IDENTIFYING BROTHER KNITTING MACHINES
Non-Punch Card Machines:
Brother KH 588:
Very old machine. The average age of this machine is thirty plus years. Can’t use the Brother Garter Carriage. Virtually no accessories available.
A later model but very limited in it’s specification. The patterning is via push buttons system, row by row. Average age twenty plus years, but sold by catalogues up to approximately fifteen years ago. Can’t use the Brother Garter Carriage. There are virtually no accessories available other than the KR710 ribber.
Punch Card Machines:
The first of the 24 stitch punch card machine. Basic 24 stitch punch card with lace carriage, it has a limited spec. They made several different versions of this machine the difference mainly being in the mechanics. The early versions were heavy to push but all of the models are sound machines and will give years of service. Because of it’s age they should all need to have a full service. Average age twenty plus years some were still being sold approximately fifteen years ago. Can’t use the Brother Garter Carriage.
24 stitch punch card machine. This was a much later version of the KH830. It was sold as a budget model so they took out the Lace Carriage Set and sold it as a separate accessory. Unlike the KH830 it will take a Garter Carriage (must be the correct model). Approximately ten to fifteen years old. A really nice budget model it should give years of service. Brother made & sold loads of this model. It may need a service.
24 stitch punch card machine. Same sort of age as the 830 but has a slightly better specification, it is capable of doing a single motif automatically. A nice machine but again these models are getting on and will almost certainly need a full service. Can’t use the Brother Garter Carriage.
24 stitch punch card machine. This machine has the full specification same as the KH881 but without the built in Knitleader. A nice machine but again these models are getting on and will almost certainly need a full service.
24 stitch punch card machine. Think of this as a KH890 without the lace carriage set. One of the last punch card machines Brother made. Nice machine but not so many of these around. Approximately ten plus years old.
24 stitch punch card machine. This was one of the best machines that Brother made in the punch card range it had the best specification of it’s time. It included a built in Knitleader (patterning device), a lace carriage. It was a very popular model with the machine knitter who wanted to knit for profit. Because of their age again they nearly all need a full service, some of them may be in poor shape because they have been thrashed and used by a professional knitter, be careful when buying. Approximately fifteen to twenty years old. The case is prone to UV light staining.
24 stitch punch card machine. This was the later version of the KH860 it had the built in Garter Carriage rail (it takes the specific Garter Carriage for this series of machines). A very nice model, prone to UV light staining. In my opinion, in good condition along with the KH891 they are the best punch card machines made. Approximately ten to fifteen years old. The case is prone to UV light staining.
24 stitch punch card machine. This was the later version of the KH881, it had the built in Garter Carriage rail (it takes the specific Garter Carriage for this series of machines). It has a built in Knitleader (patterning device). A very nice model, prone to UV light staining. Along with the KH890 they are possibly the best punch card machines made. Approximately ten to fifteen years old.
This was a budget electronic. 24 stitch repeat patterns with single motif, it has 50 built in patterns and will take a cartridge from a PPD. It is a cross between a punch card and a electronic. It normally comes without a lace carriage set, this was sold as a separate accessory. Approximately twelve years old. If it has been looked after, this is a nice machine if a little limiting for an electronic.
60 stitch repeating pattern plus single motif. The first of the electronics they made two different versions of the electronics of this machine. They use a Mylar sheet with a special pen to create the patterning, in my opinion this was never a brilliant system, it used a special sensor to read the pattern which could be a bit hit and miss (some machines worked fine others, not so good). With time this system tended to degrade. You can see some hi-bred machines that have been converted to have a KH950/950i computer. Approximately twenty to thirty years old.
Brother KH930 & KH940:
Up to 200 stitch repeat patterning with single motif. This was one of the first machines to do away with the Mylar sheet and rely on it’s 550 built in patterns. You can also design your own patterns via a black and white button system, a little slow but effective. When you buy one of these machines you must make sure that you get both the instruction book and the Stitch world pattern book, this gives you a complete colour pictorial lay out of all the built in patterns. Has the facility to take the PPD cartridge (not a direct link). Approximately twelve to fifteen years old. If it has been looked after, this is a nice machine.
