Thread Number: 77092  /  Tag: Vintage Dishwashers
Getting my kdss-21a ready for daily use, need some loading tips
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Post# 1010228   10/9/2018 at 20:15 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        

Finally got my kitchenaid dishwasher installed today, it looks fantastic. I plan on using it daily. I need 2 things from you guys:
1. I would like to have a spare control board, possibly even a bad one as I think I can get it rebuilt.

2. I need a bit of advice on loading. Iím a bit new to a short tub dw and these racks are just not speaking to me as to how to load. I attached pictures of my best configuration. I have a similar amount of dishes daily, a lot of top rack stuff that the kids use.

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Post# 1010231 , Reply# 1   10/9/2018 at 20:37 by joeypete (Concord, NH)        

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Wow nice Eugene!! I love those electronic control ones.

Seriously though, these machines are so robust you can load them many different ways.

I've had my KDM-21 for almost 3 years now and it still amazes me at how much stuff you can load. Now hopefully I can get it running properly again, I've had some troubles lately if you've seen my threads.

I prefer the utensil basket in the front. It's proved be the most convenient for me anyway. I am by myself and use a lot of Tupperware stuff so a lot of plastic. You have to be careful with plastic items because the water force is a lot in these machines. I tend to put light stuff on the top and heavier things on the bottom.

I also was able to find the small items basket on ebay and I bought one. I use it constantly for silicone valves for my microwave bowls and small covers, etc.

As long as everything gets good water exposure you should be good. Nice thing with these too is that upper spray arm guard. So basically if you can get it closed, you don't have to worry about the arm hitting anything :)

Post# 1010233 , Reply# 2   10/9/2018 at 20:44 by kskenmore (Kansas)        
Beautiful Dishwasher!

This really brings back memories. This is quite similar (especially internally) to the dishwasher my parents had from about 1988 until about 2006. We always had the silverware tray up front as well.

Post# 1010238 , Reply# 3   10/9/2018 at 21:11 by akronman (Akron/Cleveland Ohio)        

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You can AT LEAST triple the amount loaded in so far, they are hard working great machines. Quadruple!

Post# 1010239 , Reply# 4   10/9/2018 at 21:15 by appnut (TX)        

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Silverware basket in the front.  Dinner plates on the far left, facing the front.  Cutting board at the very back of the dishwasher facing the front.  Cereal bowls on the far right side that's there for 9 x 13 casseroles facing the center.   Top rack looks ok.  Why didn't you go download a user manual form the KA web site for a KUDS23 or KDS23?  Loads just tlike this.  You'll see many more examples.   

Post# 1010240 , Reply# 5   10/9/2018 at 21:20 by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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I learned as a 15 year old kid to make sure all the dirty plates, etc faced towards the middle of the dishwasher. I still do that in my own and everything comes out clean.

Post# 1010243 , Reply# 6   10/9/2018 at 21:41 by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        
There's always room for one more dish...

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They hold a surprising amount for a smaller height.

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Post# 1010254 , Reply# 7   10/9/2018 at 23:09 by spacedogb (Lafayette, LA)        

Wow my current KUDS-23 would never clean that up. Id have food left everywhere LOL

Post# 1010269 , Reply# 8   10/10/2018 at 02:44 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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As much as I love my KUDI23 I could still get more into my Maytag!  With its tapered top rack I could fit many taller items that will only fit on the bottom of the KA.  I keep my silverware basket across the front too.

Post# 1010273 , Reply# 9   10/10/2018 at 03:35 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Agreed with above statements about cutlery basket going across the front.  Once it's there, the loading pattern will become obvious.  Small items basket goes in the top rack.


You can fit a lot into these machines.  I used to cram my ISE Classic Supreme full with every last item I could fit into it after a party.   


Here are some pictures of party loads.  Most were taken after the machine had run, but one or two are before shots.




I can't do anything this crazy in my Miele.  It may outclean any other dishwasher I've ever owned, but it lacks the water power to clean through layers like the 4-way hydro-sweep system can.

