Reproducing the Gearhart Knitting Machine

The Machine
Back in 1888, my great grandfather invented a knitting machine, founded the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company, produced over 200,000 machines, and employed an army of 40,000 home-workers to manufacture socks for sale all over the world. By the time the company had stopped production in 1925, Joseph was a very wealthy man.

Of course, its too bad the company didn’t continue. Otherwise I’d probably be a very wealthy man also.

Fast forward to 2010, to a small machine company out in Missouri. The Erlbacher Gear and Machine Works has been run by Peewee Erlbacher for 50 years. He recently came across a Gearhart Knitting Machine and marveled at its engineering genius (his son’s words). So, it looks like he is going to reproduce the machine.

Wow!! I say. I’d been tossing the same idea back and forth for several years now, but given all my family and work commitments as well as the startup cost of machining, I have not had the energy to start the job. But Peewee has a great running start with his machine shop, so it will be very nice to follow his progress and help where I can.

Here is a blog run by Grayson Erlbacher Check out the progress. Looks pretty good!

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4 Responses to Reproducing the Gearhart Knitting Machine

  1. Noel Rickard Erlbacher says:

    Mark, enjoyed your article. You might enjoy checking out Grayson on facebook. You’ll be in for a surprise! I HER mom. Actually she is the youngest of five daughters! and a busy one she is. Will follow the whole project though I keep telling them I am a sock knitting machine—me and my four bamboo knitting needles.

  2. Jan Gunderson says:

    I inherited a Gearhart Knitting Machine from my great grandmother. It is complete as far as I know and still in the wood box it came in. Is anyone interested in buying it?

  3. Linda Plummer says:

    I have a 1914 Gearhart knitting machine but I don’t know how it is threaded, could you help me with that? I found your family history very interesting and thank you for sharing,
    You can also contacted me on face book(Linda Plummer).
    Sincerely, Linda Plummer.
    Phone # 541-852-7835

  4. Christy Cannon says:

    I just found a Gearhart knitting machine in my parent’s barn. It probably isn’t complete, but it has all the letters from this woman to the company. She was on consignment in 1925 and she sent them 12 pair of socks, and she got paid $4.29. It is a great piece of american history. My husband is a machinist and he is amazed at the machine.
    Best regards,

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