Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Cleaning my Ashford Traditional spinning wheel

Today I have been busy doing one of those jobs I have been putting off: cleaning my spinning wheel.  I have an Ashford Traditional.  I've had it for about three years.  Just lately, I have noticed spinning has become hard work.  When I was at a demonstration recently I used another Ashford Traditional, it felt much smoother than mine.  It is was definitely time to do some serious maintenance on my wheel. 

When I spin, I can feel resistance, my wheel lumbers along like it really can't be bothered. This is my own fault.  I have been using the wrong kind of oil on my wheel.  Thinking oil was oil I didn't buy any special oil for my wheel, I used what I had to hand.  Vegetable oil.  My Dad is a great advocate of vegetable oil. He slaps it on anything which should move and doesn't.  After all, there's a great big bottle sat there in the kitchen waiting for an occupation. If you spin and you ever feel tempted to put vegetable oil on your wheel DON'T DO IT.  

The problem with vegetable oil is it is sticky.  Not only does it gum up the moving parts but fine fibres and general grime stick in the oil, generating even more friction.  I've spun a fair bit of rabbit fur and that is especially good at flying around and working its way into every crevice of both my wheel and my drum carder (but that's another story).  

So today I got out the assembly instructions for my wheel (it was flat pack when I got it) and carefully revised the anatomy of an Ashford Traditional.  I looked at the diagrams; I looked at my wheel.  I read the help pages on the Ashford website.  Then I got the allan key and the screw driver out.

With the aid of a willing but publicity shy family member, I took my wheel apart.  The basic idea, pardon the expression, is to ask the wheel to splay its legs.  That means removing the mother of all, undoing the screws holding the side rails to the single leg and then easing apart the wheel supports. 
My wheel without the mother of all
It took two people, one to hold the wheel supports apart while the other cleaned the crank shaft with a cloth soaked in white spirit.  There was quite a lot of gunk in there.  We also detached the top of the conrod from the crank shaft and cleaned the whole area. Then I took the white spirit to the flyer.  
The crank shaft and the top of the conrod
 My poor wheel is now recovering from the operation. I can't wait to start spinning again and yes, this time I will be using spinning wheel oil.

You can get spinning wheel oil in the UK from P and M Woolcraft. 


  1. vegetable oil cures all - reminded of that great running gag in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" about the Windex.

  2. My significant other swears by WD40 and squirts it onto anything that stays still long enough. So far there have been no casualties! I'm glad you've sorted the problem, I imagine spinning is hard enough without having to coax your wheel into pulling it's weight, so to speak. Em x