This is my Brother KH551 machine tested and cleaned in October 2022.
The machine passed all my tests. I tested how needles move during their push-button selection and tested slip/part and tuck stitch patterning. I tested how this machine knits on a full bed using somewhat challenging yarns: boucle, fuzzy (mohair-like), and yarn with boucle-like specs. All knitted fabrics looked beautiful.
I installed a new sponge bar, checked ALL needles, ran several tests on them to make sure all latches are moving freely, and replaced all damaged needles with new (aka, from old stock) or with refurbished ones. After all this, I typically knit on the full bed to ensure that I did not miss anything while inspecting the needles. If needles do not knit properly (which I judge by the defects in the knitted fabric), I replace them.
I did not see any defects in the fabric – please, refer to my video for details.
The machine came to me with several accessories missing and without a hard copy manual.
- The hard copy of the manual can be found here;
- The toolbox which stores all accessories did not come with this machine. I placed all the tools in a bag and securely attached it to the bed for easier transport during shipping
- I typically discard the oil/grease that comes with these old machines because of their age. I recommend using gun oil, which can be purchased here.
- The small bag that stores the needles had to be thrown away. It is simply a container that holds them and is not critical
The sinker plat yarn hangers did not come with this machine. See page 19 in the manual on what these are needed for. I feel that their use is pretty specific – for plating. I consider myself an intermediate machine knitter and I am yet to learn this plating technique. I also feel that these yarn hangers can be imitated by a simple paper clip.
All knitting machines have their own characters and this one was no exception. I felt that it is somewhat more sensitive to tension or maybe I was just testing it with a challenging yarn. So, I discovered that it liked slightly more than average tension. I had to hang the weights to the corners of the knitted panel every other 10-15 rows or so. I needed to pay A LOT OF attention to the tension in the mast and adjust the tension on the dial. In general, on all machines, all projects will require several tests and swatches to determine the best yarn/tension combination.
Because this yarn was a bit more sensitive to tension, I am including complimentary claw weights (see the picture below, they are typically NOT included with a standard KH551 set).
Let’s talk about the imperfections of this machine:
The needle selection tools also had seen their days. But they still feel smooth to the touch.
My video shows some minor bents on the case.
The most annoying imperfection to me was a twitching row counter. I tried to fix it, oil it, and replace parts – to no avail. I feel that the plastic rotating gears wore over time and make the numbers twitch a bit when transitioning from 9 to 10 and from 19 to 20. I did not notice this twitching for other transitions. The operator simply needs to nudge the row counter during these transitions to keep the correct row count.
Overall, I would definitely consider having KH551 in my machine collection. It is a sturdy and hard-working machine. I hope its new owner will think so too.
Read more about this model in my previous posts on Brother KH551.