Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Washing Machine

Kimberly found a washing machine on craigslist over the weekend. It was free, but according to the listing needed a new belt. Ever on the lookout for free stuff we snagged it and brought it home, pretty confident that it wouldn't be very hard to find a new belt, and if not, hey, it was free.

We got it home, and I immediately came to the conclusion that there were no belts in this thing at all. There was a large amount of rubber shavings present but these were from the rubber bushing in the coupling between the motor and the gearbox. The washer is assembled as two stacks off the gearbox: the coupling, motor, and pump extend horizontally, and the drive shaft, clutch and drum extend vertically. My initial thought was that I'd have to detach the gearbox to have a good shot at the coupling, but further inspection proved this unwise. As it turns out, the gearbox is held in place and held closed by the same set of bolts, and more importantly uses a thick gel as the seal around the edge, which would have been difficult to replace. It made a lot more sense to disassemble the motor stack (as it was designed to be).

The stack, extending from the gearbox, was as follows: coupling, motor attachment plate and bushings, motor, and the pump. Several hoses also enter and exit the pump, and they complicated things greatly. It is unpleasant to work in a confined space on spring based fittings, particularly ones that you need a fair amount of mechanical advantage to lever open. After getting the hoses off the pump was easy to remove, being held to the motor by just two metal clips. The motor was held onto its baseplate by a similar setup, with the addition of a retaining screw in the top of each clip. After pulling the motor out it was clear the coupling had been totaled: teeth were missing, the rubber was in pieces, etc. Devin and Kimberly googled us up a replacement and two days later the new coupling came.

After getting the new coupling in and everything re-assembled came the moment of truth. We kept the washer our on the lawn, just in case, and hooked up the hose and an extension cord. It powered on and worked like a champ, albeit an angry, vibrating loud champ. But thats a problem for another day. I was worried that I'd get it back together, only to find out the coupling had failed because the clutch locked up, or the gearbox had failed. Thankfully that appears to not be the case, although I'm mildly concerned that the excessive gyrations it currently exhibits may be enough to cause more wear on the coupling by shifting the motor about. Even if it does, a new coupling is still under $20, so we could go through a few more before it became prohibitively expensive.

All-in-all it's a good catch, and gave me a few hours of entertainment, so I'm marking this one as a win.
Robert Alverson