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Old 07-06-2012, 08:50 AM
6 posts, read 22,505 times
Reputation: 16


Originally Posted by biguggy View Post
There are many posts on the internet containing complaints about failed bearings in these machines, with some makers’ efforts appearing more frequently than others. Undoubtedly the percentage of units sold, in the overall marketplace, by a particular manufacturer will have some influence in this regard.
SKF put out a useful booklet on the subject. This can be viewed at: http://www.kamandirect.com/resources/2010/downloads/SKF_bearing_failureandcauses.pdf[/url]
I will reference this document several times during this discussion.

The first cause could be a defective bearing received from the manufacturer. Very rare nowadays but it can still occur.
Next the bearing could have ‘just worn out’; they do not have an infinite life in spite of what some people think, and SKF do discuss this in the above booklet.

In the case of front load washer bearings unfortunately most of the failed bearings have, in my opinion, so much damage, both mechanical and corrosion, that it is impossible to determine the cause, as per SKF, or even which failed first the bearings or the seal. There are a few instances reported on the internet where the poster states the seals had not failed but the bearings had and I have had personal experience of one.

Lack of lubrication, again possible, and again, discussed by SKF. Remember there are no facilities provided to introduce more lubrication to these bearings. I do not believe that on its own it is a likely cause. Similar bearings run in some applications much longer without renewing or replenishing the lubricant.

Incorrect grade of bearing used? I do not believe so; remember the ‘grade’ of a bearing only refers to the dimensional limits the bearing is manufactured to not its suitability for the environment it is operating in.

Brinelling or ‘false brinelling’ as SKF call it (page 12 of the booklet). I believe highly possible, I would however expect it to occur within the first two to three years of the life of the machine. The bearings removed from the two machines I have worked on were marked ‘China’, additionally many posters on the internet have made a similar observation. This means that in all likelihood these bearings were transported by sea, air cargo is very expensive by comparison, and as SKF note ships auxiliary machinery, is highly susceptible to this type of damage. What about boxes of bearings being transported, in my view they are just as susceptible to brinelling. I further understand that it is now being encountered in the wheel bearings of vehicles manufactured overseas. Anyone beginning to see a pattern?

Damaged during fitting, again discussed by SKF. I believe possible but not very likely. My reasoning being that should there be a general fault in the assembly process there would be many more failures than there actually are.

I now come to two reasons that I do not believe were adequately addressed during the design and development phases of these machines.
First the material and geometric design of they spider: These spiders are die cast from aluminium alloys. Aluminium and its alloys can be corroded by most laundry aids should the required concentrations be reached. For how I reason this please see my earlier post above.The product of this corrosion is aluminium oxide (Al2O3), the same material that provides the ‘grit’ in sand-paper. Aluminium oxide has very low solubility in water this means that any products of corrosion not adhering to the parent metal or dissolved into solution will be carried about in the ‘water’ of the washer making a very effective lapping compound. In my opinion the soft lips of the shaft seal stand very little chance against such an effective abrasive.
Many posters on the internet who complain of failed bearings also note the corrosion of the spider, could the two be linked?Perhaps those who claim the seal always fails first are not so incorrect after all?
Many of these spiders have recesses close to the hub, these, in my opinion, provide excellent pockets for corrosion to occur, again please see my post above.
Secondly the adequacy of the bearings for the job they are doing. I do not believe they are adequate. When we purchased our first front loader (May 2001) I wondered how ‘they’ had solved the ‘bearing problem’ with no ‘front end’ steady bearing. In 2008 when I pulled it apart because of bearing failure I found out, to my mind at least, that ‘they’ had not.I have seen a couple of posts where the writers have claimed that the bearings are adequate because they are of the same size as is fitted to some small cars and that the small cars are heavier than a load of laundry, or words to that effect. I will not argue that even a small car is heavier than a ‘load’ of domestic laundry but the rest of the reasoning I believe is totally flawed. Under ideal circumstances the load on a bearing, of the type we are considering, would be exactly normal to the axis of rotation and evenly distributed around the outside centre of the outer race. I cannot think of a case where this actually occurs.In the case of a car wheel, and the washers, there are two bearings, in the case of the car the outer bearing takes most of the load and in the case of the washer the bearing closet to the inner drum takes the greater portion. In actuality they also act as fulcrums.
Now for the car from the centre of the races to the point where the wheel attaches is I would guess about 4 inches maximum. From its point of attachment most of the wheel (unless very wide tyres are used) goes ‘back over’ the bearing housing. This reduces the cantilever effect to the minimum reasonably possible with modern engineering techniques and capabilities, my perception anyway. For the drum, from the washer featured above, from the centre if the inner bearing to the effective rear of the drum is approximately 3.5 inches, almost the same as my guess for the car. The effective depth of the drum is 11.0 inches: taking the midpoint of the drum as the effective centre of the load (I know it will sometimes be greater sometimes less) this at least doubles the cantilever effect on the bearing and should the centre of the load move closer to the door of the washer it will become worse. Now the point that I believe has not received sufficient attention. In the case of the car wheel, the wheel is ‘balanced’, (the little lead weights on the rim). Has anyone ever ridden in a vehicle where the wheels have become ‘unbalanced’ and noted how much ‘rougher’ the ride is? This places an excessive load on the bearings. Have the same people noted how little in the way of ‘balance weights’ are required to correct the situation? Very rarely will the ‘load’ in the washer be ‘balanced’ and this ‘out of balance’ load placed on the bearings, I believe, is quite substantial and sufficient, should it be sustained for any great length of time, to damage the bearings.
Then there is the load placed on the bearings by the gyroscopic effect both in the example of the car and in the washer for both ‘balanced’ and ‘unbalanced’ conditions but I think that should be the subject of an epistle on its own.
I bought a Kenmore front loader manufactured by Frigidaire in 1999. The tub bearing failed after six years. I investigated replacement, finding that it required that the bearing is molded into the pastic tub. I also found out that the replacement tub bearing assembly had been re-engineered. I bought an entirely new replacement Kenmore front loader of the same type for about twice the cost of the replacement tub, less labor. My guess is that replacing the tub would have cost just about as much as the new machine. The replacement machine is now seven years old and showing no signs of bearing failure.
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Old 07-09-2012, 06:48 PM
363 posts, read 984,697 times
Reputation: 472
My Duet Steam had a bearing failure at about 15 months old. I had an extended warranty, but Whirlpool declined to fix it because it was not cost effective. They ended up buying my machine back for 600$. I went and replaced it with an upright HE Samsung washer that does a much better job. The only downside is now I have a Whirlpool pedestal sitting in my garage and the Samsung looks tiny in my laundry room compared to my Duet Steam dryer sitting on a pedestal.
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Old 06-16-2015, 07:12 PM
1 posts, read 3,481 times
Reputation: 10
I have a 13 year old Whirlpool Front load washer, and about 2 weeks ago the machine started making a very loud noise, bad drum and bearing worn out. The home warranty company had a company come out to look at the unit and he communicated that the problem is not normal, that the machine was abused and the wear was not typical. After reading your comments I have concluded that he is clueless and lack expertise related to front load washers.
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