Fix a Frozen Concoction Machine

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Introduction: Fix a Frozen Concoction Machine

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first to…

The photo shows a Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Machine, the Key West model*. It makes shaved ice drinks, like margaritas or daquiris. This one belongs jointly to my daughters, but it quit working a couple of years ago. Could dad fix it? This Instructable shows what I found and how I fixed it.

Materials

  • A really good adhesive for auto body (or perhaps JB Weld)

Tools

  • Screwdrivers (Phillips, flat, and an extra flat screwdriver that can be remade)
  • Dremel tool, grinding stone, and cutting wheel
  • Snap ring pliers
  • Hammer

* These machines are made by Sunbeam.

Step 1: What Happened

The machine has two motors. One is in the upper part of the machine and is for shaving ice. The other is in the base of the machine and drives the blender.

To use the machine, pour drink mix and liquor into the blender. Put ice cubes into the clear basket at the top of the machine. Set the controls for the automatic feature and engage the momentary contact toggle switch. The machine shaves ice, which falls into the blender to join the mix and the liquor. Then the blender starts and the ice shaving stops in a few seconds. When the blender stops automatically, you have a delicious frozen drink.

One daughter said the machine no longer works. She believed she had burned out the blender motor from overuse in a short period of time. That piece of misinformation led me into more work than necessary digging down into the machine to get to the blender motor and test it.

The first photo shows the blender drive. It is a steel shaft with two grooves for snap rings. It has a plastic wheel pressed onto it. The press fit began to slip and the plastic wheel slipped on the steel shaft. Later I discovered the motor worked fine and had not burned out. When I grasped the plastic wheel as shown in the second photo, it was loose. It moved up and down a millimeter or two. It also turned freely without any drag from the motor.

Step 2: More Detail on the Problem

I did not think I would do an Instructable on this job, but realized the part that would be needed to fix this machine's problem is not available in the list of parts one can order for this machine, and the machine is rather expensive to replace. Nothing I can find on the Internet discusses how to fix the problem this machine had. So, I am using sketches done by hand to take the place of photos that were not made.

The first graphic shows a cutaway of the steel shaft with its two grooves for the snap rings, the knurled brass fitting at its top end, and a cutaway of the gray plastic drive wheel. The second graphic shows what I found when I removed the plastic drive wheel. When the knurled brass fitting began to slip inside the fitting on the plastic drive wheel, it generated enough heat to melt and reshape the plastic inside.

The first step was to remove the gray plastic wheel and then to remove the melted plastic from it. I began with a twist drill, but moved to a grinding stone for a Dremel tool. The grinding stone was almost exactly the same diameter as the knurled brass fitting and had a squared end. The dotted lines in the second graphic show the original profile that needed to be restored before the knurled brass fitting could go far enough into the recess for the parts of the machine to fit and work properly.

Step 3: The Easy, But Unlikely Way

It would have been great if I had known exactly how the machine is built before I took it apart. You have that advantage because of my photos and sketches. Ideally, a person might be able to lift the gray plastic drive wheel from the blender without removing any screws. But, it would be difficult to glue it back in place without excess glue sticking moving parts so they do not move again.

The first graphic shows the drive train just above the bottom cover. Remove the snap ring on the cogged pulley in the foreground. There should be no need to remove the metal plate to which the motor is mounted. (The motor is above the plate and not visible until the plate is removed. The motor comes out with the plate. If you do remove the motor and its plate, be certain to keep the wires away from moving parts, like the fan, during assembly.) The second graphic shows the two snap rings used. The one on the left holds the nylon cog wheel on the blender drive shaft. The nylon wheel may need some tugging to remove it from the steel shaft.

After removing the nylon cog wheel, there is a flat washer on the shaft. Below the washer (with the machine inverted) is a snap ring like the one on the right in the second graphic. Remove it. The shaft fits very snugly. I had to tap it out with a hammer.

My son-in-law does auto body work. He suggested using 3M Panel Bonding Adhesive. It can be used in place of bolts to hold fenders onto automobiles. It is expensive. The A and the B tubes together cost almost $40 US. It needs 24 hours to set up properly. See the third graphic. We used a drill press to hold everything in alignment. The steel shaft was held by the chuck. We carefully cranked the table up until the knurled brass fitting bottomed out in the gray plastic drive wheel. We did wipe away excess glue because there is no extra room in the assembly of the machine.

Step 4: Disassembly of the Machine

There are a couple of glitches in disassembling the machine.

The first photo shows the bottom of the machine. Remove the screws. Two screws are not visible. See the second photo. Lift the rubber strips at the rear of the machine and find a screw under each one. Some screws are designed to prevent repair by the home handyman. See the third photo. I used a cutting wheel in a Dremel tool to cut away part of a screwdriver blade so it will fit over the special screw. Make some notes on which screws go in which holes.

