Restoration & Repair
Here is a complete description of the work I perform on each toaster:
- The toaster is completely disassembled.
- Metal parts are cleaned with oven cleaner.
- All metal parts, chrome pieces, and the Bakelite base are then put through a genuine Hobart-made KitchenAid KDS-18 dishwasher on Pots/Pans Soak and Scrub cycle. This makes them shine as if they were just manufactured. I don’t use any type of scouring product on the chrome pieces. PLEASE… if you have one of these toasters, do not use scouring powder or scouring pads on the chrome plating.
- All three heating elements are carefully cleaned with a de-greaser and a toothbrush. They are polished with glass cleaner so the reflective surface shines as if new for maximum heat reflection.
- The bread carriage receives special attention so all baked-on soil is removed from every nook and cranny.
- All chrome-plated surfaces and the Bakelite base are polished with a professional Eastwood buffer and the appropriate jeweler’s rouge to achieve the maximum scratch removal and shine of the chrome plating and base.
- The “Sunbeam” logo on each end of the Bakelite base, as well as the engraved words “Lighter/Darker” on the small control knob are restored by using a white paint pen.
- The toaster is reassembled.
- The cord is replaced. See “Why Replace the Cord” below.
- The spring tension on the bread carriage is adjusted for optimal lowering and raising of the bread. If the spring is too tight, it won’t raise efficiently; if too loose, the toaster will not operate correctly when the bread is dropped into the toaster. There is a fine balance.
- The final adjustment is to fine-tune the thermostat. I work diligently (with lots of test slices of bread) to adjust the toaster to produce what I think medium toast should look like. As you can see in the picture, I clean the thermostat thoroughly and then polish all debris off of the unit with a Dremel. I then polish the contacts that actually activate the toaster and then install the thermostat in the spotlessly cleaned housing.
- Once the toaster is fully reassembled, it is hand polished one final time with Simichrome and then waxed with 3M Professional Wax.
Why Replace the Cord?
Some of you have asked, “Why do you replace the cord?” The answer is easy: they are about 70 years old and they are unsafe! I see many of these toasters offered for sale that still have their original asbestos or rubber cords. These toasters were made when polarizing and grounding electrical appliances wasn’t practiced. I think the cord is unsafe by today’s standards. So, I replace the cords. Yes, they aren’t original, but I think doing so is the best option. With toasters that originally had cloth covered cords (models preceding the T-20-C), I replace them with a cord that has three conductor wires with a cloth sleeve on the outside that looks very original. With this new wire, the toaster now is polarized and grounded. I use high-temperature connectors and apply genuine 3M tape around the cord exactly like the original in the saddle holder (see picture), and I use a heavy duty three-prong plug that is grounded.
With models beginning with the T-20-C and later, I use a new 16-gauge replacement appliance cord. If you look at the way the cord wraps around its port, there is no way to safely ground these toasters. I absolutely will not run a ground wire outside of the cord connection assembly because it is then exposed to the heat of the toaster which, in my personal opinion, is not safe. I wish I could use the cloth covered grounded cord, but it simply is too large. The toaster is not designed for that style of cord; it would require enlarging the hole in the Bakelite base. But I don’t want to run the risk of ruining it. So, I use two conductor rubber wire them.
I have discovered that once I complete all the work I do to these units, they work as if they were brand new, just out of the box.