Whirlpool Cost Reductions I: Pinion Drive Bearings

Whirlpool Cost Reductions I: Pinion Drive Bearings

In the decades since Whirlpool first acquired the KitchenAid mixer product line from Hobart, they’ve made a few cost reductions.

Here is one: the pinion shaft bearing, which transmits energy from the motor shaft to the main gears.

Of note here are two specific changes: the first is that the alignment pin is now cast into the bearing housing itself (top). Originally (bottom) the casting had a hole in it which accepted a dowel pin (visible on the right-hand side). The change reduced the cost of manufacturing the bearing housing, but does not appreciably affect performance.

The second change is that the bearing material has changed. The original bearings (top) were porous bronze (“Oilite┬«”, or something similar). These bearings last practically forever.

More recently (within the last ten years or so), they switched to Delrin bearings (bottom). These are much less expensive to produce and assemble, and generally run quieter (because there’s no metal-on-metal bearing surface), but they will certainly not last as long as the bronze bearings. (I haven’t seen a worn out Delrin bearing yet, but I am sure it’s only a matter of time.)

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