Step 5: Reassemble and Use

Assembly was the reverse of taking the machine apart. The fit on the shaft is so tight in its bearings that I did need to tap it back into place. I was concerned that tapping might crack the hardened adhesive, even though I placed a soft wood block between the hammer and the plastic. But, the machine seems to work perfectly, so far.

You can get a manual for these machines here. The same site also has some parts, but they are only things like blender jars and ring fittings, blender cutters, and blender gaskets. This drive shaft and drive wheel is probably the most vulnerable part of the Frozen Concoction Machine, but I cannot find it available anywhere on the Internet.

Much to my satisfaction, the machine worked perfectly after using the super auto body adhesive on the blender drive shaft. JB Weld might have worked, too, and would have been much less expensive for anyone who has to buy the 3M auto body adhesive. (My son-in-law gave me what I needed.)

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    15 Discussions

    0
    reshuman
    reshuman

    7 months ago

    Thank you for posting this and the excellent hand drawings. I am having trouble with my older model Sunbeam Margaritaville maker as well. After successfully rebuilding my 18V NiCd battery pack, the ice shaver portion is now frozen. I have removed all "removable" for cleaning parts from that unit, but don't see how to open it to access the upper motor, which I believe is likely had contamination on the motor bearings and needs cleaning. I see 4 potential very small white plastic covers that may be hiding the screws. Before I go ahead and destroy these removing them to see, I thought I would ask here if you know how the upper unit motor is accessible? I assume it is a direct drive unlike the lower (blender mixer) motor which uses a cogged belt. Your advice here is appreciated.

    0
    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 7 months ago

    I am sorry, but I do not know the answer to your question. I would gently pry on those possible screw covers with the softest tool I can find, even if it is a popsicle stick.

    0
    reshuman
    reshuman

    Reply 7 months ago

    Thanks for the reply. They are wedged in so tightly that they will likely get destroyed trying to remove them. I suspect that the only thing that will be thin enough to get in there is an Exacto blade edge. At this point I have nothing to lose since the unit is frozen solid and wont budge even after attempting to use a ratchet on a standard 1/4" x 20 bolt instead of the "spin off" ice auger. I will need physical access to see why it is so locked up.

    0
    reshuman
    reshuman

    Reply 7 months ago

    Well, today I tried to pry those white plastic caps out from the top of the Margaritaville Machine. Unfortunately, they were not designed to be removed. I ended up drilling one out and saw the Phillips head screw that I had suspected was hidden underneath. I then did the same for the other 4 screw caps. Note that two of the holes were smaller, so I used different size drills to allow different size screwdrivers to access those fasteners. Then I needed to drill out two more after removing that top plastic bezel. I also needed to pry off two plastic caps, but once that was done I got the remaining screws out and was able to access the top motor.

    It turned out that it was completely locked up, so I sprayed the bearing with penetrating oil and then use a pliers to work it back and forth till it loosened up. I then scraped away the old grease and repacked the bearing with new lithium grease. .I tried the motor and since it was now working re-assembled everything. Since I could not replace the drilled out plastic covers, I simply filled the top with hot glue to make it waterproof. All is now working again. I am putting these notes here for the benefit of anyone else who has a similar dilemma on how to get that thing open.

    I have been fixing things for nearly 5 decades and accessing this unit was about as challenging as anything I have worked on over that period of time. They definitely did not want to make it repairable ....

    0
    huudathot
    huudathot

    Reply 3 months ago

    This article and your answer are addressing my problem exactly. My upper motor seems to be frozen and I have gone all the way through removing the little caps (drill, I've run in to these before) and their underlying phillips screws. The upper grey portion with what appears to be a gearcase outline surrounding the motor shaft only comes up a quarter inch or so. It feels like it is held by a wireloom or something. How did you get it up enough to access the motor? I started to take off the bottom for a better look, but the rubber feet hiding a couple of the screws are glued in REALLY well. Then i realized that that approach probably wouldn't help me much (my blender portion works fine). Is the motor just wedged in there tightly? I am trying to apply only "just enough" force to this and maybe I undershot. Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

    0
    reshuman
    reshuman

    Reply 3 months ago

    You will need to remove the bottom to gain access. There are screws hiding under the rubber feet. Once you get it open you should be able to figure out how to access that motor. In my case it took a shot of PB Blaster penetrating oil and some elbow grease to get it to unsieze. (I worked it gently at first in both directions till it freed up.)

