Title:
HEDDLE FRAME WITH MULTI-DIRECTIONAL ADJUSTABLE BRACE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A heddle frame for supporting a plurality of heddles comprises a top rail separate from a bottom rail Each of the rails defines a front wall and a rear wall opposed to the front wall A carrying flange extends from the front wall of the top rail and toward the bottom rail Each of the rails carries a heddle bar disposed toward the back of the respective rail, and the top heddle bar is connected to the carrying flange The top rail defines a first cut out portion extending through a section of the carrying flange The heddle frame further includes at least one intermediate brace extending between the top rail and the bottom rail at a position aligned with the first cut out portion and configured for assisting in maintaining parallelism of the top and bottom rails.



Inventors:
Korbutt, Thomas A. (Bluffton, SC, US)
Perschall, Ronald L. (Greer, SC, US)
Kramer, Charles F. (Greenville, SC, US)
Application Number:
12/295399
Publication Date:
01/21/2010
Filing Date:
01/16/2008
Assignee:
GTP GREENVILLE, INC. (Greenville, SC, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
139/93
International Classes:
D03C9/06
View Patent Images:
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20100012218HEDDLE FRAME WITH MULTI-DIRECTIONAL ADJUSTABLE BRACEJanuary, 2010Korbutt et al.
20050229994Busway lighting systemsOctober, 2005Turkia
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Primary Examiner:
MUROMOTO JR, ROBERT H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DORITY & MANNING, P.A. (GREENVILLE, SC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A heddle frame for supporting a plurality of heddles, comprising: a top rail extending longitudinally relative said frame and defining opposed top rail ends thereof, the top rail defining a front wall and a rear wall opposed to said front wall of said top rail; a top heddle bar configured for slidably carrying the plurality of heddles, said top heddle bar being carried by said top rail and disposed toward said back of said top rail; a bottom rail extending longitudinally relative said frame and parallel to said top rail and defining opposed bottom rail ends thereof, the bottom rail defining a front wall and a rear wall opposed to said front wall of said bottom rail; a bottom heddle bar configured for slidably carrying the plurality of heddles, said bottom heddle bar being carried by said bottom rail and disposed toward said back of said bottom rail; a first end member connecting a first top rail end of said top rail to a first bottom rail end of said bottom rail so as to form part of a generally rectangular frame structure therewith; a second end member connecting a second top rail end of said top rail to a second bottom rail end of said bottom rail so as to form part of a generally rectangular frame structure therewith; a carrying flange extending from said front wall of said top rail and toward said bottom rail, said top heddle bar being connected to said carrying flange; said top rail defines a first cut out portion extending through a section of said carrying flange; and at least one intermediate brace extending between said top rail and said bottom rail at a position aligned with said first cut out portion and configured for assisting in maintaining parallelism of said top and bottom rails, said intermediate brace having a first end connected to said top rail, said intermediate brace having a second end connected to said bottom rail.

2. A heddle frame as in claim 1, wherein said intermediate brace is configured to permit the heddles unimpeded longitudinal movement past said intermediate brace.

3. A heddle frame as in claim 1, wherein said first end of said intermediate brace is disposed between said top heddle bar and said front of said top rail.

4. A heddle frame as in claim 1, wherein at least one end of said intermediate brace is configured with a transition region having a ninety degree twist to permit heddles unimpeded longitudinal movement past said intermediate brace.

5. A heddle frame as in claim 4, wherein: said intermediate brace defines a rigid elongated rod having a main body portion defining a relatively narrow front edge and a pair of opposed, relatively wider side surfaces, said intermediate brace further defining on each opposite end thereof, a relatively flattened, thin-profiled paddle portion, each paddle portion defining a relatively wide rear surface and relatively wide front surface disposed opposite said rear surface, each said paddle portion defining relatively narrow side edges, each said main body portion of the intermediate brace extending generally to a transition portion that tapers from narrow to wide when moving in the direction away from the end of the main body portion and toward each respective paddle portion.

6. A heddle frame as in claim 1, wherein the pitch of the generally rectangular frame structure is no more than 20 millimeters.

7. A heddle frame as in claim 1, wherein the pitch of the generally rectangular frame structure is no more than 12 millimeters.

8. A heddle frame as in claim 1, wherein said intermediate brace is configured so as to be selectively, detachably connected to said top rail.

9. A heddle frame as in claim 1, further comprising: a locking clamp block selectively, detachably attached to said top rail and said intermediate brace to connect said intermediate brace to said top rail, said clamp block defining a first section and a second section, said second section of said clamp block defining a chamber internally thereof, said first section defining an entrance slot communicating with said chamber; a top pin defining a first free end and a second free end opposite said first free end, said top pin defining a head on said first free end thereof and a keyed section on said second free end thereof, said keyed section being configured to be received in said entrance slot and said chamber and slideably disposed in said entrance slot and said chamber, said keyed section defining a tip configured to be slideably disposed in said chamber and incapable of passing through said entrance slot so as to selectively, slideably connect said top pin to said locking clamp block and said intermediate brace.

10. A heddle frame as in claim 1, wherein said first end of said intermediate brace being non-rotatably connected to said top rail.

11. A heddle frame as in claim 10, wherein: said top rail defines a hollow extrusion between said front and rear walls, said hollow extrusion having a plurality of internal webs that extend between the front wall and the rear wall, one of said internal webs defining a top-most web, one of said internal webs defining a bottom-most web and another of said internal webs defining a penultimate web, said bottom-most web being said internal web disposed nearest to said penultimate web and farthest from said top-most web; and said first cut out portion in said top rail extending through said bottom-most internal web and defining a relatively shallow pocket between said bottom-most internal web and said penultimate internal web, said first cut out portion defining a pair of opposed skirt flange portions extending beneath said penultimate internal web, said pair of opposed skirt flange portions and the penultimate internal web defining a groove therebetween.

12. A heddle frame as in claim 11, further comprising: a locking clamp block being configured to selectively, detachably connect said top rail and said intermediate brace, said locking clamp block defining a first section and a second section, said first section of said locking clamp block defining a pair of opposed flanges, said flanges of said first section of said locking clamp block being configured to be selectively received non-rotatably in said groove of said shallow pocket.

13. A heddle frame as in claim 12, wherein: each flange of said locking clamp block having an interior-facing surface, said interior-facing surfaces defining an entrance slot, said locking clamp block further defining a chamber internally thereof, said chamber communicating with said entrance slot.

14. A heddle frame as in claim 13, further comprising: a top pin having a first free end and a second free end disposed opposite said first free end, said first free end of said top pin defining a head, said second free end defining a keyed section, said keyed section being configured to be received in said entrance slot and said chamber and slideably disposed in said entrance slot and said chamber, said keyed section defining a tip configured to be slideably disposed in said chamber and incapable of passing through said entrance slot so as to selectively, slideably connect said top pin to said locking clamp block.

