Thread Number: 85325  /  Tag: Vintage Dishwashers
First time KitchenAid Superba owner seeking advice
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Post# 1098667   11/29/2020 at 11:37 (849 days old) by Maud-LaFosse (California)        

Hi, I'm new to the forum. I just bought a lovely new old house and it came with a KitchenAid Superba dishwasher. I have memories of growing up with my family's chocolate brown version in the 1970s and 1980s so I'm quite pleased to be back in the Hobart technology game!

I've just started using my new old KitchenAid Superba which I LOVE and have a few questions.

-any ideas of how old this baby is? Pics attached.

-Only the Heavy Wash cycle seems to work consistently. The other cycles get stuck during Pre-Wash. Any ideas?

-Though it cleans great, my tea cups are coming out really stained. Can anything be done? Maybe specific detergent or cycle choice? My previous modern dishwasher would do a good job getting rid of tea and coffee stains.

Thanks in advance! Great to be here!

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Post# 1098671 , Reply# 1   11/29/2020 at 12:44 (849 days old) by coldspot66 (Plymouth, Mass)        

Chlorine based detergents will help with coffee/tea stains. Wash cycles on the older dishwashers are short, and modern detergents with enzymes and not chlorine bleach need longer main wash cycles. Plus chlorine based detergents help to keep the inner tank white.

Post# 1098676 , Reply# 2   11/29/2020 at 13:31 (849 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Welcome and congratulations!  I don't possess as trained an eye as others here, but your machine appears to be a KDS-20, which would have been produced sometime during the mid to late '80s. 


The problem with cycles other than Heavy Wash could simply be related to poor or deteriorated connectors on the back of the rapid advance timer module.  If you're handy it's not a big deal to access the timer module and inspect it.  Replacement timers are hard to come by, but considering how fast your machine can process a load, even if the Heavy Wash cycle turns out to be the only one that doesn't get hung up, it would be the best one to be stuck with.


I suggest using a powdered detergent with phosphates, such as Cascade Fryer Boil-Out or something similar.  You can't get plain old dishwasher detergent with phosphates anymore, but retailers that carry restaurant and institutional supplies will have products such as the boil-out powder.  Since your machine runs much quicker cycles than modern ones, phosphates are necessary, particularly if water is hard in your part of the state.

Post# 1098718 , Reply# 3   11/29/2020 at 18:40 (848 days old) by jons1077 (Vancouver, Washington, USA)        
KDS-20 (60)

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I have the portable model of this dishwasher. I believe mine is from the early 80’s, about 1980 or 1981. The only issue I’d ever had with this machine was the filter screen in the inlet valve becoming clogged. Once I cleaned up the inlet valve, wash performance greatly improved.

Unfortunately, I have never done any work on rapid advance timers.

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Post# 1098737 , Reply# 4   11/29/2020 at 20:44 (848 days old) by qsd-dan (West)        

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Most likely the timer, more specifically probably one of the timer motors. There's a new timer on Ebay for $62.00. These timers have been obsoleted many years ago and went for around $200-250 when available so grab one now if you really like this machine.

I'd also spring for a new control switch since there are some currently available on Ebay . These can get wonky after heavy use, obsoleted many years ago as well. Most parts of this machine can be obtained from other models except for that timer and switch.

The screen on the fill valve can get plugged up overtime, especially if you don't have a water softener, which will underfill the dishwasher and hinder its performance. Next time you run the dishwasher and it has completely filled up on the main wash, stop the dishwasher and let the water drain for a minute or two. Pull the lower rack out and take a picture of the water level near the filter. We'll be able to tell you if the water level is correct.

As stated above, these dishwashers have fast cycles and were designed for a chlorine based detergents, lots of hot water, and brute force. Tabs and pods will sudslock these machines and give poors results. Cascade fryer boilout is the only way to wash in these older machines

Post# 1098752 , Reply# 5   11/29/2020 at 21:58 (848 days old) by Maud-LaFosse (California)        

Thanks everyone for the detailed comments and advice (with links!). I'm looking forward to treating my dishwasher to some TLC.

Post# 1098756 , Reply# 6   11/29/2020 at 22:39 (848 days old) by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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First off, congrats on the new home, as well as the KitchenAid!

As others have stated, the 20 series KAs were made between 1981 and 1984.

I've been daily driving a KDS-20 now for about 5 years - two years in a previous house with hard water, and thee years now with mechanically softened water. Prior to that I was using a KDS-17A for about 5 years.

