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The Messy Bobbin

Last Thursday I wrote a post on the Ply Magazine blog about oiling your wheel. I talked about how oiling can fix a multitude of problems and it is my go-to solution – the first thing I try. Well, let me tell you about a different problem I just tackled.

Before Christmas I was spinning and spinning. If you remember, I’m in the midst of spinning a whol lot of yarn for weaving fabric for a skirt. This yarn is a bit finer than the yarn that I made for the last 3 skirts so I need more yardage for the fabric.

Anyway, I’m spinning almost all of the yarn on the Schacht Reeves 30″ Saxony. I love that wheel. And I can spin for hours at a time on it with no problem. Christmas came and I didn’t spin for a couple of weeks because of traveling and things. So last Wednesd20170104_142655ay I got back at it. I got an empty bobbin, adjusted the tension on the wheel and got to work. But something felt a little off and I found myself adjusting the tension every few minutes and oiling more frequently to try and fix the problem.

What if felt like was inconsistent tension. Like there was pull and slack, and pull and slack. Sometimes the pull would be such that it would pull the yarn right away from me and I would have to rejoin. Sometimes it would just slide out of my hand s and sometimes it would snap and break. The slack was adding pig tails to the yarn before it even got to the orifice. I could not figure it out.

Then I remembered that I hadn;t changed the drive band in about 2 months and with the amount of yarn I had spun it was probably time for a change. So, new drive band and back to work.

20170108_105732Things felt a little better but still not right. By now I had filled my bobbin about 2/3 full and things were getting out of hand. Check out the number of pig tails on there. And I’m doing short forward draw with this yarn so there’s no excuse!

I was a bit stumped so I continued on for a little bit longer trying to think of all of the things that could have gone wrong. For crying out loud! I had just spun thousands of yards of singles on this wheel with no problem.

And then it hit me. I hadn’t used this bobbin in a while. I found it in a basket behind my chair. Who knows the last time it had been on the wheel.

I changed to a different bobbin that I knew I had spun on just recently and magically everything worked beautifully. The tension is even, the take up is smooth and I’m back to my happy place.

The offending bobbin is put aside and when I fill the current bobbin I think there may be a little bit of surgery. I’m not sure, but I think the bobbin bearings might be a bit tight on the bobbin shaft which will slow the spinning. If this is the case, I will take my round file and file the insid of each bearing just a tiny bit and see if that helps. I’ve done it on many bobbins in the past and it’s an easy way to salvage a bobbin that misbehaves.

If you are going to try this yourself, make sure you don’t file too much at a time. file a little and test it and then file a bit more if necessary. You don’t want to end up with an overly noisy bobbin because it is too loose on the shaft.

9 Responses so far.

  1. Nora says:

    Too late for me. I have a couple noisy bobbins for my Rose because I filed too much (a long time ago). One day I may figure out a way to fix it, but I have so many bobbins and I can just avoid the noisy ones for the time being.

  2. Karen says:

    Very interesting! I’d be interested in a little more detail on filing. I recently acquired a CPW, which came with 4 bobbins. Several months before I bought the CPW, I had purchased an entire storage unit of weaving tools and supplies from a retired weaver’s daughter. In the storage unit I found 6 CPW bobbins (just the bobbins — there wasn’t a wheel). They don’t quite fit the bobbin shaft on the flyer of my CPW. The shaft is 0.28″ and the center of the bobbins are 0.25″. Just last night, my husband and I were discussing the best way to enlarge the holes on these bobbins so I can use them on my CPW. Do you think filing could be a solution to this problem?

    • Beth says:

      That’s hard to say without seeing the bobbins but I guess it couldn’t hurt since you don’t have the wheel they originally were for.

  3. Suzanne Wilsey says:

    I would also love a bit more info about tool and method. Any chance of a follow up post?

  4. Sarah Hughes says:

    One of my Robin bobbins is exactly like this… it has a naughty corner all to itself 😛
    I am really looking forward to seeing your handspun fabric… it’s going to be *a m a z e b a l l z*

    S xXx

  5. Colleen Waltner says:

    I am currently spinning on one of my antique wheels. One of the bobbins is problematic but like my family before me I pushed through knowing I need to use all 3 bobbins. I knew it needed to be rebored. It was also rubbing on the orifice side of the bobbin pin. I cut a 1″ piece of plastic straw and trimmed it to fit. What I didn’t notice was while it wasn’t rubbing on the flier the straw made its way inside of the bobbin. Both problemsides were solved and everything is running smoothly!

  6. Valerie says:

    Had the exact same thing happen with my Schacht Matchless last month. And I just replaced the flyer, which required that all of my bobbins & whorls went back to Schacht to be sure everything worked together.
    I blame it on weather changes, central heating, and changes in humidity in the house. Wood was once a living thing. All of my wheels need tweaks when the seasons change.
    I do wonder if the Akerworks bobbins react to environmental conditions in the same way?

  7. Patti McNeel says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I had been spinning a fleece for a sweater before Christmas, took to it again and I just could not get things going. I oiled and oiled. Thinking about what else I could change? It’s a miracle! I checked your Blog because I love it and lo and behold I read the “Messy Bobbin”. I checked the drive band on my Matchless and couldn’t remember when I had last changed it. I changed it and LESSON LEARNED! You are the best! Thanks again.

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