the brake!

I have only had my loom almost a year, and I can already see that the warp beam brake is going to be a weak point...  Has anyone who's been weaving for awhile on a Herald had to troubleshoot/replace/rig the brake?  I'll be interested to see what experiences others have had.


Posted on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 17:27

I have several photos of the back brake assembly.  Mine has never broken, but I've sent the pictures to a number of desperate weavers who had to re-assemble these looms. 

The back brake has a ratchet and pawl.  There are big wingnuts on both sides of the outside of the wooden slot that holds the crank/beam rod.  The wingnuts tighten the slot so that the warp doesn't slingshot forward when the brake is released. 

The Herald where I teach has had the upright piece of wood that links the foot treadle to the block as been replaced.  On my loom I noticed several months ago that the block was becoming separated from the upright piece, so I fixed it.

Do you need the pix?


Posted on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 22:15

If you can't get it fixed (or even if you can) you might consider switching to live-weight tension, which works well and is much less fiddly when advancing.  I have a description of live-weight tension and some photos on my blog at - it's quick and easy to set up, and once it's set up you can just advance the warp without having to release tension - much less fiddly than a conventional brake IMO.

Posted on Mon, 01/02/2012 - 01:06

I've been facinated by the live weight tension system, but right now I have the loom set up with the open, 1 yard beam extensions in place (but not with the sectional rakes).  The central core, solid beam is sort of like an X shape.  Will live tension work on beams that are not solid or round?

How do you keep the loom from tipping over backwards?

Posted on Mon, 01/02/2012 - 14:13

I'm pretty sure it will work.  My beam is not solid or round either - it's three sectional beam extensions around a central core.  (You can see a cross section at - scroll down to see the "side view".)  You might have to put one additional turn of the rope around the beam to create enough friction, but it should work.

As for tipping the loom over, I've never had a problem with that, even though I have a fairly small/lightweight loom (AVL Workshop Dobby).  I think it's because the big weight hangs almost straight down, so there isn't a whole lot of sideways pull, and you don't need a lot of weight -the most I've ever needed is about 30 lbs.  The only context where it might be a problem is if you have a table loom on a stand.

I really encourage you to try it - once I gave it a try, there was no turning back.  In addition to being easier to use, it also stresses the warp threads less (if you have a jack loom).

Posted on Tue, 01/03/2012 - 21:59

I'm attaching a photo I just took of my brake pawl assembly.  I've been corresponding with a nice man from Bailey Manufacturing which used to make the looms (he told me that they began to make them because their business is therapy equipment and in the 60s weaving was suggested as a therapy regimen!) - he sent me two photos of brake assemblies, and they were not the same but one led me to believe I assembled mine backwards.  What do you think?  (You can just see the spring peeking out below the assembly.)

my Herald brake

Posted on Wed, 01/04/2012 - 02:42

if it looks like mine that I posted... I think there may have been more than one type of assembly, because I saw a photo of one that looked not much like mine...

Posted on Wed, 01/04/2012 - 02:52

Thanks for putting in that link, if my brake ever goes kaput or becomes impossible, I will be trying this system!

Posted on Wed, 01/04/2012 - 18:41

is very different from mine - I can see that your bracket arm is indeed turned around from how mine is, but I don't see that spring that mine has.  If I turned mine around to face the camera like yours is, there'd be a spring along the bracket arm from the base of the pawl to a hook on the arm.  I will take another photo from above, since I'm not disassembling it and reassembling it till the piece I'm doing is off the loom.  Thanks!

Posted on Thu, 01/05/2012 - 16:53

Mine looks quite different from yours...  I am going to try to turn
the bracket so the spring is not mashed against the wood and see if it
improves performance!

Posted on Sat, 01/07/2012 - 15:31

This pic shows another type spring behind the ratchet.  It looks like an "L" shaped piece of spring steel rod....

Posted on Wed, 01/11/2012 - 19:27

I messed with my brake a little today during lunch hour - took it off, put it back on - and it seemed to get worse.  Then I got down on the floor to figure out why I just couldn't get the arm to go down far enough to lift the pawl out of the ratchet - the real problem there was the metal pin under the pedal that keeps it from going below a certain angle!  I could shove the arm down while standing at the side of the loom, and it would go far enough to get the warp to advance, but I could not do it with the foot pedal, and that is why.  I got a wrench and hauled that out, so that the pedal will go down a little farther, right to the base beam of the front of the loom, and it works.  I don't know if there is a reason why I should not let it go so far, but it seems to enable the brake to operate with the foot pedal.  I'm going to tie a pretty piece of fabric around the base beam right there so that nothing nicks or scratches anything else.  (I did also have to put a lock washer on the brake bolt so that the wing nut wouldn't gradually unscrew as I operate the brake, which I did when I did my first project on the loom.)

Posted on Thu, 01/12/2012 - 13:54

I will try to load a set of pictures that shows the entire brake assembly.  It could be that you are missing some part or have it put together wrong...

Posted on Thu, 01/12/2012 - 17:33

That's how mine is.  I thought for a long time my problem was that the brake wasn't moving correctly, but yesterday I finally saw that if that pin wasn't down there, the pedal would go down about another 3/4ths of an inch and that would do the same thing that I was accomplishing by getting up and going around to the side and mashing down on the vertical thing.  I checked the long thin spring that shows so well in your second picture, and there was more amplitude in the slot for the vertical part to go down, but it wasn't being used the spring was not holding anything back.  I do think there is something different with that long spring on my loom as opposed to in your picture, though, I will go have a look at it.  Is there a long slot in your vertical part?  On mine, there is a long slot there, and a hole in the loom behind it, and I have a screw and washer that go through the slot, and the vertical part moves up and down with the screw/washer holding it in place but allowing it to slide.  It is amazing to me how there are so many differences between our looms just in the parts supporting this assembly!  Thanks for the photos.

Posted on Thu, 01/12/2012 - 19:41

There is a slot in the long thin piece, where it is attached to the body of the loom with a screw and washer.  It could be that your expansion spring was replaced at some point with one that didn't quite match. 

You do know that those wing nuts on the slots that the warp beam is resting in are to adjust the amount of warp that is released when the brake is released?  If these are over tightened the brake pawl will move away from the ratchet but the warp beam will just sit there!  This gadget was meant to overcome the problem that ratchet brakes have of launching far more warp than necessary when the brake is released.

Posted on Fri, 01/13/2012 - 13:24

No, I didn't ever notice those big wing nuts!  Thanks for pointing that out!

Posted on Wed, 04/10/2013 - 14:38

I found one of these for sale and was wondering if they weave rugs nicely and if they come apart and are then easy (besides the weight) to move.

Posted on Wed, 04/10/2013 - 17:21

I don't know!  Maybe someone else has woven rugs on them.  I am not sure how much they come apart - when I got mine, the warp beam was off but everything else was assembled and it fit in the back of a Honda Element.  There are a couple of diagrams available online showing what the parts are and how they are supposed to look, but I am not sure there are full assembly instructions.

Posted on Thu, 04/11/2013 - 01:11

I took mine apart to get it up the attic stairs to my room.  I did not do it correctly, but it will come apart.  I took the "foot beam" off in order to drop the sides off the center of the loom.  Then I found out the beam had been glued and I broke apart the glue joint.  I haven't fixed it, because I'll need to do the same thing to get it back down the stairs someday.  In the meantime, I have to support the foot beam to keep it from rotating.

It's not a good rug loom.  Too much tendency for the shafts to rise from the resting position on tight warps.  If you do decide to try a rug or two, remember to beat with all shafts up when changing sheds.

Posted on Thu, 04/11/2013 - 08:07

I wound up changing springs to something stronger, using metal looped chain purchased at the hardware store to attach the pawl to spring to worked a lot better afterward. The pictures posted above helped a lot with reassembly. I found the spring was the weak link in the braking least on my Herald.


Posted on Thu, 04/11/2013 - 12:43

I can easily imagine the spring not lasting all that long.  If you have time, would you post a picture of what your brake assembly looks like as you've modified it?  I expect I'll have to replace it one day.  Thanks!