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The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » The Vine

The Vine: July 10, 2009

Submitted by on July 10, 2009 – 8:52 AM20 Comments

Hi, Sars. I have a question for your readers about pasta-makers.

I have a manual, hand-crank, metal pasta-maker and…it's broken. I feed dough in, and it gets stuck in the rollers, rather than emerging from the machine as, well, sheets of pasta.

The thing is, I can't figure out how to get it fixed. I went to my local culinary store, and they told me to find a metal fabricator, but that didn't really help. I don't need to forge any new pieces, I just need to realign the ones that are there so the blasted thing works again.

The company that made the machine is Italian, and their website shows me where to find them in Italy, but…I'm in the U.S., so that doesn't really help. Google searches only point me to pages about using pasta makers for clay, in crafts projects.

I really hate the idea of scrapping perfectly good pieces of metal and buying an entirely new machine. I'd rather, you know, be kind to the environment, and see if I could repair what I've got now. But I'm out of leads. Do you have any ideas?


Pasta pasta

Dear P2,

First off, when you come back, tell us what brand it is.Maybe a reader has had the same problem with the same machine and can give you a fix.

If that doesn't work, try Googling to find a similar machine, one whose works look similar to yours; when you've found one, look on their site to see about repairs.

You can also try Googling for local small-machine repair shops, since it's probably just a matter of putting the thing in a vise and frockling the frambus (this is the technical term), so the fact that it's a pasta-maker isn't as important as which tools can fix it.Or maybe your local Williams-Sonoma or other higher-end cooking-equipment retailer can recommend someone who does that sort of work.

Last resort: Craigslist.Somebody knows something.Post it in missed connections and on the jobs board and see what happens.But first, come on back here and tell us what kind of machine it is and what metro area you live in.Maybe we can help.


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  • Margaret in CO says:

    I agree with the suggestion of taking it to a small machine repair place. I'd bet if you took it to a lawnmower/sewing machine/vacuum cleaner repair shop they could fix it. Those guys live for a challenge, you'll be a distraction from the usual and the belle of the shop, I'd bet. And actually a metal fabricator place could be helpful too, those machinists seem to have an innate understanding of how things work and they have every device you'd ever need to straighten or bend a part. (Look out for the Tim Taylor Tool Time guys who'll want to "improve" it!)

    P2 – do you have any helpful hints on cleaning the thing? I gave one away because I'd gummed it up so severely…it's no coincidence that "pasta" and "paste" are only one letter different.

  • Sandman says:

    I hazarded a guess that P2's machine comes from from the same Italian maker as mine, but my machine is quite old: Googling on that brand name that didn't turn up a company website, but it did yield this link:

    and the Pasta Queen machine pictured there certainly looks a lot like mine. I hope the instructions there are helpful to P2. There is a big Italian-owned and -operated hardware store in my city, and that's the first place I'd go if my machine needed repair. Maybe P2 can find a similar local store? Other than that, I got niente.

  • Pasta pasta says:

    I can't believe I forgot to mention what make/model of pasta maker it was. Silly me. It's an Imperia SP 150 ( Currently in upstate, central NY.

  • Judi says:

    Thanks to the awesome new firewalls at my job, I've discovered the magic and wonder of the clusterfuck that is their message board community. I think there's currently a pasta maker thread going on. If not, you could start one! But as far as actual advice, I don't have any. It is the one kitchen gadget I don't own. I admire your courage in making your own pasta!

  • Diane in WA says:

    Sars' advice about machine repair shops is exactly what I'd do: you will find people who fix small engines, sewing machines, vacuum cleaners, etc. These folks know how to tinker with parts that need to align. I'd bet that any one of them will either be able to help you with your machine, or know someone else who can.

    Another strategy is to check on eBay for a machine just like yours to use for parts, using the model number or any other specific identifying information that you have. I did this when I couldn't find replacement parts for my espresso maker and found an almost-new machine just like it, with all the parts, for $10 plus a little shipping.

  • Madge says:

    I'd take it to a local sewing machine/vacuum repair shop. If they can't fix it themselves (which they might) they should be able to direct you to a place that can fix it.

  • Judi says:

    Oops, I meant the Amazon message boards.

