About this Guide:
I have written this guide to help you understand the Brother range of Knitting Machines. It has been written from an engineer’s point of view to help you place a realistic value on a second hand machine and be aware of the possible pitfalls. I have not tried to cover all of the features in each machine, I may do that later in another guide. I do not guarantee the time line accuracy of the models but it should be near enough to help you if you are trying to buy a second hand machine. I have confined myself to the more popular models that you may see for sale and kept away from the old machines. The machines I have listed were UK models some countries may have sold the same machine under a different model number.
I must make it clear I have written this guide from my memory, it may not be 100% accurate. I am giving you my opinion, I accept that others may not agree. I accept no responsibility for any mistakes what so ever. The age of these machines given is very approximate and is based from the date of writing this article 29th October, 2006.
I have been a machine knitter for over twenty five years. I have been selling & servicing machine knitting since 1985 when I started my first shop. My husband is a Brother trained Knitting Machine engineer and does all of our repairs & servicing. Now I specialize in supplying and servicing the range of Brother Knitting Machines. I have probably the largest range of spares and second hand refurbished Brother Machines in the UK. I have designed and published nineteen pattern books for machine knitting.
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Non-Punch Card Machines:
Brother KH 588: Very old machine. We don’t sell this model. The average age of this machine is thirty plus years. Can’t use the Brother Garter Carriage. Virtually no accessories available.
Brother KH710 A later model but very limited in it’s specification. The patterning is via push buttons system, row by row. We don’t sell this model. Average age twenty plus years, but sold by catalogues up to approximately fifteen years ago. Can’t use the Brother Garter Carriage. There are virtually no accessories available other than the KR710 ribber.
Punch Card Machines:
Brother KH830: The first of the 24 stitch punch card machine. Basic 24 stitch punch card with lace carriage, it has a limited spec. They made several different versions of this machine the difference mainly being in the mechanics. The early versions were heavy to push but all of the models are sound machines and will give years of service. Because of it’s age they should all need to have a full service. Average age twenty plus years some were still being sold approximately fifteen years ago. Can’t use the Brother Garter Carriage.
Brother KH840: 24 stitch punch card machine. Same sort of age as the 830 but has a slightly better specification, it is capable of doing a single motif automatically. A nice machine but again these models are getting on and will almost certainly need a full service. Can’t use the Brother Garter Carriage.
Brother KH860: 24 stitch punch card machine. This machine has the full specification same as the KH881 but without the built in Knitleader. A nice machine but again these models are getting on and will almost certainly need a full service.
Brother KH881: 24 stitch punch card machine. This was one of the best machines that Brother made in the punch card range it had the best specification of it’s time. It included a built in Knitleader (patterning device), a lace carriage. It was a very popular model with the machine knitter who wanted to knit for profit. I can’t prove it but I think this must have been the best selling machine of it’s time. Because of their age again they nearly all need a full service, some of them may be in poor shape because they have been thrashed and used by a professional knitter, be careful when buying. Approximately fifteen to twenty years old. The case is prone to UV light staining.
Brother KH836: 24 stitch punch card machine. This was a much later version of the KH830. It was sold as a budget model so they took out the Lace Carriage Set and sold it as a separate accessory. Unlike the KH830 it will take a Garter Carriage (must be the correct model). Approximately ten to fifteen years old. A really nice budget model it should give years of service. Brother made & sold loads of this model. It may need a service.
Brother KH890: 24 stitch punch card machine. This was the later version of the KH860 it had the built in Garter Carriage rail (it takes the specific Garter Carriage for this series of machines). A very nice model, prone to UV light staining. In my opinion, in good condition along with the KH891 they are the best punch card machines made. Approximately ten to fifteen years old. The case is prone to UV light staining.
Brother KH891: 24 stitch punch card machine. This was the later version of the KH881 it had the built in Garter Carriage rail (it takes the specific Garter Carriage for this series of machines). It has a built in Knitleader (patterning device). A very nice model, prone to UV light staining. In my opinion, in good condition along with the KH890 they are the best punch card machines made. Approximately ten to fifteen years old.
Brother KH864: 24 stitch punch card machine. Think of this as a KH890 without the lace carriage set. One of the last punch card machines Brother made. Nice machine but not so many of these around. Approximately ten plus years old.
Brother KH910: 60 stitch repeating pattern plus single motif. The first of the electronics they made two different versions of the electronics of this machine. They use a Mylar sheet with a special pen to create the patterning, in my opinion this was never a brilliant system, it used a special sensor to read the pattern which could be a bit hit and miss (some machine worked fine others, not so good). With time this system tended to degrade. You can see some hi-bread machines that have been converted to have a KH 950/950i computer. Approximately twenty to thirty years old. In my opinion I feel these machines are now time expired and as a consequence I do not sell them, however I have a considerable number of spares for these machines.
Brother KH950: The first of the 200 stitch repeat patterning machines, however it still relied on the Mylar sheet technology for you to design you own motifs and patterns but here is the good news it has 550 built in patterns which you can take sections out of to create your own patterns. When buying you should bear in mind that Brother no longer makes the pattern cases/computers for this model, so if it goes down then you must hope to be able to get a replacement from a company such as us if we have one on the shelf at the time, it will almost certainly be a second hand unit. Approximately fifteen to twenty years old. When you buy one of these machines you must make sure that you get both the instruction book and the Stitch world pattern book, this gives you a complete colour pictorial lay out of all the built in patterns. You can buy this book on disk but it’s not as good as having the book. If you get a nice one its a good machine.