While the KA was minty when I got it, the wash arm support and wash arm required replacements and were outfitted with NOS parts. This dramatically improved cleaning as the original wash arm support was binding on the arm. Who knows if the abuse of hard water did it in.

After trying several different variations of dishwasher detergent over the years, this is the combo I swear by - a Costco Kirkland pack in the pre-wash side of the dispenser, and some old-school Cascade powder (branded Cascade Professional) in the main wash dispenser. I can finally put the scroungiest dishes in the KA, even let them set for a few days, and things will come out crystal clear clean using Heavy Wash. The enzymes of the Costco packet work well on the already pre-washed dishes during the Heavy Wash cycle, and then the long wash with the chlorine based Cascade really finishes things off nicely, even in the absence of phosphates. Make sure the water being fed to the KA is pipping hot.

If you already have soft water in your home, you may want to try to find some of this chlorine based Cascade before going with the big guns others have suggested - Cascade Fryer Boil Out. I had to order it online in bulk as I'm unable to find any chlorine based detergent on a shelf, locally, and it was still quite a bit cheaper than the Fryer Boil Out.

Good luck with your Hobart KitchenAid!


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Post# 1098757 , Reply# 7   11/29/2020 at 22:40 (848 days old) by sngencarelli (Pennsylvania)        

Congrats on the dishwasher! I have that same model, picked it up earlier this year, it had never been used! As was mentioned above, it is from between around 1981-83. I use Cascade Fryer Boil Out coupled with store brand powdered detergent and it does a great job.

They also weren't cheap! I'm attaching a newspaper clipping from 1983.

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Post# 1098774 , Reply# 8   11/30/2020 at 02:57 (848 days old) by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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THis is what I use in my KUDI23 and it works GREAT!  I've found it on ebay or from here

I tried the Cascade fryer boil out but I didn't like it as well as this.

Premiere Automatic Dishwasher Detergent, 10 lb. CRE010PL-GR

Post# 1098814 , Reply# 9   11/30/2020 at 13:01 (848 days old) by Maud-LaFosse (California)        

Thanks again everyone! Such great advice and feedback. I'm going to start with the Cascade Fryer boilout and see what kind of results I get. I just ordered some online. I think I will also order the parts on ebay as suggested by qsd-dan as they are not too pricey and I imagine they are getting harder and harder to come by. This is a fun hobby that I didn't expect to enjoy so much.

$679 in 1983!!! Holy smokes!

Post# 1098817 , Reply# 10   11/30/2020 at 13:54 (848 days old) by johnb300m (Chicago)        
Six seventy nine, you outta yo mind?

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That is $1,775 in today money.
Yet many KA dws are still going for $679.
And everyone wonders why things feel so flimsy or why we don’t make things here anymore?
Pressures, both market and non, pushed that price to stay the same. Commodities and labor all got more expensive with inflation and COL.
Something‘s gonna give....

Post# 1098818 , Reply# 11   11/30/2020 at 13:57 (848 days old) by Awooff (Peoria, Illinois)        
Stuck wash cycles

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Maud mentioned "The other cycles get stuck during Pre-Wash." - other members will know for sure but isnt the pre-wash portion of other cycles in this model involved with the machine pausing to heat the water to 140f?

Post# 1098868 , Reply# 12   11/30/2020 at 20:35 (847 days old) by jons1077 (Vancouver, Washington, USA)        
Water heating

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Yes. There are pauses for water heating on this model. Soak and scour cycles have a couple of long pauses (cooler the water = longer pause). A light illuminates on the panel indicating the water is being heated. Sani-cycle adds water heating on the final rinse as well.

Post# 1098881 , Reply# 13   11/30/2020 at 22:10 (847 days old) by sngencarelli (Pennsylvania)        

Very good point everyone.. Many of the cycles (I know Soak and Scrub, Heavy Wash, and Sani for sure) pause to heat the water during prewash. Some cycles do it more than once. Any time that is happening the Sani Heat light will be on and the wash motor won't be running which might lead you to believe it's "stuck" but it's just bringing the water up to temp.

Post# 1098925 , Reply# 14   12/1/2020 at 11:30 (847 days old) by Maud-LaFosse (California)        

Ah ha, how interesting. I will try some of the other cycles again and see. The water in my home does take a long time to heat up in general.

Post# 1098971 , Reply# 15   12/1/2020 at 18:35 (846 days old) by Maytagbear (N.E. Ohio)        
Simple advice.....

You do know to let the water run at the faucet until it is hot, correct? THEN you start. This is called "purging the line," and it is considered by most to be best -practice.



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