FInally, after a ton of work, it is finished. I'd been wanting a nice Kitchenaid lift mixer for a while, but couldn't bring myself to spend $400+ for a good one. After minimal research, I decided to buy a 1960's (I think) K5-A mixer on ebay for about $50 . This model remained virtually unchanged from the 1950's to the mid 1970's and is the gold standard of mixers (don't quote me on this, it was very minimal research). I spent about $150 for replacement parts, paint, lubricant, etc (linked to at the end of the post). This mixer should last me a lifetime.
There were 2 Reddit posts that were very helpful during the restoration process:
I too restored a Hobart era KitchenAid from DIY
I restored a Hobart era Kitchenaid. from DIY
Unfortunately, I ran into some issues that were not covered in these posts, so figured I'd make my own post in case anyone else decides to take on the same project. I hope this helps!
Finished Product and New Parts
The awesome thing about Kitchenaid is that they still manufacture parts that are compatible with old mixers, including replacement bowls and beaters. At the end of this post is a list of every replacement part that I bought for this project and links of where to find them.
This is where it all started. The mixer was in working condition, but had been banged up from years of use. I kept an eye on Ebay for about a week before I decided on this one. Best to go with one that doesn't come with any other parts as sellers quickly up the price if they're included.
It's hard to tell from the photo, but the mixer was filthy. Years of flour, dough, batter or whatever was caked in every nook. Also, the mixer didn't come with a bowl or any attachments. Fortunately, Kitchenaid still makes compatible fittings!
Easy Part Done
The initial disassembly was really easy to separate the base from the stand from the head of the mixer. 8 screws hold the whole thing together. The bowl lift was held on by 2 screws that attach to the lift mechanism inside the stand. Also removed the feet and the bowl holder and set aside in labeled sandwich bags. The feet were super disgusting, so I decided to replace them (linked at the end of the post).
90% of the work goes into the head of the mixer, so that's what I'll focus a lot on.
Firsts things first, removed the silver drip ring. The drip wring is held in place by tension, but was surprisingly hard to get off because of all the gunk that was caked on underneath. Took a fair amount of gentle prying to finally slip it off.
The round part is called the planetary. There is a small pin that goes through the planetary that holds it in place with the center gear shaft. Removing this pin was hard. Like, really hard. I initially tried to tap the pin out using a small screwdriver and hammer… big mistake. Instead of the pin sliding out, it began to bend and proceeded to get hopelessly stuck.
Thank god for this stuff. After a frustrated Google search, I found a product called PB Blaster that penetrates and lubricates seized up metal. A few quick shots of this and the pin was loosened up enough to slowly work its way out. Instead of tapping with a screwdriver, I bought a set of pin punches that worked a lot better. Came very close to giving up before finding this solution.
So small, so frustrating
Here is the crusty drip ring and the tiny pin that caused so much frustration. It's hard to tell in the photo, but the pin is bent and cracked in the middle. I had to buy a new one because this one was so badly damaged. Thank god for compatible parts.
Cracking it open
Success! With the pin removed, I was finally able to slowly slide off the planetary and begin to disassamble the mixer.
This was my reference photo for which screws needed to go where when reassembling the mixer.
So much nasty old grease. They say Kitchenaids are greased for life, and they mean it. The gear assembly to the right is held in place by 3 screws and was very easy to remove. However, the gear in the middle was a little more challenging and kept sticking as I tried to tap it out of the housing.
More gunk. Took a while to get everything scraped out, but eventually got it clean.
Cleaned the gears in laquer thinner and scrubed with a wire brush. The gears were in really good shape so I decided not to replace any of them.
Masked and ready to paint
LIghtly sanded each piece just enough to rough up the surface to allow for better paint adhesion. Took my time masking each part that I didn't want painted. Made a make-shift spray booth in my basement room. I highly recommend that you do not do this! Would have been much better to spray in the garage or outside. Otherwise, you will get a thin layer of paint dust all over your entire room like I did.
Primer and Paint
Applied 2 coats of Rustoleum Stops Rust primer and about 4 coats of Rustoleum Painter's Touch in Spa Blue.
Clear coat and masking tape removed
Applied 7 coats of Rustoleum Stops Rust Crystal Clear Enamel over a period of 2 weeks. I had a hard time getting a smooth coat. I tried applying very light coats at first but kept getting a dusty texture. I applied a heavier coat and got a much smoother texture, but got a few runs which I had to sand out. At a certain point I had to remember what LifeWithAdd said in their post, it's only a mixer.
New power cord
The old mixer cord didn't have a ground, so I decided to replace it with a 3 prong cord. This presented a problem because it was impossible to detach the power cord from the mixer without completely disassembling the motor. My electrician dad helped with this by splicing the new cord to the old one and using shrink tubing to cover the splice. I attached the ground to one of the screws that holds the spring in place.
The anchor of the new cord was a little too wide to fit into the slot at the back of the mixer, so I drilled it on either side to make it a little thinner. It's really important that you use this piece, otherwise the power cord could be ripped out of the mixer if pulled too hard.
Fresh grease and new gasket
Inserted clean gears and repacked them with fresh grease. The stuff I used is a food safe grease, linked to at the end of this post. I also bought a new gasket, which is super important to keep grease from leaking out of the gear housing.
So much grease
I read in another post that you do not want to under-grease these mixers. I used enough that I hope I won't ever have to open this thing back up in my lifetime.
I got a little hasty and neglected to take photos during the reassmbly process. A few bad things happened that you should be aware of in case you decide to do this yourself.
The planetary was really hard to put back on. It absolutely did not want to slide down the gear shaft, even after it was greased. I decided to use a rag and hammer to tap the planetary back in place, but wound up hitting it too hard and chipping the paint in several places. When I finally got the planetary all the way down the shaft, I realized that I had forgotten to line up the holes on the gear shaft and the planetary that the roll pin goes through to hold the whole thing together… damn. I wound up having to pry off the planetary to line it up, chipping the paint even more in the process. Once the holes were lined up, I had to hammer the planetary down again, which just made the paint situation worse.
The chipped paint isn't all the noticeable at first glance, so I decided to go ahead to finish the reassembly. I definitely intend to fix this, but didn't want to go through the whole process of disassembling the mixer to repaint the planetary. Definitely a small project for a later date. It is just a mixer after all.
The replacement feet were a little taller than the original ones, and I had to drill out a recess for the screw heads to be inset. I also replaced the motor brushes (under the black plastic screw on either side of the mixer head). I don't know what these things do, but I do know that they are crucial to running the mixer. If you decide to replace them, just make sure that they are oriented the EXACT same way as the old ones, otherwise the mixer won't start.
I also purchased a replacement band (linked at the end of this post), but decided not to use it because it didn't fit. I cleaned the old band and attached it and am really happy with how it looks. It's scratched and faded in some areas, but I think it adds character to the mixer.