OK, here's the down low. I finally got the inner tub out (see below).
And to make a long story short: I stopped the leak, but the tub still bangs during the spin cycle .
For future joes/josephines faced with my challenge, I've included what I did, along with pictures. The first part gives an overview of what I did. The second part lists some "lessons learned". (Note: the latter is split across two posts, because there evidently is a length limit to individual posts ...)
PART ONE: OVERVIEW OF WHAT I DID
In terms of what I did, when I finally got the inner tub out (see below for lessons learned), I filled the outer tub with water to see where the leak was. It turns out the outer tub was fine. The problem was that the outer tub seal had disintegrated, and that was the cause of the leak. I removed the outer tub, and tossed the seal.
Now, where the seal rests against the frame central column support post, the post had corroded a bit. So, I got some marine epoxy and a disposable foam paint brush from Home Depot. I applied the epoxy to seal the corroded area using the paint brush, and then applied the epoxy to areas on the inner tub where I had banged on it with a hammer. (See below for lessons learned.) After it had cured (24 hours), I lightly sanded the epoxy on the frame central column support post to further smooth it. Here's a picture so you can see what I'm talking about:
I then reassembled the washer using a new outer tub seal. For the tension spring brackets, I replaced the missing machine screws with stainless steel 3/4" #10x32 round head bolts and stainless steel nylon lock nuts. While I could have used #8 bolts, I wanted the larger ones for strength. I used x32 fine threading to better hold. And I used round head again for strength, after checking (!) that they would not end up touching the cabinet (not even close...). I had to force them into the old holes (which were a bit smaller), but this just meant that the bolts gripped the frame. In fact, I perhaps could have done without the nylon lock nuts, but I'm a belt and suspenders guy, so I went with them as well.
The rest of the washer went back together as per the video. I did put a little bit of bearing grease on the middle of the washer drive block to help prevent it from cementing to the inner tub (I didn't slather it all over so it wouldn't get into the clothes during the first few washes). I considered using plumbers joint compound on the spanner nut; however, since I'd already sprung for the spanner wrench, I figured I didn't need joint compound getting into the clothes during a wash (if I had been successful with a chisel and hammer, however, I would have done it).
The good news, is that the washer doesn't leak. The bad news is that it still bangs during the spin cycle (starts out OK, but after it starts to pick up speed, it starts banging). I took the cabinet off in order to see what was going on, but couldn't see any obvious problem. (Note: in order to get the washer to spin with the cabinet off, I removed the lid switch from the cabinet, connected it to the console, and wired the switch into the closed position using plastic bag ties -- hey, if it's stupid but it works ...)
So, that's the story.
PART TWO: LESSONS LEARNED
Here're my "lessons learned" that you might find helpful. They are as follows:
DO * NOT * LEAVE THE WASHER ON ITS SIDE
- Do NOT leave the washer on its side
- Easier way to remove the back tension spring bracket
- Spanner nut removal
- "Painting" with epoxy
- Removing the inner tub (see follow on post
Some videos instruct you to lay the washer on its side. Based on my experience, one can probably do this for a short while, but do not
leave it on its side for an extended period of time.
I left my washer on its side overnight, and was greeted in the morning with a small puddle of thick oil. I suspect that it came from the transmission. It was only about a tablespoon in amount, so I'm going to cross my fingers and hope for the best ...
Given how thick the oil is, I suspect that resting the washer on its side is OK for short periods of time. BUT, don't leave it there. If you have to stop work for a short period of time so as to grab some lunch or go to the store for parts, I recommend setting it back upright.
EASIER WAY TO REMOVE THE BACK TENSION SPRING BRACKET
The videos recommend accessing the sheet metal screw holding the back tension spring bracket via a hole in the back panel. This requires a socket wrench extension bar.
However, once you have the cabinet off, you have direct, albeit a bit tight access to that rear bracket. I used a small (1/4" drive) socket wrench with the appropriately sized socket (can't remember the size - 5/16"?) to take off the machine screw. To make more room, I did push the tub as far forward as I could.
To tell you the truth, you probably could use a larger drive socket wrench (3/8" or 1/2") as well, but it'd just be a bit tighter working with socket wrenches of those sizes.
SPANNER NUT REMOVAL
There's a 99.9% likelihood that you are
going to buy a spanner wrench. Go ahead, try removing it with a chisel and hammer per the videos you can find online. If it works for you, great! However, mark my words, you're going to be springing a few bucks for that spanner wrench (which works disgustingly well to loosen the spanner nut, like under 5 seconds).
I know, I know: who wants to spend $15 for a tool you'll only use once? Not me! And after losing a day and a half, I said forget it, and went and bought the friggin' thing.
If it'll assuage your feelings, think of it as being a small price to pay for not calling in the repairman. Yes, you'd still like to save that $15 even so, but as I said, the reality is you're gonna pay for it, no matter how much it pains you ("I'm throwing away $15!") ... And if it helps, calling in repairman would not only be a much more expensive proposition, it'd also be a one-shot deal as well!
By the way, most appliance repair parts stores carry spanner wrenches. You can also find spanner wrenches on Amazon for as low as $9, with next day shipping at about $6 (check out the link "XX New from $x.xx"). And yes, you'll spring for next day shipping because (A) you will consider it a cheap price to pay not to hear your significant other repeatedly and pointedly ask "WHEN WILL THE WASHER BE FIXED?!?" and (B) you'll quickly spend that in gas and coins in going to a laundromat to wash your clothes while waiting for your "free shipping" package to arrive.
Finally, based on my limited research, everyone and their brother (including most appliance repair professionals) use the Supco TB123A Spanner Wrench. Also as near as I can make out, it works on ALL Whirlpool/Kenmore washers that have a spanner nut. HOWEVER, I am not a repairman, and I do NOT assert that I have conducted an adequate survey of appliance repair individuals, or that it will work on YOUR washer. I'm just telling you what I gleaned from my personal research. If anyone gets the Supco spanner wrench and it doesn't fit, please kindly let us know.
"PAINTING" WITH EPOXY
I bought a throwaway foam brush in order to ensure that I put down a smooth layer of epoxy. The results were rather marginal in terms of how smooth I was able to lay it down. And, I wanted it as smooth as possible so that the tub seal would seal well.
Moreover, when I subsequently tried using the brush to apply epoxy to chipped spots on the porcelain where I had banged with a regular hammer (out of desperate frustration), the brush by then had started to disintegrate, leaving bits of foam in the epoxy.
If I had to do it over again, I might try a throwaway brush with bristles, rather than foam. Alternatively, I might use a 4 in. x 3/8 in. High-Density Foam Mini-Roller (which isn't exactly cheap, but ...).
Finally, whatever you do, lay the epoxy on THICK while at the same time making it smooth (easier said than done, hence why I might spend the $$$ for the 4 in. x 3/8 in. High-Density Foam Mini-Roller). You can lightly sand a THICK coating, but not a thin one. Also, when sanding, use painters tape to protect nearby un-epoxied surfaces from being scuffed. And yes, there's a 90% chance you WILL scuff them if you don't do this, despite being one of those I'm-the-exception super careful people (look, it's 5" of painters tape -- part with the piddlin' pennies worth of tape and be smart, not stupid).
Post note: to achieve a thick layer, you may want to apply a first coat, let it dry to touch (1-3 hours), and then apply a second coat. If you do this, you will need two throwaways brushes.
REMOVING THE INNER TUB
Please see my next post for the "lessons learned" removing the inner tub.