Thursday, August 15, 2013

Impulsive But Effective

I love my KitchenAid stand mixer. The fact that it is about 20 years old and pulls about the lowest possible wattage for a KitchenAid (300W) does not diminish my love. It was a gift from my mother who could not believe I didn't own a stand mixer. In retrospect, considering how much baking I was doing, neither can I. I've had to replace the motor once, very early on, when I overloaded the poor thing and killed it. I probably should have had a bigger mixer with more power - back then, I made all our bread. And by bread I mean pizza dough, loaves of whole wheat sandwich bread, bagels...everything. We bought wheat berries in 50 pound bags and I ground them with the KitchenAid. We drove to the King Arthur store and bought bread flour in #50 bags. (Yes, there is a King Arthur store. They also have an amazing teaching center. I've never taken a class there, but have always wanted to). But that mixer stood by me faithfully through cookies and breads, muffins and cakes, and still works like a charm (if a slightly loose-in-the-joints charm) today.

In all these years I've only ever truly lusted after one other mixer. This one:

Now, obviously, the chances of my ever owning (sans divine intervention) a mixer with a retail value pushing a grand are about nil. I have instead my faithful little 5-quart Artisan with a motor more suited to the 4.5-quart model, complete with spatter shield, bowls, whip, dough hook and beater. 59-point planetary action! Perfect meringues!

As much as I love my KA, it does have one very obvious flaw. 

See what I mean? It' And not just any green. A dark, dated, glossy hunter sort of green that in 1994 matched my kitchen perfectly. In retrospect I should have gone with black or white or - my (second) favorite - grey. And if I had it to do over again, that is the way I'd go. But bygones are bygones, and you can't remake a decision you made more than twenty years ago.... or can you?

I decided that with the new kitchen on the way, the green mixer simply had to change. Not go, but change. Green is out. It will clash with the new kitchen, and I desperately miss having the KitchenAid out where I can see it at all times. In fact, it doesn't really seem like "my" kitchen without it. At this house and the one before it, the poor thing was relegated to a closet or cupboard, hauled out on special occasions, then returned to solitude. Well, a KitchenAid deserves better - and by golly, mine is going to get it! 

I began with some googling to see if anyone else had undertaken what I was about to do. Could a KA be safely and effectively repainted without destroying the machine? The answer, based on my quick look around the internet, was a resounding "yes". I was most relieved. This wasn't a project I undertook lightly, believe me. Should it fail, I would be without a mixer for a long, long time. But should it succeed, well, I would be bringing my poor tired old mixer into the light of day once more, to take it's rightful place on the counter, by the stove, near the sink, and unblocked by the coffee maker.

Did it work? Well, let's start at the beginning.

First, based on my perusing of the internet I made certain to take as many pictures as possible before I began the project. 

We are talking 50 or so, from every possible angle, of every screw, in different light. This was overkill. Ten would have been sufficient, or even five.

Next I removed any chrome parts that could easily be removed - the base that the bowl sits in, for example, and the deliciously classic chrome band that encircles the body. 

Then I meticulously scrubbed every nook and cranny with a TSP and water solution. We're talking pot scrubbie-toothpick-scrub-till-your-hands-hurt clean, every little spot. Using acetone and a paper towel I removed the adhesive smear from the back where some label had warned of some life-damaging injury or other if one did something incorrectly - I don't even remember what the label said any more, and whatever idiotic act it warned against I have apparently never engaged in, or I wouldn't be here to tell you about it. Anyway. And I removed the cover over the guts - this was important as I wanted to protect the motor from paint as much as possible.

But I left the rest of the body in one piece. I toyed with removing the head from the base, but decided against it. I probably could have rigged up something to hold the motor portion upright to allow for better spraying, but it wasn't worth the effort involved. I had some concerns about paint causing sticking where the head and the base come together, but it turned out they were not justified.

