3915 Rollingwood Ct. Bettendorf, Iowa 52722-2153
Editor's note: When Judy Whiteside, our advertising manager, visited the South Lake County Agricultural Society, Inc. Show in Crown Point, Indiana, last summer, she chatted with Al Kamminga, whose braiding machines generally draw quite a crowd. We thought our readers would enjoy seeing these machines and reading a bit about their history.
Both machines were made by New England Butt Company, Providence, Rhode Island, one patented in 1894, the other in 1898. Both machines were used in a factory in Massachusetts making braid for various uses; one made braid for military uniforms. The machines were placed on rows of benches operated by a line shaft below the benches. Water was the primary source of power.
For the military braid, there are 16 bobbins of thread used by the braider. Eight go clockwise and eight counterclockwise. The bobbin goes over two and under two other threads. This results in a round braid. The operation is similar to the maypole that used to be on school playgrounds. The other braider has 17 bobbins and produces a flat braid. The bobbins turn and go in the opposite directions when they come to the front of the machine. Following the track they go over 2 and under 2.
Each thread is under constant tension so the resulting braid has a uniform wrap. As thread is taken from the bobbin, a lever is pulled from the notch in the bottom of the bobbin so it can rewind. Under the table on which the bobbins ride, are eight gears forming a circle. Attached to each is a plate with four slots. The pin extending from the bobbin carrier below the base plate travels in the slots in the plates attached to the gears. The carrier transfers to the next gear plate as its slot is timed to meet the approaching carrier. Each carrier follows the track in the base plate, but moved along by the gear plates below.
Cotton thread is primarily used. Different sizes are used to vary the look of the finished braid. Different color combinations are used which produce random or repetitive patterns. For the military braider, various thicknesses of material are used for the center, depending on the desired size of the finished braid.
Finished braid can be used for various craft ideas. Christmas bows, dollhouse rugs, coaster, bolo ties, bracelets.
This year's 13th annual Antique Power Steam show will be held again in Crown Point on July 10, 11 and 12.