Thread Number: 73029  /  Tag: Vintage Dishwashers
Legends of Dishwashing: The Maytag Reverse Rack
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Post# 964606   10/28/2017 at 01:09 (355 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Continuing on with the legends series is the Reverse Rack Maytag. I remember the first time I ever laid eyes on this machine in digital form was on this very website. The ads, brochures, and personal machines captivated me with its unusual racking, promised loud noises, aggressive wash action, promised Maytag reliability, and near limitless capacity made this machine larger than life. The first time I ever seen one in the flesh was at the Habitat for Humanity restore, a WU301, and it was then I realized this machine is truly legendary.

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Post# 964607 , Reply# 1   10/28/2017 at 01:15 (355 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Opening the door reveals its most apparent quirk. Not the only quirk asI feel that's what this machine is, quirky. The racks are reversed, cups go on the bottom, plates up top. In the patent for this style of racking, which orginiated in their top load machines, Maytag states this is a great way to maximize space by compartmentalizing the racks for specific items. Incase you missed it, yes Maytag patented this design.

One thing to note is how I've loaded this machine. More on that later.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO potatochips's LINK

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Post# 964608 , Reply# 2   10/28/2017 at 01:22 (355 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

The second quirk is the motor and pump set up. It's belt driven?! In the 1974 patent for this, Maytag states that not only will motor placement offset the need for a counterweight in portable machines, it discussss how the motor placement being belt driven maximizes space. It's my belief that motor technology at the time from Maytags supplier wasn't good (small) enough to support a direct drive machine, and thus, a belt driven solution.

The belt provides an excellent D-D-D-D-D noise until the flat spots created by the pullies is smoothed out after an initial start. And believe me, with this machines capacity, the belt will sit long enough to create this vibration.

In the later production models, the WUx04, the belt drive system was replaced by a direct drive motor.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO potatochips's LINK

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This post was last edited 10/28/2017 at 11:49
Post# 964609 , Reply# 3   10/28/2017 at 01:43 (355 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

At the heart of the machine is the pump. This design was originally patented in 1967, and although the pump pictured is from a 1996 DWU9962, the overall philosophy remains the same. Maytags philosophy is to strain large particulate that's about 3/8" size by a coarse strainer for which the owner can clean from the bottom of the dishwashers sump. Whatever passes through the coarse strainer is met by the micro-mesh filter, and this is where the real genius begins.

You can see the micro mesh filter in the photo below, and wash water is drawn through it by the wash impellers auction. This effectively strains the wash water like a dryer lint screen. Unfortunately, whatever is captured by this screen has the potential to clog the micro-mesh screen which would reduce washing performance entirely by starving the suction of the wash impeller.

The genius is that plus shaped part that has little clearance between itself and the micro-mesh screen. This is the backwash arm. On reverse rack machines there are only two backwash arms, Maytag changed this to four when they redesigned their whole lineup in 1991. The backwash arm is what the spray arm attaches to so it will rotate with the spray arm. As wash water leaves the discharge of the pump, a small amount is diverted to the backwash arm to pass through small slits that blast clean wash water on the micro mesh filter, effectively blasting off what goo was filtered out. The goo will naturally find its way back, only to be blasted off again and again by the backwash arm, effectively keeping it in suspension.

Similar to Whirlpool machines, when the motor reverses to drain the wash impeller still produces pressure, so the backwash arm will still function when the machine drains, and because the drain impellers sucttion is after the coarse filter and before the micro mesh filter, everything held in suspension goes down the sewer.

This design lasted in various improved states until Maytag was bought by Whirlpool.

There is no hard food disposer like in Whirlpool or GE machines.

The design is most certainly unique and effective. It's very rare to find any kind of residiual evidence of goo on any dish or utensil.

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Post# 964611 , Reply# 4   10/28/2017 at 01:51 (355 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Because of the micro mesh filters effectiveness of filtering goo, small diameter jets are used all over the spray arms. Small diameter jets allow for focused sprays of high pressure wash water. In the patent linked, Maytag claims this pump design moves thirty five gallons a monute of water.

The small holes have one apparent disadvantage. IF, and it does happen, things make it though the micro mesh filter. They can clog the spray arm holes. But since there is forty seven of them, the detriment isn't noticed right away.

The rhythm of these spray arms is so melodic, it could put anyone to sleep. You can hear their fast wooshing action.

