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KA Mixer Died
Posted: 20 October 2011 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Julie - 20 October 2011 11:36 AM

Does it take a lot of expert knowledge?

I will let you know after I succeed or fail.  wink

So far, all it’s taken is knowledge of how to operate a Phillips head screwdriver.  I was at first stymied as to how to remove something called a “snap ring” that holds this worm follower to a drive shaft, but I Googled and learned there is a tool called “snap ring pliers”, which I ordered for $5 on Amazon.  After that, it appears smooth sailing.  I’ll try to take photos.

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Posted: 20 October 2011 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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I am really enjoying the discussion, Charles and Julie!  A fabulous baguette, too! 

I bake a great deal of bread, though the majority of it falls in the category of buns and soft breads, I do dabble in the crusty styles as well.  My nemesis at the moment is shaping the boule.  Any tips? 

My favourite is the Golden Honey Oat bread Rose has posted on the website.  I make it with 50% bread flour and 50% whole wheat—I don’t modify the water…and will of bake as rolls, smaller loaves, etc.  Toss in some browned butter solids and it is sublime!  I have made the 100% (although I omitted nuts) whole wheat before and haven’t enjoyed it as much.  One thought I may add is to make sure your wheat is “consistent”.  I’m sure you’ve considered that.  I get wheat from my dad who farms and I’ve had some fabulous loaves from the grain he’s given me, but I’ve noticed that a few “batches” were not as good as others.  The poor loaves were dense, coarser in texture, and the dough almost pasty rather than supple.  It is all hard red spring wheat and he does have it protein tested at times, but I usually just grab some when I’m visiting and there can be considerable variations in the loaves I make using grain from different crop years and fields. 

Also, I have a KA5qt. artisan and since I do bake a fair bit of bread, it’s seen a good deal of abuse.  I love it (but yearn for a larger capacity)—and the only issue I have is the silver peg that the mixer head tilts on works loose and slides out the side.  I’ve tried tightening the screw underneath, but it must be stripped because it doesn’t last very long.  The overall functionality of the machine seems to work ok, but I think it jiggles more than it used to.  I’ve never thought to replace the part (may end up doing this) since it’s a minor issue, or is there an easier fix?

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Posted: 20 October 2011 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Sherrie - 20 October 2011 03:33 PM

A fabulous baguette, too! ... My nemesis at the moment is shaping the boule.  Any tips?

Thank you Sherrie!  Ciril Hitz has a ridiculously easy way to shape boules, in my opinion.  A video is here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/breadhitz#p/u/22/RgqPli_sLLM

The boule starts at about 1:25 minutes into the video.  He basically just uses the stickiness of the dough to the counter to tighten the outer skin, similar to the way we shape round dinner rolls.

I’ve tried tightening the screw underneath, but it must be stripped because it doesn’t last very long.

Perhaps the screw jiggles loose.  You might consider a chemical thread locker:

http://www.amazon.com/Henkel-01-24200-Loctite-6-ml-Threadlocker/dp/B000I1RSNS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319126301&sr=8-1

This might, perhaps, be somewhat effective on the pin, but it’s really designed for threaded fasteners.

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Posted: 14 January 2012 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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CharlesT - 17 October 2011 04:40 AM

My KA on setting 4 is just over 100 RPM

No wonder you smoked the motor!  I think it says a lot about the toughness of the KA design that it took 5 years to do it!

KA mixers (with the possible exception of the commercial one, that costs $900, I’ve never checked on that one) are not designed to knead bread at higher than setting 2.  It is specifically stated in the manual never to mix bread at higher than setting 2 or you will damage your motor.

Slow and steady really does win the race sometimes…

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Posted: 14 January 2012 01:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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KitchenBarbarian - 14 January 2012 04:31 PM

No wonder you smoked the motor!  I think it says a lot about the toughness of the KA design that it took 5 years to do it!

The strain on the motor only partially depends on the speed setting; it will also depend on the quantity and the stiffness of the dough.  Mixing a double batch of whole wheat sandwich bread on setting “2” will put a lot more strain on the motor than mixing a half-batch 100% hydration focaccia dough on setting “10”, so the KA recommendation of “2” isn’t a very helpful guide.

When making baguettes, I’m normally making a half batch of a fairly wet dough, so I don’t agree that the “4” setting was out of line.  KAs are notorious for their gear failures, so there is clearly a design problem with their products, which is widely acknowledged on the internet.  The Cuisinart I replaced it with has no such unrealistic speed limitation.

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Posted: 14 January 2012 01:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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CharlesT - 14 January 2012 05:13 PM
KitchenBarbarian - 14 January 2012 04:31 PM

No wonder you smoked the motor!  I think it says a lot about the toughness of the KA design that it took 5 years to do it!

The strain on the motor only partially depends on the speed setting; it will also depend on the quantity and the stiffness of the dough.  Mixing a double batch of whole wheat sandwich bread on setting “2” will put a lot more strain on the motor than mixing a half-batch 100% hydration focaccia dough on setting “10”, so the KA recommendation of “2” isn’t a very helpful guide.

