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Washing machine problem: timing switch or motor?

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by BE, Mar 30, 2007.

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  1. BE

    BE Guest


    I have an 11 year old Magic Chef top-loading washing machine that suddenly
    won't work. It worked yesterday when I washed a small load. Today, it filled
    up with water just fine, then when it was to start agitating, it did so
    after a long pause. Then it agitated for about 5 seconds, paused 5 minutes,
    agitated, paused, repeat, repeat. The dial never changed and it would not
    work if I set it to Rinse or Spin.

    I reported this behavior to a local appliance parts supplier and he said it
    could either be the timing switch, or, possibly, the motor. A switch on this
    machine is probably rather inexpensive, maybe $35, but the major savings is
    in the time NOT spent taking it seriously apart to look at the motor, or
    paying someone else to do that. The switch appears to be an easy fix.

    Is there a way I can reasonably confirm the switch is truly the problem?
    After all, I can pick and choose from a huge number of washers and dryers
    for sale right now on my local Craigslist, as it is moving time for many
    folks. I can probably get a decent machine for $50 and the time I spend
    moving it.

  2. Ken Weitzel

    Ken Weitzel Guest


    Another possibility (which got me recently) is the lid closed
    switch. Try closing the lid a little more forcefully and see
    if that makes a difference. Or alternately press on and/or slam
    the lid while it's in the "pause" mode.

    Take care.

  3. The only real way is to crack it open and look at it. Otherwise you need to
    get the service manual and check every contact against the programming which
    is no fun.
  4. jakdedert

    jakdedert Guest

    That's a good thought. My machine will agitate, however, with the lid
    open. It just won't spin. Maybe his is different. Most lid switches
    are easily accessible from the top of the machine, usually held just
    under the rim with one screw. If it can't be manually tripped with a
    pencil or some other stick, it usually can be unscrewed, pulled and
    checked. If it's a mechanical problem with the trip lever, they can be

  5. Guest

    Mpfffff.... Three choices leap to mind in rank order (and you are
    going to need a VOM):

    1. The timer motor is weak and/or the gear-train is dirty/crudded up
    so the motor cannot turn it properly. Fix Options:

    a) get to the clock motor and gear-train, clean it out and lubricate
    it, then clean all the contacts and remove any crud or corrosion(and
    keep your fingers crossed). Works maybe 40% of the time for a brief
    period and costs only time. But keep in mind that the system is giving
    you fair-warning.
    b) replace the clock-motor cartridge. *IF* you can find one, cost
    maybe $8 -$20, a major PITA to do, but effective if the gear-train is
    also simultaneously cleaned and lubricated. And only if you are
    certain that the contacts themselves are not the problem.

    2. The contactors are dirty and not making proper contact. This is
    somewhat contradictory to the symptoms you describe as you state that
    the dial does not change. However, some systems have a bi-metallic
    delay-contact that cuts out the clock-motor until it trips. If this is
    intermittent, it is *just* possible to get the symptoms you describe.

    c) Replace the entire contactor mechanism, what you call the "timing
    switch" - this will approach the cost of another (reconditioned)
    machine as I remember, $130 or so unless this one fits:

    If so, that is cheaper than the cartridge and likely the way to go.
    Or, with the understanding that fair-warning is given, replace the bi-
    metallic delay contact... if you can find one. Another major PITA to

    3. One of the solenoids that trip for various functions is either bad
    or the wires to it have broken. This is a surprisingly common failure
    often leading to new transmissions, pumps, motors and so forth. As the
    technician is replacing the _expensive_ part, he/she makes a show of
    replacing the spade-lugs "while I am here"... when it was a broken
    wire (held by the crimps, so not obvious) in the first place.

    d) Check for continuity across the solenoid(s), and power to it
    (them). Replace the spade-lug or solenoid (they are relatively
    inexpensive and usually available) as needed.

