Mind over Matter: Stuff I cared about at the time

Another of My Favorite Things

Maybe this is a series?

Hamilton Beach HBB 909

Growing up, my parents had a 14 speed blender — I think it was a Hamilton Beach. Each of the speeds had a name — things like blend, whip, puree, mix, etc. I think it had 7 buttons for the speeds, and a “High/Low” range switch that selected one of the two banks of verbs. I can only imagine that a marketing person had the job of coming up with 14 different verbs that defined some form of mixing, and somehow implied greater or lesser speeds. My parents hardly ever used it, though. It wasn’t something either of them was familiar with, so mostly it sat on the countertop looking modern (compared to the rest of the items there). They had received it as a gift from the realtor who sold them the house.

Fast forward 15-ish years, with me in my first post-college job, and wanting a blender, mostly for making drinks that involved chopping up ice into tiny bits. So I wanted something heavy duty. I worked in a part of Boston that had a fair number of commercial kitchen suppliers nearby, so I went to one of those and purchased the above blender. I have little recollection as to what it cost. I’m sure it was, for me, quite a luxury purchase, but I wanted something that would be sturdy and lasting. This thing has a 3/8 HP motor and is built like a tank (in the U.S. of A. no less!). This would have been around 1990 or 1991. Sometime in its first few years of life, the “clutch” in the actual blending container became pretty stuck, and I went back to the same store and was able to buy just that part. It has been running smoothly ever since. But in the past month or so, the motor wasn’t always engaging with the clutch in the bottom of the container. And once again, 30+ years later, I was able to purchase repair parts for this thing and get it working reliably again.

My repairs, as is often the case, didn’t go exactly smoothly. First, I was trying to loosen the clutch from the motor by turning it the wrong way. This caused me to take apart the unit a whole lot more than was necessary in the hopes that I could grab onto the other end of the shaft to stop it spinning. This resulted in the motor coming apart way more than I anticipated (brushes came out of the motor housing, even). I think I ended up putting it back together half a dozen times, or thereabouts, due to the motor running the wrong way (!), leftover washer, etc. But, in the end, it did all go back together, and is working well once again, with the clutch engaging well and turning the blades in the blender.

I really appreciate things like this, that are simply well built, made to last, and made to be repaired. Commercial kitchen equipment is certainly significantly more expensive than home oriented versions, but it can pay off in the long run.