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Post# 1010280 , Reply# 10   10/10/2018 at 06:57 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Kitchenaid KDSS-21

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Hi Eugene, we worked on a lot of these back when they came out, they were neat machines and I loved the Controls Corporation Singer control system. Unfortunately they proved very troublesome and it has been almost 20 years since I saw one that still worked. I did sell an electronic control to a guy from this site a few years ago so hopefully his might still be working. [ I may still have some control parts left if you get into trouble ]


I had one of the very rare KDSS-20 in my kitchen for around 10 years and there were many things I really liked about it but the overall cleaning ability [ especially in the top rack ] and poor drying performance were just no match for the other DW in the kitchen, our WP DU8000XR, so I finely pulled the KA while it was still working took it to the museum and installed the other WP DU8000XR.


The 21 series had a more sophisticated filtering system designed into the pump but I could never get used to having just one final rinse and while I am not a rinsing nut when it comes to my laundry things that I eat off of are another matter.


John L.

Post# 1010289 , Reply# 11   10/10/2018 at 09:42 by peteski50 (New York)        

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Eugene many congrats on this Gem! As you can see from the pictures plates are best loaded on left side from front to back. I used to love loading these machines. They really held so much and always got great results!

Post# 1010317 , Reply# 12   10/10/2018 at 18:57 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        
Second go

I tried loading again, thank you all for the tips. Itís kind of funny sometimes I know more about how to fix appliances than actually using them.

The maiden wash was not so great, my wife complained the tea cups didnít get completely clean. When I emptied it this am, the knives were not clean. Iím going to chalk that up to poor loading and I was using terrible detergent. I was out and only had this garbage tree hugging detergent around. I bought some finish and I think it will work out.

I really like the way this dw looks. It feels like quality on a level most people wonít understand. Installing this unit nearly broke my back. I just hope it can perform.

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Post# 1010319 , Reply# 13   10/10/2018 at 19:19 by joeypete (Concord, NH)        

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If you're using Finish powder, that should work. I have been using a combo of Cascade complete powder and Cascade Fryer Boil Out. I mix it in a big container to a 2-1 ratio and it clean fantastic. These old machines like the phosphorus. Alternatively you could also mix the detergent with TSP from the hardware store. The Fryer Boil Out can be expensive. I'm sure you figured this out but the washer tabs and pacs aren't well suited to this machine. They produce way too many suds.

The utensils you should make sure and alternate them up and down to prevent nesting. You'll get good tips from us gays! hahahahaha ;-)

I seriously can count on 1 hand the number of times my machine did not clean something. And those times it was because it wasn't loaded properly.

Look forward to hearing more stories about your awesome machine!

Post# 1010326 , Reply# 14   10/10/2018 at 20:19 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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The only thing mine won't clean is dried on starchy food like potatoes or gravy.  Occasionally a knife won't get clean on one side.  Otherwise I can't complain.  I use chlorinated powder that this machine was designed to use.  Works very well. It might do better if you flip those red and yellow trays on the top rack around the other way so the insides are facing more downward where the spray is coming from.  Same for the cutting board...I always put mine in so the soiled side is leaning more down toward the spray arm.  You also can move the tines in the top rack to accommodate items.  I keep two of mine completely flattened so I can fit more bowls in.  We don't drink coffee so coffee cups are not an issue...but I have several cereal bowls to fit in.

Automatic Dishwasher Detergent,10 lb. PREMIERE CRE010PL-GR

Post# 1010327 , Reply# 15   10/10/2018 at 20:19 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Water is fairly hard where we live.  I had to use phosphated detergents with my ISE, otherwise results were horrible.  I was on my last box of Cascade Complete powder with phosphates when I came across a late model Miele that does a great job without the need for phosphates, so I grabbed it.


I think it's STPP (or PTSD or PSSSSSST or whatever) that you need to add to today's detergents in order for them to do a good job in an older machine with shorter cycles.  TSP is what you use to wash down walls before you paint them.  Or you can get the boil-out stuff that has phosphates.

Post# 1010345 , Reply# 16   10/10/2018 at 21:23 by mieletag (Cape Girardeau, Missouri)        

Wow, that machine looks great! I am the one that purchased the control board from Combo52, and yes sir, it still runs great!

I did try diagnosing the old board, replaced some diodes and other componets, but never could get it to operate . I think I still have the old board and an old touchpad control for it somewhere. I could see about giving them to you if I can find them.

One question, I wonder if the control fascia was ever changed at some point in its life. On mine, which is a very early 1986 model, it is Hobart built, and has the acrylic Kitchenaid badge, but does not have the WhisperQuiet logo. I always thought that was Whirlpool's moniker.

