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.
My in-laws have an ornament on their drive, in the shape of a 2001 MGF roadster. I say ornament because it’s fairly stationery, all of the time. Even so, it’s battery gets topped up once in a while and the engine turned over when the urge presents itself. Because the car isn’t used, the battery’s only means of charge is via a plug-in charger, my father-in-law occasionally hooks up.
The battery charger in question is an Ultimate Speed (Lidl brand) universal battery charger. They’ve been on sale in the UK for a number of years at the £15 (approx.) mark. They’re really good value as they allow ‘smart charging’ of car and motorcycle batteries without the risk of damage at a fraction of the price of the ‘big brands’ or a replacement battery.
However, this charger decided that it wasn’t playing anymore and refused to offer it’s charging services when recently connected to the MG’s flat battery. On it’s way to the great bin in the sky, I managed to divert the charger via the workshop.
Once connected to the mains, the standby light illuminated, indicating something was actually happening, but upon connecting the low voltage side to a battery, making a charge selection via the single push-button switch, nothing changed and the whole unit remained on standby. Pretty annoying.
Luckily, I have the triangular screwdriver required to undo the six screws that hold the (IP) ingress protected casing together. Triangular screw heads are annoying and pointless as they prevent, in my opinion, people with a basic tool set having a go at a repair like this. If you do fancy getting one of these tools, they are easily available on Amazon and eBay.
FixItWorkshop, March’18, Ultimate Speed (Lidl) Battery Charger, all components cleaned before reassembly.
On with the fix. With the casing opened up, my first port of call was with the switch itself. Past experience has taught me to 1; start with the easy stuff and 2; these push to make switches fail all the time. They’re in everything from door bells to cookers at the moment and when faulty, make the most expensive item and expensive paper weight in the blink of an eye.
To test the switch, I connected the charger to the mains and hooked up the low voltage end to a battery and simulated the button push switch by shorting out the switches connections on the circuit board. Hey presto, the charger worked perfectly, every time. The switch either needed repairing or replacing.
Because I’m a skin-flint, I opted to see what could be done with the present switch. With care, these switches can be prised apart, using a sharp knife and the insides cleaned. I took the switch apart which revealed nothing more than slightly corroded switch surfaces. I can only assume that the product’s bold IP rated claim is a little over exaggerated and that some damp had wriggled its way to the switch and mucked it up. With a cotton bud and switch cleaner, the switch surfaces scrubbed up like new and I re-assembled the switch lever and securing plat using a soldering iron to re-melt the plastic nubs holding the switch together. No one would ever know it had been in bits.
With the circuit board returned to the housing, all six screws done up, the charger was back to rude health once more and ready to tend to the stranded MGF.
Readers of this blog (I know there are millions of you) will recognise this golf trolley and I’m pleased to report that my first repair, the one to the motor, is still working perfectly. However, the owner of the trolley contacted me with a (funny) problem. Whilst recently enjoying a round of golf on the local fairway, the trolley decided to, by itself, begin to edge away from the second tee and then with some speed, head off in to the distance, without any operation of the dial switch, situated on the handle. Whilst this seemed funny at first, I remembered that the motor on this trolley had the kind of torque that, coupled to small gearbox and wheels on a heavy frame, could do some serious damage, left unchecked.
Original photo taken in Aug’17, below.
Unlike many modern electric golf trolleys, it doesn’t feature GPS guidance, remote control or amazingly, a dead-man’s switch, which seems like a major safety oversight to me. I’d have expected either a kill switch or dead-man’s switch* fitted to the handle on a trolley like this as the runaway scenario could never occur due to fail-safe nature of the switch being operated. With one, the trolley would only run when the operators’ hand was on the handle or cut out when the kill switch is activated, as with the saftety cord mechanism, on a jet ski for example. Perhaps the Mk2 Hillbilly Compact featured this.
*For example, a dead-man’s switch is usually fitted to something like an electric saw where the operator must old a handle-type switch to make it run. Once the operator lets go of the handle, the motor automatically fails-safe and cuts-out.
On with the repair. The trolley features some exposed connectors and cabling and it seemed sensible to check the continuity of the cables running up and down the handle shaft, as repeated trolley folding might have caused a problem with the wiring. Fortunately, the cabling was OK.
The owner had mentioned that the handle, where the speed control switch is located, had got wet in the past, which made my alarm bells ring.
Opening up the handle, which only required a basic tool kit, revealed evidence of water damage and corrosion to the speed control terminals. Luckily the owner of the trolley had stocked up on spare switches!
FixItWorkshop, Feb’18, Hillbilly Compact handle.
FixItWorkshop, Feb’18, Hillbilly Compact switch.
Removing the existing switch revealed intermittent continuity and varying amounts of resistance, which was not good. A fault most likely to have been caused by water ingress or excessive shock. The owner had supplied two ‘new old stock’ (NOS) switches. Which one to fit?
From time to time, it’s downright sensible to either fit NOS or second-parts as they’re usually cost-effective and are more likely to fit over pattern parts. But time can also affect apparently shiny parts. This was a case in point. I knew that the switch should vary resistance from open circuit to 10KOhms in either direction from COMM. The old one didn’t and one of the ‘new’ parts only went to 2KOhms, so was not in specification. Luckily, the remaining NOS switch worked fine and once refitted, and the handle reassembled, the golf trolley was ready to make the job of carrying clubs easier, once again.
Cost of replacement trolley: ££££ Cost of repair; £10 plus time. Moral of the story; don’t assume NOS parts will work. Test them first.
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…