How To Make A Knitting Machine Needle Retainer Sponge Bar Part 1: Remove The Old And Clean For New
Knitting machine sponge bars are not cheap.
By the time you add in taxes or shipping, they can easily cost over $25. Multiple this by a few machines plus matching ribbers, add in the fact you should change your bars every few years, and it quickly becomes cost efficient to put up with a bad one. You cross your fingers and hope the beast works well enough. It usually won’t.
I needed a simple, inexpensive solution that would be as identical as possible to the original sponge bar.
Why Make Your Our Sponge Bars?
Considering our beloved machines can last for decades, while foam is unlikely to live past the age of 5, having a way to make a new needle retaining bar can mean the difference between a working machine and one that must be trashed. Most dealers, when you can find one, only carry bars for widely used and “current” models – that means Brother, Knitking, Studio, Singer, and Silver Reed made since the mid 1980’s.
After making almost a dozen sponge bars out of different types of sheet foam, fusible interfacing, and readily available water based glue, I’m here to tell you it is relatively easy and well worth your time. They work great, look just like the ones you can buy at retail, and cost less than 50 cents in materials per bar.
If there is any downside, it is that your $10-15 investment in foam and interfacing will make over 30 bars. Even I don’t have that many machines. If you belong to a guild, consider a Sponge Bar Party to use it all up with friends.
Tools For Cleaning
To begin, you will need a few tools. I used a razor blade to cut each end of the material from the plastic clips, a flat tip screwdriver to scrape dead foam, Goof Off to dissolve old glue and permanently stuck foam, and a pair of gloves to protect my hands. Q-tips, toothpicks, and paper towels scooped up the mess.
When we get to the next post, you will need a marking pen, ruler, packing tape, steam iron, razor blade or rotary cutter, and a cutting surface. That’s it.
If you don’t have Goof Off, try generic lacquer thinner from your local hardware store. Denatured alcohol, though great for cleaning machines, was worthless for me in removing old sponge bar glue. My can of Goof Off cost $3.98 at Lowe’s and will clean several dozen bars.
How To Clean
To start, take a razor blade and slice through the foam down to the metal bed on both ends.
Don’t worry about the foam under the plastic clips. It can stay there.
Now pull off as much of the icky foam and top material as possible. You’ll get about half of it. The rest will be stuck.
With a screwdriver, scrape at the remaining dead foam. If the sponge bar is really old, its texture in spots will seem moist and rather disgusting.
The foam loves to cling to the side walls. Use the screwdriver here as well. Don’t worry, you won’t be able to get it all off by scraping alone. Clean it as best you can.
You will want to do this next step outside in a well ventilated area. With gloves on, dribble the Goof Off into the tray and let it set a few minutes.
A little Goof Off goes a long way. DO NOT fill the tray with it. All you need are enough drops to soak into the stuck glue and be totally absorbed.
The remaining foam and glue will start to dissolve and turn it into a jelly like mass. The hardest part is waiting the few minutes for the Goof Off to do its thing.
If you start to poke at it with a toothpick too soon, you will fight the liquid and it will seem like it isn’t working.
As the metal bar gets cleaner, switch to Q-tips moistened with the Goof Off for a final cleaning.
As the jelly like mass accumulates, dump the goo onto a paper towel. Make sure you dispose of everything outside.
I use a plastic grocery bag and leave it open for everything to evaporate before putting it in the trash can. Goof Off is flammable. Please read the can for safety.
Your bar is now clean and shiny and ready for new foam.
Next post we’ll cut foam to size, glue it in the bar, apply fusible interfacing, and secure the ends with a small piece of packing tape.
- How To Make A Knitting Machine Needle Retainer Sponge Bar Part 2: Cut and Glue Foam
- How To Make A Knitting Machine Needle Retainer Sponge Bar Part 3: Fuse Interfacing, Tape Ends, And Reinstall
- What Is A Knitting Machine Sponge Bar And Where Is It Located?
- How To Take Apart A Brother Punch Card Knitting Machine
- How To Clean An Apple iMac Mighty Mouse
July 18, 2008