I purchased a neglected vintage Ashford Traditional spinning wheel so that I could bring her back to her former glory. You can read more about how I came across this wheel, and some things I discovered about its past in my, “I Found a Vintage Ashford Traditional” post.
Now it is time to get to work restoring this vintage Ashford Traditional spinning wheel! You can watch the transformation video here, but also keep reading for more details about how Mark and I took care of this wheel and got her spinning like new!
Identifying the Ashford Traditional
The first thing we did was determine the age of this wheel. Ashford has a wonderful chart to show the characteristics of the various Traditional models through the decades. Looking at the shape of the flyer supports and the spokes on the drive wheel were I identified this wheel to be a 1970’s model. Knowing the age of the wheel is important when ordering replacement parts. You can download the PDF of the Traditional timeline here.
Disassembling the Wheel
The next thing we did was disassemble the entire wheel. If you are restoring a traditional, or any other wheel I recommend taking it completely apart. Having it disassembled will help you clean and condition the wood. It will also help you clean up the hardware, especially if you are dealing with rusty parts. Finally, it will be much easier to discover worn out or broken pieces such as the shredded bearings we dug out of the drive wheel supports.
I also recommend that you take lots of pictures and document every single part you disassemble! You may think it looks obvious, you may think you will remember how it goes together, but document anyway! We had to wait several weeks for the replacement parts to arrive and the wheel was in pieces for over a month. That is a long time to remember how it all goes together!
Of course if you do run into trouble, the manual for the Traditional from Ashford is an super helpful resource. You can download the PDF for the single drive Traditional here.
Caring for the Wood
It never hurts to give the wood of an older wheel a nice conditioning “bath” with a wood oil. I like to use Boiled Linseed Oil, but I know many spinners prefer using Danish Oil. Choose whatever quality wood oil you prefer.
I used a clean lint-free rag to wipe down all the wood. I left the oiled wood sitting for about an hour and then I used another clean rag to wipe off any oil that didn’t sink into the wood. It was an amazing transformation! The wood actually glowed after the oil treatiment!
The next part of getting this Vintage Ashford Traditional all fixed up was to use the Ashford maintenance kit. It came with everything I needed including a new leather connector to replace the broken one, new hooks to replace the rusty ones on the flier, a new drive band, and springs and a cord for the scotch tension brake band.
The scotch tension system works by stretching a nylon cord over the bobbin. It is tightened or loosened with a peg that is held in to the wheel with friction. Unfortunately, that means this peg can easily fall out if the wheel isn’t in use and get lost. That was the case with this wheel but fortunately, Ashford makes and sells replacement scotch tension knobs. The trick is knowing which peg you need. There are two styles of pegs available.
I have a newer Ashford Elizabeth that uses a peg just like the Traditional, so I put the two style of pegs next to each other with the corresponding flyer supports. The vintage peg and flyer support style is shown on the left and the new style is shown on the right in the picture above. If you need a replacement and you are unsure of which you need, contact your local Ashford dealer and they will make sure you get the right one.
A Fully Restored Vintage Traditional
Now that she is fully restored with glowing wood, working parts, a new tension knob, and a good oiling, she is ready to spin! With some TLC these old Ashford Traditionals make wonderful wheels that will spin for decades more!