I’ve got a malfunctioning clothes dryer at home and I’ve decided to take a stab at fixing it myself. If I couldn’t fix it, I will have to hire a professional repair person. And if that should fail, I might have to replace the entire machine. But I am optimistic. Based on symptoms, I have a guess that the motor capacitors have failed. If that is true, it is a common age-related failure of motor appliances and thus I expected replacement parts to be available. But before that, I need to get inside the machine to validate my hypothesis.
Making my way to the dryer motor was an educational course in how Maytag engineers designed with sheet metal. I saw several signs that this machine was designed to be easy to service but without adding a lot of manufacturing cost to do so. My first lesson was that I wasted effort sliding the dryer out of its usual spot. All the parts I need to reach for this project was actually accessible from the front without moving the machine!
First I had to remove the door, whose fasteners held the lower front metal façade in place. Once that was removed I could access the assembly holding the front of the dryer drum, and the lint filter portion, of the air path. I noticed that several different fasteners were used and originally thought they served different purposes. But they were all used for fastening sheet metal together, which is fairly accommodating of loose tolerances. (Both a plus and a minus.) I eventually decided that the different screws were there to demarcate different stages of disassembly: it helps us see that only a subset was needed to remove a particular part. This way we don’t accidentally remove too many fasteners and have the machine completely fall apart on us.
In addition to self-tapping sheet metal screws, there were also a few stamped sheet metal hooks (dark metal in title image) that were used to hold large sections of sheet metal together. I was impressed at how much this design could accommodate loose tolerances yet still allow us to fasten top front corners of the machine together so it makes for a solid cube.
I had to remove the dryer drum on my way to access the motor, which also involved removing the belt that rotated the dryer drum. I took a close look at this decades-old belt and saw it was cracked with age with a fraying substrate. The belt is another common age-related failure. While it hasn’t failed yet, I plan to go ahead and replace it as well. It’s something I had to remove anyway on my way to the mechanical components of this machine.