KitchenAid CPR

My KitchenAid mixer had been making abnormal noises during the last few batches of cookies. This afternoon, while subjected to my bagel dough, it gave out entirely. Because I am:

  • curious
  • and cheap
  • and middle-aged

it would be a safe bet that I’ll take it apart to determine if I can fix it. If my 16 year-old mixer is better off as scrap metal, I’d replace it with either the equivalent model, but in flour-hiding white, would run about $229 at Amazon or, more likely, I’d rationalize the sport utility mixer with the megawatt motor and flux capacitor.

Regardless of the outcome, I get to be sort of like an engineer for part of the evening.

Let’s rip ‘er open… Pictures ahoy!

The nervous mixer awaits the “exploratory surgery.” Fear not, sturdy mixer!

The mixer slumbers as the middle-aged dude fetches his cache of tools. Woof.

Friction and a tiny pin held this planetary on the body of the mixer. I was hoping this was the worn gear.

I need to access the inside of the case. As you’ll see shortly, the base hides two of the four screws I’ll need to remove.

The “head” is detached from the body.

The screws used for the left pair are different from those on the right. This is a recurring theme for tonight.

With a little leverage from both sides, the bottom half of the assembly comes off. The left half was almost solid grease to keep the gears nice ‘n’ lubed. The right part is the electrical assembly.

This part is called a Worm Drive and Pinion Gear Assembly. The part I’ve circled is a huge concave spot where there should be flat gear teeth. The gear I’m pointing to comes into direct contact with the worm drive of the motor.

This is what the new part looks like:

Using “while I have the whole thing apart” logic, I took out the electrical components to get a closer inspection of anything that I’d need to replace. Everything on this side looked great except for the two carbon brushes. (These wear out enough that they’re easily accessible from two side screws.)
The obvious hazard of trying to prevent future work is losing subatomic-sized parts like this little pin.

The Worm Gear and Pinion Gear Assembly is a $23 part plus $8 for shipping. While I’m at it, I’ll also replace the brushes ($3 each * 2) and reapply the butterscotch to the interior. The part is on order!

7 thoughts on “KitchenAid CPR”

  1. Wow…I am suitably impressed but I have to go with John on this one: hot rod flames are *definitely* in order.

  2. Doug in Exile

    This looks amazingly like the rotator that turns my ham antenna on the roof. And the process is nearly identical to the one used to rebuild it last fall. You ARE and engineer!


  3. Brenda Helverson

    I was looking at the Kitchen Aid and was sold on the stand mixer like you have, which is reportedly much sturdier than the tilt-head version.

    However, a breadmaker friend in Richland has convinced me that a dual-beater mixer is better (he has a Sunbeam). He said that the single-beater Kitchen Aid tends to chase the dough around in the bowl while a dual-beater model traps the dough and makes it behave.

  4. Brenda Once the dough forms a ball, the hook chases/mushes it along the circumference of the bowl. Getting to that stage often requires my scraping the contents towards the center of the newly forming mass. If the mixture’s too wet, I also have to wipe the dough hook down. The bagel recipe represents the other extreme, and is stiff enough that the bowl can kick itself off its pins.

    Which Sunbeam does your friend recommend?

    John It’s too bad (for only this instance) that your neighbor has moved on. This would have been right up his alley. You and Woodstock are right that I should do something with the bland, black paint job.

    Doug! T-minus six weeks.

  5. As you’re discovering, Kitchen Aid mixers are entirely repairable, and are considered the work horses of the industry. One serious problem they have, however, and which Kitchen Aid will never admit, is they don’t do a whole lot of things effectively.

    Working at the culinary school, I had the opportunity to work with Kitchen Aid for three years, and learned a lot from them. The important thing is that no one stands behind their product as much or as well as they do. They love people to own their mixers and will do whatever it takes to keep people coming back. Unfortunately, in a world of mixers and food processors and blenders, their answer to competetition is to attempt making their mixer everything to everybody. As I had it explained to me, they want people to not feel like dopes for putting out so much money, so they advertise the mixer as being able to do *anything* which will keep consumers away from bread machines and Cuisinarts and the like.

    The bottom line is a mixer is one of the worst things you can use to make bread. It doesn’t do the most spectacular job, and it’s very hard on the motor. However, I *love* my Kitchen Aid, and would do anything for it, so I offer you these suggestions:

    1.) If you really want to use your mixer and avoid the sticky hands, use it only until the dough forms a cohesive mass, then knead by hand. Everyone thinks hand kneading is difficult, but it’s not, and it makes a HUGE difference. Seriously. The French even have a saying that translates roughly to, “you must always have your hands in the dough.” Not that they don’t use mixers, but that they’re really only necessary for big recipes where it would be impossible to do by hand. Besides, cycling doeasn’t build arm muscle, but my years of making bread allow me to arm wrestle my husband and whoop him every time!

    2.) If your mixer can be fixed, keep it, and try to keep really stiff doughs out of it, or you’ll be expending $31 on bits and bobbins more frequently. Bagel dough can absolutely be done by hand (especially after an initial run in the mixer–pull it out when it begins straining), and truly benefits from doing it the old fashioned way: knead until your arms fall off, rest the dough, repeat. Also, if you want the *real* secret to authentic bagels, they need to be taken to the stage where they’re formed, then spend a night in the fridge before proofing and baking. Honestly. Otherwise just buy the damn things!

    If you decide to buy a new mixer (and I can’t imagine WHY you would, o frugal gourmet), stick with Kitchen Aid. Seek out their professional models (not the “commercial” one) with the highest horsepower, do your research, and then buy one at an outlet mall. Kitchen Aid refurbishes all their products with a lifetime guarantee, and they’re available for half price or less. I got mine for free, but if I had to pay for the thing, it’s the route I’d take. Also, there’s nothing wrong with the tilt-head version beyond the fact that the really strong models all tend to be the lift-up kind. Personally, I opted for the former after seeing the culinary school monkeys break the lift-up mechanism on the school’s mixers more times than I could count. I’m a bit harsh with my toys, so I took the chance of me breaking it out of the equation.

    Lastly, be VERY careful with other brands of mixers. They do not have the guarantee on parts which Kitchen Aid maintains. The school I worked at decided one year to buy DeLonghi mixers because they were more powerful for slightly less money. It was a debacle. They started out beautifully, but from constant use, they went downhill fast. When our repairmen took them apart, they found plastic mechanics inside, and a quick call to the compnay found that many of the parts were irreplaceable. We had our Kitchen Aid mixers back in under three months. Obviously, these are not ideal conditions, but we really got to see what products were made of in that environment!

  6. TheaterPopcorn

    This thread couldn’t have come at a better time! The same gear broke on my Kitchenaid stand mixer only 5 days after this posting. After taking it to the repair shop where I was quoted $70 for the fix, I came home and searched the web to see if other people had similar problems with their mixers and make sure I wasn’t getting ripped off on the repair costs.

    Fortunately I ran into this blog along the way! After looking at the step-by-steps posted here, I went back to the shop and retrieved my still-inoperable mixer. Then, following the pictures, I started to take it apart. But my model was different and I ran into a few snags. So I went back to the web and after spending an hour or so searching for repair tips, found this link to the SERVICE MANUAL posted by the same little repair shop down the street!! Aparently, aside from a few minor design changes and motor sizes, all Kitchenaid stand mixers are exactly the same on the inside and really haven’t changed since the 50’s.

    Long story short: Bought the replacment worm gear for $11.95 and after an hour of work and some some very greasy fingers, saved myself $60. Dinner’s on me!

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