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September 20, 2016

The Disintegrated Spider – Fixing a Sears Kenmore – Samsung Front-Loading Washing Machine

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 4:19 pm

This brief post is about repair of what is apparently a common fault of front loading washers that have been made by Samsung and other manufacturers in recent years.  Recently, our Kenmore model 592-49057 had started making alarmingly loud thumping noises during operation, especially during high speed spin cycle segments. The cause turned out to be a broken support flange or “spider” inside the washer tub. Sears Canada was unable to supply the part I needed, but after finding the Samsung model number, actually 59249057 (surprise!), I was able to figure out the Samsung replacement part number DC97-14875B for the spider for our “Kenmore” machine. I found it on ebay via a parts source in Pennsylvania by searching on the part number. It was about Cdn $140 with shipping to BC. The actually repair is pretty easy but a lot of parts have to come out before you can get at the spider.

corroded and broken

I need a new spider

Tools needed: nothing special, just a socket set (10, 12, 13 and 19mm sockets -the 19mm is just needed for the big bolt into the motor) and some common Phillips screwdrivers (standard and large heads).  I’d also  recommend wearing leather gloves while doing the work on the machine since there are some sharp sheet metal bits in the interior.

Cause: It turns out that the aluminum flange support (“spider”) corrodes rapidly in the presence of common laundry detergents, particularly ones that make the washing solution alkaline (“basic”, pH>7). Some people have vociferously tried to point out that these spiders are made from zinc, but no, in this case, this one was cast from an alloy that was mostly aluminum. That is very common. Vinegar and density tests confirmed this. After only about 5 years of use, one of the three arms of the spider had broken off completely. Apparently this corrosion can be reduced by rinsing the machine with plain hot water or a slightly acidic solution (e.g. add some vinegar) regularly, e.g. once a month, to get the basic detergent residue cleared away.

The Repair: Refer to the photos below for some details, especially for reassembly work to know where all the parts have to go back to. Ultimately, the big plastic washer tub containing the stainless steel spinner that the spider is bolted to, has to come out of the washer for external disassembly, but to have clearance for doing the tub removal, the top cover and and front upper covers, including control circuitry and the detergent dispenser have to be removed first. Finally, the large lower front panel with the washer door needs to be removed. That requires removal of 2 clamping rings around the soft door gasket, then careful disconnection of the gasket itself from the tub. There are also 2 crossbars, one that goes front-to-back down the middle of the top of the machine, and another that runs across the front that need to be removed. Once those parts are out, there are intake and drain hoses that need to be removed from the tub. Next, the 4 shock absorbers at the bottom of the tub need to be disconnected from the tub, by removing the large bolts at the tub side. That will leave the tub suspended in the washing machine frame by 2 large springs, one on each side. With the help of a strong assistant, you should be able to lift the tub and detach the springs. Careful with this; the tub unit is pretty heavy.

Once you get the tub out of the machine, put it on a cushioned floor area to prevent damage, with a lot of space around for you to work in. With the tub front facing down, unbolt the motor central bolt (19mm socket, I think) and gently but firmly remove the motor casing from the tub back, and put it aside. Carefully remove the large self-tapping bolts (about a dozen) holding the front and back halves of the tub together. Pull the back of the tub off. That should expose the inner spinner and the spider. You’ll next need to remove the broken spider by taking out 6, 8mm bolts (2 per spider arm).  You’ll probably find a lot of badly corroded aluminum pieces that have broken off the spider. Clean those up thoroughly and get them out of the drum before you continue with the repair.  Finally, bolt the replacement spider in, and reverse the above steps to put the thing back together.

It took about 3 weeks for me to get the replacement spider shipped to me. Fortunately, our kind neighbour Klari, who has a newer version of almost the same washer, lent us the use of hers in the meantime -big thanks to Klari for that. It took me a few minutes to bolt the replacement spider in, and then a couple of hours to reassemble the machine. Success! It actually works fine after the repair.

This was a relatively easy repair, just with a lot of parts to take out before one can get at the broken component.Front load washers can have certain advantages over top-loading alternatives such as reduced water usage, but this design flaw is worth being aware of.

Note added 2020 07 20:
Dan found this blog useful in doing a spider replacement on his machine, and kindly provided me with this PDF of detailed instructions to share for his model 592-49087-01 washer.

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