    The Lid Switch typically shuts down the entire mechanism, clock and
    all, when it is active. Not to say that you should not try it, but the
    intermittent behavior and lack of clock movement you describe makes
    that pretty unlikely. When it activates, there should be a distinct
    *click* even when no power is applied, so test it with a small
    screwdriver before blaming it (unplugged, of course unless you know
    and understand electricity well and take the appropriate precautions).

    Good luck in any case.

    Peter Wieck
    Wyncote, PA
  6. BE

    BE Guest

    I had thought this switch might be complicit, as the plastic hinge of the
    lid closest to the switch is broken and therefore the pressure on this
    switch may have been compromised. But even if I hold the switch down with a
    flathead screwdriver, the machine still behaves as I described.

    Looks like Craigslist is imminent.

  7. Meat Plow

    Meat Plow Guest

    Set the knob somewhere in the cycle with the lid up and listen for the
    motor. You can usually hear them run because of the gear reduction built

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  8. Meat Plow

    Meat Plow Guest

    Forgot to mention that with my reply but yes in many cases the cycle will
    still advance with the lid up (provided the motor is good)
  9. They do.
  10. Meat Plow

    Meat Plow Guest

    I've seen plenty of timer motors fail. The same basic motor can be used in
    a multitude of timer related devices. One I'm familiar with is a day/time
    timer used to control motors. Out of a dozen or so devices I've probably
    replaced the motor once in each in maybe 15 years. If you're handy with a
    volt meter and know the risks of working on the unit while powered up it's
    easily trouble shot. Even unplugged one can determine if the motor winding
    is open with an ohm meter.
  11. jakdedert

    jakdedert Guest

    The lid switch on mine--as I described, and I have two Kenmore models
    which behave exactly the same--only prevents spin operations. I suspect
    that may be mandated by Federal rules, and the OP possibly lives in
    another jurisdiction.

    It's the simplest thing to check, 'is' a possibility, however remote; so
    no reason to steer him away.

  12. jakdedert

    jakdedert Guest

    I have a possibly related problem with a Kenmore dryer. The selector
    never moves, in any mode, including 'timed'. I'm gonna pretty much
    assume that's a timer motor problem, but I've never heard of one failing

  13. Try manually turning the timing switch to different modes then push or
    pull to star that mode.
    If the machine works in these modes bu the timer doesn't move on to the
    next mode then it's the timer.
  14. Meat Plow

    Meat Plow Guest

    Well it is possible that the motor would be the same, worth a second look
    anyway. If not you haven't lost anything except a few minutes of time
    comparing the two.
  15. jakdedert

    jakdedert Guest

    That's a good tip. I've got one dryer on it's way to dryer heaven with
    a good timer. I was thinking I'd have to source a model-specific unit.
    It never occurred to me that I could just replace the motor....


  16. Warren Weber

    Warren Weber Guest

    Bee.. Acts as the motor overload switch is tripping and resetting. This is
    caused by a bad motor or something in the mechanical system is over loading
    the motor. W W
  17. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    If you have a way of measuring the voltage to the timer motor and you
    find the motor is getting power but the knob is not advancing then you
    can be reasonably sure the motor is bad.
  18. R!

    R! Guest

    I think it was Magic Chief that had a fiberglass pulley and bearing on
    the bottom of the transmission that if the bearing failed it would not

    If it failed completly I think it caused the motor to overheat.

    Used to cost $14.00 US for the replacement kit back when...

    Pop the belt off the motor and see if it still stops if yes then you
    have a more serious problem...

    The belt was under the very botom of this type of machine, unplug the
    machine before puting hands under there...

  19. On a dryer, almost certainly the timer motor or its wiring.

    On a washeer, did anyone mention the water level pressure switch
    likely present?

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  20. On old Maytags (don't know about Kenmore), there is a plastic pinion gear
    inside the motor that fits into another plastic piece that it drives. It
    broke at that point. I fixed mine with hot-melt glue about 5 years ago......

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