MACH III User Guide
written by Amelia Garripoli (2010) / Updated by Ashley Martineau (2015)
The Mach III Spinning Wheel combines traditional functionality with innovative features in a sturdy studio wheel. SpinOlution's vision is to create the most advanced and user-friendly spinning wheels. SpinOlution designs wheels with features that no other wheel company makes. It's scotch tension mechanism is state of the art, the bobbins and orifice are magnetic, and the ergonomic smooth treadling you’ll have to experience to believe.
If mailed, your Mach III will arrive in a large box. Lift out any pieces of packing material, then check carefully – the flyer assembly, bobbins, drive band, and any extra accessories will be tucked in amidst the packing material. You should receive:
- Main wheel with base
- 2 Legs with heel rests
- 4 screws and finishing washers
- Flyer assembly with head (with a bobbin on)
- Drive band
- Any accessories you ordered
- The wheel kit for portability has 2 small wheels, 8 screws, and 1 nylon strap.
You will need a Phillips screwdriver or an electric drill with a Phillips screwdriver bit A screw tip: after each few twists in, loosen the screw back out a turn and then continue. This helps it seat well.
- Lay the wheel body down so that the engraved large logo side is on the floor (the small logo faces up).
- Now, attach the legs with heel rests. There is a left and right heel rest; put them on so that the flat heel rest faces in. Each rest is held in place with two screws.
- Start by putting one in position, and check that the brake pedals are correctly positioned.
- Thread the screw through a finishing washer, and then screw it into the highest pre-drilled hole on the outside edge of the base of the stand, and into the heel rest. Another screw goes into a finishing washer and the bottom hole.
- Start each screw so the heel rest is properly in place, verify that the brake pedal isn’t trapped in the wrong position, then go back and tighten the screws.
- Put both heel rests on, then stand the wheel on its base for the next step.
Attach the Flyer Head Assembly.
- Slid the head into the top of the base and tighten the two 3 wing knobs.
- If the drive band came off in transit, the band can now be positioned. If it is trapped behind the drive wheel, push the wheel forward slightly by pushing the center of it from the audience side of the wheel, where an e-clip holds the central bearing rod in place. If the drive band is not on your wheel, lift on each of the treadle pads, this will split the treadle to allow the Drive Band to go onto the wheel.
- Close the treadle to ensure a good seating of the pitman guide on the pitman bearings, squeeze the top of the treadle at the hub to insure that both bearings are engaged with the treadle.
- Before spinning, check that the drive band is set up for the ratio you desire. The lowest ratio, 3:1, is used by putting the drive band in the largest groove on the flyer. The drive band needs to be placed in the groove so that the band does not rub on the flyer.
The Mach III uses a treadling system unique to SpinOlution wheels. It is a left-right treadling, with the ball of each foot on each treadle. Place the ball of each foot, or just toes, on each treadle. Depress one treadle fully, and then the other. Your heels rest on the heel rests in front of the treadles, only your toes need to go up and down. If you try to push down a treadle with one foot before the other treadle has gone completely down, you will find the treadle difficult to push. With a little practice, you will soon find where each side is completely depressed and adapt your rhythm to the upswing of the other treadle. See video of the MACH III Package Deal for this treadling movement in action.
Treadling moves the drive wheel, which turns the flyer when the drive band is properly placed. If the wheel or the flyer is not moving, or it feels like you are pushing a refrigerator, check that the drive band is in a groove (sometimes called a pulley) on the flyer whorl, not resting on the flyer spindle behind the grooves.
The Mach III drive wheel has enough mass that the wheel keeps spinning even when you remove your feet from the treadles. To stop the drive wheel, there is a foot brake on each side of the wheel. Reach forward with one foot and press on the break; the wheel will quickly halt. The picture here shows my left foot raised to push down the left brake; the right foot is unmoving, resting on its treadle. You can use either brake to stop the wheel.
Please note that as with all spinning wheels with drive bands, it is possible to trap things between drive band and wheel when the wheel is spinning – keep pets, audience members, and paper airplanes away from the wheel when it is in motion, to prevent accidents. Be sure to stop the wheel before walking away from it.