Post# 1010355 , Reply# 17   10/10/2018 at 22:41 by Awooff (Peoria, Illinois)        
Clean flatware

Knives point down for safety w rest of the flatware pointing up-or the part you put in your mouth up. -Will give cleanest flatware results in any dishwasher.

That 21 will clean and filter any filthy or dishes just scraped load. Most machines seem to clean better with cooler water from the water heater because the dishwasher will run longer while it Heats the main wash water to 140f

Betting cascade boil out would be best detergent for the 21 and harder water.

Post# 1010459 , Reply# 18   10/11/2018 at 19:44 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        

Ok so I ordered some tsp and some finish powder. So whatís the ideal ratio? My results are improving, but still not squeaky clean. Itís not like it canít get things clean, itís like some random things donít come off. The butter knife used for cutting a banana for instance.

As for water temp, I believe this dw will pause when heating water.

Post# 1010474 , Reply# 19   10/11/2018 at 20:09 by Awooff (Peoria, Illinois)        
Someone here will know the ratio of tsp

Not sure on ratio of tsp as I've always had a water softener but if memory serves the owners manual for many machines States if incoming water is over 12 grains of hardness then both detergent dispensers should be completely full and possibly a water softener recommended.

Have you tried normal wash cycle with sani rent selected?

Post# 1010502 , Reply# 20   10/11/2018 at 21:28 by DADoES (TX,†U.S. of A.)        

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There have been numerous "discussions" here on the virtues of TSP vs. STPP.† Just to say, TSP (trisodium phosphate) generates a precipitate when binding with minerals in the water whereas STPP (sodium tripolyphosphate) does not.† Washer manufacturers back in the day advised to add a non-precipitating water softener with soap to combat the effects of hard water and avoid scum.† Washday miracle-detergent products included it, until phosphates were eliminated.

The dosage is whatever amount "breaks" the water (makes it feel slippery) before the detergent is added.

Post# 1010536 , Reply# 21   10/12/2018 at 13:00 by johnb300m (Chicago)        

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Banana and to a lesser extent, avocado are two stains that I've seen many many dishwashers struggle with.
Even my modern KitchenAid 304G will struggle with knives used to cut bananas.
It seems to do ok if I use action pacs and Hi Temp wash.
Otherwise, the banana is very stubborn.
We'll see if the TSP helps out.

Post# 1011576 , Reply# 22   10/20/2018 at 18:27 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        

I got the finish powder and added a wee bit of tsp to the box. I ordered some stpp and will try that. The tsp and powder didnít really improve that much. Just throwing it out there, the dishwasher definitely works, if I open the door during the cycle water nearly hits my 9.5 foot ceiling.

Iím going to check it again just to be sure.

Iíll follow up when I mix the stpp. Iím thinking like 5% stpp to 95% detergent?

Post# 1011630 , Reply# 23   10/21/2018 at 06:22 by joeypete (Concord, NH)        

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I used to put in about a teaspoon or so between the 2 cups. I only use Cascade Complete powder and it is rated very high by CR, so at some point you may want to try that.

Otherwise do you fill the cups completely with powder? I normally do, at least pretty close to full. It was recommended in the directions on the Cascade.

Post# 1011672 , Reply# 24   10/21/2018 at 13:48 by beekeyknee (Columbia, MO)        

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That sounds about right. Start small and add a little more if you have to. My mom used too much in hers and took the shine off the porcelain.

Post# 1011675 , Reply# 25   10/21/2018 at 14:28 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Keep in mind that in general, dishwashers tend to render mixed results with a load consisting of mainly plastic items. 

Post# 1011691 , Reply# 26   10/21/2018 at 17:25 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        

Oddly Iím not having any issues with the plastic stuff. The loads are turning out mostly ok with the exception of the random knife and occasionally the tea cups. Oddly all the bottom rack stuff.

Iím going to recheck the spray pressure again. Maybe there is something going on with the bottom spray arm thatís giving me trouble.

Post# 1011706 , Reply# 27   10/21/2018 at 19:48 by joeypete (Concord, NH)        

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Yeah def check that! When I got my GoPro and made videos of the inside of the machine, that's when I discovered that the spray arm was hardly turning. Even then, it cleaned really well, but still LOL. I took it apart and cleaned everything and it was back to normal.