Maytag did advertise that they were the only one to have a full upper wash arm, but this was much needed as it sprays DOWN on to the cutlery and dishes. The cutlery is on the top rack, above the detergent dispenser, so there is no risk of cutlery pitting from the soap.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO potatochips's LINK

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Post# 964612 , Reply# 5   10/28/2017 at 01:58 (355 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

The reverse rack is one of two legendary machines that feature fan assisted drying. I never use heated dry, and In Whirlpool or GE machines it's a rare sight to see items (aside from plastics) that have a little drop or two of water after an air dry. With fan assisted, those little drops never ever happen. Because of this marginal difference, I believe fan assisted drying is a gimmick. I've played around with enough non fan assisted machines which have al proved great success.

HOWEVER, Maytag made a real serious attempt as the nozzle curves, meaning the air will sweep along the entire bottom of the machine near the heating element before traveling up and out the vent.

The only real distinct advantage of fan assisted drying is the ability to use your dishes right away when the cycle competes as they're not piping hot. But that's not really a problem.


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This post was last edited 10/28/2017 at 07:35
Post# 964614 , Reply# 6   10/28/2017 at 02:07 (355 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Alright, alright. Down to the business here, the most legendary QUIRK. The racking.

It's very often I run out of dishes before the machine fills up, which is what was happening in the first photo.

A GE is hard to master, and if you can figure it out and load it right, you can load anything. A Whirlpool power clean is open season, there is no special secrets to loading it which makes it the most versatile. But the reverse rack? Oh, there is a specific spot for cutting boards. Specific spot for large plates,
Small plates, bowls, cups saucers. Everything has a place, and that place is very easy to find. Very very clear and apparent where everything goes.

The cutlery basket has a sealable compartment that's big enough to fit things like mason jar lids or baby bottle nips. And the lid on it has large enough slots so it can still hold cutlery. Genious.

If you go wild, Bobloads are SURE to happen with amazing results and capacity. These machines truly hold the most. It's shameful to not run it full, but sometimes you don't have that option as you're out of spoons.

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Post# 964615 , Reply# 7   10/28/2017 at 02:09 (355 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Because the lower spray arm has a GE like wash tower, things can be loaded on the top rack that require wash action from the bottom. In a frantic attempt at finding space, it sometimes can become a catch all for odd items.

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Post# 964616 , Reply# 8   10/28/2017 at 02:13 (355 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

The bottom rack is very versatile, even though a slot is cut out of it to make room for the aforementioned wash tower. Casserole dishes and mixing bowls will fit in any order. Cups and mugs can be tightly packed as there are no tines in the back half of the rack.

Medium sized plates, or bowls can also be loaded in the bottom rack too.

Oh, and you bet there are things loaded underneath that metal roasting pan. Versatility.

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Post# 964617 , Reply# 9   10/28/2017 at 02:22 (355 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Noise is a real thing. Although it's not the loudest machine, GE is, it ranks second with Whirlpool during the wash, but loses points as you can blatantly hear the spray arms do their thing. The drain, well if you think Whirlpool was loud pre-tuning weight. This thing sounds very very loud. Offensive drainer.

Options and features? Well just like their "this is a washing machine and this is all you get" attitude towards laundry appliances, there are no special features here. Just different ways of presenting those features. Just a knob, a knob and buttons, a knob and more buttons, only buttons, All controlling the same things.

Heated dry on or off. And temperature boost on or off. Rinse and hold. That's it. And depending on the machine, how the temp boost option works is different. The greatest disadvantage of these machines is that they rely off a hot incoming water, so pre heating the water by running the tap is a must. BOL machines have no temperature assist, MOL to TOL machines may have it either timer controlled or thermostatically. Either way, a temp boost option will extend the main wash by 13 minutes, and Some machines have the heat on at all portions of the cycle, some it's on all portions but thermostatically controlled. There is no uniformity here.

The cycles are ahorter with less water changes. A mainwash is just a prewash, wash, rinse, conditioner rinse. Whereas GE, WP, and KA have different ideas.

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This post was last edited 10/28/2017 at 07:39
Post# 964618 , Reply# 10   10/28/2017 at 02:29 (355 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

The holy grail is the computer controlled WU1000, but like its anologue cousins, it doesn't have anything spectacularly fancy in terms of options and features.

Parts, aside from belts, are hard to find and the lack of a true thermostatic hold or high temp rinse, meaning the reliance on hot incoming water is this machines only true disadvantage.

It is also the only machine where you can easily level the back legs on a built in install. A use once feature, but a feature that shows every single detail (aside from water heating) was thought of.

It is a Bobloading dream as you will purposely dirty things just so you can load it. It will always clean superbly. It will always amaze and confuse house guests, and it will always end up being 3/4 full before a wash is desperately needed. These are amazing machines, and if you don't own one, go find one. They're legendary.

