Make a Spin Dryer From a Discarded Washing Machine Drum, an Abandoned Bicycle and a Pallet.

6,286

51

15

Introduction: Make a Spin Dryer From a Discarded Washing Machine Drum, an Abandoned Bicycle and a Pallet.

About: I am an escapee from modern life, now living by the sea in a forest garden in France. After over 20 years industrial experience, I quit my managerial position to study for a degree in Engineering. That done I …

After over a decade of doing our laundry with a home-made bicycle washing machine, we finally decided we needed the spin function too. With our 'new' spin dryer we can achieve a spin cycle of between 320 and 400 rpm which gives us 'non-drip' laundry, which we could never achieve with our bicycle washing machine.


Step 1: Main Components, Extra Materials & Tools

Important! - Units of Measurement

This is not a one-size-fits-all project, you have to reference your actual machine and all its component sizes (drain hose diameter, screw threads, etc.,) to the build. My machine being French, means all the threaded components are metric and I have also noted that some of the threaded bar/rod, sold in the US, for example, is now also in metric. So rather than my directly translating these dimensions into Imperial, which would not be appropriate, just substitute your machine's fastener sizes.

The Main Components

The Bicycle: These wonderful machines are very often discarded long before their useful life has ceased, so can be bought, very cheaply, from secondhand shops, yard sales and many other sources. Alternatively, one can just intercept them before they get thrown into the dumpster. In my case, items like these are 'fly-tipped' behind our village bottle-bank and it is always worth my checking occasionally to see if any have been left there. The one I'm using for this project is from this latter source and is a well-used Rolland (now Jacquot) of Versailles. The major components of this i.e. frame, crankset and rear wheel hub were still O.K. for my needs.

The Washing Machine Drum: An old top-loading model that was badly corroded around the base was given to me by a friend. The drum and drum housing, including the bearings were still serviceable. If you can't get hold of a dead washing machine with a watertight drum and believe me at least one of your friends/family/neighbours has one tucked away in their garage, then you can use a couple of different sized plastic water barrels. However, if you are not worried about where the water goes, i.e. you have this set up in the backyard, then just one will suffice, plus that way you also get a free shower!

The Pallet: A non-standard sized untreated* pallet long enough to fit the bicycle and the supported drum was selected. For the layout of my components the pallet size was: 135cm x 80cm (53" x 32").

*(please see my articles, referenced at the end, on how to find and identify them)

Extra Materials

Stands - I used the metal ones I had created for a previous pedal-powered washing machine but included in this build will be a section on how to make wooden ones from untreated pallet wood.

Pallet Wood Planks Various sizes and thicknesses

Nuts, Bolts and Washers to fit:

Threaded bar - with regard to sizes as detailed above, this will need to correspond to the existing threads on the washing machine.

Additional Bicycle Chain - approximately 10" (250mm)

Vacuum Cleaner Hose - recuperated

Tools

All of this build can be achieved with hand tools but if you have them and the power to run them, then obviously it will be quicker if you use power tools for some of the build:

  • taps and dies
  • spanners
  • screwdriver
  • wood saw
  • hacksaw
  • vice
  • angle grinder
  • electric drill
  • lathe (optional)
  • tape measure

Step 2: The Design

The criteria for making a successful spin-dryer was to be able to increase the drum rotation speed such that the wet contents of the drum would be forced against the drum wall by centrifugal/centripetal force and the water would pass through the perforated drum wall. The faster the spin speed the greater the force and hence the more water should be expressed out of the laundry. In addition, the duration of spin would also affect the water removal.

The position of the drum in relation to the bicycle was also an important consideration: whether the drum is in front of the bicycle or behind makes a difference to the overall pallet size and chain length. I had already found that the smallest footprint would be achieved with the drum in front of the pedals rather than behind.

The washing machine had a direct drive from the crankset to a chainwheel attached to the drum shaft. They were the same size and thus had a 1:1 gear ratio. For the new project I used the smallest gear from the rear wheel gear cluster on the drum shaft which would raise the ratio to 1:3.2. Initially I had thought of having the same 'fixed wheel' arrangement between bicycle and drum as on the washing machine but after a discussion with some undergrad students on design choices for the spin-dryer I decided to see if it were possible to use a freewheel hub instead.

Step 3: The Build - the Gearing Cluster

As I mentioned earlier, the exterior housing of the washing machine was not in a sound state, so I removed the drum/pulley wheel assembly from it.