    On a positive note, we have used it dozens of times since I fixed it and it is working perfectly now. The rebuilt battery pack is holding up well (2+ years now). Based on knowing how sensitive it is to corrosion, I dry it thoroughly after each use and also make sure not to allow the ice to drip down into the lower blender motor by leaving the blender glass on the unit before cleaning it up.

    0
    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 7 months ago

    Thank you very much for sharing what you learned. I am pleased you found a way to access the upper motor and able to get it turning again. After seeing the lack of information in their manual and the sparse list of parts available, I figured they do not want DIY mechanics getting into their machines. My philosophy is, “It does not work now. If I break it, it still does not work and I have lost nothing. But, if I can make it work, I have gained a lot, even if something cosmetic is damaged. What do I have to lose?” Hot glue sounds like a good closure. My son-in-law does auto body work and uses body putty for many things. I might have been tempted to fill some of the empty space with tissue paper and then cover it over with body putty. Then sand and paint it. Later, if you need to, you can break out the thin layer of body putty. Thank you again,

    0
    reshuman
    reshuman

    Reply 7 months ago

    Great ideas ... thanks. In this case, the plugs that were covering those screws were all hidden under the removable (for cleaning) top ice chamber, so aesthetics weren't all that important. I figure I can easily drill these out again if ever needed. And on your comments on it being unusable and not having anything to lose in attempting to fix it, I AGREE 100%! Being a retired engineer, I love to understand how things work and get great pleasure from fixing things. Thanks again for posting your diagrams and procedure for fixing the lower drive gear. It was the ONLY USEFUL REFERENCE that I could find for these machines on the Internet anywhere. .

    0
    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 7 months ago

    Welcome to Instructables, too! I see you just joined. Things on the web page have changed a little over the dozen years I have been connected to Instructables. Formerly it was easier to follow individuals. I regularly had exchanges of comments with half of a dozen or more people around the world and I counted them as friends. Now I almost never see anything related to them. I miss that. It is a nice site because of their “be nice” policy. When someone takes a bad tone with you, you can flag their comment and it is usually removed within a few hours. While safety is important, there are also the “safety Nazis” who find deadly danger in the most common of activities. Most of them have never published an Instructable of their own, but they know exactly what is wrong with your Instructable.

    There was a time I wanted to be an electrical engineer. But, I felt God pushing me to become a pastor. I am also retired now. My son-in-law lives less than a mile from us. He and his father build automobiles, and he often needs some sort of jig or fixture he wants me to fabricate for him. I get a fair amount of problem solving related to making and fixing things.

    0
    ejshark
    ejshark

    Question 6 months ago on Introduction

    A friend of mine wants to turn her battery powered Margaritaville maker to a unit that uses an 18v adapter running off of 110VAC. Has anyone ever attempted this. Some of the larger laptop/portable computers use 18V adapters with enough current to run something like this. I know this sounds crazy, but she asked. I could just let her use our 110VAC machine but I like a challenge.

    0
    Phil B
    Phil B

    Answer 6 months ago

    It certainly sounds possible. It sounds like you are aware of the requirements. I would keep a watchful eye for potential shock hazards.

    0
    msvalina
    msvalina

    Question 2 years ago

    How do you remove the grey coupler from the base of the machine and replace it (I found the part)? Do you have to disassemble the entire bottom or is there an easier way?

    2018-06-23_17-54-53.jpg
    0
    Phil B
    Phil B

    Answer 2 years ago

    Thank you for the note superimposed on the image. Unfortunately, you must remove the bottom as I showed in the steps above.

    Congratulations on finding the part. The machine shown in the photos has had no use until about a month ago when someone borrowed it for s party. I was not at that party, but the fix shown here held up well.

    0
    jmarsh2
    jmarsh2

    2 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for posting this. I am having trouble with my margaritaville maker as well and it appears that the teeth that grip the blade have been worn down and now it no longer grips and turns the bottom blade like it used to. So Im wondering if I can build back up these teeth with a fiberglass resin. They're just slightly shaved down. You sound pretty knowledgeable about fixing this thing. Do you have any advice?

    0
    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you for looking at this. This drive coupling for the blender on these machines is certainly a weak link. Unfortunately, Sunbeam does not make any of the blender drive parts available to the public. The high torque demands on the blender drive make it difficult to find a home fix that will last. You can try building up what is lost with a resin. JB Weld might be a good material to use. You can get it at any hardware store. Getting just the right shape on the teeth might be much easier if you can set the blender down onto the drive while the JB Weld is still very soft. But, you would also want to use a release agent, perhaps a thin application of Vaseline, on the teeth in the blender so the blender is not permanently cemented to the base. I really wish there were an easy way to replace the plastic teeth on the drive with something made from metal, but i do not yet have any good ideas on how to do it.