One of the most popular Jack looms on the market, Leclerc has been making the Nilus model for over 60 years and thousands are in use world wide. The "Low Castle" design positions the breast beam and suggested bench at the the same height as Leclerc's popular Fanny and Mira looms. The Nilus is available in 27", 36", 45" or 60" weaving widths and with 4 shafts or 8. The Nilus family offers a number of options to add features, upgrade the number of shafts and to switch the treadle design. Each model has 2 more treadles than the number of shafts so there are 6 treadles on the 4 shaft versions and 10 treadles on the 8 shaft models. (Click to enlarge the pictures below)
There are 2 primary models of the Nilus with different number of shafts and treadle design:
4 Shaft Jack Version
The front beam of the Nilus has a height of 31 1/4 inches. Taller weavers who are more comfortable with a higher front beam can order the Nilus II model Jack loom which, except for the height, heddle size and a back stabilizing foot, is almost the identical loom.
8 Shaft Jack BHT Version
The front beam of the Nilus has a height of 31 1/4 inches. Taller weavers who are more comfortable with a higher front beam can order the Nilus II BHT model Jack loom which, except for the height (and heddle size), is almost the identical loom.
There are a number of superior features built into the Leclerc Nilus looms. Brackets after the title indicate if the features are specific to a certain model or models.
Large Clean Sheds!
The Beater height on all Nilus looms is adjustable to allow the weaver to position the warp in relation to the reed and the shuttle race to maximize the shed size.
Triple Pawl Warp Advance System
The unique Leclerc Triple Pawl system is designed in such a way that when the weaver stops advancing the warp, only one of the frame pawls engages with the ratchet to stop the beam from turning. This means that even though there are 20 teeth on the ratchet wheel, there are actually 40 positions the wheel can stop during a rotation. This design allows the weaver to more finely adjust the tension on the warp.
While it would have been easier and less costly to simply use a 40 tooth ratchet and one less pawl, the reduced height and thinner more shallow teeth would have greatly reduced the wheel's strength and would make it easier for the cloth beam to slip. You can see the Triple Pawl system in action and hear it's distictive metallic clink in this video.
As well as increasing the strength by using metal, the weight of the pawls allows them to use gravity to lock in place. It also means that once a project is finished, the weaver can simple flip the three pawls up out of the way and unroll the fabric off the free-turning cloth beam. It also makes cloth beam removal a cinch!
Leclerc Friction Brake
The Leclerc Friction Brake coupled with Leclerc's Triple Pawl Ratchet Warp Advance system enables the weaver to easily apply anything from a small to a very large amount of tension on the warp threads and Leclerc's unique Warp Beam Advance Control system stops the Warp Beam from unravelling the warp threads when the brake is released.
Unlike the Ratchet and Pawl mechanism used on some looms, the Leclerc Friction Brake allows the warp beam to be locked in an almost infinite number of positions rather than those dictated by the number of teeth on the ratchet wheel. The Friction Brake also eliminates the problem of ratchet wheel teeth breaking. When a large amount of tension is applied in a Ratchet/Pawl system, releasing the brake requires the pawl to be raised up along the ratchet wheel tooth, ultimately applying pressure to the weak narrow tip of the tooth which can cause it to snap off. Leclerc converted away from this type of brake back in the 1950's but it is still being used by some loom makers.
The heavy duty Steel Brake Drum and the special metal Brake Circle are much more expensive than the lower cost wooden brake drum and wire loop system or simple ratchet brake design other manufacturers use but produces a stronger, more durable, dependable and functional design which is why there are many Leclerc looms with their original friction brake still working hard after decades and decades of use!
Warp Advance Control System
On Nilus models, the Batten Sley has an additional piece of wood attached to it called the "Shuttle Race". Fastened on an angle, it provides a solid base for the lower warp threads to help support the shuttle on its path through the shed. It is held on using a set of screws and can be removed if the weaver does not want to use it.
