Once everything is clean, you’re ready to re-assemble the machine. At this point, I opted for a glass of wine. Your choice of red or white.

Open Spaces: Exploring Eyelets, Ladders and Slits is done and out for proofing and my SK860 was as dirty as a machine could possibly be. I decided to give it a good cleaning this week – and to take pictures so I could share the info with you. If you click on each picture they enlarge, which makes it even easier to see details. Remember, I am not a certified repair person so take no responsibility for your errors – just trying to help here because dealers are so  few and far between these days. That is the price we all pay for those great used buys on eBay….

This will be a long post! Couple of things you need to know before you start:

1 You don’t have to be a mechanic to do this, but plan on spending several hours and be ready to get dirty.
2 I number the compartments in an egg carton and I keep a pad of paper next to me where I write down everything I do. The numbers on the list coordinate with the numbers on the egg carton. If there are no screws or parts to remove, I leave the compartment in the egg carton empty, but I still write down what I did as a numbered step.
3 I always take cell phone photos while I work (though I used a good SLR for these shots) and make a note on my pad when I do so. You can never have enough evidence/notes/photos to guide you. Remember that what comes apart needs to go back together again with no extra parts left over.
4 My SK860 is a Silver Reed machine. Years back I took apart a number of machines with the wonderful Dave Bratz to guide me – I still hear his voice when I do this. However, I have never taken a Brother machine apart and have no idea how to do so – please do not use this as a guide for a Brother machine! They have a timing belt built into the bed that requires more knowledge than I have on the matter. Also, if you have a Silver punchcard machine you will need to remove the knobs on the top of the card reader in order to get the case off. I don’t have a punchcard here to double check, but there may also be a couple more screws – just use your head and take notes and photos.
5 You will need the following tools: metric screw drivers in 2 sizes. Studio used to sell a pair of screw drivers for the machines. You can check with Needle-Tek to see if they are still available. They may also be able to tell you what metric size to buy locally and they sell oil and parts and sponge bars and such. A magnet is handy for picking up small screws. Canned air helps clean the fuzz out of the bed, but be aware that this is greasy fuzz and will stain your clothes and furnishings! Rags, paper towels, denatured alcohol, knitting machine oil. I am not a fan of silicone because I am skeptical that I can clean off old residue as easily. Maybe a hand held vacuum. An old towel to lay the machine on. Small nut wrench and/or small pliers.
6 This is a great time to replace worn or broken parts so do not put the machine back together with damaged pieces. You can wait a week for new ones to arrive.
7 Lock the cat/dog out of the room while you work. Ready?

First, remove the 2 handle screws and put them in the #1 compartment of your egg carton. Write it down as step #1 on your list.






Next remove the 2 case screws behind the handle.





Remove the tiny screw in each of the latches. I’m not sure you really have to, but I did just in case they hold anything else. The latches stay attached to the case.








Remove 1 screw at the back on each end of the case.







Remove the top screw at each end of the case.






Turn the machine over and remove the 8 screws on the bottom of the case.






Turn the machine back over and remove the 2 flat screws at each end of the bed.






Then remove the 2 screws at each end that attach the ribber holder plates to the machine.





Its a good idea to mark which is left or right as mine were slightly different. Also note how they fit into the opening.








Slide the end caps off the machine. Just for the record, this is the part that is often damaged when shipping machines so look for damage if you bought a used machine.







There are 3 square nuts embedded inside each end cap and they MUST remain in place. I use a small piece of masking tape under each one to make sure they do. Without the tape, this is a pesky thing to line up later on so do it now.







Slide the bed out of the case. Note the position of the rubber pads so you know how to replace them later. Take them out and set aside. Start wiping up dust and crud about now!







Remove the 6 screws that hold the needle bed bracer/case mount in place. Again, note which way it lies for later. Are you taking enough pictures?






Remove the 4 screws holding each of the needle bed bracers/clamp mounts in place. Before you do, use a magic marker to mark their exact placement as this is a part that has some adjustment to it. You definitely want them even when you replace them or you will have trouble getting your ribber adjusted.








Deep breath. Turn the machine over and remove the 11 screws holding the straight edge of the needle stopper plate in place. Then remove the 3 screws along the other edge. Keep them separate just to be sure.







When you remove the needle stopper plate (previous step), it reveals the leaf spring. Take a minute to see how it is positioned so that each tine of the spring lies on top of a needle slot and the tines face the back of the bed.








Lift off the leaf spring and behold a lot of crud! Greasy crud! Also take a minute to inspect the leaf spring for damage – which happens when you badly jam a carriage. This is a part you should replace if it is damaged. Do something else until the part is ordered and received. You’ve come too far to start skimping!