The first of the 200 stitch repeat patterning machines, however it still relied on the Mylar sheet technology for you to design you own motifs and patterns but here is the good news it has 550 built in patterns which you can take sections out of to create your own patterns. When buying you should bear in mind that Brother no longer makes the pattern cases/computers for this model, so if it goes down then you must hope to be able to get a replacement from a company such as us if we have one on the shelf at the time, it will almost certainly be a second hand unit. Approximately fifteen to twenty years old. When you buy one of these machines you must make sure that you get both the instruction book and the Stitch world pattern book, this gives you a complete colour pictorial lay out of all the built in patterns.
Up to 200 stitch repeat patterning with single motif. This was the same as the KH950 but they added the facility to use an external mini computer device called a PPD which is used in conjunction with your TV set to the VCR channel, this virtually meant that you could forget the Mylar sheet and it’s problems and make your patterns with the PPD (you purchase the PPD is a separate accessory) Approximately twelve to fifteen years old. When you buy one of these machines you must make sure that you get both the instruction book and the Stitch world pattern book, this gives you a complete colour pictorial lay out of all the built in patterns. A good machine, plan to use the built in patterns or a PPD not the Mylar sheet. If you get a nice one its a good machine.
Up to 200 stitch repeat patterning with single motif. Very similar to the KH940 but some advances in computer design. No Mylar sheet, 615 built in patterns, takes a PPD cartridge directly into the machine. When you buy one of these machines you must make sure that you get both the instruction book and the 2 Stitch world pattern books, this gives you a complete colour pictorial lay out of all the built in patterns. Approximately twelve to fifteen years old. If you get a nice one its a good machine.
The same as the KH965 but again the computer has been up-rated to take information from the FB100 disk drive. Approximately ten years old. If it has been looked after, this is a nice machine.
This was the last electronic machine made by Brother. It is totally run by the computer, even the row counter. It has 665 built in patterns. I can’t give you an accurate date when they stopped making this machine but at a guess it was about 10 years ago. Now I am still seeing these machines being sold as new but don’t forget the clock is ticking on the computers whether they are being used or not. Some of the pricing I have seen on this machine seems to be a little on the high side for a discontinued model that has very limited spares availability. I don’t know the exact number of the machines sold but it is not high.
A plain chunky knitting machine, no built in patterning but a good work horse if you are happy with plain knitting or hand tooled work. Not too much to go wrong in this machine. About fifteen to twenty years old. A real good working machine if a little limited.
110 needles 24 stitch repeating punch card machine with single motif. It can knit most reasonable size garments; it only has 110 needles because you are using much thicker yarns. A big solid machine but you can break it, some of the yarns particularly the acrylics are very strong and in clumsy hands you can do damage to the machine very easily. A favourite machine with the knitting for profit users, so watch out for excessive wear and tear. If you get one in good condition it is a very good machine, about fifteen years old. It needs to be serviced more frequently than its standard gauge counterpart. In good condition this is a super machine, don’t forget to allow for the service costs when you buy this model.
Electronic Chunky machine has 288 built in patterns and prevision for you to make and store your own designs. This is the only chunky electronic made by Brother. In my opinion this was not one of their most popular machines. About ten to fifteen years old. I don’t see many of these for sale and I have a limited amount of spares for this machine, as a consequence I do not put as higher cash value on the unit as some others do.
BROTHER MAJOR ACCESSORIES TO FIT STANDARD & CHUNKY GAUGE MACHINES, NOT THE KH588 OR THE KH710, THESE USE THEIR OWN GADGETS & WILL NOT WORK WITH THE WRONG MACHINE.
BROTHER KA-8210 INTARSIA CARRIAGE:
FITS THE FOLLOWING:
KH830, KH836, KH840, KH860, KH881, KH890, KH891, KH864 , KH900 & KH910. The electronics machines, KH940, KH950, KH950i, KH965 & KH965i (these machines have their own built in Intarsia carriage but you can use this accessory as well if you wish)
The carriage is designed to allow you to hand select as many colours in a single row as you like.
