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Spanner Wrench for Whirlpool or Kenmore Washer Tub Nut

Picture of Spanner Wrench for Whirlpool or Kenmore Washer Tub Nut
You may need to remove the tub from your Whirlpool or Sears Kenmore washing machine for some repairs.  You will need a special spanner wrench. They can be ordered for about $14 US plus shipping.  I needed one immediately and decided to make my own. The photo shows the tub nut on the drive block.  Both are shown removed from our direct drive washing machine.  The nut is inside the tub and under the agitator.  Space is limited by the sides of the tub to about ten inches between the nut and the side of the tub.  The nut is also a few inches below the top of the tub.  It is difficult to access with anything but a spanner wrench designed for the job.   
 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
The key part in my spanner wrench will be a scrap piece of steel pipe nearly the same diameter as the tub nut.  A couple of inches in length is sufficient.  My scrap piece was about eight inches long and I chose to leave it uncut in case I want to use it for something else in the future.  

Step 2: Wrap with masking tape

Picture of Wrap with masking tape
There is some marking to be done.  Wrap the end of the pipe with masking tape to make it easy.

Step 3: Mark around the circumference

Picture of Mark around the circumference
Mark around the circumference of the pipe with a line set off from the end of the pipe a distance equal to the thickness of the nut.  

Step 4: Mark the pipe for the nut indentations

Picture of Mark the pipe for the nut indentations
Make four marks on the masking tape that correspond to the recessed or indented portions of the nut.

Step 5: Make vertical cuts

Picture of Make vertical cuts
With a cutting wheel in an angle head grinder make a vertical cut on each side of the marks for the indentations in the nut.  It is better to leave the cuts a little wide rather than too close together.  You are cutting away material that will leave four teeth to fit into the indentations in the nut.  If the teeth are a little wide, you can grind on each later for a near perfect fit on the nut.

Step 6: Cut for removing excess

Picture of Cut for removing excess
I turned the pipe in my vise to make a cut along the circumference line in step 3 that goes up to the vertical cuts made in step 5, but does not cut into the four teeth.   

Step 7: Break surplus material away

Picture of Break surplus material away
The pipe material between the teeth has been partially, but not fully, cut away.  The round wheel on the angle head grinder cannot cut deeply enough without cutting away to much of the teeth.  Grasp the portions to be removed with a locking pliers and twist up and down.  It will break away very easily.  Any waste material still part of the pipe can be ground away with the cutting wheel.  Remove the excess portions between all four teeth.

Step 8: Refine the fit

Picture of Refine the fit
 I found the inner diameter of the pipe was a bit smaller than the diameter of the nut at the inner part of the indentations.  I used my grinder to grind the inside face of each tooth.  This made the teeth thinner, but not enough to compromise the usefulness of the wrench. 

Step 9: Final fit

Picture of Final fit
Grind lightly on the sides of one tooth until it slides easily onto the nut.  Visually examine what might need to be ground from the next tooth for it to fit, too.  Check the other two teeth to be certain your grinding will not have removed material that will cause either of those teeth not to fit when it comes time to grind them for the correct width.  When finished, the wrench should fit nicely over the nut with the four teeth fitting neatly into the indentations on the nut. 

Step 10: Weld an arm to the pipe

Picture of Weld an arm to the pipe
The spanner wrench is usually struck with a hammer.  For that, an arm needs to be welded to the pipe.  I had a piece of 1/4 x 1 1/2 inch steel bar about 6 inches long.  I ground one end to fit the contour of the pipe's surface.  I clamped it in my vise and set the pipe on something to hold the pipe in the right position for welding.  

In the absence of welding capabilities, a long pipe wrench could be used on a wrench made from a longer piece of pipe.  

In the photo you can see the teeth on the wrench quite clearly.

Step 11: Using the wrench

Picture of Using the wrench
To use the wrench, engage the teeth in the indentations in the nut.  Here the tub nut and the drive block are positioned in my vise very much as they would be in the washing machine tub.  Strike the arm welded to the pipe with a hammer.  The nut is right-hand thread, so strike to make the nut turn counter-clockwise.  The nut on my washer loosened almost immediately, even though I had tried several other strategies before with no success.
Mrascms5 months ago
Very cool!
Phil B (author)  Mrascms5 months ago

Thank you. The commercial wrenches for these washing machines cost too much. That washing machine had more and more problems, and I am now using its sheet metal skin for all sorts of projects. I also reconfigured this tool just a little and used it to dismantle a hydraulic floor jack I refurbished. That project also became an Instructable.

