Replacing Spindle Wheel Bearings

April 26, 2014


Great wheel, walking wheel, wool wheel, Jersey wheel, spindle wheels — the names vary, but the result is the same — the ability to spin fiber off the tip of a spindle.

A problem common to spindle wheels is missing or worn out spindle bearings. These bearings are typically made of cornshuck and are either in an advanced state of dry-rot or are broken off when you find a wheel.

This is a typical example: what remains of the old cornshuck bearings is jammed up inside the bearing holes.

01 bearing

Take an X-acto knife and carefully scrape out as much old cornshuck as you can. Once the majority is out, you may still need to take a drill to finish reaming out the hole. This leaves a lot of tiny debris, so it is handy to have some sort of vacuuming implement nearby!

02 bearing

In this instance, the replacement bearings will be leather. You can braid a set of cornshuck bearings but leather tends to hold up better.

03 bearing

Again, the X-acto knife is your friend, because you can use it to trim and basically whittle the leather into the proper width and taper. To measure the length, insert one end of the leather strip into the bearing hole and bring the rest around the mother-of -all.

04 bearing

Trim down this end and tuck through the bearing hole. Done. 15 minutes. These went in so snug, they don’t need a shim or a nail to keep them in.

05 bearing

Reassemble the MOA and mount the spindle head on the post.

07 bearing

Add the drive band for the minor’s head and the main drive band. Adjust your tension.

06 bearing

Spin. Enjoy. Confound the neighbors. It is as easy as that!

08 bearing