Well, I had to give Cardzilla a good cleaning after a tweed blend I just finished up, so I figured I’d document the process for all to see.
You can really tell the poor guy needs a cleaning. Look at all this trash on the main drum!
And the lickerin drum — stuff piles up there after a huge batch. This is, as it was explained to me when I got my first Strauch, “where everything piles up that you didn’t want in your batt anyway, if you’re doing it right.”
And grit and fiber get everywhere — like down in the bearings and around the axles and everything, if you aren’t careful.
This can be very annoying.
It could also be a huge problem if you let it pile up, and cause mechanical issues. Best case, you end up saying “Wow, did this thing come with felt washers? I don’t remember that!” and worst case, well, you get problems. Ideally, I notice if this is happening and clear it immediately. Sometimes I don’t, though. These things happen. We’ll take care of it.
First things first. I grab one of my beater Ashford student hand cards…
…and, with the carder moving forward, gently clean off the licker-in. I start here because the main drum is going to pick stuff up off the licker-in as I loosen it, and if I had done the main drum first and gotten it all clean, I’d just have to start over.
Once I have the licker-in well cleaned, I move on to the main drum. I use the Ashford hand card here because, I admit it, it’s larger, and I’m lazy.
With the hand card resting lightly there, I operate the carder in reverse. Most of the excess fluff just comes right off.
Then I have a hand card full of trash fiber.
I repeat this step as needed, ending up with a pile like this.
Ted asked recently about the “trash yarn” that I spindle spun from drum carder trash — how do I prep it for spinning? Well, here it is! I’ll tell you more about that in an upcoming post. But this is what I do for prep.
With the big stuff off, then I have at those bearings and axles with tweezers.
And ugh, this is the scary part. Did you guys notice what it says on that yellow sticker that’s been in the background a few times? It’s not kidding; this is how I generally wound myself — grabbing bits of fluff and accidentally jabbing a finger into the licker-in.
Once I’ve picked the axles clean, going forward and back to unwrap fibers, I move on to the tool that actually comes with a Strauch carder for cleaning the main drum: a flick carder. The teeth are longer, and they dig things out better than the Ashford hand card does, but it’s also a smaller tool so I use it in a second pass when needed.
Lots and lots of stuff comes off this way, but not the volume that the first pass got.
So now, we’re looking good, right?
You can’t necessarily see it easily, but after I take that fella (the technical term is a “foosher,” because you use it to foosh things with canned air)…
Holy cow, there really was more stuff there, kinda hiding.
And if we didn’t get those out, those would be neps in our next batt. Yuck.
Okay, so now we’re done, right? Right? I mean, look at the axles here.
Sorry guys. Not done.
What? Aw, c’mon! What is that?
It’s where your nagging mom says, “Did you pick up the rug and sweep under it, or just push the dirt around it?”
Sigh. Okay, okay.
And then we’re still not done. Look at the carder in that photo, and ignore the pile of debris! More neppy trash.
This brush, too, is a Strauch tool that comes with. You use it after all the other things.
Okay, now we’re looking good.
Yeah, looks pretty decent.
However, the absolute and undeniable truth of the matter is that there’s *still* going to be stuff on here sometimes! So I usually run through a light batt of fine white merino wool, lightly misted with water. That picks up any dust and particles I might have missed. Also check the brush attachment if you have one, and make sure you don’t have lingering junk there either.
I cannot stress enough that the big yellow sticker means business, especially if you are cleaning a motorized carder. Don’t screw up. Even if you are as careful as I am, believe me, you can hurt yourself. And when I do, usually it’s by jabbing the pad of my index finger just so, getting a wound that takes a while to close nicely, and irritating the bejesus out of me when I want to settle down and spin that evening. Or knit, crochet, weave, write with a pencil, or do almost anything… sigh!
In general, you want to clean like this either any time that your carder needs it, or if you’re moving from one type of fiber to another, or changing colours. The more often you do it, the faster it will go. The more attentive you are while carding, the less time you have to spend on the annoying parts like tweezing fiber out of crevices.
Improper use and inadequate maintenance are the things that kill drum carders. With decent cleaning and maintenance alone, and if you make sure you follow your carder’s instructions, the carder itself can last basically forever. Cardzilla is no spring chicken, and the only thing he’s ever needed other than cleaning is a new motor — the aftermarket part.
Your specific carder may call for slightly different maintenance and cleaning practices than mine does; always do what the guy who made your carder tells you to do, instead of what some random chick on the Internet says.