15. A heddle frame as in claim 12, further comprising: a sealing block connected to the top rail; and wherein said top rail defines a second cut out portion extending through a second section of said carrying flange, said second cut out portion being disposed in communication with said first cut out portion, said sealing block being received by said second cut out portion.

16. A heddle frame as in claim 1, wherein said second end of said intermediate brace being disposed between said bottom heddle bar and said front of said bottom rail.

17. A heddle frame as in claim 9, wherein: said top rail defines a hollow extrusion between said front and rear walls, said hollow extrusion having a plurality of internal webs that extend between the front wall and the rear wall, one of said internal webs defining a top-most web, one of said internal webs defining a bottom-most web and another of said internal webs defining a penultimate web, said bottom-most web being said internal web disposed nearest to said penultimate web and farthest from said top-most web, each said internal web defining a hole through said web and each said hole through said internal web being aligned with each other said hole through each said other internal web, each said hole through said internal web being configured to allow the passage therethrough of said top pin, said head of said top pin being detachably connected to said top-most web of said top rail.

18. A heddle frame as in claim 10, wherein: said top rail defines a hollow extrusion between said front and rear walls, said hollow extrusion having a plurality of internal webs that extend between the front wall and the rear wall, one of said internal webs defining a top-most web, one of said internal webs defining a bottom-most web and another of said internal webs defining a penultimate web, said bottom-most web being said internal web disposed nearest to said penultimate web and farthest from said top-most web; each said internal web defining a first hole through each said internal web, each said first hole through said internal web being aligned with each other said first hole through each other said internal web; and each said internal web defining a second hole through each said internal web, each said second hole through each said internal web being aligned with each other said second hole through each other said internal web.

19. A heddle frame as in claim 18, further comprising: a locking clamp block connected to one end of said intermediate brace, said intermediate brace defining a rigid elongated rod having a main body portion defining a relatively narrow front edge and a pair of opposed, relatively wider side surfaces, said intermediate brace further defining on each opposite end thereof, a relatively flattened, thin-profiled paddle portion, each paddle portion defining a relatively wide rear surface and relatively wide front surface disposed opposite said rear surface, each said paddle portion defining relatively narrow side edges, each said main body portion of the intermediate brace extending generally to a transition portion that tapers from narrow to wide when moving in the direction away from the end of the main body portion and toward each respective paddle portion; and said locking clamp block defining a top plate and a connector plate, the top plate being fixed to the end of the paddle portion of the intermediate brace, the top plate having opposed end portions, near each of the opposed end portions of the top plate is defined an elongated slot that elongates in the longitudinal direction, the connector plate is connected to at least one of the side surfaces of the paddle member of the intermediate brace, the connector plate defines a threaded opening near each opposite end of the connector plate.

20. A heddle frame as in claim 19, further comprising: a first top pin having a first free end and a second free end disposed opposite said first free end, said first top pin being disposed through said aligned first holes that are defined in the internal webs of the top rail, said first free end of said first top pin defining a head that is selectively, detachably connected to the top rail, said second free end of said first top pin defining a threaded tip that is selectively, detachably screwed into one of said separate threaded openings that is defined in the connector plate so as to selectively connect said first top pin to said locking clamp block and said intermediate brace; and a second top pin having a first free end and a second free end disposed opposite said first free end, said second top pin being disposed through said aligned second holes that are defined in the internal webs of the top rail, said first free end of said second top pin defining a head that is selectively, detachably connected to the top rail, said second free end of said second top pin defining a threaded tip that is selectively, detachably screwed into the other one of said separate threaded openings that is defined in the connector plate so as to selectively connect said second top pin to said locking clamp block and said intermediate brace.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

N/A

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

N/A

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention pertains to heddle frames for looms and in particular to heddle frames with adjustable intermediate braces for such heddle frames.

Intermediate braces for heddle frames are known. U.S. Pat. No. 4,349,052 to Yaji discloses a frame structure 10 with an intermediate stay 21 that is attached to the upper frame stave 12 by a threaded bolt 75 and nut 73 arrangement and attached to the bottom crosspiece by a connector bar 77 (FIGS. 12 and 13) fitting into a connector groove 80 on opposite sides of a hole 79. In this way, the intermediate stay 21 can be secured to the upper frame stave 12 via the threaded bolt 75, thereby avoiding the need for the person maintaining the frame to have access to the lower frame stave 13. This is advantageous because beneath the frames 10 in these types of looms there typically is trash as well as moving mechanical mechanisms that make it difficult for a person maintaining the frame 10 to access the lower frame stave 13 for purposes of turning a threaded bolt for example as is required from the upper frame stave 12 such as shown in FIG. 11.

An arrangement whereby a single bolt 28 is threaded through both the top rail 14 and the bottom rail 16 is shown in FIG. 1 of commonly owned U.S. Pat. No. 5,560,399 to Kramer, which is hereby incorporated herein by this reference for all purposes. Another arrangement with a center brace 28 having a center portion 29 extending between a top rail 14 and a bottom rail 16 of a heddle frame 10 is shown in commonly owned U.S. Pat. No. 5,630,448 to Faase, which is hereby incorporated herein by this reference for all purposes. An arrangement that is adjustable side-to-side is shown in FIG. 5 of commonly owned U.S. Pat. No. 5,975,147 to King et al, which is hereby incorporated herein by this reference for all purposes. The side-to-side movement is accommodated by providing elongated slots 66, 68 through rigid intermediate walls 88, 90 of the top rail 14. Commonly owned U.S. Pat. No. 4,924,916 to Faase et al, which is hereby incorporated herein by this reference for all purposes, describes a heddle frame 10 with a drop-through bolted center brace 20 that may be located in alternative positions within the heddle frame.

Published U.S. Patent Application No. 2006/0090809 to Fumex discloses a heddle frame 2 with a plurality of intermediate braces 10 disposed between the cross-rails 4 and 4′ and arranged to clamp on opposite sides of the projections 45 and 46 on the inside faces of the partitions 42 and 43 of each cross-rail 4, 4′. However, as shown in FIG. 4, the heddles 6 mounted on the bar 5 cannot slide past the flattened portion 114 of the rod 11 of the intermediate brace 10. Additionally, the side-to-side adjustability of the intermediate braces 10 requires machining of the internal webs 49 (FIGS. 2 and 3), which requires additional machining operations, the result of which tends to increase the cost of manufacture and weaken the structural integrity of the cross-rails 4, 4′.

BRIEF OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a heddle frame for supporting a plurality of heddles, comprising one or more intermediate braces wherein each intermediate brace is configured to permit the heddles (without yarn) to be moved past each installed intermediate brace.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a heddle frame for supporting a plurality of heddles, comprising one or more intermediate braces wherein each intermediate brace is configured to be infinitely adjustable from left to right within the length of the locking clamp block of the intermediate brace.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a heddle frame for supporting a plurality of heddles, comprising one or more intermediate braces wherein each intermediate brace is configured with an integral key that functions to retain the desired alignment of the intermediate brace and prevents turning of the intermediate brace.

