The other day I come home from work and the wife hands me a broken knob off the old washing machine living in the bowels of the cellar. Hmmmm. To fix or not to fix. This machine is old and not "High Efficiency" and uses a lot of water. However because it uses a lot of water it's great for washing my work clothes and large items such as blankets and such. Plus living in the rain coast of South West BC Canada where it rains ten or more months a year water consumption isn't a concern. Another factor is the machine is heavy and getting it up the stairs and a new one in place is daunting and expensive. Laziness and cheapness prevail, we fix.
There were probably millions of these machines made by Whirlpool under various names. Kenmore, Roper and only God knows what. Should be an easy thing to buy a knob. Wrong.
I take the broken knob and stop in at an appliance repair store I previously visited and had seen many of these washers and the chain smoking owner knew everything about them. Sadly he's gone and the new owners clerk looks at the knob with a totally dumbfounded look. No help here.
I go to a business that specializes in appliance parts, broken knob in hand, and the first thing the clerk asks is "Do you have a part number or model number?". I give him the model number which he can't do anything with and he says basically "Can't help you, we probably don't have one anyway".
OK, I do an internet search, find the knob, go to the appliance parts store website and discover they have it in stock, $25 to 45 depending on colour. No way I'm going to pay them that when I did all the work.
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Step 1: Old Broken Knob and It's Replacement
You can see the original white knob flipped over and the threaded part broken off.
I stopped at Home Depot and picked up the replacement knob, a simple knob with 1/4" course thread insert. This particular knob has the nut "caged" bottom and top so the nut can't pull out. An important point as the knob must be pulled and pushed to operate the switch. You might be able to use a knob that has it's nut caged in only one way by removing the nut and using Loctite or Super Glue to secure it in place. Another option is to buy a higher quality knob with the threads more integral. They are available out there.
Step 2: Fitting the New Knob
This pic shows the threaded stem of the timer switch, I have threaded a nut on there and will tell you why:
The original knob was designed to bottom out on the end of the stem and the shoulder of the knob was short so as when you pushed the knob in it didn't hit the face of the switch trim. If you had a knob shoulder that protrudes too far it would limit travel and you couldn't shut the machine off. Careful engineering on someone's part.
My new knob had a problem in that the threads go straight through, it couldn't bottom out on the end of threaded stem. I decided the easy way out was to spin a jam nut on the stem using a drop of Loctite. How to do:
1] Push the stem in, make sure its pressed in!
2] Put a drop of minimum strength Loctite near the inner end of the threads.
3] Run the nut on finger tight until it bottoms out then back it off 1/2 turn
4] Leave it set overnight
Step 3: Thread on the New Knob
Wipe off excess Loctite, which you probably did spill. Run the new knob on. It should work.
The only problems I can think of is:
- if the Loctite didn't set and the nut didn't remain in place when tightening the knob or the nut was run in too far
- The stem wasn't pushed in when the nut was installed
Taa Daa, Good luck