Grit Blogs > Homesteading with Mrs D

The Maytag Repairman Still Sleeps

By Robyn Dolan 


Tags: washing machine, belts, home repair,

Robyn DolanLiving 50 or so miles away from the nearest washing machine repairman, it pays to learn a little bit about mechanics in order to avoid despair when that inevitable washday disaster occurs. The other day I went to put my clothes in the dryer and found a sloshy brown mess. I tried the spin cycle, but when it stopped, the yucky brown water was still in there. I pulled out the soaking, dirty clothes and put them in buckets to carry to the bathtub where I rinsed them well and let them drain until I could squeeze out enough water to put them in the dryer. I then bailed the filthy water out of the washer and began moving it. A belt magically appeared on the floor. I lifted the washer and set it on blocks to peer underneath. There was a frayed belt which I removed and installed the new one, still wondering why I would have stored it under the machine. I tried the spin again, but the little bit of water in the bottom of the tub would not go away.

Laundry on the line.

Later on, I was explaining the situation to my uncle, a retired maintenance man. We figured it must be the water pump. He described where and what I was looking for and promised he would look at it if I would remove it and bring it by. Thus fortified, I returned home and once again blocked up the machine. I removed the front panel and recognized the water pump from my uncle’s description. No hoses appeared to be clogged, so I removed the pump and discovered a pulley. Putting 2 and 2 together, I reasoned that of course that was NOT a spare belt that I had found on the floor. My washer has 2 belts! One to turn the tub, and one to drive the water pump! Hope-filled, I re-installed the frayed belt, hoping it would last until I could get a new one. I hooked up the water pump, tightened up the belt, and gave the spin cycle another go. Success!! Relief. Mt. Washmore conquered.

Many homestead mehanical and plumbing issues are simple, especially if you are lucky enough to have a retired professional to advise you. Being willing to attempt simple repairs yourself can save you a bundle – not just money – also stress. And if successful, can boost your confidence and make you glad you chose to live “way out there.”

robyn dolan
12/1/2009 7:30:09 AM

Cindy, Simple mechanics I can handle-clear the blockages, keep moving parts greased. It's the electrical where I, too, have the "reverse Midas touch". And then, I do get tired of scrubbing the grease out of my fingerprints...


cindy murphy
11/30/2009 2:23:51 PM

Yay for you Robyn! I have tackled a few fix-it problems myself out of desperation. There was the computer melt-down that a very calm IT guy walked me through over the phone (turns out it was my melt-down; the computer was fine). I walked myself through a couple of minor car repairs, one of which involved using a hack saw and duct tape, and I was quite proud of my ingenuity. And I extracted a sheared off pin thingie from the snow blower once, took it to the hardware, got a replacement, and put it back together. Unfortunately though, I am usually the cause of breakage, rather than the fix-it person. I swear it's some kind of reverse Midas Touch - if it's mechanical and I touch it, it breaks.


robyn dolan
11/30/2009 8:33:54 AM

Dave, I like the way you call it the ingenuity part - my family calls it the insanity part. You really said it all. But shhh...don't tell my neighbors. Then again, for apple pie...


robyn dolan
11/30/2009 8:30:37 AM

Vickie, you are too kind. The common sense part of my brain usually takes a while to kick in. Yeah, our moms and grandmas were a hardy lot. Problem is, they thought they were doing us a favor by us not having to "work so hard".


vickie
11/28/2009 11:57:04 AM

Robyn, I think you are very smart to be able to fix your washer. I know it definetly saved you a bundle! My mother would have also done this -she would have looked until she found the problem too. vickie


nebraska dave
11/28/2009 9:55:37 AM

Robyn, living in the country has a way of inspiring that ingenuity part of the brain that causes us to go where Angels fear to tread. Having lived on the farm many young years of my life, that part of my brain grew into a fearless tackling of almost any kind of repair including washers and dryers. Of course taking the machine apart was indeed a challenge at times and many cuts, bruises, and scrapes left memories of the event on my arms and hands for several days afterward. There really is a sense of accomplishment that rivals the earning of an Olympic medal when it all comes together and the repair actually fixes the problem. There’s even more sense of accomplishment when the fix lasts longer than a week which actually means, hey this fix is actually a good fix. Then as friends and neighbors hear about how the washer or dryer was dead and now it’s alive, who they gona call when their washer is dead? :) Fortunately, I love to help people that need a little help now and then. My moto is “I work for Apple Pie.” As a result I never seem to run out of apple pie. May your washer and dryer live long and prosper.