It is an additional object of the present invention to provide a heddle frame for supporting a plurality of heddles, comprising a pair of opposed profiles, one or more intermediate braces installed between the profiles, a pocket cutout defined in at least one of the profiles and a selectively removable stop block wherein such configuration makes it convenient to install an intermediate brace in the heddle frame and/or retain an intermediate brace in the heddle frame and/or position an intermediate brace in the heddle frame and/or remove an intermediate brace in the heddle frame.

It also is an object of the present invention to provide a heddle frame for supporting a plurality of heddles, comprising a pair of opposed profiles and one or more intermediate braces installed between the profiles, wherein the manufacturing costs are less because they are configured without elongated bolt holes for securing each intermediate brace in a manner that renders such brace moveable left to right within the heddle frame.

These objects and additional objects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the description that follows, and in part will be obvious from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations described herein both in text and/or drawings and/or particularly pointed out in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate at least one presently preferred embodiment of the invention as well as some alternative embodiments. These drawings, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention but by no means are intended to be exhaustive of all of the possible manifestations of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a rear plan view of an embodiment of the heddle frame of the present invention.

FIG. 2A is a view taken from the back an embodiment of an intermediate brace with locking clamp blocks in accordance with the present invention and with features not ordinarily visible from this viewing perspective being shown in dashed line.

FIG. 2B is a view taken from the side of the intermediate brace with locking clamp blocks shown in FIG. 2A.

FIG. 3A is an expanded detailed rear plan view of a section of FIG. 1 within the balloon designated FIG. 3A in FIG. 1 and with features that ordinarily would be hidden from the viewer being shown in dashed line and a double-headed arrow schematically indicating direction of movement of certain components and with elements in chain dashed line to indicate that these elements ordinarily would not be visible in the plane of this view.

FIG. 3B is a view shown partially in cross-section taken along the lines 3B-3B indicated by the arrows in FIG. 3A with elements in chain dashed line to indicate that these elements ordinarily would not be visible in the plane in which the cross-section is taken of FIG. 3A.

FIG. 4A is an elevated perspective view of a section of an embodiment of a top rail of a heddle frame and an embodiment of one end of an intermediate brace of the present invention with features that ordinarily would be hidden from view internally of the top rail being shown in dashed line and chain dashed line indicating the positioning of other elements when assembled and with portions cut away to reveal internal structure.

FIG. 4B is an elevated perspective view of portions of alternative embodiments of an intermediate brace and a pin.

FIG. 4C is an elevated perspective view of portions of a top rail and portions of an alternative embodiment of an intermediate brace and pin, with dashed lines showing structure that otherwise would be hidden from view and chain dashed lines showing a top section of the top rail for purposes of illustrating positioning of other components during assembly.

FIG. 4D is an elevated perspective view of two separated sections of portions of an embodiment of a top rail with dashed lines showing structure that otherwise would not be visible and showing portions of other components, including a portion of an alternative embodiment of an intermediate brace and pin with the solid lines showing relative positioning of components of the pin.

FIG. 4E is an elevated perspective view of two separated sections of portions of an embodiment of a top rail with dashed lines showing structure that otherwise would not be visible and showing portions of other components, including a portion of an alternative embodiment of an intermediate brace and pins with the solid lines showing relative positioning of components of the pin.

FIG. 4F is an elevated perspective view of portions of an embodiment of a top rail with dashed line showing structure that otherwise would not be visible and showing portions of other components, including a portion of an intermediate brace and twin pins, with the solid lines showing relative positioning of components of the pin and a double headed arrow indicating the selectively permitted directions of movement of certain components.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE

Reference now will be made in detail to the presently preferred embodiments of the invention, several examples of which being illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Each example is provided by way of explanation of the invention, which is not restricted to the specifics of the examples. In fact, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention. For instance, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment, can be used on another embodiment to yield a still further embodiment. Thus, it is intended that the present invention cover such modifications and variations as come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents. The same numerals are assigned to the same components throughout the drawings and description.

A presently preferred embodiment of a heddle frame in accordance with the present invention is shown in FIG. 1 and is represented generally by the numeral 10.

As schematically shown in FIG. 1, a heddle frame 10 desirably includes a top rail 11 that extends longitudinally (widthwise across the paper) relative to frame 10 and defines opposed top rail ends 11a, 11b thereof. Similarly, the heddle frame 10 also includes a bottom rail 12 that extends in the longitudinal direction and that extends generally parallel to the top rail 11. The bottom rail 12 also defines opposed bottom rail ends 12a, 12b thereof. Alternative terminology for the top rail 11 and the bottom rail 12 is respectively the top profile and the bottom profile or the top crossbrace and bottom crossbrace.

As shown in FIG. 1, a first end member 13a connects the first top rail end 11a of the top rail 11 to the first bottom rail end 12a of the bottom rail 12. Similarly, a second end member 13b connects the second top rail end 11b of the top rail 11 to the second bottom rail end 12b of the bottom rail 12. The top rail 11, first end member 13a, bottom rail 12 and second end member 13b are connected so as to provide the heddle frame 10 formed thereby with a generally rectangular structure. Because the rails 11, 12 and end members 13a, 13b typically are made from aluminum, the heddle frame 10 is sometimes called the aluminum profile 10. Moreover, as shown in FIG. 1, an intermediate brace 15 extends between and connects the top rail 11 and the bottom rail 12 to assist in maintaining parallelism of the top and bottom rails and the overall rectangular shape of the heddle frame 10.

The heddle frame 10 carries a plurality of heddles 14, the lengths of which extending vertically between the top rail 11 and the bottom rail 12 and thus generally transversely to the frame 10. As shown in FIG. 1, one end of each warp heddle 14 is slidably carried by a top heddle bar 19 that is mounted near one longitudinal edge of the top rail 11, while the opposite end of each warp heddle 14 is slidably carried by a bottom heddle bar 19 that is mounted near one longitudinal edge of the bottom rail 12. As shown in FIG. 3B for example, each heddle bar 19 is disposed toward the back of the respective top rail 11 and bottom rail 12, and the back of each rail 11, 12 is disposed to face away from the reed when the heddle frame 10 is mounted in the loom (not shown).

In the illustrative embodiment discussed herein, for purposes of simplifying the discussion, it is assumed that the top rail 11 and the bottom rail 12 are configured identically. However, when a top rail 11 and a bottom rail 12 are connected to form a heddle frame 10, they are oriented such that the top rail's longitudinal edge nearest the heddle bar 19 is facing toward the bottom rail's longitudinal edge nearest the heddle bar 19. Thus, the heddle bar 19 of each rail 11, 12 is oriented to face toward the interior of the heddle frame 10. Accordingly, since the top rail 11 and the bottom rail 12 are configured identically, then for the sake of brevity, only the construction of an embodiment of a top rail 11 will be described in detail.

