Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Death of a KitchenAid – Replace with?


Snadra
 Share

Recommended Posts

A few words on the actual mixer problems ...

I think the majority of mixers break from abuse. Few people understand how fragile the transmission of a planetary mixer is compared with the direct drives of machines like blenders and food processors. You can demolish a 90 Quart hobart by throwing frozen sticks of butter into it ... it doesn't happen often because the people who own these know how to use them. I don't think this is the case among people here on egullet, but if you read some of the complaints elsewhere on the web, the posters don't inspire much confidence.

A source of real mixer problems is that KA doesn't instruct their customers to properly break in the mixers. I've heard from more than one technician that the food-grade grease in the gear housing is extremely viscous until it warms up. In a new mixer it will have settled into the bottom or sides of the gear box where it is relatively useless. If you unpack a new mixer and make a full size batch of low-hydration bread, you are possibly taking years off the life of the mixer. The mixer should run unloaded for many minutes, preferably in a warm room, and should be used for a few light duty tasks before being worked hard. This will liquefy and distribute the lubricant properly.

Among the real flaws that have caused mass headaches for KA users is the plastic gear housing issue mentioned by Ericthered. The earlier version of the "professional" bowl lift mixers had a thermoset plastic gear housing (earlier mixer designs used the chasis of the mixer itself as the housing, which was solid but made assembly and service much more labor intensive). The housing would get hot under load, distort, let the gears fall out of alignment, and then gears would break left and right and the housing itself would fail. This was a disaster for many people who used the mixer for what it was advertised for. KA eventually found a contractor that could injection mold the cover from magnesium. This material is rigid, heat-stable, and dissipates heat efficiently (it even has a built-in heat sink). That problem was solved. It only persists in that KA refused to acknowledge the origninal design as a flaw, and so they will not offer the new cover as a preventative measure (it's a drop-in replacement) nor will they tell you what serial numbers use the old vs. the new part. At this point, though, it's very unlikely that you'll get a plastic one, even from the refurb store. I got my mixer as a refurb and the first thing I did is pop the cover to check the gear box.

The remainder of the problems seem to be sample variation. The gears in these units are not industrial quality. They spin on bronze friction bearings, not sealed ball or roller bearings, and there's a fair amount of wiggle room. The gears themselves are not precision machined. It follows that a certain number of mixers made this way are going to fall outside of spec and have more problems than others. Unfortunately, and once again, if you demand Hobart quality you'll pay Hobart prices.

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recently cracked open my K5SS that must be 15+ years old at this point. The planetary was choking on even tangerine-sized balls of dough, and I figured I must have cracked some teeth of the nylon sacrifice gear. So I picked up a replacement worm gear for around 5 bucks, and some KitchenAid spec grease. It was easy to open except getting the planetary off of the drive shaft which was made difficult because it turns out I had sheared off the pin fixing the planetary to the drive shaft at some point. Got it all the way open in short order after that. Everything on the "gears side" was easy to identify and eminently self-serviceable. Once I cleaned out most of the old grease (I replaced it with the new grease) and got a good look at the nylon worm gear, it was clear that nothing was wrong with it. The entire problem was the sheared drive shaft pin. Two-dollar part. Everything north of the planetary is now reassembled and I am awaiting the new pin.

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Checking the bread forums recently, I've come to the conclusion that, aside from commercial machines, the only home machines worth using for heavy bread doughs are the

Bosch mum 662 ( Ebay ?)

or

Assistent Original - now being imported into Australia by Blackwood Lane - Call Angela on 03 9563 3255 ( they are friends of mine but you will find Angela great to deal with ).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

If anyone in the UK is looking for a mixer Nisbets (www.nisbets.co.uk) currently have an offer on for the larger heavy duty Kitchen Aid K50 mixer for £395 which is cheaper than many people charge for the smaller Artisan - they only have them in grey or white though. I've just bought one for mixing dough (mainly I make sourdough bread) and beating egg whites for macarons. I haven't tried it out yet but I'm hoping the slightly bigger motor (325w instad of 300w) will help a little with the over-heating. It also comes with an extra stainless steel bowl and has a bowl lift mechanism rather than the tilting head on the Artisan. Kind of wish I'd read this thread first though because I may have bought a second hand Hobart instead.

Edited by KaffirLime (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

I did buy a Kenwood A901. I purchased it for £35 pounds. It was aesthetically in a very good condition. When I switched it on I though I smelled some burning. Nothing much. I then went and mixed some bread dough in it and after a little while started smoking. I've searched on the internet and apparently some capacitors do become faulty. After opening it up, one of the capacitors was cracked. I bought new ones on ebay for £6 and my friend soldered them in place. It seems to be working fine now although I haven't tried mixing dough in it yet. The mixer is apparently about 30 years old!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

This seems to be the most recent thread with messages concerning the plastic gear housing on KA professional 6-quart stand mixers, so I guess it's the best place to post this update.

I had no idea there was a problem with the mixer I bought circa 2006 until quite recently, when I bought the meat grinder attachment. It had always done just fine for my weekly big batch of cookies, and the sandwich bread I make using the machine is a pretty liquidy dough, so that was never a problem, but apparently the grinder taxed the plastic housing a bit too much. For a while, things were just great - made some awesome sausage the first try, and then lamb burgers, turducken burgers, even!

Then disaster struck! The "worm" turned, so to speak. Big, horrible noises, and no grinding happening. DH took the cover off the machine and checked, and sure enough, the gear housing was plastic ("What the -?!"), and it had cracked. So my natural inclination was to come here, looking for answers, and what I found was discouraging - of course my machine is out of warrantee, so I guess I'm out of luck.

