Saturday, September 05, 2015

Heddles and Reeds, Reeds and Heddles

Not a lot of progress has been made since the last post, but I've certainly done a lot of work!  Cleaning metal things is not very straightforward, at least loom parts.  Heddles are delicate and fiddly, and reeds need to be cleaned pretty well to ensure they don't get rust and oxidation on the threads.

These are the four reeds that came wit the loom.  The two narrower reeds (on the left) are LeClerc reeds, and the two wider ones are from what I believe is a defunct reed company.  They all have their original papers along the edges, and they will all have shiny new "duck" tape when this is all over.  Last weekend I tried some different things to clean them, but nothing's working great.  Someone on the internet recommended a fabric buffing wheel, that it would get in between the dents, but I didn't have great luck with that.  The two that are truly rusty I've dosed with a lot of WD-40, and one of them I scrubbed with a brass brush, which seemed to remove a lot of rust, but was far from complete.

So I moved on to the two LeClerc reeds which weren't in as bad of shape.  The second from the left is a 6-dent reed, so the spaces between the dents are pretty big.  I tried scrubbing this with yarn and Barkeeper's Friend, which worked ok.  If I only had a few dents to do it would be great.  But it was really messy and not super fast so I put that one aside.

The left-most reed is a 15 dent reed, so there is no way I could/would go dent-by-dent to clean it.  I was just going to have to rub hard enough with a terry-cloth towel to get in there.  I used some MAAS metal polish and rubbed and rubbed and rubbed.
About 1/3 done
This is the oxidation that came off.  The darker cloth is just as dark on the other side.  I feel like I made a lot of progress on that one.  There are a few little stubborn spots that won't budge.  I tried a little fine sandpaper, but it wasn't fine enough, so those spots are a little rough.  I think I need some fine steel wool.  This reed had a piece of string tied in the center dent (it's still there in the picture), and where the knot and ends rested against the metal there is an imprint that I can't get rid of.

Next thing to try: I bought a wire wheel that I'm going to take to the rusty reeds.  If that doesn't work, I might just give up on those two.  I might also get some CLR to try on the 6 dent reed.  Again, someone on the internet had good luck with it.  It's worth a try.

The heddles have been a similar story.  I found that if I took the heddles out of the coke bath and let them dry, the oxidation wouldn't rub off, but if I rubbed them wet, a lot would come off.  So I cleaned off about 200 and was done with that.  They don't look great.  They look dull gray.  I think it's ok, but they're not slippery, and since I think it's my fault (I put them in the oven to speed up the acid bath, and that's when they turned gray) I'm inclined to try to clean them instead of buying new.  I'll probably buy new ones over time as I go.  I would like to have Texsolv heddles, but they are pretty expensive.  I polished some heddles with MAAS during class this week* but didn't get far.  I'm sure by next week I'll be posting a picture of my lovely new texsolv heddles.  Next week I'm going on a trip for work, and since I drive a Prius, the money I get for mileage far exceeds my actual expenses.  It'll be hard to not spend that money on heddles, I feel.  Maybe a reed, too.

*I am working on my Master's via internet at University of Illinois.  Class is a live lecture, but I'm sitting at my dining room table, and it helps me to have something to do with my hands as I listen.


Karen Borga said...

Just bought a used Nilus II and my reeds are a mess. What was your final outcome?

~ Karen

Beth said...

Sadly, I never found a great way to clean the reeds. I put in the time to clean the two I use the most, but just today ordered a new one to replace one that I am not going to clean. There were a lot of suggestions, but I never found anything that worked without a ton of elbow grease, and less than satisfactory results. I do have texsolv heddles now, too.