Although I would love to keep the Finlander Barn Loom as pristine and original as possible, I do need to do a couple adaptations to make it function better for my own use.
I looked back over my loom scrapbook and see that I now have owned 34 looms in my lifetime! That means somewhere along the way, I have gleaned bits and pieces of innovations from different loom configurations to know what I like best for weaving under certain circumstances.
-There are adaptations you make to the big heavy rug looms.
-There are adaptations you make to the small portable table looms.
-There are adaptations you make for looms with fine thin fibers that maybe snarl or snag on each other, like mohair or silk yarns.
I've added things like a bicycle rear view mirrors to be able to aim underneath and check the progress, making sure that I didn't skip any rows of intricate patterns of overshot or boundweave. I have added things like magnets to hold tips of scissors or large long weaving needles to darn in loose ends. I have added cup hooks to hang little printed cards of weaving patterns to follow. Over the years I've added and done things to looms to make them more "usable" to me.
Now it's time for a couple little upgrades and updates to this Finlander Barn Loom.
First, the old fraying sisal ropes needed to be removed.
I replaced all of the ropes with good strong cotton sash cord, meant for hanging window weights on old windows. It does not stretch like clothesline or twisted ropes. Once it is tied at a certain height or length, it stays that way.
Once I am sure that my length is the correct distance for the largest optimal shed opening, I knot them off securely and tape up the ends to prevent fraying. I left some excess length on the two ropes down by the treadles because I may be adjusting those differently later on.
Next, I added a good heavy handle that my friend Jim Burkett makes. It is made from very heavy solid steel pipe. Not only does it make it easier to grab the beater, but adds packing weight to the beater as well.
I used to keep a couple of these handles on hand in my stash to add to looms that come into my studio. Then I remove them if the loom happens to be going on to a new owner. This is my very last handle! Jim is now retired and doesn't make these anymore. So I think this loom better stay here with the very last handle on, and never leave my studio, ever.
The next improvement I had Steve help me with. "Sectional Warping" means I can put a large amount of warp on the back beam using the easiest method, without having to wind long warp chains on that big warping reel. That is a tedious long process and subject to tangles and snarls and mistakes. By using the sectional warping method, I will be able to pack 40 or 50 yards of warp onto the back beam... when we are done with this improvement.
Steve carefully constructed four new sectional rakes, by drilling in holes every 2" on center. We added the oak pegs cut from 3/8" dowels.
I glued them into place and stained them, and added a coat of polyurethane for protection.
With careful measuring, we attached the rakes to the back beam. They need to be absolutely symmetrical so as the threads go around, the pegs are lined up with the previous row before it.
Now I can pack on a bunch of warp and get ready to weave a whole big batch of rugs.
The turning motion of the back beam was kind of rumbling and rough where the ends slide down into cradles on the frame. We added some PVC vinyl slides to the cradle sections to make the back beam turn more smoothly.
Now it rotates smoothly. Because I'm thinking that if I'm doing 80 turns per section to warp up this beam, x 15 sections, that makes 1,200 revolutions! It better turn easily....
Steve is still working out the details to attach a handle to the back beam to make it easier to crank. Previously, the warps had been put on slowly, by turning the other end of the beam a half revolution at a time, using a stick in the braking holes. I think we will find a way to wind on much faster.
Somewhere along in this loom's lifetime, someone replaced this back support beam for the treadles. It's made with a newer piece of raw lumber that is actually stamped from a mill somewhere. 100 years ago they didn't do this. I can't quite read the printing.
Since it was newer lumber, it didn't match the old aged patina of the rest of the loom. I laid down some cardboard, got out some rags, and rubbed in some dark walnut stain. I think it made a big improvement, don't you?
Now here's one little nifty thing that I discovered, that I don't even need to improve! While I was weaving the last rug on the loom, I realized my little scissors needed a resting spot. Usually I just glue a magnet somewhere onto the loom to hold the scissors by the tip. But on this loom I discovered a nice little hole on the wedge used to hold the bench seat into place. Perfect for a scissors!
But I will have to remember to snatch it up quickly and put it in a safe place when the little grandkids come over. That is my routine, before they come in the door, I snatch up all scissors, pins, needles, rotary cutters etc from anywhere in my she shed. I call it "de-kidderizing". The youngest grandchild is only 4 and those could be dangerous items in curious little hands.
UPCOMING IDEAS FOR IMPROVEMENTS
An upcoming future improvement will happen, sometime, as I am keeping an eye out for exactly the right piece. As you can see, there is a piece of metal pipe used as the braking bar for the back beam.
There had been a wooden bar here, but it had been accidentally snapped off at the museum somewhere during it's display life. I have the partial piece, but it is going to need to be replaced with a wooden bar of the same diameter. I am looking for just the right sturdy strong broom handle or shovel/implement tool handle. Maybe a good one out of hickory? Or strong oak? I know the right one will come along, whether it's at a rummage sale, recycling center, or thrift shop. It needs to be just a tad bit longer than the pipe so it can fit down into this cradle.
For now the piece of pipe will work, but I really do want to get a wooden handle.
Speaking of pipes, someone had replaced the two bottom heddle bars of the harnesses with two pieces of conduit pipe. Although it is heavy, and works well, I would like to replace them with traditional wooden bars.
The top support piece for the pulleys is also a big heavy metal pipe. I am not sure if I could find a wooden bar that thickness. Steve suggested a piece of oak handrail or closet rod. In the meantime, this works just fine and I may just paint a dark brown. But if the right piece comes along, I may replace it.
The little metal cradles for that top pipe, as well as the top of the beater swords, are kind of a mishmash of some homemade metal. Some of it is bent. Some of it has been resupported with nails, some of it has been boosted up from the back side with a block of wood.
I think I will look for some heavy cast pieces of metal that will make a perfect cradle here for each of the components.
I am also going to replace the string heddles sometime down the line. What is there now will work fine. Either I will order up some really good strong seine twine from Sweden and tie my own, or I may just order the right sized texlov string headles and put those on. But for right now, like I said, what is there will work fine.
Now it's time for me to get off my blog, and go start the warping process. I already have the tubes of warp on the rack and the tension box clamped to a saw horse. I'm ready to start winding on. ....as soon as we get that cranking handle thing figured out.
AS SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION... I sell a DVD on how to do the sectional warping process. It can be a daunting task to someone the first few times they attempt it. My DVD is a nice reference to look back to again and again if you are trying to sectionally warp a loom.
I sell it on eBay:
HOW TO WARP A SECTIONAL LOOM DVD
HOW TO WARP A SECTIONAL LOOM DVD
Just is case you wanted to learn more about sectionally warping a loom, I think that my DVD is pretty helpful.