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It's enough to choose your wheel, choose your vendor (prices vary, so does service) and pay! Even if its very nice to buy a wheel locally, where you can easily take it back in case of problems, often enough that's just not possible. And generally there are no problems when mail ordering wheels - or if there are, they can easily be sorted out.
There's a big difference between recently made used wheels (a 10-year-old Ashford, for example) and "really old" wheels, offered in E-Bay's antiques section.
If they are in good condition (it would be preferable to see them before buying), there's nothing to say against them. Except: Generally the prices are rather high and can come close to the price for a new wheel from a dealer (but without the warranty!). And the prices for wheels that are relatively recent, but no longer in production can rise far above the wheel's objective worth - especially in auctions. If you want to buy a used wheel, find out its new price before bidding. If the wheel is no longer in production, find out what sort of wheel you are getting (unless you want to complete your collection, there's no reason to pay for an Ashford Scholar - which is a dead simple bobbin-lead wheel that was their low-cost model - more than you'd pay for an Ashford Traditional straight from the factory).
With luck you may find on E-Bay (antiques section) or in antiques shops old wheels for a reasonable price. Often these wheels are quite beautiful. There's also a sense of achievement if you get them spinning (and if all the parts are there, and the wheel was not built for decoraton only - without an orifice, or so -, you can generally get them to function). However, after buying quite a lot of these old wheels (well, I do get carried away at times...) I must say that with very few exceptions they do not spin as well as newer wheels. And even if they do spin well, often there's only one bobbin (which complicates plying). Another point to consider: All my old wheels have bobbins that are smaller than the Kromski bobbins.
If you decide to buy an E-Bay "antique", bear in mind that the seller is generally not a spinner. This means you should ignore everything he says about the wheel's capacity to spin. I've bought wheels offered as "not for spinning" that had nothing wrong with them but a missing driveband. On the other hand I've seen wheels offered as "fully functional" where the flyer and bobbin were missing.
So you need to rely on the pictures - and always assume the worst. Cutting off part of the wheel in the photo might be an attempt to hide a problem. Don't hesitate to ask for additional pictures, and if in doubt, don't bid. Unless, of course, the price is so low that you could write off the purchase and keep the wheel for spare parts - or use it as a basis for your own construction.
Page updated: 07 April 2007