Family Heirloom

Family Heirloom

Every so often I encounter someone with a really old machine that needs repair, or even just long-overdue maintenance. The owner is very reluctant to let the machine out of their sight, because it was a treasured gift, or handed down from a loved relative. I totally get it — you never know what can go wrong if you let it leave the house. But really, it’ll be OK. As long as you send your machine to me.

In “You Never Forget Your First” I mentioned the avocado K45 that had been in our family since I was nine or ten. Its current custodian agreed to ship it to me for servicing, because it was due. As an antique it isn’t in daily-use rotation, but it does do its fair share of work around the kitchen.

For its age (roughly 45 years old) this machine is in good condition. Some day it will need a full overhaul, including (probably) new motor bearings. Today, though, the motor was running well and the bearings were in “let’s leave well enough alone” condition.

OHAI I just completely disassembled your treasured family heirloom. It’s OK, though.

There was remarkable crustification of material in the planetary. Old age and oxidation, I guess. It actually took quite a long time to scrape everything out.

The hinge pin is almost always oxidized; polishing it makes reinsertion easier, and it’s a nice finishing touch because the ends get shiny, which makes the rest of the machine look better when it’s back together.

And here’s the finished work. This machine does have a lot of scuffs and scrapes, which I consider to be character marks. It runs great, though. Just like new.

Self-portrait of the artist as a mixer repairman.

The paint is worn off the trim band in spots, especially by the speed lever. I could replace it with a vintage one in better shape, or even with a modern one; but that wear is part of a proud family tradition, so it’s all good.

Packing your treasured machine for safe transit (even if it’s just a short car ride) is essential. You can get factory packing from KitchenAid; it takes a little convincing to get them to understand that you’re not sending the machine to them for repair, and waive the $25 bench fee. Once you’ve done that, though, you can safely ship or bring the mixer to someone whom you trust to do the job correctly. If it’s a pre-solid-state speed control, experience in working on those machines makes all the difference.