Extend the Life of a Washing Machine Timer

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Introduction: Extend the Life of a Washing Machine Timer

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first to…

After a dozen years of use, our washing machine no longer works during what should be the spin cycle.  The timer will need replacement, but can be given a temporary extension of life to get us through a few more loads until the timer I ordered on-line arrives.

Step 1: Remove Control Knob

The black arrow points to the control knob.  Push it inward as you would to turn the machine "off."  You can turn the push/pull knob counter-clockwise and it will unscrew from the timer shaft (red arrow).  Pull the round indicator plate behind it off, too. 

Step 2: Access the Timer

The timer is behind the control panel.  Our machine is a Sears Kenmore.  Grasp the plastic end caps at the top and pull forward.

Step 3: Remove Screws

Two screws, one on each side of the control panel, must be removed.  The one on the right side of the machine is shown here.  Lift and pull the control panel forward from the rest of the washing machine.

Two screws hold the timer against the front of the control panel.  They were visible after removing the control knob and indicator in the last step.  Remove these screws, too.  Disconnect the wiring harness from the timer and remove the timer.

Step 4: Taking the Timer Apart

The timer consists of a plastic wheel with numerous cams on it, a comb of brass contact arms, and a motor.  All of these are mounted in a metal frame.  The metal frame is pressed from two pieces of sheet metal.  It is held together with three bent metal tabs.  See the red arrows in both photos.  Straighten these so they can slide through the slots below them.

Step 5: Contact Arms

This is the comb of brass contact arms. 

Step 6: Examine the Contacts

All functions on our washing machine, except for the spin cycle work just fine.  Most contact points appear only mildly pitted when the arms are lifted for examination.  The third contact from the bottom left of the photo is badly pitted and worn away from high current arcing.  Notice also the black soot on the white plastic.  If so much of the contact were not just gone, filing a clean surface onto the contact points would help.  But the contact point needs to be built up. 

Step 7: Build Up the Contact

I decided to try a very low heat setting on my wire feed welder to add just a little weld material to the old contact with just a short burst or two.  Notice I have a small piece of steel clamped to the back of the contact arm to take away extra heat before it can damage the brass arm.  I know that some artists in metal weld copper pieces with copper welding wire in their wire feed welders.  I do not have any copper wire for welding, but I decided to make do with steel, and it worked well enough. 

Step 8: What Could Go Wrong?

I should have replaced the copper tip on my welder before attempting this.  The hole in the end was worn a bit.  When I squeezed the trigger on my welder, the arc began a little off to one side of where I aimed.  Some of the brass arm was eaten away.  I attempted to build up the contact a little more.  I built it up, but also caused the end of the arm to fall away.  So, I soldered a thin piece of brass tubing to the arm for an extension.

I might have done better with my welding if I had kept the stick out of the wire shorter.  Resting the end of the nozzle on something so I did not accidentally move the nozzle when I pulled the trigger would help, too.  

Step 9: Reassembly

Two paws need to be held back so the white plastic wheel with the cams and teeth on it can be fully inserted into the timer frame.  The file on my PST Leatherman tool is pointing at the paws.  I used it to hold the paws back. 

Step 10: Something to Watch During Assembly

The red arrow points to the cam for the on/off switch.  Slide this back and forth to help the timer halves fit together.  Make certain the switch moves freely when the shaft is pulled in and out.  Do this before bending the tabs to hold the halves together.  See step 4.

Attach the wiring harness.  Fasten the timer to the control panel with its two screws.  Attach the knob and indicator plate.  Secure the control panel to the washing machine again. 

This fix worked perfectly on one wash load, but faltered on the second load.  After trying again, it worked a third time.  This is not a perfect fix, but we now have enough clean clothes until the new timer comes, and my wife did not need to spend time waiting in a laundromat.  I could also try adding a little more weld material to the contact points, but there is always the risk I will burn away too much of a contact arm.


