I carry out a few Kenwood Chef repairs a year and usually, they can be brought back to full health with simple tools and repair components. I’ve not had a faulty Chef brought in to the workshop which hasn’t left ready for service. Yet.
One common theme with all older machines is that the motor speed control circuitry can fail which either manifests itself with symptoms including, but not restricted to; electrical burning smells and smoke, the motor not running smoothly or not running at all. While the failure of a Kenwood Chef may look spectacular when it happens, the repair is fairly straightforward, if you have some basic skills, tools and some patience.
This particular A901 came in with four faults; poor feet condition, cracked cowling, the speed control knob was loose and once I opened up the motor unit to look further, burned-out capacitors.
To some, this list of faults might seem a bit daunting, but it’s standard fare on a Chef of this age and to be expected after thirty plus years service. Due to the excellent design of the product, the faults are all repairable with commonly available parts.
After about an hours’ work, the feet were replaced, the motor circuitry repaired and the replacement cowling refitted. The speed control knob had come away from the motor body and only required the pin that held it in place ‘pressing’ back in to the housing, resulting in one happy mixer.
One of my aims on this website is to share my experience and best practice so for the first time, I made a video of the complete motor repair in real-time. So, if you have a Chef to repair and twenty minutes, grab yourself some popcorn, a notepad and pen and enjoy.
Cost of replacement: £150.00 and up. Cost of repair: £30 plus my time and tea.
Another Kenwood Chef A901 gets the Workshop treatment…
There’s been a steady flow of poorly Kenwood Chefs through the workshop of late and the new year started off with yet another. A customer got in touch with reports of smoke coming from her Chef A901, a machine which had given years of faithful service to her family. As a result, she was very keen to see what could be done.
As usual with Chefs of this age, the 5 machine feet had deteriorated and now resembled squashed dry Blu-Tac, so had to be replaced. I replace the feet to most Chefs that come in. Not only do the feet prevent the machine from moving all over the place when in use, they provide a gap for air to be drawn in to the motor for cooling, so it’s essential the feet are in good condition.
The feet are inexpensive and are easy to fit. If you decide to replace yours, consider coating the existing ones with something like WD-40, a few days before you try to extract the centre pin or you risk snapping it off in the machine base, as it will likely be ceased.
On with the repair. The speed control circuitry had failed, specifically a capacitor and resistor, a common problem on older machines, had gone pop. As usual, the correct repair kit was bought and fitted. With careful soldering and a dab of heat transfer gel on the new triac and the job was complete. Nice.
With any Kenwood Chef, I always check the motor end-float, the allowable spindle movement north and south. The end float in this case was a little lose and required adjustment. A small grub screw with Allen key head allows this adjustment and with a bit of trial and error, the end float was now spot-on. Poor end float on these machines usually makes the speed control ‘wobbly’, especially at lower speeds. With this one adjusted correctly, the motor now ran smoothly through all speeds.
Job done. The owner of the machine was so pleased with my work, she even bought me a new packet of Custard Creams. Fab.
Cost of replacement: £400 and up. Cost of repair: £11.24, plus my time and Custard Creams!
Another Kenwood Chef gets the treatment in the Workshop
How about another Kenwood Chef story? I know I’ve covered this machine a few times now, but I’ll try and make it as interesting as I can. I just LOVE Kenwood Chefs.
A customer got in touch with me via the FixItWorkshop ‘contact us’ link asking if I could fix his family’s much beloved Chef. While last in-use, it started smoking and smelling terminal. How could I refuse. I’m located in Worthing, but the customer was based in North London, quite a distance for a repair and would have been usually cost prohibitive using the Royal Mail. However, using local drop-off points, carriers such as Hermes and DPD offer (slightly slower) courier services for about £7.00 one way, which starts to make more fiscal sense. This is what we did.
I wish I’d taken a photo of the box the Chef came in, because the customer had clearly gone to a lot of effort to make sure it was well protected!
On with the repair.
The Chef has been in production many years and although they can often appear similar on the outside, they do vary on the inside, depending on the year of manufacture as small tweaks and improvements are made. Evolution, rather than revolution, usually the backbone of any successful design.
The A901E is different from the previous A901 as it features an electronic speed controller, rather than a centrifugal affair. While the later design is an improvement, it wouldn’t deter me from buying an earlier model; the improvement is small.
The A901E still features similar components to previous models which can and do fail, especially with age. The subject here is about 30 years old, give or take.
The motor on the A901E comes out quite easily; first remove the motor cover, remove the mains cable (disconnect first of course), remove the top cover, belt, then the four screws holding the motor in. The motor then pulls down from inside, out through the gap left by the hinge. Easy.
The motor circuit board showed traces of component catastrophe with dust and dirt left by exploding components. Nasty. Pre-empting the fault, I ordered a repair kit before I’d taken the machine apart, together with replacement feet as the ones on this machine were knackered. The kit includes capacitors, resistor and triac as these are the main components that tend to fail.
These kits are available on eBay and are worth the money as they are often cheaper than buying the components separately and they contain instructions for newbies. Here’s a little slide show showing the process.
