Betty’s new lease on life

I finally found the time to overhaul the Harrisville Design loom (Betty by name – not to be confused with Bettie, which is the name of my car) using the replacement parts I ordered back in September.

The only parts I couldn’t replace were the brake ratchets and axles. The way the old ratchets were assembled would require me to completely rebuild the warp and cloth beams, and that will have to wait until I can find someone with the know-how to do this. I’m thinking I’m going to have to invite my brother up from Tennessee to do this, unless Scott and I can figure out how to do this this summer when it is warm enough to play with the wood-working tools in the garage.

Here is a picture of one of the broken pulleys (there were really only three pulleys that were broken, but I decided to replace all 16 while I had the loom apart). The broken pulleys kept allowing the ropes to slip off and this irritated me.

And a picture of a ratchet and pawl. You can see the pawl doesn’t fit into the teeth of the ratchet properly, and, at times, would slip free, popping the entire warp loose and making me cuss loudly. I replaced the pawls with new ones, and they seem to fit the teeth better, so maybe I can get by without replacing the ratchets until later. I like the newer ratchets though because they have more teeth, which should allow for better fine tuning of the warp tautness while weaving.

I wanted to show you how the rope and pulley system of the Harrisville Design looms work. This is important because the new old loom I recently purchased has a pulley and rope set up very similar to this and now I understand how it works. By the way, the new old loom is named Sir Henry. He feels like some member of the nobility who has fallen on hard times. I feel it is my duty to raise him back up to the level of society to which he was accustomed. I still cannot find a maker’s mark on him, but I hope to find something when I disassemble him to clean him up and repair him. Just in case, I kept the unbroken pulleys from Betty to use if Sir Henry has any broken pulleys. Sir Henry has a distinct advantage over Betty in that he has six treadles. Betty is a four-harness, direct tie-up only, which is fine for teaching, but I’m looking forward to some diversability with Sir Henry’s tie-up method. I don’t know why, but I believe he was meant to do overshot.

The beater side bars had the grooves worn deep enough that ¼” dowel rods were used to bring them back to the correct height. The new beater side bars have two groves and I have put them on at the most shallow for now. Once I get a test warp on her, then I’ll see which set of grooves works best for the best shed.

And here is Betty all ready for her test warp.

Front view:

And side view:

I want to replace the ropes for the harnesses at some point, but it is hard to find good, cotton rope of the right size. What is on there now is nylon and the knots keep slipping out, hence the multiple knots. I know that nylon wears better, but the slipperiness of nylon leaves a LOT to be desired in my opinion.

3 Responses

  1. Elizabeth Jackson Says:

    Do you sell the ratchet gear?

  2. basicallybenita Says:

    No, I bought it from Harrisville Designs online.

  3. Charlene Briggs Says:

    Hello Benita,
    I’m so glad I found your webpage because I recently bought a used loom from Goodwill with no manufacturing mark on it. It has the same kind of pulling system for the heddle frames and also for the treadles. Some of the wood rollers are in bad shape. I am wondering if I can obtain them somewhere. Thank you so much for reading this.

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