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Maytag MAH5500BWW Neptune washer eats bearings


The one they call... Tim

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The one they call... Tim

I have replaced the bearings on this washer probably half a dozen times now, and it's driving me nuts. 

This is a Maytag Neptune MAH5500BWW front loader. It was picked up as a freebie with very bad bearings. The interior bearing race was actually split, so I had to cut it and collapse it to get the last half of it out. Once I got that out, though, the installation of new bearings and seals went easy enough. 

However, with each replacement, there was always *something* that was just a bit questionable. On the first one, I was beating on the inner race to get the bearing reinstalled. On one, I slightly damaged the dust cover on the bearing. On another, the seal fell out while I was installing the drum, so I may have gotten some water in the bearing on the first test run before I heard the noise of the seal banging around in the drum & put he old undamaged one back in. Some were cheapo bearing/seal kits...  

But this last time, everything went perfectly. I bought an OEM Maytag seal kit. I bought SKF bearings: 6206-2rs1 and 6207-2rs1. I had greased everything up thoroughly the previous time, so the old bearings came out easy and I got the new ones back in easy, hammering gently and exclusively on the outer races to get them seated. No damage. No water where it didn't belong. Both the plastic Y spacer and the steel cylindrical spacer reinstalled properly. Torqued everything down tight. This uses the older seal style. 

Still, within 5 run cycles, it was already sounding like there was gravel in there. What gives? I retorqued the bolt on the pulley. I know it did not loosen, because I put a castle nut with a wire tie through it because of earlier experiences where I could not keep it from loosening regardless of torque or lock-tite. (I had previously replaced the pulley due to spline damage from coming loose.) However, I was only able to get 1/6 more turn on it. That quieted it again, but only for a few cycles before the noise came back. 

Already I was able to move the drum up and down within the tub. I am pretty sure with fresh bearings in there before, there was virtually no up-down movement allowed. But here already there was 1/2" or more at the front face of the drum. How could the bearings have been toasted so badly, so quickly???  I am at my wit's end with this washer, and of course my wife says it does a better job than any other machine she has used! I'm ready to drop kick this machine into a volcano, but she wants it fixed or replaced with the same model (which at this point I am thinking will have the same problem????)

The only thing I can think of that could possibly have gone wrong with this latest bearing replacement is if the installation is still somehow too rough on the bearings, and I need to shrink them with dry ice and hopefully that will be sufficient to slip them in by hand with no beating whatsoever. And maybe taking a torch to the metal bit in the drum where the bearings go, but since that is embedded in the plastic tub, I don't feel that's such a good idea. 

I gather that this model is troublesome about bearings, due to the hundreds of different bearing and seal kits available out there for it, but I can't imagine 5 quiet cycles is the best we can do. If anybody can think of advice short of killing it with fire, I we would sure appreciate it! Previous bearing replacements lasted a lot longer, even where I knew I made mistakes. Why was the smoothest and gentlest repair the shortest lived???

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Scottekarate

I don't have the answer you're looking for, it sounds like you have went to great lengths to keep this guy alive. I'm for the volcano. Tell your bride this washer went extinct when George W Bush was president. As far as I know, the OEM seal kit has been discontinued for a couple years. Move on, this year is hard enough.

I loved my Neptune too, but I love my Maytag Performance Series even better.

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3 hours ago, Scottekarate said:

I don't have the answer you're looking for, it sounds like you have went to great lengths to keep this guy alive. I'm for the volcano. Tell your bride this washer went extinct when George W Bush was president. As far as I know, the OEM seal kit has been discontinued for a couple years. Move on, this year is hard enough.

I loved my Neptune too, but I love my Maytag Performance Series even better.

Really?

 

Those things were basically responsible for Maytag’s demise. Setting them up to be bought by Whirlpool. 
 

Garbage if you ask me. I’d never waste my time. But that’s only an opinion. 

Edited by 16345Ed
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Budget Appliance Repair

The "Maytag Performance Series"   THE FAKE MAYTAG!!!!!!  Not your momma and daddies Maytag........

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The one they call... Tim

But why? As satisfying as it may be to anthropomorphize, it isn't failing without a logical reason. Something is out of spec and causing it to fail, I just have run out of ideas for what could be the root cause. If you replace the broken and the worn bits, you should be able to keep something running forever, or at least as long as you can still get parts for it. 

