Sizing and Replacing a Drive Band
Cotton or Hemp Drive Band
Many spinning wheels use a hemp (or cotton) drive band. When you purchase a wheel or need to replace a drive band, you need to size and tie the band properly so that it will fit correctly through the full range of whorl sizes and adjustments that you use. There are various ways to do it correctly; here is what we suggest:
Double drive with hemp or cotton drive band
- Slip a bobbin on the flyer with the large bobbin pulley next to the whorl; screw on your regular large whorl. Mount the flyer on the wheel and move the Mother-of-all as close to the wheel as possible, then away a turn or two.
- Position the new drive band in a double loop around the wheel with one loop over the bobbin pulley and the other around the largest groove on the large whorl. It is at the whorl where you will tie a knot to secure the band.
- A simple square knot is all that is needed to make the band. Look again to make sure the band is around the wheel (twice), bobbin pulley and whorl; remove any slack but it is not necessary for the band to be tight. Tie a tight square knot.
- Next, you want to make the knot even tighter - and smaller. Remove the band so you can hold it with the knot between your 2 hands. Pull on both ends to make the knot tighter; then hold the 2 short ends of the band and pull on them again. Once the knot has been tightened from both sides, trim the 2 short ends to maybe a 1/16 of an inch of the knot.
- Remount the band on the wheel, bobbin and whorl and adjust tension for proper take-up.
- As you change from this slowest ratio to the fastest on your wheel, you will be moving the flyer further away from the wheel and you should be able to get a full range of adjustments from this properly sized band.
Single drive band on a double drive wheel with hemp or cotton
The process is the same as above, except you have the band going around the drive wheel just once. Follow the steps above.
Elastic Drive Bands
You can purchase a band that is already joined for you. Just get it on the wheel and you are set. If you buy a length of band and need to size and join the ends, follow these steps.
1. Adjust the tension on the flyer until there is the least available tension and then adjust back a little.
2. Place the band around the wheel and around the smallest whorl on the flyer. Use a marker to mark where the bands come together.
3. Cut the band where the mark is.
4. With a candle or butane lighter, bring both ends of band into flame to melt. Just a second or two. Immediately butt the two ends together and hold for 5-10 seconds.
5. Trim any bump at the joint if you think it is too big. If you think your goofed up, cut out the joint and re-do.
6. If you did the above with the band around the wheel, you are all set. Otherwise, remove wheel from posts or disconnect the footman rods from the crank and position band.
How to Tie Drive Bands
- Adjust the belt tension mechanism to a position closer to the wheel
- Pull on the belt to pre-stretch it.
- Route the new belt around its path using the largest whorl.
- Pull the ends firmly to eliminate any slack.
- Mark the belt with a pen at the spot where the ends cross.
- Cut off excess material allowing about 4 inches on each end.
- Tie the ends so the pen marks are together
NOTE: You can wax the belt with bee’s wax or paraffin for slightly better
tension control (double drive wheels) but this is not necessary.