The optional Raddle Leclerc makes is designed with the same profile as the reed to allow it to be installed and held in the beater during the threading process. It can also be mounted to the front or back beams of the looms using a set of metal clips that are included.
The vertical position of the warp threads as they travel through the reed is important for optimal loom operation and maximum shed size. Leclerc makes this easy to adjust using a set of Mounting Plates at the bottom of the Beater Swords. By undoing the pair of bolts, the beater can be raised or lowered to position the reed and shuttle race in relation to the warp. Tightening the pair of bolts on each side locks the beater height.
Easy Access for Threading
This accessability allows the weaver to sit right in the loom either from the back or the front depending upon what threading method they use. When finished and the warp is ready, they can then quickly put everything back in place.
Removing the Back Beam and Warp Beam
Leclerc Tie-up System
The standard Treadle Hooks lock by grabbing the first screw eye they go through and the Back-Hinge Treadles have a nylon vertical locking pin to keep them in place.
The standard treadle tie-up is shown to the right and the Back-Hingle Treadle Tie-up system is pictured to the left.
Storage on Top
Because these shaft bars have to remain rigid while fighting the warp tension to raise or lower, they have to be thick. This thickness normally limits their use to Texsolv heddles as the wire and flat metal heddle mounting holes are too small. The wider bars also reduce the effective length of the heddles. In the Leclerc shaft frame, the narrow metal heddle support rods are thin and narrow enough to use Texsolv, Wire, Inserted Eye and/or Flat Metal heddles. The shaft frame provides the rigidity necessary and removable spring hooks are used to bind the heddle support rod to the shaft frame.
On the Nilus, the heddle support rods are attached to the shaft frame on either side using Shaft Frame Spring Clips. While Heddle Support Rods do flex, they are held rigid to the Shaft Frame while weaving using a pair of Heddle Support Bar Spring Hooks in the middle of the shaft frame at the top and bottom. During the threading process, releasing these hooks removes the tension from the heddles making them easy for the weaver to move side to side. The difference in tension on Texsolv heddles with and without the Spring Hooks engaged is demonstrated in this video.
Heddle Type Flexibility
Because the Nilus uses shaft frames instead of simpler Heddle Bars, the weaver is not forced to pick one style of heddle. With Leclerc looms they are free to pick the type they are comfortable with and can even switch later if they change their mind. This means they can choose Texsolv, Wire, Inserted Eye, Flat Steel and metal Repair Heddles and even mix all types on a single shaft if they want. They all fit!
Folding Back Beam
The Back-Hinge Treadle versions of the Nilus can also be folded to a lesser degree but a larger number of treadle cords have to be disconnected and it takes a little more effort.
Loves to Weave Rugs!
The Nilus heavy duty 3 1/2 inch warp and cloth beams coupled with the Apron and metal Warp Rod system can support very high uniform warp tensions across the width of the loom. The heavy duty metal double pawl system and Friction brake allow the weaver to easily apply and maintain this tension while weaving. The Back-Hinge Treadle mechanisms available on the Nilus looms also make it easy for the weaver to get a good shed with this kind of warp tension.
The 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" Hard Maple beams used in the frame and held together with metal bolts reinforcing the mortise and tenon joints ensure that the loom can handle the forces applied by the warp and the beating. Looms that use a lighter frame, simple screw or barrel nut fasteners, like Ikea furniture, will see deterioration over time. This is why most loom manufacturers have a more sturdy loom model for rug weavers.
One of the most important specifications to look at when comparing looms is the actual weight that helps to determine what "class" the loom is. A heavier loom usually indicates a higher degree of quality and strength and also helps with the problem of the lighter looms that "travel" across the floor or whose rocking motion cancels out the weaver's attempt to produce the heavier beating force required for rug weaving. The loom even has a Weighted Beater option to magnify the force the weaver can apply to beat the warp.
The Nilus is an extremely flexible loom able to handle everything from fine textiles to high tension rug weaving on a continuous basis!