I've got a 1997 truck with 400k miles on it, tractors from 1977, 1974, and 1951, a Kitchenaide fridge from 1993. Heck, we have a pump organ from 1877 that we still play Christmas carols on every year. 

What else should I check? 

The drum shaft is not bent: The drum spins concentrically with the tub with fresh bearings, with almost no lateral or vertical displacement allowed (until the bearings go). 

The bearings seat fine on the shaft. They slip on easy, but not with any extra play.

The bearings seat ok in the tub. The seats have a few scratches/cuts/flaws mostly from cutting out that first bearing race, but I can't see that any of that amounts to enough of a flaw to not let the bearing seat correctly. 

Is the pulley nut too loose? Can't see how. I've really reefed on that sucker. 

Is the pulley nut too tight? I don't see how that is possible. There is a steel cylindrical spacer that goes between the two bearing inner races. However tight I make it, it's just going to squeeze the race against the spacer against the race against the pulley, so I don't see how it could be applying any thrust on either bearing.

Are these the wrong bearings? Not up to the loading the washer produces? I don't know. They seemed to fit well physically, and were the same as were provided with one of the better earlier kits I bought. 

The weights are intact. The suspension springs and dampers are intact. 

So logically, there has to be something out of spec with this thing, but I have run out of possibilities as to what that could be. What am I missing? I have my doubts about the fluid in the drum concept in these Neptune washers, but if the original design made the bearings fail in 5 cycles, there's no way it would have made it to market. We do a lot of laundry in this house, but I'm not washing cinder blocks or bowling balls in there, so what gives? 

I guess one last possibility that comes to mind is if either the bearings or the seal kit were counterfeit and actually cheap knockoffs. I've seen a few kits at this point, and they all seemed high quality to my eye. The seals came with grease, where some of the kits I've seen came dry. Not sure how to really check this possibility, but I'd be surprised if that were the answer. 

Anybody got anything better, though? 

 

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Scottekarate

@Lorainfurniture I see that you sell 12002022 on EBay, do you have success with that kit? It says OEM but I don't know who SKF is. Just thought you may have some advice, you go hardcore on restorations.

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I've heard that there are knockoff SKF bearings out there. They are really Chinese crap marked as SKF. I suggest buying them from a reputable source.

Edited by igloo
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vee8power
16 hours ago, The one they call... Tim said:

I've got a 1997 truck with 400k miles on it, tractors from 1977, 1974, and 1951, a Kitchenaide fridge from 1993. Heck, we have a pump organ from 1877 that we still play Christmas carols on every year. 

 

How much have you beat your head against the wall keeping these running. I can understand the novelty of the tractors and the piano, maybe even a smog-era truck. That washer is your "daily driver". My advice is to park it and get yourself another daily driver.

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Lorainfurniture
On 10/23/2020 at 6:57 PM, Scottekarate said:

@Lorainfurniture I see that you sell 12002022 on EBay, do you have success with that kit? It says OEM but I don't know who SKF is. Just thought you may have some advice, you go hardcore on restorations.

I’ve sold over 200 kits this year. 

On 10/24/2020 at 1:54 AM, igloo said:

I've heard that there are knockoff SKF bearings out there. They are really Chinese crap marked as SKF. I suggest buying them from a reputable source.

This is true.  I buy my bearings directly from an authorized distributor.  Hopefully soon I can become an authorized skf distributor myself 

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The one they call... Tim
On 10/25/2020 at 7:31 AM, Lorainfurniture said:

I’ve sold over 200 kits this year. 

This is true.  I buy my bearings directly from an authorized distributor.  Hopefully soon I can become an authorized skf distributor myself 

I have actually bought your kit before. I had high hopes because I was going to spend some good money for a good kit that time. Imagine how I was kicking myself when I discovered that funny noise on the first trial run was because I knocked the seal out while wrestling the drum back into the tub. That fix didn't last too long either, but with such an obvious error on my part, I certainly can't cast any aspersions on your kit. The fact that yours was one of the nicest kits and that it used SKF bearings is why I sought out more of that brand later on my own when I tried to do better on price. I guess you get what you pay for (go figure!).

 

I am hesitant to believe the bearings I got were counterfeit, but I can't think of any likely simple explanations at this point. I think it was Sherlock Holmes who said something along the lines of, "when, after you have ruled out the probable, what you are left to consider is the improbable." 

