Monthly Archives: March 2005

Coughin’ Up More Cash for New Appliances

Looks like all the big US appliance manufacturers will be raising their prices for new appliances this year. With the prices for new appliances increasing, appliances will become less disposable and the repair vs. replace decision will be skewed in favor of doing the repair. This bodes well for the appliance repair trade. If people have to pay more for appliances, repair companies will be able to charge more for their services. We’re going to have to charge more anyway because of increasing gas prices, so it’ll probably end up being a wash at the bottom line. But this also means that more people will be fixing their own appliances so I predict steady growth in traffic, parts sales, and live help subscriptions here at

When consumers buy a refrigerator, dishwasher or washing machine made by Whirlpool this year, they will be paying up to 10 per cent more than last year.

Whirlpool, the biggest US manufacturer of home appliances, decided to raise prices to compensate for sharply higher raw material and transport costs.

“I don’t think this industry has ever seen the order of magnitude of cost increases and shortage issues with both materials and transports that we’re seeing,” Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool’s president and chief executive, told analysts recently.

Maytag, another home appliance manufacturer, also increased prices after being hurt by higher steel costs.

Analysts say that attempts by appliance makers to raise prices have failed before because companies would undercut one another, bringing prices back down.

But higher materials costs mean all appliance makers are in the same boat. “We are seeing no sign that any of the suppliers are breaking ranks on pricing,” analysts at FTN Midwest Securities say in a research note.

[Read full article…]

Hillstomping Update: Mts. Welch and Dickey

Dayyam, I hit this one just right! You just could not ask for better winter hiking conditions. In fact, it was SO nice, that I almost feel like it’s cheating to call this a winter hike. But, Spring Solstice isn’t ’till the 21st, so technically it’s still winter. Although, you’d never know it by conditions: pure blue skies, temps in the upper 20’s with a very mild breeze, plenty of snow pack, not rotten yet, still with good bouyancy. It was one of those rare winter days where you could comfortably linger on the summit as long as you wanted. Usually, the summit visits on winter hikes are very brief due to the raging winds and extreme wind chills combined with a rapid loss of body heat as soon as you stop moving. Ahh, but today was soooWEET!

The Welch and Dickey loop is one of those cheater hikes in the White Mountains. That’s where you get incredible views for comparatively little effort. “Comparatively” is the key word– compared to hiking the 4000-footers, this is a cake walk; but it’s still a 4½ mile hike in the White Mountains, in the winter, with a full winter pack, so I think a bead or two of sweat did form on my fair brow.

Anyway, the pictures below tell the story. Click ’em for a larger view.

Viewing the Tripyramids from the Shoulder of Mt. Welch

Bubba gets Excited as We Near the Summit

Bubba Takes a Break on the Summit of Mt. Welch

Ooo, Aahh!

Looking Back at Mt. Welch from Mt. Dickey

Viewing Franconia Notch from Mt. Dickey: Cannon Mtn. on the Left, Franconia Ridge on the Right

Field Notes: Frigidaire Dryer Front Drum Glide Replacement

If you have a Friggidaire dryer (also sold under the Kenwhore brand) that chews holes in your clothes, you probably need to replace the drum front upper felt glide kit. The picture below shows you what I’m talking about (click the picture for a larger view):

Frigidaire Front Drum Glide, Old and New

To light this candle, start by removing the front panel– see my enlightening tome on Dryer Disassembly for instructions on this.

Next, use a stiff, sharp-edged putty knife to scrape off the old glide kit. Maybe sand it down a bit just to make a nice surface. Wipe off all the grotus and residue with a clean towel.

The kit comes with high-temp adhesive. Open the tube and slather that stuff on. Now, I’ll share an old-timer’s trick with you. Squeeze whatever glue you have left into a paper lunchbag then put it up to your nose and mouth and hyperventilate violently for several minutes until your vision starts to tunnel inward. Then hold your breath and wait for the special appliance trick to be revealed.

