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Monday, May 31, 2004
Coming Down From Mt. Lafayette on the Old Bridal Path
Sunday, May 30, 2004
Appliance Tip of the Day: Replacing the Drive Coupler on a Whirlpool (or Kenmore) Direct Drive Washer
One sure sign that the drive coupler is bad is if the washer will fill with water and pump out ok, but it just won't agitate or spin. Replacing the motor coupler is the most common repair task on this washer and is a pretty easy job, even for appliance repair virgins. How easy? About two mugs on the SUDS-0-meter. How can you tell if your washer is the direct-drive or belt-drive model? Like this.
We begin this repair odyssey by removing the washer's cabinet. The secret to removing the cabinet is revealed in this post. Read it now, go ahead, I'll wait...
Finished already? See, you're a whiz at this!
Ok, so with the machine stripped naked like a fatted calf in a butcher shop, we focus our keen Vulcan squinties on the pump, down in front, and remove the two clips holding it on to the motor. Then pull off the pump, unclip the wiring harness from the motor and the two wires from the capacitor (if present). Then remove the two motor clips (top and bottom) to remove the motor. Wallah! The motor, by the way, is double-shafted (for those of you in Palm Beach, "double-shafted" means it has two shafts). The coupler is the three-part piece you see between the motor and the transmission (the other side of the motor). Your old coupler probably looks something like this, or even worse. Here's what a new coupler looks like.
Incidentally, for an excellent and detailed interactive diagram of the guts of this washer, see this page. You'll be glad you did.
When you're all done and you have the guts all tucked back in place, replacing the cabinet is just as easy...if you know the trick. And remember to reconnect the lid switch harness or you'll be scratching your head wondering why the washer won't spin.
Ok, that's about all the rocket science involved with this little gig. All that's left for you to do is order the coupler, maybe even a genuine repair manual for more adventurous repairs in the future. And, of course, your love offerings to the United Samurai Beer Fund would be received most joyously.
To learn more about your washer or to order parts, click here.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Back Down, at the Famous Shell Station in Lincoln
On the Drive Back Home
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Jeannie Avery wrote:
This is one of those repairs with a steep learning curve. Referring to the SUDS-o-meter scale of appliance repair difficulty, this repair rates five mugs of beer for tender, nubile repair virgins like yourself, but only a single mug for crusty, old appliance repair prostitutes like myself. I recommend you have a six-pack of Old Milwaukee on hand. Your bold determination to tackle this repair is exactly what made this country great and you are an inspiration to appliance repair grasshoppers all over the world! In the electrifying words of AC/DC, "For those about to rock, we salute you!"
If you've never replaced the belt on a Whirlpool belt-drive washer, you're in for a banquet of appliance repair merriment. During this repair celebration, you're going to gain valuable expertise in busting loose rusted nuts and bolts. These new skills will serve you well in many other areas of your life like, uhh, busting loose rusted nuts and bolts on other old, broken stuff. You'll also learn how to hang on to greasy wrenches with tired, bleeding hands--another valuable life skill that actually has some application to auto repair.
Now that I mention it, this repair kinda reminds me of working on an old '73 Ford Maverick I used to have. Seems like anything I did on that car involved lots of rust, grease, and blood. And that was just the interior.
Ok, ok, your washer. Oron Schmidt has done a good job of putting together illustrated, step-by-step instructions for tackling this repair. While you have the belt off, turn the pump pulley by hand. Sometimes, the pump seizes and burns the belt. If you can't turn the pump pulley easily by hand, replace the pump, too.
To help encourage you onward in this repair, I leave you with the battle cry we used to scream when I was in the Kamikaze squad, "I'm gonna kill the bastard who talked me into this!"
Sunday, May 23, 2004
Friday, May 21, 2004
Took my little samurai guys hiking up Mt. Flume this past Wednesday. Mt. Flume is one of New Hampshire's 4,000-footers. I was prepared for them to turn back along the way but, by Gumby, they made it all the way up to the summit. Their first 4,000-footer--woohoo!!!
We got underway at the Lincoln Woods Trailhead at 11:30am and got back to the van at 6:00pm for a total hiking time of 6½ hours. That's a long time for any 9 or 7 year-old to stay focused, but my little dudes did it beautifully and had a great time the entire 11-mile hike!