Crud. Felted greasy crud. All the colors I used in the new book!






I knew just where to look on the sinker plate for these bad guys. Every time my carriage passed this point I felt a knock. I was able to GENTLY press these prongs back into line. Whew!







Remove the number strip and all of the needles. I could have done this sooner and made things easier to handle, but I thought they might give the photos some perspective and reference. If you bother to read all of this before your begin, do yourself a favor and remove them sooner. More crud. Good time to check the sponge bar for replacing and before removing the needles, push them all forward and check for bent needles – you probably stuck them in the end of the bed when you needed replacements. Time to order some nice straight new ones!










Remove the 15 nuts and tiny bolts along the front edge of the machine. I find it easiest to do by sliding the machine just over the edge the table. Chances are that if you found any lose screws in the machine this where they came from. You’re welcome! The sinker posts are snapped into the edge of the bed in pairs and may or may not stay in place when you finish unscrewing all of the tiny, hard to hold not nuts/bolts. Remember the magnet I suggested.









My sinker posts did not stay in place, which gave me a chance to wipe them down and look for bent ones. Lift the bed off the sinker plate. This is as far as you need to strip the machine to do a good thorough cleaning – get started! You might want to use some denatured alcohol to wipe things down, including the needles. You’ll be amazed how grubby everything is!








Once everything is clean, you’re ready to re-assemble the machine. At this point, I opted for a glass of wine. Your choice of red or white.







Reinsert the sinker posts into the edge of the sinker plate. I’ll bet you didn’t know that the posts are in pairs like this, which makes it so easy to replace damaged posts.







Place the bed on top of the sinker plate with the sinker posts pointing up. Replace the 15 nuts/bolts along the front edge by inserting and tightening the one on each end first to secure things and then do the rest of them in between. Make sure none of the sinker posts is dislodged in the process.








Before replacing the leaf spring, wipe it down with oil because the needles slide against this piece when you knit and without oil, the machine will bind and you could damage the leaf spring. Make sure it is positioned with the tines pointing to the back of the bed and each tine over a needle slot. A good leaf spring is essential to correct needle action.







Replace the needle stopper by screwing in the 11 screws on one edge and 3 on the other.








Replace the needle bed bracer/case mount and the clamp braces at each side of it.






We’re almost done! Slide the machine back into the case. Replace the end caps, paying special attention to the square nuts I mentioned earlier – you were warned! Screw the end caps in place and then replace the ribber mounts in each end. Replace the case screws on the top, back and underside. Then replace the screws in the latches, handle and  under handle. Replace the number strip (did you order a nice clean new one?) and the needles.

At this point the machine reminds me of my teeth after a dental cleaning – when I swear I will never eat again so I can savor the squeaky clean. Forget it – the machine needs oil and you will probably need to oil heavily for the first few times you use it to get the machine purring again. So, put some oil on a rag and liberally  oil the rail and the needle butts so they do not dry out.

At this point, I usually give the carriage a good cleaning and next time I will show you how I do that.  We will not, however, be taking carriages apart!

Keep in mind that it is never a good idea to over-tighten screws because they can chew away at the threads/hole they are supposed to secure and you also run the risk of stripping the slot at the top for next time. If you need replacement parts for Studio – and some Brother as well – contact Jerry at Needle-Tek. If you now have a better appreciation for what goes into a good cleaning and would prefer to pay someone else to do it, contact Harold Shafer at The Knit Knack Shop.

I can guarantee you that if you do clean your own machine, you will gain greater understanding of how the machine works and find it easier to diagnose problems that occur from time to time. Like I said, I knew from the way the carriage always knocked at the same place that I needed to get a look at my sinker plate. And I learned about re-oiling the leaf spring from the one time I did not and the needle action was heavy and hard.

If you do a Google search for “knitting machine parts catalogues” you will find many of them on line. If not, it would be worth paying for one so you have the right name and part numbers for future reference.

I hope some of you find this helpful and at least informative. It isn’t difficult to do, but you do need to work slowly and have patience; take notes and photos. Let me know how it goes!


  1. Jeanne Crockett on March 17, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    I found this fascinating, even though I only have two Brother machines. There are many similarities in the machines. I’m not sure I’m ready to completely take it apart! By the way, I’m sure you’ve noticed the bent gate peg in your photo showing their replacement.

    • Susan Guagliumi on March 18, 2018 at 10:13 am

      The sinker posts straighten up as you tighten all those little nuts and bolts along the front. Didn’t find anything I thought needed replacing right now.I wish I could be more help with the Brother machines, but that timing belt scares me!

      • Shelley Blackler on March 18, 2018 at 6:49 pm

        It’s not nearly as bad as the plastic ‘belt’ in the
        Superba/White Selection Box!
        Great tutorial, as usual.