With the kit fitted, the motor re-installed, mains reconnected, the Chef ran well again, this time without burning or smoking. However, all was not well as the speed control was a bit wobbly at lower speeds, which was just plain wrong. Having worked on a good few Chefs, this problem is usually down to excess end-float on the motor spindle. Working with the motor still in situ, the motor fan, which controls end-float could be adjusted with an Allen key. Sorted.
Just the replacement feet to fit and after a quick clean-up, the Chef was reassembled, ready to go home.
A top tip for you. If you intend to replace the feet on your machine and you probably should if they are old as they go hard or fall apart, then soak the area around the feet recesses with WD-40 or similar a day or so before as this will make getting the remnants of the old feet out, much easier.
Cost of a replacement: £400 up. Cost of repair: £12.65 plus my time and tea.
Strange noises from machines play on my mind. None more so than when that niggling noise starts to get worse. Noises like that usually mean two things. Catastrophic failure and expense.
Time to disconnect from the mains and fetch the tool box.
The patient in the surgery this week is our own Hotpoint tumble dryer. We avoid using it at all costs, but with miserable English weather and two children, getting washing turned around efficiently, ready for use is mandatory. To be frank, I’d noticed the excess whinning bearing noise coming from the dryer for a few uses, but it was getting to the point where it was hard to ignore.
Electric hot air tumble dryers are pretty simple things. They work by sucking cool air in, heating it up under thermostatic control and then blowing it in to a rotating drum. The moist air is then expelled via a filter and then hose, to atmosphere. Tumble dryer models of this kind will have the following: A motor, heater, thermostat circuitry, timer and a drum. There isn’t much to go wrong and many parts for UK tumble dryers are available, cheaply from places like eSpares.co.uk. Usually, no special tools are required if you want to have a go at fixing your machine and I recommend you do of course.
After opening up the cabinet, access to the drum and motor was available by the side panel which was held in position with several self-tapping screws and hooks. Care must be taken if you attempt something similar on your machine since there are plenty of sharp edges to watch out for. This dryer features an AC induction motor (which has no motor brushes). It has a spindle which runs through the motor with a pully one side to drive the drum via the belt and a fan the other to blow the hot air. Removing the belt and spinning the motor by hand revealed the problem. The spindle spun OK, but sounded rough.
Replacement motors are available at a reasonable £90 or so, but you know me by now, I don’t like spending that kind of money, unless I have to.
The motor is attached to the appliance with simple bolts and is removed easily. The motor is held together with self-tapping screws, which are easily accessible. Just two bearings feature in this motor; one at each end to support the load. Both bearings sounded rough, but seemed not to be worn too much. The bearings are standard items and it would be easy to find exact replacements from a bearing supplier (rather than replacing the whole motor), for under £20. However, as this was my own machine, I went for cheaper fix, to squeeze more life out of what I already had. With the dust cover popped off from both bearings, I cleaned both with isopropyl alcohol cleaner and then re-greased with quality high-melt point bearing grease. Much better.
The motor re-assembled, re-installed back in the machine and it was time to switch on. It now sounded as sweat as a nut.
If and when the bearings get noisy again (and they will eventually), I’ll replace the bearings with new ones.
Cost of replacement: circa £200. Cost of repair: My time, two cups of tea, one custard cream, a bit of grease. Not in that order.
A simple repair…. That’s what I thought when a friend asked if I could look at his Gaggia Classic Coffee Machine, which had developed a nasty little leak when in use. The coffee wasn’t all that good either, due to the lack of pressure available, caused by the leak. In short, it needed attention.
The owner had already bought a repair kit consisting of the main seals/ gaskets that commonly fail, so I thought no problem, take to pieces, replace seals, happy days. Er, not quite.
Once I’d stripped the machine down, pretty straightforward on these machines, the bare parts were exposed, which revealed the problem. After being fired up briefly, not to make coffee I’d like to point out, water could be seen escaping from the boiler unit, a alloy bodied lump of metal, split in two halves, held together by 4 screws. The boiler, as the name suggests, heats the water up with one heating element and creates steam for the steam wand, with another element, all part of the same module.
After separating the boiler halves, I traced the leak to a faulty gasket, but crucially, one side of the mating faces was heavily corroded and unlikely to re-seal with a new part fitted on its own. Remedial action was required.
This model is a few years old and a replacement boiler is still available on a few websites and prices vary from £40 to £60 at the time of writing, so at that price, starts to make the cost of repair unviable.
I decided that the face with the corrosion had enough material to withstand loosing some, so went about sanding the worst of the corrosion away before gradually moving on to smoother and smoother sandpaper.
Because Gaggia Classics are fairly common, I decided to video this repair process as I suspect the corrosion affects many machines with age and just fitting a repair kit won’t cure the problem on its own. See below. I hope it helps anyone else with the same machine facing the same problem.
Once I was happy with the new finish, I fitted a new gasket and reassembled the boiler. After putting it all back together, I purged several tanks of water through the system to remove debris, before attempting a cup of coffee. Once filled up with my favourite Lidl coffee, the machine performed well once again with no leaks and the end product tasted great.