At the summit of Mt. Flume, I called in an audblog post on my cell phone that included cogent comments from Stephen and Sam but the call was lost before it could get posted. Well, forget audblog, check out all the pictures from this hike.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
I often mention Mrs. Samurai in the pearls of wisdom I post here at The Samurai School of Appliantology. Many of you have emailed me wanting to know more about Mrs. Samurai. And several people have told me that they don't believe there really is a Mrs. Samurai, that I'm just a sad and lonely psycho obsessed with fixing appliances and drinking beer. I'll go along with that last part but I resent those first two adjectives--I'm neither sad nor lonely because, 15 years ago, Mrs. Samurai vowed to share her life with me. Still don't believe there's a Mrs. Samurai? Ok, my skeptical grasshoppers, here's a picture of the Samurai and Mrs. Samurai on their honeymoon on the glistening shores of the cooling pond at the historic Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant.
Let that be a lesson to you: never again doubt the Samurai.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
ignitor problem wrote:
I read your information on how to assess a problem with ignitors on gas cooktops. I have a KitchenAid KGCT305EBL0. Power to plug is okay. Gas is okay and lights manually. When knob is turned to Lite position there is no clicking sound at any burner. It seems I need to replace the spark module. Correct? When I searched for parts I came up with a spark ignition switch and a spark module assembly. Aside from a bunch of bucks what is the difference in these and what do I need? Can I replace this or do I need to call in a pro? And lastly, if I require the part that is almost $100 would it be considered bad form to park a box of matches next to the cooktop, tell the wife to use the ole manual light method, and spend the $100 on beer?
You have described the classic symptoms of a burnt-out spark module. The spark ignition switches are the little switches attached to the knob of each surface burner. If the spark module won't spark no matter which surface burner switch you turn on, then the spark module is the problem. The seminal reference on this subject, which you mentioned, is my illuminating Appliantology article, How to Troubleshoot a Gas Stove that Won't Fire Up--this is recommended reading for anyone working on gas stove ignition problems.
Your range will use one of the two spark modules shown here. Just look at your existing module and match it to the one you need. Spark modules are easy to replace and usually rate only a single mug on the SUDS-o-meter scale of appliance repair difficulty.
You pose an interesting conundrum: spend money on the spark module to fix the stove or just light the burners with matches and use the money to buy beer. It's a tough one, I know--I faced exactly the same dilemma at my house. My wife wrote a haiku about it:
I ran out of beer one morning and, in a rare, lucid moment, replaced the spark module. Then she wrote me this haiku:
And she proved it by buying me a six-pack. Now that's true love!
Monday, May 17, 2004
On the Main Summit
Thursday, May 13, 2004
Tom Kern wrote:
Ah yes, the mysterious rumbling dryer. The cause of this noise has eluded many do-it-yourselfers. But St. Applianopoulos, the patron saint of appliance repair, has led you here to The Samurai School of Appliantology for enlightenment. The problem is not the belt, idler pulley, or drum rollers. It's the blower wheel, shown here to the right--click the picture for larger view.
What happens is that the hub of this plastic blower wheel eventually wallows out on the metal shaft and no longer makes a tight fit. That's why you hear it rumbling when the motor shaft starts spinning the wheel from a dead stop. Once the blower wheel is spinning at the same speed as the motor shaft, the noise goes away. Likewise, when the motor stops, the blower wheel's momentum causes it to again spin at a different speed than the shaft and the noise reoccurs. Replacing this blower is an easy repair, not even two mugs on the SUDS-o-meter.
To make this repair, you'll first need to disassemble the dryer to get access to the blower wheel. To remove the old blower wheel and secure the new one in place, you'll need a pair of external snap-ring pliers. If someone else reading this has a Magic Chef dryer, same deal applies. You'll need to order a slightly different blower wheel, shown here to the left.
That's about all there is to this bit of rocket science. Now go fix your dryer!
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
I got back home late last night from the hike from hell. I grabbed a Sapporo and checked email to read about the latest broken things in the world only to find my inbox jammed with emails from irate Icelanders who had mysteriously discovered my dossier on my web server. The weird thing about this is that I don't have any links at my website to this document that so inflamed the Icelanders. I've read that Google can spider pages that are not linked--if you have unlinked pages lurking on your server, Googblebots will sniff 'em out.
