Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Man and His Maytag

It's come to my attention that my earlier comments on dryers may be misinterpreted to lead people to think the washer is not worth fixing if left out for pickup. It well may be. Indeed, the advantage to fixing up an old washer may sometimes be greater than the advantage to refurbishing older dryers, since washers tend to have been cheapened and lowered in quality more than dryers.

Here, in an obscure corner of his website I discovered only by accident, is one knowledgeable Maytag buff's defense of the classic Maytag toploader. I have to say I have always had a healthy respect for Maytag, although I was trained primarily on Kenmore/Whirlpool equipment. Back then it was widely conceded a Maytag washer would run without repair longer than a Kenpool, but the differential cost as well as parts prices favored the Kenpools-at least the old belt drive type, if you weren't averse to changing the belt, a job relatively simple on Maytags but a major pisser on Kenpools. I worked there at the very time the beltdrives, mechanically largely identical to ones sold when Eisenhower was president, were phased out in favor of the direct drive Kenpools. They were thought of as throwaway machines by more experienced techs then, and I don't know what fifteen-plus years of experience has provided since I've been away from appliances that long.

That aside, Maytag made an impression on me growing up two ways. One was in the really well done exhibit in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, with it's "world's largest washing machine" (it wasn't, of course: it was not really a washing machine but a museum exhibit, and besides, linen and diaper services used bigger machines, though not of the agitator style, routinely). The other, was allied in my mind: the ancient (to me: in reality it was probably not older than me, and certainly not made before the late fifties) Maytag wringer washer my grandfather posessed, which we usually wound up running a load or two in if we were visiting for very long, also in Chicago. Both are now long gone, I'm sure.

As to his comments on frontloaders vs. toploaders, I have to admit I go both ways-on washing machines, that is. Frontloaders ARE more efficient, and get clothes cleaner. It's as simple as that. But they are more expensive to buy, more expensive to maintain (as he says, front seals are a recurring necessary expense) and have a statistically higher rate of water retention failure-in short, likelihod of flooding the laundry area- than toploaders. And for European preferences, I'll defer to my friend Gwen, a female laundry and sewing machine tech whose mother is a lay midwife, who says that "routine hospitalization for childbirth, nonreligious circumcision for baby boys, and top loading washers are the defining moments of American idiocy". (Besides, Renaults may suck, but Citroens were pretty cool-at least the few which could get out of their own way.)

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