Several months ago someone gave me part of an older Nilus LeClerc double-ended electric bobbin winder. She had gotten it years ago with a loom purchase, but “some of the parts didn’t make it into the box”. Specifically, it was missing the end that slides in a groove, and the rheostat foot control.
I tried to get the missing part but the people at LeClerc (in Quebec) said this was an older style and they don’t keep spare parts for older machines. Studying the pictures on their website, I could see that the new ones have the spring mounted down in the groove, not on the shaft of the part that slides in the groove (which is what this one would have had). So I figured I was out of luck.
At the ANWG conference at the end of June, someone was selling some old weaving equipment in one of the booths. Among this was an older Nilus LeClerc double-ended winder. So I took a chance and bought it. I should have been more careful in checking it out, because when I got home the foot control (wrapped up and taped in paper) was broken. However, I could get it fixed at a sewing machine shop in Wenatchee, although as it turns out Rick was able to take it apart, bend a flange back into place, and put it back together all cleaned up and oiled. So now I had a working winder! You can see how the spring is mounted in this picture. The moving part is tightened down with wing nuts from below, once positioned in the groove for a particular bobbin length.
In the meantime, I got to wondering if LeClerc couldn’t sell me a new base plate and moving end from their current model. So after some back and forth with calls and emails, they agreed to this and it came last week. Or at least, they sent the moving part and a spring – not the base with the groove! I guess I didn’t communicate clearly what I was expecting. However, I am fortunate to be married to a guy who is both handy and handsome (a Red Green Show reference).
He had to trim the wood that slides in the groove – very carefully, on the table saw, until it fit just right. Then he had to re-position the motor so the two ends that hold the bobbin line up (in a brand new winder, the motor is a different model and is offset on one side). He had to figure out how to mount the spring in the groove from below. But in the end, it worked great! Here is my hybrid winder:
I still have to get a foot control, but the sewing machine store in Wenatchee says they have a box full of old used sewing machine rheostat foot controls with plug for motor and light that I can get for $10-$15 (just like the one on the ANWG conference one, which I have been using for now).
Now I have been using it to wind off spun singles from my spinning wheel’s Woolee Winder bobbin onto plastic spools. I learned this from Judith MacKenzie – spin all your fiber and put on plastic storage bobbins as you go, then ply from those bobbins. Saves a ton of money on extra spinning wheel bobbins.
But the electric winder goes like a bat out of hell, and I had to just barely depress the foot pedal to keep it slow enough. Otherwise the spun singles would break – they are a lot more “tender” than weaving yarns you would wind off a cone onto a bobbin. It was hard to control the speed, and when I was done, the foot pedal itself was really hot.
So this is where we get to the $11 solution part. I had picked up a tip from one of Peggy Osterkamp’s books that you could use a plug-in dimmer switch between the wall outlet and the foot control, as an extra rheostat. But none of our local valley hardware stores had such an item – they just have the kind that are wired into a light switch on the wall. So I went online and found this on Amazon:
It totally solved the problem. I plugged the dimmer into the outlet, plugged the foot control into the dimmer, then adjusted the sliding control until the winder was turning at a slowish speed with the pedal fully depressed. The speed stayed nice and constant so I could concentrate on tensioning the yarn and filling the bobbin evenly. The foot pedal wasn’t hot at all when I was done. And this item only cost about $11!
So now I guess I will try to sell the one I got at the conference, and keep the “hybrid”.
Final note: 4 rugs finished this week. The first three were an order from friends for their home at Lochaerie Resort on Lake Quinault – Chris picked the materials from my stash of Pendleton selvages when they were here last April.