Saturday, January 17, 2015

7/16ths is the Number of the Beast!

One of the unintended consequences of living with three large dogs is having to do a lot of laundry. There are three mutt blankets that stay on the floor and I cover the bed with two large white sheets that need changing every third day or every day if it’s been raining and it has been raining. So the washing machine stays full most of the time but the dogs all keep warm and dry, and they have a clean bed to sleep on. So do I, but that’s a secondary consideration.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a stray and have to live on the streets. But imagine the difference between that and then suddenly you’re sleeping on the inside of a heated house and you’re sleeping on top of a bed. Tyger Linn is slowly but surely making the transition between a stray to a member of my family. She’s more polite now about surrendering the spot next to me when Lilith or Lucas gets there first. She doesn’t chase misfired treats that the others might have missed. Tyger Linn is learning how to operate safely inside of a pack oriented home without fear of losing a meal or a place to sleep. She now eats out of the bowl that once belonged to Sam, in Sam’s old place, just as Lucas is eating out of Bert’s bowl in Bert’s old space. This is where former strays come to live and be fed. So it has been and so it will be.

Hell, it was a decade or so ago when I discovered that washing a lot of stuff at one time in a washing machine can cause the “Agitator Dogs” to strip out. That screw looking device in your washing machine is the agitator. As it turns it drags clothes from the top to the bottom in an endless cycle so all the clothes get moved around during washing. The agitator is moved by a cogged gear moving back and forth and the dogs are what grips the cogs and causes the agitator to turn. But because if it went round and round without stopping the clothes would get wrapped around it, the agitator only turns partially then releases. I think this is how it all works. I’m mechanically reclined. Anything that needs repair is in no danger from me.

Honestly and truly, anything that involves tools or fine motor skills is beyond me. I am the double amputee of a handy man. I don’t know which end of the screwdriver to plug in. Someone once watched me trying to drive nails into something and remarked that if anyone was found beaten to death with a hammer I was safe from being a suspect. However long it takes your average person to repair something triple that time and add an hour when I begin.

Suddenly, as I write this, it occurs to me there might be a reason why I am still single. Not only am I nearly useless around the house with tools, I just realize that my ineptness when it comes to fine motor skills light extend past appliances. Wow, talk about an epiphany I could have lived without having…

So back to the washing machine, please.

The last time I did this, as I mentioned, and I am referring to the washing machine repair, try to focus please, I got the parts from Benny Cole. He was once the foremost authority on appliance repair on planet earth and it is a shame he retired. Benny had a lot to say, however, and it took him nearly as long to make a sale as it does for me to fix something. But the man did teach me a lot about what goes wrong and why when it comes to washers.

The process of any repair job requires that I photograph everything as it looks before I start. From every angle I take shots of the agitator so when I get it all back together I can tell if it’s right. Then I pry the top off the agitator, did you know that piece came off, and then there is another cap inside of that. That comes off and lo! There’s the one single bolt holding the dogs and the cog and the agitator in place. It stares at me like the Eye Of Sauron.

There is something about this bolt that is worrisome but I have forgotten what it might be. I get out my box of tools and start trying out sockets. Ah, that’s it! Whoever designed this thing made damn sure that getting to it would be easy but getting it off would be a little harder. You have to hold the agitator still and you have to have a 7/16ths socket or nut driver. As it turns out, I just happen to own a nut driver at the 7/16ths range. Most people likely do not. The people who built this damn thing are hoping someone will strip off the head of the bolt trying to get it off and have to call a repair man.

So I take photos of the bolt, take photos of the guts of the dogs and cog and I have to clean the dog hair off all the stuff inside. Gee, where did that come from, huh? To make all of this work, however, you have to hold the cog and the dogs tightly against the bottom of the agitator as you replace it. That takes manual dexterity.

Here’s the weird thing in all of this. While I was working on this a woman called me and because I like her a lot, she makes me nervous.  She’s on speaker phone while I’m trying to get all of this stuff on and to get it right and at the same time, try not to sound like a simple repair job is going to vex me. The first attempt fails because one of the dogs slip out of position. But the next shot finds everything neatly in place. Total time, whoa… less than five minutes.


Maybe there’s hope here.

Take Care,



  1. Doesn’t matter how much sweat and cursing it takes, if it works when you’re done, you’re a winner.
    I have a washer with the ladies choice agitator, instead of doing the hula, it moves up and down like a pogo stick.

    1. I have never even heard of that Bruce. Who designs these things????

    2. Mine is a Sears, probably made by Whirlpool. This type of agitator motion has been around awhile. I don’t know if it’s easier to build or just a “new & improved” gimmick.
      They're a little noisier and sometimes things like sheets can get twisted up from the rolling action the motion imparts on the clothes.

      But it looks like top loaders are going the way of the Dodo anyway, as they keep insisting the front loaders are more efficient. That’s because they aren’t using my water for their cleaning hocus pocus.

    3. It's because the new front loaders are impossible for people like me to fix, I will bet.