As with all wheels, practice treadling your wheel until you can start it going the direction you desire. Traditionally, spinners learn to spin singles clockwise and to ply counterclockwise, so start there. Or buck tradition; just make sure to ply in the opposite direction to that used to spin your singles. The key to being able to start your wheel in the direction you desire is stopping the wheel at the right part of the treadle swing. Don’t stop with either treadle completely depressed. If your first (slow) push down starts the wheel going the wrong direction, give a little push the other way to get the wheel started in the desired direction.
Practice treadling until you can get the wheel turning slowly in the desired direction automatically. Don’t combine this direction-change trick with a fast start – the yarn is likely to jump off the flyer pegs and twist around the flyer spindle, requiring you to stop and fix things before you can continue. It should not be necessary to start the wheel in the desired direction by touching the drive wheel with your hands. That said, beginners can struggle with learning this magic trick on any wheel – you may find a short push on the top of the wheel in the desired direction gets you up and treadling in the direction you desire while you are still new to spinning. Practice until you no longer need this push to start.
Remove the bobbin from the flyer spindle by pulling off the orifice arm. It is held in place by magnets. I usually push against the bobbin on the wheel with my fingers under the orifice arm and thumbs above, as shown here, to break the magnetic bond, pulling squarely at the middle of the Orifice bar. The orifice bar comes off, and then you can take the bobbin off the flyer’s spindle (rod).
To put a bobbin on the flyer spindle, make sure to match the hexagon cutout at the back of the bobbin with the hex nut at the back of the flyer spindle. The bobbin is keyed onto the flyer spindle, as its rotation is braked by the tension knob on the top left of the folding arm. The inner face of the back whorl on the bobbin should sit almost flush to the back of the flyer. If the bobbin is not far enough back, the orifice arm will not fit back onto the flyer in the grooves that holds it in place.
Replace the orifice bar on the flyer arms by seating it squarely, matching both ends of the flyer arms at the same time. If one side seats but not the other remove the orifice arm and place it more squarely so both seat at the same time. The flyer spindle also keys into a bearing in the orifice arm. The Mach III’s bobbins have four holes around the back ends. These can be used to hold the leader.
For a leader, make a large loop from about two yarns of strong yarn – I use perle cotton, acrylic yarn, or a cabled wool yarn. Tie the loop with a simple overhand knot, and position the knot so it’s not at either end of the loop. Push the string through one of the holes and back through another, so the ends of the loop are on the inside of the bobbin. Put one end of the loop through the other, and tighten this up as shown in the picture. This leader will stay secure and works for both clockwise and counter-clockwise spinning. Attach the leader to the front holes of the bobbin for smoothest spinning; if you put it on the back of the bobbin, it can rub against the back of the flyer.
Setting the Ratio
You might be wondering – what’s a ratio? The ratio is the number of times the orifice hook will rotate – the number of twists it will put into the fiber you are spinning – For each complete rotation of the drive wheel. The drive wheel makes a complete rotation with each complete trip of the treadles (both as a combination) up and down.
Ratios are set by moving which groove (pulley) behind the flyer you place the drive band in. The drive band will automatically seat itself on the drive wheel to align with the groove used, over the first few rotations of the wheel.
The largest groove, closest to the bobbin, provides the lowest ratio; the smallest groove, a metal one, furthest from the bobbin, provides the highest ratio.
The effort to treadle increases slightly with each ratio; but even at the highest ratio, it is lighter than traditional treadle wheels. For easiest treadling at the higher ratios, start treadling slowly, then gain speed. Once you get it started, it keeps going easily with regular treadling.