The first part of the build was to obtain the rear wheel cluster and hub from the bicycle. I clamped the wheel by its spindle in the vice and removed the spokes using a cutting disc in the angle grinder. The spokes from the wheel hub on the other side to the gear cluster were the first to be removed, allowing easier access for the cutting disc to those fixed nearest the cluster. Once all removed the last remaining portions of the spokes could be ground out from the rear of the hub.

I then needed the bearing and housing removed from the remainder of the rear wheel spindle housing. Once again using the cutting disc I removed the other end of the spindle housing which then enabled me to clamp it in the vice and cut the bearing and its housing from the rest with a hacksaw.

The bearing and housing fitted into the gear cluster and a 10mm threaded bar was used instead of the wheel spindle. Matching nuts either side of the cluster held the cluster securely in place.

The problem I was now faced with was, for the bicycle/drum configuration I had opted for, the hub would have to fit into the drum shaft with the smallest gear of the cluster nearest to the drum. This would still let me pedal in the conventional, cycling direction to turn the drum. The drum shaft was threaded at the end to accommodate an 8mm screw so I needed to reduce the threaded spindle from 10mm to 8mm and cut a new thread to fit.

I held the free end of the 10mm shaft in the chuck of my wood-turning lathe and reduced the shaft diameter using the angle grinder whilst the lathe was in motion. I had an 8mm washer as a go/no go gauge, checking the fit frequently to ensure I did not remove too much from the spindle diameter. Once I got my gauge washer to fit down the ground portion, I clamped the 10mm end of the shaft between two pieces of wood in the vice (to prevent damage to the thread), filed a chamfer on the free end of the 8mm section and cut the thread with an 8mm die.

The newly-made shaft could then be screwed into the drum shaft and the gear cluster secured to the 10mm portion of this shaft. A visual check was made to ensure the gear cluster was running concentrically with the drum shaft.

Step 4: The Build - Attaching the Bicycle

It was now time to attach the bicycle to the pallet. The bicycle was supported on two axle stands that I had made for our original; pedal-powered washing machine. The metal supports were fixed to the pallet using wood screws. These were of welded construction. If I had not had these available, I would have made new ones using pallet wood as I did for our 'new' bicycle washing machine. You could find this in my Washing Machine Instructable but I'll set it out again here to keep everything together.

Pallet Wood Stands

The important dimension was the height of the stand necessary to obtain the clearance between the pedal at its lowest point and the pallet. In my case this was about 12" (300mm). The vertical supports of the stands were stiffened with angled braces which extended to the stand base. Each stand had front and rear 'feet' which were screwed to the pallet and extended across at least 4 of the pallet's planks (this was to distribute the weight of the bicycle and the cyclist).

To give you some sort of idea of the sizes of material used, I list them below:

Stand uprights:  3" x 1" x 12½" (75mm x 25mm x 310mm)

Base:              3" x 1¾" x 8½" (75mm x 32mm x 210mm)

Feet:             13" x 3½" x ⅝" (325mm x 85mm x 15mm)

These are all recuperated untreated pallet wood.

The bicycle fork ends were supported on 10mm threaded bar.

For fitting the the supports onto the length of the pallet, I made both of them in the shape of a right-angled triangle.

The rear support comprised the uprights, glued and screwed to the base. The diagonal braces were glued and screwed to the inside faces of the uprights but did not go to the top of the upright so as to permit the fitting of the fork ends onto the supporting bar.

Packing pieces of the same thickness as the uprights were glued to the inside face of the base so that the braces could be screwed to a flat face at the same level as that of the uprights. Once the glue was dry, the stand was glued and screwed to the two 'feet' and the clearance holes for the supporting threaded bar were drilled in the uprights about 1" from the top edge.

The front support was a slightly different design in that I needed the fork end nearest the machine or in this case drum, to be on the outside face of the support. This was so that the bicycle chain wheel will align with that on the drum shaft. I also made a housed joint for the one upright (see image).

The support was also asymmetrically mounted on the feet this, to ensure the proximity of the bicycle to the drum. As with the rear support the holes for the threaded bar were drilled 1" from the top edge of the uprights.

Step 5: The Build - Attaching the Drum

The drum mounting was more difficult. As was explained at the beginning of this post, the housing of the machine was very badly corroded and could not be used. Thus I had to make wooden supports that could in turn be fixed to the pallet. The biggest problem with this was that there was no common datum on the bottom of the drum housing, in effect the drum if placed onto a flat level surface could not stand upright. In order to obtain a level across the three mounting points, I turned the drum over onto its lid, ensuring that the lid opening catch was not touching the workbench surface. The height difference between the mounting points could then be determined and wooden planks and spacers cut to the appropriate length and thickness and attached, using the original mounting bolts and nuts (recuperated). These supports were in turn screwed to the 'carrier' planks which were parallel to the drum axis, so as to fit across the pallet, next to the bicycle. These two 'carrier' planks were slotted, two slots per plank, the slots coincided with the approximate centre line of planks on the main pallet and with four holes drilled therein. Securing bolts and washers secured the drum to the pallet.

