Collets + a toy wheel = happiness


First, let me begin with a photo of my wheel. It’s a Haldane Lewis, and I love it dearly.


Unfortunately, as my spinning is improving, I’m learning more about the limitations of my wheel. The first is an obvious one; Haldane wheels are no longer made, so getting spares is hard. Spare bobbins cost £15. While I would love more than 3 bobbins, I don’t want to spend that much money on them, so I will just have to make do. The next problem I encountered was the ratios. The two whorls give 6:1 and 8:1, which was fine when i was starting out, but now I’m spinning more laceweight yarn, it’s really hugely annoying. I’ve been looking out for other wheels on ebay, thinking I could maybe get an old ashford and buy the lace flyer kit, or a random old wheel I could take apart and make smaller whorls for. Sadly spinning seems hugely popular, and wheels on ebay go for silly amounts. I then thought I could perhaps glue a chamfered-edged disc onto the back of the whorl i have, but i really didn’t want to ruin the wheel, as its just so beautiful. Its a shame though, as there’s plenty of space there on the flyer shaft, as you can see here (as well as a sneak peak at the baby alpaca/tussah silk I am spinning up at the moment.


I though about trying to make my own replacement smaller whorl, but realised my metalworking skills were sadly lacking, there was no way i’d be able to make something that fitted onto a reverse threaded shaft. Then, one day, while looking at my meccano swift, I realised that mecanno has perfect wheels for this, they have a collet attached so they can be tightened onto the axels, and they have a groove in the outside for a driveband. I checked, but the collet was wayyyy too small, designed to fit on an axel of around 3.5mm, and it wasn’t big enough to bore out to fit my flyer shaft. Still, i realised that the idea was sound, I just needed to find the right sized collet.

Yesterday, I was in the model shop in the city, looking for something they didn’t have, when I thought i’d go look for collets…and I found some. I was fairly sure the ones I found were too small, I asked the guy who worked there, and he said it was the biggest size the supplier made, so I bought some on the offchance that they would fit (I stupidly hadn’t bothered to measure the shaft at any point). What I didn’t realise was that the part of the shaft I see most, where the bobbin goes, is actually wider than the part behind the whorl’s screw fitting. So the collets I bought fitted!!! I grabbed an old toy wheel, bored a groove in the edge of it, and glued the collet to it….an instant new whorl! I used a countersink bit to widen the hole at the non-collet edge, as the thread stuck out a little beyond the whorl and I wanted it to sit flush…as it is, I need to widen it a little more. I also thought the groove might be too small, and on testing realised I was right, but it didnt matter as the drive band wants to sit in the groove between the edge of the wheel and the back of the whorl anyway. So now I have a snazzy new whorl that gives me a ratio of about 11:1. It cost me less than £2 to make, and i have 3 collets left to make others!


Okay, so it’s not as pretty as the rest of the wheel. I do plan to make another stained a similar colour, and varnish it before sticking the collet on, so I don’t have to get the wood saturated with superglue. With a few minor design adjustments, I can see myself being very happy indeed with this new addition!*


*or at least, very happy until I lose the allen key that tightens it up, then I will be cursing myself and my bright ideas when I can’t get the bobbin off.

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