Friday, 2 March 2012

It all comes together... I hope.

Yesterday saw me working on a few open questions at once in the library in Bamberg, including pondering a few spinning wheel questions. There's a lot of speculation abounding in regard to the output possible on a hand-spindle, on a Great Wheel and on a modern treadled flyer spinning wheel. There are also quite a few (modern) depictions, descriptions and interpretations of the Great Wheel that do not at all fit in with the image I have in mind of that Wheel: a specialised, highly productive tool for the textile industry, with some very specific caveats and disadvantages, but also with a significantly higher rate of output than the spindle.

All these ponderings are not only in connection with the wheel project - a part of them will also find a little space in the presentation for the conference in Vienna. And all this research is finally solving a few questions I had for a long time.

One is yet unsolved, though. How do I attach the wheel rim to the spokes (or vice versa)? I don't want it all to wobble or fall apart, but I also do not want to risk damage when the wood deforms a little due to changing conditions. Input and speculation (or description of how your Great Wheel, should you have one, keeps its rim and spokes together) is very welcome.


Fiadnata said...

My great wheel, which (according to the person I bought it from) dates from 1780, has the spokes attached by small pegs/dowels. I need to repair several of them, which is what is holding me up from actually trying to play with it. It looks like repair will involve using a small drill to drill out the broken peg, probably drilling all the way into the spoke, through the rim, then insert appropriately-sized dowel, cut off and smooth down to surface of the wheel itself. (The moment of panic hits when I contemplate drilling into wood that is as old as the USA, essentially. I plan on bracing the spoke *very* carefully, to be certain there is no shifting while drilling!)

Checking my copy of "How to be Owned by an Antique Spinning Wheel" (by Peter H. Fowler, Petaluma, CA: Unicorn Books and Crafts, 2003), this is the best way to repair broken spokes. He adds the caution to use carpenter's glue to hold anything needing glued. He also notes, "Very old great wheels have the rim held by wooden pegs. The pegs are not to keep the rim from coming off radially but from slipping axially so do not need heads." (p.32)

Good luck!

a stitch in time said...

Thanks a lot, Fiadnata! I have wood nails (tapering pegs) and I had been considering them as one possible method. This lets them advance securely to the top of the "possible solutions" list!

Corbie said...

My great wheel (1840s?) has the rim held on with cut nails. Good luck!

Lois Swales said...

Hi, Stitch in Time
Phiala pointed me at your blog, since I've made a couple of these rim wheels and they've worked. I also, in the USA, have collected and examined a lot of rim wheels from the lat 1700's-1900. If they haven't been repaired, the rims are held on by tapered wooden pegs. The top of the peg starts at about 1/8-3/16 of an inch and the tapered length is about 1 inch (found from broken rim/spoke). Make them from split wood for strength-to hold them in the vise, use a longer length and work the end. I use a draw shave or knife to smooth them. The spokes are located carefully on the rim to be sure the whole thing will not wobble. This doesn't always mean the spokes are in the exact middle of the rim. Old wheels show some spokes are off center. Then mark the spoke positions from the inside and push the spoke out of the way to gimlet a small hole from inside out on the rim. The spoke holes are predrilled in the center of each spoke. The pin holes should end up leaving at least 1/8 of an inch of the pin outside of the rim when you are done. Some of the wooden pin MUST stand proud of the rim, by a tiny amount, 1/16 inch or so. That is all that holds the old rims on, no glue that I can see. Rims that were repaired with iron nails show nails loosening and damaging the wood around them. Hope this helps. Lois Swales

a stitch in time said...

Lois, thanks for your explanations and description! I did it more or less in that way : )