UPDATE: The new timer arrived.  I removed and examined the old timer.  The contacts I built up with my welder had fused together from the heat of arcing under use.  We did a total of four loads of wash while the modified old timer was in place.  On the last three loads I had to shut the washer off and then turn it back on at the beginning of the spin cycle.  When I did this, the washer left the rinse cycle and entered the spin cycle.      

1 Person Made This Project!

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41 Comments

0
roca8967
roca8967

Question 10 months ago

In the attached image, one of the little arms broke off the switch where the red arrow is pointing. Any advice?

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Phil B
Phil B

Answer 10 months ago

The photo did not come through. The arms need a certain amount of flex. Soldering one to a broken one would make that difficult. All I can suggest is to find an old one that has been removed and try to replace the broken one with a spare.

0
Phil B
Phil B

Reply 1 year ago

I recently (2020) did an Instructaon an idea for locking the screwdriver blades on a PST so they cannot fold back on your fingers.

0
Phil B
Phil B

Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

My poor PST does not get the use it deserves. A couple of years ago I got a really good deal on a Juice S2 that fits into my pants pocket so nicely! Thanks for looking at this.

0
muskox3437
muskox3437

2 years ago on Introduction

Much appreciated. Very clear pictures and a step by step approach. I think I can now put my washing machine 'brain' back together successfully. If anybody else has something similar to this layout please get in touch! Having some problems reassembling and holding everything together at the same time.

washer timer contact switch.jpgwasher timer parts.jpg
0
slater789
slater789

2 years ago

Thank you.
Your article is clearly illustrated and clearly explained. Nicely done!

0
AngelaR134
AngelaR134

Question 2 years ago on Introduction

So what is that part called that the knob sits on.On off switch ?

0
ried jacobsen
ried jacobsen

6 years ago

Phil,

Out of curiousity, when you had the contact block out, do you recall of the individual contacts could be disassembled and replaced? I will soon have two of these timers with a burned contact ,and I am wondering if they can be combined into one working timer.

Ried

0
AngelaR134
AngelaR134

Reply 2 years ago

Really I think I need the part under knob where part is that ya pull and push

0
Phil B
Phil B

Reply 6 years ago

I did not see a way. I know sometimes things like that can be pinched in the right place and slip out of the plastic block. That did not appear to be a viable option.

0
AngelaR134
AngelaR134

2 years ago on Introduction

Well let me tell you what my grandson did.the knob drone off so he decides to super glue it back on now.then knob won't eveMing pull up now

0
AngelaR134
AngelaR134

Reply 2 years ago

And where can I get some good used parts

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AngelaR134
AngelaR134

Reply 2 years ago

So what can I do

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JohnN323
JohnN323

3 years ago

My Kenmore washer has a timer identical to yours but has 2 banks of leaf switches. Disassembly reassembly went well except for: How do I sync the main timer dial to the motor cam gear that (by lever) moves several of the switch leaves? All thoughts greatly appreciated.

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snowy40
snowy40

Reply 3 years ago

Do you ever get the timer to sync? I'm having the same problem. Mine also has 2 banks of leaf switches!!!

0
Phil B
Phil B

Reply 3 years ago

I am having difficulty visualizing your problem. Could you include a photo or two? Even then, I have not looked at one of these in a while. I am not sure how much help I can be. Thanks.

0
JohnD26
JohnD26

6 years ago on Introduction

Thanks!!! This was the exact same problem I had, for the same model, and all I needed to do was follow most of these instructions to disassemble the timer. I didn't need to build up the contacts for mine, all I had to do was file down the corrosion on several contacts then reassemble.

0
ried jacobsen
ried jacobsen

Reply 6 years ago

How is the timer working now?

0
omnibot
omnibot

10 years ago on Introduction

Nice job.
I'm thinking it looks like the brass pins breaks the whole current for their functions, makes sense that spin cycle would be the one to go since that involves running a motor at high rpm for a long time, just the motor freewheling must give some arcing feedback. I think you could extend the life further by letting it break a proper relay instead. That way the relay would take the arcings and feedback from the motor coils. Relays are usually better at it due to faster switching.