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Washing machine clothes getting grease stains during wash cycle

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Re: washing machine

Hi, Ross from Reno here. My buddy and his wife have had some of their clothes ruined by grease stains from their front loader Kenmore. The unit is about 6-7 years old and was making quite a racket in the spin cycle. It wasn't an overnight thing, but got louder as time went on. Switching detergent didn't solve the grease problem and all they could wash at home was work clothes that didn't matter if they were stained. Yesterday we dragged the thing into the garage and took it apart. If you are even somewhat mechanically inclined and have a fair amount of hand tools available, you can fix your machine, IF it's the same problem we faced. The bearing in the rear of the machine had 'spun'. The drum of your washer is mounted on a couple shock absorbers at the 5 and 7 O'clock positions as well as suspended by two springs at 10:30 and 1:30. As you are aware, this allows the drum quite a bit of movement, but if you reach in and grab one of the plastic 'wipers' and pull/push the drum quickly, see if you feel and/or hear any sloppiness. My buddy did this to his and then went down to Sears and tested a bunch of new front loaders in the same way. Not one of theirs had any slop. Again, you don't need much talent to do this job, in my OPINION. It may be intimidating, but if it's fix it or spend a grand on a new one... So the first thing to do is remove the bottom front cover, two screws in our case. Then came the top cover, two hinges on the back need to be unscrewed and then it lifts (from the rear) and slides forward to sort of unsnap. Finally the rear cover, 10 screws, easy. The belt comes off, then the pully. There's a water hose up front at about 5 O'clock that needs to be removed. If it makes you feel better, take pictures along the way to help you remember what goes where, but really, it's pretty straightforward. The drum has concrete weights bolted to it to help quell vibration. The only one we had to remove was the top rear weight. We chose to disconnect the lead to the motor and pull it with the drum rather than try and unbolt it inside the machine. There are other things that need to come off, but you'll see them. We also unscrewed the top brace in the rear of the machine and flopped it, and its attached wire loom, forward to make a little extra room. Next came the springs. These aren't like the springs on your car, but still you want to exercise some caution. You can now unpeel the rubber door seal from the 'face' of the washer and shove it inside the drum out of the way. The last thing we did before removing the drum was to disconnect the shocks on the bottom. They have plastic dowls holding them to the drum and the chassis. You'll need someone lifting on the drum to take the weight off the attach points. On the left side (as you face the washer) we pushed (from the front) the bottom dowl out to free that shock, and on the right we accidentally pulled the shock apart. It split in two pieces like a toilet paper holder used to. It takes a couple people to do the grunt work here. It's not all that heavy if you're 24 years old and 180 pounds (I'm neither), but it's cumbersome. With two guys though the drum came out the back with no problems. Now you can see light at the end of the tunnel. It's only a matter of splitting the plastic case which contains the drum (20 some odd screws; power tools are wonderful here) and CAREFULLY tap/pound the shaft which connects the drum to the pully. A plastic mallet or a peice of hard wood helps prevent damage to the shaft. You need to have the drum up off the floor on wood or something, again preventing damage. Once apart what we saw was a destroyed bearing on the 'drive' shaft. It took a couple minutes of heating the bearing with a small propane torch but it slid right off. The bearing is molded into the plastic outer case, but my buddies had frozen and spun leaving remains stuck to the shaft. I would guess that his is a rather extreme example of how bad it can get. We cleaned up the shaft as best we could with emery paper, and could have reused it, in my opinion, but he decided to replace both, the rear outer case which holds the bearing (you cannot buy just the bearing) and the shaft, which also cannot be purchased separately but must be bought as a whole with the inside drum. They each cost about $200 for a total, in our case, of $420. It went back together easy, even the shock we pulled apart. We used some rubber cement on the rubber door seal, let it set for about three hours and then did some clothes. You'll want to do a load of work clothes first if you are buying a new shaft/drum like we did. It had a light film of oil on it. If you are using the old drum you will NEED to clean all the old built up grease and detergent where the bearing seats on the shaft. You'll see it. A screw driver and high pressure hose will do it. Again, work clothes first. We had a leak on the first run, but it was just the drain hose at the five O'clock position that I didn't get tight enough upon reassembly. We're now washing good clothes in relative quiet. I would have to say that ours was a worst case scenario. But still, three hours labor and a little over $400 ($200 if we had re-used the old drum/shaft) beats the **** out off what a service call or a new machine would have cost. A couple things; have a printout of your machines internals handy, both for reference and to make it easier for the parts counter guy when you go to get the new stuff, and there was one twist tie kind of clamp holding the detergent supply hose that was a bit of a struggle. It took the two of us to get that little ******, but a small straight slot screw driver proved invaluable. All in all it was a cake walk. Hope this helps someone out there save some money and clothes. Ross

Posted on Apr 17, 2009

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