Sponge Bars

Lately I have done more machine repairs than in all the years I’ve been knitting. The equipment is getting older (aren’t we all?) and plastic and sponge don’t do too well with age and dryness. In January I replaced the entire sinker plate – the base part of the bed in my 860 because I kept feeling needles knock in the exact same spot. That was a major repair that required taking apart the entire machine. Thank goodness for numbered egg cartons and digital cameras to get it all back together with no parts left over!

In the last month I have replaced the handles on both my SK860 and my SK840 machines. They just crumbled in my hands. So, I’ve been doing an inventory of what parts I think might need replacing anytime soon and started ordering them in.

Those of us using Silver Reed products are lucky -as most of the machines are still being made and the parts are available. If you have  a machine that is long out of production, keep an eye out for a machine you can strip for parts when the time comes – as it will. The very best machines for parts are the ones that lived in a box under somebody’s bed where light and air couldn’t age them!

The part that still has some bounce in it is the part that sat under the end of the bed. The rest was flat as a pancake.
The part that still has some bounce in it is the part that sat under the end of the bed. The rest was flat as a pancake.

Last year, I was gifted a Brother Bulky and one of the first things I did was to replace the sponge bar. A bad sponge bar can cause all kinds of problems from needles that won’t stay in hold or be too sloppy to make easy transfers or cables to needles that balk at passing through the pathways under the carriage and cause knocking and jamming. It isn’t just the needles that get damaged – the inner workings of the machines take a hit as well.

This past week I changed the sponge in my LK-150. I was working on some samples for a special project (more on that soon!) and realized I was having to really fuss to make a simple 3-prong transfer. The old sponge looks like refrigerator gasket and I had to peel it out of the trough!

old sponge was compressed and flat - probably a refrigerator gasket. Who knows why!
old sponge was compressed and flat – probably a refrigerator gasket. Who knows why!
All the needles out of the bed and new sponge laid in the trough.
All the needles out of the bed and new sponge laid in the trough.

 

 

Needles back in the bed and everything ready to rock ad roll!
Needles back in the bed and everything ready to rock ad roll!

In order to change a sponge on theLK-150 you need to remove all the needles (yes), lay in the new sponge and then replace the needles one by one. Definitely worth the trouble! The machine has been purring ever since. While I was ordering the new sponge, I also ordered an extra base for both the row counter and the tension mast so I could move them to either side of the bed. Being able to move the row counter around makes it so much easier to keep track of rows when dividing necklines and having an extra tension mast is never a bad idea.

For parts, I always recommend Needle-tek in Washington State. Their web site isn’t great, but you can check them out at www.needle-tek.com or just call and ask for what you need from Bea and Jerry Carriere. Their phone is 360-892-2304. If they don’t have what you need, I’m not sure who does!

Author: Susan Guagliumi

I’m a machine knitter, author, gardener and pretty good cook. I live in Connecticut with my husband, Arthur.

7 thoughts on “Sponge Bars”

  1. Hi Susan, I like your blog! I have also been refurbishing machines and am north of you, in Canada. I recently looked after a machine for a friend of mine who had purchased a brand new sponge bar for her machine. It came from a reputable supplier, and was labeled as the correct one for her model, a Brother. However, it was very hard to insert and the sponge was very stiff. The direct result was that it messed up the needle selection. After many hours of testing and troubleshooting, the problem was fixed by putting in a different sponge bar. Just a “heads-up”.

  2. Now, I ve been machine knitting for a long time, and have replaced numerous bars, but this one was different. It seemed to be a little tiny bit larger in width and the sponge was quite hard. It did go in however.

    1. Silver Reed is still being mfg so their sponge bars are usually OK. Some of the older machines (other brands) may be difficult – they may be substituting bars. Just make sure the needle action isn’t too tight!

  3. Does the Swissknitter plastic flat bed knitting machine have a sponge under the needles somewhere or just the rod over the needles? I don’t see any place to remove a sponge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *