Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Story of Balthazar

A long, long time ago I set up my google reader to let me know whenever the search terms "spinning wheel" got a hit on the craigstlists for Houston, Austin, and here. I've seen a lot of $300 wheels posted, and a few $200, and those I just skip over. A new wheel is like dessert - you want it, but you don't really need it. So I set myself a $100-150 budget on the off-chance that a good-looking wheel would happen to pop up for sale.

So last weekend, after I get back from some doctor-stuff (turns out I'm anemic, not a huge deal, seems to run in the family) I checked my google reader and hey - spinning wheel, $50, Houston! I emailed the seller and got a couple pictures. She said that the treadle worked, the wheel turned, and all the pieces seemed to be there.

The seller had said that this was her grandparents' wheel, and probably an antique, but she didn't know how old it was or what manufacture. I posted the pictures she had given me on Ravelry, and soon found out that it is a Canadian Production Wheel, which were made from the late 1800s into the 1940s. I was very excited.

So I ran by the bank, drove to Houston, and got me a new wheel. She was right, all the parts do work, the only thing that was missing was a drive band. He is a beautiful, beautiful wheel - but what an UGLY finish!

Well, I knew what I had to do. If this had been the original finish, I would have cleaned him up and could then have sold him for about a grand. HOLY CRAP, right? But from what I could see, he had been painted over in some orange color, and then had varnish applied over THAT, and THEN gotten covered in grime. So of course my best option was to refinish him.

It took two days and three bottles of refinisher to get down to the wood on all the pieces. There were some gouges on the underside of the base and under the metal treadle that needed to be repaired with wood filler, and most of the metal parts had been painted over as well, including paint in the screw holes and paint in parts that were supposed to be movable. I had to damn near fully dismantle the wheel in order to remove it all, but by god, I cleaned that wheel up good.

It was all worth it in the end, though. Balthazar the Canadian Production Wheel is happily restored and sitting in my living room.

Balthazar is definitely more of a diva than the Babe - as a double drive band wheel that only came with one bobbin, he has a ration of 12.5:1 and more take-up than I was really expecting. He's also much heavier than the Babe (wood heavier than pvc, who'd have thought), AND single treadle, so I end up having to treadle faster than I'm used to just to keep him going. It's a bit of a challenge right now, but when it works, we make the nicest, smoothest, thinnest singles I could ask for. And he LOVES woolen spinning! Go figure!

So I've been carding up some black shetland from Copper Moose, and some hand-dyed silk that ended up more red-pink in person than it had appeared on my monitor, and spinning an awesome, funky yarn that I'm privately calling Bubblegum Goth. My carding skills are not so great, but with a wheel that does so well with rolags, it's time to buckle down and learn. And I couldn't be happier.

1 comment:

K Young Local 3 said...

What a wonderful resurrection!! Happy spinning