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Post# 964620 , Reply# 11   10/28/2017 at 03:48 (355 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        
Thanks So Much!

A real enjoyment to read, and learn. I remember looking at these a couple of times for a couple of homes way back when. Never bought one, I was a KA buyer. But I came close because of that fascinating rack system. I never knew about the internals, and you explained them so even I can understand. Thank you very much-

Post# 964656 , Reply# 12   10/28/2017 at 09:47 (355 days old) by Ultramatic (New York City)        
Thanks Kevin!

ultramatic's profile picture



You just answered a ton of questions! Greatly appreciate the time and effort you had put into this series.

Post# 964659 , Reply# 13   10/28/2017 at 09:58 (355 days old) by peteski50 (New York)        
Maytag ReverseRack!

peteski50's profile picture
Kevin thank you so much for posting. These DW's were exceptional cleaners and held tons of dishes. I have a friend that had a more basic wu300! A real powerhouse! I used to load her DW quite a bit! Everything always came out spotless and gleaming! Her water was scalding, so their was never a problem. The better models had the water heating - from what I read the Power Boast kept the heater on all through the cycle and heated the main wash to 140 degrees. The Temp Boast heated the main wash to 140 degrees! The Sani Scrub on the electronic model did increase the cycle time by 13 minutes but no thermo hold to my knowledge! This was where Kitchenaid and GE had the advantage over Maytag at the time where all their models can utilize 120 temp! They were extremely noisy especially during drain! They sounded like the old Hotpoints (pre GE Models)! I did always wonder if the more TOL models were more quiet? That reverse rack was one DW I really enjoyed loading and Never being disappointed with the results!

Post# 964686 , Reply# 14   10/28/2017 at 12:55 (355 days old) by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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I had the model 1 below the top of the line all pushbutton model. I purchased it new in 1991 and used it until 2007. It was a great machine, cleaned everything without pre-rinsing but as stated, it was loud. The pics were taken in 2007 just before I replaced it with a Kitchen Aid.


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Post# 964729 , Reply# 15   10/28/2017 at 18:16 (355 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

John and Louis, thanks for the great comments!

Gary, that's a beautiful direct drive machine. Yours has adjustable racks up top, right?

Peter, I have a Jenn-Air clone of a WU1000, and it, although insulated, is not too quiet. The drain still sounds like a jet engine. The water heating regime was strange! I can post the info I have in The Book Of Maytag from the dishwasherus section when I get home from work next week. I think the neat thing is that on higher end models like you said, regardless if it has a thermo hold or not, heating is on ALL portions of the cycle. Pre-wash, wash, rinse, and conditioner rinse are all heated.

Post# 964763 , Reply# 16   10/28/2017 at 23:53 (355 days old) by peteski50 (New York)        
Maytag ReverseRack!

peteski50's profile picture
Gary - I have this documentation from 1988 - your model looks like the wu702! Kevin yours seems like the wu902! They are both so awesome! I want to try to attach my documentation! If you can read the fine print it explains the differences in the water heating options!

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Post# 964765 , Reply# 17   10/28/2017 at 23:57 (355 days old) by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

I love my 1983 portable RR I picked up at the Habitat for $50. I was so excited about it I don't even know how I got it home and all the way down the basement stairs without any help or a dolly once I learned they weigh over 200 pounds.

Since mine lives in the basement it only comes out to play on Thanksgiving and sometimes Christmas. I dump everything in a plastic tote bin and carry it on downstairs, pack it full and stand there hypnotized by the rhythmic sound of the wash arms, and that wonderful industrial sound of the huge motor those machines have, I especially love the deep sound the motor makes on startup.
Everything always comes out sparkling clean with no prior rinsing, and bone dry.

Post# 964769 , Reply# 18   10/29/2017 at 00:24 (355 days old) by peteski50 (New York)        
Maytag ReverseRack!

peteski50's profile picture
I knew a few people that had them but the only one I operated at my friends house many times was the wu300 from 1981. It was awesome loading and you can really pack it full! Never ever disappointed with the results! With no prerinsing! These maytags never had a true pots&pans cycle like whirlpool & GE with extended wash periods! On this wu300 it had heavy wash and about 1983 or so the newer models changed it to pots&pans which was really no different than the heavy wash cycle it replaced! One of the appliance stores that I was in contact with in the early 80's said that when they sold maytags they sold mostly this model at that time! They had that plastic demo in the store filled with water that demoed the reverse rack as most of us are familiar with! Quite impressive! But most of the sales still went for kitchenaid and GE at the time!

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Post# 964770 , Reply# 19   10/29/2017 at 00:26 (355 days old) by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
I always

Wanted one but given my bad luck with Maytag washers and dryers, I have always kept a Kitchenaid.

