Power-looms, or such as are worked without the intervention of manual labour, were first suggested by Vaucausin, in 1747, but the subject was neglected until the year 1784, when the idea occurred to the Rev. Edmund Cartwright, of weaving by power, in consequence, it appears, of the success of Awkwright in spinning by power. He commenced the construction of a loom, which, although a very clumsy machine, satisfied him of the practical efficiency of the principle; and accordingly he took a patent for his invention, in 1785, and subsequently he obtained a series of fresh patents for succesive improvements upon the original plan. At length, in 1790, the first manufactory with power-looms was established at Doncaster, in Yorkshire, which was worked by a steam-engine; and in it were made muslins, calicoes, and other fabrics, equal to those made by hand-looms. Shortly afterwards, a Mr. Grimshaw attempted the introduction of Cartwright's power-looms into Manchester; a large factory was erected, and partly furnished with the machinery, when the whole was burnt to the ground, supposed to be the act of incendiaries.
This circumstance deterred other manufacturers from adopting power-looms, for a considerable time; and the prosecution of this important invention was probably in a great measure delayed by the indifference manifested by Mr. Cartwright himself to the matter, owing to his mind having become absorbed in other inventions, from which he expected more gratifying results. These obstacles, which beset the invention of the power-loom at the early stage of its introduction, were by degrees surmounted, and manufacturers vied with each other in effecting and maturing improvements in its details, which became the subjects of very numerous patents. A faithful description of only the meritorious portion of the mechanical combinations and curious movements that the power-loom has been the cause of bringing into operation, would alone fill a large volume. In making a selection, therefore, of one or two of those inventions for illustration, the reader must not consider them as detracting from the merits of others, as there are many of equal intrinsic worth.
The first power-loom we shall describe was patented by Mr. Kendall, of Paternoster-row, in the year 1825: our attention was drawn to the subject of it by the following notice of the invention in the Times newspaper, on the 24th of June, 1836. "This loom," the editor observes, "is effectual and simple: a boy of twelve years of age, with a proper fly-wheel, would find no difficulty in turning six or eight of them. The number of looms one weaver is capable of working, must depend on two principal objects. The quality of the goods manufactured, and the quality of the materials made use of, varying from two to five looms, such as persians, sarcenets, levantines, and poor satins, which, with good materials, require little attention. Rich works, with an able weaver, and good materials, will be able to work two looms, with an addition of some light work before mentioned. The work is, of course, better than that performed according to the old plan, by hand, - the machine acting more steadily, and operating with less of stickings." Having called upon the patentee, in consequence of the foregoing remarks, he very politely afforded us demonstrative proofs of the correctness of the foregoing statement, by allowing us to turn a winch, by which two looms were put into operation, and we wove thereby a portion of two very rich figured silks, with so much ease as to require the application of only one hand.
Viewing the loom distinctly from the power applied, it is in all respects of the same construction, and operates exactly the same as the common hand-loom; and every description of fabrics can, in like manner be woven by it: herein consists one of its chief excellencies; for a weaver, who has never seen a power-loom in his life, may at once proceed, without any instruction, to arrange the several matters preparatory to the act of weaving, in the manner he has been accustomed; and afterwards see all the combined and successive movements in weaving executed with the utmost precision.
Fig. 1 in the foregoing engraving exhibits a front view of Kendall's power-loom, in which all the principal parts may be seen; a a a is the framing, b is a revolving shaft or bar, which is put in motion by the action of a pinion, (particularly shown by Fig. 3,) taking into the spur-wheel c; d ande are two cams which act upon the levers i i, the same being connected to the spiral spring to, to give motion to the shuttle. f f are two wipers, which operate on the batton lever k. g g are two other wipers, acting upon the two treadle levers h. ll are the tumblers, which raise and depress the harness. m m are the swords of the battons. n n are two vertical rods in connexion with the shuttle. o o is the box or shuttle-race. p p are the drivers sliding upon horizontal wires, which immediately propel the shuttle. q is an iron bar, carrying various levers as above-mentioned. r is the front bar, supporting the brackets which carry the vertical rods. « is the breast-roll, t, the long marches, v, the short marches.
X is the harness and heddles. y, the reed or slay. z, the cords connecting the two treadles with the long marches. z 1, the cords connecting the long with the short marches: and z 2, those which connect the long marches with the tumblers."The several small spiral springs represented, are for the purpose of giving steadiness, and the necessary tension to the parts, with which they are connected.
Fig. 2 represents a series of treadles, (which may consist of any number, as required,) with the end view of an additional bar, which it is necessary to introduce, when the weaving is of such a nature as to require the operation of more than two treadles: in Fig. 1 is shown a series of notches or bearings for these treadles, (marked 2 upon the bar g;) this bar in Fig. 2 is shown equipped with four wipers a, which act successively upon the four treadles c beneath.