Rope Brake for Warp Beam


> I have a locally handmade loom that is beautiful, but
> the brake system for the back beam is an electrical
> cord that tightens on the beam by  pulling up on a
> board to apply tension. It doesn't work well and I'd
> appreciate any ideas to improve the system.

There're many ways to do this, but I'd step back in time and use a rope brake; here's two types:

1. ( Easiest ) Tie a heavy doubled cotton or hemp rope to a frame member under the end of the warp beam then take the doubled rope under the warp beam and go up the back and over the top twice, ending up with the loose end hanging in front of the warp beam. You'll attach a weight ( to be determined by experimenting ) to hang off of the floor. I'm assuming your warp comes off the back of the warp beam, if not reverse the rope wrap direction; for best braking the beam should turn towards the weight ( not true in type 2 ). To release, pull a cord to lessen the rope tension or attach a pedal to lift the weight a little by way of an upper pulley and cord.  We use this type except we use heavy springs instead of a weight.

2. A self regulating rope brake has one end of the doubled rope tied to a heavy weight hanging off the rear of the warp beam ( the reverse of the first type ) then the doubled cotton or hemp rope goes around the warp beam and a smaller weight hangs off the other end of the doubled rope at the front of the warp beam; both weights clear the floor. As the warp is used the beam turns a little, the smaller weight contacts the floor, releasing tension so the warp beam can turn loose some warp.  This type is a bit trickier to adjust, I think, but doesn't normally need to be manually released.

   The old rope brakes can, if properly made, allow very small releases of warp without the surprise of a total release of tension. I like to adjust the release so two beats will release a little warp,  but in any case set the release pedal to raise the weight slightly, not totally up. If your loom is wider than 40 inches, it's good to put a brake on the opposite side of the loom from the cloth beam ratchet, to minimize any possible torque.

- Bill Koepp
(There're many ways to do this, but I'd step back in time and use a rope brake)