Drainage of water from the drum was as with the pedal washing machine via gravity. I had established that once the redundant pump assembly had been removed from the bottom of the drum, a conventional vacuum cleaner hose would fit neatly over the exit port where the pump had been attached. 

At this stage of the construction, I was still unsure as to how much additional bracing would be needed in order to hold the drum steady at the elevated speeds of spinning. As a provisional measure, I took advantage of four moulded stubs integral to the drum housing, these originally held the shock- absorbers. Down the centre of each stub I drilled a hole and then tapped it to 6mm. I then attached planks which spanned the pairs of stubs on each side of the drum housing using 6mm bolts. 

Now the drum was fixed to the pallet, I could extend and attach the chain from the bicycle to the smallest gear of the cluster on the drum shaft. It is possible to ensure the chain is running straight between the two sets of gears simply by looking along the faces of the two gear sprockets (driving and driven). Optimum chain tension and alignment was attained by moving the drum assembly on its slotted mounting holes prior to tightening the mounting bolts.


Step 6: Test Run

Once the bicycle and drum were connected, a quick pedal with the drum empty established that there were no problems with alignment and chain tension. So it was then time for the acid test.

Wet washing was transferred from the washing machine into the spin dryer and the lid closed. The starting load on the pedals was noticeably higher compared to the lower 1:1 gear ratio of the washing machine but it was not difficult to set the drum in motion. Slowly accelerating, it became apparent that for what seemed a relatively slow pedal speed, water was exiting rapidly from the drain tube. Accelerating further the water flow increased and then as the contents became drier, diminished. Timing my pedaling speed I determined that the drum spin speed was about 350 rpm which could be maintained for at least a couple of minutes until the water flow was nil. Letting the drum freewheel to a halt, the contents were examined and were definitely much drier, to the extent that no further water could be extracted when it was attempted to wring it by hand.

After using the spin dryer for several months I think we've established that the configuration works really well but the distribution of the wet load within the drum is crucial. Uneven loading results in shaking of the whole machine and pallet and it is often the case when the wet washing comprises just a few items. With a single large item though - Sue washed our feather duvet, the spin dryer was amazing.

Step 7: Improvements

The first thing that would improve the spin dryer will be to obtain another top loading machine and keep the drum in its original housing. This would obviate the need of making elaborate supports to hold the drum level and steady.

Secondly I think that the drive to the drum should be direct i.e. not freewheel. This I believe will enable the 'cyclist' to rotate the drum in both directions at the start of the spin-cycle to distribute the wet contents evenly within the drum and thus prevent the need to stop spinning to even the load in the drum.

Hope you enjoyed this project and much as we do having non-drip washing! If you read this and found it interesting then share it with your friends on social media or suchlike. Please also feel free to ask questions, share tips and/or make comments.

You can also find all my films Youtube and also now on Odysee

Happy wash day pedaling!

Cheers,

Andy

LInks to my pallet articles:


A Few Guidelines for Collecting Pallets

I thought it might be helpful if I shared my five rules to make it easier for you to obtain the basic material...read more


Pallets - The Low-down - Where, What and How.

So you've been round to your local big chain supermarket and they've told you all their pallets are reused. Well this maybe true for them but not for all pallets...read more


How to Dismantle Pallets for free Carpentry Wood

The first thing to do with your pallet when you’ve got it out of the car is look underneath it and see if the nails attaching the planks are visible...read more




Reclaimed Materials Contest

This is an entry in the
Reclaimed Materials Contest

Be the First to Share

    Recommendations

    • Unusual Uses Contest

      Unusual Uses Contest
    • Reclaimed Materials Contest

      Reclaimed Materials Contest
    • Tiny Things Speed Challenge

      Tiny Things Speed Challenge

    15 Comments

    0
    Organikmechanic
    Organikmechanic

    Reply 4 days ago

    Obrigado por suas amáveis palavras, eles são apreciados. Saudações calorosas da Normandia, França. Andy.

    0
    rc jedi
    rc jedi

    6 days ago

    Nice build. Maybe a ledge or shelf angled on the handlebars to hold a book or laptop for entertainment. Thanks for sharing!

