One of the factors inherent in a craft that requires machines made around 40 years ago, is that they will require maintenance.
I adore my Singer 321, the model came out in 1972 and I believe they are so numerous in Australia as they were sold with Singer sewing machines. My mum remembers her very talented crafting aunt creating many garments on her knitting machine back in their heyday.
I have made many a swatch on my trusty Singer 321, it's a lot like hand knitting for me, I simply enjoy the process of making. A finished object is nice, however it's the formation of stitches, discovering what can be done and discovering new techniques, that give me great enjoyment.
My next search was for a ribber, to double the size of my 200 metal stitch bed and allow me to venture into the world of circular knitting and ribbing. Did anyone say "SOCKS" ;)
Of course, it never rains, but it pours, and after a few months of keeping my ear out, I spotted not one, but two machines with ribbers for the right prices. Of course I investigated them both ....
One was another Singer 321, this one a smidge younger than mine and with a rather fetching red highlights.
The other was my 'dare to hope for' machine, a Singer 360.
Both machines had spent quite a number of years sitting in garages, so they were in falling apart cardboard boxes, grimy, stiff and not looking their best.
My 360 even had the main carriage stuck to the main bed with a deteriorated piece of plastic and none of it's cams' rotated.
Did I mention my love for learning new things? I also adore cleaning - not tidying!, but removing grot and getting stuck things spinning again.
Armed with the internet, paper towel, cloths, a stiff paintbrush (or two), a bottle of methylated spirits and white spirit, some 3 in 1 oil, a set of screwdrivers and a healthy dose of enthusiasm,
I set to work.
SPOILER ALERT - Yes, they both are restored and knit, tuck and slip beautifully. The 360 looks like living up to it's name to knit through 360 degrees, as it's ribbing is perfect.
The 321 is now named Susie and has found a very happy home with Sew Jillian
Photo heavy details now follow.
|Doesn't look too bad - but those cams didn't budge! |
The flat sponge bar and the edge pieces that were sticking the carriage to the main bed
These long metal strips are meant to have a strip of foam on them that will press the needles down into the bed and allow them to hold their position. Without a sponge bar, they flop around and when in D position, they can dislodge and fall out. Sponge bars deteriorate over time, more rapidly when they've been in storage (or so I've heard), so in short, every machine that's not been used for a while will need a new one.
|A new functional spongebar in my 321|
aka what it 'should' look like
Obtaining a replacement sponge bar is, interesting. There are suppliers, however many of them would rather not ship to Australia (and postage isn't cheap for a 120cm long piece of metal). Fortunately both sponge bars had intact metal, although the 321's plastic end caps have deteriorated and will need replacing.
The most common DIY replacement available is weatherstripping. I took the advice of experienced machine knitters and purchased the Raven brand RP14B extra thick 12mmx12mm self adhesive version. One packet was enough to do both sponge bars.
The ribber has an original plastic (not sponge) bar, however the 360's is unstable in D position, so it may need one of these in the future.
There are tutorials online for inserting the weather strip sponge. I then used iron on interfacing to provide the fabric topper which protects the sponge.
I did try glue and ribbon first, but that was messy and I might still have some glue on some needles (don't ask...)
|pretty good for a first go. Weather strip, interfacing and tape|
|Needles, the bottom 2 have soaked in metho while I wrestled with the carriage|
Manuals can be found as free downloads on this amazing site: Machine knitting etc dot com
Seriously, it's brilliant!
Both (all) Singer/Silver Reed Japanese metal bed mechanical machines are essentially the same.
Step one, remove the handle from the main carriage, it will be held on with screws in the side. Keep them together ;)
Then remove the stitch selection dial. It will have a little clip holding it in place, this is important for when you need to clip it back in at the end. I found holding it under tension with a screwdriver when I reinserted the metal selector was necessary.
|321 with cover dismantled. The grey plastic also comes off|
|360 with handle removed|
|360 showing spring clip|
(unless you know what you're doing, in which case, you're already familiar with this bit!)
|321 ready to clean|
If you spot any fluff or thread, remove it.
|360 ready to clean|
I wiped off whatever excess I could see and did a little happy dance.
Next I re-oiled anything that moved, white spirit is amazing, but very, very drying and if they're not re-oiled, the cams will seize again.
Now its simply a matter of reversing the steps and putting all of the pairs of screws back into the holes from whence they came.
And voila! All it needs is the regular maintenance steps as outlined in the manual. Vacuum or squirt air +/- a brush along the main bed to remove any dust and fluff, oil the main bed and set up to knit some test swatches!