Post# 1011733 , Reply# 28   10/21/2018 at 22:39 by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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I'm wondering if the difference in results is due to the use of enzymes in today's detergents.  Does it take them longer to dissolve food than the shorter wash times on old dishwashers would allow?  I don't know...I'm just guessing.


I use Walmart's powder.  I use a little of it and STPP in the pre-wash and then put a tablespoon of STPP in the main wash and fill the rest of the cup with Walmart Powder.  Most of the time, the results are stellar.  Only on occasion is something left on...baked on cheese or a little egg on a spatula. 

Post# 1011743 , Reply# 29   10/22/2018 at 00:10 by Awooff (Peoria, Illinois)        
Bottom rack

In the past ive had an older dishwasher or two that were not filling with enough water which seemed to reduce spray pressure. Fill valves seem to let less water thru as they age. Likewise, replacing the fill valve is good insurance that it won't stick open and cause flooding. Also relatively inexpensive part to replace and easy.

Post# 1011851 , Reply# 30   10/22/2018 at 19:57 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        

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Hi Eugene, there are many things that can get out of order on KA DWs that keep them from working at their peak level.


Be sure that the lower arm is turning fast enough, we always saw a lot of KA DWs where the lower arm was slow, you can slightly bend the outer tips of the arms to angle the outer jets for better propulsion.


But you have to keep in mind that KA DWs do not have guaranteed wash temperature and the main wash cycles are too short, this is why WP, GE and MT all out performed any KA 21 series DW in the 80s.


John L.

Post# 1011933 , Reply# 31   10/23/2018 at 18:58 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        

So Iíve been using the pots and pan cycle for the most part. Iím nervous to use the Sani rinse as I have a bunch of plastic stuff in there on a daily basis. My wife will lose it if this dw ruins my daughters favorite cup lol.

That said I feel like a might have a bit of a inlet issue. The dw inlet line hisses a bit when itís filling, that makes me feel like there is a restriction somewhere. Iím going to experiment the next week or so and Iíll follow up.

I will say that switching to finish powder and adding a bit to the prewash cup has helped

Post# 1011939 , Reply# 32   10/23/2018 at 19:58 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Sani Cycle On A KDSS-21

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Only heats the water in he sump to 165F then briefly sprays the water on the dishes, I can attest to the fact that my WP PC DW with its Hi-Temp Wash&Rinse of 150F gets the dishes much hotter. If I put a #1 plastic bottle in the WP DW it will melt and distort, our KA KUDSS-20 never got close to causing any plastic melting or damage in the ten years I had it.


I Always used and use air-dry on our DWs.


John L.

Post# 1011983 , Reply# 33   10/24/2018 at 07:11 by joeypete (Concord, NH)        

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I've had issues in mine. Just the other day actually. My Tupperware salad bowl warped in the lower rack (just from the normal temps). My SaniRinse gets super hot and I've taken plastic items out right away and they were very pliable. LOL. Just be careful.

Nice thing on these machines is that the heating element is lower than typical so it doesn't cause as many problems.

Post# 1012131 , Reply# 34   10/25/2018 at 23:11 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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I always add detergent to both cups...about half full in each one since I have a water softener.  My mother usually fills the main cup and about half to the prewash cup, same DW as I have but no water softener in the house.  Think about adds quite a bit of water to the tub...much more than the new machines do so the detergent I'm sure is more diluted in our older models. 

BTW Eugene, would you like me to send you a little of the chlorinated powder I have so you can try it?  I have a bucket of it.  I also have fryer boil out, but I like the Premier bucket better.

Post# 1012160 , Reply# 35   10/26/2018 at 06:41 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Kitchenaid KDSS-21

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Hi Eugene, This DW has THREE detergent cups, if you are using the pots and pans cycle you should put some detergent in the 1st open cup between and above the other cups.


It is important with any DW to use a good combination of detergents. On my 1987 WPs I use a powdered detergent in the first cup [ 1/2 full ] and a perium tablet in the 2nd cup.


On your DW I would try some enzyme detergent in the prewash area maybe with phosphate added, a premium tablet in the first covered cup and some chlorinated powdered detergent with phosphate in the final wash cup. I would not get too carried away with the amount of detergent [cups  only about 1/2 full ] with this DW as it only has one real final rinse.


John L.

