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Restoring an elderly knitting machine

Our textile business was started by my Grandfather Harold Stanier who bought his first knitting machine in 1921 and began producing fabric in his front room.

To begin with he made fabrics for garment manufacture, but in the 1950's was making aerospace-grade filtration fabric. We were still manufacturing these until John Stanier wished to retire in 1999 and sold our industrial fabric knitting business to an experienced knitter in Hinkley, Leicestershire. 

They relocated our productive machines to their factory but left behind a number of machines, buried away in New House's dusty corners ever since.

knitting head at nht ltd

Our project is now to restore them back to working order and first up is an old single cylinder knitting machine. It's paintwork is a bit tatty but don't be fooled as we've now got it working perfectly ....except it doesn't have a motor. 

side view of new house textiles knitting machine

However, we found an unused Italian-made motor in an old cupboard. We couldn't fit it on the motor plate as it had 90 degree gearboxes, when we needed a direct drive.

So last week we paid a call at APT Powerdrive in Burntwood, Staffordshire who were really great and sorted us out. At first they thought (like us) that we needed a new gearbox, but after a clever bit of thinking chose to modify what we had. Their friendly technicians spent hours, carefully showing us how to dismantle our box and reassembling it correctly. They charged us just for the parts and were amazing - we'd recommend them to anyone! 

apt powerdrive factory

atp new motors

apt workbenches

working on gearbox

adjusting the gearbox

With our motor now sorted we are now eagerly awaiting a modified bracket and safety guard which a local engineer is making for us.

knitting head at nht ltd

This machine is a single cylinder knitting machine with latch-needles that rise and fall with a rotating cam box. Please ignore the grubby fabric in the photo as this is just running-on cloth that all knitters use to get their machines started. With it's new motor this little machine will be knitting like a good'un.  

running on cloth on nht knitting machine

back of nht knitting machine

Restoring this machine back to working order is a hobby for now, but we've got a number of other machines and knitting heads waiting to be brought back to life.  

Modern knitting machines work much faster than old ones, but need 'better' yarns to cope with the speed. Our old warhorses might be slow but can put-up with much more fibre irregularity and produce more interesting textiles.

Once up and running, it'll be interesting to let New House's clever designers see if we can use them to produce some interesting new textiles! 

Inspiration

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