It is slow to use but the end results are very worthwhile and satisfying to produce. No floats to worry about, ideal for picture knitting. This is a very reliable gadget, not a lot to go wrong & not very expensive item to buy.
BROTHER RIBBERS KR830 & KR850:
FITS THE FOLLOWING:
KH830, KH836, KH840, KH860, KH881, KH890, KH891, KH864, KH900, KH910, KH940, KH950, KH950i, KH965, KH965i & KH970
These ribbers are used as the name suggests to primarily knit the ribs, collars, cuffs or welts but they can do so much more. You are able to do all rib stitch garments such as Fisherman’s rib, English rib, Racking stitches, & Tuck Rib. With the correct main bed and the appropriate accessories the KR850 will be able to produce plated rib. Using a double bed colour changer such as the KRC-900 or the earlier model KRC-830 you can produce Jacquard stitches, birds eye and stripes (no floats) to produce that professionally finished garments.
Probably the most important gadget of them all, it must be set up correctly to get top quality work, you need a sound bed of needles both top and bottom and a good sponge bar in the top bed.
BROTHER RIBBER KR260
FITS THE FOLLOWING CHUNKY MACHINES:
KH260 & KH270
This ribber is used as the name suggests to primarily knit the ribs, collars, cuffs or welts but they can do so much more. You are able to do all rib stitch garments such as Fisherman’s rib, English rib, Racking stitches, & Tuck Rib. With the correct main bed and the appropriate accessories Using a double bed colour changer such as the KRC-900 you can produce Jacquard stitches, birds eye and stripes (no floats) to produce that professionally finished garments. PLEASE NOTE THE KRC-830 WILL NOT WORK WITH THE KR260
Same as the standard gauge machines this is probably the most important gadget of them all, it must be set up correctly to get top quality work, you need a sound bed of needles both top and bottom and a good sponge bar in the top bed.
BROTHER KRC-900 & KRC-830 DOUBLE BED COLOUR CHANGER
FITS THE FOLLOWING:
KH830, KH836, KH840, KH860, KH881, KH890, KH891, KH864,KH900, KH910, KH940, KH950, KH950i, KH965, KH965i & KH970, working in conjunction with a KR830 or KR850 ribber.
Please see details given with the KR850 & KR830 ribber above.One extra thing with the KRC-900 DBCC only is that it will also work with the KH260 or KH270 and the KR260 ribber.
A really good gadget, it is best to start using this accessory once you have accomplished the basics with your machine and ribber. It will give you a professional look to your garments. The KRC-900 is the later model.
BROTHER KA8300 RIBBER TRANSFER CARRIAGE:
FITS THE FOLLOWING:
KH830, KH836, KH840, KH860, KH881, KH890, KH891, KH864,KH900. KH910, KH940, KH950, KH950i, KH965, KH965i & KH970, In conjunction with either of the Brother Ribbers, KR850 or KR830.
It’s sole purpose is to transfer the stitches from the ribber up to the top bed. It has no real moving parts apart from one small lever, the gadget itself is very reliable BUT both beds of needles must be sound, the top bed must have a good sponge bar and the two beds must be properly aligned for it to work without trouble.
A brilliant gadget and a real time saver, easy to use but you need a sound bed of needles both top and bottom and a good sponge bar in the top bed.
BROTHER KHC-820 SINGLE BED COLOUR CHANGER:
FITS THE FOLLOWING:
KH830, KH836, KH840, KH860, KH881, KH890, KH891, KH864,KH900, KH910, KH940, KH950, KH950i, KH965, KH965i & KH970.
It is designed to allow you to knit up to four different colours automatically. It does not knit in the floats and should not be confused with the double bed colour changer.
A useful gadget a time saver but you need to pick your patterns carefully to minimize the floats.
