Refinishing A Vintage KitchenAid Mixer

If you know anyone who is serious about baking, there’s a good chance you’ve seen one of these classic KitchenAid mixers. Built to last, they are often handed down generation to generation (or at least, when a newer model comes out), which is how [Kaitlin Flannery] received hers. While it didn’t look too bad considering its long life and the fact it’s been through a motor replacement already, she decided to spruce it up a bit by stripping it down and repainting the whole machine.

Sanding between coats of paint.

These KitchenAid mixers are solidly built and look highly serviceable, it’s refreshing to see a teardown that doesn’t involve any finicky plastic clips or glue. A standard philips screwdriver gets you inside the case, and a couple more screws allow the trim pieces to be removed.

Most of the work [Kaitlin] does is not completely unlike what you might have to do if you wanted to respray the fender of your car. You take off as much extra hardware as your patience allows, put painters tape over everything you want to keep over-spray off of, and then go to town.

To get the smooth metallic finish that you’d expect on a kitchen appliance, [Kaitlin] sands with 220 paper between the coats of hardware store Rust-Oleum. Generally we’d advise switching over to wet sanding at a higher grit once a few coats of paint have been laid down, but we can’t argue with the final results [Kailtin] got. The last coat is followed up with a clear enamel, which will help protect the finish from scratches; very important for a kitchen appliance.

[Kaitlin] does mention that she mistakenly taped off a bit more than she should have, and there’s still some of the original color visible on the rear of the machine. But beyond that, the finish looks fantastic, and with the new motor installed it looks like this machine is going to stick around long enough to get handed down a second time at least.

Hackaday has regrettably made few inroads into the kitchen as of late, one might get the impression that there isn’t a whole lot of overlap between the workbench and the counter-top. If you’ve got something you’ve made or remade sitting in your kitchen as you read this, by all means let us know.

49 thoughts on “Refinishing A Vintage KitchenAid Mixer

  1. Kitchenaid Customer Service is awesome. True story, and they found me a replacement.

    I purchased this Accolade 400 as my first stand mixer. With great
    expectations, I awaited its arrival, with ingredients freshly bought, just
    waiting to be mixed into delicious chocolate chip cookies.

    The mixer arrived and was promptly un-boxed, the manual read, the beater
    bar and bowl installed. The butter was melting, the white and brown sugar
    measured, the flour, baking soda and salt sifted into a bowl. Tasty
    chocolate chips waited in a measuring cup all their own. All was ready!

    I poured the now-melted butter in the bowl, set the mixer to ‘2’, and
    started to add the brown sugar. Suddenly, with a loud *grruunk*, the
    mixer stalled! “What’s this?” I asked myself. “Surely liquid butter and
    an 1/8 cup of sugar cannot bring 400 watts of mixing goodness to a halt!”

    After a few attempts to restart the mixer, I concluded that there must be
    a defect in the planetary gear system. With great despair heavy upon my
    heart, I called the 800 customer service number. I spoke with a charming
    young lady, whom I shall call Marsha (mostly because I forgot to write her
    name down, and partly just because I like the name). Marsha listened to
    the mixer say “*grruunk*” for her also, and declared it needed to be
    replaced. I like to think she had a catch in her voice and a tear in her
    eye when she told me this. An early grave for so fine a device is a
    travesty, indeed.

    Marsha told me of the most excellent warranty exchange, how UPS would
    deliver a shiny replacement mixer to me, and I would merely have to put
    the mixer that says *grruunk* back into its box, set it on my front
    porch, and a few days later, UPS would take it away to be delivered to
    Kitchenaid heaven, where it would be put to rest, hopefully after an
    autopsy was performed, so the elusive 6-sigma defect rate goal could be
    attained for future generations of mixers (that’s 2 defects per billion).
    I did not speak to Marsha of my penchant for commas and run-on sentences.
    That would have to wait for another day.

    Then, in a plot twist reminiscent of a bad romance novel (which I have
    never read, but have heard about), she twisted the knife, and told me that
    the Accolade 400 (the most powerful Kitchenaid tilt-head mixer ever made)
    was discontinued! “Oh no!” I thought. “Oh no!” I said to Marsha. “It’s
    true,” she said.

