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Friday, September 20, 2013

God Bless the Maytag Engineers......

And I am not being flippant!

Our Trusty Maytag!
My wife and I went upscale a few years back and bought ourselves a Maytag. We'd bought the commercials and the old girl proved herself over more than a decade.  To understand how amazing that is, you have to understand how the King family washes.  For that entire time, we ran about 5 loads a day and 6 on Sunday.  The washer had Sabbath's off, but that's it.  My Sweet Baboo believes in cleanliness - before, after, next to and as a fundamental part of practical godliness.

So the first time I smelled burned rubber and saw blue smoke emanating from beneath the washing machine, my heart sank.  Every washer we'd ever know, had thrown a belt at least once, if not two or three times while we owned it. Like I said, my sweetie puts a lot of miles on a washer.  

Every time prior to this I'd spent most of a solid day taking apart the washer, removing the old belt and reinstalling a new one.  Generally this involved disassembly of the transmission, support structures, removal of the water pump and a lot of bruised knuckles and cut hands.  I HATED replacing belts.

So when I contemplated tearing into the Maytag, I was, to say the least, less than pleased. I ran into town to the parts place to buy a belt.  When I gave the man my model number, I was horrified when he brought back, not one, but two belts. The parts guy assured me I'd need them both.  As I drove home, I was calculating how many days of work I was going to lose and whether I had enough left in the bank account to call for professional help when I inevitably screwed the job up.

I took off the back panel and to my utter dismay could not find the belts. Were they inside the transmission housing?  Would I have to remove the tub or disassemble the entire machine. I was just about to dial for help when I noticed that there was a drive shaft extending down through the bottom of the machine.  The bottom also seemed a bit higher off the floor than the other machines I'd worked on.

Curious, I tilted the machine up so I could see underneath.

"Oh, joy!  Oh Rapture!"  I quoted the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz in my excitement. Okay, I admit it. I'm weird, but that's not the point of the story.

There on the bottom of the machine in plain sight, unblocked by any struts, supports or anything that required unbolting, were the belts, worn slick from constant abuse by our resident Laundry Nazi.  I didn't even have to unbolt anything.  They were held taught by a spring tension pulley.  All I had to do was roll off the old belts and roll on the new.  No wrenches, not banged knuckles or bloodied fingers save the ones I got trying to take the back off the machine for no reason.

I don't know who the engineer at Maytag was who designed the drive belt pulley system on Maytag Washers, but I could kiss him full on the mouth!  I don't care.  When we moved to Washington and eventually out onto our own, our apartment came with a washer and dryer in our bedroom.  It's a small apartment.  It's nice. The dryer keeps us warm in the winter.  Both are Maytags.  

So last Thursday, when acrid smoke began billowing from underneath the overloaded washing machine and the wife began hyperventilating, I was able to say with confidence, "No problem, I've got this."  I tipped the machine up, pulled off and cleaned the old belts making them good for another day or so and ordered new belts for 8.95 online.  They arrived this morning and it took me 2 minutes to swap out the old ones and voila!  The machine is working and I am a hero around here.

If any appliance maker makes it to heaven, I do believe it will be the guys from Maytag who had the good sense to design that drive belt system for their washing machines.  I wonder if there's a path to sainthood for appliance design engineers?  I'm not Catholic, but I know people!

Just one man's opinion,

Tom King
© 2013, Puyallup, WA

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