A section of an embodiment of a top rail 11 is shown in FIG. 4A for example. As shown therein, the top rail 11 defines a generally hollow extrusion 20 that has a largest dimension extending in the longitudinal direction (widthwise across the paper as shown in FIG. 1 for example). As shown in FIG. 4A, the hollow extrusion 20 forming the top rail 11 defines a top surface 20a, and the top surface 20a defines a larger dimension that extends in the longitudinal direction. As shown in FIG. 4A, the top surface 20a defines a smaller dimension that extends in a horizontal direction, the horizontal direction being the direction that defines the thickness of the hollow extrusion 20 in a direction that is normal to the flat planar front surface 20c and the flat planar rear surface 20d of the top rail 11. As shown in FIG. 4A, the smaller dimension defining the top surface 20a is bounded between the front surface 20c of the hollow extrusion 20 and the parallel rear surface 20d of the hollow extrusion 20. Thus, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 4A, the horizontal direction is the direction that is normal to the longitudinal direction and normal to each of the front surface 20c and rear surface 20d of the top rail 11.

As shown in FIG. 4A for example, the hollow extrusion 20 that defines the top rail 11 also defines a front wall 21 that defines a smaller dimension that extends in a vertical direction from the front side of the top surface 20a. The vertical direction is defined as being normal to the longitudinal direction and normal to the horizontal direction. The front wall 21 defines a larger dimension that extends in the longitudinal direction.

As shown in FIG. 4A for example, the hollow extrusion 20 of the top rail 20a is further defined by a rear wall 22 that is disposed generally parallel to the front wall 21. The rear wall 22 defines a smaller dimension extending in the vertical direction from the rear side of the top surface 20a. The rear wall 22 defines a larger dimension extending in the longitudinal direction and is equal in this larger dimension to the larger dimension of the front wall 21 of the top rail. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4A, the vertical dimension of the front wall 21 is larger than the vertical dimension of the rear wall 22 by virtue of the addition to the front wall 21 of a carrying flange 23 for the heddle bar 19.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4A, the interior surface of the carrying flange 23 defines a projection bar 24. As shown in FIG. 4A, the projection bar 24 extends in the horizontal direction from the rear surface of the front wall 21 near the bottom edge of the front wall 21 and toward the back wall 22. A heddle bar 19 on which the heddles 14 are slideably mounted via the rod slots of the heddles 14 is connected to the rearwardly projecting surface of the projection bar 24. As perhaps best shown in FIG. 3B, the bottom surface 20e of the top rail 11 overhangs the projection bar 24 and the heddle bar 19.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4A, the hollow extrusion 20 that defines the top rail 11 defines a plurality of internal webs that are shaped and configured in much the same manner as the web 25a that forms the top wall of top rail 11 and has an exterior surface defining the top surface 20a of the top rail 11. These internal webs 25a, 25b, 25c, 25d, 25e extend in the horizontal direction between the front wall 21 and the rear wall 22 and desirably are symmetrically spaced apart from one another. These internal webs 25a, 25b, 25c, 25d, 25e provide the top rail with strength and rigidity. Though five of these webs are shown in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4A, more or fewer webs can be provided according to the size of the rail, the material forming the rail, and the type of heddle frame. However, the bottom wall 25e of the top rail 11 desirably is spaced relatively closer to the next adjacent internal web 25d than is the space between the uppermost web that defines the top wall 25a of the top rail 11 and the internal web 25b closest to the top wall 25a.

As shown in FIG. 4A, each of the webs defining the top wall 25a and each of the internal webs 25b, 25c, 25d of the hollow extrusion 20 of the top rail 11 defines a respective through hole 26a, 26b, 26c, 26d that is vertically aligned along the desired location for the intermediate brace 15. The alignment of each of these holes 26a, 26b, 26c, 26d with one another is shown schematically indicated in FIG. 4A for example by the chain dashed line designated 27. The through holes 26a, 26b, 26c, 26d are configured to allow the passage therethrough of a top pin 35 (described hereafter). The passage of top pin 35 through the through holes 26a, 26b, 26c, 26d is also indicated schematically by the chain dashed line 27.

As shown in FIG. 4A, a first cut out portion 31 can be defined in a section of the top rail 11. The first cut out portion 31 can be located in the immediate vicinity where the aligned through holes 26a, 26b, 26c, 26d are provided and extend longitudinally past each side of the boundary of the diameter of the aligned holes 26a, 26b, 26c, 26d by at least the distance of that diameter. This first cut out portion 31 can result in the removal of two identically shaped sections of the rear wall 22 and the front wall 21 that define the top rail 11 between the bottom wall 25e and the internal web 25d that is closest to the bottom wall 25e of the top rail 11. The first cut out portion 31 also is defined through and therefore eliminates a portion of the carrying flange 23 of the front wall 21. Alternatively, the first cut out portion 31 need not remove any of the rear wall 22 and the front wall 21 and can just remove a portion of the bottom wall 25e. In such alternative configuration, one end of the entrance slot 17 and chamber 18 of the locking clamp block 16 shown in FIG. 4A can be closed off and thus blind in one end.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4A, a second cut out portion 32 can be defined in a second section of the top rail 11. The second cut out portion 32 can be located in the immediate vicinity where the first cut out portion 31 is provided and can extend longitudinally to one side of the first cut out portion 31. As shown in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4A for example, the second cut out portion 32 communicates in the longitudinal direction without interruption with the first cut out portion 31. The second cut out portion 32 can result in the removal of two identically shaped sections of the rear wall 22 and the front wall 21 that define the top rail 11 between the bottom wall 25e and the internal web 25d that is closest to the bottom wall 25e of the top rail 11. Another name for the internal web 25d closest to the bottom wall 25e of the top rail 11 is the penultimate bottom internal web 25d. The second cut out portion 32 also is defined through and therefore eliminates a portion of the carrying flange 23 of the front wall 21.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4A, the second cut out portion 32 extends in the vertical direction through the rear wall 22 from the bottom wall 25e up to the penultimate bottom internal web 25d and through the front wall 21 completely through the carrying flange 23 of the front wall 21 and up to the penultimate bottom internal web 25d. However, the first cut out portion 31 extends in the vertical direction through the rear wall 22 from the bottom wall 25e and stops just short of the penultimate bottom internal web 25d. The first cut out portion 31 extends through the front wall 21 completely through the carrying flange 23 of the front wall 21 and stops just short of the penultimate bottom internal web 25d. Accordingly, as shown in FIG. 3B for example, a pair of opposed skirt flange portions 31a are defined between the free edge 31b of the first cut out portion 31 and the penultimate bottom internal web 25d. As shown in FIG. 3B, the pair of opposed skirt flange portions 31a and the penultimate bottom internal web 25d define a groove 31c therebetween.