MACH III RATIOS
8 oz Speeds: 5
8 oz Ratios: 1:3.5, 1:5, 1:7, 1:11, 1:20
16 oz Speeds: 3
16 oz Ratios: 1:5, 1:7, 1:10
32 oz Speeds: 4
32 oz Ratios: 1:2.5, 1:4, 1:5, 1:7
64 oz Speed: 1
64 oz Ratio: 1:4
Generally, the higher the ratio, the more twists you put in your yarn for a complete treadle revolution, and the less drag there is on the flyer (draw-in tension is lower). The lower the ratio, the fewer twists you put in your yarn per treadle, and the more drag there is on the flyer. So, when you adjust the ratio, you may also then need to follow up by adjusting the tension – but honestly, this change is pretty subtle, so if you don’t notice, you aren’t alone.
If you are just learning to spin, start at the lowest ratio and increase as you find your drafting speed increases. The highest ratios can be used as you find you need more twist in your yarn. I recommend moving the drive band to the highest ratio at the end of each spinning session, so that the band can “recover” from being stretched. This maintains its stretchiness so it will be ready for you, when you are ready for spinning at the higher ratios.
No doubt you noticed that your Mach III wheel has a unique open threading system. It uses pegs rather than traditional hooks – no more getting fibers or boucle loops caught on the tip of a hook as you spin! And it has an orifice hook rather than the traditional orifice tube – no need for an orifice threader! For me, this is priceless – I can interrupt a plying job in mid-stride without breaking off the singles. I don’t have an extra tool to keep track of (that orifice threader, and I can spin all the crazy yarns I want without getting hung up on the hooks. The orifice peg has a smooth ball tip too, so it’s not going to catch stray fibers.
The flyer shown here is the 32 oz flyer – the standard flyer has shorter pegs, closer together and a smaller hook at the orifice. It should be noted that the art yarn flyer will spin all weights of yarn.
Adjusting the Tension
If your leader is short, you might add a yard or two of string to the end for this step… now treadle, and see if the bobbin will take up the leader or not. If not, twist the brake knob clockwise half a turn and try again. Once the leader does take up, you will want to fine-tune the tension with turns less than 1/8 of a rotation of the knob, clockwise to increase take-up or counter-clockwise to decrease take-up, until you can easily pull the leader off while you are treadling but still have
The Mach III is a Scotch tension wheel. Adjusting the brake knob changes the brake pressure on the bobbin via the flyer spindle. The flyer spindle turns independently from the flyer arms, making this a true Scotch Tension, slowing the bobbin, not the flyer arms (Irish tension brakes the flyer arms).
Always go along all the pegs from the first one you come to, to the front of the flyer arm. If you skip some pegs, your yarn will rub against the end of the bobbin. If you’ve used a delta orifice before, the theory is very similar. You bring the yarn or leader from the outermost point of the orifice hook horizontally toward you. At first, the yarn may slip out of the leader as you are learning to spin – work on keeping the angle of yarn from orifice to you horizontal, and work on keeping the wheel going in the same direction as you treadle. If you’re just starting out, changing direction in treadling will cause the yarn on the bobbin to loosen and wind off the bobbin, leaping off the pegs and out of the hooks – stop, breathe in, breathe out, thread it back up, and start again. You’re learning, give yourself a break.
Tension on the bobbin is controlled by adjusting the brake knob at the top of the wheel. Clockwise rotation of the knob (looking at it face on) increases the brake pressure, and counterclockwise rotation decreases it. Very minor adjustments are needed to fine-tune the tension – less than 1/8 of a turn – so only use full rotations for the initial adjustment.
Let’s explore the braking system briefly. The brake knob screws onto a threaded rod; it pushes on a spring, which pushes on a nylon flange, which in turn pushes on a wooden block. The wooden block goes into the flyer mounting; on its inside edge, it is curved, and has a piece of suede attached. The suede pushes on the rod (technically, the flyer spindle) that the bobbin rides on.
To set the initial bobbin tension, start by twisting the knob until there is no pressure on the spring resting on it, so that any more clockwise twisting of the knob would cause the spring to start to compress. Bring the leader to the orifice by taking it from the bobbin out to a peg directly to the side from it, then forward outside the remaining pegs to the front of the flyer arms, and from there under the orifice hook and toward you. Hold the leader straight from the orifice hook toward you, not at an angle.