Then I very carefully taped every remaining exposed area, with one exception. I could not get the tape to fit neatly around the power hub, also known as "the hole in front", so I decided to just paint the chrome. My power hub cover has long since disappeared, and maybe someday I will replace it. Otherwise, all areas were carefully taped to ensure that they'd remain unpainted. I carefully wrapped the cord in a baggie which I then taped over the motor to protect that from paint as well. Then I very carefully and completely sanded the entire surface with 100-grit paper. Once the finish was thoroughly sanded, I vacuumed the mixer, and ran over it with a tack cloth to remove any residual sanding dust. 

Next came paint selection. I wanted something neutral, I thought, and preferably something forgiving in case of incident or accident, which we all know can happen with home spray paint projects. I wandered into our local Aubuchon Hardware Store and pondered options. I am a big fan of Rust-Oleum products based on prior experience, so I decided to stick with them for this very important one. I looked at all the colors, debated satin versus gloss, and generally was quite miserable and unable to make up my mind until I found Stops Rust Hammered Copper. It is intended as a paint-over-rust product with excellent adherence and a textured finish, so it was likely to be very forgiving. As I stood there gazing at the cap, having flashbacks to the KP26M8XCP 620-watt 6-quart professional mixer in satin copper finish, I knew what I had to do. I reached out and grabbed a can and, after paying for it of course, raced home like a seven-year-old heading for an ice cream truck on a July day. 

I cleaned and set up a spray area in the garage, then grabbed a mask and a pile of gloves - which I promptly forgot to use for the first coat, resulting in hammered copper MMO hands and a whopping MMO spray paint headache. Please do not follow my heedless example - glove up and mask up!  

And then I painted. I painted carefully and somewhat slowly, which for me is something of a miracle - I tend toward impetuous and impulsive most of the time. Of course there were problems along the way - two tiny fruit flies appeared as if by magic and embedded themselves in the paint, causing a minor crisis. A tiny hair drifted in and got stuck on the base right near where the chrome plate sits that holds the mixer bowl, requiring a tweezer removal. 

The paint accumulated on my glove on the second coat, resulting in droplets larger than I'd prefer in a couple of spots. Worst of all, after the first coat I rinsed my un-gloved, paint-y hands in thinner, and without thinking leaned across the mixer to grab a towel, resulting in a big droplet of thinner falling onto the newly painted surface. I debated dabbing to remove it, but instead left it where it fell. I actually sort of liked the result, and debated (VERY briefly) going at the whole mixer with thinner, paint-spatter style. But in the end I stuck with the original game plan. 

After about 18 hours of drying time, I applied two coats of Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch Ultra 2X clear gloss to finish the surface. This is maybe superfluous, but I think it will help the mixer stand up to abuse - and it does get that here! Once everything dried to the touch, back on went all the chrome bits. The tape came off and....

VOILA! About $20, a few hours of my time, and a couple of nervous moments later...

and I have the prettiest mixer in town. Or I think I do anyway! It can sit and cure for a day in the garage and the take it's rightful place front and center of my kitchen.

Now, someday the funds may be available for me to fall into that KP26M8XCP 620-watt 6-quart professional mixer in satin copper finish, (and when I do, Lucky Girl can inherit this old beauty) but until then this does me just fine! 


Meg said...

OMG! I can't believe you tried that! But what an awesome result!! Well done you!

Karen said...

Looks wonderful!! I have a 32 yr old white one that works great!!! But had to buy a red one 2 yrs. ago to match my kitchen incase my old one died...old one works bettter!

Stephanie Stoll said...

AWESOME! You are brave. I would have sold it and bought new. I love my red KitchenAid. And if I ever redo my kitchen, I'll be sure my mixer looks good in it. :)

Cathy said...

You are a brave woman in oh so many ways! The result is great!

ME215 said...

Funny that I'm reading this the day my first KA stand mixer arrives. Can't wait to set up my KitchenAid Pro 600 6 qt. 575 Watt Bowl Lift Stand Mixer w/ Flex

GREAT job!!

Sa said...

I just about died laughing when I saw your green mixer!! Ours is exactly the same color and we used it to select the paint color for the kitchen in the house we built in 2003. rofl - but hey, we REALLY like green :)

Sheli Akter said...

This is a very good post with awesome tips and tricks. I learned from this post how to paint a KitchenAid Mixer.Thank you very much for your great idea.