When making baguettes, I’m normally making a half batch of a fairly wet dough, so I don’t agree that the “4” setting was out of line.  KAs are notorious for their gear failures, so there is clearly a design problem with their products, which is widely acknowledged on the internet.  The Cuisinart I replaced it with has no such unrealistic speed limitation.

I’m glad you’re happy with your Cuisinart, it’s a fine machine too.

However KAs are NOT “notorious for their gear failures”, and what is “widely acknowledged on the internet” needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  Seriously!  A lot of those internet complaints claim that their KA mixers had a plastic WORM gear, and no KA mixer has EVER been made with anything but metal worm gears. 

It’s true that hydration, amount and type of flour should all be taken into account; however the fact remains that the KA engineers have repeatedly specified that doughs are not to be kneaded at higher than setting 2, and people who comply with this do not smoke their motors or break the break-away gear, a gear that has been present in every single KA mixer since at least the 40’s, when they were still owned by Hobart.  The break-away gear is a gear that is INTENDED to break to protect the motor from destruction when under an inordinately high load.  There is a similar part in many motors, such as the shear pin in your lawn mower which is intended to break should your blades hit an immovable object to protect the motor from tearing itself up.  It’s a high tech nylon made for high-heat, high-stress applications in aircraft.  It’s up to the task of a breakaway gear in your mixer.

Much of the hoo-hah over the “gear issues” with KA mixers comes from people who were misusing their KA mixers.  In the vast majority of cases reported on the internet, the “broken gears” and the “plastic gears” they were complaining about referred to a broken break-away gear which broke as it was designed to when the machine had been misused.  Such as, by being consistently run at higher than speed 2 with too much dough in the bowl.

If you’re very knowledgeable about your doughs, and I concede that you probably are, then yeah, you can skirt the bounds of recommended usage and usually get away with ignoring KA’s instructions.  However one should not then gripe because at some point they miscalculated and overtaxed the motor, causing to to actually belch forth black smoke.

You then continued to use the mixer for another 8 months, by your report, which again, IMO, attests to the toughness of these mixers.  In that 8 months it is no wonder that other gears in the motor eventually showed excessive wear.  Combined with your heavy usage of the machine to start with, that’s really no surprise.

I’m not sure which model you had (don’t remember if you said and it’s not really that important), but most of the home KA models are really not intended for heavy usage.  The Commercial mixer, which costs $900, is an exception to the rest of their line.  If you want something for heavy-duty use, then absolutely, get another type of mixer.  But if you have a KA and choose to use it outside of its design parameters, don’t blame KA.  They tell you up front clearly what sort of usage you can get from their mixers, and at NO POINT do they lay claim to being able to run their mixers at speed 4 with a bowl full of bread dough of any consistency.  The fact that you could and DID do that, repeatedly and frequently exceeding the design parameters, for 5 years before you broke it so badly it needed $30 worth of repairs (and then it was only a $30 repair) tells me that the mixer held up well even under heavy use for which it was not intended.

There are a lot of pretty good mixers out there in the higher price ranges; Viking, whatever the Electrolux is being called now, some of the Cuisinarts though I’m not impressed with their longevity.  Viking reportedly has been having more issues with reliability; I don’t know if that has been addressed or where they’re at right now.  Some people like Bosch.  Some people like RoboCoup.

But regardless of how the more expensive mixers compare, for an affordable under-$400 mixer, there’s nothing on the market that comes close to the Kitchenaid.  Used properly - and that means not running them with bread dough in the bowl at over speed 2 - they’ll last for years and perform well.  Sure, I wish they’d go back to the even higher quality of 30 years ago - for that matter I wish Cuisinarts of today were on par with the Cuisinart of 30 years ago - but there’s nothing else on the market in the same price range that compares.

Not saying KA is the ONLY good mixer out there; but given that you exceeded it’s design parameters for five years before it decided to make you repair it (for $30), I hardly think it’s fair to slam the mixer; rather the opposite, in fact.

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Posted: 14 January 2012 02:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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KitchenBarbarian - 14 January 2012 05:54 PM

However KAs are NOT “notorious for their gear failures”, and what is “widely acknowledged on the internet” needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

But not your denial of same?  grin 

We don’t really know what KAs design parameters were or are; the “2” setting was not a design parameter, it was a number given to consumers so that they wouldn’t exceed design parameters that the engineers used to design the equipment, probably expressed in torque. 

Whatever the design parameters were, they were inadequate.  A maximum of “2” is as unrealistic as an automobile manufacturer telling its customers not to exceed 20 MPH, and both instances would indicate a lack of confidence in the product performance.  Many bread formulae simply call for higher settings that “2” and a machine that can’t do that shouldn’t be represented as a serious bread dough machine.  Building machines to low standards and then praising the machine for occasionally exceeding those standards strikes me as being extremely forgiving. 

In contrast, the Electrolux machines are praised by all serious bread bakers that have them.  They claim that they’re indestructible, so apparently it’s possible to build a reliable bread mixer for the consumer market.  This is the standard against which we should judge other products.

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