BROTHER KA-8310 LINKER:
FITS THE FOLLOWING:
KH830, KH836, KH840, KH860, KH881, KH890, KH891, KH864,KH900, KH910, KH940, KH950, KH950i, KH965, KH965i & KH970.
This gadget is designed to cast off your finished work automatically & it can also be used for sewing up the garment.
A word of warning this gadget is very easy to break, if you are heavy handed or impatient don’t buy one of these, you will probably break it within the first ten minutes. Now if you take your time, use the correct technique, have a sound bed of needles & a good sponge bar it is a real time saver.
BROTHER KL-116 KNIT-LEADER:
FITS THE FOLLOWING:
KH830, KH836, KH840, KH860, KH890, KH864,KH900, KH910, KH940, KH950, KH950i, KH965, KH965i, KH230 Chunky, KH260 Chunky & KH270 Chunky. It can also fit the KH230 but you must get ther special brackets for the KH230 or it will not work.
This gadget is a full size shaping device, you lay out the shape of your garment and then follow the moving chart row by row increasing or decreasing stitches to make the end shape your garment requires. The KH881 & KH891 have a built in version of this device but half size.
Some people take to this device like a duck to water others prefer to work from a written pattern. Personally I swear by this device, it is well worth the time to learn to use it.
ALL BROTHER GARTER CARRIAGES:
There are basically two types of Garter Carriage, both types are for standard gauge machines only, Not Chunky.
1. The older type KG88/89 both of these had to have a set of three rails that were laid over the rear rail of the needle bed on the machine. The set comprised of a Left, Middle & Right section. These machines were used on the older style of knitting machine that had a plain rear needle bed rail such as the KH881, KH860 & KH836. They would run on the KH910 electronic machine if fitted with a set of magnets. There were a number of older knitting machines that would not take a Garter Carriage such as the KH830 & KH840. So you need to make sure that if you are buying one of these Garter Carriages that everything is there, your machine will work with the model you are buying and the machine is in working order.
2. All the other Garter Carriages must work on the later machines with the built in garter carriage rear rail. This is a serrated rail at the rear of the needle bed as fitted to machines like the KH890, KH891 & KH864. The Electronics KH900, KH940, KH950 & 950i, KH965 & 965i, need two magnets at the rear.
The Brother Garter Carriages are an electronic machine which will work with ether the appropriate Brother Electronic machine or the Brother Punch Card machine. You must make sure that you have the correct model to fit your machine & that your machine will take a Garter Carriage. Basically the machine moves backwards and forwards over your machine, knitting each stitch. It has the ability to do a knit and pearl in one row the only other way this can be achieved when using a knitting machine is by hand tooling. The machine has the advantage of working on it’s own, you setup the number of rows required, make sure that the pattern is setup and away it will go. Obviously you have to stop to increase or decrees stitches. The machines if working correctly and setup correctly has an automatic cut-out for safety. Not the fastest way to knit a garment but brilliant results can be achieved.
The Brother range of garter carriages are now some years old and like any piece of electrical or mechanical equipment they need to be properly serviced on a regular basis by a Brother trained engineer. The garter carriage is not a simple piece of equipment, you should not confuse a cleanup with a proper service. These were brilliant gadgets but they are all getting old. Even the consumable parts such as the needle and the brush foot (sinker plate) are becoming difficult to get.
It is essential when you are bidding on a machine in the auctions that you don’t loose sight of the true value of the machine you are bidding on. Most of the Brother range of machines are over ten years old and some are considerably older but there should be plenty of years in them yet. Most of the Brother punch card machines are not a problem but allow for the fact that all of these machines now need servicing. One of the most common statements made by sellers is that this machine is working fine, don’t be suckered in by this, you wouldn’t run your car without a service waiting for a clatter under the bonnet before you take it in to the garage for maintenance. You should allow at least £75.00 plus parts at around £20 plus carriage to and from the workshop at £20. One other thing to remember it costs as much to service the older and cheaper machines as it does the later more expensive models. (The above pricing is not a quote on servicing an individual machine it is only a rough idea of costs. Your machine may have extra problems. March, 2007)
Below I have given a template of questions you should ask the buyer before you bid. Let’s look at some of the values of the popular Brother punch card range of machines:
GP: Guide Prices for a used machine fully serviced with all of it’s components and a three month guarantee purchased from a dealer a plus or minus figure for cosmetic condition must be allowed:
SBP: Suggested Buying Price, maximum to allow for the necessary work to be carried out to refurbish, and pay for the carriage (UK only). This is subject to all of the major components, tools, books & punch cards being included and no damage or broken componets. Don’t forget that it is unlikely that you will get any guarantee when you make a bid in an auction. Below is a suggested template of questions you should ask before bidding.
