Saturday was the loom assembly party! My friends Brian, Chris, and Dave came over to help me put Maryam together.
(Maryam, if you missed my previous posts, is my new-to-me TC-2 jacquard loom, named after Maryam Mirzakhani, the brilliant mathematician and first female Fields Medalist. All my looms are named after female mathematicians, except for Grace, who is named after renowned software titan Grace Hopper.)
Here’s what Maryam looked like shortly before 11am, when Dave (the brains behind the operation) arrived:
I had spent about two hours carefully unpacking and unwrapping all the loom bits and laying them out on clean cardboard in the driveway for easy access. This cleared enough room to work in the garage. The sides and the other heavy pieces I left propped up against the garage walls.
Once Dave and Chris arrived, we started assembling the frame. Dave, who is the electromechanical genius who led the assembly of Grace, was gracious and generous enough to agree to put Maryam together as well. (Thank goodness; it would have taken us at least three times as long to figure everything out without him!)
Here’s Dave on the left, getting ready to replace Grace’s feet with ratcheting leveling casters. The leveling casters convert from feet to wheels and back to feet again, making it easy to roll Maryam around when she needs to be moved – no small matter since she weighs about 750 lbs!
After putting on the new feet, the first assembly step was to connect the two side pieces. This is an important and tricky step; each side piece weighs about 200 pounds, and the bottom weighs about 50-60 pounds, so many hands were needed to keep things stable and lined up properly. Brian, Chris, Dave, my esteemed spouse, and I all held and shifted parts about while Dave crawled about the bottom, installing the twenty-two (!) bolts that secured the frame together. (Yes, twenty-two. When those Norwegian engineers put something together, it STAYS together!!)
Now the frame was stable enough to stand on its own:
At this point, we no longer needed everyone, so Brian went home, and Chris, Dave, and I continued on with assembly.
Next step was putting on the front and back top assemblies. Also well-supplied with bolts, and built from nice, thick plates of solid steel. If you want something built right, order it from Tronrud Engineering. They do not mess around!
Then we installed the back beam, which was a little tricky since we had to thread the sensor cables through the right side of the loom and hook up the wiring to the loom controller card in the right side. The TC-2 is really cool in that it controls warp tension automatically via a sensor (strain gauge) on the back beam. You can set the tension to a particular level on the computer, and the loom automatically rolls the warp beam forward or back to achieve that level of tension. Nifty, eh?
Here we are after installing the back beam:
The next step (after installing the beater and the front beam) was to install the heddle kits and controller modules. Chris and Dave did that:
For those not familiar with loom guts, the heddles (the long springy things that Chris is putting into the loom) are what lift the threads up and down when the loom is working.
TC-2s work very differently from a standard loom in that the threads are controlled individually, and are lifted via a vacuum pump. Each heddle has a little piston on top, which goes into a shaft in the controller module above it. At the top of the shaft is a baby valve, connected to a kid-sized hose at the top of the module, which connects to a big-momma hose at the top of the loom, connected to a giant-momma vacuum pump located in a corner of the garage. When the loom is running, if a thread is supposed to go up, the computer directs the controller module to open the valve at the top of the shaft, the piston gets sucked up the shaft by the vacuum from the pump, and – TA-DAA!! – the thread rises.
Clever, these monkeys.
Anyway – heddles installed, front, back, side covers put on, warp and cloth beams added, and – drum roll please!! –
SAY HELLO TO MARYAM!!!
It took us a total of six hours to get Maryam together. I can’t thank everyone enough, especially Dave, without whom it would have taken three times as long, if we could have figured it out at all.
And here, after another couple hours of cleaning out the garage, is the family photo – Grace and Maryam, snuggled up together in their new home.
Maryam is a bit shy, and we haven’t gotten her to talk to my laptop yet, but the wonderful folks at Digital Weaving Norway/Tronrud Engineering are helping me troubleshoot things, and I’m confident that we’ll have her saying “Hello World!” sometime soon. I’m already planning my first warp on her, which will be a set of painted-warp samples for the course I plan to release next year.
Please welcome Maryam!!