Always go along all the pegs from the first one you come to, to the front of the flyer arm. If you skip some pegs, your yarn will rub against the end of the bobbin. (Okay, except when lacing… what’s that? See “Twists and Turns - Tips to Make Spinning Easier‟ at the end of this guide.) If your leader is short, you might add a yard or two of string to the end for this step… now treadle, and see if the bobbin will take up the leader or not. If not, twist the brake knob clockwise half a turn and try again. Once the leader does take up, you will want to fine-tune the tension with turns less than 1/8 of a rotation of the knob, clockwise to increase take-up or counter-clockwise to decrease take-up, until you can easily pull the leader off while you are treadling but still have the leader be taken up onto the bobbin if you are not resisting the take-up. If this testing takes a while, be sure to let the twist out of your leader from time to time – treadling with a corkscrewed leader is an exercise in not-fun.
Note: new wheels may have a strong initial pull until the first few bobbins of yarn have been spun on them. Try lacing the leader to perform the above exercise if you cannot overcome the pull even when the knob is not putting any pressure on the flyer spindle. You might want to have a tighter tension than I’ve described setting above when you want to make a low twist yarn; when you’re drafting quickly enough that you want faster take-up onto the bobbin; or for the stronger take-up needed for a thicker yarn, plying, or a fuller bobbin.
While you are Spinning
When spinning clockwise, it’s usually best to start on the right-side pegs; counter-clockwise start on the left-side pegs. That way, the yarn will want to stay against the pegs as you spin. You will need to stop and change pegs from time to time so that the little hills of yarn that build up don’t collapse into messes on the bobbin. Move regularly toward the back and then back toward the front, up and down. You can take the yarn off one peg, leaving it on the rest in the row, or add it around another peg in the row. Don’t slalom the yarn around the pegs – it always goes to the outside, and then stays outside along the row of pegs until the last one, when you bring it to the orifice. The last peg before the orifice hook is important – it prevents the yarn from rubbing against the edge of the bobbin: be sure to be on the outside the final peg. With experience, you’ll find it won’t matter too much which side of the flyer arm you are on – you can use the pegs on both arms to more completely and evenly fill the bobbins.
Note that when you change which flyer arm you come along, you will need to unhook from the orifice hook to come from that side of the flyer arm to the orifice hook. Otherwise your yarn will wrap around the orifice hook and won’t take up onto the bobbin (at all, or as easily… your experience may be either). Hold the yarn you are making in a line from the center of the orifice hook to you. I keep my forward hand in a fairly neutral position in front of my body, so the yarn is coming in a horizontal line, from the hook to my hand. If you hold it at too extreme of an angle up, down or to the side, the yarn will thump as you spin it. Most spinners don’t like that…
- Yarn is not taking up on the bobbin: Increase the tension on the bobbin brake, turn the brake knob by ¼ turns clockwise until yarn takes up. As the bobbin fills, you will find draw-in decreases – this is standard behavior in scotch tension wheels; increase the brake tension and continue filling your bobbin. However, first check – if your yarn has jumped off the pegs, it could wrap around the flyer spindle between the bobbin and orifice arm. Remove the orifice arm, unwrap this yarn, and then restart spinning.
- Take up is too strong, yarn is pulling out of your hands too quickly: decrease the tension on the bobbin brake. Turn the brake knob by miniscule increments counterclockwise once you have yarn taking onto the bobbin (1/8 turn or less). Very minor adjustments can have a large apparent effect. For very fine spinning, start with a half full bobbin (of anything, even a piece of pipe insulation as shown here) and/or lace the yarn across the flyer arms like one shoe lace, to decrease the drag-in of the yarn. This is shown in the picture here. I find the half-full bobbin is the same as one lacing across the flyer arm, and that 2-3 lacings will reduce the draw in enough for very fine spinning. You may find that lacing decreases draw in too much – if this occurs, give the bobbin a small nudge in the wind-on direction as you start to treadle – this is usually enough that yarn will continue to wind on as you spin.
