Monday, April 13, 2015

Crocus and Canoes and the Bowels of the Washing Machine

The title kind of sums up what's been happening since I last posted.

My crocus are now up.  Seemingly kind of late this year.  I'd have to go back and look at dates I took pictures of crocus in previous years, but it just seems like it took them forever to come up and bloom this year.  The daffodils on the south side of the house are all ready in full bloom (the ones on the other sides of the house are still 3" sprouts).

This past weekend was DS2's regional Concrete Canoe competition.  DH and I traveled for that, being as it is DS2's last year on the team (since he graduates college in less than a month!!) and he's team captain, and well, because it is really cool in a nerdy way.  I confess, I sat through the oral presentations of all nine schools competing--nine technical engineering presentations--and I enjoyed them.  How nerdy is that?

So I spent two entire days amongst a few hundred engineering students and engineers, looking at displays, listening to presentations, and watching the paddlers race the concrete canoes each school had designed and built this year.  And, of course, taking lots of pictures.  Most of which, of course, cannot be shared here because they show easily recognizable faces of people who may or may not want the world reading about them on my blog.  So you get to see a tiny portion of the photos I took.

boats on display

huge, really cool kite someone was flying during race day

co-ed sprint race,
DS2's team coming in to first turn
(emergency aide boat in background)

Then, on Sunday, it was back home and tackling a large project: replacing the bearings on our washing machine.  The washer has been getting increasingly louder since DS1 and family moved in, and in recent weeks has begun making a new scary sounding noise.  Afraid that it is on it's last leg, DH and I have been washing machine shopping--and getting sticker shock.

In a last ditch effort to save both the washing machine and nearly a thousand dollars (apparently the going price for a machine of comparable size, quality, and capability), DH did a little research into the awful noise problem on our washer and determined one or both bearings were most likely shot.  So, for less than $35, he ordered a kit with new bearings and seals off eBay.  Then he set aside Sunday, April 12th, as the day we were going to disassemble the washer, replace the bearings, reassemble the washer, and pray that action cured the washing machine of it's noises and postponed its impending demise.

Let me tell you, taking apart a front loading washer is easy.  Extremely gross when you see all the gook and slime caught inside of it (on the other side of the drum, where you normally never see), but easy to disassemble.  There's a reason I used the word "bowels" in the title; yeah, it did look like the stuff bowels make.  On the more pleasant side, taking apart the washer put to rest the myth that washing machines eat socks.  Not one sock was found anywhere in the guts of my washer.  Based on that observation, I propose the new theory that washing machines liquefy socks and that is how they disappear.  Something had to create all that nasty slime.

Anyway. . .

Pulling the bearings without a special tool (which we do not own and DH didn't want to spent a large sum on purchasing), called appropriately enough a 'bearing puller', is not easy. Not in the least.  The total disassemble, pull bearings, clean all gook and slime while washer was apart giving us the chance, install new bearings, reassemble and test washer took approximately 9 hours.  Getting the old bearings off took about 7.5 hours.  I kid you not.

By the time the old bearings had finally been popped out of their position inside the washing machine, DH had amassed an interesting assortment of 'tools' in his attempts to pull the bearings.  I spotted a hitch pin for the tractor, an angle grinder, a bunch of gigantic washers, some smaller washers, a few long thick bolts, a normal size socket set, a few tractor sized sockets, assorted nuts to fit the long thick bolts, crescent wrenches, channel locks, vise grips, the old worn out front bearings from the tractor (DH replaced last fall), some cup-shaped piece of plastic that is an old part replaced on something with axles at some point, a sawzall, my 4-pound sledge hammer, a rubber mallet, DS1's steering wheel puller, a can of PB Blaster, several pair of pliers including a pair of snap-ring pliers, a flat head screwdriver, a chunk of the fire grate (for the outdoor wood boiler) that had rusted apart and was replaced about three years ago, and a 2" x 12" x 4' board that was a temporary stair tread when we were building the house at this little place here in 2002/2003. . . (Well, that explains some of the 7.5 hours; they were obviously spent running up from the basement to the garage and searching for items that might be of use in pulling those bearings!)

In other words, this was major washing machine surgery combined with some farmer-type ingenuity.  But it worked.  Once the old bearings were out, the new bearings in and new seals installed too for good measure, the washer was pretty quick and easy to reassemble.  And once reassembled, hooked back up to the water supply and plugged in, we ran it through a test rinse and spin.

It was so quiet!  I had forgotten how nearly silent that washing machine was when it was new.  Like you can literally stand next to it and practically have to have your hand on it feeling for vibration to know that it is agitating or spinning.  Success!!  I'm hoping that this 'surgery' will result in another eleven years of excellent service from my washing machine.  Because hopefully by that time, DH will be able to retire and we will be moved from this little place here to our retirement cabin (yet to be built) in the Upper Peninsula (on land yet to be purchased) and I won't need this washer any more.

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