When considering the relative distances in the vertical direction in the front wall 21 and the rear wall 22 by which the first cut out portion 31 stops short of reaching the penultimate bottom internal web 25d, the first cut out portion 31 can be said to define a so-called shallow pocket 31, and the second cut out portion 32 disposed alongside the shallow pocket can be said to define a so-called deep pocket 32. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4A, the shallow pocket 31 is disposed immediately, vertically beneath the portion of the top rail 11 in which the aligned through holes 26a, 26b, 26c, 26d are provided to receive the top pin 35 (described below).

In accordance with the present invention, at least one intermediate brace 15 is configured to assist in maintaining parallelism of the top rail 11 and the bottom rail 12. As shown in FIG. 1, the intermediate brace 15 extends between and connects the top rail 11 and the bottom rail 12. Moreover, the intermediate brace 15 is disposed at a position between the end members 13a, 13b that connect the top and bottom rails 11, 12. Moreover, when only one intermediate brace 15 is provided, desirably that intermediate brace 15 can be centrally located between the end members 13a, 13b as shown in FIG. 1 for example. However, more than one intermediate brace 15 can be provided for a given heddle frame 10, and more than one brace 15 desirably would be provided as the length (the left to right direction widthwise across the paper in FIG. 1) of the heddle frame 10 increases.

As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B for example, each intermediate brace 15 defines a main body portion 15a extending in the longitudinal direction of the brace 15, which when assembled into the frame 10 is the direction that is parallel to the vertical or transverse direction of the frame 10. As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B for example, each intermediate brace 15 carries at each opposite end thereof, a locking clamp block (generally designated 16) that is connected in a fixed manner to the intermediate brace 15. Alternatively, a single piece of material (a steel blank for example) can be machined and formed into a unitary structure that defines the intermediate brace 15 and locking clamp blocks 16 at each opposite end.

The locking clamp block 16 on one end of the intermediate brace 15 is configured to be connected to the top rail 11, while the locking clamp block 16 on the opposite end of the intermediate brace 15 is configured to be connected to the bottom rail 12. The manner in which the intermediate brace 15 is connected to each of the top and bottom rails 11, 12 desirably can involve the same kinds of components, and accordingly, for purposes of brevity, the following discussion will describe only the manner of connecting an intermediate brace 15 with the top rail 11.

As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the intermediate brace 15 defines a rigid elongated rod, which desirably is formed of stainless steel. However, the intermediate brace 15 can be formed of other materials that provide the same structural strength characteristics. As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the main body portion 15a of the intermediate brace 15 defines a relatively narrow rear edge 15c. As shown in FIG. 2B, the main body portion 15a defines a relatively narrow front edge 15d and a pair of opposed, relatively wider side surfaces 15e. The intermediate brace 15 defines on each opposite end thereof, a relatively flattened, thin-profiled paddle portion 15b. Each paddle portion 15b defines a relatively wide rear surface 15f and front surface 15g and relatively narrow side edges 15h. The main body portion 15a of the intermediate brace 15 extends generally to a transition portion 15k that tapers from narrow to wide when moving in the direction away from the end of the main body portion 15a and toward each respective paddle portion 15b. As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the paddle portion 15b of the intermediate brace 15 is disposed immediately adjacent the locking clamp block 15 where the locking clamp block 16 is attached to the intermediate brace 15.

As shown in FIGS. 2A, 2B and 3B for example, a locking clamp block 16 is attached to one end of the intermediate brace 15. As shown in FIG. 2B for example, the locking clamp block 16 has a front face 16d that defines a recess 16e therein. As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B for example, the distal free end of the paddle member 15b is received in the recess 16e that is formed in the front face 16d of the locking clamp block 16. As shown in FIG. 2B for example, the depth of this recess 16e corresponds desirably to the thickness of the side edge 15h of the paddle member 15b that is inserted into the recess 16e and fixed therein as by a means of permanent attachment such as welding for example. The means of attachment also can be selectively removable such as by a rivet or a threaded screw for example. Desirably, as shown in FIG. 2B, the front surface 15g of the paddle member 15b lies in the same plane as the front face 16d of the locking clamp block 16 to which the paddle member 15b is attached.

As shown in FIGS. 2A, 2B and 3B for example, the locking clamp block 16 defines a first section 16a that in turn defines an entrance slot 17. As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the first section 16a of the locking clamp block 16 defines a pair of opposed flanges 16c. The interior-facing surfaces of the opposed flanges 16c define the entrance slot 17. The locking clamp block 16 further defines a second section 16b that defines a chamber 18 internally of the second section 16b of the locking clamp block 16. The entrance slot 17 is configured to communicate directly with and be connected to the chamber 18. As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the third section of the locking clamp block 16 defines the base 16g of the locking clamp block 16 in which is formed the recess 16e for receiving the paddle member 15b of the intermediate brace 15.

As shown in FIG. 4A for example, a top pin 35 is defined by a rigid, elongated, narrow rod, which desirably is formed of stainless steel. However, the top pin 35 can be formed of other materials that provide the same structural strength characteristics. As in the embodiment that is shown in FIG. 4A, the top pin 35 can have a generally cylindrical exterior surface over substantially its entire length and can define a head portion 35a on a first free end thereof. The free end of the head portion 35a of the top pin 35 can include a flat surface 35b that facilitates being able to grasp the pin 35 and rotate the pin about its lengthwise axis, also known as its longitudinal axis. Other configurations can be provided for the free end of the head portion 35a of the top pin 35 to accomplish the same purpose. For example, the free end of the head portion 35a of the top pin 35 can include dual, opposing flat surfaces 35b (not shown). As in the embodiment that is shown in FIG. 4A, the top pin 35 can have a generally threaded exterior surface 35c over the distal portion of the head portion 35a of the top pin 35.

In accordance with an aspect of the present invention, the keyed portion of the top pin and the entrance slot and chamber of the locking clamp block are configured in a complementary manner so that they are selectively, slideably disposable with respect to one another so as to selectively attach the top rail and the intermediate brace. As shown in FIG. 4A, the top pin 35 can further define a keyed portion 35d on the end of the top pin 35 that is opposite the head portion 35a. As shown in FIG. 4A, the keyed portion 35d of the top pin 35 on the second end of the top pin 35 desirably can be configured to be selectively, securably received within the entrance slot 17 and the chamber 18 of the locking clamp block 16.

As shown in FIG. 4A for example, the keyed portion 35d of the top pin 35 desirably can define a tip that is configured to be selectively slideably disposed in the chamber 18 of the slideably connected locking clamp block 16 (as shown in FIG. 2B for example) to which the top pin 35 is connected. Moreover, the tip of the top pin 35 can be configured so that it is incapable of passing through the entrance slot 17 and must approach entry into the chamber 18 via one of the open end faces 16f of the locking clamp block 16. Thus, the chamber 18 of the locking clamp block 16 is accessible both from the entrance slot 17 in the top of the locking clamp block 16 and from each of the opposed ends 16f of the locking clamp block 16. In this way, it is possible to slideably connect the top pin 35 to the locking clamp block 16 and thus to the intermediate brace 15 that is connected to the locking clamp block 16. In particular, it is the tip of the keyed portion 35d on one end of the top pin 35 that is configured so as to be slideably connectable to the locking clamp block 16 via the end openings in the slot 17 and chamber 18 that are defined in the first and second sections 16a, 16b of the locking clamp block 16.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4A, the keyed portion 35d of the top pin 35 can be configured with a disk 35e on the tip, which is the distal-most end of the keyed portion 35d of the top pin 35. The keyed portion 35d of the top pin 35 can be configured further with a pair of opposed flat surfaces 35f between the disk 35e and the main body of the top pin 35. The pair of opposed flat surfaces 35f are configured to fit into the slot 17, and the disk 35e is configured to fit into the chamber 18 but not into the slot 17 of the locking clamp block 16. Thus, the only way to connect the top pin 35 with the locking clamp block 16 is to position the keyed portion 35d of top pin 35 into the chamber 18 and the slot 17 of the locking clamp block 16. However, this connection or disconnection (as selected by the user) only can be accomplished by approaching the locking clamp block 16 from one of its end faces 16f and sliding the keyed portion 35d of top pin 35 in the longitudinal direction into the locking clamp block 16 so that the flat surfaces 35f fit into the slot 17 and the disk 35e fits into the chamber 18. Thus, in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 3A, 3B and 4A for example, the locking clamp block 16 is selectively, slideably connectable with respect to the keyed portion 35d of the top pin 35 in the longitudinal directions that are schematically indicated by the double ended arrow designated 42 in FIGS. 3A and 4A when the top pin 35 is disposed transversely through the interior of the top rail 11 for example. Since the disk 35e is too big to pass through the slot 17, when the keyed portion 35d is held within the slot 17 and chamber 18 of the locking clamp block 16, then it becomes impossible to disengage the locking clamp block 16, and hence the intermediate brace 15, from the top pin 35 by the exertion of forces in the vertical or transverse direction with respect to the heddle frame 10.

When the head portion 35a of the top pin 35 is anchored to the top rail 11 by a washer 36 and a threaded nut 37 as schematically shown in FIGS. 1 and 4A, then the top rail 11 can be connected to the intermediate brace 15 in this fashion. As shown in FIG. 1, a similar arrangement of the opposite end of the intermediate brace 15 and a bottom pin 45 that is configured like the top pin 35 effects the same connection between the intermediate brace 15 and the bottom rail 12. Tightening the top pin 35 compresses the two rails 11, 12 toward one another and thereby increases the stiffness of the aluminum profile 10 at the location of the intermediate brace 15. Tightening the nut 37 on the head portion 35a of the top pin 35 and/or the nut 47 on the counterpart bottom pin 45 creates a parallel condition of the heddle frame 10 that sets the vertical distance over the heddle bars 19, and that vertical distance allows about a three millimeter clearance that is enough for the heddles 14 to run freely on the heddle bars 19. Moreover, increasing the stiffness of the heddle frame 10 can reduce the number of intermediate braces 15 that are needed along the length of the heddle frame 10.

The deep pocket 32 can extend from the bottommost edge of the front wall 21 of the top rail 11 to the penultimate bottom internal web 25e of the top rail 11. The difference in depth between the deep pocket 32 and the shallow pocket 31 is attributed to the skirt flange portions 31a that extend vertically downwardly and away from the penultimate lower web 25d. These two skirt flange portions 31a and the penultimate lower web 25d define a groove 31c within which are received the flanges 16c that define the slot 17 in the locking clamp block 16 that is to be connected to the keyed portion 35d end of the top pin 35. As shown in FIG. 3B for example, the exterior surfaces of the flanges 16c of the locking clamp block 16 are configured to be received within the groove 31c that is defined between the interior-facing surfaces of the skirt flange portions 31a of the front wall 21 and the rear wall 22 that define the top rail 11. The flanges 16c of the locking clamp block 16 received within the groove 31c act to prevent the locking clamp block 16 from twisting with respect to the top rail 11.

As shown in FIG. 3A, a sealing block 50 (only part is visible in the view shown) is received within the deep pocket 32 that is defined in the lower portion of the top rail 11 and can be secured therein by connecting the sealing block 50 to the top rail 11. This connection can be accomplished in any of a number of ways. As shown in FIG. 3A, the sealing block 50 can include a removably securable fastener such as a threaded pin 50a that threads into a threaded opening 50b in the penultimate bottom internal web 25d. Thus, the sealing block 50 prevents enough movement in the direction of the double-headed arrow 42 that would result in the escape of the tip of the keyed portion 35d of the top pin 35 from within the chamber 18 defined in the second section 16b of the locking clamp block 16 to which the top pin 35 was slideably connected. When the sealing block 50 is removed from the deep pocket 32, then as shown in FIG. 4A for example, the locking clamp block 16 of the intermediate brace 15 can be moved in the longitudinal direction 42 sufficiently clear of the skirt flange portions 31a to release the tip of the keyed portion 35d of the top pin 35 from within the chamber 18 defined in the locking clamp block 16. The locking clamp block 16 and the attached intermediate brace 15 then can be removed from the assembled frame 10 once the keyed portions 35d, 18 are disconnected from each other.

In accordance with an aspect of the present invention, the heddles 14 that are carried by the heddle frame 10 are free to move in the longitudinal direction 42 past the intermediate braces 15. This is accomplished because of the manner of connecting the intermediate braces 15 to the top rail 11 and the bottom rail 12 as well as the configuration of the intermediate brace 15 and the location of the intermediate brace 15 in front of the heddle bar 19. As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B for example, the transition region 15k connects each paddle member 15b on the end of each intermediate brace 15 with the main body portion 15a of the intermediate brace 15. Thus, in the view shown in FIG. 3B for example, the heddle 14 that is indicated by the chain-dashed line can move into and out of the paper and without such movement being impeded by virtue of the shape and position of the intermediate brace 15. The ninety degree twist of the transition region 15k of the intermediate brace 15 is shaped so that the intermediate brace 15 can be positioned in front of the heddle 14 rather than being alongside the heddle 14. If the shape of the brace 15 were such that the brace 15 was positioned alongside the heddle 14, then the brace 15 would prevent passage of the heddle 14 past the brace 15. Similarly, as shown in FIG. 3A, the heddles 14 that are illustrated by the chain-dashed lines can move to and fro in the directions of the double-headed arrow 42 without having such movement being impeded or blocked in any way by the position of the intermediate brace 15.