 

So I guess my plan is thus: 

- Assume the last bearings were rubbish. Spend some good money on a good kit from a reputable source. @LorainAppliance, yours was one of the better kits I found on my own. Also, though I am new here, I can see with this little interaction that you have some respect amongst this forum. Unless someone wants to recommend differently, you sound like one of the better sources I could choose from.

- Prior to installation, chill the bearings down to shrink them and hopefully slip them into place by hand and avoid any hammering of any kind in case that is upsetting anything. Actually, in thinking about this now, isn't that inviting condensation and therefore moisture into a place I really don't want it? What do you recommend? Are the dust shields on the bearings sufficient to keep moisture out of the rolling surfaces long enough for them to warm up again? 

Thanks all for your input!

 

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Lorainfurniture

@The one they call... Tim the set you got from me certainly were genuine.  Buying any top tier bearings (timken, fag, skf, etc) is the way to go.   Really you should investigate why your repair is not lasting.  
 

1. you are installing incorrectly 

2. the shaft on your spider arm is somehow causing premature failure 

3. the tub somehow is causing bearing failure 


these are the only 3 possibilities  


Ps thank you for the kind words.  This forum is special because we all pay to be here.  We are all passionate enough about appliances to talk about it in our spare time.  

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The one they call... Tim
18 hours ago, Lorainfurniture said:

@The one they call... Tim the set you got from me certainly were genuine.  Buying any top tier bearings (timken, fag, skf, etc) is the way to go.   Really you should investigate why your repair is not lasting.  
 

1. you are installing incorrectly 

2. the shaft on your spider arm is somehow causing premature failure 

3. the tub somehow is causing bearing failure 


these are the only 3 possibilities  


Ps thank you for the kind words.  This forum is special because we all pay to be here.  We are all passionate enough about appliances to talk about it in our spare time.  

Yup. That's exactly why I'm here. To investigate what is going on, what I am doing wrong. I am a handy guy and have built a lot of things from scratch and maintained a lot of high-mileage vehicles and equipment, but I am not a professional. I've used up my knowledge and experience looking for a source of my troubles and not come up with much.

1. installing incorrectly: I feel I have a good understanding how all the parts are to be assembled. While I think it would be possible to assemble it wrong, there's a pretty clear "best" fit way that it goes together, and that has been backed up by some of the instructions sheets I have received. How the seals go in is obvious. I do not doubt that I am assembling the parts correctly. 

Other than just putting the parts together in the wrong orientation, I don't think there's much else that can go wrong with installation with one possible exception, and you all can tell me if this is likely a problem or not. I don't have a bearing puller or press available, nor have I spent the money to rent one like the Tony Tool link posted above. Instead, I get the bearing started, then I have a couple of pipes and caps that are the right size so I can hammer on the cap over the bearing and the force is transferred only to the outer race. This does not go in perfectly straight, but will cant to one side or the other. So it is a continuous process of directing blows to the highest part of the bearing and just continuing to move around until the bearing is fully seated. It never gets much out of plane (1/16"?), and of course ends up fully seated and therefore in-plane. Would this be enough distortion to cause damage and therefore premature failure to the bearings? 

2. Shaft issues: like what? The shaft does not seem to be bent. What else should I look for. When installed with a fresh set of bearings, the drum spins smoothly and concentrically within the tub with almost no vertical or horizontal movement within the tub allowed. I can pinch the top of the drum to the top of the tub and nothing really moves. Later, after the bearings are toast, you can see the opening of the drum is no longer centered in the opening of the tub, and if you pinch the top of the drum to the top of the tub, it can move ~1/2". (Interestingly, even with that much movement allowed, the bearings coming out will feel surprisingly good, though they are usually pretty rusty by that time. 

Here's what is known to be different about the shaft. Early on, I had the pulley bolt back out a couple times, in spite of torque and in spite of using a thread locker product. That messed up the splines on one pulley, which I replaced with another that had good splines. Somewhere in there, in torquing the bolt down, I sheared the head off. I then drilled out the bolt using left-handed drills, hoping it would catch and remove the remainder of the bolt. It did not, but I did get enough of the bolt drilled out to collapse the remaining part, get some pliers on it and get it out. Unfortunately, the hole threads received some damage. Not wanting to depend solely on the damaged threads to hold the next bolt, I JB welded a longer bolt into the hole & cut off the head. I then put a castellated  nut on that to hold the pulley in place and drilled a hole through the bolt for a cotter pin. Thus far, this fix has been doing just fine. I have had it apart and back together a couple of times and it has been pretty highly torqued without issue. Long story short, I don't see that any of this should be causing any of my bearing woes. 

