A quiet success

posted Monday, November 24th, 2008

Well, eventually oiling the plastic bearings on my Hitchhiker and spinning caused enough fiber/gunk to build up in the top/noisier bearing to cause it to stop turning entirely.  Not quite what I intended, but ultimately it did stop the noise over the weekend.. the shaft would just rotate inside the plastic bearing without the bearing moving, and was for the most part, quiet.  HOWEVER, my new sealed bearings arrived today (yay!), and initial testing shows they will work quite well, but they are a little bit thicker than the old plastic ones, so I’m either going to have to try to drill out my mother of all a little bit, or just build a new one to accommodate the new bearings so I can get the clips back on the shaft to hold it in place (spinning with just the top clip in place seems to be working “okay” for now though.. but I wouldn’t trust it long-term and it means the entire shaft can just be pulled off the wheel with very little effort).  I’m leaning towards just making a new one to avoid destroying the old one… as that seems like a safer plan.

Here are the old bearings next to the new ones… the new ones are so pretty 🙂

Old/New Bearings

I’m quite happy at the moment…. with my now quiet Hitchhiker.  I was able to track down a replacement spring hinge and get that installed Friday, which did solve the whorl against the wheel issue, but at a cost – the wheel now has a bit more resistance while treadling the smaller whorl (and I imagine that would only increase with the smallest whorl, which I don’t have), but it’s really not too bad.  I’m willing to live with that bit of extra resistance, if it means a quieter wheel.

My little renovation project will still continue with repainting some parts of my wheel that have withstood some wear over the past 2 1/2 years, but it’s spinning better now than it ever has.

Hushing my Hitchhiker

posted Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Earlier this week I formed a plot to quiet my Hitchhiker’s noise while spinning.  Almost anyone who has spun on or been near one of these wheels spinning knows that they do indeed make a bit of noise.. and I’m determined to do some problem solving and fix most of where the noise is coming from.  I’ve identified several areas on my Hitchhiker that I can say contribute:

  1. Mother of all bearings – mine are plastic, not sealed, and they sound like roller skates unless I drench them in oil… say every 20 minutes.  That’s far from ideal, and eventually they get gummed up and even noisier (soaking in hot soapy water and washing seems to help, but the cycle repeats).  I’m replacing these with sealed metal bearings, assuming I’ve ordered the correct size.
  2. Brake band.  I noticed that mine makes a specific chattering noise, that I was able to troubleshoot down to blaming on the spring itself.  The monofilament wasn’t the quietest material in the world either, but a majority of the noise was in fact due to the necessary spring.  Monofilament on it’s own doesn’t really work out so well.  So I’ve replaced my brake band with 1mm stretch bead cord.  So far it’s working out *really* well.  It’s elastic, so no spring required, and it’s smooth and slick like the monofilament.   Time will tell how well it holds up, but I’m encouraged by how well it’s performing so far.
  3. Whorl against the wheel.  This isn’t actually noise caused by the whorl traveling along the wheel (which does make some noise, but it’s not bad) but rather by the fact that the whorl isn’t held against the wheel with enough tension, causing is to bounce a bit as I spin.  This is impart due I think to a slight imbalance with the flyer, but neither flyer I have works any better, and some extra tension on the mother of all seems to solve the problem.  I’m somewhat convinced that this is due to the single spring hinge, so my plan is to replace the non-springy hinge with a spring hinge when I can find a replacement (I’ve found them online, but shipping is more than the set of 2 hinges is).

It will be interesting to see how much of a difference the new bearings and second spring hinge will make.  I will update as soon as I have replacements and can swap those out.

I’m also working on refinishing a few rough areas of my wheel, and finishing up a few parts I feel like I sort of left half-completed.  I have only been about 90% happy with how it turned out after painting it, but never really got motivated enough to fix what I didn’t like.  Now that my HH has reached 2 1/2 years old, I think some maintenence is due 🙂