  • Nina A says:

    If you have a Sur la Table or Williams Sonoma, in your srae I'd try them, as they carry several models of made-in-Italy machines. If not, a local higher-end kitchen place might be able to help. My last suggestion would be to see if you have any Italian grocers/delis that sell imported stuff-someone there may be able to help you.

  • Deirdre says:

    Or an Italian restaurant? A more family-based one is probably a better bet than the local Olive Garden, but they might know someone who knows someone.

  • JenV says:

    Does the company website have a contact email address? Try emailing them and see if they know of any US companies that sell their products, or of a US company that would repair it for you. Maybe you won't get a response or they won't know, but it only takes 5 minutes to shoot them an email and ask.

  • Bria says:

    If all else fails or the repairs will cost more than $35, Bed Bath & Beyond sells one for $34.99 that works great. Definitely get an estimate up front at any machine repair shop – you don't want to find yourself 80 bucks into repairs on this one.

  • Linda says:

    I will now be the jerk who points out that you should remember that if you travel by car and you spend enough time driving around looking for places that can fix it, and if they spend enough time machining it and/or ordering replacement parts for any that are bent (I'm not sure you can know for sure whether it only needs realignment until somebody who knows something about it gets a look at it), it's possible that you will hit a point where the environment would have been just as well off having you get rid of it. I'm not saying you are at the point or even near that point, but there's a curve that goes, you know, upwards, as far as energy expended to keep it, and at some point, it crosses over the…you know, line…of energy wasted by…well, never mind. You know what I'm saying. I still second (or third, or eighth) the suggestion of a shop that repairs small machines.

  • Imogene says:

    I don't know about repairing one, P2, but I wish you luck and admire your stance. :)

    Margaret in CO – If you're gumming up a manual, hand-crank pasta maker, either the dough you're making is way too wet or you've cleaned it using water before. Those things need to be VERY dry to work properly. Maybe leave yours out in the sun? If you dry up the chunks you have stuck, you should theoretically be able to tap them out. Maybe. :)

  • Sue says:

    My husband had a coffee maker he loved and we kept having to repalce one part on it a few times. We found a source for parts called Culinary Parts unlimeted. I did a google and found they had merged with another company, I still have the sticker in a cookbook even though the coffee maker had died years ago. I also used them for parts for my 20+ yr old Cuisinart.
    Here is the link.

  • AmandaJeanne says:

    You didn't say where in cny you are, but if you're at all convenient to Syracuse, try Smith Restaurant Supply. If they don't have what you need, I bet they could direct you to a spot that does.

  • Amber says:

    Williams-Sonoma sells an Imperia machine (it doesn't list the model number, but here it is:|16|||0|||||||pasta%20machine&cm_src=SCH ), so maybe you could try checking with them?

  • Amber says:

    Oops, re-posting my comment with a working, smaller url:
    Williams-Sonoma sells an Imperia machine (it doesn't list the model number, but here it is: ), so maybe you could try checking with them?

  • Vanessa says:

    I totally agree with the small appliance repair guys with an alternate source: any local hardware store. The small local stores are an amazing resource. We've gotten small appliances fixed through a couple different ones before. And if you're not in a big city, it might be the easiest place to find someone willing to take it apart and put it back together. I totally support your quest to fix it – my mom's pasta machine has lasted her at least 35 years and she uses it a lot. A lot. They can be the sturdiest machines ever.

  • TigerDuchess says:

    Margaret in CO —
    First, you will want to clean the rollers of any dried bits of dough. Open the aperture as wide as possible, then see if you can fit a green non-scratch scrubby pad (e.g., Scotch-brite) into the slot and use it to rub back and forth to remove any dried gunk.

    Once clean, oil the rollers with some olive oil or similar food oil. Oil LIGHTLY (spray) just before rolling dough in the future. Keep your dough "dry" by dusting it with flour or semolina on both sides of the slab before feeding it into the rollers.

    Finally, don't be impatient…start with the largest aperture and roll the slab several times (at least twice) before changing the setting to the next setting, *dust the dough again*, roll it a few times; lather and repeat until you finally have dough the thickness you desire.

    Hope this helps! (Nothing yummier than fresh-made pasta!)

  • Tarbosaur says:

    Don't forget that steel and aluminum are recyclable. Just because it isn't can-shaped doesn't mean that it's nonrecyclable!

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