I am in the process of cleaning up a B5 from the 1970s that I acquired some months ago. Work on the wood sections is proceeding w/o difficulty, but I can't figure out how to clean the lower jacks, which are very rusty. Can they be removed from the loom, and if so, how? For all of the metal pieces that are removable, I'm soaking them in some old Grandma's molasses that I had in the pantry, diluted with water. Has anyone else used this method?


mrdubyah (not verified)

The lower lifters on Macomber looms are bronze and bronze doesn't rust.  Perhaps you're mistaking the natural color of the bronze for rust?  The lifters can be removed by driving the axle pins out of the wooden frame with a hammer and a pin drift, but the levers are complex and reassembly won't be easy.  I'd advise you to contact Macomber for their advice before undertaking such an effort. 


SallyE (not verified)

If I remember from adding 4 shafts to my Macomber, I put the lambs (I think that is what mrdubyah is calling lifters) on from the bottom, sliding the ends into the groves.   I then attached the long rods to each end.   So, maybe you could reverse this process - detatch the rods and then drop the lams and that whole attached mechanism down.

But, I agree, that isn't rust.  I actually removed all my jacks, boiled them in a salt water / vinegar solution to expose the brass again, and then I spray lacquered them so they would stay that color.   So MY Macomber has Golden jacks! 

: ' )


Thank you, mrdubyah and SallyE, for the advice. I will leave the lifters in place and maybe just polish them up with 000 steel wool. I did try cleaning the jacks with a paste of vinegar, salt, and flour. It made them  a slightly different color, but they don't move any more easily in their assigned location as a result, and overall I would say that it wasn't worth the effort. But I envy your golden jacks.  I just don't feel confident about taking the jacks out of the loom and then getting them back in properly. If I continue to feel the need to fiddle, perhaps I will pop out the brake and treadles in the manner suggested by mrdubyah. Again, thanks!


I pulled the lamms from my 1971 B4-E a couple months ago (both to clean them and to lighten the loom while moving it) and, as long as you have a basic grasp of the mechanics of Macomber looms, it's not that difficult to do.

My B4 required removing the center lamm spacer comb and the little wood screws that hold the axle rods in place, then it was a simple matter to drive the axle rods forward (toward the front of the loom) with a hammer and a large screw driver far enough to lift each lamm off the axle rods. Once off, I gave the steel connector rods a good burnishing with 0000 steel wool, then sprayed all of the linkage points with silicone (per Sarah Haskell's recommendation) before reinstalling them. Aside from a bit of dusting and oiling, the bronze parts didn't need any work, which is to be expected--bronze develops a brown patina that is very desirable.

It took a bit of time--my B4 has 16 shafts--and 4 hands to reinstall the lamms once they were clean and oiled, but I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

Gnu weaver

Elin Could you post a photo of the parts you want to remove or clean? I would be concerned about abrasion from the little metal flakes of steel wool if they get in the area where the pivot rod holds the bronze jacks in place. You might use a slightly damp and soapy new kitchen scrub sponge (green side/sponge side) for the rusty scissoring metal, followed quickly with a dry wipe and then a wipe with some protectant. Use a dab of Vaseline between the jacks for lubrication. Many others have restored these looms and there is wonderful info here and on the Macomber group on Ravelry. I just recently removed the jacks and lamms from a Baby Mac (different style than a B5) and it was more awkward than hard because I was being so careful and wanted to avoid bending or removing the thin steel wires. They were much easier to clean and wipe with a protectant once out of the loom. I would avoid taking the lamms and jacks out if possible. Mine were broken and had to come out for repair.

Michael White

First off the lamms do rust, The connecting rods will rust, the moveable part is bronze and the bottom on some loom is Alum or a galvanized metal. With a little work all of the parts will come off your macomber. To remove your lamms: remove the hooks to the treadles, Remove the heddle frames (this takes the weight off the jacks) (you will be removing the jack push rods from the lamms). Remove all the screws holding both sides of the castle cross pieses from the loom. Remove the push rods and drop the whole lamm frame. Now you can take the lamm apart piece by piece.I remove as much rust as I can then I spray with a rust converter. This is not a paint and will not interfear with the operation of the lamms. I will post I picture in a little bit. AS was stated above I would not use any steel wool anywhere on your loom.



mrdubyah (not verified)

Thanks Michael.  That's how I thought it would work.  I had understood the question to refer to the lower jacks as opposed to the lamms.  The jacks may appear rusty to the untrained eye because of the natural color of the bronze.  While they technically can't rust (because they are bronze), as you point out, they certainly can corrode, especially where they attach to the axles.  The two different metals can, and will, react with each other in moist climates.  A dab of vaseline can typically prevent this but it's nice to know how to remove these parts when necessary to restore a neglected loom.  Macombers are certainly worth the effort. 


I tried to add a photo of one area that seems to be rusted. (It looks like alphabet soup until I click on it, and then the image appears.) Hoping y'all can see what I'm talking about regarding the rust. Thank you for the great comments about disassembling the metal workings in the lower part of the loom. Being such a beginner, I've decided not to try it at this time--but I will save the instructions for future reference, as I so much enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together. It's the putting back together that is tricky for me.  And I definitely will not use steel wool 000 on anything except maybe to clean the wood parts. Again, thanks very much!