Monthly Archives: May 2004

Appliance Tip of the Day: Replacing the Drive Coupler on a Whirlpool (or Kenmore) Direct Drive Washer

appliance tip of the day archiveOne 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!

motor coupler for a whirlpool or kenmore direct drive washer--click for larger viewOk, 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

a couple of grasshoppers driving the master to the laundromat

Mailbag: Replacing the Belt on a Whirlpool (or Kenmore) Belt-Drive Washer

Jeannie Avery wrote:

My belt just broke on my Whirlpool, belt driven washer. I bought the belt for it today, glanced at the instuctions on it, but my daughter ripped the package open(so all the instuctions got stretched and distorted) when I wasnt looking so now though I have tried and tried I cant get the belt on. I wanted to know if you would know how to replace the belt on this washing maching. It is a whirlpool, top loading washer. The model number is IHA7680N1, and the Belt # is 95405
Thank you for any help.

The above message was sent when you were offline, via your LivePerson site.

Message sent from IP:

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!”

Hillstomping Update, Mt. Flume

Stephen and Sam flexin' on the summit of Mt. Flume--their first 4,000 footer!!!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.

Marital Bliss

the samurai and mrs. samurai on their honeymoon at the seabrook nuclear power plant cooling pond--click for larger viewI 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.

Mailbag: Gas Stove Burners Won’t Ignite Automatically

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?

The above message was sent when you were offline, via your LivePerson site.

Message sent from IP:

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.

spark module for a kitchenaid range--click for larger viewspark module for a kitchenaid range--click for larger viewYour 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:

the bamboo reveals all

My husband loves beer.
Too drunk to fix spark module.
Click click click click click.

I ran out of beer one morning and, in a rare, lucid moment, replaced the spark module. Then she wrote me this haiku:

the bamboo reveals all

My sweet honey pie,
my love for you knows no bounds
‘cept five seven five.

And she proved it by buying me a six-pack. Now that’s true love!

Mailbag: Maytag (or Magic Chef) Dryer Rumbles Only When Starting Up or Stopping

Tom Kern wrote:


Ref: 13 Year old Maytag Electric dryer……

My dryer has just started making a noise / rumble only during
start-up…. The noise go’s
away one the dryer comes up to operating RPM’s…..

— The belt, Tension pulley, or wheels have never been changed…..

Can you advise what maybe causing this noise on startup ? I can then
order the parts.

Tom Kern

Blower wheel used on Maytag dryers--come git you one!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 Oracle of Appliance Enlightenment® for further illumination. 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.

blower wheel for a magic chef dryer--come git you one!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!

To learn more about your dryer, or to order parts, click here.

Velkommen Icelanders!

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: — 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!

Hillstomping Update, Kinsman Ridge

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.

Happy Trails!

Service Call from Hell

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:

this is an audio post - click to play

Was the Samurai’s repair successful? Let’s just hope you don’t find out!

Appliance Tip of the Day: Whirlpool / Kenmore Calypso Washer Repair Manual

appliance tip of the day archiveCalypso washer repair manual--come git you one!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.

Bounce This Around

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!

  • It will chase ants away when you lay a sheet near them.
  • It also repels mice .. spread them around foundation areas, or in trailers or cars that are sitting and it will keep mice from entering your vehicle.
  • It takes the odor out of books and photo albums that don’t get opened too often.
  • It repels mosquitoes – tie a sheet of Bounce through a belt loop when outdoors during mosquito season – Golfers put a Bounce sheet in their back pocket to keep bees away.
  • It eliminates static electricity from your television (or computer) screen. Since Bounce is designed to help eliminate static cling, wipe your television screen with a used sheet of Bounce to keep dust from resettling.
  • Dissolve soap scum from shower doors. Clean with a sheet of Bounce.
  • Freshen the air in your home. Place an individual sheet of Bounce in a drawer or hang in the closet. Put Bounce sheet in vacuum cleaner. Prevent musty suitcases. Place an individual sheet of Bounce inside empty luggage before storing.
  • Freshen the air in your car, Place a sheet of Bounce under the front seat.
  • Clean baked-on foods from a cooking pan. Put a sheet in a pan, fill with water, let sit overnight, and sponge clean. The anti-static agent apparently weakens the bond between the food.
  • Eliminate odors in wastebaskets. Place a sheet of Bounce at the bottom of the wastebasket.
  • Collect cat hair. Rubbing the area with a sheet of Bounce will magnetically attract all the loose hairs.
  • Eliminate static electricity from venetian blinds. Wipe the blinds with a sheet of Bounce to prevent dust from resettling.
  • Wipe up sawdust from drilling or sand papering. A used sheet of Bounce will collect sawdust like a tack cloth.
  • Eliminate odors in dirty laundry. Place an individual sheet of Bounce at the bottom of a laundry bag or hamper.
  • Deodorize shoes or sneakers. Place a sheet of Bounce in your shoes or sneakers overnight.
  • Put a Bounce sheet in your sleeping bag and tent before folding and storing them keeps them smelling fresh.
  • Prevent thread from tangling, run a threaded needle through sheet of Bounce before beginning to sew.
  • Bounce this on to all your friends. Nothing will happen if you don’t, but those people you send it to will be glad to hear these hints!