Aprons vs Cords
I have recently purchased a used loom and am just learning how to weave. It was made in Norway, but the owner didn't know the company that made the loom. The loom has a cloth apron on the back beam but strings on the front beam. Is this the way it should be set up? Or should I put the cloth apron on the front beam? What will be easier when I beam and tie on?
Your question makes me think of a joke Peter Collingwood used to tell about a purist who planted the trees for the wood to make her spinning wheel and loom and raised and spun the flax for the aprons for her warp and cloth beams. I think the joke ended by saying something like, "At age 95, she was finally ready to weave." (I probably have remembered this very inaccurately.)
Looms used to come with aprons on both the cloth beam and the warp beam. I think the original intent was to avoid the consequence of cords that otherwise might interfere with the smooth beaming of the warp and the even winding onto the cloth beam of the woven cloth. I don't like aprons and have replaced any that have been on my looms with Texsolv cords (each is measured to exactly the same length and can be secured to the apron rod with a single loop). If I have any cloth that might need to be protected from the cords as it winds onto the cloth beam, I put a layer of corrugated cardboard around the beam on the first turn.
An apron has only selected spots (cutouts) where you can tie on warp bouts to the apron rod. Since I like to tie on using many small groups (as shown in Warping Your Loom), I have to tie another rod to the original rod if it's in an apron and use the additional rod for tying on the warp (some looms come with this extra rod). This adds bulk and weight to the whole system (especially irritating when you are trying to tie on the first bout and the rods weigh so much that you have to start with square knots). In addition, at the beginning of weaving, I like to be able to see the treadles as I accustom myself to the treadling order or need to adjust the tie-up. An apron is just in the way.
Since tying onto the back beam need not be done with small bouts, I think your apron is in the best place.