Tag Archives: heddles

Leclerc Nilart – Dismantling, Cleaning, Polishing, & Refinishing

dsc00001I spent the day hauling in various parts of our Nilart loom.  I started with scouring the heddle support bars on the harnesses using 0000 super fine steel wool.  The loom is in great shape.  Nevertheless, these bars are steel and as such subject to corrosion.  Dust and grime also accumulate…in this case 42 years worth.  While it did not seem significant, once I did this, the heddles slid back-and-forth like they are now on ice skates!  I also lightly sanded the wood on the harnesses and wiped on a light coating of boiled linseed oil…my favourite natural finish.  While the finish on Leclerc looms is nice, it is far from being a fine-furniture grade.  Some of the wood’s roughness is from an incomplete sanding on the wood, and some is from roughness on the part of the varnish application.  Sanding with fine sandpaper and then rubbing with linseed oil makes for a smooth-as-glass finish.

The reed was likewise tarnished and grimy.  Steel wool worked off the worst.  Then with a new polishing wheel I worked in between the reeds.  It came out incredibly smooth.

Before scouring…


After polishing…


I went on to the larger pieces of the loom, sanding and finishing…


The canvas on the front take-up reel was dirty…


…and got washed; the rear one will be done tomorrow when I dismantle the rear beam apparatus.  And then the metal parts were scoured…


It’s coming out quite nicely.  There is no reason to not do this.  First of all an evaluation of all parts should be made…better now than when I load up my first warp and find out that there is a problem, that’s for sure!  But just the prospect of alleviating any unnecessary friction in a loom that works 12 shafts will surely prove to be a benefit in the end.  Better now than later.  Today the windchill was -35, so it seems to be a great time to do this.

And it is turning out beautifully.

Newly Acquired Parts Inventory

I thought at the time that these were replacement heddles for the Nilart.  But upon inspection today, they are not.  They are 2″ too short!  But they will fit on either the Mira or Fanny (an upgrade!), which take 10 1/2″ heddles.  A 12 dent reed at 45″ requires 540 heddles.  I have 200 more than that…

739 – Spare heddles (inserted eye (small), 10 1/2″)
103 – Spare heddles (inserted eye (large), 10 1/2″)
12 – Repair heddles (wire, 10 1/2″)

As for the other accessories that came with the Nilart:

1 – Loom crank
131 – Canvas tacks
13 – Treadle hooks
Tie-Ups (coloured cord)

Loom-Demon Rust


Someone recently quipped to me that the greatest threat to weaver’s looms was rust.  They said this in regard to ordering a new reed for the Leclerc Jano I am restoring.  I wound up ordering a 22″ reed made of carbon steel – $42.  We live in a very dry climate averaging 16″ of rainfall a year.  This makes it suitable for farming small grain…and not worrying about your loom reed if it is kept indoors and heated in the winter time.  Of course not everyone keeps an heirloom or an oddity-of-a-loom in a heated environment, let alone their home.  A couple years ago I was shown a loom that I enquired about.  I was in a deserted farm house that had its windows broken out.  It looked like the raccoons and coyotes had had their way with it.  Redeemable?  I offered to perform a funeral for it.  And sometimes I see ads on Kijiji for looms complete with its photo in a barn.  You’d have to go look if you were interested, but corrosion will most certain have taken its toll on metal parts minimally.  These are not treasures, they are junk.

The loom I am rebuilding has a need of reworking all metal due to rust.  There were 461, 9 1/2″ heddles on four harnesses.  Two hundred and sixty of these were wire heddles.  Original?  Probably.  And these are a solid mass of rust.  There is no way to recondition these.


On the other hand two hundred and one are made of aluminum flat metal.  These I scoured, came out perfectly clean, and are ready for reinstallation when the harnesses are ready later today.  I am short 39 heddles for weaving 1 warp thread/dent on a reed trimmed down to 20″ @ 12 dents/inch.  I’ll start there…



Harness Alignment

The only original roller cord on this loom…


The entire cord setup on this loom was wrong. I have no idea how the loom would have even functioned in this state. The upper cords were not wrapped on the upper roller at all, but simply set across the upper roller. The single wrap is meant for both stability and gripping power.  And the lower roller cords were polyester, a material that does not grip as well as cotton…obviously the original cords had been replaced and were not attractive at all…


The centre of the heddle eyes need to be aligned with a line drawn from the top of the breast beam to the top of the back beam.


These eyes were too low (the dark bar just below the string extending to the left)…


This was  adjusted once I cut new cords…


Here are the correct, braided cotton new cords installed as they should be.  Instead of metal clips or wire I conceded to the modern use of zip ties as fasteners…


Restoring Harnesses

Restoring three harnesses required twelve hours of work today; I was in no rush. The easy part was unhooking them from the rollers. The roller ropes were not original and need to be replaced.  All parts of the harness needed to be reworked…wood, screws, brackets, heddle bars, heddles…


Steel-wooling the frames allowed for application of aluminum paint…


Polishing hardware on a buffing wheel restored its lustre…


Each harness holds contained between 324 and 347 heddles.  I removed them from the heddle bars and steel wooled the bars and replaced the heddles all with the same orientation (the ends are different).  After refinishing the wood I reassembled the frames….


Grouping heddles in 10’s I was able to divide them into exactly half, placing each half on their own respective side of the centre heddle bar supports…


I have one more harness to finish tomorrow, then the rollers, and finally the reassembly of the loom and several more coats of boiled linseed oil.

This is tedious and methodical work, and I extremely enjoying doing it.  Not only is the restoration starting to look nice, I am also finding it a great way to fully understand the mechanics of the loom itself…