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A helpful collection of toaster repair and disassembly guides.

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Toaster gets really hot for a few seconds and then shuts off?

I have 33 years old Sunbeam toaster. When you put a slice of bread in the coils get really hot for a few seconds and then shuts off.

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Do you by any chance have the model number for your toaster?


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There's an adjustment you can make yourself will usually fix these problems. If you turn the toaster over and open the crumb tray on the bottom there's an adjustment screw right in the middle of the opening, on a piece of metal that goes between the two bread slots. Turning that screw one way tightens the mechanism inside, and turning it the other way loosens it up. Depending on what is causing your problem, you might need to be either tighter or looser. The problem is knowing which way to go.

What I recommend to people is that they turn that screw clockwise 1/4 turn, then try the toaster. If it still doesn't work, turn the screw another 1/4 turn and try again. Keep doing that until you've turned the screw two or three full times.

If it isn't working better, turn the screw counterclockwise back to its original position, then start going 1/4 turn counterclockwise and trying the toaster. Keep doing that until you've gone a couple turns counterclockwise.

Usually in the process of doing this you'll discover the toaster is starting to work better (or worse). That confirms you're going in the right (or wrong) direction. Then it's just a matter of making the adjustment until it's just right.

UNPLUG the machine.

It's also possible for crumbs to clog up the works. Emptying the crumb tray and shaking the toaster (over the sink or the wastebasket!) will get the loose crumbs out. Of course you don't want to flush it out with water or anything like that. Just shake it a bit.

If this doesn't fix your problem, sometimes a good cleaning will help. You can remove the screws on the bottom of the toaster to remove the bakelite base, then remove the screws in the tabs along the bottom of the sides to remove the single chrome piece that forms the front, back, and top of the toaster. This will give you access to most of the moving parts.

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Ammending the above comment, didn’t seem to mention the actual problem unfortunately.

I assume it’s a toastermatic with radiant control.

The bottom adjustment is good for if the toast won’t lower or raise, but if it lowers and raises fine, that won’t help you.

If your toaster is a later model, there will be a hole in the handle on one side with a set screw inside. If you’re unlucky you may have to remove the handle to adjust it. Either way, you can do it with the power off.

You want to adjust the screw until the toaster will stay on when you press the switch in the “one slice” slot with the control at about half, but turns off with a “click” when you push it down to the light setting. (the screw tightens in the reverse direction)

Play with it until the click happens just before you get all the way to the left on the dial or slider (depends on the model) and you should be fine. You want to still be able to turn the toaster off and let the bread rise if you slide all the way to the left, that is how these toasters are meant to be adjusted.

This is usually caused by the thermostat being set too low so the toaster turns off as soon as it gets that little bit of heat from the elements. I’m betting your toast has also been getting lighter and lighter?

If that doesn’t work, you can take apart the thermostat, but it took me about 4 hours of tinkering to figure out the correct way to disassemble it. In my case, I bought the toaster not working, cleaned it up and adjusted it all and it now toasts perfectly again.

If all else fails, try googling “automatic beyond belief” as there is a website with tips on how to fix them. And if you still can’t get it sorted out, and you’re Aussie, I’ll buy the broken one for a fair price.

Having said that, the bottom adjustment might work if the problem is the carriage not getting all the way to the bottom, but I think that’s more rare with the symptoms you describe.

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