the right hand side if you view it end on. About 1/2" across and there is nothing in it. The hole looks purposeful and I wonder if there is something missing?

NB. I’ve also been reading up on my fairy tales - this spinning wheel would not appear to have spindle (which seem to be present on drop spinners) for the sleeping beauty to prick her finger on - did the Bothers Grimm get it wrong?

Anyhow, I shall indeed experiment with the speed of the wheel and practice starting and stopping it as you suggested and will investigate the preparation of my wool while I learn. Many thanks

@SpinningMum, Don’t worry about the Flyer Whorl … the picture of the parts is showing what is known as a Double Drive wheel. The singular drive band goes from a whorl on the flyer around the drive wheel back towards the mother-of-all, around a whorl on the bobbin, back around the drive wheel then connecting up at the flyer whorl. Tensioning is created by raising the mother-of-all

Your wheel is a Single Drive with a Scotch Tension aka flyer led single drive. The singular drive band goes from the whorl on the flyer around the drive wheel back to the flyer whorl. Tensioning is created with a brake band on the bobbin.

(Additionally there is also a Single Drive with an Irish Tension aka bobbin led single drive. The singular drive band goes from the whorl on the bobbin around the drive wheel back to the flyer whorl. Tensioning is created with a brake band on the flyer.)

YES!! Exactly!!

I don’t understand what you’re trying to describe as the ‘backbone’ and I can’t see a hole in your pictures. It could possibly be just a handy place to put an orifice hook …

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I’ll get a picture of it sorted, probably tomorrow. The bit doesn’t seem to have a separate label in the diagram - the roughly rectangular bit of wood it all sits on - if it was a three legged animal/horse it would be the backbone of the horse if the flywheel was its head and neck and mother of all the tail. I’ll grab a photo tomorrow - probably easier! LOL

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Thanks for the info about the flyer whorl, since it is clearly correct, I’m going to fettle the bobbin brake - see below.

I’ve also got a photo that shows the mystery hole see below. Should it be empty as it is please? Also, there is a photo of the flywheel bearing arrangement - we have noticed that D shaped metal ends appear to work themselves out of the fitting to a certain degree. We can tap them back in, but they don’t remain entirely flush with where they will tap back to as the wheel spins - is this a problem and is there anything that needs to be done please? NB. My pictures seems a bit big dispite editing, but the whole photo seems to show on clicking them - still getting used to this forum format.

Other things I’ve done, I’ve oiled the metal adjustment nut that lifts the ‘mother of all’ up and down’ this was so stiff I was concerned about breaking it, but with some oil it down runs up and down smoothly, also I have noticed that the tension could easily come off the drive band and still have the flyer turn so I have done this. I have also chatted to my handy-people here and we are going to fashion a replacement bobbin break, they also think that it might be possible to fashion a spare bobbin if I can’t get one - we have a wood lathe and a metal lathe here and I have folks skilled in metal and wood and they think both aluminium and wood could be used to fashion a functional bobbin. I also wondered about treating the leather holders on the maidens - would a bit of neatsfoot be a good idea? We are horsey household and I have that and saddle soap to hand. Anyhow the pictures follow.

I’m not sure what the D shaped things are but I don’t think they should be working their way out!!

The mystery hole is as I expected, a handy storage place to put your orifice hook. I keep mine on a chain and hanging from the front maiden although one of my wheels has a similar hole.

Oil everything that is hinged, is a bearing or moves! This includes the leather ‘ears’ the flyer/bobbin sits on. Don’t forget the treadle


That’s great @mullerslanefarm, many thanks. At the moment my ‘orifice hook’ is an old crochet hook that I have found - it seems to work well. I’ll get busy with my oil can, I’m gradually finding more and more bits I can put oil onto/into. My brother reckons the D shaped metal bits are part of the flywheel bearing I’ll see whether I can introduce some tiny wooden wedges or find some other way to stop them moving.

I am still fascinated by how it all works the weighted flywheel is a brilliant idea for making it easy to run, it almost pulls the wheel around once it is just beyond top dead centre. There were some clever people that must have invented them, and it is also a real lesson in action of ‘mechanical advantage’ the distance the drive belt travels in one cycle around the big wheel making the flyer zoom round so many times. Sorry the scientist anorak in me has well and truly kicked in and I am just fascinated by how it all works.

