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Franken-Loom - repairing and combining two broken Leclerc Mira into one fully functional loom

 
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What if I could make two broken looms into one working loom?  That would be cool.

It may or may not happen.  But if it does, I will document it here.

To start with, they are both mostly-Mira.  Mira is a kind of floor loom made by Leclerc.  It's one of their oldest styles and they have been making it since the 1930s

Here's some photos of Loom 2.  36" weaving width.  age yet unknown.
Problems: warped beater bars, break broken, wood too dry with splits and cracks.  Maybe other problems.  I'll know more when I get it together.
side-of-the-castle.jpg
side of the castle
side of the castle
top-of-the-heddle-bar.jpg
top of the heddle bar
top of the heddle bar
loom-2-mira-in-pieces.jpg
loom 2 - mira in pieces
loom 2 - mira in pieces
 
r ranson
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and here are some photos of loom 1, 45" weaving width - circa 1930
Problems: missing beater, missing parts of the castle, missing parts of the break, missing lots of hardware like the cloth beam advancing leaver, missing....

The big advantage is that they are both of the same design and the basics of that design haven't changed much over the years.
Loom-1-the-frame.jpg
Loom 1 - the frame
Loom 1 - the frame
side-of-the-castle.jpg
side of the castle
side of the castle
frames-beams-etc.jpg
frames, beams, etc
frames, beams, etc
top-heddle-bar.jpg
top heddle bar
top heddle bar
treadles-and-lamms.jpg
treadles and lamms
treadles and lamms
under-the-treadles-where-the-date-mark-should-be.jpg
under the treadles - where the date mark should be
under the treadles - where the date mark should be
and-it-s-nothing.jpg
and it's nothing
and it's nothing
 
r ranson
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Here's a site with some pictures of the different stickers Leclerc had over the years. https://www.camillavalleyfarm.com/loomhistory/fannyloomhistory.htm
 
r ranson
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Today I put together the loom bits into Loom 1 and Loom 2.

As you can see there is more to loom 1 than there is to loom 2, but what you cannot see is that loom 1 is being held together with hope.  The frame is cracked at some really critical places and some essential places are warped beyond tolerance like the beater bars.  To make Loom 1 into a functioning loom that I could use, I would need to replace between 45 and 75% of the frame.  That's too much.

Loom 2 has less there, but what is there is solid!  Beautifully strong!  

The idea is to cannibalize loom 1 to rebuild loom 2 into working condition.

loom5.JPG
two partial mira looms of different ages
two partial mira looms of different ages
loom6.JPG
Loom 1
Loom 1
loom7.JPG
Loom 2
Loom 2
 
r ranson
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One of the big differences between Loom 1 and Loom 2 is the cloth beam doesn't lift out of loom 2.  

The cloth beam is the part that the finished cloth wraps around so we can keep it out of the way while weaving.  The advantaged to having it lift out of the loom is that I can get closer to the frames (the up and down thingies) where I need to thread each warp string through the eyes of the heddles.  It helps my body and eyes if I can be as close to the frames as possible.

So that leaves me with a puzzle.  How can I transform Loom 2 into a loom with a removable cloth beam?  
If I cut into the frame, I risk weakening it so much that it will be useless to weave on.  But If I swap some pieces from loom 1, then I won't have a functioning break on my warp beam.

I need to think about this some more.

loom8.JPG
Loom 2
Loom 2
loom9.JPG
Loom 1
Loom 1
 
r ranson
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After I put the two looms together as much as I could, I started cannibalizing Loom 1 to replace or upgrade the missing pieces of loom 2.  It went so much better than I expected and we got everything to make the loom functioning except for two pieces of wood that hold the reed in place.  We usually call these pieces the beater bar or reed bar, but Leclerc seems to call them the "swords".  (I love how much the textile language still varies from place to place).

I have a local woodworker that might be able to make these pieces.  But in the meantime, the forecast suddenly called for rain.  Time to get everything packed away.

I wanted to do something about the mould on Loom 2.  If I left it there and sanded, then I would get mould dust in my lungs which is not a happy thing to do.  So I got some murphy's oil soap and, following the directions on the bottle, gave it a try.  It worked differently than I expected but it did get rid of the mould.  However, the mould left a mark in the wood like spalting but not so nice.  Good enough as it helps to show the history of the wood and gives it patina.

