What is a drum carder? It's a piece of spinning equipment that is used for combing and aligning fleece into batts that can be used for spinning, felting or even for quilting. I spend too much time drooling over the batts some people create on etsy- incorporating different colors, textures and fibers. When these get spun up... gaaaa! so beautiful!
Anyway, I found a second hand drum carder this weekend, for really cheap. I have never even used one before, but I bought it anyway. I have been trying to figure it out ever since. I don't think there is anything seriously wrong with it. Just one major thing: the teeth are rubbing against the feeder tray; not only does this prevent it from working properly, it makes a godawful noise (metal on metal type deal- see 2nd pic). After several different arrangements, I think I finally have the belt on properly:
It was incredibly dirty and full of all sorts of who-knows-what fibers. I've been giving it lots of TLC and it is starting to look much better. But I haven't really got it working yet. This whole experience reminds me of when I got my first spinning wheel- actually a borrowed antique one from a colleague who had no idea how it worked or what was missing. It turned into a research project of sorts for me, and now I have a working spinning wheel, (and returned the antique one as, sadly, it's destiny is probably more of the aesthetic life) and I have much more knowledge on how spinning wheels work (and don't). This drum carder is inevitably turning into a research project; I've been scouring the internet for the past 2 days; googling, ravelry-ing, making phone calls, and wandering the halls of the hardware store looking for parts that could possibly fit.
If you are looking for information on old drum carders, it is not easy to come by. Sure, if you want to buy a brand new ashford that costs upwards of $500, there is plenty of $information$ out there. I finally got some clues after watching a few hilarious youtube videos (especially the one with the beaver). In one of the videos, someone had almost the same carder as mine- proving that mine was not homemade. Throughout my searching, the name "Pat Green" kept coming up- I saw some pictures of carders that looked just like mine that apparently were the Pat Green brand. I now know that Pat Green is an actual man who lives in Chilliwack, BC who has been making these drum carders for some years now. Pat and his wife Paula still run the business and they even have a website! but the only thing was, I couldn't find the Pat Green Logo on anything on my carder:
People on ravelry said I should phone Pat Green and that they would be able to help me. So I phoned there and I'm pretty sure his wife, Paula answered (cute). I explained my drum carder and once I mentioned it had a leather belt, well, that was it. "Well it's not one of ours then- it must be a Made-Well". A Made-Well? so then I did a search for well made and stumbled onto DawningDreams blog. Apparently a Made-Well is a drum carder that was made in Sifton, Manitoba. She also found a bit of history on the company on ravelry:
“The company was started during the depression by John Weselowski, it later became the Make-Well Manufacturing Company and was famous for it hand-operated drum carders as well as it’s wheels. Several of the stylistic features of this wheel were borrowed from the traditional Ukrainian wheels. Wheel and Flyer spindle are arranged vertically. The inner maiden bearing is a hole drilled in the wooden upright. Tensioning is accomplished by raising or lowering a tablet on the outer maiden. Hallmarks of the Spin-Well wheel include a solid drive wheel, pre-cast metal flyer, treadle-system using a fixed treadle bar, footman placement in front of the wheel and provision for extra bobbins.”
“These wheels were made in the 60’s and 70’d during the rebirth of the handspinning and weaving crafts. They are well built wheels made of maple and solid core maple plywood. At 27.00 they were prices well below the better New Zealand wheels which sold for 80 to 100 at the time I’ve had two in maple and one in walnut. Paula Simmons used their wheels.”
And there you have a full circle. Paula Simmons is Pat Green's wife. When I talked to her, she wasn't too enthused about Made-Well's, so I'm not sure about the comment above. Paula said that that John Weselowski has been deceased for a long time now, and wished me good luck in finding parts for my Made-well.
So that's where me and my Made-well stand for now. I'm still looking for information on what the best ideas are to get it to stop rubbing on the feed tray. I've pretty much taken apart the whole thing, cleaned it and put it back together. I hope this post will add to the very limited bank of information out there on these vintage, Canadian-made drum carders. Feel free to leave comments on your own drum-carder restoration experience!
Update: I have taken out the bolts, (pictured here, on the top of the carder). I was able to gently tap the wood back away from the feed tray and now they no longer rub. It also gave me an opportunity to give the whole thing a good cleaning. I also learned that to oil the thing, you just put a few drops down the holes you also see here between the two bolts and above the crank handle.