The cranking sock machines are a round cylinder that sits on a round base, (it fastens to the table with clamps.) the base has gears on it that mesh with gears on the cranking handle on the side. Inside the cylinder is a cam shaped like a hill and a valley. The cylinder has latch hook type needles on it that are lifted up and down as they pass over the cam. causing the latches to close on the yarn and knit each stitch. (that's a pretty simplified explanation, hope it's clear. ) Since the old type CSM's are no longer made they are getting more and more expensive. A good restored one costs about $1000.00 or more, depending on the machine, but it will hold and increase it's value as long as it's in good working order. I bought 2, a bargain one from ebay and a restored one. My lessons are on the restored one, Dh and I will tinker with the other one once I get the hang of the working one.
It's a bit risky to buy one on ebay, but it didn't cost us much, if it is a dud, we can part it out and recover our $$. (The refurbished one came with 6 lessons) Quite a bit costlier than standard sock knitting, but I will probably be able to crank out enough socks and sell them to recover my cost of the machine, pay for the yarn I use, and eventually make a few $$. Dh hopes to be able to use the other one. We both knit, love antiques and are intrigued by the history of these well built machines that are still in working order.
Some of them are over 100 years old. Ours are from around the 1930's. We figure if it turns out to not be our cup of tea, we can sell what we bought and not take a loss. But so far I'm liking it pretty good. I was surprised my first pair turned out so well.
I'll keep you posted on this new adventure.