The present invention is particularly applicable for heddle frames that have so-called thin profiles. The relevant measurement that determines whether a frame is a thin profile frame is called the pitch. The pitch of a heddle frame is measured in the direction of the arrow beneath the legend TO REED in FIG. 3B. The pitch measurement is taken between the vertical centerlines of two heddle frames that are resting against one another as they would be placed in a loom. This pitch measurement also takes into account the fact that there would be nose guides in place during the measurement of the pitch, as nose guides would be used when the heddle frames are positioned in the looms in order to reduce frictional wearing of the profiles 11, 12. A nose guide design can be seen in commonly owned U.S. Pat. No. 4,565,223, which is hereby incorporated herein by this reference for all purposes. Examples of four nose guides (not designated with a number) disposed on a frame can be seen in FIG. 1 of commonly owned U.S. Pat. No. 5,560,399.

A typical heddle frame has a length (measured from left to right across the page in FIG. 1) of twelve to fourteen meters. The longer the thin profile frame, the more braces are needed in order to ensure that the frame retains its rectangular shape. However, with thinner profiles, less space is available to accommodate the braces in a conventional arrangement. For a heddle frame 10 to be considered a thin profile frame for purposes herein, the relevant pitch measurement would be no more than about twenty millimeters. In a way that is not possible with conventional bracing arrangements, the present invention is configured to accommodate braces in thin profile frames. A pitch in the range of about of ten millimeters to about twelve millimeters is contemplated herein for frames with the benefit of braces in accordance with the present invention.

As noted above, the configuration of the bottom rail 12 is merely the mirror image of the configuration of the top rail 11 described above. Thus, the bottom rail 12 would be connected to the opposite end of the intermediate brace 15 via a bottom pin 45 that was similarly configured to the top pin 35 described above. However, it is contemplated that differently configured locking clamp blocks 16 might be attached to each of the opposite ends of the intermediate brace 15. In such situations, the manner of connecting the respective second free end of each respective top pin 35 or bottom pin 45 would need to be configured in a complementary manner to interact with whatever configuration was presented by the locking clamp block to which the top or bottom connecting pin was to be connected.

FIG. 4B illustrates an alternative embodiment of a locking clamp block 216 in accordance with the present invention. As shown therein, the locking clamp block 216 includes a base portion 216a. Each one of a pair of outwardly extending wing portions 216c is connected to an opposite end of the base portion 216a. The wing portions 216c and the base portion 216a can be formed as a unitary structure or can be integrated from two separate elements that are mechanically connected together. A bridge member 216d can be connected to each of the wing portions 216c. The upper surface of the base portion 216a, the underside of the bridge member 216d and the internal edges of the wing portions 216c together define a chamber 216b. A key hole-shaped slot 216e can be defined through the bridge member 216d above the chamber 216b and is configured to receive therein a suitably configured tip defining a keyed portion 35d of the second free end of the top pin 35. Desirably, the bridge member 216d is removably securable to the locking clamp block 216 by bolts 216f that can be passed through openings 216g in the wing portions 216c and threaded into threaded openings 216h defined in the ends of the bridge member 216d. The threaded openings 216h in the bridge portion are aligned with non-threaded openings 216g through the wing portions 216c of the locking clamp block 216. Between each of the threaded openings 216g and the extreme lateral edge of the bridge member 216d, there can be defined a detent 216j that can be configured to be received within the groove 31c that is formed between the skirt flange portions 31a that define one boundary of the shallow pocket 31 defined in the lower portion of the top rail 11. The detents 216j received within the groove 31c act to prevent the locking clamp block 216 from twisting with respect to the top rail 11. This embodiment of the locking clamp block 216 can be used with a sealing block 50 and top pin 35 in much the same manner as the locking clamp block 16 described above.

Another alternative embodiment of the locking clamp block and associated brace and pin are shown in FIG. 4C, which in the interest of simplifying the view shown in FIG. 4C, does not show the heddles or the heddle bar 19 attached to the projection member 24 of the carrying flange 23 of the front wall 21 of the top rail 11. Instead of being permanently attached to the end of an intermediate brace 315, the locking clamp block 316 embodiment shown in FIG. 4C is slideably attachable along the longitudinal directions indicated by the double-headed arrow 42 to the free end of the intermediate brace 315. The FIG. 4C embodiment is similar to the FIG. 4A embodiment, except that the base 316g of the locking clamp block 316 is configured to connect to the top pin 335, and the first and second sections 316a and 316b of the locking clamp block 316 are configured to be connected to the intermediate brace 315. The locking clamp block 316 defines a first section 316a that in turn defines an entrance slot 317. The locking clamp block 316 further defines a second section 316b that defines a chamber 318 internally of the second section 316b of the locking clamp block 316. The paddle portion 15b of the intermediate brace 315 is provided with a keyed portion 315d that can be configured with an elongated hexahedron 315e on the tip or distal-most end of the keyed portion 315d of the intermediate brace 315. The keyed portion 315d of the intermediate brace 315 can be configured further with a pair of opposed flat surfaces 315f between the hexahedron 315e and the transition portion 15k of the intermediate brace 315. The pair of opposed flat surfaces 315f are configured to fit into the slot 317, and the hexahedron 315e is configured to fit into the chamber 318 but not into the slot 317 of the locking clamp block 316.

As shown in FIG. 4C, a pair of detents 316j extend away from the upper surface of the base 316g of the locking clamp block 316 and are configured to be received within the groove 31c that is formed at the leading edge of the shallow pocket 31 formed in the lower portion of the top rail 11. The detents 316j are shown cylindrically shaped, but they also can be shaped as the detents 216j that are shown in FIG. 4B for example. This embodiment of the locking clamp block 216 can be used with a sealing block 50 and top pin 35 in much the same manner as the locking clamp block 16 described above.

In this embodiment of FIG. 4C, the top pin 335 can have a generally cylindrical exterior surface over substantially its entire length and can define a head portion 335a on a first free end thereof. The free end of the head portion 335a of the top pin 335 can include a recess 335b configured to receive a tool that facilitates being able to grasp the pin 335 and rotate the pin 335 about its lengthwise axis, also know as its longitudinal axis. In the embodiment that is shown in FIG. 4C, the cross-section of the recess 335b has a hexagonal shape, but other configurations can be provided for the free end of the head portion 335a of the top pin 335 to accomplish the same purpose. As in the embodiment that is shown in FIG. 4A, the top pin 335 can have a generally threaded exterior surface 335c over the distal portion of the head portion 35a. The head portion 335a of the top pin 335 is anchored to the top rail 11 by a threaded nut 337 that engages the threaded exterior surface 335c of the head portion 335a. In this embodiment of FIG. 4C, the second end of the top pin 335 is configured with a threaded tip 335d that can be received by being screwed into a threaded opening 316e disposed in the base 316g of the locking clamp block 316 and connects the top rail 11 to the intermediate brace 15 in this fashion.

