Size Matters: The Importance of Balance Wheels
The Sailrite® Ultrafeed® Sewing Machines have a long history helping both sailmakers and DIYers sew their dream projects. While there are many features of this machine series that make it exceptional, the Ultrafeed would not be the powerhouse it is today without the help of our revolutionary balance wheels.
The Power Plus® Balance Wheel on the Ultrafeed LS-1 (left) and the Monster® II Balance Wheel on the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 (right).
What Does a Balance Wheel Do?
A sewing machine’s balance wheel rotates the upper drive shaft for machine operation, which causes the needle and hook to move in a manner that produces stitches. The transfer of power through a sewing machine is a key part of its operation. Essentially, the motor powers a belt which then turns the balance wheel, transferring power through the internal components to push the needle through fabric. Sailrite has developed proprietary mechanical technology to enhance the success of this power transfer in all Ultrafeed Sewing Machines.
The power transfer flow is as follows: motor > belt > balance wheel > internal components > needle.
In addition to their larger size, the cogged construction of our Power Plus and Monster II Balance Wheels provides a slip-free transfer of power from the motor to the balance wheel when paired with a mating cogged belt. Many sewing machines use a friction belt-to-groove setup, which is simply a belt in a channel under tension to drive the balance wheel, meaning that there is a high probability of slipping and loss of power. You’ll never have to worry about this issue with Sailrite’s proprietary balance wheels.
The cogged construction of the Monster II and belt can clearly be seen on the left of the balance wheel.
At Sailrite, we pride ourselves on constant innovation. On the early version of the Ultrafeed, the balance wheel was much smaller and not nearly the powerhouse that we now know the Power Plus and Monster II to be today. The photo below illustrates this dramatic change in size. The Power Plus and Monster II wheels evolved over time. The original Monster Wheel was the first of our larger balance wheels to be created. It had a diameter of roughly 4 inches and had a V-groove for a smooth belt. Similar to other components on our Ultrafeed Sewing Machines, it went through many changes over the years until we ultimately built what we now call the Monster II Balance Wheel.
Following the Monster Wheel II came the Power Plus Balance Wheel. The Power Plus was created because the increased diameter of the Monster Wheel II proved to be so efficient for customers that having a smaller balance wheel became obsolete.
Notice the much smaller old balance wheel on this early Ultrafeed model (right of machine).
Improving the Wheel
The Monster II Balance Wheel is a top-tier upgrade that provides exceptional power and torque for greater slow speed control, and it comes with a detachable hand crank. It is made from 7 pounds of nickel-plated steel so its weight creates enough momentum that you can use the hand crank to sew heavy fabrics effortlessly without electricity. We highly recommend the Monster II for when slower, more precise sewing is necessary, such as on vinyl or leatherwork where every stitch hole is visible. Plus, it’s quick and easy to install on any LS-1 or LSZ-1 Ultrafeed Sewing Machine!
The lightweight Power Plus Balance Wheel is made from sturdy automotive-grade plastic and comes standard on the BASIC and PLUS Ultrafeed Sewing Machine packages. It is injection-molded to produce a lower cost alternative to the impressive Monster II while still having the same power advantage, just without the hand crank. This remarkable balance wheel allows you to sew incredibly thick assemblies at slow, controlled speeds, something the Ultrafeed is known for.
The Power Plus Balance Wheel on the Ultrafeed LS-1.
Our Power Plus and Monster II Balance Wheels are just two examples of the many advanced features found on the Ultrafeed Sewing Machine series. Our commitment to our customers and mission to constantly improve has truly elevated the Ultrafeed Sewing Machines to best in class.
Note: In 2021, we introduced a new Ultrafeed PREMIUM model featuring the revolutionary WorkerB® Power Pack. Included in this motor system is the brand-new WorkerB® Balance Wheel, which features the same outer dimensions of the Monster II and Power Plus wheels but with a smaller diameter belt track. We needed to make this belt track change for a very good reason. The WorkerB motor is so powerful and runs at a lower maximum RPM that reaching a comfortable sewing speed with the WorkerB required a smaller gearing ratio. This gearing allows for a reasonably fast top sewing speed, but still delivers exceptional power at all speeds.
For even greater slow speed sewing and the ultimate stitch-by-stitch control, the WorkerB motor is compatible with both the Monster II and Power Plus Balance Wheels. The larger belt track diameter on these balance wheels acts as a further gear change, allowing you to slow the machine down for the most exact and precise sewing. The WorkerB Power Pack comes standard on all 110V Ultrafeed Premium Sewing Machine packages and includes both the WorkerB Balance Wheel and the Monster II Balance Wheel.
Footnote: This blog was updated in October 2021 to include mention of the WorkerB Balance Wheel.