While the machines on the lower floors at Tower Mill have already been set to work producing English Fine Cottons, the biggest of all which live on the third floor are still warming up.
Running-in the gigantic 50m Ring Frame is a painstaking process and it’s all down to one part that’s so tiny you can barely see it – the traveller.
A traveller sits on every one of the 1200 rings on each frame and it’s crucial to the cotton spinning process. Yarn is hooked through the traveller which runs around the ring and winds it on to the cop which sits inside.
During spinning, the traveller runs at speeds of up to 40 metres a second.
But these speeds have to be achieved in gradual stages because when the rings are so new and shiny with no markings, the travellers can quickly wear away. Running-in the spinning frames gives the travellers chance to make grooves in the rings, almost creating themselves a tiny track, which will help them run more smoothly and efficiently.
Setting each frame up to start spinning is no mean feat, our spinning team have to thread a yarn end through each traveller first and it will take up to two days in total to complete all five frames.
Here’s a video clip of Chris working on the first frame to run this week
Once all the ends are on, each frame is run-in in seven stages and in between each stage, the travellers will be changed.
During stage one, the frames will be run at 80% of their maximum speed for just one hour and at 85% for two hours for the second stage.
In this video clip, you can see one of the frames during its first stage, complete with the roving bobbins at the top and cops of cotton yarn, which has already been doffed, running along the bottom.
Each stage will see the spinning frames run faster for longer until the final one when they will run at 97.5% for 72 hours.
After this, they will be ready for our beautiful extra long staple Californian Supima, which by this time will have been through the speed frame and drafted onto roving bobbins ready for spinning.