Spinning Wheel Help

I have in my possession a spinning wheel that’s been in my family for generations. My great? grandfather RESTORED it, but it’s not in perfect condition. It’s actually been in pieces in a box as far back as I can remember. I think I may have just assembled it for the first time in decades. I became interested in it after trying to determine what another old spinning thing was in my attic (turns out it’s a spinner’s weasel), and that reminded me I had a wheel as well and I decided to take it out.

I’m decent at fixing things, so I think most of the repairs it needs are well within my capability - shouldn’t be anything more than some wood glue, a dowel, and some oil, but one that will be a real problem is that at some point it was turned from a functional piece into a decorative piece. I know this because they replaced the flyer spindle and orifice with a hand-carved wooden replica that’s painted silver.

Bless their heart. It’s obvious they put a lot of work into mimicking the original piece, and had no idea they were rendering the wheel inoperable. My question is if you all are aware if I can purchase just this piece of a wheel. I’d like to keep the rest of the flyer/ spindle assembly, since it matches the wheel and is in excellent condition. Can I buy only this part somewhere?

If it turns out I can’t, I may try and have a machinist friend of mine fabricate a new one based on the wooden model. I’m not sure what else I could do.

I’ve tagged a member, @mullerslanefarm who knows all about spinning and can perhaps help you.
It would be wonderful to see this wheel brought back to working condition.

Thanks for tagging me @salmonmac.

@Loquinho, My first thought when I saw your first picture is this is a non-functioning wheel that was sold in the 1960’s as a decorative piece. They were very popular during that era. It is very possible you have an original and no modifications have been made to it, other than the finish.

Tell-tale signs, besides the look of wheel, include:

  1. No orifice in the flyer.
  2. Bobbin and whorls are one piece
    3 Whorls are the same diameter.
  3. Sometimes, the knob at the end of the table did not move the mother-of-all.

If the knob does moves the MOA, some people have been successful in turning this wheel into a functional wheel by replacing the flyer with one that has an orifice & reverse threads at the end, separating the bobbin & whorl & putting matching reverse threads in the whorl.

You can simply tie up the treadle to the footman with some sort of cordage or leather thong.

Please keep me updated on this wheel. I’d love to hear what you do with it.

1 Like

@salmonmac @mullerslanefarm, underneath the wheel I found a hand stippled label indicating that my great grandfather, a wood worker, restored it in 1961, so it has to be at least old enough that it was in poor condition by 1961. To address some of your items, the mother-of-all does adjust on the drive band screw. The bobbin does turn independently of the whorl and flyer assembly- the bobbin doesn’t spin as freely as it could since the mandrel is a piece of painted wood, but it is its own piece.

And, as crazy as it sounds, while trying to look up the term “reverse threads” to figure out what you’re talking about, I accidentally stumbled across a fabricator that makes custom spinning wheel flyer mandrels.

Full Chisel Spinning Wheel Flyer Mandrel

So I may have answered my own question. The pulley on my flyer appears to have been glued onto the fake wood mandrel - of course, now knowing that I was tightening it while trying to loosen it due to the reverse threads, if they exist, I’ll try removing it the other way and see if that works.

As for the look of the wheel, this is the closest thing I could find online. It’s a Pennsylvania design from the early 1800s. I’m not committing to mine being original, but if it’s a repro, it’s an old one based on an earlier design.

@mullerslanefarm, thanks for you help. To a non-spinner, this is fascinating to read about.

Loquinho, @mullerslanefarm is really the person to tag for good advice here.

@salmonmac @mullerslanefarm Thanks, I tagged the wrong person. This forum has a different format than I’m used to. Edited and fixed.

@mullerslanefarm And yes, thank you so much for the information! It’s not the easiest thing to come by online, even with the mighty Google.

Just a small update - I got the flyer apart! There don’t appear to be any threads left inside the pulley, so when I order a new mandrel I’ll have to get a bushing for the pulley that matches the threads so I can tighten it back up appropriately.

That is great news, @Loquinho!! I hope you can make contact with the person for the new mandrel!!

Except for missing the upright support pieces, it reminds me of my old Irish Saxon wheel circa late 1700’s (original finish on it). I sold that wheel and another antique one to help buy an Ashford Elizabeth 30"

@mullerslanefarm When you had that old Saxon, did it disassemble easily? On my wheel literally every part disassembles except the flywheel itself - it was in a pile in a box and I had to figure out how it all went together based off diagrams. I think in order to make it stable I’m going to need to glue and dowel the legs to the base, and possibly the wheel uprights as well. Would this be inauthentic, or are these wheels supposed to be at least partially permanently attached?

@Loquinho, It was assembled when I found it in an antique store 14 years ago. It took some ‘convincing’ to remove some of the parts that proved to be difficult to disassemble. They uprights were pegged into place. The legs were not. Even though I could not easily remove the legs from the table, they were loose & would not hold the treadle bar. I glued a sturdy piece of leather on the bottom of the front legs and used twine tied at the bottom between the two front legs to keep them stable enough to hold the treadle bar in place.

The wheel when I first got it:

When I sold the wheel a couple years ago, my husband was able to remove the legs with no damage. I’m glad I didn’t have him do it when I first got the wheel and glue the legs to the table. I would have never been able to disassemble it for shipment.

Ready for shipment … the support piece for the upright:

Top of table … upright & support:

Underneath table. The same upright is pegged into place

Everything should be able to be disassembled easily except for the drive wheel on old wheels. Shims and pegs are your friend. :slight_smile:

Does this help??