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Motor Zen · 7 April 06

Dishwasher Motor

(click the image for a larger version)

No sooner had I posted the battery article last Saturday than we discovered that both the dishwasher and the clothes washer were broken.

Guess how I spent the weekend and part of the week?

The dishwasher was running just fine, albeit without any water inside. Saves water, but doesn’t do much for the cleanliness of the dishes.

The clothes washer worked just fine too, until the high speed spin got underway at which point the sounds coming out of it changed from gentle whir to an oh-my-gawd-kill-the-power!!!!

Four years ago my wife took a part time job at Sears to try her hand at sales. She didn’t work there very long but long enough that we got a discount on our purchases…and, hey, we needed some new appliances! We bought a front-loading washer/dryer set, a nice, quiet dishwasher and a fridge. And no extended warranties. (I’m the extended warranty)

It’s probably telling that two out of those three have been featured on my how-to-fix-it site and one of them is broken again. The broken clothes washer was a new problem though, and I have only myself to blame.

The weather warmed up, I washed and vacuumed the vehicles, and then proceeded to wash ALL of the floor mats in the washer…at the same time. The washer started making crashing sounds shortly after.

Yes, I have moments of complete stupidity

Since I enjoy taking things apart she’s probably starting to wonder if I do stupid things like this just for the opportunity to see what’s inside.

Washer Cement

This is part of the assembly. Here’s today’s quiz: how many pounds of cement in a clothes washer?

Feels like 60 or so. This front black plastic shroud is covering a whole bunch of cement bricks. There’s another quarter-moon brick that bolts to the back of the drum as a counter-weight.

Other than having to pay Sears for replacement parts it was an interesting exercise. Seeing how they strap the motor to the drum, which is suspended in air by two springs and two shocks, got me thinking about where and how to mount parts on Eve.

The noisiest thing in an EV is often the vacuum pump. What if I mounted it way up front, like where the radiator was, floating in the air with springs? That would move the noise and vibration further away from the passenger compartment at the expense of a little more vacuum hose.

Another idea that came to me was mounting the controller directly to the firewall. The last EV had a big hunk of plywood with the controller and heatsink hovering over a hole in the wood. A DC fan blew air over the heatsink…mostly overkill. Eve has lots of empty firewall space now, why not get rid of the heatsink and attach the controller to a flat spot on the firewall? Guess the main question is how fast heat will disperse through that particular metal.

Back to the washer (this isn’t really an EV post), the problem turned out to be a broken strut inside, on the drum. Replaced it, threw everything back together, and the washer is as good as new.

As for the dishwasher: well, popping off the access panel was all it took to “scare it straight.” One of those problems that fixes itself and can’t be replicated…I hate that.

Hope you all have a good weekend.

p.s. the motor photo was taken using a wide-angle lens and my homemade light box.

Comments 4
  1. — David    Apr 07, 2006 17:44 PM    #

    Glad you got the washer fixed. I own a laundromat and I’ve learned a lot about washers (and dryers) I really didn’t want to know. Be careful with mats with rubber backing. Make sure you wash them on cold. Hot makes the rubber backing come off and guess where all those LITTLE peices go!

    I’ve been lurking around for few weeks, learning about electric cars. They are still a little short on endurance just yet for me. (I need about 100 miles.)

  2. Peter    Apr 08, 2006 14:31 PM    #


    Congradulations I thought little old ladies were the only ones that did that. I work in an appliance store and I’ve heard just about every story or excuse for why somebodys appliance stopped working and yours is a classic :)!
    As for your dishwasher it could have been a loose wire connection to the valve or control/ timer. Also if your on a well debris can block up the valve screen or valve itself. Have fun, I think the firewall idea for the control is the best lotsa metal to absorb/distribute heat, you might want to sand to bare metal where it contacts the controller. Pete
  3. Jerry Halstead    Apr 09, 2006 12:49 PM    #

    Thanks, guys. ”:^)

    How was I to know the drum “floats” inside on the end of a drive shaft tethered to three aluminum crossbars? I figured there was some serious roller bearings on both ends of the drum. Live and learn.

    That puts a damper on my next experiment of using it for a rock tumbler…

  4. — James May    Apr 09, 2006 13:06 PM    #

    Yup, My mother’s washing machine broke it’s drum bracing a few years back. The bracing, a three way 120 degree strut arrangement had snapped when washing New Zealand horse rugs. No surprise there. Anyway, it was die cast zinc for some reason and I couldn’t weld it or solder it or anything. In the end I screwed lots of pieces of carefully cut 3mil mild steel to brace the broken section. It worked for a while. It was a Zanussi and for some reason the replacement part was really expensive. Much more than the same one for a Hoover or Hotpoint washing machine. She cut her losses and bought a new one. Now the dryer was interesting. That started screaming one day and I took it apart and found a 5p coin almost cut in half jammed in the nylon bushing that supports the front of the drum. A colleague just has the same symptoms on his so I suggested he looked for foreign objects.