Hello World!! This is me, a freshly refurbished/cleaned KH 551!!!
This particular machine had seen its days before I acquired it. but still work really well, and will continue to work well after I thoroughly cleaned it and removed most of the rust.
To realize in how good of a share this machine is – let’s review a little bit of its history.
Brother KH551 machines first introduced to the market in 1960s. That makes this machine 55 years old!!! It might have been the first push button machine (with 4 buttons) with somewhat patterning capabilities (not involving 100% manual needle selection and manipulation).
I thoroughly checked the push buttons and their needle selection mechanism and was able to produce herring bone pattern (see below – sorry hard to see because I selected this white fuzzy yarn). But the fact that it could knit the fuzzy yarn says a lot!! Fuzzy yarns often require some additional loop jumping but this machine handles it like a pro!!
Patterning involves not only pushing the correct buttons but also some buttons on the carriage itself – which also work great! You press the buttons (1 through 4 on the right-hand side) and turn the ratchet to SET. This action selects the needles and pushes them forward. Watch it in my video – the way it happens is simply fascinating!!!
You will see some cracks and imperfections on this old lady (including some discoloration of the plastic components) but they absolutely do not affect the working mechanisms of this machine. POSTSCIPTUM: I change the handle on the carriage and fixed the bent lever:
The carriage looks like almost new now:
(BELOW IS AN OLD PICTURE – just in case you want to compare cracks and crannies ) (and for my reference as well)
Some minor rust spots are still present underneath the bed (see the picture below).But I decided against extensive brushing, which would remove too much of the good metal around the rust and induce and accelerate the corrosion further.
One accessory is missing – a small box called a “picker”. I guess it works like a small carriage to pick certain needles and to move them in certain position during initial needle picking. But it is absolutely not a critical part.
+ Carriage is very light and slides very easily
+ The bed is narrower than other machines – which makes it more compact
+ …and makes the machine lighter than other similar models
+ relatively easy deep cleaning – all parts are solid and straightforward to insert/assemble/disassemble
+ The needle count is engraved on the bed – so these slippery and constantly in the way paper liners showing the needle count won’t annoy you by constantly sliding and getting lost.
+ Threading the yarn is a bit more intuitive and straightforward in my opinion
+ built-in capabilities for 3 different yarns
+ the hard case is a combination of fake leather and plastic, which makes it not only look neater and nicer than other machines but also mode durable. The case shows absolutely no discoloration despite the age of this machine.
- The push-button mechanism helps to select the needles but every row, you need to change the needles selected (basically turn the ratchet tool to SET and OFF). It might be tedious and you need to keep track of the correct order.
- Some might find the machine too simple – yes, it has only limited patterning capabilities. However, with manual needle selection and yarn manipulation the possibilities are endless.
Overall, I think this machine is excellent for somebody who wants to simply knit blankets, scarves or for people who find punchcard mechanisms and electronic mechanisms too overwhelming. It is also excellent machine for beginners since it is very robust and simple.