The Kitchen Aid stand mixer is the most popular large home mixer in the United States. It is a fine piece of equipment, big and powerful, and easy to use. Like most equipment and tools, it requires a bit of care to ensure that it works properly and for a long time. Like most equipment, it frequently doesn’t get even this borderline level of maintenance.
I replace the grease in the gear heads of my KA every year or so. It’s a one hour job, gets me a little messy and, when it’s finished, yields a lot of satisfaction. This photo shoot is a step-by-step record of how I do it. This is my own personal method; you may find better ways to accomplish the same ends, or you may decide to skip a step or two.
Since we are going to be taking the machine apart, you should take a look at a schematic of the mechanical parts and get an idea of the general layout. Here’s a link to the SEARS SITE which shows the internals.
Enter your model number in the box at the top right and then on the next screen click on the entry under Browse Subcomponents case, gearing and unit.
There are five things that are critical in this operation:
1. Place a baggie around the plug and secure it with a rubber band. This is called Lock Out Tag Out.
2. Be sure not to stress the wires connecting the lower and upper parts of the mixer.
3. Be very careful not to damage the gasket that seals the upper gear head.
4. Don’t mushroom the two small pins that secure the inner gear and the outer gear head.
5. Do Not remove the two dime-sized black screw covers on the sides of the mixer body. These hold the brushes for the motor. You can break your mixer if you take these covers off and remove the inner workings.
Other than that, it’s very simple.
Here’s a link to a lady’s story of how she repaired her KA mixer.
Tammy of Food on the Food
You will need these tools and supplies:
- A small Phillips screwdriver, #0 is good, #1 works.
- A medium Phillips screwdriver, #1 or #2.
- A medium blade screwdriver.
- A small utility knife such as the breakaway blade knives sold in hardware stores.
- A supply of popsickle sticks or other scoopers.
- A tub of grease. Any grease will do; I use wheelbearing grease from NAPA or Sears. $4 a pound.
- A spray can of brake cleaner or other heavy duty, true, degreaser. If you have access to a parts cleaning cabinet, great.
- A supply of paper towels or rags.
- One or two small bristle or other type brushes. I use soldering brushes, available at a hardware store for about 50 cents each. Old toothbrushes work well, too.
- A small dish or bowl to hold the parts you remove from the mixer. I save the small plastic condiment containers from order out food, the ones that they give you mustard and sauces in.
First step. Login to THE SEARS SITE and find your mixer following the instructions on the site. Look at the diagram for the gear head and planetary. That’s what we’ll be working with, so you might just as well print it out so you’ll know what’s what and what’s where.
Here’s How I Do It
|Here’s a shot of the mixer and all the tools you’ll use. An old toothbrush is useful as well, but I didn’t have one. I have a can of brush cleaner to clean small parts with. Be sure to have the windows open wide or, better yet, work outside.|
|Here I’ve just put the plug in a baggie and tied it up. I do this to prevent someone from accidentally plugging in the mixer and turning it on during the work. I know this sounds far-fetched, but stranger things have happened.|
|The back of the mixer. You’ll be removing the two small screws so you can remove the chrome strip.|
|The back cover. We have to remove this to get to the ends of the chrome strip.|
|The mixer with the chrome strip and back cover removed. The small screws go into the box.|
|Take a blade screwdriver and place it at the top of the metal ring. Then tap it gently. Move the screwdriver around the ring and repeat. You may have to do this for a minute or two, but eventually the ring will fall off. You’ll be rewarded with reminders of just about everything you’ve made in the mixer since the last cleaning.|
|Here’s the ring, as promised.|
|Gently lay the mixer on its side. See those four screws? They have to come out. That black disc just above the black knob is the brush cover. Don’t mess with that. Or with the one on the other side.|
|Removing the screws.|
|Now for the planetary housing, also called the snout. This has to come off.|
|Take the small Phillips screwdriver and gently tap the pin out of the planetary housing.|
|Gently separate the planetary housing from the body of the mixer. You may need a bit of round-and-round, but it will come off.|
|The interior of the planetary housing. This is the old grease. It’s very sticky and doesn’t smell all that good.|
|Another shot of the grease. If you think this is bad, wait’ll you see what’s inside the main housing!|
|The inside of the planetary housing. Use the blade screwdriver to remove the five screws around the gear.|
|Gently work the case apart. When you get it apart, be very careful not to stress the three wires at the back of the mixer. Be very gentle on the gasket in there.|
|As my British friends would say, “Bloody lovely!” This is the main drive gearing. There is a lot of old grease here and it’s very tough and sticky. Don’t worry, we have the means to remove all of it. The gear on the right is the fail-safe gear. It will fail if the mixer gets stuck.|
|A shot inside the housing. The large gear on the left drives the accessories. The small worm-gear on the right is the main drive gear. The hole between the two gears is where the main planetary drive shaft fits. Clean it out and put a good shot of grease in the hole when you put the mixer back together.|
|Scoop and scrape out the old grease. You may need a small utility knife to get some of it out.|
|Checking the old grease for metal shavings. I didn’t find any, so there isn’t anything very bad in there.|
|The planetary responds nicely to cleaning.|
|Outside, starting to clean the gearing. We go outside because we will be working with some things that we must work with in the fresh air. See that gear tower and the two screws? There are three of them, one of them hidden on the other side. Remove them and remove the gear tower.|
|Tower out and out of focus. Guess my arm’s too short … Well, you get the idea.|
|As you examine the tower, notice the small pin through the shiny part of the gear. Use the small screwdriver gently to drive the pin out, then take it apart. You may have to soak it a bit in cleaner. Note the position of the gear relative to the housing. It will fit only one way when you put it back together. When you get it all apart, this is what you’ll have.|
|Gear tower clean and back together. A good sign; it means the job’s past the half-way point.|
|Cleaning the main housing. The cleaner may splatter a bit as you clean the gearing and housing. The gearing, on the left, looks pretty good.|
|Cleaning the ring gear. Use the cleaner and the brush to get all this stuff off.|
|Here’s the clean ring gear.|
|Back inside. Put grease on all gears and on the shafts.|
|Position the gasket and assemble the body.|
|Replace the two sets of screws: the 5 in the gear area and the 4 in the body.|
|Grease all over the ring gear.|
|Position the planetary housing and gently install the pin. You may have to fiddle around with the pin and the shaft to get them to line up. Don’t worry — they will line up.|
|Replace the chrome strip and the back cover and we’re done. Here it is, cleaned up and back in service.|