So what of this irksome dossier? Well, it's just a sophomoric piece I wrote several years ago that clumsily recounted major events from my adolescence through my years in the Navy, college, and my engineering career. If you're morbidly curious, you can read the offending document at this URL: http://fixitnow.com/dossier.htm -- I'm not writing it as a hot link because I don't want to help Googlebots index it. It's not very interesting or well-written but the Icelanders took umbrage at my description of the time I spent in Iceland while on active duty in the Navy. I'd like to thank all my new Icelandic friends for taking the time to correct me on a few key points I raised in the dossier.
For example, I wrote that Icelandic fathers commonly bed their daughters. But many Icelanders have written to inform me that this old custom has been largely replaced by the new custom of strangling puppies. Thank goodness! I mean, what kind of life could a puppy have huddled on a frozen rock in the North Atlantic sea? Those poor puppies would be condemned to a life of shivering boredom, with nothing to do for fun but lay around licking their own backsides. It's great to hear that a degenerate and self-indulgent custom is being displaced by selfless acts of mercy and compassion for such vulnerable creatures.
Another point the Icelanders objected to was my call to use Iceland as a nuclear testing ground. This, of course, is such a ridiculous notion that it doesn't even warrant a serious response. The radioactive fallout from such a campaign would very likely contaminate unintended targets, such as Canada. And I really like Canadian beer, especially Kokanee beer. When we were backpacking in the Canadian Rockies, we would buy Kokanee beer by the case--damn good stuff!
Uhhh....what were we talking about? Ah, hell, it doesn't matter. How 'bout another brewski? Here's to Iceland!
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
I did this hike three years ago with some friends and remember it being long (17 miles), exciting (on the open summit of South Kinsman in pouring rain with lightning bolts striking all around us) but not especially painful. Three years ago, it was a long day hiking adventure in the White Mountains. This time, it kicked my sweet derriere up one side of the mountain and down the other.
I started at the Beaver Brook trailhead on Route 112 ("the Kanc") accompanied, as always, by my three-year old, semper fi German Shepherd hiking partner, Ouzo (a.k.a., Bubba) and we headed north on the Kinsman Ridge Trail. This is a rugged, rocky section of the Appalachian Trail (AT) with lots of ups and downs going over three major White Mountain peaks: Mt. Wolf, South Kinsman, and North Kinsman, the latter two being 4,000 footers. The weather was much more cooperative this time, beautiful partly cloudy skies with temps in the low 70's in the valleys and pleasantly cooler on the summits.
By the time we summitted South Kinsman, I started having doubts about being physically able to finish this hike--and we still had over six miles to go. These kind of thoughts are like a nuclear bomb on a long hike. Endurance hiking is about 30% physical and 70% mental. The body does what the mind believes. When doubts are allowed to take root, it's game over. So, I did what any seasoned endurance hiker does when fighting mental demons: I called my wife on my cell phone and whimpered...in a manly way, of course. She offered to have a helicopter fly up to the summit to pick me up. This sounded like an excellent plan and I asked her how much time I had to take a nap before the chopper arrived. Turns out she was just teasing me and then proceeded to encourage me onward in her special way, calling me her "leetle girly-man."
So, after that inspirational pep talk with the spousal unit, Bubba and I continued our northerly trek down South Kinsman, up North Kinsman, and then down the other side. At Kinsman Pond, we picked up the Fishin' Jimmy Trail and tripped and stumbled for two miles to the AMC Lonesome Lake hut. Lots of treacherous ice patches on the upper half of the Fishin' Jimmy Trail and I took some award-winning tumbles. Even Bubba, the most nimble and powerful canine hiker I've ever met, slipped a few times. At the hut, we picked up the Cascade Brook Trail and hiked to the Basin Cascade Trail. After eight hours of almost non-stop hiking, we joyously rendezvoused with the spousal unit and reproductive units as we were schlepping down the Basin Cascade Trail, about a mile from the Basin parking area. It was a Hollywood moment.