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It truly is fascinating! The Schacht Matchless spinning wheel has 6 exchangeable flyer whorls so you can change the flyer:drive ratio from 4:1 all the way to 21:1

That sounds a brilliant idea. At the moment it seems the most difficult thing is the brake on the bobbin - it is very easy for it to be all or nothing - though I still need to fashion a more adjustable mechanism and hopefully that should help make the adjustment easier.

@mullerslanefarm obviously I do have my own fleeces and my goal is to try and spin these. As I learn how to make the spinning wheel work would I find it easier to buy some pre-prepared fibre to spin in the first instance?

@SpinningMum For your brake band, try using a couple of small, light weight springs. Hook the end of a spring where the rubber band currently is, tie a string on it, take the string around the bobbin, and tie it to the twig (giving it enough lead to be about to make a couple rotations around the twig). Some spinners also put a spring between the bobbin and where the adjusting peg is.



For fiber … Medium staple wool such as corriedale, falkland, romney works best for beginning spinners. I have a feeling you’re not in the States … You can find plenty on Etsy however if you’re like me and like to save money (and eventually want to play with dyeing your own fiber), you might want to check out RH Lindsay ( I suggest on that page the following products: #1021, # 22D, #47, #48, #91, #27D & #21D


@mullerslanefarm many thanks for the pictures, I’ve shown them to my resident handy person (brother!) and they have been out this evening with their lathe and a little bit of box wood and the Heath Robinson twig arrangement is no more, voila - a new brake adjuster for the bobbin

Bobbin brake adj

It has a little spring on the other side and we have a fine adjustment on the bobbin tension now. I have taken a rust residue off the bobbin spindle and have applied some neatsfoot oil to the leather holders on the maidens. Also one of maidens had a little wobble, but I have taken a screw driver to that and it is now nice and firm.

We have also examined the wheel and it appears that there is a braised repair on the drive shaft metal which is less then square and is affecting the ‘trueness’ of the rotation to some degree, there is also a threaded shaft running through a plastic bush which is introducing some degree of friction which if removed would make the wheel run more smoothly. Brother is a fairly skilled engineer and TIG welder and believes that he can improve on the somewhat bodged repair and cause the wheel to run more smoothly and I think he will try to do something over the next few days. We have also noticed a slight wobble in one leg, but think this is easily solveable. Already what we have done is making the wheel run more smoothly than it already did - I was encouraged to investigate things because I saw videos online and the wheels just move at a slight touch - I am hopeful that my £30 ($40) buy will run in a similar manner when we do all these little tweaks.

Sometimes Bro and I don’t see eye to eye, but my wheel appeals to the engineer in him and he is very enthusiastic about it running as well as it can - he is even going to try making me some spare bobbins from lightweight aluminium!

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So brother has continued his fettling. In his opinion the ‘big end’ assembly was crooked (not 90 degrees) and the threaded bolt used as a repair job was causing un-necessary friction in the piece of plastic being used as a bearing in the drive rod assembly. He has re-engineering the big-end in his workshop (building the new one from scratch with bits and bobs and welding it in place using a sleeve system), and created a new brass bearing bush for the drive shaft to replace the plastic one. Isn’t he clever? Pictures of old and new attached. He has quite enjoyed doing it and (I think seriously) said that if one has similar stuff they want overhauled to let him know!



New assembly (the top of the drive shaft was already cracked, but as it functions we are keeping it for the moment)
new assembly

NB. I’ve forgotten how I rotated the last photos, will correct when the memory gives up its secrets.

@mullerslanefarm looking at the comments you made regarding makers on the other thread we have found something with a mark on it on my wheel. We have found a metal pin in the side of the axle holding plate on the wheel. The pin is clearly marked with a K - are there any makers of spinning wheels that use a capital K as a logo or perhaps begin with the letter K?

None that I know of. There’s a website that has, or had, a ton of pictures of various old and new wheels by various makers. I believe it is the Spinning Sleuth. I’m not even sure it is still around.

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