    But hope rose it’s head again, as Marsha told me that I had a choice to
    make. I could choose to replace the Accolade 400 with a 325 watt Artisan,
    and she would include an extra 3 quart bowl, or, I could upgrade to the
    Professional 5 Plus Lift-bowl mixer — the second most power mixer in the
    Kitchenaid universe! Accepting the Professional 5 Plus, I would not have
    nightmares of turning into Tim Taylor, and attempting to bolt a 1970
    Chrysler 426 Hemi engine to the side of the Artisan for ultimate mixing
    action (although the idea of chrome exhaust and flames painted on the side
    did have a certain allure).

    I considered which mixer I would prefer, while at the same time
    considering asking Marsha to marry me (this idea was later vetoed by my
    wife). With a decision firmly in mind, I told Marsha, “I’ll take the
    Professional 5 Plus, the second mo…” “Yah, yah,” she said, “I know that
    part of that dialog” (I may be remembering small parts of the conversation
    incorrectly here, you’ll have to excuse me).

    Marsha and I exchanged information, and I promised to write every week
    from wherever I was stationed for the duration of the war. Or maybe I
    just gave her my shipping address, and we exchanged pleasantries and
    disconnected. In any case, a new Professional 5 Plus mixer would soon be
    arriving on my front porch, and I could return to my aborted attempt to
    make chocolate chips cookies, which I would use to woo Marsha to marry me.
    Or perhaps I would just eat them.

    A few days later (far fewer than the 7 to 10 Marsha told me I may have to
    wait), the mixer arrived. Like it’s predecessor, it was un-boxed, the
    manual read, the beater bar and bowl installed. Only this time, there
    were no odd noises, and cookies were made, and all was well. Mostly.

    “Mostly?” you might say to yourself, much like I would if I had managed to
    read this far wondering what this person was rambling about. Well, truth
    be told, when Marsha offered me the options for exchange, I thought I
    would be happy with a lift-bowl type mixer. The sad, unfortunate reality
    is that after making several batches of cookies, I find the lift-bowl very
    awkward. In fact, it’s almost created a rift between my mixer and I, and
    soon we may have to seek therapy (we talked about making more cookies
    together, but decided it would be mutually unsatisfying).

    Yes, the awesome power that the Professional 5 Plus displays is truly,
    well, awesome. It looks like you could mix concrete with it, toss in a
    few bricks, and it would break them up like soggy marshmallows. My
    fingers fear contact with the beater bar, as surely it would rip my arm
    off (I think I would discard the cookie dough if that happened, however).
    But the lift-bowl action just doesn’t make me happy. I find it annoying
    to have to remove the beater just to remove the bowl. And because the
    power head cannot be tilted back, it’s awkward to scrape the beater when
    the butter clumps on it. And, as we all know, perfect baked goods cannot
    be achieved unless one is truly happy (I found that in a fortune cookie).

    Good people of Kitchenaid, I implore you, please fix the Accolade 400 you
    found this rambling literary disaster attached to, and allow me to return
    the Professional 5 Plus (“The second most pow… right.”) back to you.
    Surely, somewhere in Kitchenaid heaven, there must be an Accolade 400
    willing to donate it’s soul (or planetary gear set) to restore the life
    force of this poor unit, who never truly had a chance to suffer culinary
    distress at my hands (hmm, maybe that was a bad way to phrase it…).
    Incidentally, if this actual Accolade 400 were swapped out, and an Onyx
    Black were available, I’d be even happier with that.

    In all seriousness, if it is possible to get a replacement Accolade 400
    and return the Professional 5 Plus, I would be very happy. Marsha (I
    really wish I had her correct name) was great to talk to, explained all
    the options, was well-spoken, and overall just a pleasant person. Perhaps
    you can tell who she was from the ticket number, which is 1234567. It is
    truly a shame that more companies don’t have a warranty and customer
    service like yours.

    Please feel free to contact me. Email is the most reliable method,
    followed by the telephone. Both are included at the top.

    Sincerely,
    –jcw

    1. What on earth did I just read? Did you write a novel, hoping that Kitchenaid’s media department would read this article, see your comment, and send you an out-of-production mixer?