    0
    Organikmechanic
    Organikmechanic

    Reply 4 days ago

    Thanks for the suggestion. I have, when the mood has taken me read a book whilst doing the laundry, but to obtain a successful wash our machine usually only takes about 100 revolutions of the drum which takes between 3 to 5 minutes, hardly enough time to get to the end of the chapter! On the other hand heavily soiled garments deserve the 'Lord of Rings' or 'War and Peace' treatment. Best Wishes and thanks for reading my Instructable and commenting, I really appreciate it, Andy.

    0
    grapenut
    grapenut

    6 days ago

    You sir are living the dream! French countryside, by the sea...I'm definitely intrigued, you must have so much more to tell. Thanks for taking the time to share this project, these are my favorite types of projects that require basic tools, and readily available or easy to find materials. I have never seen a top loading machine on a horizontal axis but it seems like a great idea. I was surprised to find that you were still interested in a direct drive solution. After watching your video of 350rpm, that kind of momentum... I would not wish to see anyone's foot slip off the pedal with direct drive, or any other number of things... I do have a couple of ideas I would like to share though. One idea goes back to your wanting to outfit the assembly with a break. I was wondering if instead of going backwards and forwards with a direct drive to evenly distribute the load, if perhaps when things started to get a little wonky (while freewheeling forwards), maybe you could apply the break once or twice and see if that sudden slowing could allow for enough of the load to shift around just enough that you could complete your 2 minute spin cycle without nearly as much of the wonkiness? Idea number two may not be an option in your region, but I will press on just incase. I mentioned that I had not seen a top loading horizontal axis. I live stateside and have used coin laundries many areas around the Mediterranean, and only ever saw front loading washers at the coin facilities (In the Med).
    SIDE NOTE: I don't know if it still holds true today but around 16 years ago when front loaders were still pretty new in the states, I did some research that indicated that the key components of almost all known horizontal axis front loaders were from Germany. Maybe it was a patent rights thing at the time, idk.
    Anyway, the top loading washers here stateside spin on a vertical axis. They typically require more water than a horizontal spinner and would be hard to find in many European urban areas ; but, when the (vertical axis) machine is stopped, and it is safe to do so, the load can be manually, and easily distributed evenly. If you can find a top loader (vertical axis), and switch to belt drive (to make the 90 from horizontal pedal power to vertical axis top loader) it may be an option. Otherwise it may be possible to put a front loader on it's side, so that it effectively becomes a top loader (for spinning). I have not worked out how to switch to belt drive and retain freewheel. Maybe the folks from UT can come up with an idea? Please excuse my unsolicited ideas and; Thanks again for the wonderful instructable. Best one I've seen this week.

    0
    grapenut
    grapenut

    Reply 5 days ago

    Also, for what it's worth. I have added fixed wheel and regular casters to the bottom of at least 2 different sets of stacked Whirlpool (popular stateside brand) washers with dryers on top to aid in moving them in and out of a washer/dryer closet. The closet was originally built to accommodate an older, smaller Sears or General Electric over/under setup. The newer stackable sets can fit but it is tight and getting them in and out for cleaning out the dryer vent hose once in a while was a chore.
    Anyway, I had to unthread the adjustable feet and use those holes to mount the casters. The threads were metric, I believe M10 if memory serves...I originally tried every kind of SAE (imperial) bolt the size. The SAE bolt size that was closest was too big and wouldn't thread in very far; or maybe it was close enough to M10 but the SAE threads were never going to match with the metric. I did get one set of SAE bolt and threads to go in all the way, but I knew they weren't right, there was too much slop, and it seemed as though the threads were at risk of jumping if they were too snug or not snug enough; so I snugged them just a bit and left them temporarily. I finally determined with a thread gauge on one of the removed feet that the threads were definitely metric, and I suspect if Whirlpool, Maytag, and KitchenAid are using metric for the feet, on US washers, they may well be using them throughout.

    0
    Organikmechanic
    Organikmechanic

    Reply 4 days ago

    Grapenut, I've had a look at the configuration of stackable washer and drier machines, quite impressive. Whirlpool brand is very common over here too. In fact the model I used for this project is Whirlpool. As to this dilemma with Metric/Imperial, I agree that it is a real difficult challenge. Interestingly from time to time I have had the same problem as yourself, but the other way round, i.e. trying to repair an old British food mincer requiring Imperial thread fittings in a country where Metric has reigned for decades. In the end I got my brother to post some over to me from the UK. But here in France the computer monitor and television screens are advertised as having sizes of 'X' inches (puces). I'm glad that my education took me through the whole gamut of different systems foot. pounds, gallons to metres kilograms litres via centimetre grammes etc. At least I can cope with the old and the new!!
    Thanks for commenting once again. Cheers, Andy.