Brother KH950i: Up to 200 stitch repeat patterning with single motif. This was the same as the KH950 but they added the facility to use an external mini computer device called a PPD which is used in conjunction with your TV set to the VCR channel, this virtually meant that you could forget the Mylar sheet and it’s problems and make your patterns with the PPD (you purchase the PPD is a separate accessory) Approximately twelve to fifteen years old. When you buy one of these machines you must make sure that you get both the instruction book and the Stitch world pattern book, this gives you a complete colour pictorial lay out of all the built in patterns. You can buy this book on disk but it’s not as good as having the book A good machine, plan to use the built in patterns or a PPD not the Mylar sheet. If you get a nice one its a good machine.
Brother KH940: Up to 200 stitch repeat patterning with single motif. This was one of the first machines to do away with the Mylar sheet and rely on it’s 550 built in patterns. You can also design your own patterns via a black and white button system, a little slow but effective. When you buy one of these machines you must make sure that you get both the instruction book and the Stitch world pattern book, this gives you a complete colour pictorial lay out of all the built in patterns. You can buy this book on disk but it’s not as good as having the book. Has the facility to take the PPD cartridge (not a direct link). Approximately twelve to fifteen years old. If it has been looked after, this is a nice machine.
Brother KH965: Up to 200 stitch repeat patterning with single motif. Very similar to the KH940 but some advances in computer design. No Mylar sheet, 615 built in patterns, takes a PPD cartridge directly into the machine. When you buy one of these machines you must make sure that you get both the instruction book and the Stitch world pattern book, this gives you a complete colour pictorial lay out of all the built in patterns. You can buy this book on disk but it’s not as good. It should also have a supplement to the stitch world. Approximately twelve to fifteen years old. If you get a nice one its a good machine.
Brother KH965i: The same as the KH965 but again the computer has been up-rated to take information from the FB100 disk drive. Approximately ten years old. If it has been looked after, this is a nice machine.
Brother KH900: This was a budget electronic. 24 stitch repeat patterns with single motif, it has 50 built in patterns and will take a cartridge from a PPD. It is a cross between a punch card and a electronic. It normally comes without a lace carriage set, this was sold as a separate accessory. Approximately twelve years old. If it has been looked after, this is a nice machine if a little limiting for an electronic.
Brother KH970: This was the last electronic machine made by Brother. It is totally run by the computer, even the row counter. It has 665 built in patterns. I can’t give you an accurate date when they stopped making this machine but at a guess it was about five years ago. Now I am still seeing these machines being sold as new but don’t forget the clock is ticking on the computers whether they are being used or not. Some of the pricing I have seen on this machine seems to be a little on the high side for a discontinued model that has very limited spares availability. I don’t know the exact number of the machines sold but it is not high.
Brother KH230: A plain chunky knitting machine, no built in patterning but a good work horse if you are happy with plain knitting or hand tooled work. Not too much to go wrong in this machine. About fifteen to twenty years old. A real good working machine if a little limited.
Brother KH260: 110 needles 24 stitch repeating punch card machine with single motif. It can knit most reasonable size garments it only has 110 needles because you are using much thicker yarns. A big solid machine but you can brake it, some of the yarns particularly the acrylics are very strong and in clumsy hands you can do damage to the machine very easily. A favourite machine with the knitting for profit users, so watch out for excessive ware and tear. If you get one in good condition it is a very good machine, about fifteen years old. It needs to be serviced more frequently than its standard gauge counterpart. In good condition this is a super machine, don’t forget to allow for the service costs when you buy this model.
Brother KH270: Electronic Chunky machine has 288 built in patterns and prevision for you to make and store your own designs. This is the only chunky electronic made by Brother. In my opinion this was not one of their most popular machines. About ten to fifteen years old. I don’t see many of these for sale and I have a limited amount of spares for this machine, as a consequence I do not put as higher cash value on the unit as some others do.
Additional information 08,May,2008:
It has been drawn to my attention that there are some electronic spares still around from when Brother were still selling Knitting Machines in the UK. I understand that these may be available from one or two retailers but a word of caution, I guess this stock will be at least the same age as when Brother stopped marketing and distributing machines, some time in the late 90s or early 2000, most of this stock is almost certainly considerably older. You should be aware that electronic components age as well as wear out so the clock is ticking on any electronic stock on the shelf the same as when it is installed in a machine. Electronic components of any type have an undetermine shelf life, they do not have to be used for them to deteriorate and become time expired, a lot depends on how they are stored, I frequently see machines that have been in store with very little or no use but the electronics no longer work. As any computer engineer will tell you PC components suffer from the same problem.
I am happy to answer your questions.
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Guide 1: HOW TO BUY A SECOND HAND MACHINE
Guide 2: BROTHER ACCESSORIES EXPLAINED
Happy Machine Knitting
Kind Regards Carol Callow HKC Knitting Machines
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