Needle bed

Knitting Machine Adventures

My aunt was given a Toyota KS858 knitting machine and 506 ribber that had been in a friend’s relative’s garage for umpteen years. It came with what seemed to be most of the accessories, but was missing a manual and punchcards. On a visit in the summer I found a copy of the KS858 manual online and we muddled through trying to set it up, neither of us knowing what we were doing. The end result looked like it should work, but we couldn’t get it to knit properly.

So whilst passing through on our way to TeenTechs South Yorkshire and Humberside Dad and I picked up the knitting machine and accoutrements. Inspired by various knitting machine hacks such as Electro-Knit and Gelsomina as well as machine knitted projects like knitted music videos, Dad and I had in mind to hack some computer control onto the punchcard mechanism. But first to get it working!

I found the service manual on eBay and proceeded to dismantle the machine, partly because it had been sitting unused for so long and also partly to understand how it works a little better. Pretty soon I discovered the first problem – a broken pattern board clip meant the upper needle selector buttons didn’t engage properly.

Whilst brainstorming ways to fix or replace the broken part, including 3D printing a fix or trying sugru, Dad came across this gem of a video on how to use superglue and paper to fix hard plastic parts:

I call it ‘superglue mache’ and it seemed worth a try. I cut out pieces of paper to fit the broken part as best I could, followed the video and left it all to dry overnight.

Whilst waiting for the superglue mache to dry, I experimented with the innards of the needle selection mechanism and found the needles didn’t move smoothly into and out of the A position. Most advice I could find on the web suggested checking the needle presser bar sponge as a first port of call for seemingly any knitting machine problems. It took me a while to locate the needle presser bar, but once I had it was obvious the sponge definitely needed replacing – the surface was level with the metal housing with indents at the position of each of the needles. Again eBay came to the rescue with these replacement needle presser bar sponges. There was a fair bit of effort involved to remove the old sponge, scraping it out with a stanley knife and using some WD40  and wire wool to try and remove the adhesive but the replacement kit was easy to do and was well worth it.

Et voila! Smoothly moving needles.

The superglue mache fix worked a treat. Trying to fit the rod through the fixed part caused the piece of paper bridging the two prongs to tear, but with a careful application of another layer of paper and glue over the tear with the bar in place the repair is nice and strong, and the buttons now all give a satisfying click when switched.

The next immediate problem was that even with all the buttons of the pattern board ‘off’, the 1st needle was being selected. Working through the service manual (very useful to have!), adjustments of the selector pin spring, holder and drive plate positions resolved it.

Now, time to try and knit something…

11 thoughts on “Knitting Machine Adventures”

  1. Hi Hannah!
    I’ve just been given a Toyota knitting machine model 858 that my mum had been given by my dad, but which she had never even removed from the box!
    I’ve not had a chance to remove it yet, but wondered if you’d been able to get knitting yet? I’m not a knitter at all and wondered if you would share photos of what you’d been able to produce so that I’d get a better idea of what to aim for. If you could post tips on your blog I’d love to see how you’re getting on. Best wishes, Steph

    1. Hi Steph,

      I did get the Toyota knitting eventually, and have since added a couple of Brother machines to my collection which I’ve tended to use more. How have you been getting on with yours?

      I’ve made a few projects as gifts on my machines, I’ll have to take photos and post about them.

      Happy knitting!

  2. I also have been given a Toyota ks 858 I have found several of the pattern levers don’t click and I think it may have an awful lot of fluff in it I was going to strip it down to clean and repair it can I ask is it very complicated and is the service manual really any good

    1. Hi Hayley,

      Sorry for my incredibly slow reply! The service manual is really useful, it gives you the correct order in which to take the machine apart and also has trobuleshooting suggestions and alignment requirements. Did you strip your machine down and get it working?


  3. i was wanting to know the price for just a basic model that i can learn on and then get a bigger model later

  4. I’m super impressed you were able to use the service manual to get your machine up and running! I have a Toyota 950 and managed to get it knitting stockinette, but I can’t get the punchcard mechanism selecting needles. I find the service manual is a little overwhelming/unclear. But you’ve inspired me to have another go at it — thanks!

    1. Hi Ally,

      I’m so glad I inspired you to have another go! Did you have any success?

      I have since added several brother machines to my collection and had to take them apart too, with only service manuals from older models available. The trick was to take lots of photos of every step and keep the removed parts in order.


  5. Hi Hannah, I’m impressed by the work you have done with the “superglue mache”. I like this! I have the same problem with my Toyota ks858, I’d like to give a try and repair it the same way you did, but the youtube link seems to not work. Can you explain what did you do with the paper and superglue, please? Can you PM it to me, please, please, please? I’m waiting for my needles to come and my KM is still in pieces, so I’d do it now.
    Thank you for your post!
    I have another one question, maybe you would know the answer- I do not have a lace carriage for my KM, do you know if the lace carriage from other Toyota KM ie 747 would fit?

  6. Hello Hannah, great work!
    Not sure how old this thread is but my team struck an interest in your line of work for a project that we have on hand. Please contact us for more info and discuss further what we’re looking for. Thank you!

  7. Come across your site whwn looking for help with my Toyotas Ks650 and Ks950.
    But your name really popped out at me. Would you mind sharing
    your background, so maybe I can find a connection.
    Thank You!Ruth Napier

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