There is a thread in the Ravelry UK Spinners group dedicated to the slightly bizarre wheels that appear on Ebay. Many of them are affectionately known as SWSOs (Spinning Wheel Shaped Objects). They often made by an enthusiastic wood turner who likes the challenge of making a wheel, but doesn't appreciate the need for things like an orifice.
Some poor wheels have been converted in to lamps. Others are reduced to a pile of bits, that may, or may not all be there...
To the unwary these wheels can be a bit of a nightmare. Generally they're priced much lower than a modern spinning wheel, but too often they're a complete waste of money. If they do spin at all they spin poorly. Never trust a description that says "working" by the wheel. Too often that means the seller has rotated the wheel and it goes round. If you're a new spinner the general advice is to buy a known brand. It might be twice the price, but you'll have a wheel that works. Rather than a pretty ornament.
Once you get to know what to look for though...
I wasn't technically in the market for another spinning wheel... but someone had linked to a quirky wheel, and this popped up in the suggested items below it. This is very much not a SWSO. Due to the fact that I am a bit geeky about wheels I knew that this was a Scandinavian wheel. There's a basic format that many of these wheels tend to have, and this one had all the right things!
There were lots of photos so I could see that there was a flyer with an orifice, a bobbin that fitted, no loose joints in the drive wheel. A quick consultation with a friend to confirm that I wasn't being daft... and I placed a bid.
One week later, I was apparently the only person to want this beauty. A quick begging email to my younger brother to collect it for me, and here she is.
A 26 inch drive wheel means she adds twist very quickly. That big drive wheel rotates really effortlessly. In terms of outright ratios (12:1) I own "faster" wheels, but none that are so light and pleasant to treadle.
It's the little things about this wheel... it's pretty much all pine (or other similar softwood), and in places is incredibly plain and simple. But there are some lovely touches. These notches tell you which way round to put in piece that secures the drive wheel. The pieces on either side of the axle are different shapes, because the axle gets thinner towards the front of the wheel, and also shaped to fit exactly when they are the right way round. So the notches make it easier to get everything put together correctly.
For such a big wheel she's incredibly portable because she breaks down so easily. The flyer mechanism unscrews, the wheel lifts out, and you're left with several pieces that go back together again just as easily. An old version of a folding wheel!
I'm very happy she's found a new home with me, where she will be used to spin yarn. Just like she was designed to do so well. I don't normally name my wheels, but I feel like this grand old lady deserves it, so she's called Brunhilde.