Post# 1024335 , Reply# 36   2/11/2019 at 20:29 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        

Things are mostly going well. I still get the occasional dirty knife, but it always is the banana knife. Iíve been using a mixture of finish pods, powder, and some old chlorinated dw detergent my friend bob gave me.

Iíve more or less mastered loading (compared to my first attempts at least), and everything fits and getting clean. The only bummer is that Iím using a lot more detergent. Pre wash, main wash. My pos LG took 3 hours but it mostly did it with one pod. The kdss is loud, but I honestly love it.

It looks beautiful, sounds powerful. It 98% of the time takes care of business. Hopefully I can find a mint condition stove that my wife will approve of so I can ditch that mediocre LG stove. It certainly works fine but is so boring I loathe it.

Iíll update again in six months.

Post# 1024345 , Reply# 37   2/11/2019 at 22:28 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
I have a custom 21

And it does ok...but as John says, its not as good as the older kitchen aids, personally a 16 or 17 will blow it out of the water, I prefer the single arm machines, the water pressure is so strong nothing has a chance.

Post# 1024359 , Reply# 38   2/12/2019 at 07:12 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Kitchenaid KDSS-21 Dishwasher

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Yay, Eugene, glad you are having fun using this unique DW, there are only two of these know to still exist that are in regular use, keep us updated and lets hope it is still working in 6 months.


You should look for something like a GE Veratronic or Colaric Micro-Electric range to complement your KA DW, there has never been any other range that can do the things these combination ranges do, and being able turn out good food quickly can be a real benefit with a busy family.


John L.

Post# 1024394 , Reply# 39   2/12/2019 at 14:36 by Awooff (Peoria, Illinois)        

Lorainfurniture - chlorinated detergent will "kill" or negate enzymes in powdered or pod detergent.

Loading might benefit the tea cup by not placing items in the 4 corners of either rack as wash arms move circular. Also per manuals, soiled dishes (omit flatware) need faced down to catch spray..

Also try using normal or light wash and results maybe better as i have found w many machines. -The fewer water changes do not dilute detergent.

Post# 1024435 , Reply# 40   2/13/2019 at 02:23 by DADoES (TX,†U.S. of A.)        

dadoes's profile picture

Same with mixing chlorine bleach and enzyme laundry detergents or additives ... which is why better washers with timed dispensers release chlorine bleach late into the wash period, or in the first rinse as do some frontloaders.

Post# 1024930 , Reply# 41   2/17/2019 at 14:17 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        

Just to clarify, Iím not literally mixing the detergent, I typically use a chlorine pack for prewash and a finish pod or powder for the main wash.

@john L, donít jinx my dw! Anyway I love the way It looks, and I hope I can get many years out of it. I am curious: upon initial start I hear a bit of a bushing rubbing noise. I donít know how to explain it, but it sounds like a dry bearing. Can the motor be lubed? If not does anyone have a new or like new motor I can buy for a spare?

If the dw holds up perhaps I can get rid of my boring LG gas stove and get something a bit more exciting. John maybe I can relieve you of one of those micro ovens you have been collecting. Put my name on the thermador. I had a pink ge Americana and it was great.

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Post# 1025040 , Reply# 42   2/18/2019 at 17:49 by cycla-fabric (New Jersey)        
Buy it with the Exhaust Feature only!

Eugene, you do not want that GE American stove as it doesn't have the exhaust feature on it. My parents had that exact same stove in that exact same color and it didn't have the exhaust feature on it and the front burner with the Sense a temp unit kept going out. I remember my dad replaced the Sense a temp unit 3 times as it kept going out, and then the burner doesn't work. If you cook anything on the back burners the steam collects right above it and drips down on the pots and the steam goes right on up and coats the upper oven door and just makes a mess that you would not like to have every time you cooked. I remember my mom cursed that stove out and was glad to see it go when the front sense a temp burner went out again for the 4th time. If you can find one with the exhaust and no front sense a temp burner, it maybe another story as the venting feature would eliminate the problem of the steam making a big mess.


Post# 1025045 , Reply# 43   2/18/2019 at 18:36 by STEVED (Guilderland, New York)        
another one?

was perusing Facebook marketplace and spotted this electronic KA dishwasher in an ad for an oven, fridge and dishwasher. In Rochester NY


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Post# 1025057 , Reply# 44   2/18/2019 at 21:02 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        
If anyone is near it:

Iíd would love (and pay) for the motor and controls. If it is in fact a kdss-21

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