But wait! A little more searching on the InterWebs and I found a KA replacement parts site! For the nice low price of $12.95 plus S&H, I got myself a nice new metal housing, complete with gasket, which DH installed in about five minutes. Fortunately we caught the problem before the gear actually broke! While he was at it, he tightened up a couple more screws holding the top of the machine to the base, ending the annoying wiggling that was happening as well.

Yesterday I made a big batch of sausage and a bunch of lamb burgers. Now what shall I do with the $500+ I thought I was going to have to shell out for another mixer?? :smile:

K

Link to comment
Share on other sites

According to the new Cook's Illustrated, after extensive testing the new Kitchen Aid Pro-Line Series 7-qt is the best of the bunch. Comes in at $550.

I read that article last night, you beat me with the news! CI also liked the little Kitchenaid. I can report my 6 qt Kitchenaid has been sitting in the same spot on my counter since the 1980's. I've never had a problem with it.

One question: there are now paddles with (perhaps silicone?) edges to scrape the bowl as the mixer runs. Anyone have experience with these?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

interesting on CI

im a fan of most of the shows. KA is one of their sponsors, and that makes be pause a bit ....

but they were a fan of the KA food processor and used it on their show ( they had a zillion 'free' ones )

then updated their evaluation of the newer KA processor on-line in a very obscure place they didnt care for it and said why.

they since use an older Cuisinart model on the shows Prep, but face it so you cant see the brand.

better than nothing !

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PS if one is interested in the new KA Ill pass along something i discovered and worked for a few years:

after Xmas KA used to have a mail-in rebate Im guessing to clear the unsold stock in the stores. Amazon also had its own and one

might save quite a bit this way. might is the key word here.

I no longer look for this as all my friends have already cashed in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

interesting on CI

im a fan of most of the shows. KA is one of their sponsors, and that makes be pause a bit ....

but they were a fan of the KA food processor and used it on their show ( they had a zillion 'free' ones )

then updated their evaluation of the newer KA processor on-line in a very obscure place they didnt care for it and said why.

they since use an older Cuisinart model on the shows Prep, but face it so you cant see the brand.

better than nothing !

I'm extremely skeptical.

First thing though is that I can believe that the KA is the best all around performer. I've use used them for decades and for light jobs no problem, but for good sized batches of bread I think not.I have a 6 qt Pro that I've had to fix 3 times for busted metal gears. I wound up buying a Bosch Universal which has become my "go to" bread machine and that would be for bagels and pizza, both using high gluten flour. My favorite formula is a slight variation of Jeffrey Hamelman's bagels using a boiling lye dip and I've done a triple batch twice, although it's usually double.

That's where CI loses credibility with "the KA was the only machine which didn't bog down." I just don't buy that. Since I bought my machine I've gone through more than 100 lb high gluten and 75 lbs King Arthur bread flour in about a years time and it runs like new.

Is it better than the KA? No. The Pro is better for most other things and kneading less than a full batch produces sub optimal results. It's for bread, lots and lots of stiff "mixer killer" dough and I simply can't cram enough in to break the thing. CI gives it a 1/2 star for kneading. I don't think so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 years later...

My kitchenaid is not dead yet, but the part that moves the beater came all the way off today. I shoved it back on most of the way and continued with my cupcakes and buttercream, but maybe this is a sign to start shopping around. 

 

IMG_6311.thumb.JPG.cf29f9d42a4fa8bbd7a3f5616b4cb26d.JPG

 

Anyone else have this issue and successful long term repair?

 

I have the 6 quart, up to 10 quarts would be useful. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

My kitchenaid is not dead yet, but the part that moves the beater came all the way off today. I shoved it back on most of the way and continued with my cupcakes and buttercream, but maybe this is a sign to start shopping around. 

 

IMG_6311.thumb.JPG.cf29f9d42a4fa8bbd7a3f5616b4cb26d.JPG

 

Anyone else have this issue and successful long term repair?

 

I have the 6 quart, up to 10 quarts would be useful. 

 

That can be repaired. You need to replace the planetary assembly. This happens when there's a defect in the press-fit between axle and the cast part of the assembly (the part that fell off). Usually that connection lasts forever, but occasionally it fails. I think the whole assembly costs around $30 on Amazon or on the various appliance parts sites. Just make sure you get the one for your mixer (and in your color!)

 

Are you reasonably handy with tools? There are videos online that will walk you through this. You'll also need some degreaser, some new grease (don't get the horrible KA grease; get a nice synthetic like superlube), and a new gasket for the gear cover. If your mixer is an old model with a plastic gear cover, it's a good time to replace with the magnesium one. And see if any gears are badly worn. Most of the parts cost $10 to $20. The only special tool you need is a snap-ring plier.

 

I think these machines are pretty fun to take apart and work on. If you make these repairs the mixer will be better than new.

  • Like 2

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I should add that the trickiest part of this operation might be finding a snap-ring plier that's the right size. Most of the ones online are made for cars and bigger appliances; they're  too big for the KA. The people at the parts sites might be able to point you in the right direction.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a quick update, my DeLonghi branded 7qt Kenwood, purchased in 2005 is still going strong. I make bread at least once a week with it and have no issues. One formula I use fills the bowl to the very top, and I have to watch it to make sure there's no spill-over. But, I have never seen it get bogged down. I am a bit envious of the newer machines that have induction heat in the base...

Edited by Lisa Shock (log)
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...