This machine was in decent shape when I got it. Even now, look how it shines even though there is some age-related discoloration on the plastic. It still needed a new sponge bar. A typical problem when the old sponge bars are not replaced in time is that it corrodes all needles. So, yes, some of the needles needed to be polished.
It was dusty so I also cleaned the bed and all the mechanisms. Patterning drums and the carriage needed some Kroil-oil treatment to get levers unstuck.
The machine works really well. I tested it on a full bed with stockinette stitch (to make sure all needles perform as they are supposed to). Check out my youtube video recorded specifically on this machine, which shows all these tests. (The only thing I did not test is the knit leader. I just do all my calculations myself and as of now don’t see a need in a kinit leader for my projects. The drum rotates though.
I tested fair isle, touch and slip stitch patterning. I also did a full bed fair isle testing.
See what cam out of these experiments on this machine:
- A double-sided reversible scarf/neck warmer
And cozy, soft and very comfortable leg warmers
Some minor accessories are missing (but it will not prevent you from knitting even sophisticated things):
- No lace carriage: lace carriages are typically sold for Memo Matic Singer 360K separately.
- The machine came with only one set of punch card clamps, one set of yarn separators, one set of point cams and one silky thread/cord. Please, refer to the diagram below to know what these are. Point cams and yarn separators are only needed for single motif fair isle knitting. When you know how to do that, that means you are already very advance and by that time you will know whether you need an additional set and where to get it. Punch-card clips don’t break often but if they do, it is easy to get them on Aliexpress or Amazon.
- The machine also did not come with an auxiliary feeding cam (number 22 on the diagram below). This cam is needed when knitters knit garments with the help of knit-leader (also often called a knit radar or knit contour). I consider myself an intermediate knitter but I yet to use a knit leader. I do all my calculations myself.
Now about several imperfections on this machine.
- The tension dial on the carriage has slight dents (see below right under the handle). It absolutely did not affect my knitting, tension setup or stitch pick-up.
- Side racks (also often called as rail ends) are missing. Typically, these are plastic pieces with ribbing that are attached on each end of the bed. They can be ordered online as well. The machine actually came with them but they were so crumpled that fell off the bed instantly. So, I had to throw them away. Why I do not find them to be the critical components? An average knitter would rarely use a full bed to knit. These rail ends are needed so if your carriage to maintain the patterning of the drums when you are close to the end of the metal bed. Sometimes the carriage accidentally comes of the bed and the patterning can be messed up. However, even without these side racks, I was able to demonstrate a full-bed knitting with punch cards: I just slowed down the arrange movements towards the end-sides of the bed to make sure that the patterning drum remains on the tracks.
- I feel that on this machine, the carriage runs back and forth a bit louder than other machines even after a thorough oiling. I did not find any issues with the knitting though.
- The lid of the whole case has some chipping. The most critical is on one side (see the two pictures below).
The case, however, is still structurally intact. I simply recommend when the machine is in storage, to put it n a dry environment maybe just wrapped with a large plastic bed on the side where you see this hole.
Two other minor cracks/broken pieces are on the other side of the case lid and inside the lid where the tension mast attaches. These are not critical.
Overall pros and cons of Singer 360K:
- The patterning drums make it very easy to move the machine. They engage with the punch card mechanism very nicely without much noise.
- The manual is very well-written and I was able to follow the instructions with ease and to learn all the techniques.
- The other optional brochures included with the setup up contain information on the settings for punch cards to achieve certain pattern as well as how to knit garments of various shapes. I know these are available online, but when one knits, it is always nice to have a hard, high-quality, copy handy. All brochures could be found online.
- Easy-to find replacement needles since these models are relatively “newer” ones. I get mine on Aliexpress.
- The tools are pretty standard and are pretty interchangible with other models. All tools fit into a built-in box on the left-hand side of the machine.
- Some might find having the built-in knit-leaders very handy: there is no need to have a separate long setup laying around – in this setup all fits into one carrier box
- Includes an optional lace carriage
I found that putting this machine to storage and opening and closing is much easier than multiple brother machines I had a chance to struggle with. There is a very clear schematic on the cover with the order of how placing the parts together. I found this extremely helpful as putting these machines away is often a big frustrating struggle.
- The carriage has a release lever (earlier Studio/Singer models do not), which is very convenient when a carriage needs to be removed from the bed in the middle of knitting if it gets stuck. In earlier models without this lever, one needs to unscrew the sinker plate and then lift the top cover of the carriage to remove the carriage from the bed.
- Built-in row counter.
The cons are:
- no timing belt, which might make the carriage movements somewhat hard depending on your tension and knitting pattern and technique. It was not a problem for me at all but after 200 rows of knitting my garment my hands and arms were a bit soar. Well, I guess this is how I can substitute my work out now.
- The most significant flow in my mind is that the patterning drums often get stuck if not oiled regularly, especially when not used for a very long time or put into storage (I restored already two OTHER machines where the drums were simply shut… They needed soak in an oil bath and some heavy-duty disassembling). To avoid this problem, put some light oil regularly on the patterning drums.
- Unlike Brother punch card machines, lace carriage is in a separate box. So, just one more thing to keep track off.
- The row counter dial is at the end of the bed. Not too inconvenient but I personally prefer the row count to be right in front of me – not at the end of the bed.
The machine is currently for sale in my Etsy store.