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.
Dimplex DX300T heater gets repaired in the workshop.
I acquired this Dimplex heater as the previous owner had reported that it had tripped their electrics and smelled of burning, it was perfect material for the workshop. The owner had given up on it and I felt like I could give it a second chance. This is the usual way we end up with much of the stuff in our home.
FixItWorkshop, March’19 Dimplex DX300T heater with timer.
FixItWorkshop, March’19 Dimplex DX300T heater.
Now, this heater is only a few years old and on the face of it, it looked in reasonable condition, with just a couple of scratches, so it would be a shame if I couldn’t get it working.
With electrical faults like this, I always check the basics; the condition of the flex and mains plug etc. I then measure for resistance to earth from either live or neutral to see if there has been any electrical shorts, that would have triggered the reported fuse incident. All clear.
Through the top heat vent, I had a quick look at the inside of the heater to see if any stray paperclips or other metallic item had found its way to the heating element or wiring creating an electrical problem, again, all clear.
Upon checking the mains plug again, something didn’t seem quite right. It felt a little ‘warped’. I’d already checked the fuse for continuity via the live and neutral (there was resistance), but it was time to take it out to have a proper look. The plug on this heater was a ‘moulded-on’ type, with no screws and the fuse carrier was accessible from the outside, should it need replacing. Upon levering the fuse holder out, the plastic carrier sheared off, revealing burned plastic and signs of melting. The plug was toast.
I decided to break the plug cover off and see what was going on. The plug had ‘run hot’ for some time causing the casing to melt and smoulder and the excess heat had probably caused excess resistance, exacerbating the problem, making the previous owners’ electrics to go pop.
With the cover ‘broken off’ the plug, I was then able to cut back the internal connections and remove the cable from the mouldings, without sacrificing the cable length, which was a good job as the flex was quite short anyway.
I always keep a few replacement ‘quality’ mains plugs in the workshop for occasions like this, as not all moulded plugs are terribly well made and the melted one I had here was a good example of what can happen when the quality of the plug can’t match the potential current flow required. The heater is rated at 3K Watts (max), which would mean a current of 12.5 Amps, which is close to the 13 Amps fuse fitted. Poor quality materials and connectors would generate excess resistance and therefore heat. The resistance was probably detected by the sophisticated minature circuit breaker in the previous owners’ electrics board, which was a good job as who knows what could have happend if the plug had been next to something flamable.
With a new plug fitted, the old fuse re-fitted, the heater sprung to life and didn’t seem to draw excess current when checked. A nice cheap fix and I didn’t even have to take the heater apart.
Cost of a replacement heater: £50 (circa) Cost of repair: One cup of tea.
I like the classic, function-over-form design of this heater. Simple, clear, chunky controls and nothing included that isn’t needed. Less is usually more.
This 1980s heater, although very well made and clearly designed with longevity and repair in mind was a little bit, er smoky.
It appeared that the fan wasn’t running and the smoke was coming from old dust which had settled inside the machine. I don’t think that the heater had been used in many years.
The heater came apart very easily, just three self-tapping screws holding the sides together to the main shell.
On first examination that the shell was out of shape and that it had come in to contact with the fan itself, forcing it to far down the motor shaft on to the motor body. So, all that would be needed would be reposition the fan and re-shape the outer heater shell, a simple fix then. Not quite.
The motor did not spin easily and even with a little penetrating oil on it, it was turning slowly, with the mains applied.
The motor was an induction type, with no brushes and didn’t obviously have anything restricting the motor’s spin. I know that even apparently clean motor parts can have deposits of unseen oil and muck that can stop an otherwise good motor from working properly. In situations like this, I tend to use brake cleaner or similar to break down the dirt. Once cleaned, just a couple of drops of sewing machine oil on the moving parts and that usually cures things. I was in luck and after performing a mild service on the motor, it was spinning at full speed once again. Quite literally warming.
With the parts all back together, the heater was ready to run for many years to come.
Cost of replacement: £15.00 Cost of repair: £0.00, one cup of tea and a Bourbon.
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.
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).
This Kenwood Chef developed a nasty little problem. The failure smelled expensive and the Chef even puffed out some smoke when it began to fail, it would operate, but noisily and badly, so it to the workshop it had to go.
It was in decent overall condition and has loads of accessories, so definitely worth saving since a new one is over £300 new.
Since the speed control circuitry is a common failure on models of this age, it seemed sensible to start there. On this unit, access wasn’t a problem and the issue was quickly diagnosed. Both capacitors had failed (spectacularly) and one of the resistors had become weak by about 20 Ohms or so. Repair kits are readily available online for those who are willing to save these excellent machines, so after removing the faulty components, new items were fitted.
Another little annoying problem with the Chef, was the main drive belt. It was intermittently rubbing the main plastic body of the unit, making a horrible sound and melting some of the casing (only cosmetic). The motor mounting spacer had compressed on one side causing the belt to not run correctly. This was fixed with a small washer to correct the belt’s alignment.
With a little bit of grease, WD40, Brasso, contact cleaner, repair kit and washer, the whole job took a couple of hours (including fettling time) and cost me under £8. Definitely worth the effort considering the price of a replacement Chef.
Here’s a picture of the new components fitted in situ…