By the time we made it down to the van at the Basin parking area, it was about 7pm. We fed Bubba, piled into the Chevy Momma van and drove down to the Beaver Brook trailhead on the Kanc to pick up my Ford Econoline trailhog. Then we caravanned across the Kanc to the Shell station in Lincoln for Subway sandwiches and, of course, the essential post-hike medication, Sapporo beer. This hike required lots and lots of beer...all for legitimate medicinal use, of course. And all the more reason to give generously to my favorite charity, The United Samurai Beer Fund.
Monday, May 10, 2004
As you know, the air conditioner in Hell breaks down with annoying regularity. Many fine service technicians have tried to repair it--many have died. The Samurai's world-class reputation for his superb repairing skills extends even into the bowels of the underworld. The other day, a low-level demonic bureaucrat summoned the Samurai to Hell to repair their air conditoner. Naturally, I was not inclined to accept the job but, well, let's just say they made me an offer I couldn't refuse. So, I hopped in my handbasket and took the highway to Hell. Let's listen to this rare audio clip of the Samurai practicing his enlightened repairing art while servicing Hell's air conditioner:
Was the Samurai's repair successful? Let's just hope you don't find out!
Sunday, May 09, 2004
Got a Whirlpool or Kenmore Calypso washer that's giving you an FL or CE or some other error code? Find out what that pesky code means and how to whomp-up on that bad boy in this genuine Whirlpool repair manual for the Calypso washer. This is the real deal written by the manufacturer of this washer, not some third-party. With over 60 pages of detailed technical information, photographs, diagrams, and illustrations, you'll be able to easily do any repair on your Calypso washer using this manual. It's written in a clear, easy-to-understand style so that even if you're a technical neophyte, you can easily handle even the most complex repairs on this washer. All this for less than 20 bucks! Come git you one!
While you're at it, come get manuals for all your other appliances, too.
Saturday, May 08, 2004
A fellow appliantologist sent me this list of cool things to do with a sheet of Bounce. And all this time you've just been putting Bounce in the dryer. Bounce this to a friend!
Friday, May 07, 2004
On Bondcliff Summit
The Triumphant Return
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
If you're repairing or installing a major appliance in your home, you'll need to know what the electrical requirements are for that appliance. The most important things to know are the amp rating of the circuit breaker and the size wire needed. The table below lists electrical requirements for major household appliances. Also, be sure to check out these related links for more information:
 Values given are nominal voltages. All voltages listed are alternating current (AC) at 60 Hz.
Monday, May 03, 2004
Yes, Grasshopper, now you, too, can receive the Samurai's secret pearls of appliance wisdom delivered to your email in a discreet brown wrapper. Taunt your friends and delight your enemies with your amazing new knowledge! Just enter your email address below. And, no, the Samurai would never stoop to selling your email address and you can opt out at any time.
Sunday, May 02, 2004
Many grasshoppers often ask me, "Oh, most wise and beloved Samurai, which appliances use the most power and what can be done to make them more efficient?" To which I sagely reply, "Look, I'm Samurai Appliance Repair Man, not a friggin' power meter. How 'bout you measure the power usage of your appliances yourself?" Yes, grasshopper, until recently, power consumption test instruments were very expensive. However, a new product called the Kill-a-Watt meter, which only costs $39.95, can help you determine which appliance is hogging the most energy in your home.
Is your refrigerator running too much, or is your window air conditioner causing your electric bill to skyrocket? With the Kill-a-Watt meter, you can determine energy usage of any standard household appliance that plugs into a 110 volt outlet.
Refrigerators use a lot of power -- between 300 and 500 watts while running. If the condenser coil is dirty, or the door gaskets are torn, they’ll use even more. Check the efficiency of your refrigerator and other appliances regularly, and clean or maintain them as needed to make sure they’re running as efficiently as possible.
You can also use the Kill-a-Watt meter to check computers, table lamps and most other devices that plug into standard wall receptacles. You’ll learn many devices, such as TVs and stereos, actually use energy when they’re turned off.
The Kill-a-Watt meter is now available for only $39.95. This is a small price to pay to potentially save hundreds of dollars in electricity over time. Come git you one!
I am your gracious host, Samurai Appliance Repair Man.
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