Barbara and Carl came over today, and along with John and I, we figured out how to change the sponge strip in a Brother 350.
The Brother 350 is a lightweight plastic bed machine that I find quite nice to carry along as a portable. It's easy to use, inexpensive on the used market, and fun for beginners. Instead of a sponge bar, it has a strip, and if it isn't knitting properly, the strip is likely worn out. It takes some finagling to replace it.
I currently have a couple of these, one of which needs a sponge strip, and Barbara and Carl brought another over that needed a sponge strip. Foam rubber simply deteriorates over time. I had looked online to see how to do this, and we dived in and did the job on my dining room table while we all chatted.
You know, it's kind of fun to change a sponge strip with three other people whom you enjoy!
John remarked that once we did this Brother 350 sponge strip, I could do it again on the one I have that needs a new sponge and film it for YouTube. I hope to do that.
We started by turning it upside down and removing all the metal brackets. There are brackets that hold clamps and brackets that hold the three sections of plastic bed together, and we needed them off so we could get to the sponge strip. The sponge strip, which was worn flat, was easy to pull it out.
After that, you can flip the machine over and remove all the needles. We had three of us working on it, so it went fast. We'd pull the needles out to hold position, close the latches, and pull them out. Next, John put them in denatured alcohol to soak them clean, and we went to work getting the sponge strip in. This was the hardest job. Carl had the bright idea of attaching a string to it to draw it into the little channel, and even then, he had to patiently work it through, doing one section of the machine at a time. He showed me how the sections clipped together. While he was wrestling with that and then putting the clamps and brackets back, Barbara and I worked on the needles, with her drying and then me oiling the latch on each one. We had put our hands in old, worn out cotton socks. I was using a gun oil that's safe on plastic to lubricate each latch. The needles had not been very dirty, as there was hardly any sediment left behind in the alcohol.
By then, Carl had wrestled the strip into the 350 and trimmed the extra from the ends. Carl and I each took an end of the machine and worked in the needles. As far as we could tell, the machine has just the right amount of pressure on the needles so they'll stay in place but also knit easily.
One of the things we talked about was how easy it would be to combine two machines to make a very long bed, perhaps to knit seamless afghans.