***Update: The loom has found a home. I will post pictures when it has been restored and installed in an historic farm not too far from here. ***
(Apologies to people who contacted me earlier: the owner of the loom died a few weeks after I posted this, and I did not want to both his wife at the time. She is now moving on, selling the property, and was happy that the loom will have a place where it can be warped and working again.)
Friends of mine have a barn loom “kit” in a shed on their property. They asked me if I was interested in rehoming the loom, so I visited to see what restoring the loom would entail. At this moment, I don’t have room for another large loom, however much I want to be able to weave wider than the 34″ my Newcomb Studio allows.
I told my fried that I would ask around on some of the weaving groups and mailing lists I know about. These pictures are posted here so we don’t have to email pictures and fill up each other’s inboxes.
All of the visible lumber is at least actual 3″ x 3″. There is some chewing damage at the end of some of the parts. The basic frame units that make up the sides of the loom appear to be sound. This loom would have had an overhead beater. I don’t see any reed among the parts.
I estimate that the loom will occupy at least a 30 SF footprint. The weaver may have stood to weave.
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In this picture above, the frame assembly has been turned on its “back.” The cupped piece that supports the warp beam (I think it’s the warp beam) is labelled.
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In this picture, the first side frame assembly has been tilted forward and you can see the rear support of the frame with the warp beam support attached, in the correct position relative to the ground.
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This picture shows a wooden brake attached to a wooden support piece. This may be the cloth beam brake.
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This picture shows a collection of horizontal crossbars that would be fitted into the two major frame pieces to assemble the loom. The warp beam still has several of the pegs that make a sectional beam to hold very long warps. Someone commented that the “rake” looking part at the top of the pile, with four “teeth,” is part of the loom that serves as the equivalent of “frames” or “harnesses” on a modern loom.
Here’s a consolidated summary of the opinions of a weaver’s group I belong to, when I asked them about whether old barn looms had any resale value:
The point: Is there any $$ value to these looms? Friends have a VERY old, disassembled “barn loom” in a shed. They are looking for a good home for the loom, having decided not to restore it. Told them I would do some research. This loom cranked out some serious rag rug yardage in its day. I have some pictures I haven’t processed yet. Looks like the frame pieces are present, including the warp beam and cloth beam, but no frames. No reed; not sure if some parts would make a beater. Some damage at the ends of some frame pieces. 48″ width, probably a standing-height loom. Frame parts are probably 3″ x 3″ timbers. I’m guessing the loom occupies about 30 SF when assembled, and needs at least 6′ vertical clearance. Loom is currently in a shed in central NC.
You may not find any harness frames like you are expecting to see; simply four long sticks with no side pieces. They may be round rather than flat. You should also see two long treadle boards. Look for two pulleys, but these can be replaced easily. The heddles were often made by hand, out of fine cord.
Look for a heddle jig among the smaller parts. It will be about 15 inches long, with four hand hewn pegs lodged vertically in it. If you see a reed among the parts, or can sense from the beater how high the reed might have been, double that height for the length of the heddles. Deep looms use 12 inch heddles and 6 inch reeds to provide for the width of a shed that will accommodate a rug shuttle.
If it looks like you have a frame for the reed, you’re OK. Reeds often did not survive. On older looms, the beater swings from the top of the loom, rather than from the bottom the way more modern, smaller looms are built.
These looms were built to be put together and taken apart, so you may find numbers on the ends of the parts that will help you put it back together.
Many of these old looms were used to weave fabric as well as rugs.
Same facts, different interpretation:
As a general rule, barn frame looms are not worth “cash money,” especially if they have no reed or harnesses. The new owner has to correct any wooden defects as well as replace the harnesses, heddles, reed, and sometimes treadles. What survives years in the back of a shed is the frame, and there is no telling what shape the wood is in.
Due to their size, many people don’t want these looms, and due to their nature, they require a good deal of tweaking before they will work correctly. Few non-weavers who don’t have carpenters in their lives don’t have the knowledge or the patience to do the necessary tweaking. That said, once set up correctly, in good condition, with all the essential parts in working order, there is nothing like it for weaving anything from rugs to lace.
Some barn looms find new homes in historical demonstration exhibits.