As I disassembled Loom 2, I cleaned it.  It looks like it will need some sanding but I hope I can do so without disrupting the finish too much.
IMG_1163.JPG
to the left is cleaned to the right is mould.
to the left is cleaned to the right is mould.
 
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Wow! Great job! Yes, you've got some tough decisions to make! It seems to me that many of the wooden support parts are not complicated wood-working - it just takes the equipment, the measurements, and some quality wood. I don't know my woods all that well, but I know that it stretches and shrinks based on humidity, that it's more likely to split if it's not dried properly in the first place, and that for a job like this, fine grain is better than big grain. Am I correct in remembering that most of the Leclerc looms were made of maple?

You also need to consider if  "function" is more critical to you than "form". If you will use it more and more comfortably if the cloth beam lifts out, to me that would be more important than looks. Is it actually set with the same number of inches of wood under its hole compared to the bottom of the hole that holds the removable one? I, too, would be very concerned about weakening that beam by cutting it, but if "function" is more important, I'd consider along with your wood-worker friend, how to reinforce that beam on the underneath or outside to accomplish the change safely. Working with old wood is much more likely to cause splits, so pre-drilling holes for fasteners and using quality wood glue rather than lots of fasteners seems the way to go from my limited experience.

It looks like you have two sets of lamms? If both are in good shape, I wonder if we could work a deal to try the spare with the Inca loom I have parts of? Just seeing the pieces of your looms put together are helping me picture what the Inca should look like. It has a *much* lighter frame and that means that the pieces have to be right or it won't keep itself true and square. If nothing else, just having a good look at your lamms will help me picture what the Inca's should look like. I think that wood beam on the Inca is thinner and lighter than larger Leclerc looms I've seen.

The Inca also has the beater missing. Someone appears to have tried to make a frame for the reed, but clearly had some idea other than a beater for their efforts as it has no "swords" at all (assuming the "swords" are the vertical pieces that pivot back and forth). We seem to have 3 looms here with *all* the "sword" bits missing which says to me that they're under engineered for the demands put on them! I'm sure it's a functional issue - it needs to be light enough that the weaver can use it for gentle fabric, but then people like me come along who used to make rag rugs (my BC days - before children) and needed to beat vigorously. I've got rugs I made 30 years ago that have been in almost daily use and still look fine, although the one that's had kitchen use for almost that long has now got broken warp threads and other signs of age. Those rugs were made on a 4 ft Leclerc Jack loom which has been in pieces since I married as there's simply no room for it. It has a foot-print of a double bed minimum.

I hope you manage to get this project to a place you're happy with. Good job so far, and good luck!
 
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Looking good!  

'Tis a complicated loom we weave, from different parts we did receive" . .  . :>)

(apologies to Sir Walter Scott)
 
r ranson
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Over on Ravlery, they have a very long thread about restoring Leclerc looms.  It's currently 87 pages and there's a lot fluff about cat health and the like.  But there are some good gems in there.

Once the Franken-loom is working efficiently, I suspect there will be some parts left over.  
 
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The loom is mostly complete and in the front hall.  We keep a space for projects that are entering or leaving the house that just happens to be exactly the footprint of a 45" loom.  And yes, that's not a coincidence.

Both these looms are dumpster rescues and although we paid money for them - quite a bit of money - it's still less than the value of selling one complete loom on.  So even if I don't weave much on this new loom, it's a very good investment in both money and time.  

But I think I will weave a lot on it because we managed to swap the pieces that hold the cloth beam on between the two looms.  It meant drilling a couple of holes but it worked!  At least it looks like it did.  

I'm really looking forward to testing it as I have great plans.

But first, I need to take each piece and sand it, wax it, and put it in the studio.  Which means, I need to clear a space in the studio.  Which means... well, that's a lot of work.  
 
r ranson
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Ops, I just realized I've been swapping the names "loom 1" and "loom 2" back and forth at random.  ug.  

That's going to cause some confusion.
 
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