      Anyways, it was a fun, albeit confusing read.

      1. I sent it to the customer service department, they did read it, and they did find one in Canada (in black, no less) and sent it to me. That was back in 2010, and (not surprisingly) the Accolade 400 continues to function flawlessly.

      1. Came here to say this. You want a mixer to dispose of a body with, a floor model Hobart would be capable. Fifties models routinely are discharged from the school board and sell for hundreds of dollars. On another note: Want a dishwasher that doesn’t care that they don’t put soap (phosphates) in dishwashing soap anymore, get a Hobart dishwasher. It will wash away a full sized wedding cake without complaint or comment. My wife tried all of the latest suckalux offerings on for size, and before she settled on a so-so LG that was better than the Whirlpool Offerings, I threatened to get her a Hobart. A small dose of trisodium phosphate in every load and any dishwasher will begin to work as designed though. I have a ‘fifties vintage Kitchenaid that sluggishly powers up, that will outlast me once I re-grease the insides.

      1. Really? Home audio, not amateur radio, duuuuude….
        I thought it was funny when my wife brought home our Kenwood mixer and all I could think of was the watts given on the box as EIRP with a nice dipole.
        Then I saw the power output shaft hole and began to think mill too as was mentioned above.

      2. Many times I have helped amateur sound board operators at a gig. The first thing I often see is this. I look at the guy like a Marine drill instructor and say “wipe that smiley face off of that EQ”! This actually just the person emulating the only thing they know, turning up the bass and treble via the two knobs they are familiar with. Next, all sliders creep up as volume is all they can really hear.

  2. The finish on those machines is baked-on powder. It takes a lot of hard use to damage it, and while I love the look of the repainted mixer, simple spray paint isn’t going to hold up for another generation of use. Epoxy paint is better if you can get in a color you like, or if you’re really intent on a refurb, a local shop may have the facility to do a powder coat for you. You strip the machine down the last bolt and give them the metal. After sandblasting as needed to remove what’s there your mixer can really look like new. I had a Kenwood many years ago that someone discarded because it was unreliable. I fixed it, found it cumbersome to use and located a nifty tabletop 8-quart Hobart (same company as KitchenAid) for cheap. I had it recoated and it looked awesome in my kitchen. It was too big for most tasks though. I loved being able to make dozens of cookies at a time for bake sales but still… I sold it (for more than it cost me) and 30 years ago bought a bowl-lift KitchenAid. It is a very hardy machine and worth the effort to keep looking awesome. After all this time it has a few scratches but still works as new.

      1. Powdercoating at home is very do-able, but I would strongly recommend against powder coating in an oven that you use for food! I have an electric kitchen oven in my shop that I use just for powder coating. It has a long power cord on it, and it gets plugged into the same plug that my welder uses.
        A friend rebuilt his Kitchenaid mixer and powder coated it. Other than the purple color, it looks great.

  3. I prefer the Kenwood Chef…

    (awaits flame war of the vi/emacs variety, but with more cookie dough)

    .. and to prove it.. here’s one I rebuilt a couple of years back (started life as a grubby white version with lots of broken stuff, including the “electronic” speed controller, but all the parts are available on line. The speed controller needed a triac, a cap and a power reistor).

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/MIEqkVEDalPoYVyb2

    1. I have the same mixer, Perhaps in a more tasteful Cream with Tango red highlights to match the rest of the kitchen appliances.

      When i first got it i stripped it down, after it had been sat in my mother-in-laws garage for 16 years all i had to do was give it a good clean, repack the gearbox with grease and rebuild it, didn’t need anything else doing to it. It’s older than me (early 1970’s) and sounds like a mix between a concrete mixer and a jet engine when it’s being used. I use it everyday to grind coffee beans and I’m sure it’ll outlast me.

      Future upgrade is to replace the spur gears to helical gears, might make it a tad quieter!

      Whilst technically this isn’t a hack its good to see old appliances being restored and brought back into use so that future generations can at least see how things used to be built to last!

