An Unusual Great Wheel

The stats page for this blog show an awful lot of interest in posts on spinning wheels. Most come from searches on the value of wheels, a topic covered in other posts. I thought today I’d show off a wheel that came to me last November.

2014 november wheels 013

This great wheel is interesting for several reasons, not the least of which is the shape and structure of its bench. Most great wheels have a rectangular bench with three legs, one at the spindle end and two at the drive wheel end. This has the requisite set up of legs but with a slight difference — the bench is a T-shape. It is extremely sturdily built with some excellent joinery in evidence. The bench fits into the rear crossbar:


The drive wheel upright has a support joined into the far side of the crossbar:


This wheel had more supports and crossbars than any wheel I’ve seen. Two of the supports need to be replaced. One doesn’t show in the photo; it runs from the rear of the leg under the spindle up under the bench. The other missing support is shown in red; it runs from the spindle post to the bench.


Some other intersting features: the tensioning device is side-mounted, instead of at the top of the bench. Also, notice the little upright post? This is a little support to hold your rolags in place while you are spinning.


I was so happy to get this wheel home I completely forget to get the mother-of-all out of a box! The wheel has a direct drive head. The spindle whorl is cracked and in two sections, so will need some restoration work.


The wheel was found in Virginia and has characteristics of being a Shenandoah Valley or Appalachian-made wheel. Dating it is difficult. My thought is 19th century, although it could be a bit on the earlier side. The wood is in fairly good condition. Once the warmer weather comes, she will get a full spa treatment and I’ll see if she can’t be made to spin again.


2 Responses to An Unusual Great Wheel

  1. Luane Lange says:

    We have multiple old wheels, and parts, at our Lee House in East Lyme CT. Always so glad to have more information.

  2. If you ever need help identifying or cataloging parts, let me know!

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