Thread Number: 74962  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
BD vs DD
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Post# 987838   3/24/2018 at 00:03 (180 days old) by Losangeles (Muscle Shoals, AL 35661)        

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Hello AW Guys,  I have read many threads and am a little confused.    I am assuming BD indicates that the machine is belt driven.  And DD is for Direct Drive.  I have seen both types of washers in action.   There are those in the AW club that prefer one over the other.  If someone could explain (to a non- engineering type) why this is so.  Is it just a matter of preference or something else.

Also I am in the middle of my first restoration of a Kenmore Limited Edition (electronic control).  I would like to share the experience with you if there is an interest, but am unsure how and what forum.  I see other members sharing there restore with the AW family and I would like to do he same.  I  have the machine pretty much torn down except for the transmission, which seemed to be in good shape when I ran a few loads of laundry through.  The only problem was a leak most likely coming from the tub seal.  But while I have it broke down I am replacing the inlet valve, the drive block and nut, the air dome, drive belt, tub ring seal, tub bolts and rubber seals and possibly a new pump.  The machine spent most of its life in FL and there was a lot of sand, grit, and pieces of shell coming up into the dispensers and out of the drain.  Any and all advice, wisdom, and encouragement would be much appreciated.  Thanks, Losangeles


Post# 987842 , Reply# 1   3/24/2018 at 01:19 (180 days old) by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        
Re, BD versus DD

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From what I have read...


BD advantages:

*Long stroke agitation, slower, some say gentler.

*Less racket, soft "woo-woo" versus DD "clunka-clunka-clunka"

*Effective wash performance

*Large Capacity

*Wide variety of styles, features, agitators over 35+ years from the beginning of AWs to 1986.

*Generally reliable


BD Disadvantages:

*Lackluster spin, some might say terrible, 505 RPM for large, 525 for standard capacity models

*Lousy serviceability, small removable panel at back; cabinet is integral part of suspension.

*Metal outer tub -> rust

*By now, some parts are scarce





DD Advantages:

*Effective wash performance

*Best serviceability of any washer

*Very reliable

*While not excellent, DD spin performance is an average and acceptable 640 RPM.


DD Disadvantages:


*Many complain about rough handling of clothes; "shredmore" and blender like agitation on fast.

*Few variations between the early 1980s and 2010,  DA agitator and straight vane, only usable one really was the DA



I personally cannot stand DD washers, they have no charm; and that noise, clunka-Clunka-CLUNKA, it is enough to drive me insane! I however recognize their advantages and do recommend them to others who need a washer. We have owned a DD, I have no personal experience with BDs, and as such feel free to correct any mistakes I have made.

Post# 987848 , Reply# 2   3/24/2018 at 01:59 (180 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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I like the list posted by Richard.


The only small correction I'd make is the BD plus of "large capacity." That would hinge on the washer--some had small tubs. So if big capacity matters, that needs to be kept in mind when shopping.


Indeed, I saw the small capacity first hand when, thanks to a move, I went from a modern washer (WCI Frigidaire) to a 60s KM with small tub! That said, the KM was a really good washer, and the capacity was big enough to meet my needs.

Post# 987849 , Reply# 3   3/24/2018 at 02:10 (180 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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As for my view of BD vs DD, I honestly like BD machines better. But a lot of that is simply the "personality" and sentiment (my mother had a BD machine).


That said...I currently use a DD machine. It works, and gets the job done. I'm not sure how harsh the agitation is. I definitely see wear and tear on some things--but how much of that is washer, and how much is the age or quality of the items that are wearing? I can't say for sure.


I'm not sure I'd get my own DD machine (I rent, and the DD machine here belongs to the rental). But I'd be willing to consider it, simply because of the design's reliability, ease of repair, and parts availability.

Post# 987851 , Reply# 4   3/24/2018 at 02:42 (180 days old) by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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Oh, indeed, one definitely has to keep the various options in mind, I simply added that because unlike many solid tub machines from the '50s and '60s, these did get large capacity options, I should add that DDs are large too.

Post# 987854 , Reply# 5   3/24/2018 at 05:29 (180 days old) by sfh074 ( )        
Lackluster spin??

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I have to disagree with comment of "lackluster spin". My 61 and 62 Frigidaires spins so hard you can almost put the clothes on when you pull them out of the machines when done! My grandmother used to say about her '62 when doing bed sheets, "By the time you get the last sheet hung on the clothes line, the first one is already dry."

Post# 987905 , Reply# 6   3/24/2018 at 12:49 (180 days old) by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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I was referring to Whirlpool belt-drive washers. Frigidaires have a very impressive spin.

Post# 988007 , Reply# 7   3/25/2018 at 04:44 by Imperial70 (******)        

It's been about 20 years since I last used a belt drive but I always thought the larger tub made up for the slower spin speed. When using the regular cycles the laundry clung to the tub pretty darn well when the cycle was complete. Probably as dry as those that spun in the 600's (with narrow deeper tubs). Just a thought, I think the centrifugal force may be about the same?

