Tag Archives: Draper Model D

Inventory (Final) – Heddles

Following the refurbishing of the harnesses the final count on heddles is:

40  – Like New
118 – Good (slight texture but smooth)
51   – Useable (textured but smooth)
173 – Bad (pitted)

382 – Total

Rust occurs because of a combination of factors: exposure to humidity/moisture, exposure to oxygen, elements in the air.  These heddles are not made any more.  In order to protect the remainder that I have I have sealed them in PVC pipes that are filled with new motor oil.


They are labeled appropriately on the outside…




I refurbished the harnesses – 24″ x 41″ (outside dimensions).




Harnesses were disassembled.  All metal was cleaned with solvent and then steel wooled.  The wood was steel wooled, then sanded, then steel wooled again, and finally oiled with boiled linseed oil several times.  All heddles were steel wooled, and the ones that were rough or pitted or bent were replaced, which amounted to 26 heddles on one and 14 on the other.  All screws were all replaced.  Heddle support spring hooks were cleaned and lightly oiled.  And the reassembly was completed.





The Drive

We left home last Thursday afternoon.  The weather was below freezing and snow covered the ground.  We missed a blizzard that closed I-29 by a few hours.  This was Sioux City when we drove through before Friday daybreak.  We had decided to not drive through the Twin cities and Chicago due to both the blizzard and the congestion.  This was a great choice even though it added many hours onto our trip.  There was barely enough room on the Interstate in west Iowa in some places for our trailer to fit…


Driving through Iowa and Illinois the weather warmed.  Some grass was greening…

Our biggest concern was in crossing the mountains of eastern Ohio, northwest West Virginia, and eastern Pennsylvania.  It was work for the truck with the empty trailer as it was…

Saturday daybreak we were through the I-76 tunnels and heading downhill on some steep grades…


Weather was beautiful in Pennsylvania.  Grass was green.  Trees were leafed out.  The tulips and daffodils were in bloom.



Loaded and moments from leaving for home.   We got sunburned on Monday morning…


High winds and steep grades (6% was the worst) some lasted for miles through Pennsylvania.  Caught our first sleep in western Ohio for an hour. Then through Indiana into Illinois where we slept for a luxurious 2 hours during sunrise.  Messed around in Iowa looking for a Post Office, and a nap in a rest area with trucks hauling wind turbine blades that we paced off at over 160′ a piece.  Into South Dakota for our first real meal of the trip when on the road…Tuesday evening at a family restaurant…home cooking!  A couple of cat naps in South and North Dakota during the night.  Clear weather all the way home on Wednesday until a half hour from home where the skies poured rain.  We tarped up before heading down our gravel and parked in 6″ of mud in our yard

Returning 6 hours north into Canada we passed through the Duck Mountain along Hwy. 83 which runs all the way from Swan River to Brownsville, TX…

And the view of Thunderhill where we live, from the north…


Our homeward trip was much slower than our trip to Pennsylvania, and for good reason.  Indiana’s interstate was clearly the worst stretch with pavement breaks, followed by the second poorest roads along I-80 through Iowa.  But the worst road of all was the Ditch road west out of Swan River where we had to crawl to keep the trailer from destroying its load.  We encountered good weather with the exception of our last half hour home which was rain.  Once home I coated the entire machine in WD-40 to displace the water that got into the gearing and crevices.  It dried over night in spite of freezing temps, and we uncovered it and backed it into our quonset shed this morning as the ground had frozen hard last night which allowed us to drive through what had originally been a mucky mess the day before.  Nearly 60′ of rig…truck and trailer.  The trip required 91 hours of driving, 45 hours out, 51 hours returning, and covered 2,200 miles each way.  We slept along the road each way…about 6 hours going out and 8 hours returning.


We felt it was a gift to us to be able to drive it into our shed this morning; this time of the year is so fickle.  The trailer and loom are now safely under cover and awaiting the pouring of our concrete in another month.  I can’t wait…lots of planning and prep to do in the mean time…

Leading Up To And Purchasing The Loom

A couple of months ago while working on a hand loom I was suddenly and forceable reminded of three men to whom I was pastor twenty four years ago when I moved my family to eastern Massachusetts.  I had not gone there to serve a church…I had gone there to begin my doctoral program at Boston College in religious epistemology.  Just before our move we had been contacted by a struggling congregation and asked if I would be interested in simultaneously serving them.  Following some discernment I said yes.  Two of the members of that church had been Draper employees, but by the time I arrived they had been retired already for over fifteen years.  While working on a hand weaving project I was reminded of them as I wove and I remembered with fondness standing outside the Draper factory as they told me their stories of having worked there (oral history was one area of my research/training).  Later that day I went on line and looked up Draper and even more came to mind.  Over time I read more and more.  I had no thoughts about purchasing a Draper loom at that time.  Over time I began to feel somewhat haunted by these men…people whom I had not seen in twenty years, but who kept tapping on my shoulder as I wove.  After a couple of months of this I sent off an email asking to speak with Peter Eaton who had restored one of these.  I really had no idea why I wanted to talk.  When I got him on the phone, and finished asking my questions, I was floored when he said that his loom was for sale…that they did not have the time to maintain both their weaving and their leather-making. He said that they were asking $2,500 for everything – control box, loom, quill winder, bobbin winder, tension box, etc..  I talked with my wife.  We decided to buy the machine.

So last week we started 2,200 miles east and purchased this restored and fully functioning Draper Model D power loom on Sunday, March 27, from the Eatons who live outside Lancaster, PA, USA…


We broke it down into the castle and base…



We loaded it on Monday March 28 and started our 2,200 mile trip home at 2 p.m….