For a long time I had thought a CPW would suit me, but the C stands for Canadian, and there are very few of them this side of the Pond.
My feelings were reinforced when I got to have a play with Anna’s wheel in Zurich last October. I didn’t want to stop. So when a Ravelry friend spotted a large wheel on ebay I was right there! The photos were terrible, but I could see that it was indeed a CPW, so I bought it. It was in Aberdeenshire, and I knew Littlejohn’s would pick it up and bring it home. They did – and earlier than I expected too. Which is why I hadn’t cleared the space for it!
So what is a CPW? The Canadian Production Wheels were made in Quebec, in the eastern side of Canada, from the mid 1800s to about 1940. They are sloping bed wheels with large wheels (mine is 31″), cast iron parts and ’tilt tension’. Most have a knob on the flyer end, but this is just decorative and is not there to adjust the tension. That is done by tilting the mother-of-all towards or away from the wheel. For much more about the wheels and their history, see Caroline Foty’s ebook, Fabricants de Rouets. (Caroline is fiddletwist on Ravelry and the book is available from her.)
I knew from the ebay photos that the crank was broken, but I also knew that was no problem living in a rural area where blacksmiths are used to mending things. My motocross son was able to give me 3 or 4 names, and the first one said they can do it!
The most obvious ‘problems’ are the least important. There is a bit out of the wheel itself, and one joint has opened. Neither will be a problem in use.
I am not restoring it to its original condition, just cleaning it up and getting it working. The wheel itself turned easily, but the flyer assembly was seized. So my first job was to squirt plenty of 3-in-1 oil on to the screws of the tilt tension and the axle of the flyer. I did this morning and night for a couple of days, and that did the trick. I was able to move the maidens to get the flyer off, and then to get the whorl and bobbin off. I cleaned it all, rubbed boiled linseed into the wood, and coated the axle with silicone gun oil and put it back together again. It has now been sent off to Mike Williams to make a couple of new bobbins for it.
One more night with the 3-in-1 and I was able to undo the butterfly and bolt that held the mother-of-all (MOA). There was a fairly recent nail in the assembly. I suspect it was put there to tighten up the tension at some point.
There was a lot of gunk between the top and bottom parts of the saddle:
Once I had removed some of this I was able to remove the MOA, to find even more gunk beneath it! Many moons ago someone had put a layer of some sort of brown paper right round the MOA. Some came away at once but some needed another night of 3-in-1 before I could get it all off.
I then oiled the MOA and have given the leather several coats of leather cleaner to make it less brittle. It is in good shape and should last me out!
The main wheel is now ready to be picked up and taken off for the blacksmiths to do their bit. And I just have to be patient….!