Ok, after you’ve awakened from your chemical slumber, slap on the new felt kit. Note the orientation: the overlap of the teflon pads should go toward the door panel. Clamp it for a minutes using the proprietary technique illustrated below:

Installing the New Drum Glide Kit

Note that this is a patented technique so, if you use it to install your glide kit, you must remit your royalty payment to the United Samurai Beer Fund.

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

Fixite Do: The Ancient Martial Art of Appliance Repair

Most folks think of appliance repair as just another one of the technical trades, like a plumber or electrician. And, it’s true, there are those who practice appliance repair as merely a trade. But did you know that appliance repair is actually an ancient martial art, older than Kung Fu, Karate Do, and Tae Kwon Do all put together? Yes, my leetle Grasshoppers, I shi’ite you not. The ancient martial art of appliance repair is called Fixite Do (pronounced “fixi-tay do”). According to archeological records, Fixite Do originated in Lower Slabovia sometime during the Fermentecean era, which began right after the Jurassic era. You may be interested to know that Samurai Appliance Repair Man is a fully trained and certifiable master in the ancient appliance repair martial art of Fixite Do. The picture below is an actual live shot of the Samurai applying his art (click the picture for a larger view):

The Samurai Demonstrates Fixite Do

Hillstomping Update: Mt. Kearsarge

This was my second post-back surgery hike carrying a full winter pack. (The first was last week to Ethan Pond– it was so cold that I couldn’t take any pictures so it wasn’t worth posting anything on it. Nice hike, though.) Things are progressing well and, while I still have some healing to do, it hurt less this time than on the Ethan Pond hike. That’s encouraging progress! Like the Ethan Pond hike, this hike up Mt. Kearsarge was selected for mellow grades and short distance (about six miles).

One of the most astonishing things I saw on this hike was moose scrape that was more than 12 feet high! (For those of you who don’t know what moose scrape it, it’s marks left on trees from male moose scraping their antlers during rutting (mating) season.) That is NOT a moose I’d like to cross paths with during rutting season! You can click the picture below for a larger view:

Moose Scrape on Mt. Kearsarge

But it was a gorgeous day for a hike: partly cloudy skies, mild breeze, great visibility, and with temps in the upper 20’s it was warm enough to get subtle hints of spring in the air. In the photo below, I was looking out toward Ragged Mountain. If you click the picture for the larger view, you’ll see Bubba on the trail. Yeah, he da goodest, bestest Bubba ina whole wide world!

Viewing Ragged Mtn. from Mt. Kearsarge

And in this one, I was looking toward Mt. Cardigan. In the larger view, you can see its snow-capped twin peak in the center of the picture.

Looking Toward Mt. Cardigan from Mt. Kearsarge

Coming next: Ragged Mountain. Stay tuned, you won’t wanna miss it!

Appliance Repair Revelation, A Peek Inside the Whirlpool (and Kenmore) Duet Dryer

appliance tip of the day archive(Click the pictures for a larger view.)

If yours is the gas version, the gas burner assembly is conveniently accessed from the front of the dryer by simply removing the quarter panel below the door panel. You’ll see the assembly on the right hand side, as shown below.

Whirlpool / Kenmore Duet Dryer:  Gas Burner Assembly
Gas Burner Assembly

All appliances these days have a tech sheet hidden somewhere inside of them. To find the tech sheet on the Duet dryer, you have to remove the top panel and thar she blows, as Samenilla points out below.

Whirlpool / Kenmore Duet Dryer: Tech Sheet Location
Tech Sheet Location

If you need to get deep into the guts of this beast, such as to replace a belt or change the venting from the side to the back, then you’ll need to remove the door panel assembly. To do this, you first need to remove the top control panel. You’ll undo some screws, as shown below, and then the control panel slides up and out. Be sure to secure this panel because if it slops around, you could damage some delicate ribbon connectors. With the control panel lifted off, you have full access to all the mounting screws for the door panel. The rest is trivial and I won’t bore you with it.

Whirlpool / Kenmore Duet Dryer: Remove Top Panel to Remove Control Panel
Remove Top Panel to Remove Control Panel

Ok, tear ’em up!