        • Susan Guagliumi on March 18, 2018 at 6:50 pm

          Good grief – nothing could compare to fixing THAt nightmare. Those belts were so damned chintzy to begin with!

  2. Tanya on March 17, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    This is one of the best overall cleaning tutorials I’ve seen. Thank you for taking the time to so carefully photograph each step and write out such wonderful details. It makes it all seem less scary – just one step at a time, go slowly and carefully, and eventually you get it all done.

    • Susan Guagliumi on March 18, 2018 at 10:11 am

      Be brave!

  3. Janis on March 18, 2018 at 12:54 am

    Thank you once again for another great tutorial, it is definitely a project that will need to be done before I get a copy of your new book!

    • Susan Guagliumi on March 18, 2018 at 10:11 am

      Son! Better start cleaning!

  4. Sarah Cann on March 18, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Thank you so much for this valuable tutorial Susan! I will be printing it out and tucking it into my manual ?

    • Susan Guagliumi on March 18, 2018 at 10:11 am

      Glad you think it is worthwhile for you!

  5. phillipa bessette on March 18, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    This is way beyond any other tutorials I have seen – that you so much Susan. Love the egg carton idea.
    Looking forward to the snow disappearing so that I can sit outside and attack a truly filthy machine I purchased recently (price reflected the machine’s condition). It was used by smoker (heavy smoker I would think) and was left in a room that had not been dusted for eons. It is covered in the sticky orange layer from the tar of cigarettes, but I am hopeful that it can be rescued as the carriage still works well.

    • Susan Guagliumi on March 18, 2018 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks – just think how much you will learn from that one! I think the worst machines are the best teachers. Think about it! Good luck.

  6. Rachel Brooks on March 19, 2018 at 3:51 am

    Thank you so much, Susan! This is wonderful. I have taken carriages (from punchcard models) apart, but never the beds. It’s probably about time I did.

    • Susan Guagliumi on March 19, 2018 at 10:20 am

      The bed is a piece of cake compared to the carriages! I always struggle with getting the stitch dial housing back in when I’m done!

  7. Sara Craven on March 21, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Thank you Susan you are such a great teacher. I have a machine that was little used until I got it. Its clean but I have always thought it a little heavy……I am now wondering about the leaf spring having dried up.

    • Susan Guagliumi on March 21, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      It is possible that the inner parts of the machine have dried out but before I would take it apart, I would oil everything I can see like crazy. Let it sit, wipe it off and oil again. I’ll be posting some photos of cleaning and oiling the carriages in a couple of weeks – that might be the solution for you. Don’t be in a hurry to take things apart if the machine is clean!
      (Even tho t is a pretty smug feeling when you get it al back together!)

  8. Eve on April 27, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Thank you so much for this informative walk through, Susan! I have an SK360 that needs a major cleaning, but had no idea where to start and have no one in my area to take it to.

    • Susan Guagliumi on April 27, 2018 at 1:47 pm

      Great! Just be aware that with a punch card machine like your 360 there will be a couple of additional screws (and some knobs) to remove when removing the case. Go slow, take photos and notes and you’ll be fine!

  9. Sara Craven on December 3, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    You are such a marvellous explainer. I have spent my career rewriting information for my dyslexic students in a manner that will work for their individual needs. Your approach using different media and written explanation makes its so easy to revisit every step and that combined with the prudent egg box system allows for the weakest of working memory.
    I have taken on for my pleasure a SK600 in a most disgusting state so finding this explanation has been brilliant. Next to tackle the ‘stinking’ carriage!

    • Susan Guagliumi on December 3, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      Happy to be of help! Enjoy your “new” machine!

  10. Phyllis Lambert on December 7, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Thank you so much for the photo-post on disassembling and cleaning the machine.
    I’ve taken apart and cleaned carriages (and vintage sewing machines), but was afraid to attempt working on the knitting machine bed. Go figure.
    You’ve made this job seem straightforward. Thank you again!

    • Susan Guagliumi on December 7, 2018 at 12:14 pm

      Hope it helps. Just remember that Brother and other brands are different from silver reed!

  11. Mike Downey on February 7, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    Thanks for this very helpful cleaning blog. I’ve just had my wife’s Singer SK860 apart down down to the spring plate three times in three days, the last time to add some oil to the spring plate. I can do it in about 45 minutes now!

    I would suggest you add a warning as to how sharp the cover is. I cut a finger on each hand the first time I removed that cover!

    Also, the latches definitely don’t need to be removed from the cover, at least not on the 860.

    Thanks again!

    • Susan Guagliumi on February 15, 2019 at 1:00 pm

      Glad it was helpful!