Post# 964773 , Reply# 20   10/29/2017 at 00:36 (355 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        
Hey Pete!

I must give special credit to Paul/turqoisedude because this is his old WU902 panel and timer, the tank, pump, and motor are from the Jenn-Air clone WU1000 I have, and the door is from a WC202. Yup! That pots and pans cycle was just heavy wash in disguise, all it was is prewash-rinse-wash-rinse-conditioner rinse.

I tried to put my camera inside and get a video of the wash action but it's too fierce.

Thanks for posting those brochure snippets!

I forgot to mention that capacity wise, so far in my experience, a GE potscrubber with super racks will comfortbably do 7 (maybe 8) place settings, the WP powerclean can comfortably do ten (12 to 13 if you push it), and the Maytag can do 10 comfortably and twelve if you push it place settings.

Post# 964785 , Reply# 21   10/29/2017 at 04:50 (354 days old) by beekeyknee (Columbia, MO)        

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Buy more spoons or whatever it is you are running out of before you have a full load. If you're particular about having matching flatware, check on ebay for your brand and pattern.

Post# 964787 , Reply# 22   10/29/2017 at 06:26 (354 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        
Hey Brian!

Running out of things to use before its full is a true testament to this much this machine holds. Even with twelve placement ability for flatware, this machine is never 100% full before a wash is desperately needed. I'm only semi-joking about running out of things. It does happen with the RR and it's funny hahaha.

Post# 964799 , Reply# 23   10/29/2017 at 10:02 (354 days old) by appnut (TX)        

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It's called put pots, pans, pre bowls in with everything else.  Then it gets run every 3 or 4 days.   Except for cast iron, everything in my kitchen has to be dishwasher safe.  No exceptions. 

Post# 964810 , Reply# 24   10/29/2017 at 11:48 (354 days old) by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

countryguy's profile picture
Kevin, the upper rack did have the drop down tines which made it easy to load pots, casserole dishes, etc. on top. The entire back part of the rack could be flat. The lower rack had the cup shelves also. All in all very flexible loading ability.

Pete, yes it was a WU702.

Post# 964844 , Reply# 25   10/29/2017 at 16:27 (354 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Oh you guys! I'm was trying to make a joke about it's cavernous capacity!

Post# 964853 , Reply# 26   10/29/2017 at 17:05 (354 days old) by peteski50 (New York)        
Maytag ReverseRack!

peteski50's profile picture
Yes the capacity is absolutely cavernous and once you get the loading down pat its amazing what you can load in it. I always enjoyed loading it especially because it was very different!

Post# 964926 , Reply# 27   10/30/2017 at 00:43 (354 days old) by mjg0619 (Scranton, Pennsylvania)        

mjg0619's profile picture
In my opinion, the best dishwashers ever made. A true JetClean has been on my must find list for years now. Unfortunately, when it came to dishwashers, Maytag was nowhere near as popular around here as the others. I'd give my left you-know-what and then some to get my hands on one, ESPECIALLY a portable one!

Thanks so much for posting such an incredible thread about the JetClean!

Post# 965011 , Reply# 28   10/30/2017 at 14:44 (353 days old) by whitetub (Montreal, Canada)        

Does anyone have a video of the reverse rack washig system in action ? (inside view)

Post# 965035 , Reply# 29   10/30/2017 at 18:24 (353 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Thanks for the comments, Matt!

Steve, I have tried haha I put my camera in the machine with the idea I would post it in the thread. But the wash action is too fast to properly see anhtbing.

Post# 965055 , Reply# 30   10/30/2017 at 20:50 (353 days old) by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

Not a video of the inside, but this one is mine:

Post# 965118 , Reply# 31   10/31/2017 at 09:31 (352 days old) by whitetub (Montreal, Canada)        


I saw that video on Youtube already. Lucky to have one of those machines.

I used to own a WC 401 Avocado green. Loved it. I wish someone who owns one now, would put a heavy plastic with the door open, and film it for us. Like they do on youtube for the Kitchenaid dishwashers.

Post# 965120 , Reply# 32   10/31/2017 at 10:05 (352 days old) by whitetub (Montreal, Canada)        

someone has to do that with a reverse rack... please....




Post# 965214 , Reply# 33   10/31/2017 at 21:01 (352 days old) by 114jwh (Vancouver)        
Great thread Kevin!

Thanks for chronicling all the unique features of these Maytag DW's. I've seen these over the years but never thought much about them. I'll be sure to take a second look if I ever run across one.

