Ok, I've ordered a replacement yarn carrier for my antique sock knitting machine, and that should be here soon. In the meantime I got the thing cranking, turning one way when I had the needles in place. Only one way. But all the videos on You Tube I've seen show the thing cranking easily in both directions. In fact, that is necessary to make the heel and toe of the sock. I checked the directions I had, from back in the 1920's. Nope, no mention of something I need to push to make it reverse.
I took it apart, and took all the needles back out to examine it. Pretty simple machine. No obvious reason it wasn't going in reverse.
I put the cylinder back in place, without the needles. Forward and reverse just fine.
Put one needle in place. Yup, both directions just fine. Put in another needle. No problem. Put in the third needle...and it jams up going in reverse.
Ah ha! Pull that needle out and set it aside. Put in a different needle. Forward and reverse just fine. Gotcha!! The trouble is that some of the needles are out of true.
I went through one needle at a time, and found enough good needles to fill the smaller of the two cylinders. I can now crank around nicely in both directions. There aren't enough good needles left to fill the cylinder with the more grooves though, so I did a web hunt, and tracked down a manufacturer who makes needles that should fit my machine.
Pay Pal to the rescue. They should be on their way before long.
Now, to figure out how to kludge together something to hang the weights from...