I am quasi retired from design engineering and manufacturing, and now I run a bed and breakfast on the Big Island of Hawaii. Our location is remote, so our choices of major and minor appliances are limited to a few big-box stores or having something shipped thousands of miles with the possibility of returning it. Skilled service and repair is also scarce here, so whenever I buy a major appliance -- after days of research -- I order the service manual when it’s available to the general public.
I had to replace a 15-year-old European design front-loading washer/dryer set recently. At five to six loads a day, B&B life revolves around laundry. Unfortunately, the power distribution was with the washer, so when that died, it took the dryer with it. The sheets and towels were piling up. Running into town, I found the best available in-stock option -- a Maytag Maxima Commercial washer and dryer set. It was a nice package design, had a good reputation, and was available that afternoon.
The set ran great for the first few months. In addition to using them for the B&B laundry, I also allowed our guests to use the set. Of course, beach sand, keys, coins, etc. end up going for a spin. The design of the previous washer considered this and provided a convenient access port in the front of the washer for cleaning the pump filter every week or so. Unfortunately, this was not a feature on the new washer. I rotated the washer tub manually to get a towel down from the top and heard a sliding sloshing sound from inside the washer. It was the sounds of keys, coins, or something else sliding between the inside tub and outside drum. This had never been an issue with the previous washer, but, no matter, I thought I’d just check the filter.
The owner’s manual briefly mentioned the beast. An online search revealed that many users asked how to clear the debris, but there was no clear answer. Apparently, this is arcane and sacred knowledge only for the anointed ones. After much digging and examination of part diagrams, I found that, in order to do this very routine and previously weekly maintenance, you had to remove the front panel of the washer. This still did not clear the junk between the tub and the drum that might one day jam the washer. This is to just clear the drain filter.
You must remove the detergent dispenser, which I discovered is just sitting in place, since exposure to detergent had caused the plastic to shatter around the mounting screws. Then you remove the control panel (also dangling in place on one remaining screw), the bellows door seal (held by a stiff spring-loaded circular clamp without damaging the rubber seal), and finally the front panel with glass portal door (hinge and all). Now, you can reach under and around the back side of the tub for the filter cap, twist it open, and feel around for “stuff.”
Who did this make sense to? In my previous life, the design engineer was on hand for the equipment prototypes during test phases. The design engineer debugged the production prototypes (and processes) and was part of the team during the first year or so of production. The Maytag set is headed for our local Craigslist. The new owners can keep the change.
This entry was submitted by Greg Garriss and edited by Rob Spiegel.
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