Thursday, September 8, 2011

Anatomy of a treadle wheel.

I've spent a bit of time the last couple of days doing a little work on the treadle wheel. The wheel has performed flawlessly except for 2 minor problems. The corners that sit up against the inside of my legs tend to dig in after awhile, a towel in the lap solves this issue. The second problem is that the wheelhead oscillated just a bit, almost a 1/8". That means 1/8 high on one side, 1/8 low on the other. Over the width of the wheelhead that is almost a 1/4" difference. Hasn't made a difference with the skinnier items but with pieces like dinner plates I've had to compensate and trim the feet flat. Not a huge deal but I figured it was time to fix it.

Here is the treadle with most of its important bits removed. I'm thinking of redoing the seat, going for more of a tractor style the old randall kick wheels. Way more comfy. I gave the wheel a good wipe down, it needed it.

The tray and flywheel awaiting their sponge bath.

So this is where the problem was with the old wheelhead: This wheelhead and the tapered shaft were salvaged from an old kickwheel that was given to me years ago. The head fits onto a shaft with a morse taper, good design but the original shaft wasn't long enough for the treadle so I cut the tapered part off and attempted to weld it to a new shaft. Herein lies the problem: two pieces of shaft welded together are never going to have the precision of a milled one piece shaft. Hence the oscillation. I gave it another go yesterday with a new shaft but even if it's perfectly lined up the welding causes enough tension to move it just a hair. Just a hair on a 1" shaft is about 1/8" over a 12" wheelhead. So I broke down and bought a new wheelhead that would mount to a 1" shaft with set screws, no taper.

Why did I like the tapered shaft so much? It's keyed into this collar for easy removal. No set screws, just lift. Brilliant. I'll try to incorporate this into the new one but I don't think it will work white as magnificently.

Here is the old shaft and the new. The old one was pretty junky looking, the plates were cut from scrap and pretty sloppy. I'm a decent welder and cutter, but the schools cutting torch is subpar. Somehow in the fabrication of the original the shafts ended up not being parallel to eachother, not a huge deal but it does cause irregular wear to the swivel joint that connects the shaft to the kick bar. I bought all new steel for the new one, I wanted one that had a little bit nicer look to it. I may give it a paint job as well. Very few people ever see the wheel up close and could probably care less but...craftsmanship and pride in your work are two things that I believe very strongly in. It doesn't matter if anyone else sees it, I see it. Here's a blast from the past with my views on this matter.

The bottom bearing, mortised into the bottom rail. That's right, mortised. Attention to detail, the flywheel rides about 1/2" above the bottom rail. It looks slick.

After cleaning out the tray I noticed these two little problem areas where the varnish is failing.  I'll give it a good cleaning, sanding and re-varnish.  I've got a few days until the new wheelhead comes in anyways. I used a marine varnish initially, I think I'll use it again and maybe apply more coats this time around.  Overall though I'm pleased with how it has held up.



gz said...

I need to get maintenance done on my kick wheel too.
Yours seems to have similarites both to the Leach kickwheel and the Saviac (which I use and prefer)

I rarely throw straight on the wheelhead, I don't like the skin on metal feeling. I use Marine ply batts on a clay pad on the wheel, so get that flat and you're ok

Scott Cooper said...

Damn, I love treadle wheels. I'm still kind of amazed that you built your own -- it looks great!

If said this was like treadle wheel porn, would that be weird?

brandon phillips said...

I'm not familiar with the saviac...I built this from plans out of the self-reliant potter, it only varies slightly from the woodley style leach wheel. Yeah, I would often level a bat but for wide pieces that have to stay on bats I would be in trouble. Really the wobble just bothered me! Drove me nuts.

Scott- I semi-regularly go to Douglas Gates website and gaze adoringly at his treadle wheels. Then I immediately feel guilty and feel the need to apologize to my wheel. So as far as weird goes, you're probably in good company.

gz said...

I'll put some photos of the Saviac wheel on my blog after I get home, hopefully tomorrow

Allison Kruskamp said...

I'm having a little trouble with my Leach wheel and want to throw this out there: I've got a wobble that seems to be the result of the treadle pivoting up and down (toe goes down on the up kick and heel drops on the back swing). Seems to me the treadle should glide back and forth on a level plane.
Any thoughts?