PUNCH CARD GUIDE PRICES:
KH830 GP: £129.00 SBS £14.00
KH836 GP: £159.00 SBP £44.00
KH840 GP: £139.00 SBS £24.00
KH860 GP: £169.00 SBS £54.00
KH890 GP: £199.00 SBS £74.00
KH881 GP: £179.00 SBS £65.00
KH891 GP: £225.00 SBS £110.00
KH864 GP: £215.00 SBS £100.00
Before you start bidding on a machine you should read very carefully what the seller is saying. Look at the photographs, no pictures don’t bid, poor pictures should raise your suspicions. If the eBay listing page is shabby & lacks information then it’s a strong possibility that the seller will not take care when packaging and dispatching the goods promptly to you. I would ask the following questions:
1. Do you have the original instruction book & punch cards?
2. Please look in the front of the instructions and you will find a list of all the original equipment that was supplied with the machine, please tell me what items are missing?
3. Is there any damage to the machine and if there is please supply the full details?
4. How long have you owned the machine and when did you last use it?
5. How have you stored the machine since you last used it? (If it is claimed that the machine has been serviced ask)
6. Who serviced it, when was it serviced, do you have the dated receipt for the work carried out?
7. In the case of an electronic machine ask the seller to switch the computer on for at least two hours to warm the unit up then ask them to test the machine by running card 1 or pattern 30 this is a one by one needle selection across the whole bed. They should be able to confirm that all the needles select a one by one pattern. WARNING: this is a very basic test and is not 100% guarantee the computer is working but it gives a very minimum idea of it’s condition. Any seller should be able to run this test.
If they don’t give proper answers to these questions I would press the seller or not bid, there are plenty of good machines coming up for sale. If the machine is damaged then find out how much it is going to cost to repair it. If items are missing find out how much the replacements are and are they available. A missing sinker plate could cost you £45, a carriage £90 to £130 so don’t treat this lightly. If this machine has just come into the hands of the seller then watch out there are a lot of eBay traders out there who are not specialists & in truth don’t have any real knowledge of what they are selling. There are not many Brother trained knitting machine engineers still working, the number of times I have had a machine on my bench that is supposed to have been serviced only to find that at best it has been cleaned and not very well. Rember the seller is looking to get the highest price possible whilst the buyer is looking for a bargin.
BROTHER ELECTRONIC MACHINES:
The Brother electronic machines are wonderful and truly give you some spectacular pattering opportunities but remember that whilst the mechanics of these machines are in essence the same as the punch card models and are easy to repair and service. The electronics on the other hand are not, there are no more new replacement computers being made and to the best of my knowledge there have not been any made for some considerable time. As I have said in previous guides the electronics wear out with age not just use and as a consequence my advice is to realise that once the electronics die then the machine is in essence finished. When I sell an electronic I always keep at least one backup computer on my shelf for the model I am selling. The price you pay should reflect this. So I would remove up to £100.00 off the SBS price when making a private purchase.
KH900-KH910 SBS: £50.00
KH950 GP: £350.00 SBS: £235.00
KH950i GP: £379.00 SBS: £264.00
KH940 GP: £350.00 SBS: £235.00
KH965 GP: £425.00 SBS: £310.00
KH965i GP: £450.00 SBS: £335.00
KH900 GP: £249.00 SBS: £134.00
KH970 Not many of these were made and there is a shortage of spare parts. Even though they may be offered as new, be very careful with this one.