Monday, 16 July 2012

Breakdown on the Tour

My intention for this morning was to sit down and try to finish spinning the rest of the fiber for the second skein of harlequin yarn. So I sat down at my Hitchhiker, pushed the treadle, and it went 'clunk'. As in clunk, the treadle is no longer attached to the wheel. Inspection revealed that the connector was a stiff piece of leather, and after however many revolutions over the years, the leather had broken off at the screw attaching it to the wheel. And that was inside a hole drilled in a wooden piece.

I imagine on the real Tour de France, there are mechanics and spare bikes riding along, ready to swing into action at a breakdown, with all the hustle seen in a pit stop at the Indy 500. But I had to be my own mechanic. I confess I had brief visions of having to get my spinning in for the day on a drop spindle - which would be kinda like a cyclist borrowing a kid's trike.

Anyway, I sat down on the living room floor and tackled it. Tool kit consisted of screwdrivers, darning needle, leather knife, needlenosed pliers, crochet hooks, and yarn. Unscrew the foot pedal to get to the screw attaching the other end of the broken leather piece. Remove leather piece. Use pliers, darning needle and sharp knife to pick out and remove sufficient of the broken leather end jammed in the hole to free up the screw hole there. Since I couldn't find anything similar enough to the leather piece to use as a replacement, I used a couple thicknesses of silk-blend yarn, threaded it through the screw-hole on the wheel part, and through the foot-pedal hole, securing it around the screw there. Knotted it to size, and voila.

The wheel feels a bit different now, but it works. Not having a stiff connector means that I need to have enough momentum after the down-stroke to get the treadle back up just past the top of the stroke, but that is more or less the same as what a traditional wheel does, and I can handle it. Later I will see if the connection can be stiffened a bit. For now, I'm flushed with success and back in the saddle.  

1 comment:

  1. My Ashford Traditional originally had a leather bearing connecting the treadle to the footman. When it wore out I couldn't find the right kind of leather to replace it, so I used a piece of denim folded to 4 thicknesses and sewed in two button holes to reinforce it where the screws go through. I just looked at my Hitchhiker - the leather there is stiffer, but the same idea should work. For that matter, I'm sure the maker would send a replacement part fairly quickly.