Saturday, June 16, 2012

Whirlpool Dryer -- Drum Belt Access

Applicability Note:

The following deals with a Model YLER7645JQ0 dryer. It's probably fairly typical of many dryer models.

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Access to the drum belt is pretty easy to obtain. Four screws are removed to allow the lid (w/console attached) to tip upward. (The lid is hinged at the rear.) Two screws hold the machine's front cover in place. You'll need a No. 2 Posidriv screwdriver, a No. 2 Phillips screwdriver and a 5/16" nutdriver. Unplug the dryer and proceed as follows:

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1) At either lower rear corner of the console, there's a No. 8 x 1 1/4" oval-head threading screw facing upward. (Posidriv recess.) Remove those.[1]

2) Remove the lint filter, and at the front of the lint filter opening, remove two No. 8 x 5/8" washerhead threading screws. (Phillips recess.)

3) Pry up the front lip of the lid. The lid will pop free of two plastic catch-blocks, and will be free to tip upward and rearward on its hinges.

4) From inside near the top, remove two No. 10 x 1/2" hex washerhead screws.[2] The front panel will be free to tip forward. Here's a view of the dryer opened up

5) Disconnect the door switch. (The connector can be quite tenacious. A small screwdriver is helpful for coaxing it apart.)

6) The front panel perches on two small steel hooks near the bottom. Support the drum with one hand while you lift away the panel with the other. (I have a 4 3/4" length of 2" x 4" that I use to prop up the drum while the front panel is off.)

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Here's a view of the drive arrangement.

Note that the tension 'idler' is not a pulley -- it's just a smooth glide that the back of the belt runs over. Force the tensioner rightward to slacken the belt so you can slip it off the motor's pulley.

Belt tension is what holds the tensioner in place. With the belt off, the tensioner comes out easily. Here's a view of the thing's glide surface.

That's quite a clever bit of engineering; one less rotating component to want lubricant or wear out.

This dryer's original belt broke almost exactly one year ago when someone overloaded the drum. The reason I'm into it again is that a peculiar symptom has cropped up -- I'll press the start button, I hear what sounds like the motor turning and its pulley squealing, but the drum doesn't turn.

The belt looks ok. I'll clean the motor's pulley and the belt with lacquer thinner and put the dryer back together. If the problem recurs, I guess I'll have to get a new belt; I really can't imagine the trouble being anything other than belt slippage at the motor's pulley.

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I should briefly mention a few things about the drum's supporting idler wheels. Here's a view of the one toward the right side of the machine above the motor.

There's another one of those lower down toward the left. There's a plastic spacer missing from the spindle of the pictured wheel. Here's what became of the spacer.

It melted when the belt broke and the dryer was on without the drum turning. By the time the high temperature limit thermostat opened up, it must have gotten ferociously hot inside the dryer.

Fortunately, the spacer isn't really needed. That wheel finds its own correct axial position on its spindle without any help from the spacer.

Note that the wheel's spindle is open-ended. (The other wheel's spindle has a support bracket at its front end.) There's a reason for that.

When you're re-installing the drum, you'll want to have only the lower support wheel to contend with while getting the drum back into place. The pictured wheel is easily removed to facilitate drum re-installation. When the drum is back in place, slip the wheel back onto its spindle and force the retainer back into its groove.

Once the drum is back on both of its support wheels, rotate the drum through one full turn, and make sure that the drum's rear seal hasn't folded under. Make corrections A/R.

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Anyway, as major appliance repair jobs go, dealing with the drum belt in these dryers is a breeze. They're a well-thought-out machine.

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[1] Removing the two screws also makes it possible to unhook and lift the console off the machine, but for this job the console can just remain right where it is.

[2] There are two Tinnerman nuts on the lips of the front panel that the screws fasten into. The nuts are easily dislodged when you're getting the panel off its hooks. Check that the nuts are in place before reinstalling the panel.

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