No Metric Headaches
As a North American manufacturer, Leclerc recognizes that while the Metric measurement system is prevalent in other parts of the world, handweavers in North America generally practice their craft using inches, feet and yards rather than millimeters, centimeters and meters. Project planning, calculations and the warping process can be complicated enough without adding the need to convert units and adapt patterns to a different measurement system.
With that in mind, Leclerc Reeds are calibrated in dents per inch, Leclerc Raddles divide the warp into 1/2 inch groups, Sectional Warping Beams allow warp to be wound 1 or 2 inches at a time and Leclerc Counters for their Spool/Bobbin Winders and Tension Box let you know how many yards have been wound. Even the weaving widths of the various models of Nilus are described in inches ... and as a little bonus, give you a few more inches than their metric counterparts!
Converting everything to and from metric and adapting to metric spacing on reeds and raddles may not seem like a big issue, but any little extra step when repeated over and over increases the chance of mistakes occuring and can take some of the joy out of weaving.
This is also true for looms like the Nilus, but Leclerc designs all their looms to be easily upgradeble to Sectional Warping, which is an alternative warping method that allows the weaver to wind the warp on the Warp Beam directly from yarn Spools, 1 or 2 inches of weaving width at a time. Some weavers find this approach faster than conventional warping and it offers a lot of advantages, especially with long warps or warps for very wide looms.
To facilitate Sectional Warping on their looms, Leclerc uses an octagonal Warp Beam that can be used for conventional warping with an Apron and Warp Rods or can be converted to Sectional Warping by attaching a set of 4 Sectional Beam Rakes that divide the beam up into these 1 or 2 inch sections. The Back Beam is designed to allow their Tension Box, that maintains the tension on all the warp threads being wound on, to be mounted to. A Spool Rack sitting behind the loom is used to hold the yarn tubes and/or spools that feed the warp through the Tension Box onto the Warp Beam.
This flexibility to configure the loom for either conventional or Sectional Warping allows the weaver to increase their efficiency and expertise as their weaving requirements change.
Back-Hinge Treadles (8 shaft only)
The most basic solution to applying more force is the lever and Leclerc has utilized that concept in the Back-Hinge Treadle version of their looms. Instead of the weaver pushing down on a short treadle mounted to the front of the loom, a longer set of treadles that pivot at the back of the loom go under the lamms and extend to the front of the loom, appearing like the foot pedals on an organ. When the weaver presses down on the extended treadles, they get a similar leverage action to help pull down the lamms. This is similar (and upside down) to the leverage provided by the extended handles that make it easy for a person to lift a heavy object in a wheelbarrow.
For those who don't have a lot of lower body strength but want to weave with more than 4 shafts, the Leclerc "back-hinged" design increases the weavers leg leverage producing a wide, clean shed with much less effort than conventional front mounted treadles. The Back-Hinge Treadles are available on the 8 shaft versions of the Nilus and upgrades for older Nilus looms without the feature are available. See how Back-Hinge Treadles operate in the video here.
Unlike other manufacturer's looms, Leclerc's Back-Hinge Treadle design incorporates a unique "Treadle Guide" which ensures that the treadles can only move up and down. The guide is a set of inverted "U" shaped rods rising from the bottom of the loom frame which prevent horizontal movement. This eliminates the problem of treadles swinging side to side causing the weaver to have to watch where their feet go to avoid missing the treadle or having their foot slip off. With the Leclerc system the weaver can concentrate on the pattern and throwing the shuttle!
A more detailed explanation can be found here: Back-Hinge Treadle Operation
Treadle Springs (8 shaft Jack only)
To deal with Floating Shafts, the 8 shaft versions of the Nilus Jack loom have a set of springs on the back of the castle that can be connected to one or more treadles to counteract the downward force by applying a similar upward force. When the weaver depresses a treadle with an attached spring, the spring stretches to allow the treadle to go down. These springs are metal and much more durable then the elastics that some loom makers use for the same function.
