Cindy and I were having withdrawal so when Frances asked if we would help her set up a counter balanced loom, of course we said yes. Without knowing exactly what needed to be done. ;)
The loom had been hand made, quite possibly by Frances' grandfather and it is living in the visitor centre of Gatlinburg,TN.
Unfortunately, the loom had not been treated well. It is a four shaft, six treadle loom. At some point someone had cut the warp off the loom but left the heddles threaded, preserving the pattern of the final warp woven on it.
It was missing some relatively minor pieces so before we could do anything, a trip to the hardware store was necessary.
The mechanism is a roller type counter balance set up but the main roller was missing. The heddles were still on the top heddle bar, but all the lower bars had come out of the heddles. We installed the main top roller, then untangled the secondary rollers so that we could hang the top heddle bars.
Then we painstakingly started putting all the heddles for shaft one onto the lower heddle bar. With a few anxious moments, shaft one was eventually sorted and we started on shaft two. The heddles were in a tangle because of the preserved threading. The warp ends were knotted together and it would have been a lot easier if we could have removed all of that last warp, but Frances really wanted to see what the last weaver had done so we persevered!
Eventually we got shaft two done, heddle by heddle, then we moved to the back of the loom and started on shaft four. The only way to do without completely killing my back was to simply climb Into the 25" wide loom and sit on the treadles. Fortunately I'm pretty flexible!
About half way through shaft three my shoulder started to protest so Cindy and I changed places. She was a much better fit in that tiny little loom! It took us about three hours from start to finish and at times we could have really used a fourth pair of hands as we juggled heddle bars and attempted to sort out heddles from warp.
Frances will beam the warp and tie the new one onto the preserved threading and weave a bit to see what it is. The loom will stay at the visitor centre on display. But now it looks like a loom instead of a weird wooden contraption.
And Cindy and I got some serious loom time!