I liked this project very much. I learned a lot from it even if I never make this wrench, I know more about repairing a washer. Though there are people I know who would love to make one of these through barter.
Phil B (author)  NaturalCrafter4 years ago
Thank you for looking and for commenting. Barter can be very helpful. This wrench can be used for many similar applications, too. Just choose the pipe to fit the nut you need to remove. I have used this same approach to solve a problem on an automobile I once owned.
Very Nice Istructable Phil
Thank you, Stelios. In forums on appliance repair I found a number of posts by people wanting information on how to remove this nut. Someone usually directed them to a page where they could order the factory spanner wrench. It is so much handier if you can make your own.
Some times is not the matter of the cost but the fact that you need it that moment or ASAP, so as you said is handier to DIY.
I feel sorry for those who cannot or will not do DIY, and also very thankful I am not one of them.
pfred2 Phil B4 years ago
While you're feeling sorry for folks feel sorry for me when I've no alternative :) hehe J/K!
Well there's your problem! You see, you have a miller, but you should have a Lincoln. Hahaha. Just kidding. I personally have no loyalty to either, but I like giving people a hard time.
Or you could always pay the money get the tool and it is still goofed up. Here is my experience with a genuine Miller part that I returned and got another one only to find it had the exact same problem. Now it is a 3 hour round trip the the supply house do I go back and get another?
F1-001.jpgW-001.jpgW-002.jpg
rimar20004 years ago
Good as always, Phil!

I liked the end paragraph of step 1: you and me are twin souls! (for some things).
Phil B (author)  rimar20004 years ago
Thank you, Osvaldo. In part I feel badly about publishing something that requires welding when many do not have the money to get a welder. I did not have one until recent years. I wish somehow I had gathered the money and gotten one years earlier, but the money was never available. There are so many impossible things that become possible with a welder.
No need to worry about those things that require money. Very recently (two years) I was able to buy my first zero miles car. When I fill the tank, I told the boy "this is my recent first 0 Km". As is normal here waiting weeks and even months to receive a buyed new car, he asked me how much it had taken mine. I said "64 years". At first he didn't understand the irony.
Phil B (author)  rimar20004 years ago
Good joke, Osvaldo. Thank you.
pfred2 Phil B4 years ago
As I've progressed fabricating I've come to view welding a lot differently anymore. More as a glue than a legitimate fastening technique really. Some projects, some small parts I weld. Mostly I machine and use fasteners now.

I'm totally with you Phil on not publishing projects of limited scope, either in their materials, utility, or methods. I've had requests to write up some of my hair brained stuff and I won't because I think it is just too odd to duplicate.

Even I wouldn't do a lot of it again! Now if you wanted to eliminate welding from your project you could have simply drilled holes through the pipe and passed a bar through as a handle. Though I guess drilling through rounds isn't easy for everyone to accomplish. Center punch, mount pipe in vise attached to press, spotting the hole doesn't hurt either. Or just used the pipe with a pipe wrench. That is universally doable. Have to tension the wrench if you want to hammer it though. Been there, done that!

Maybe you don't know about staining and scribing metal for layout Phil? Staining is usually done with an ink. Dykem Blue is the most popular brand. But any permanent magic marker appears to work. Personally I usually use Marks A Lot. Not that I don't have a bottle of real marking ink too, just well it can be a pain to use.

If you want to see about tapes and pipe check out CURV-O-MARK WRAP-A-ROUND which is an interesting aside about pipes and a tape like device. I think you may enjoy it. It is really esoteric stuff though.
pfred24 years ago
Something I've always wanted to do was to make a custom spanner wrench. I always just end up knocking the nuts off with a hammer and a chisel though and move on. Nice to see someone took the trouble.
Phil B (author)  pfred24 years ago
Thanks. I happened to have a piece of pipe the right diameter already. Years ago I needed to work on the front struts on the car I had at the time. There was a similar nut that had to be held while a nut on a shaft inside the larger diameter nut was tightened, but without allowing the larger nut to turn. I measured and bought a pipe nipple the diameter I needed and made a spanner wrench similar to this one. It worked well. There was no welding on that one. I did not have a welder at the time. But, I used a pipe wrench. It worked out well. I never had to use that wrench again, but it got the job done.