Top tips for keeping your petrol strimmer running like a ‘Rolls Royce’
Make sure the fuel you have in the tank is fresh and not from three years ago (it goes off)
Keep the spark plug gap set within the manufacturer’s tolerances
Lubricate all moving parts lightly with a generic spray oil each time you use the strimmer
Someone got in touch with a strimmer that would not start. Anything that involves moving parts and petrol always gets my attention, so I accepted the challenge. Once in the workshop, I tried to start it using the pull cord and as predicted, it wouldn’t run, not even a cough. A little bit of carb cleaner sprayed in to the barrel, a pull of the starter cord and the engine did fire, suggesting that the engine could run. More analysis was required.
The strimmer had not been started for many years, so the first job was to remove the old fuel from the tank as old fuel goes off after a while. The engine on this strimmer is a two-stroke design, so the special two-stroke oil must be pre-mixed with the fuel in the right proportion before re-filling the tank.
While sorting the fuel out, I noticed the first fault. Both flow and return fuel pipes were cracked and one had come apart in the fuel tank, meaning that no fuel would flow to the carburettor. No fuel, no work.
To start most petrol strimmers, mowers and chainsaws from cold, a petrol primer pump is usually used to fill the carburettor with the right amount of fuel and this one was no different, but in this case, the pump was cracked.
After fitting some new fuel lines, a fuel filter and primer pump, the engine fired up and ran well again, ready for more garden work. See slide show.
Cost of replacement: £80 and up. Cost of repair: £7.53 plus my time and custard creams.
Another Chef enters the workshop with a smoking habit that’s hard to kick.
Top tips for keeping your Chef running smoothly, for longer:
Keep all moving parts free from dirt and old cake mix
If the feet are squashed, change them. The gap allows airflow to the motor
Keep the hinge mechanism lightly lubricated
This A901E Chef had a developed a smoking habit. Due to age, one of the capacitors had failed on the speed control circuitry making a lot of smoke while in use. An adjacent resistor had also split in half during the failure.
Despite a smoky situation, there was hope for the Chef.
Removing the motor on these mixers is pretty straightforward. Just remove the blender accessory power take off cover and remove some screws. Lift up the top half of the mixer on the hinge and you’ll get access to the base of the motor area. After you’ve removed the belt, the motor should come out. There’s a bit more to it actually, but there isn’t much holding that motor in.
The later A901E features a better speed control circuit than the earlier A901 and it’s also made on proper circuit board, rather than just soldered-together components.
With this machine, the correct repair kit was obtained and fitted, so the circuit was as good as new and wouldn’t smoke anymore.
I treated this Chef’s motor to new motor brushes since the old ones were worn. I also fitted new feet, as the existing ones were squashed and one was completely missing.
I was about to sign the job off , when I noticed a small tear in the outer cable flex. I couldn’t let the Chef out of the workshop like that, so I had to replace it with a new piece.
After some fettling, the machine was running like clockwork, once again.
Cost of replacement: £000s. Cost of repair: £12.74 plus my time and several ginger nut biscuits.
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.
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 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.
I’ve repaired a few Kenwood Chefs recently, but this one seemed worthy of a mention on these pages as it’s slightly different to the ones I’ve repaired so far.
FixItWorkshop, May’18, Kenwood Chef Excel A902/A904.
FixItWorkshop, May’18, Kenwood Chef Excel A902/A904, front.
FixItWorkshop, May’18, Kenwood Chef Excel A902/A904, label.
Many Kenwood Chef accessories are usable on Chefs from all eras, due to logical thinking by the designers over the years and this is something to be applauded as it reduces waste. For example, the beater on a 1970s machine will fit one from today. An interesting fact for any occasion.
I’ve repaired many A701s and A901s, but this was the first A902/4, so I thought I’d share some of my repair experience in order to help others.
The owner contacted me explaining that she’d been using the family’s cherished Chef to make a cake when a plume of smoke started coming from the mixer. The smell was bad and she’d quickly disconnected the unit from the mains. The owner then contacted me to ask ‘was the Chef worth repairing’? Of course it was!
I suspected the infamous speed control components which tends to fail with age. However, this model featured extra components all mounted on a neat printed circuit board (PCB) which is fixed near the motor. A reasonably priced repair kit, with new rubber feet was available online so I ordered one up straightaway.
Opening up the A902/4 is a similar job on many Chefs and after removing a few screws, the motor and gubbins is available for maintenance.
As suspected, two out of the three capacitors on the PCB had blown visibly, due to crystallisation and general fatigue, so these needed to be replaced.
As all the components are PCB mounted, each part must be de-soldered first, contacts cleaned before re-assembly which is time consuming, but satisfying and even though I’ve done this kind of work many times before, I always take a couple of photos and mark wires with a pen or label, as it’s very easy to make mistakes later.
The kit included replacements for the faulty bits, plus some additional parts which should be changed as a matter of course. I also chose a kit with replacement rubber feet for the machine as the ones fitted had squashed ‘flat’ with age, a very common problem with the Chefs of this vintage.
New components fitted, the motor ran sweetly once again, without smoke, wobble or extra noise. It’s worth noting that the A902/4 is quieter than earlier Chef models and is probably worth seeking out if you’re in the market for a second-hand unit.
Another ‘happy little Chef’ leaves the workshop.
Cost of new machine: £400 plus. Cost of new parts: £15.24 plus my time.