Custom metal parts are used in places like beam ends, brake and warp tensioning mechanisms where large forces are applied. Durable non-sliding polyvinyl footpads are attached to the base of all the loom feet to reduce movement while protecting the floor. Nylon parts are only used where soft bumpers or glides are required.
A pair of heavy duty canvas aprons are provided for the warp and cloth beams to reduce loom waste by letting the weaver use as much of the warp as possible. 4 heavy duty steel rods and the cords to attach them to the aprons are included.
Tools and Accessories
As well as a wide variety of weaving looms, Leclerc produces all of the tools that are required by the handweaver. They have been designed to work together and to allow the weaver with the maximum degree of flexability.
See our Weaving Tools Checklist for a description of the warping and weaving process to understand which tools are required at each stage and why.
If you are new to weaving, this guide gives you a very quick summary of what is involved in preparing the loom and weaving the fabric. It helps ensure that you have the right tools at the start to be able to work through the process without interuptions while you source the tools you need to be able to continue.
More Value for the Money
To get their prices down, some loom manufacturers remove items that then have to be purchased by the weaver separately. Some looms actually come with half the number of heddles that are required, don't include a boat shuttle (or replace it with a low cost stick shuttle) or don't include such basics as a reed/heddle hook.
Local manufacturing also means that parts, tools and accessories for Leclerc are fast and easy to get because dealers are not waiting for the North American distributor to have enough to order to justify the "next container" shipment.
The dimensions for the different sizes of the Nilus loom are listed below:
|27" (70 cm)
|36" (90 cm)
|45" (115 cm)
|60" (150 cm)
|37" (97 cm)
|46" (117 cm)
|55" (140 cm)
|70" (170 cm)
|4 Shaft = 36 1/2" (93 cm)
8 Shaft = 40" (101 cm)
|4 Shaft = 25" (63 cm)
8 Shaft = 28" (71 cm)
|45" (114 cm)
|31 1/4" (79 cm)
|106 lbs (47 kg)
|118 lbs (53 kg)
|130 lbs (59 kg)
|158 lbs (72 kg)
|161 lbs (73 kg)
|168 lbs (76 kg)
|175 lbs (79 kg)
|203 lbs (92 kg)
The prices and part numbers for the different Nilus loom configurations are listed below:
|NOTE FOR TALLER WEAVERS
The Nilus II Jack loom is very similar to the Nilus loom
but with a slightly higher front Breast Beam
(34 1/2 inches instead of 31 1/4 inches).
Nilus and Nilus II Loom Comparison
Every Leclerc Nilus loom ordered from Camilla Valley Farm comes complete with the following extras to get you up and weaving immediately:
The basic Nilus loom can be customized to fit the weavers application with a number of options. These can be added at the time the loom is purchased or at some point after as the owner's needs change or they expand into other types of weaving:
Double Warp Beam
The extra warp beam is easy to install with brackets on the back posts of the loom, and comes with it's own friction brake which can be operated by the weaver sitting at the loom. On floor looms, this feature eliminates the need for the weaver to get up and walk around to the back of the loom to release the tension to advance the warp.
The warp threads travelling to the second beam travel over a special secondary thread beam which mounts to the main thread beam and seperates the two warp threads. This beam and the mounting brackets for it are also included. The second warp beam is removable if not in use.
Warp Faced Weaves like Bound and Rep Weave have always presented a challenge to handweavers, especially those using wider floor looms. Rugweavers find the hard beating required to pack the weft is tiring and can cause physical strain on the weaver's wrist and arms reducing the time they can spend at the loom.
The Weighted Beater is designed for use with all versions of the Nilus looms Identical in appearance to the standard beater Batten Handtree and Batten Sley included with the Nilus, the Weighted Beater option adds from 4 to 13 pounds (1.8 to 5.9 kgs) to the weight of the beater assembly making it easier for the weaver to beat the weft harder.