3. The tub causing bearing failure. How? Being a Neptune, there is a chamber around the drum that holds fluid. You can hear it slosh as you spin the drum. This is part of the original design for these, is it not? Other than that, I don't see what else might cause a problem. The presence of the fluid seems counterintuitive to me, and I have been tempted to drain it out, but have not done so. I do not see any signs of anything either missing or added, so it should not be out of balance (provided the aforementioned fluid itself doesn't cause a problem). Again, with a fresh install of new bearings, the drum spins smoothly and concentrically within the tub. Not sure what else to look for. 

 

I appreciate your help and thoughts on this. It's a stupid little problem that is really not worth the time and effort I am investing in it, but at this point I just don't want to admit defeat to a washing machine over what I would have thought to be a straightforward repair.

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The one they call... Tim

I guess one other possible issue with my repair....  I have a socket that is a good fit through the front bearing and cylindrical spacer. It is what I use to knock out the back bearing. I also use that socket as an alignment tool when putting things back together. It is a decent fit, but by no means a *precision* fit for holding the spacer concentric with the bearings, though. Would this cause an issue, and wouldn't the installation and tightening of the drum shaft resolve it? 

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The one they call... Tim
16 hours ago, isaac said:

If shaft is bad might be causing it to deteriorate fast

Sure. How? There is no discernible bend in the shaft. There is no significant marring or damage preventing the bearings from seating right. The bearings slip on and off the shaft easy enough, but there does not seem to be too much clearance. What else should I specifically look for? 

 

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Lorainfurniture

Currently Backordered.  You can buy them on my website but likely a couple weeks for delivery 

www.Lorainfurniture.com/kits

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Shamsher Bhachu

My take on this : Bearing installation is leading to the problem. Whilst installing of shaft try to push on the inner race only with a drift pipe (no hitting on outer race as it can cause

indentation of the balls/races leading to premature failure). Outer race in housing should be a push fit only. Lock not should be torqued preferably.

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The one they call... Tim
On 11/7/2020 at 12:44 AM, Shamsher Bhachu said:

My take on this : Bearing installation is leading to the problem. Whilst installing of shaft try to push on the inner race only with a drift pipe (no hitting on outer race as it can cause

indentation of the balls/races leading to premature failure). Outer race in housing should be a push fit only. Lock not should be torqued preferably.

This is the only thing I can really think of, other than the possibility of counterfeit bearings raised above, that could have gone wrong this last time. It is reversed from what you suggest, though. The inner race on the shaft is the easy, slip-on fit. The outer race in the housing is the press-on, slightly interference fit. So by beating on the outer race only, I am beating directly on the piece experiencing the resistance. There shouldn't be any forces going through the ball bearings to the inner race, except for impact shock. And yes, it is a 5 lb sledge, but access in the tub is so awkward, I doubt I'm getting all that much force on it.

 

So if I shrink the bearings next time with dry ice, what shall I do if that still is a difficult fit? Should I attempt to ream out the housings for the bearings so I can get them in without violence? Does anybody have access to the dimensions and tolerances for the bearings and the housings in the tub where they go? If I'm doing my calculations right, dry ice will probably only get me about 0.004" change. Is that enough to make a difference???

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Don’t bother chilling the bearings down. Try rigging up your own version if the tony tool with some biga$$ washers, a length of 5/8 or 3/4 threaded rod and big nuts and maybe a pipe cap. Press in only one bearing at a time. I’d even recommend busting out the guts of the old bearings and using the outer races as a press tool. Once you “brinnell” a bearing it’s garbage.

Edited by AccApp
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The one they call... Tim
On 11/15/2020 at 12:26 AM, AccApp said:

Don’t bother chilling the bearings down. Try rigging up your own version if the tony tool with some biga$$ washers, a length of 5/8 or 3/4 threaded rod and big nuts and maybe a pipe cap. Press in only one bearing at a time. I’d even recommend busting out the guts of the old bearings and using the outer races as a press tool. Once you “brinnell” a bearing it’s garbage.

That sounds like a fine idea. As soon as I get far enough ahead of the bills to buy a decent bearing kit and the parts for the press, I will give this machine one more try. 

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