Project: Washing machine

The Problem

My clothes washer had stopped agitating. I have a four grown men living at my house, and my washer gets plenty of abuse use. Frankly, I’m surprised that it still works at all. There’s something to be said about the quality of older machines, especially when you couple that quality with ease-of-maintenance on older machines.

The Planning

Some quick Google searching lead me to believe that worn agitator dogs were probably the problem’s root cause. Agitators work much like a ratchet does: a motor turns partway though a revolution and rotates the agitator. One-way gears (gear dogs) maintain the agitator’s direction. On mine, the gear dogs had worn down, and this creates a┬áback-and-forth motion.

The Project

Replacing the gear dogs is a pretty straight forward process.

  1. Remove the agitator
  2. Remove the worn agitator dogs
  3. Install the new agitator dogs
  4. Install the agitator

1. Remove the agitator

Removing the agitator was easy. I removed the cover and the agitator bolt, and the agitator lifted out.

Looking into the top of the agitator. The four worn agitator dogs can be seen here.

One bolt later, and the agitator is out of the washer.

The top of the agitator pulls off to access the agitator dogs. And I’m gonna need some bleach for this bad boy. Ew.

2. Remove the worn agitator dogs

The agitator dogs hinge on at one end via a cylindrical knob. Slide the old dogs out, and admire how they have no teeth left.

The old (yellowed) and new (white) agitator dogs.

Old (top) and new (bottom) dogs. Notice how the old one’s teeth are completely rounded off? No wonder it wasn’t spinning!

3. Install the new agitator dogs

Installation is the opposite of removal. Slide the new dogs into the slots on the agitator.

New agitator dogs installed. The agitator is ready to be assembled and put back into the washer.

4. Install the agitator

I slid the top of the agitator back in place, and bolted it back into the washer. I left the cap off so I could watch my handwork in action.

Commence agitator testing!

I think it’s easier to understand the agitator action by watching the video here. You can see the center completes a semi-rotation, while the outer section rotates in one direction only.

All said and done, this is one of the easier appliance repairs I’ve completed. I think the entire project took about 20 minutes, and the replacement gear dogs were only a couple dollars. I shudder to think what this would have cost had I been too afraid to do the repair myself.

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