Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dhobi wallah

My old washing machine was excellent in many respects. It came free with the apartment and it became my property when I moved. Legally, I might add. It churned the laundry and made it clean. In fact, the only problem was the 400rpm spin speed. Clothes came out a little damp, and in an apartment they took days to dry.

It seems ridiculous to pay to dry the laundry when there's all that free solar energy outside, but following a couple of incidents at the Crumbling Villa involving a washing line, some pigeons and my formerly clean shirts, I accepted the need for a tumble-dryer.

As luck would have it, one of Beloved Wife's friends was leaving Jumeira for Foreign Parts, and it became incumbent on the Goat to borrow a trailer and remove several tons of Frigidaire automatic washing machine. For those not in the know, a typical front-loader comprises a pressed-steel hollow box and a rotating stainless-steel drum. The space between the two is filled with concrete by bands of itinerant guerilla osteopaths.

Anyway, having goathandled the new machine with its 1200rpm spin speed into the Crumbling Villa, I thought that this would be the end of the matter. Laundry came out almost dry, meaning that an hour of dizziness in the dryer would normally be sufficient.

Until a couple of weeks ago, when the housemaid reported that there was a problem. Sceptical as always, I ran a load of laundry, and was sitting in the kitchen when the spin cycle started. The cacophony is difficult to imagine, much less describe, but it's not unlike half a dozen brickbats in a cement mixer. The internet was a little help: perhaps a coin had slipped between the inner and outer drums. But no, shining a flashlight through the little holes revealed nothing untoward, and the main bearing was certainly OK: I know exactly what a knackered washing machine bearing sounds like from a previous life. So I left it alone and went on holiday.

Today, it needed dealing with. It occurred to me as I laid out the spanners and sockets on the kitchen table that the scene was similar to the end of Braveheart - the bit where Mel McGibson gets drawn and quartered. I was going to get the washing machine to behave, and its full compliance was the only available option.

Off with the back, and the drive belt, then I took the rear off the drum. Surprisingly, there was no small change or shrapnel that might have been making the godawful racket.
It was only after removing the bearing that I discovered the problem: two of the four cast alumininium arms holding the inner drum had snapped. These flail around at high speed. A 100 gramme weight pulls around 50g (473N) at 1200rpm, so welding, bolting, gluing or otherwise bodging probably wouldn't be viable. Should I try to find a replacement inner drum? The phrase "It is not coming in Dubai" crossed my mind, as did my previous experience with something as simple as a drive belt. It also occurred to me that resetting all the gaskets and O-rings that I'd disturbed might be an interesting exercise in Applied Incontinence. At this point I set off into town to buy a new washing machine.

It's coming on Monday.


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