This Weighted Beater Bar option is used to replace one or both of the horizontal Maple hardwood bars (battens) that hold the reed with similar wood battens containing hidden internal weights. The weights are designed in such a way as to not detract from the looms appearance, damage the loom or get in the way of the weaver.
Distribution of the extra weight along the length of the beater, ensures uniform packing of the weft and ensures the battens will not break under the uneven stress found when external weights are simply attached to either end of the beater. Because both Batten Handtree and Batten Sley versions are available, the amount of weight can be varied by using just one or both of these. The regular and weighted battens can be switched easily by undoing two bolts, even when the loom is warped.
Sectional Warping Option
On a sectional beam, the warp can be wound up to the height of the metal clips. To allow for very, very long warps, a set of extensions can also be added to increase the beam diameter and as a result enable a much longer warp to be used. The Nilus warp beam has been positioned with enough space above and below to allow this expansion to occur.
In addition to the sectional beam a full Sectional Warping package can be provided including a Tension Box, Warp Counter, Spool Rack, Spools and Electric Winders. Leclerc also makes Dividers, Guides and a Tension Box Extension to help with winding.
While a new Nilus owner may not be interested in Sectional Weaving initially, it's nice to know that all the parts and tools are available from Leclerc to transition to this method of warping and that the loom is capable of being used this way. We often hear disappointment from customers who realize that this is not possible on other brands of looms!
Flying Shuttle Option
The Flying Shuttle Beater attaches to the standard beater assembly of the Nilus. It consists of a box to hold the shuttle at either end of the beater with a sliding "hammer". A cord is connected from each box to a wooden handle at the center of the loom that the weaver uses to move the "hammer" mechanism. By pulling on the cord, the weaver catapults the shuttle along the reed through the shed until it comes to rest in the shuttle box at the opposite end. After beating the warp and changing the shed, the process is repeated. The shuttle box at each end have a leather strap to catch the shuttle without damaging it.
This option includes a special Endfeed Flying Shuttle (EFS) with metal pointed tips that is used in the flying shuttle beater. The Flying Shuttle beater option also includes a wooden Beater Handle that attaches to the Batten Handtree (the top of beater) making it easier for the weaver to grasp the beater. The mechanism is attached to the beater Batten Sley in place of the Shuttle Race, extends out about 16 inches on either side of the loom, and can be easily installed when the weaver wishes to weave with it and removed when they want to throw the shuttle by hand.
The basic Fixed Height Bench (top right) provides storage for tools on either side as well as a larger storage area under the hinged seat. This bench has been designed with legs that allow it to be stored out of the way underneath the front breast beam and over the treadles when not in use.
An Adjustable Bench (top left) allows the weaver to set the height using removal bolts on each side and pre-drilled holes. Storage can be added to each side using optional canvas bench bags.
The Rocking Bench (bottom pictures) is also height adjustable but has a seat that can tilt slightly for comfort. The tilting action can be disabled using a removable bolt provided with the bench. Storage can be added to each side using optional canvas bench bags.
(Instead of Wire)
|Double Warp Beam
|Sectional Warp Beam Kit
|Flying Shuttle Beater
|Weighted Beater Bar
|Clip Temple System
|Rocking Loom Bench
(Height Adjustable between 21 and 26 3/4")
|Open Ended Loom Bench
(23" High with open ends for storage)
Want to convert your Nilus loom to one with more shafts or add Back-Hinge Treadles? There are a number of upgrade kits available for the Nilus loom to expand it's functionality. Contact us for pricing and ordering information and we can advise what upgrades are possible.
Check out our Manual Section for downloadable assembly instructions for this and other Leclerc looms and weaving accessories. Information is also provided on upgrades and accessories. If you are not sure which Leclerc loom you own see our Leclerc Loom Guide to help identify the model.
|CAN'T DECIDE? Contact us for help in answering questions about this loom, getting information
about others or for help recommending a loom matched to your weaving level and needs.
See our Leclerc Loom Comparison Chart for more help in deciding which loom is right for you.
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