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Dave Harnish
CEO: Sadie
Dave's Repair Service
1911 Heath Hill Rd
New Albany, PA 18833

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The DRS News
May 2003

In this issue:  

1) ‘Clutch your belt!’ – Top Load Washer Drive Systems
2) Handiest Tools Dept: the Snap-around Ammeter

1) Washer drive systems – belts as clutches: Many washers today still use a drive belt of one type or another, and most of these LOOK like common ‘V-belts’ that can be bought at any auto-parts store.

But: They’re NOT! Be aware that most of these belts also serve as the spin *clutch*, and are specially treated so they can endure ‘controlled slippage’. Regular, non-treated belts will *fit* and the machine will agitate just fine, but will not slip, and all you’ll hear is ‘hummmm’ when the machine tries to spin.

This applies to those of Maytag manufacture (Amana/Speed Queen, Norge, Admiral, Magic Chef) as well as Frigidaire/Electrolux products (Frigidaire, Gibson, Kelvinator, Tappan, Westinghouse)

Trouble is, by the time you hear the dreaded ‘hum’, the tub’s already full of soapy water and laundry, and the machine won’t pump it out because it can’t spin with the regular belt! It agitated just fine, your tools are all put away, and you’re enjoying the admiring glances of the laundry person, but...

There are a couple of exceptions to the rule. As of this writing, GE still uses a spin clutch and regular belt (although on their newest ‘Profile’ models, the belt usually slips within 2-3 years anyway - from becoming oil-soaked!), and a ‘generic’ replacement will work. But the genuine GE belts are very reasonable and readily available.

I’ve been desperately searching for something positive to say about GE lately <grin>, and here it is: All the GE full-sized machines use the same belt, part # WH1X2026.

BTW, if the GE or Hotpoint belt IS oil-soaked, I’m sorry to say, we nearly always recommend you replace the machine with another manufacturer’s product. Shame on GE for the low quality of their current top loaders - I know they can do better than this!

Another exception that can confuse the issue: the newer Frigidaire products, and some others, are using ‘remote’ pumps. These are small stand-alone pump/motor assemblies that run independently of the main motor and belt. This means the washer may pump its water out but still not spin if the belt is bad or the wrong type installed.

The standard Whirlpool - built top loaders, called ‘direct-drives’, use no belt at all, as you probably figured out from the name.

They use a rubber and plastic ‘coupler’ instead. This has been a weakness on these otherwise fine washers. But now, after 4 or 5 revisions of this part, they’ve hit upon a pretty reliable design, the ‘triangular’ version, part #285753 (links to Ebay). You'll find replacement instructions here)

2) And from the ‘Handiest Tools Dept: The 'Snap-Around' Ammeter:
It's surprising just how handy this tool is. Use it for a preliminary diagnosis on most anything electrical. I use mine most often to quickly check dryers. If I read approx. 22A on one 'leg' of the supply, for example, I know there's 240V present and can be pretty sure the heating element is working OK. With the older, two-element GE's, for example, this is the quickest way to see if one of the two coils might be open or grounded.

And even with an older analog version, you can read very small current values by wrapping the wire under test through the jaws more than once. Divide the reading by the no. of turns.

As an aside, when I was a teenager, the operating principle of this tool inspired me to design a cool little device to tap into my older sister’s private phone line from our basement without making a ‘click’. (Hope nobody ever told her!)

As in my previous ‘survey’ on wet-vac uses, I’m looking for your best tips on uses for your ammeter. So any of you ‘techies’ out there that use one of these, send me your tricks and I’ll publish all of them in a future issue. Maybe a month or two before Christmas – these make terrific stocking stuffers <wink, wink>!

May the Lord bless you, and may He continue to bless America.

Your friend,
Dave Harnish

‘Better is a little with righteousness than great
revenues without right.’ Prov. 16:8 



"Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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