- SUBJECT AREA: Textiles[br]fl. c.1845 England[br]English inventor of a mechanized drop box for shuttles on power looms.[br]Robert Kay improved his father John's flying shuttle by inventing the drop box, in which up to four shuttles could be stored one below the other. The weaver's left hand controlled levers and catches to raise or lower the drop box in order to bring the appropriate shuttle into line with the shuttle race on the slay. The shuttle could then be driven across the loom, leaving its particular type or colour of weft. On the earliest power looms of Edmund Cartwright in 1785, and for many years later, it was possible to use only one shuttle. In 1845 Squire Diggle of Bury, Lancashire, took out a patent for mechanizing the drop box so that different types or colours of weft could be woven without the weaver attending to the shuttles. He used an endless chain on which plates of different heights could be fixed to raise the boxes to the required height; later this would be operated by either the dobby or Jacquard pattern-selecting mechanisms. He took out further patents for improvements to looms. One, in 1854, was for taking up the cloth with a positive motion. Two more, in 1858, improved his drop box mechanism: the first was for actually operating the drop box, while the second was for tappet chains which operated the timing for raising the boxes.[br]Bibliography1845, British patent no. 10,462 (mechanized drop box). 1854, British patent no. 1,100 (positive uptake of cloth) 1858, British patent no. 2,297 (improved drop-box operation). 1858, British patent no. 2,704 (tappet chains).Further ReadingA.Barlow, 1878, The History and Principles of Weaving by Hand and by Power, London (provides drawings of Diggle's invention).C.Singer (ed.), 1958, A History of Technology, Vol. IV, Oxford: Clarendon Press.See also: Kay, JohnRLH
Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. Lance Day and Ian McNeil. 2005.
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