Growing up we had a GE portable Talisman Royale. My dad bought it for my mom as a birthday present (LOL) in 1978. It was a loud machine but did a great job. She used it multiple times a week for nearly 20 years (with no repairs) and it was still going strong when the house was sold. She was so impressed with it she bought another GE for the next house so never really got to experience any other brands growing up. As such, really neat to see how some of the others worked.

Thanks again for a great pics and explanation!

Post# 965219 , Reply# 34   10/31/2017 at 21:32 (352 days old) by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

philr's profile picture
A few weeks ago, I parted out the reverse rack Maytag I had at home as it was starting to rust around the pump and the racks were not in very nice shape. It was a basic single knob model. I never ran a it a full cycle as the previous owner of my house had cut the drain hose and didn't bother to hook it up again when he installed a new sink. Like most, if not all, 1980s models, it had a blower fan. My older reverse racks don't, even if they are TOL WU-600 from 1972 and WU-601 from 1976. BTW, there were also other brands than Maytag and KA that used a blower to dry the dishes. I have two GM Frigidaire dishwashers with that feature (one of them is a Montgomery Ward rebadge).

BTW, the WU-600 is also a direct drive model, the belt drive models were introduced in the mid-seventies.

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Post# 965313 , Reply# 35   11/1/2017 at 07:16 (351 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Thanks for the comments guys!

Ahh es Phil, I forgot to mention that figure eight sump, direct drive/dual motor reverse rack. I realized it half way through the thread being seen by everyone.

When the KitchenAid machine comes, I'll do better!

Post# 965361 , Reply# 36   11/1/2017 at 11:05 (351 days old) by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

philr's profile picture
You did great!
Here's a link to the thread about my 1970s Maytag dishwashers.

Post# 965917 , Reply# 37   11/4/2017 at 05:54 (348 days old) by chachp (Conway, AR)        
Last night's dishes

chachp's profile picture


All this talk about Reverse Racks....I snapped a couple pictures last night of mine.  Here are some before and after shots.  This is a pretty typical load for us.  When I first got this machine I was kind of so, so about it.  I've been using it as a daily driver now for about 8 months or so and I have to say I really do like it. 


Nothing will ever compare to the great sounds of the old KA machines but I have to say you really can fit just about anything in these and it really does clean everything I throw at it.  The only real complaint is the noise.  I have an open concept Kitchen/Family Room and it's really annoying if you're trying to watch TV or something so I run it during the day or just before we go to bed. 


I know this rack design wasn't that widely accepted or it probably would have stuck around but once you get used to it, it's really pretty flexible.  Mine is a WU502.  I run it with the Temp Boost and Power Dry all the time.  We keep our water heater pretty hot so when the light goes off to indicate it's heating the water it generally doesn't stay off for very long.

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Post# 965963 , Reply# 38   11/4/2017 at 10:00 (348 days old) by peteski50 (New York)        
maytag wu502!

peteski50's profile picture
Ralph thanks so much for posting the pictures! The great thing about the reverse rack DW is their was so many different ways to load it! Such a unique idea! The downsize is the noise! I always wondered if the TOL models were quieter? They were such powerhouses when it came to cleaning! Here is a photo of the wu502 advertisement! I wish they made these today!

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Post# 966089 , Reply# 39   11/4/2017 at 23:17 (348 days old) by NeptuneGuy27 (Baltimore,MD)        
While we are on the subject..

Here is another Maytag RR dishwasher convert. I've had mine for a little over 4 months now and I love it. Once you get the hang of it, it really does hold a lot. Here are some pics from a load I did a few nights back. If you notice in the before pictures I have small green, plastic container in the middle of the upper rack. In the after pics, you'll see that the dishwasher relocated it to where it wanted it to go, lol.

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Post# 966175 , Reply# 40   11/5/2017 at 10:31 (347 days old) by peteski50 (New York)        
Maytag ReverseRack!

peteski50's profile picture
I am not surprised this DW did such a Great job! Can you post a picture of the front of it! Thanks - Peter

Post# 966190 , Reply# 41   11/5/2017 at 11:57 (347 days old) by NeptuneGuy27 (Baltimore,MD)        
Front of the Maytag

Here is a snap of the full front as well as an up close shot of the controls.

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Post# 966193 , Reply# 42   11/5/2017 at 12:06 (347 days old) by peteski50 (New York)        
Maytag ReverseRack!

peteski50's profile picture
Thanks for posting - really great dishwasher! I think this is a wu702 or wu704 model

Post# 966211 , Reply# 43   11/5/2017 at 13:56 (347 days old) by NeptuneGuy27 (Baltimore,MD)        
It is a

WU704 made in May, 1991. :)

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