For more information about your dryer or to order parts, click here.

grasshoppers sitting with the master doing a special gas conversion

No Child Left Unmedicated

If you want national (socialist) healthcare, then you trust the government with your medical care. If you send your kids to government school, then you trust the government to educate your kids. So, for you, letting the government get into your kids’ heads with mental health screening is simply the next logical step. Right out of Marx’s platform for implementing Communism– get control of the minds of the youth and you control the future of the nation. And you helped.

Big Brother is on the march. A plan to subject all children to
mental health screening is underway, and the pharmaceutical firms are
gearing up for bigger sales of psychotropic drugs. Like most liberal,
big-spending ideas, this one was slipped into the law under cover of
soft semantics. Its genesis was the New Freedom Commission on Mental
Health (NFCMH), created by President George W. Bush in 2002. The
NFCMH recommends ‘routine and comprehensive’ testing and mental
health screening for every child in America, including preschoolers. Bush has instructed 25 federal agencies to develop a plan to
implement the commission’s recommendations. [read more]

Appliance Repair Revelation, Disassembling the Maytag Neptune Dryer

You can click the pictures below to see a bigger version.

Remove the Door Jamb Screws

Pull Off the Front Panel

Remove Clips to Lift top Panel

The remainder of the disassembly follows the procedure for the regular Maytag dryers.

For more information about your dryer or to order parts, click here.

grasshoppers sitting with the master doing a special gas conversion

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

Life is Good

Life is good. It’s late afternoon on a Friday and another snow storm is kicking up outside– they’re promising a foot this time. But I’m propped up in bed with my semper fi canine hiking partner, Bubba, laying next to me. And I have my newest little buddy, a Mac iBook G4, perched on my lap, surfing the web on a new wireless Verizon DSL Internet connection that consistently zips along.

Our old Adelphia cable connection had been steadily taking a dump for six months. I’ve spent more than 10 hours on the phone, pressing “1” for English and waiting to talk to a cubicle dweller wearing a headset, reading me canned platitudes about how my home network was to blame. On a couple occasions, I broke through to a “Level 2 tech,” the guys “in the know,” only to schedule a service call with Big Foot the Cable Guy who, while polite and housebroken and all, didn’t know beans about how to troubleshoot cable Internet systems so nothing got fixed.

Now, here’s a great lesson in free-market economics. Since Adelphia blows herds of warthogs, the conditions were ripe for an upstart broadband competitor to come along and woo us away. But, while they didn’t have any competition for broadband providers in my area, Adelphia didn’t need to be responsive and could allocate their resources to markets where they competed with other broadband providers.

Enter Verizon Online DSL. Ok, telecom behemoth Verizon isn’t exactly an upstart, but they only recently started offering broadband Internet access in our area. I didn’t need much wooing; I used my backup connection, Netzero dialup, to get to Verizon’s website and sign up for their DSL service. They mailed me the self-install kit which included the DSL modem and, 10 days later, I was surfing smoothly on a solid DSL connection. After surfing on dialup most of the time for the past month, I had forgotten how fast and versatile broadband can be.

And here’s the kicker. At $25/month (with a Freedom calling package, which we already have), Verizon DSL is less than half the price of Adelphia cable Internet. In this crazy, upside-down world of compooters, it ain’t always true that you get what you pay for. Sometimes, you get more when you pay less.

Anyway, back to my perfect life, here in my cozy bed with my iBook and my Bubba, while a winter storm rages outside. I’m surfing, answering email, chatting on Yahoo Messenger (zenzoidman), answering questions in the repair forum, and streaming some great music from the Hearts of Space website. All this occurring simultaneously on a fast, reliable DSL connection. Yeah!

At one point, my youngest reproductive unit came in to visit me and I tried to explain to him what a miracle this all is. He was unimpressed. Unless you grew up in the days where your college freshman FORTRAN programming class was taught using punch cards, you just can’t appreciate how many light years computing has advanced.