Post# 988008 , Reply# 8   3/25/2018 at 05:07 by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

I have to agree with Richard/speedqueen.

The serviceability isnt there on a BD machine compared to a DD. Two screws and two clips on a DD machine give you entire access to the whole machine. The other DD advantage is there is less mechanically to go wrong with it. Not like a BD machine was unreliable, but more parts, more potential problems.

I do however enjoy BD machines. The nostalgia of them.

Post# 988026 , Reply# 9   3/25/2018 at 09:23 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Having worked on and used both, here goes:

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But first, I LOVE people's stories about how they fixed things. Yes, please!


Belt Drive:

Unless the belt starts slipping, they last for decade after decade after decade. So, yeah, they're no fun to change out, but we're talking about something one does every quarter century, if that.


Easy as pie to change out and the commercial 'puck' lasts quite a bit longer. While you're not going to get 25 years + service in daily use out of one, but I've only see two fail in the ten years we've had the two machines using DD.


BD: Quiet (especially with the 'quiet pack belt') and pleasant sound

DD: Sounds like a Model T warming up on a very cold day. At best. Not crazy about it.

Spinning Unbalanced Loads

BD: Never once had trouble spinning even one single bath towel out. Never had one go unbalanced yet.

DD: Nowhere near as picky about balance as the modern cheap trash, but you do have to provide a reasonably balanced load. Not one Turkish bathtowel by itself.


BD: Not very good.

DD: Considerably better, on the portable DD machines, outstanding

Wear and Tear:

BD: Never seen anything damaged.

DD: Depending on the agitator and cycle chosen, there is definitely a reason to fear horrible wear and tear. Poor design.


BD: Outstanding. Especially the enzyme soak and double rinse programs.

DD: If you use the soak programs and DELICATE agitation every bit as good as the BD. If you use the regular agitation pattern (whether the automatic shift to DELICATE or 'slash and trash' all the way through), your shredded garments will be cleaned well. Make great rags. Wearable clothes over the mid-term, not so much.

Fun Factor:

BD: These were built back when a washer was an important, aesthetically pleasing purchase. PANK! Turquoise!

DD: Except for occasional standouts (early electronic black on black, for instance) they're as ugly and utilitarian as everything else from that era. Almond, yech.

Parts availablility:

BD: Doable if you have patience but nice to have a 'donor' body on ice.

DD: If you don't talk to an idiot Whirlpool Dealer (no support, none, zilch, ice-picks in your eyes level of service) then no problem. So many were built and are still in service, it's not a big deal and you can get the major stuff online.


BD and a good clothes spinner like Thomas Ortega designed and his company builds and markets here in the US.




Post# 988051 , Reply# 10   3/25/2018 at 12:44 by chetlaham (United States)        

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Spot on synopsis Panthera! I fully agree with everything you said.

Personally I would go belt drive, its just who I am. But its safe to say both the BDs and DDs were in the top 5 best washers ever built.

Post# 988062 , Reply# 11   3/25/2018 at 14:21 by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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like them both....yet both have pros and cons...

from our AWO standpoint as some of us like to tinker.....the BD offered some fun to change a variety of agitators, lint filter designs....even a wider belt for a kick up in speeds...

the DD offered the full body removal for servicing....

yet the BD was a heavier built unit....

either way, both fun to play with.....

Post# 988395 , Reply# 12   3/26/2018 at 20:55 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
To put it in my blunt way

A belt drive is a all around great machine in all aspects,a direct drive is a tinny, cheap, flimsy built thrashing machine,I have NEVER seen a DD that didn't have a greasy ring around the top of the agitator, and I have NEVER seen a belt drive that did...

Post# 990162 , Reply# 13   4/10/2018 at 06:39 by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        

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I think I like my DD in the sense that I HAVE a Modern Top Loader, and the shaft, when it broke, was easily replaced...

My laundry room is almost like a Haunted House when the washer is on Fast Agitation, and I think the lightbulbs in the laundry room flash along with that ferocious thrashing...

Just wish I could figure out why the washer sometimes doesn't extract the water on Fast Spin--I hear a groaning sound, that if I get right over to the washer as the water is draining (or SHOULD be draining) then I can coax her to spin, or I move the timer around to the rinse in the wash cycle or advance to the mostly-unused second rinse and I get the water out of the laundry that way...

-- Dave

Post# 990212 , Reply# 14   4/10/2018 at 14:05 by Washerlover (Lake County, California: Wines With Altitude)        

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Panthera, great dissertation of BD vs DD. Fast spin speeds aren’t all they are cracked up to be unless you like to iron everything. Belt-drive just seems so much more civilized, but I grew up with that so the young kids on this site don’t get it. Really enjoy everyone’s “spin” (couldn’t resist) on BD vs DD!

Post# 990214 , Reply# 15   4/10/2018 at 14:13 by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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Fast spin speeds aren’t all they are cracked up to be unless you like to iron everything.


Although it's interesting that the BD era was one when people were more likely to iron stuff, and the DD era on has seen fewer and fewer people willing to iron anything...

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