- Yarn is thump-thumping as you spin: be sure your yarn is coming from the center of the orifice hook toward your body in a fairly straight horizontal line. This minimizes any thumping. I have found that a slight angle is possible, but I definitely don’t put the yarn at a 45 degree angle up, down, or sideways from the center of the orifice hook.
- Drive band is slipping: increase speed slowly, over 5-10 treadling’s, from nothing to the speed you want to spin, to minimize or avoid drive band slippage. Going from zero to top speed on the very first down stroke will almost always make the drive band slip. The band may slip more in the highest ratio position if you often use it at the low ratio settings. Store your drive band in the highest ratio groove or even on the rod behind the grooves (only if the rod is oil free!) between spinning sessions to help it regain its high ratio size. If you have overstretched the drive band, you may find it will recover elasticity by removing it and placing it in a warm room for a few days. As a last resort, consider cutting and re-gluing them shorter – but be sure to let them dry completely before using, or they will separate under the strain of being used on your wheel. New drive bands can be purchased from your dealer. In a pinch, try cotton carpet warp or string until your replacement bands arrive.
- Replacing a drive band: if you need to replace the drive band, it can be removed and replaced on the Mach II by pulling the treadle forward to make a gap between it and the drive wheel. Grasp the treadle at the base of the footman, on both sides, and pull it gently forward. It should move forward about one inch.
- Flyer does not rotate as you treadle: check that the drive band is in one of the grooves on the back of the flyer, and not on the metal rod behind them. If it is, check if the drive band is loose and slipping during treadling: see “Drive band is slipping”.
- Treadling is hard: check if the brake band tension is set too strong; check if something’s gotten under the treadles, jamming them; check if one of the foot brakes is pressing against the drive wheel; check if the drive band is out of the grooves on the flyer; try sitting closer to the wheel; if you are on the highest ratio, try switching to the lowest ratio for a few minutes to stretch the band just a bit, and then returning to the highest ratio; or if you are trying to start fast, start with a slower first few treadles, increasing speed gradually over the first few treadlings; as a last resort, check for wear on the pitman guide or a loose pitman bearing.
- A knocking sound when treadling: the pitman guide, on the inside of the footman, can get worn, causing the pitman (a bearing) on the drive wheel to knock. You can reduce or remove the knocking sound by putting one coat of clear nail polish or light glue on the inside of the pitman guide. Let it dry completely before putting it back on the pitman.
- Uneven or noisy treadling: check for damage where the footman connects to the drive wheel – grasp the treadles at the base of the footman and slide them forward, exposing the pitman ball bearing on the drive wheel. Make sure the ball bearing screw is completely screwed in, and that the pitman guide on the inside of the footman is not damaged – it is a regular flat-sided oval. You will need to contact SpinOlution for information on addressing any damage here.
Maintaining your MACH III
Your Mach III has a polyurethane finish, and so can be cleaned with a light dusting as needed. Oiling: the Mach III in general does not need oiling, working on sealed bearings and its unique keyed bobbin system. You may find a light coating of oil on the flyer spindle and the bobbin pegs helps you slide the bobbins on and off more easily. If a squeak develops on your wheel, locate the source. Metal-on-metal squeaks can usually be resolved with a small drop of oil.
- Furniture grade Birch plywood with a lacquer finish
- Weight: 23 lbs.
- Drive wheel: 20 in. diameter, 1.5 in. thick
- Bobbin capacity: 8 oz, 16 oz, 32 oz, 64 oz
- Height 32 in
- Width 24 in
- Depth 12 in
Amelia Garripoli has been spinning and blogging since 2001, when she purchased a house that came with two llamas. She blogs as Ask The Bellwether and is an active mentor in several online forums.
Ashley Martineau has been spinning since 2003 and is the author of Spinning and Dyeing Yarn. She is the Providence/Boston area SpinOlution Dealer and a SpinOlution Associate Partner. You can find her teaching spinning classes online at How to Spin Yarn.