Monday, 25 February 2013

The loom...

Ready to unload
You may remember that last year we able to acquire the huge loom built by the late Dennis Weston, back in the late '90s. It is so big that as it stands it will not pass through a standard doorway in any orientation. In fact, as it stands, it will not fit in Sue’s Volvo estate!

The loom has not been run in more than a dozen years so the first thing to do was to turn it over manually, identifying tight points and remedying any timing issues. After several attempts of trying to understand how it should work we finally got it to turn over and fire the huge shuttle at the correct time.

The original motor and drive band
Now it is time to decide exactly what we are going to do with it! Over the past few months we have considered all sorts of options including a complete rebuild. Until now the favourite option was to build a clone of the frame and rebuild all the working parts from the original into that. The idea being we could get each mechanism to work independently of the rest and re-assemble the entire loom in a new frame. Although this method seemed to make sense from a practical point of view, it would mean that the finished loom would be largely a copy of the original.

Trial motor - works fine!
Today we had another session of loom restoration and cured the last of the timing issues. The final problem to address was how to power it. The motor fitted to the loom is an ex-sewing machine, mains voltage motor. The drive band has seen better days and was slipping. We could find another belt but we decided to replace the huge Singer motor with a modern, low voltage motor. First attempts are encouraging. A single 12V DC motor drives the whole mechanism with ease even though there is still some stiffness in places probably due to a build up of fluff, solidified grease and oil. 

The huge shuttle
The loom now runs, throws the huge shuttle through the warp without catching, selects the heald frames correctly and maintains tension in the warp threads. The trouble is I have just noticed that woven cloth is being pulled back onto the tensioning roller. A bit of undoing of grub screws released the tension and the cloth was pulled back allowing the warp to go slack. Now all we have to do is to rewind the thread back onto spools – all 120 of ‘em!

The shuttle on its way
Once we have sorted all that out, it will be a case of smoothing out all the stiff bits and load the shuttle with the weft so that we can start weaving…


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