When you go out to buy you first wheel there are a lot of considerations. For many of us this is a major purchase. One thing to remember is that wheels retain a lot of their value if treated gently, and that you can always resell and buy another wheel if you change your mind about your first wheel. Even if it is the perfect wheel for you now, you might find that what you want changes in a few years. Here are a few considerations:
Buying a Wheel
1. If you have access to some wheels, try them. If you have never spun on a wheel, don't expect too much of this, but you can at least touch them and see them, treadle them, and get some ideas from that.
2. What price range are you looking at? [I have some price comparisons here.]
3. Are parts and accessories easily available and affordable?
4. Is it easy to repair? Can you repair most stuff, or find someone who can easily?
5. Is the appearance of the wheel pleasing to you?
6. Are you planning on doing reenactments? Will the wheel fit into the time period?
7. How well does it spin? Are you planning on spinning fine, thick, high-twist, low-twist, cotton, wool, silk, flax, other fibers? All of these details will impact whether you want high or low ratios, big or little orifices, and other of the little technical thingies.
8. How portable do you need it to be?
9. How does it feel to you?
10. How big do you need or want the bobbins to be? Some are tiny, some are huge, and the size directly impacts the size of the skeins that you produce.
11. Single treadle vs double treadle. Now, every body has an opinion or a personal experience on this one. I would say that you should try to treadle a few different wheels if you can. If you can't, you might want consider that some single treadle models have a big enough treadle to put both feet on, and some double treadles can be treadled with just one foot, and make sure that your model is slightly flexible on this issue.
12. Single or Double Drive. Single Drive is also called Scotch Tension if the brake is on the bobbin, and Irish tension or bobbin-lead if the brake is on the flyer. To be honest, all variations work fine, most people prefer the one they learned on, and many models are available that make both Scotch and Double available.
13. How much space do you have, and how big is that wheel?
14. Are you able to to put together, do you have someone who can, or can you purchase assembled?
15. Is it sturdy or light-weight?
16. Is it hardy, or is it going to get dinged-up easily?
I'm sure many more that I'm not thinking of. To be continued....