    2. I have one of those, but in a tasteful white + blue trim. Gift from my mother-in-law. I eventually cracked the planetary housing (working it too hard by mixing *lots* of pizza dough), but it was repaired by a fellow in Melbourne. New steel housing (replaced the aluminium that cracked), new electronics, new power cord, new rubbers, new grease, and it soldiers on.

      The Thermomix, on the other hand, hmmmm. It does a great job at most things, including pizza dough, and makes a superb risotto, but sadly the tales of woe from consumers in Australia relating to the faulty lid seal design……… let’s just say that the Thermomix franchise holder in Australia did a poor job owning up to the fault – flat-out denial until the ACCC got involved and phrases like “class-action lawsuit” started circulating.

  4. Umm… I usually dislike all the nasty ‘not a hack’ comments but damn! Had old item, repainted it. Kudos to Ms. Flannery on a job well done but why is it spotlighted here? Come on now, it’s not THAT slow of a day!

    Well.. as long as we are on the topic of repainting a mixer….

    Is the new paint kitchen-safe? What happens when it gets scratched and little bits end up in her food? Maybe adding a discussion of what kinds of paint are best to use in a food preparation setting might have made this a bit more of a ‘hack’-a-day article.

    1. Coincidentally, I just designed and printed my first Kitchen-Aid driven device. For those of you who like OpenSCAD:
      module pin_head(){
      translate([0,0,7.99])
      intersection(){
      cube([11,11,16], center=true);
      cylinder(d1=38, d2=4.5, h=16, center=true);
      }
      }

      (The inside is tapered to a rounded-over cube.)

  5. I have a similar model (a Pro 600, or whatever it was called then). A hack it REALLY needs that I have not got to yet (after 30 years of ownership…) is to replace the gawdawful governor-based bang-bang speed control system with a decent electronic control.

    That speed control lever on the side? You think it adjusts a potentiometer or something? Ha! Nope. It’s mechanically connected to a centrifugal governor.

    It honestly has a steampunk-like flying-ball governor in it. Too fast, the balls fly centrifugally outward, and opens a switch. A dozen times a second this happens,off-on-off-on, and punishes the (amazingly tough) geartrain. There’s an SCR in there, so at least the mechanical switch doesn’t have to handle its 575 watt motor directly, but geez. Almost a horsepower, bang-bang-bang-bang. Loud as fsck, and unnecessarily.

    I tried using a beefy dimmer switch: it quiets the unit right down but speed control isn’t — the human in the loop isn’t attentive enough.

    It uses a universal motor. It’s crying for a DC control system, using voltage feedback to measure speed. Totally plug-compatible, no mods to the mixer needed. Sketched out, but it’s on about page 4 of my ToDo list. Either the mixer or I will likely be dead before I get around to it.

    1. I have a Pro 6000, but part of me wishes I had a 600. The 6000 was designed originally for Costco, but then made it to Sams and occasionally Woot and (I think) Bed/Bath/Beyond has sold them. The good part is that it’s a 6 qt bowl with a strong DC motor, but the bad part is that it has a tulip style bowl. What that means is that there are some attachments (paddle with spatula/scraper, etc.) that aren’t made/available for it like the 600/artisan/etc. models.

      I’m surprised some third party source hasn’t either come up with a different bowl (shaped like the one that comes on a 600) or attachments that will work in a tulip style bowl. I also wondered if the planetary gear system could be swapped out/adjusted to accommodate a different bowl shape, but at some point it would be more worthwhile to just get a different mixer (trade, additional, etc.).

  6. I just checked the original finish of my Kitchen Aid coffee grinder. It is quite good after all these years, 25cents at a flea market! Perhaps the vulnerable glass globe on top kept it respected. I wonder if KA has a replacement globe? A search later gives me this, Kitchen Aid KCG200PK Classic-Series Model A-9 Burr Coffee Mill. I did a clean and lube on the insides decades ago. My daily grind. Together with a free repurposed pod maker and a Melita cone with #2 filters it makes a perfect cup o joe.

    I got my quarter’s worth! Art-Deco ivory goodness, not soulless stainless steel.

  7. To the person who asked if they made a grain mill for these lil’ monsters; I’m not smart enough to link the picture, but there is one on the e-place, new in the box, from the time Hobart of Troy Ohio made them.

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