So, last week I wrote about drive bands and brake bands: let them rest in a relaxed length, not stretched.
Another important spinning wheel maintenance tip has to do with friction. Friction is a force that resists the sliding of two contact surfaces.
For spinning, there are times when friction is good, and times when friction is bad. When it comes to wheel maintenance, friction is generally bad. It’s important that many of the moving parts of a spinning wheel are able to move freely, without the resistance of friction. Minimizing this sort of friction with lubrication will not only make your wheel last longer, but it will make spinning easier, less effortful.
Here are my “rules” for lubricating your wheel:
Rule #1. Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance/lubricating advice. Many wheels made today have “enclosed bearings” for the drive wheel and those bearings do not need to be oiled. Some manufacturers suggest specific lubrication; for example, Louet recommends Vaseline for lubricaion. That’s what I use on my S-10. Some spinners are very particular about which type of oil they use. I’m not so picky. I’m more picky about my Rule #2…
Rule #2. Wipe off all the old oil. Over time, oil – or whatever lubrication you use – will collect grit, dust, fiber, pet hair, whatever. When that happens you effectively increase friction. That’s a bad thing. I keep a cotton rag handy, and before I oil my wheel I use the rag to thoroughly wipe off the old oil. Always. So, keep a rag handy.
Rule #3. Oil the parts associated with the bobbin and flyer more often. Oil the parts associated with the drive wheel and treadles less often. For many wheels, each time you treadle once, the drive wheel rotates once. But the bobbin and flyer rotate many more times (the number of times depends on the drive ratio), thus they need more frequent oiling than the drive wheel or treadles. I apply new oil – and wipe off the old oil – to the bobbin/flyer/maidens every time I change bobbins. I apply new oil – and wipe off old oil – to the drive wheel axle (on my Reeves, but not on my Louet or Lendrum) and crank/footman contact and treadle/legs contact every few months, or when I start a new project.
To determine where to apply oil, you will need to analyze where parts come in contact and where you want to minimize friction of that contact.
The bobbin comes in contact with the shaft of the flyer. So you will want to apply oil to the bushings of the bobbin or the points on the shaft where the bobbin touches the shaft of the flyer.
On many wheels, the flyer is held in place by the front and/or rear maidens. So you will want to apply oil at those contact points. Some flyers are held in place by leather bearings on the maidens. If these leathers are new, they will need to be oiled frequently until they get infused with the oil.
If your wheel does not have enclosed bearings at the axle of the drive wheel, you will want to oil the axle. And you’ll want to oil the point of contact between the crank and the footman.
Most spinners forget all about the treadles. But they need to move smoothly and without friction at the place where the treadles contact the legs or base of the wheel. Some wheels have pegs that connect the treadle to the legs. Some wheels have hinges. These contact points are potential points of friction and can be lubricated.
Your wheel is a machine that requires minimal maintenance. But that maintenance is important to the longevity of the wheel, the smooth working of the wheel, and the ease with which you use the wheel.