Trial Voyage of the Voyageur's coming to an end
The field trial journey of the Voyageurs' is coming to an end. It has
been one very exciting and memorable journey.

       What started out as a challenge to build a very unique Loom, to satisfy the needs of a very select group of workshop travelers, soon morphed into trials with broad national interest and a wide  application spectrum with weavers from every background of our society taking part in the trials and input. We are delighted.

       When Sally posted Her challenge we looked at the project and concluded that in todays fast track, mobile society there was a need now and would be a greater need in the future for a workshop Loom to fit this category. With almost 125 years of Loom design experience in our files and hardware from countless past prototypes on our shelves we felt we could not only poduce a trial Loom for the 2000 Convergence as the challenge put forth, but with commitment and help from the weavers List we could produce this Loom for the upcoming 98 Convergence in Atlanta.

        Francois Brassard is a dedicated believer in field experience trials and agreed to the project provided a suitable field trial program could be developed. The trial outline was developed and the challenge put forth to Sally. I am sure most of you on the List recall Sally's challenge to the Loom mfgrs. in December of 97 and Leclercs'  takeing up the challenge a few weeks later in Jan. of 98. The rest is history.

         Our plan called for the trials to take place on the West Coast,
pending Sally's acceptance of the challenge,  with Sally overseeing the
program with complete autonomy. Her choice of trial weavers and conditions.

We had full confidence that the weavers of this List that took part in the trials would give us a very thorough unbiased appraisal of the Loom. Our hopes for an in-depth, fair, comprehensive field trial and feedback was far exceeded and the results speak for themselves.

          What started out as a Loom to satisfy a very unique sector of our
society was soon recognized to have very unique design features that could be applied to a much wider field application. As the trials spred nationally, and weavers of varied backgrounds and interest saw potential for their particular use, the trial program grew. It was gratifying but a little<!!>scarey

          The Magnetic Lever system and folding concept Francois developed for this Loom was unique in design and new to the industry. We were anxious to find out how it would be accepted and perform. Our questions were soon answered.

           To date, the prototype trial Looms have been tested under every popular weaving application time would allow. We have tested them with Cotton, Wool and Linen of different Yarn size and Thread count(epi/ppi), and under varying tension requirements. The last under a very high tension Linen Lace with Laurie.

           As the performance feedback and comments and suggestions came in from the field, Leclerc immediately started makeing design changes to comply with the trial weavers findings. Within a few weeks after Sally launched the program on the West Coast, and it became apparent there were weavers across the country that wanted to take a hand in the testing, Leclerc produced two more prototypes with the latest design changes and sent them out to trial on the East Coast. The program had gone national.

            With daily communication between all key people involved, with all recieving copies of all dialogue concerning the trial performance, and all offering input,  we were able to continually get feedback and offer input in an ongoing state. We recorded and logged every comment that came in.

              Our trial program is now finished. Ruth wrapped it up on the
18th. We have evaluated the information in an ongoing basis and will continue to evaluate as we go along. We have a ton of info to look at.

             As the trials progressed we recognized that the unique design
features of the Voyageur had appeal to a much wider weaving application than a workshop traveler. The temptation was strong to look at a wider application than originally planned. We know however from experience we could not build a Loom that would satisfy all weavers under all conditions. With that we decided to target on building all the improvements possible into the original workshop
traveler Loom concept and focus on that for the first model of Voyageur and make the available to our weavers in time for Convergence 98. And this we will do. We will announce shortly the ship dates for the first production Voyageurs. They will be in your hands in time to take to Convergence.

        Other models of Voyageur incorporating other features(12, 16 etc. Shafts, Swinging Beater, etc.) for different application(formal classroom, Computer driven, etc) will be introduced following Convergence 98.

       The weavers that made all this possible are from across the nation, but the real key to the success of this program are the Field Generals on the West and East Coasts that stayed right on top of these little jewels and chaperoned them thru the trial process.
        Sally, of course, that generated this whole undertakeing with Karen and Sharron on the West Coast and here in the East, Ruth, Mary, Ute and Laurie that went at the V's with a mission. They were terrific. The trial evaluation was fair, thorough and in depth and nobody pulled any punches. It was great.

           With that we will announce that the Voyageur workshop flyer(or
Vanner or Backpacker etc<g>) will be built in two sizes. The 9 1/2" and the 15 3/4".

            The 9 1/2" will weigh in at 16lbs., have 8 Shafts with front
Levers, will fold to slide under an airline Seat(most larger commercial), come with 250 Inserted Eye Heddles, a Galvanized(Rust proof) Reed and a Custom made Bag with pouch for Tools and misc. items

            The 15 3/4" will weigh in at 20 1/2lbs., have 8 Shafts with front
Levers, will fold for checking in at the Counter(no hassle), come with 400 Inserted Eye Heddles, a Galvanized(Rust proof) Reed and a Custom made Bag(designer Jean<G>Yes)with pouch.

            Both Looms will come with a special Cherry Shuttle designed by Francois for the V's(1" high profile), Reed and Heddle Hook, 2 Lease Sticks, the newly designed Warp and Cloth Roll lashing system(one of Ruth's many improvements) 1 Screwdriver, transfer Heddle Bars and the Book "Warp and Weave" by Robert Leclerc.
        In addition for those that prefer, Texsolve Heddles are avaiable at no extra charge.

            With the design of the Loom more clearly set and production costs more realistic , plus the upgrading of components in many areas we realize our costs are higher than originally percieved. Francois announced at the outset that these Looms would fall in price between $450 and 499 U.S. He will stay with that commitment and introduce both sizes at $475. This price will hold until after Convergence when the price is anticipated to go to $525 U.S.

            For those interested in purchasing the Signature series model of the new Voyageur model workshop Loom for delivery in time for Convergence E-mail me privately at Dealers in your area will have Looms in time for local purchase and takeing with you to Convergence.

This has been one Whale of a voyage with the Voyageurs'.

Thanks a whole lot to everyone involved.

                               Tom Beaudet