Washing Machine Maintenance Aboard

We had a problem with our washing machine and the repairer fixed the unit under warranty with a new motor and a motherboard.
He explained that we should install an individual surge protector as it had 3 motherboards. Who knew?

American vendors will not warranty a washing machine or dryer if it’s installed aboard a boat. There are not designed to withstand voltage or frequency variations. They are designed to operate on on a stationary level floor with no rolling or pitching.

It’s difficult to obtain a prompt visit from a washer/dryer repairman, especially on a boat. The cost of the repairman and a few parts is often almost the cost of a new machine.

Top loaders last years longer in a house.

Front loaders last much much longer than a top loader on a boat.


Most of the washers I have seen on ships have been front loader commercial units, which we end up repairing ourselves. It’s just another thing for engineers to become familiar with.

I have the same old Roper top loader at home I have had for years (touch wood). It’s not on a surge protector but it isn’t full of electronics, either. But try pricing a new one. The pandemic supply chain problems have run prices up. I prefer to fix when possible.


My dad used to repair our washing machine at home. He’d replace the motor bearings, install new brass points in the switches, and so on. When the drum drive pulley failed, it seemed hopeless, as it was a rather complex plastic part with a helical gear section that had been worn right off. He contacted the Miele factory in Germany, who somehow scrounged up a new one (the machine was decades old by then) and sent it to us free of charge along with a letter of thanks for keeping their machine in service.

Meanwhile, the washing machine repair guy recently came to our home three times in a row, and messed it up each time. Sic transit gloria mundi :expressionless:


Oh, man. . . the Day Third becomes adept at fixing washers after a time. . .I know that I did. Had a spin clutch go out on one, with NO replacement part. A bit of Red Hand and sand and it was back in business. Just took a couple of tries getting it shaped properly. . . . .

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First thing, Big Thanks to whomever split this discussion off from its original thread… No way hell was I going to discuss wash machine maintenance on a thread about a captain being charged with participating in the manslaughter of 34 people. Good grief people.

Second thing, unless it was a new vessel or a wash machine installed recently by a shipyard, I suspect I would be demoted or fired if I requested a washing machine repairman to visit the vessel. First time I ever heard of or even imagined such a thing.


I was on a tug one time in a remote location when a machine quit working. Chief worked on it a bit and said it needed to be replaced. Captain tells me he needs to do his laundry what do I think we should do?

I told him I don’ t know but if I was at home I’d get a meter and just start testing stuff. So that’s what we did. Captain got a meter and started poking around inside.

We were getting nowhere and so the captain says now what? I had one hand on the machine and I leaned back to ponder the question and I put my other hand on a steel stanchion. POW - I got a huge electrical shock .

I said, Damn, that’s f*cking 120! Captain puts his meter across same two points. Sure enough, 120 volts. Captain looks at me and says" “What do we need this meter for?”

Chief had replaced the breaker and wired it wrong. Changed the breaker wiring and the machine worked again.


We’ll start calling you sparky. :rofl:


A front loading washing machine was installed in the Engineer’s changing room on the container ship ‘Flinders Bay’ just before her maiden voyage back in 1969. The installer asked me if I could lend him a spirit level to help him check the installation. It took some explaining before he understood that a spirit level wasn’t of much use on a ship.


We generally had a wringer washing machine for engineers coveralls. My American wife of 50 years can just remember her grandmother having such a machine when she was young.
I came from a large family, all boys except for the youngest, a girl, and my mother was the absolute nemesis of laundry equipment. My father and I became quite adept at repairing these most basic of machines until my mother did something to the wringer that was beyond us.
We took the wringer down to the manufacturer and the guy looked at it in stunned silence. Finally the guy asked how did it happen and my father said he didn’t know how my mother did it. The guy looked up and said “ two strong men couldn’t have done this.”
Mothers would take turns at washing rugby shirts and shorts of a team. Two of my brothers and I collected a total of over sixty jerseys and shorts for our respective teams. My mother departed shortly afterwards with two sacks of jerseys for the rugby club.

I’ve run two yachts that had washers/dryers that were installed when the yachts were built and had structure built around them that made it impossible to remove. One had to have a belt replaced in place with the back cover only allowing me a 10" gap to deal with the entrails. One deals with it and gets the job done. Another had a really nice washer built on a shelf, and the owner thought it should be removed and replaced with a freezer. The washer would not fit through the companionway. That’s when I learned that the Aussies built everything in the hull and then lowered the deck and structure on it and sealed all the big stuff in. Took it apart to remove it and stored all the bits in a pile in the owner’s garage. Forgot to write a reassembly manual when I did it, though :slightly_smiling_face:
On the other hand, appliance techs can have their value. One yacht I ran had a big Sub-Zero side by side in it that would not come out, and had a history of poor performance. Previous regimes had Rube Goldberg come in and add a seawater heat exchanger, which didn’t help the beer temperature problem at all. When I came aboard and learned about the history and modifications, I called the authorized Sub Zero guy. He took one look at it and said that that model had problems and there was a retrofit cure for it. He applied the fix and everything was great for the rest of my hitch (2 years).

We’ve had lots of the fancy HE machines, both front and top loaders, over the years. There’s 4-5 pairs onboard and we always have a couple spares. But recently the Chief has had enough of them fancy motherboards, and has switched to buying the old school units with less electronics in them. He says they’re easier to work on, and the Clothes still seem clean enough.:man_shrugging:

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I was on a ship or two that had those. The timer didn’t always work. I made the mistake of putting a pair of jeans and forgetting about it. I came back later in the day and it was still running. The jeans turned into cotton pulp slurry.


I agree with this 100%. Especially with passengers on board, crew with limited English abilities & with doors with time delays. For Pete’s sake why can’t people understand you have to wait for the cycle to completely finish before trying to open the door? Why, why why? Multi lingual signs posted everywhere & it is discussed during every meeting & still they break the freaking door latches trying to pry them open. How those types of people manage to make it to an age that they are old enough to go to sea is beyond me. If tigers can be trained to jump through hoops of fire & monkeys can learn sign language idiots should be able to learn how to use a washing machine dammit!


Disable the lock and let them learn by getting wet feet. :wink:


I would if they had the decency & brains to clean it up.


Jesus Christ this is on a Jones Act tanker! We actually had to put a sign up in the crew laundry after some idiot got a breaker bar out to pry the door on the washer open when it threw a code. Absolutely destroyed the machine. Idiots.


Research vessel here, passengers/scientists are supposedly some of the smartest humans ever born & they can’t work a washing machine in their own language after given a demonstration on their first day. One time with a top loader the lead geologist (a famous fellow who is a very nice guy) got his clothes stuck in the washer. Steward & deck crew couldn’t figure it out. The master who was walking by couldn’t figure it out either so they called the engine room. I went up to see what the heck was going on. After a few tugs in each direction I discovered the professor placed his t-shirts on the tower through the neck holes. Like sticking your finger up through a stack of donuts. People are stupid. I wouldn’t mind if we went back to washboards & clothes lines on my ship.


You know how much work that is? Who has that much time???

Scientists, research vessels.