Have you ever heard Hearts of Space on public radio? I’ve been a fan of that show since Stephen Hill started it in the early ’80’s. Every week, he plays an hour of ambient music (or “space music”). The best way to describe ambient music is that it’s quiet music for contemplation, writing, or just laying in bed and taking a trip without leaving the farm, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, you can also listen to Hearts of Space on XM channel 77, Audio Visions, every weeknight from 11pm to midnight (Eastern Time). Trouble is, I also like to listen to Rollye James during that time. My bowels were deeply conflicted… until I found out that you can subscribe to Hearts of Space and listen online to their entire streaming archive of shows whenever you want for $20/month. Well, that was a no-brainer– problem solved!

Right now, I’m streaming my favorite HOS show through my iBook, Program 332, Deep Forest: A Pygmy/Techno/Rainforest Journey. It’s a unique blend of soothing, traditional vocalizations from Pygmy tribes in Africa with modern techno sounds. I know: it sounds really flaky, maybe even fruity, but you gotta hear it to appreciate it. After you listen to an hour of this music, you feel like you just smoked a mondo spliff of B.C. bud even though you’ve had nothing but coffee.

Mrs. Samurai just told me dinner is ready. Fresh haddock and Greek salad, mmmm. Life is good. Later.

Mailbag: Do Maytag Neptune Washers Still Suck?

Russell T wrote:

Greetings oh wise and great samurai. Got a question about front-loading washers. I want one, but don’t want to deal with all the difficulties they have had. Has Maytag fixed the problems with the Neptune, or have they just washed their hands of the problem? It seems that most of the complaints center around moisture (which leads to the electrical problems and mold). It also seems that if the door is left open, there’s no problem. I’ve always left the lid open on my top-loader to prevent the moldy smell.

At any rate, I’m curious to know if a newly-purchased Neptune has got all the fixes, or if there’s a better front-loading option.



Message sent from IP:

You’re on the right track thinking about getting a front loader (more properly called a horizontal axis washer). But you’re going down the wrong road in looking at the Maytag Neptunes. Yes, they still suck.

You should be thinking about the Whirlpool Duet or the Staber. Both are great machines, but the Staber has several things going for it that edge out the Duet. Read more about the Staber vs. the Whirlpool Duet.

Herd of Sheeple

I just love kickin’ that old horse, Socialist Insecurity. It’s such a perfect example of how far we’ve fallen from a once-proud nation of independent people who prized self-sufficiency and were skeptical of government into a bleating herd of quivering sheeple, utterly dependent on Big Government to take care of us. Mark Outland, at Sierra Times, explains this well:

Social Security, the largest and most invasive Ponzi scheme the
world has ever known, has done more to destroy the American ideals of
self-sufficiency and personal responsibility than any other single
factor, and the fear and hysteria surrounding the President’s
suggestion of personal retirement accounts is proof. Somehow, America
managed to grow and prosper for 150 years without such massive
personal interference. … During most of this time, the concept that
each person was responsible for themselves was a given. Even charity
was conditioned upon true need. … Even when charity was given, the
social pressures to quickly move from dependency to self-sufficiency
— and personal responsibility — were great and ever-present. …
People were expected to do whatever was necessary to provide for
themselves, and not expect their fellow citizens to provide for
them. [read more]

The Empire Strikes Back

Blogs have proven to be a serious threat to the Empire’s status quo. So much so that the Empire is striking back with yet another naked power grab. The Beltway Bandits want to limit your political speech on the Internet, even on your own website! Read the dispatch below and pass it on to your friends and associates on the Internet.

D o w n s i z e r – D i s p a t c h


Please forward to friends who value free speech on
the Internet.

Last week, FEC Commissioner Brad Smith fired the shot
heard round the Internet. He said political activity
on the Internet is likely to be regulated. Smith
opposes this notion because he believes it’s
unconstitutional. He was engaging in whistle-blowing.

His opponents are accusing him of “misleading” or
being an “alarmist.” But this is not a hoax.

A federal judge has specifically ordered the Federal
Election Commission to regulate political activity on
the Internet. These new regulations must comply with
other regulations on political activity established
by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA).