Cost of a new machine: £249.00. Cost of repair: £4.50, plus time.
A noisy Kenwood Chef A701a gets a gearbox rebuild.
This Chef had been sleeping quietly in a kitchen cupboard for some time before being woken up to make cake mixtures once again. The owner had owned the mixer for many years from new and was sentimentally attached to it. I fully sympathise, they’re great machines. It had been used many times in the past and then packed away as new machines came and went. Having decided that there was still a place for the A701a, it was fired up.
The owner didn’t remember it being quite as noisy and wondered if something was wrong with it. She got in touch and brought it in to the workshop. After listening to the mixer at varying speeds, we agreed that perhaps it was a bit noisy and that further investigation was required.
At this stage I must confess at this repair has been on the bench for a long while..!
I think the A701 is my favourite Kenwood Chef product as it’s very elegant, beautifully proportioned and almost over-engineered. It comes from a time where built-in obsolescence was a swear word.
On with the problem. After disconnecting the gearbox by removing the drive belt, I checked the motor for general wear and tear, the brushes and speed control mechanism and I concluded that it all seemed OK and working smoothly. The gearbox however did seem a bit noisy when turned manually, nothing hideously graunchy, but a little rough. To be honest, it would have probably survived, but I wanted to open up the gearbox to make sure that it was as it should be.
Whilst removing the Chef’s casing around the gearbox, I’d noticed traces of grease around the joints and various power take-offs. All models seem to do this to an extent, but this one seemed to be quite bad. Closer inspection revealed that some of the grease had escaped out of the seal between the two halves of the gearbox casing. Opening up the casing revealed that the grease that was left had been pushed to the corners of the space within the gearbox and that the gears were a bit dry, this was probably the root cause of the noise. The planet wheel that drives the beater was also bone dry.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, gearbox before cleaning.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, before cleaning- dirty sticky grease.
Luckily, there are plenty of suppliers who can supply rebuild kits for Kenwood Chef gearboxes, including new gears and grease. The gears in this seemed serviceable, but it seemed very sensible to replace the lubricant with the correct 130g of Kenwood gearbox grease, which is food safe. I used ‘Kenwood Chef Restore’, an eBay seller and the kit was a reasonable £10.99, including P&P. The kit included the main gearbox grease, white grease for the planet gear and sealant for the gearbox casing.
Before replacing anything, the first job was to clean out all traces of the original grease which had gone very sticky and was contaminated with general wear. The first pass clean involved using paper toweling, followed by water and detergent, before a final clean with brake cleaner, which removed the last few traces of grease and dirt.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, adding new gearbox grease.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, adding new gearbox grease- note spacers.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, showing idle gear.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, new grease.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, before grease.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, planet wheel grease.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, parts before reassembly to the main body.
With the gearbox refilled and resealed making sure the spacers were re-fitted to the correct parts, the drive belt re-fitted with just enough slack, the gears sounded much sweeter with the final parts of the casing reassembled. One last point to note is that I used silicone sealant on the blender attachment power take-off plate in replacement to the one fitted, since the original seal was well past it (see below).
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, belt in situ.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, adjustment.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, cover fitted.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, silicone sealant.
As a finishing touch, I replaced the existing machine feet which had turned to mush with replacements from Sussex Spares (eBay shop) for a very reasonable £2.70, delivered.
The Chef was now ready to prepare cake mixtures again.
Cost of new machine: £300 and up. Cost of replacement parts: £13.69 (plus my time).
If your Kenwood Chef A901 starts to smell of burning, don’t despair, it can usually be saved.
I had an enquiry via this site from a fisherman who was very upset that his trusty Kenwood Chef A901 had given up the ghost. Rather than using the Chef to make Victoria sponges, it had been used to prepare fishing bait. It just demonstrates how versatile these machines are.
Whilst it was in use, the owner witnessed a bang then the smell of burning before the machine came to a halt. The plug was quickly pulled!
Whilst discussing the fault on the phone, I suspected that the fault was probably due to the failure of the motor speed control circuitry, which is known to fail with age. I had carried out similar repairs to other machines, including my own (in this blog) so agreed to take a look.
I received the machine quickly and upon inspection, the machine had obviously been cared for and considering its age, was in good condition. The smell of burned-out components was clear, lifting it out of the box.
Dismantling the machine and removing the motor on the A901 is fairly straightforward, providing you allow time and make notes on where things go. The components that need to be replaced are very accessible and anyone with moderate soldering skills would be OK with this task.
Luckily, the Chef is very well supported by long-term aftermarket suppliers and I bought an off-the-shelf spares kit at £14.10 delivered, from KAParts (www.kaparts.co.uk) via eBay, featuring upgraded components. This kit is a little dearer, but component technology has moved on since this machine was first on the market, so fitting anything else is a false economy in my opinion.
With the old components removed and replacements fitted, the motor ran smoothly and fully reassembled, the machine is now ready to mix bait mixtures once again. Lovely.
Cost of a new machine: Circa £300 and up. Cost of repair: £44.10 (kit plus my time).