Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Double Drive Conversion

I have an old (1980's) Ashford Traditional spinning wheel. I got a smokin' deal on it from our local Fiber Arts school, which was clearing their old student wheels out to make way for more modern stuff.

Anyways, I love the Traddy, it has been working very well for me. But the wheel ratios are pretty low: 7:1 and 10:1. So making thin singles for socks, which is a major activity of mine, is very slow work. I would like to get a faster setup.

After doing a lot of Interwebz Research, I've decided that an interesting approach would be to convert my single-drive Traddy to a high-speed double-drive machine. To that end, I purchased a high speed double drive kit, which comes with a flyer, a high-speed whorl, a new drive band, and 4 high-speed bobbins. It does not include a new mother-of-all.  (To get a new MOA I would have to buy a regular DD upgrade kit and then the high speed kit, which would more than double my cost.) I'm also pretty sure that I can reuse my existing MOA - I don't need to purchase a new one.

The high-speed ratios are 14 and 17 (in double-drive mode) and 22 (in single-drive, bobbin-led mode). These speeds are 2x faster than what I currently have, and given that you cannot really drive a stock Traddy beyond 2000 RPM (especially with a single-drive machine - no matter how hard you treadle!), it makes no sense to attempt higher ratios. This is the reason I didn't go for a lace flyer (which was more than twice the price) - I don't think you can drive a lace flyer beyond 2000 RPM either, a 40:1 ratio nothwithstanding. The drive band just starts slipping.

So the stuff arrived and I am converting my Traddy to a "high-speed double drive" system. The pictures below show the process. In addition to the new flyer and bobbins, you will need:
  • a drill with a small drill bit
  • a screwdriver
  • a ruler
  • piece of paper
  • pencil
 1. Remove the existing mother-of-all by removing the two screws that hold the MOA to the spinning wheel's frame - see blue arrows. Then remove the hinges from the MOA - orange arrows.
 [lift the MOA to expose screws to remove.]

  2. Using a ruler, extend the line defined by the 4 screw holes across to the other side of the MOA.

[draw a line across the bottom of the MOA defined by the screw holes for the hinges]

3. Using a piece of paper, mark the position of the 4 screw holes as well as the edge of the MOA.
 [use a piece of paper to create a template for the hole positions and the edge of the MOA]
4.  Now flip the paper over and transfer the markings you just made, to the back of the paper. This is a nice template you can use to determine the position of the new screw holes! Put the paper along the line and line up the MOA-edge mark, and transfer the markings for the screw holes.

[use the paper template to determine position of new screw holes]
5. Using the small drill bit, drill 2 new screw holes - the leftmost and rightmost ones only (don't drill the two "inner" holes). Put the hinges back on. Now you can remark the inner holes, if they need adjustment. Drill them too and put the screws back in.

6. Now you can reattach the MOA in its new position. It will stick towards you instead of away from you. You will probably have to slide the MOA to its furthest position towards you to get the proper alignment with the drive wheel.

That's it!!! Here are some pictures showing what the final arrangement looks like. Note that my drive wheel has a double groove, so the drive band is naturally separated. But this is an oddity (don't think many Traddy's have this "feature") and certainly not required for such a conversion.

[MOA in new position. Note it's all the way towards the spinner]

[another view, showing alignment of DD whorls to drive wheel]

Note: if you want to switch back to the single-drive mode, you unscrew the hinges from the MOA only (ie. orange arrows in first picture) and reattach them back in their old position. Realign the MOA using the slider screws (blue arrows) and you're done. Needless to say, every time you loosen screws, you weaken the wood, so you probably shouldn't do this often.
Now you're ready to roll with the double-drive flyer and bobbins. Download the Ashford double drive manual from the internet, which shows you how to align everything and how to put on the new drive band.

Astute readers will notice at this point that I did not deal with the tension knob. It is useless in this new MOA position. It's not visible in the photos above (I've removed it) but you can see where its hole is.

There are a few reasons why I haven't dealt with this:
1. I find that once I have the drive band on, I don't need to adjust the knob; I can swap from whorl to whorl without trouble. This is probably because the whorl diameters are pretty close together (much closer together than on my SD flyer).
2. It involves drilling a big hole and carving a new "bed" for a (new) washer that fits on the threads of the tension-knob-shaft, something I've not had the time - or courage - to do yet (in my hurry to play with a DD setup!)...
3. most importantly, I've got an idea for a much easier conversion, one that will allow me to switch between the two setups with less "screwing around". It will require making a new part, which means I need to enlist the help of persons more skilled in woodworking than myself. But stay tuned!!

PS: some readers have asked what my MOA dimensions are: it is 11.5 inches long. I'm fairly sure that this dimension hasn't changed in years...the new flyers and bobbins all fit on my machine...

1 comment:

  1. You can also purchase a DD maiden bar assembly for $29 http://www.paradisefibers.com/ashford-traditional-maiden-bar-assembly-double-drive-9001146.html