We have thus given an outline of the process of manufacturing of woollen cloth, as it was generally conducted a few years ago; but the rapid progress of mechanical invention during a very brief period, has made so extensive a change in the apparatus and processes, as to preclude the possibility of a detailed description within the prescribed limits of this work; we shall, however, before closing this article, notice two or three recent patents, the leading objects of which are to give to woollen cloths that silky softness and gloss, for which the best finished modern fabrics are so distinguished.
Mr. Fussel's mode of producing the lustre upon cloths, as stated in the specification, is in substance as follows. - After the cloth has undergone the usual dressing in the gig-mill, and hand-brushing, it is to be tightly wound upon a cylindrical roller, the extremities of which are to have deep grooves made round their peripheries, that will permit the list on the edges of the cloth to sink into them, and by these means preserve the cloth in a smooth and level surface. The roller of cloth so prepared is to be set on end for some time, to permit the water to drain off; it is then to be placed in either an open vessel over a steam boiler, and exposed to the action of the steam for three hours, or it may be placed in a close vessel into which the vapour is to be allowed to pass while it is made to revolve. The temperature of the steam proper to be employed depends upon the colour of the cloth, and the degree of lustre required; but in general the heat should be somewhat less than that of boiling water.
Mr. James Dutton's patent method consists in pressing the cloth at the time it is being heated. His press for this purpose has one fixed, broad, and flat surface or table, equal to the whole width of the cloth, and of suitable dimensions in the other direction to receive about a yard of the cloth in length at a time, to receive the pressure; which is effected by a flat metal plate, or platten, of corresponding dimensions, made to rise and fall, and to be operated upon by powerful leverage, or hydrostatic pressure. To render the effect of this process permanent, heat and humidity are employed in conjunction with it. For this purpose a steam or hot-water chamber is formed in the table of the press, and the cloth is brought under the operation in its wet state, the pressure being continued upon each successive portion of cloth, for a certain number of minutes (varying with the "dress" required, and other circumstances).
It is desirable, in the process of roughing or raising the pile upon woollen cloth, that the action of the teazles should be made to deviate from straight lines on the surface of the cloth. The patented improvement of Mr. Oldland, dated July 1830, for this object, consists in a horizontal revolving teazle frame, furnished on its under side with teazles, wire-cards, brushes, or other materials used in dressing or raising the pile of the cloth. The revolving teazles are put in motion by a band fixed to the revolving spindle; and as the cloth is brought under the teazles by conducting rollers of the usual construction, it is pressed up against the teazles by a supporter covered with some elastic material, only on that side of the centre of motion of the revolving teazle which moves from the middle towards the selvage of the cloth, the teazle frame reaching only halfway across it; and one being placed on each side, moving in different directions, the pile will be raised in all cases from the centre towards both selvages of the piece of cloth, though from the nature of the action of this machine it is evident that its operation on the cloth can in no case be rectilineal, and that by the end motion of the cloth the lines of action will becontinuallycrossingeach other at very acute angles.
In the same year another patent was taken by Mr. Papps, for the same object, in which the principle and operation are the same, though the details vary a little. A third patent for the same object was granted on the same day as the last mentioned, to Mr. Ferrabee, who raises the pile in a different direction, namely, from the middle sloping to the sides; for this purpose he employs two series of teazles; each series is attached to an endless chain which passes round two cylinders by which it is put in motion. Two of the cylinders which support and give motion to the teazle chains are placed with their axes extending along the middle of the piece of cloth to be operated upon, and the other two cylinders are placed near the selvages of the cloth, with their axes parallel thereto. Each pair of cylinders is made to turn in a direction to raise the pile of the cloth from the middle towards the selvages, at right angles to them when the cloth is at rest: but when an end motion is given to the cloth, which is effected by means of two cylinders placed at right angles to the teazle cylinders, the pile is raised in an angular direction, sloping from the middle towards the selvages.
The angle of the work may be varied at pleasure, by varying the relative speeds of the different sets of cylinders.
The processes employed in dyeing woollen cloth differ considerably from those used in silk and cotton. The oil is first removed by the operations of the fulling-mill, where it is beaten with large beetles in troughs of water, mixed with fuller's-earth; and when thoroughly cleansed it is ready for dyeing. The only colours used in dyeing wool blue, axe woad and indigo, which are both substantive colours, that is, they are permanent without requiring a mordant. Quatre-mere recommends the following mode of preparing a blue vat: - Into a vat about seven and a half feet deep, and five and a half broad, are thrown two balls of woad, weighing together about 400 lbs., first breaking them; thirty pounds of weld are boiled in a copper for three hours, in a sufficient quantity of water to fill the vat; when this decoction is made, twenty pounds of madder and a basket full of bran are added, and it is boiled half an hour longer. This bath is cooled with twenty buckets of water; and, after it is settled, the weld is taken out, and it is poured into the vat; all the time it is running in, and for a quarter of an hour after, it is to be stirred with a rake.