    0
    Organikmechanic
    Organikmechanic

    Reply 4 days ago

    Hi there and thanks for your kind comments. I really like the type of top loader I am using here because the drum shaft is supported both sides in bearings. Mechanically I find this is much more robust than the other, common alternative we have, that is the front loader type which has only one.You have a good point regarding fixed wheel and one's foot slipping off the pedal, perhaps go for a pair of toe-clip cages on the pedals?
    I think that I will go for a braking system anyway, just for safety's sake, but I do like your idea of the 'stop/start' motion to redistribute the drum contents. I'll try and rig something up in the next few days.
    The machine type you're describing as commonplace Stateside I am slightly familiar with in that my Mother had that kind of machine years ago but no spin facility, just a powered wringer running from the same motor. As I recall, the electric motor on this was vertical axis also, but I have seen this configuration with a horizontal axis motor which would be ideal for a bicycle. Just leave the rear wheel in place and run a drive belt from the tyreless wheel.
    Thanks for reminding me we are living the dream. Yeah we opted out 21 years ago and frankly have enjoyed the challenge of adapting to a new country/language etc. It certainly is much more peaceful here and we can always get down to the beach for long walks and in the Summer the chance of a swim. Although it is a very popular vacation spot for the Parisians many of whom have second homes here we are still able to find room on the sands.
    Once again I really appreciate your suggestions and will carry on with developments.
    Kind regards from a slightly frosty Normandie, Andy.

    0
    LeslieGeee
    LeslieGeee

    7 days ago

    The Blogger Buzz post was non conclusive. Did not find your posts and the first link I clicked on about the pallets would not let me out of the site so I had to try and close the window which took a few times. Hope this was not a phish. Not sure what is going on but this was not a good way to present your very interesting concept and idea.

    0
    Organikmechanic
    Organikmechanic

    Reply 7 days ago

    Hi there not sure what you mean by Blogger Buzz? So what must have happened is that when I linked those posts I was signed into my own blog and unfortunately the html I picked up was to my edit page on each, so you wouldn't be able to get in. Thus when I tested the links worked before I published, I could get in and everything seemed OK. That is an honest mistake and it happens, unfortunately but thanks for pointing it out so I can redo it and I now have. If you still can't get in then this is a problem with instructables linking, so please do let me know and I will get some aid from the support team. Cheers Andy

    0
    LeslieGeee
    LeslieGeee

    Reply 6 days ago

    No problem mistakes happen. :)

    0
    calienteyoga1
    calienteyoga1

    7 days ago

    Working out while doing laundry....sounds like a cool gym concept! People come with dirty laundry, work out on the bikes to wash them. It may be a good business idea....

    0
    Organikmechanic
    Organikmechanic

    Reply 7 days ago

    Hi there - actually my sister-in-law wanted me to call my film 'not peloton', it just means 'the pack' in English but it might have ruffled some feathers. The business idea is how we found out about having a pedal-powered washing machine in the first place! We were living in the UK, over 20 years ago and we heard a radio broadcast on a guy in Wales who had a pedal-powered laundry going around the camp sites and washing the holiday-makers clothes. If I remember rightly he even got them to do some of the pedaling because it was such fun! From our experience of having guests, the first thing they want to do, after seeing all the poultry, is to use the bicycle washing machine and this in particular applies to kids. It is also a great build to share with children as it is a real hands-on, big learning curve project. Check out the two images below for great ideas and inventiveness for pedal-powered businesses. The first was in Vogue during WW2 reporting that in Paris they still had a salon with hair dryers: 'Gervais...he has rigged his dryers to stove pipes which pass through a furnace heated by rubble. The air is sent by fans turned by relay teams of boys riding a stationary tandem bicycle in the basement'. The other is a leaflet I picked up when we were back visiting family a couple of years ago. All the very best from Normandy, Andy

    pedal Hair dryer.JPGpedal cinema.JPG
    0
    Don Barthel
    Don Barthel

    7 days ago

    Please, do you have a link to your pallet articles that doesn't require signing in to Blogger?

    0
    Organikmechanic
    Organikmechanic

    Reply 7 days ago

    Hi there I am just this minute fixing it - I realised because of the comment below yours that I had put the links in when I was signed into my blog and it was thus connected to my edit page. I've just corrected the first link and that works. Of course when I checked the links before publishing I could get in because I was signed in but didn't notice I was in edit - sorry about that!!! Cheers and I'll now get on and do the rest, Andy