In my previous post titled Making a Living in the Knitting Machine Business (click here), someone asked about the powered Branson Knitter. Here is an illustration of the knitter. It looks like a pretty nice setup, although it does seem to be an old industrial design where the power was supplied by a drive located some distance away, with power fed through a drive shaft to a belt powering the machine.

Another interesting feature of this Branson machine is the Stop Motion Attachments. Instead of a row counter, which was common among many of the machines, this machine had a cord with adjustable stops attached to a wind-up spool, which in turn was connect to the crank. As the crank was turned by the drive belt, the cord lifted up towards the bottom of the machine. When one of the stops made contact, the crank stopped. Very ingenious.

I’ve seen this type belt-drive mechanism in old machine shops. There’s even something like this in the boatyard where I keep my boat. A big steam engine powers a drive shaft, and all kinds of machinery like drill presses, lathes, and so on are connected to the drive shaft. My father even came up with something similar, although on a smaller scale and powered by a single large electric motor, in his garage.

I guess now days you’d just attach a small motor to the machine and plug it in. But back around the time this Branson Knitting Machine was sold, which would have probably been in the 1870 through 1890 time frame, small motors didn’t exist. Taken to the extreme, you might even imagine many, many machines as far as the eye could see, all powered by belt-drives. It sounds quite efficient to me when scaled up like this: