Erlbacher Machine Questions

Questions about purchasing Erlbacher machines.

Do I want the 1:1 ratio or the Reduced Ratio crank handle?
This is the most common question we get. The Speedster has a 1:1 crank ratio, meaning that when you crank the handle one time, you get one row of knitting. Sounds great, doesn’t it? And it is great. MOST of the antique machines out there are a 1:1 crank ratio. The Reduced Ratio crank is modeled after the one on an antique Gearhart knitting machine. Now, Mr. Gearhart and our dad, Peewee, knew what a gear reduction does for a person. In short, it makes the work easier. That’s what gears do….they transmit power. A small gear to a big gear transmits more power than a same size gear to a same size gear. Think of bicycle riding. You are on a flat surface and you are pedaling big sprocket to big sprocket. Everything, is going great, until you get to a hill that you have to pedal up. With big sprocket to big sprocket all of a sudden the work becomes very hard. So….you switch gears to little sprocket to big sprocket and suddenly the work is easy again. Now, back to the knitting room. The 1:1 ratio crank is great if you want to knit a 72 stitch pattern…being either KKPP or KPKPKP. But, when you start knitting more than 72 stitches, like if you were using all 72 cylinder needles and all 72 ribber needles, then you will be working hard to crank them on a 1:1 ratio crank. Yes, it’s possible, but you will need a break (provided that you are a woman with relatively normal strength, not a man with more upper body strength). This is when the Reduced Ratio crank comes in handy. It makes the work much easier and actually pleasant. In short, the easy answer to this question is this: If you have shoulder problems, do yourself a favor and get the Reduced Ratio crank. The 1:1 crank makes you reach farther than the Reduced Ratio crank. Now, if you want the best of both worlds, you can order the opposite crank for $175. So if you are reading this and are still confused, then get the one that appeals to you more. 90% of the time, it won’t make a difference which crank handle you use. They always say that you like the one best that you started out with.
Which machine package do I need?
There are three machine packages:  Basic, Deluxe and Super Deluxe.  All packages include either a machine, in your choice of colors, and your choice of a 1:1 ratio crank or a Reduced Ratio crank handle. The Basic package has one cylinder of your choice, and no ribber.  The Deluxe package includes two cylinders and one ribber dial and assembly. The Super Deluxe package adds a second ribber dial.
All packages include a set of three stem weights, needles, buckle, double-ended pick, screwdriver, wrench, set-up bonnet, oil, crescent tool, extra cylinder spring, row counter, and wood shipping box. The Deluxe and Super Deluxe packages include ribber needles.
What is the difference between the Deluxe Machine package and the Super Deluxe Machine package?

The difference is that the Super Deluxe package has 2 cylinders and 2 ribber dials. There is one ribber arm and tappet plate. With the advent of the hybrid ribber system, there is no need for multiple ribber assemblies. Once the hybrid is timed, then it is timed for all cylinder and ribber combinations.

What cylinders should I get?

The number of needles in the cylinder is equal to the number of stitches you would cast on if you were to knit a pair of socks by hand. So, imagine casting on 60 stitches with a lace weight yarn, now imagine casting on 60 stitches with a sport weight yarn…you would have two different size socks, wouldn’t you?

The combination we sell the most of is the 72/54 cylinder with the 36 ribber dial. There are several reasons why people buy this combination.

  1. You can use the 36 ribber dial with both cylinders, it makes a 1×1 rib on the 72 and you can make a 2×1 rib on the 54. (please be aware that some people don’t care for the lacy looking top edge of the 2×1)
  2. You can get a large range of sock sizes with this combination. The 72 makes beautiful knitting with sock weight yarn, and the 54 can easily knit sport weight yarn as well as sock weight yarn for a smaller size sock.

The 64/48 with a 32 ribber dial and the 60/80 with a 40 ribber dial will give you the same advantages of being able to use the ribber dial with both cylinders.

So, in order to know what cylinders to buy, you need to know what kind of yarn you are going to use…are you a hand spinner? Then you would probably love the 54 cylinder. Do you want to use the German super wash yarns such as Opal and Regia? Then you could go for the 72, 64 or 60. Also, you need to think about who you want to make socks for…toddlers? Then a 48 would be good (but keep in mind that you can knit up to a worsted weight on the 48 and that would be an adult size sock). Youth sized? Then a 54 would be a good size. Standard ladies size?? 60-72 is nice.

Another thing to think about is this: are you going to rib the foot of the sock? For example, my husband is a size 13, I can make him socks that fit on the 72 and the best fit is one without a ribbed foot. BUT to make socks for my size 8.5 foot on the 72, I need to make a ribbed foot to pull that fabric in closer to my foot.

Do I want an “equal slot ribber”?

It depends. Some people prefer them for their flexibility and the ability to do half pitch ribbing. Others find them harder to use (because there are more slots, and can be harder to line up), and prefer half slot ribbers. In the end, it comes down to a combination of personal preference, and what you want to do with your machine.

How do I select a custom color for my machine?

You can choose a custom color by selecting the “Custom” option under color on your machine package. Then, go to https://www.prismaticpowders.com/shop/powder-coating-colors to select your color.

On the Prismatic site, look for colors that DO NOT mention  a “top coat” or “clear coat” in the description. These paints are too thick and the machines won’t function. Acceptable colors will typically say something like “this color is a polyester metallic powder coat.” An example that we could NOT do in the purple section, would be Illusion Purple, which mentions “base coat and top coat”. An example of a couple that WOULD work would be Galaxy Wave or Galaxy Purple, which do not mention a top coat. For a small shipping cost, you can order swatches from Prismatic Powders to help you choose a color.

Once you have selected your paint color, add the color name in the comments at checkout. If you have any questions, just give us a call and we will be glad to help you out.

General CSM Questions

Miscellaneous questions about CSMs in general.

Can I buy parts for my antique Gearhart machine?

Some parts will are available, however we are not sure how we are going to address the issue of cylinder fit. Obviously, an older cylinder could become slightly “out of round” over many years of storage / use and would not fit a new machined cylinder base. Some of the smaller parts, such as weights, needles, etc. will interchange with the original.

What is an “equal slot ribber”?

The standard ribber dial on an antique CSM has 1/2 as many slots as the cylinder. For example, the 72 slot cylinder uses a 36 slot dial. These are called “half slot ribbers”. By contrast, an “equal slot ribber” has the same number of slots as the cylinder it is designed for has needles. In other words, a 72 slot cylinder would have a 72 slot “equal slot ribber.” The equal slot ribber allows for more variations in ribbing, along with the possibility of half pitch ribbing, which would allow you to knit a tube with twice as many stitches as slots in your cylinder, by alternating ribber stitches and cylinder stitches.