Another alternative embodiment of the locking clamp block is shown in FIG. 4D. The FIG. 4D embodiment of a locking clamp block 416 is similar to the embodiment shown in FIG. 4C except for the fact that the locking clamp block 416 is fixed to the free end of the intermediate brace 15 in much the same fashion as the embodiment shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B. However, the movement of the intermediate brace 15 in the longitudinal direction is effected by movement of the top pin 435.

As shown in FIG. 4D, instead of the aligned circular holes that receive the shaft of the top pin 435, the top web 25a and the remaining intermediate webs such as the penultimate bottom internal web 25d that connect the front wall 21 and the back wall 22 of the top rail 11 are provided with aligned elongated slots, e.g., elongated slot 426d defined in the penultimate bottom internal web 25d. Each of these slots elongates in the longitudinal direction, which is the direction in which it is desired to have the freedom to translate the position of the intermediate brace 15. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 4D, a reinforcement plate 436 is attached (as by threaded screws for example) to the web member 25a that defines the top wall of the top rail 11. The reinforcement plate 436 defines a slot 436a that is aligned with the elongated opening that is formed in the top wall 25a of the top rail 11.

Additionally, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 4D, a guide plate 437 having a detent 437a that is slideably received in the slot 436a in the reinforcing plate 436 is provided. The guide plate 437 defines a through hole 437b that receives the shaft of the top pin 435 therethrough. The guide plate 437 is disposed between the head 435b of the top pin 435 and the reinforcement plate 436 so that the head 435b of the top pin 435 can engage the guide plate 437, which acts as a washer to ensure a tight fit when the threaded distal end 435d of the top pin 435 is screwed into the threaded opening 416e that is formed in locking clamp block 416. As in the view shown in FIG. 4C, the view in FIG. 4D also does not show the heddle bar 19 or heddles 14 in order to avoid unnecessarily cluttering the view of the locking clamp block 416 embodiment shown in FIG. 4D.

As shown in FIG. 4D, a pair of detents 416j extend away from the upper surface of the base 416g of the locking clamp block 416 and are configured to be received within the groove 31c that is formed at the leading edge of the shallow pocket 31 formed in the lower portion of the top rail 11. The detents 416j are shown as elongated hexahedron shaped, but they also can be shaped as the detents 316j that are shown in FIG. 4C for example. This embodiment of the locking clamp block 416 can be used with a sealing block 50 in much the same manner as the locking clamp block 16 described above.

Another alternative embodiment of the locking clamp block is shown in FIG. 4E. As in the locking clamp block 416 of FIG. 4D, as shown in FIG. 4E, a locking clamp block 516 is similarly provided with elongated slots defined through the webs of the top rail 11, a reinforcement plate 436, and a guide plate 537. The guide plate 537 defines a clearance hole 537b through which a threaded exterior surface 535c of the head portion of the top pin 535 can be passed and freely rotated.

As shown in FIG. 4E, the embodiment of a chamber 518 of the locking clamp block 516 has a tongue-in-groove connection with a keyed portion 535e at the tip of the top pin 535 at the second free end of the top pin 535. In the FIG. 4E embodiment, the longitudinal translational motion occurs within the confines of the elongated slots that are defined in the internal webs of the top rail 11, e.g., elongated slot 426d defined in the penultimate bottom internal web 25d. As shown in FIG. 4E, the first free end of the top pin 535 is provided with a threaded exterior surface 535c to receive thereon a nut 37 that has mating threads. When the tongue-in-groove connection is made between the top pin 535 and the locking clamp block 516 attached to the intermediate brace, then tightening of the nut 37 on the threaded first free end of the top pin 535 applies tension to the intermediate brace 15 and between the top rail and the bottom rail of the heddle frame. The line designated 43 schematically indicates the direction of travel of the plate 535e forming the tip at the second free end of the top pin 535 into and out of the chamber 518 that is formed in the locking clamp block 516.

As shown in FIG. 4E, a pair of detents 516j extend away from the upper surface of the locking clamp block 516 and are configured to be received within the groove 31c that is formed at the leading edge of the shallow pocket 31 formed in the lower portion of the top rail 11. The detents 516j are shown as elongated hexahedron shaped, but they also can be shaped as the detents 316j that are shown in FIG. 4C for example. This embodiment of the locking clamp block 516 can be used with a sealing block 50 in much the same manner as the locking clamp block 16 described above.

Another alternative embodiment of the locking clamp block is illustrated in FIG. 4F. As shown in FIG. 4F, a locking clamp block 616 defines a first flat, narrow plate 616a and a second connector plate 616d, The first flat, narrow plate 616a is fixed (as by being welded) to the extreme free edge of the paddle portion 15b of the intermediate brace 15. Near each of the opposed end portions of this top plate 616a is defined an elongated slot 616b that elongates in the longitudinal direction that is indicated by the double-headed arrow 42 shown in FIG. 4F. In this particular embodiment, each of a pair of top pins 635, 635 is disposed through aligned circular openings that are defined in the internal webs of the top rail 11 in much the same way that top pin 35 passes through the through holes 26a, 26b, 26c and 26d in each respective top wall 25a and internal web 25b, 25c and 25d in the embodiment shown in FIG. 4A. Neither of the top pins 635, 635 is free to move in the longitudinal direction by the circular openings in the internal webs of the top rail 11. Though not shown in this view of FIG. 4F, the first free end of each of the twin top pins 635, 635 can be connected to the top rail 11 in much the same fashion as either pin 35 is connected as shown in FIG. 4A or as pin 335 is connected as shown in FIG. 4C.

The second free end of each of the twin top pins 635, 635 is provided with a threaded tip 635d that is screwed into a separate threaded opening 616e that is defined in the second flat connector plate 616d. The bottom connector plate 616d has a recess 616c with a depth sufficient to receive therein the paddle member 15b. Each of the twin top pins 635 is threaded into a respective one of the threaded openings 616e in this bottom connector plate 616d. The recess 616c in this bottom connector plate 616d is longer in the longitudinal direction than the width of the paddle portion 15b of the intermediate brace 15 is wide in the same longitudinal direction. This relatively larger sizing of the recess 616c permits movement of the intermediate brace 15 with respect to the twin pins 635 to a certain extent to either side in the longitudinal direction indicated by the double-headed arrow 42 when the twin pins 635 are threaded into the bottom connector plate 616d. The FIG. 4F embodiment only requires a single deep pocket 32 in the lower portion of the top rail 11 and thus eliminates the need for a deep pocket and a shallow pocket in this lower portion of the top rail 31 in order to accommodate this embodiment of the intermediate brace 15.

While several presently preferred embodiments of the invention have been described using specific terms, such descriptions are for illustrative purposes only, and it is to be understood that changes and variations may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the following claims.