Monday, August 11, 2008

AVL Fly Shuttle Springs

Someone on the WeaveTech list is having some pain in her arms from using AVL's fly shuttle. Before I explain my modifications, you need to know that I have been rudely chastised in the past for modifying my loom. I shined it on, because my loom is not a fancy piece of furniture in my living room. It is a tool I have used to make my living. I only have one body, so my priority has been to minimize the damage to it. That means there is wear and tear on my loom. It has served me well over the last 15 years. For many of those years, I cranked out 50 yards of fabric a week. Maybe my modifications won't work for you, or maybe you don't want to change the set up of your loom. Whatever...hopefully you can use the information, or it may give you an idea of your own.

I used to have a Newcomb "Weavers Delight". It's a heavy duty rug loom, in which everything is mechanical. You only have to pull the beater bar back and forth to make it work. One day, the spring broke on the picker strap, so I took it off and tried to weave without it, thinking it didn't do much work anyway. Huh! I could barely get the shuttle across the web. That got me thinking about the fly shuttle on my AVL. Springs could minimize the shock in my arms from snapping the shuttle back and forth. It turned out to work great!

I found springs at the local auto supply. They are quite stiff, 2" long and 3/8" in diameter, (not counting the loops on the ends).

I cut the fly shuttle cord and tied in the springs. They are about 9" from the intersection of the cord that comes from the beater supports (I have an overhead beater) and the shuttle fly box. The loops on the ends of the spring sometimes get caught on the warp, and sometimes on the cables that support the harnesses. By wrapping the ends of the springs with masking tape, there is no longer a problem:

Here is what the assembly looks like:

Note the duct tape on the beater support. The spring sometimes hits there, too, and the duct tape protects the wood. You might also notice the masking tape on the cord closer to the beater support. I am parsimonious, and I think the dacron cord is very expensive when buying it from AVL, so this fly shuttle cord is cobbled together from several other broken ones. The tape covers a knot where two small pieces were tied together.

I also wax the fly shuttle race, the shuttle itself, and the grooves the fly shuttle picker runs in before each day's weaving. That really helps to reduce friction, and effort needed to throw the shuttle. I wear wrist braces, too. Mostly, they serve to remind me to keep my wrists straight in line with my hands, to prevent carpal tunnel damage. Added together, these adjustments mean I can weave for long periods with no pain at all.

I am not using a fly shuttle on the narrow warp that is on the loom in the picture. I just tied up the fly shuttle assembly for this post.


Anonymous said...

From one production weaver to another kudos to you for this great help in tired hands and arms. Thanks a many...Best wishes...

Mary said...

Hi Katherine,
I'm so glad to see this ingenious post. I have a 60 inch A-Series (newer) AVL with the flyshuttle. Recently an experienced AVL weaver, and when she threw the shuttle she was in pain. She said that the cable wasn't long enough (it's right from the AVL factory) and i'd wreck my shoulders and elbows. I am most definetly going to give this a try. Thank you!

Beryl Moody said...

I'm definitely going to try this on my fly shuttle assembly. I already have carpal tunnel and have to limit the number of picks I do at a setting. Thanks for the great pictures.

Sandra Rude said...

Hi, Kathy, I used a similar set of springs on my loom before I stopped using the fly shuttle altogether. In addition to the ones on the side cords, I also put a spring on the vertical cord to the handle, which added to the "softening" of the stress on the hand pulling the cord. I think this is something AVL ought to make standard on all their fly-shuttle looms, and is certainly something loom owners should try.