This means YOU could be subject to regulation. You
might trigger these regulations by…

* Forwarding a campaign press release using
* Printing a campaign press release on your
* Posting a campaign ad on your blog.
* Linking to a candidate’s website from your home

But websites and email lists tied to established
corporate media institutions are exempt from these
regulations. The New York Times’ website is free from
regulation, but your website and email communications
will not be.

All of this is a consequence of BCRA, a law that
protects incumbent office holders from criticism, and
privileges the established corporate news media with
full speech and press rights that you no longer

Please go to right now, click on
the link under the headline “Save Our Blogs,” read a
short explanation of how this has all come about, and
then use the easy Electronic Lobbyist System to send
a message to Congress asking them to repeal BCRA and
restore your freedom of the press.

Jim Babka


D o w n s i z e r – D i s p a t c h
is the official email list of

Fight the power! Don’t let Da Man keep you down! Let’s take Ameedica back!

To conveniently email this dispatch, click the cute little envelope below.

Washing Machine Shootout: The Staber vs. Whirlpool Duet

Susan Marek wrote:

Welcome to the Mac and firefox –however Mac’s Safari is cool too! Firefox is for windows users to try to avoid most viruses/spyware thru internet– until it gets popular too.

Now for the big question:

I see you feel Staber is best bet going–still after the whirlpool Duvet entry?

Also, do either of these do twin and queen comforters or King Duvet?


Message sent from IP:

I think the essential difference between Macs and PCs comes down to this: I use a PC because I have to; I use a Mac because I like to. And I like the Safari browser, too. But I was already using Firefox on my Windows platform and they have a very nice version for the Mac with features not available in Safari (e.g., all the extensions, especially FireFTP, gmail checker, and several others that I rely on heavily).

The Staber washer vs. Whirlpool Duet… hmm, tough call. Both are excellent machines with all the advantages of horizontal axis washers over the old, energy/water hog vertical axis machines.

First, a little terminology. I refer to the Staber as a horizontal axis washer instead of the layman’s term front-loader because it’s more accurate. All front-loaders are horizontal axis washers but not all horizontal axis washers are front-loaders. For example, both the Staber and the Whirlpool Duet are horizontal axis washers; however, the Staber is loaded from the top, whereas the Whirlpool Duet is loaded from the front. Aside from the Staber, all other top-loaders are vertical axis washers, which are distinguished by an agitator in the center of the tub that beats the hell out of your clothes.

Let’s review some other fun facts to know and tell about horizontal axis washers vs. their vertical axis cousins:

Comparison of Vertical Axis vs. Horizontal Axis Washers
Feature Vertical-Axis Washer Horizontal-Axis Washer
Water Use per Load 45 Gallons 15 Gallons
Tub Material Plastic or Porcelain Stainless Steel
Annual Operating Cost $600 $260
Detergent Usage per Load 4-8 ounces 1 ounce
Capacity 8-10 Full-Size Towels 16 Full-Size Towels
Half-Life 12 Years 20-25 Years

Ok, any dufus can see that horizontal axis washers are the only way to go. Recent marketing research has shown that the only people buying vertical axis washers these days live in double-wides, smoke GPC cigarettes, and leave the water running while brushing their tooth. If you fit into that demographic, tell whoever is reading this to you that they can stop now and turn Jerry Springer back on because you’re just looking for the cheapest washer you can find.

Let’s move on to the specific comparison and contrast between the Staber and the Whirlpool Duet:

  • The Staber loads from the top vs. from the front as in the Duet. For people with bad backs (like me) this is a compelling feature.
  • Samurai’s 11th Law of Appliance Repair states that, “Electronics and wet appliances do not mix.” The Staber has NO electronics in the control panel– all user controls on the Staber are mechanical switches and timers. It does use a single motor controller board which is required to control the forward and reverse tumble directions of the motor. The Duet, on the other hand, uses two, mondo-hairy electronics boards, one of which is just for the control panel. I’ve already seen problems with the motor controller board, though these were isolated cases and do not appear to be a design or production flaw.
  • Samurai’s 3rd Law of Appliance Repair states that, “Everything breaks; it’s just a matter of frequency, difficulty, and expense.” The Staber is designed to be repaired by the end-user– no servicer required. Since you sought out my website, I assume you have at least some interest in being able to do most repairs yourself. The Staber washer is totally serviced from the front, so you don’t have to be a gorilla to pull it out and work on it. You buy replacment parts directly from the factory– this means they’re going to cost less than comparable parts for other brands because you won’t be paying a retail markup.
  • The Whirlpool Duet is made in Germany. The Staber is made right here in Ameedica.
  • The Staber is less expensive than the Duet. The Staber all-white base model, HXW2304, sells for $1,199, freight-paid. The Duets are more in the range of $1,500, plus delivery.

Wanna see it in action? Ok, come check out this video of the Staber in action (138 mb). The Staber standard white model HXW2304 is available for just $1,199. This is a delivered price to a business or residential home within the Continental U.S. (free freight). When you purchase your Staber washer through me, you also get these other goodies:

Still have questions? More info at Samurai’s Appliance Emporium.

Dumping the Empire

First, let me be clear: unlike the vogue trend, I do not resent Microsoft simply because they’re the two-ton gorilla of the software world and make an obscene amount of money. Hey, this is Ameedica, making moola is the name o’ da game and that’s a game Homey likes. No, I resent Microslop because they simply suck. Going all the way back to the Days of DOS, they were the king of mediocrity. Every product they have ever came out with spawned a plethora of products created to repair sloppy bugs or implement features that should have been included in the first place. They are the epitome of collectivist thinking: all product development decisions are made by committees of corporate bureaucrats. Collectivist processes, by their very nature, are mediocre and anathema to excellence. That’s why big corporations and big governments are inherently incapable of excellence and they can never do anything quite right.

Anyway, I’ve gotten so fed up with Microslop with all their Windows crap and the cheesy machines made for Windows that I’ve started the pilgrimage to Macs. My dear Mrs. Samurai bought me an iBook G4 about two months ago, when I had my back surgery. It’s a cute little laptop with a 12″ screen and is everything that Windows never was: stable, never crashes, works right every time, the only time you ever reboot is for the rare operating system upgrade (mine is OS X and I’ve had one upgrade back when I first connected to the internet with it). It’s unbelievably sooweet! I’m laying in bed right now, propped up with my Mac on my lap, surfing on a wireless Internet connection, reading, writing, posting, chatting on Yahoo IM (zenzoidman) and this little gem is an absolute joy to use.

Another step I’ve taken to free myself from the Evil Empire is switching over to Firefox to browse the Internet instead of Internet Horror. That’s a step everyone can make now and it’s FREE! Firefox is much faster than Horror, more secure, has tabbed browsing, and lots of other features that make for a better Internet experience.

Next step is to get a Mac workstation so I’ll never again have to defile my eyes and fingers on a Windows machine. Now if I can just move the Appliantology Group out of MSN…

Appliantology Newsletter for February 2005

Appliance Wisdom

Spiffy New Appliance Parts Lookup Tools

Let the Samurai Help you Fix It Yourself!

“Is There a Washer and Dryer Worth Buying?”

Banishing the Beeping Bosh

GE Announces Recall of Built-In Dishwashers

Appliance Repair Revelation, Opening the Maytag Neptune Washer

How to Know that a Range ERC is Bad

Appliance Repair Revelation, Dishwasher Leaves Dishes Dirty

Whirlpool Announces Dishwasher Recall

Mailbag: Kenmore Front-load Washer Stinks

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Government Schools: The Failed Experiment

Come See the Samurai

Iraqi Ecstasy

The End of the World: 2029

Stranger in the Night

Love Hurts

Montana to The Beast: “Up Yours!”

Gonzo Goes Bye-Bye

Dell Hell

Remote Viewing that Thing in the Closet

Dying with Ecstasy

Quote of the day: Social(ist) (in)Security

Social Security Reform: A Free-Market Alternative

Appliantology for January 2005