Thread Number: 76329  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
In-Place Maytag Helical Transmission Servicing?
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Post# 1001614   7/27/2018 at 12:10 (503 days old) by LowEfficiency (Iowa)        

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Quick question for the gurus:

In all of the guides for helical transmission servicing on the Maytag washing machines, the bulk of the servicing effort seems to be the process of removing the agitator, tub, brake, etc, to actually get the transmission out of the machine... and then the associated labor and parts to re-install.

** What prevents the helical trans from being split and serviced WITHOUT removing it? **

My parent's A308 recently died... Dad says it spins fine, but locks up when it tries to agitate. I gather from other posts here that it's likely to be a lack of lubrication, specifically on that top bearing.

Looking at the machine, couldn't you simplify the transmission servicing by simply leaving the agitator and tubs together, and just un-bolt the outer tub from the supports, remove the transmission case bolts, and lift the top half of the transmission up and out with the tub, leaving the bottom half of the transmission in the chassis?

Of course further disassembly may be required depending on what you find... but this would seem to greatly reduce the amount of labor for the initial diagnosis... and substantially reduce it for a refill of the gear oil...

Any thoughts are appreciated!

Post# 1001620 , Reply# 1   7/27/2018 at 12:45 (503 days old) by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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Getting the transmission case to crack open isn't an easy task when removed from the machine; trying to do it in place with the weight of the inner and outer tub intact would be grueling.

When the transmission is dissembled it is also a good idea to flush out the upper agitator bearing within the case. Again, possible but difficult if the tub was still assembled to the top half of the transmission.

Everything is possible if you don't mind a bunch of old gear lubricant running all over the place. :)


This post was last edited 07/27/2018 at 13:05
Post# 1001664 , Reply# 2   7/27/2018 at 21:29 (502 days old) by good-shepherd (New Jersey)        
serviced WITHOUT removing

Yes, "grueling" is the word for that. Sort of like removing an engine to replace spark plugs.

No need to remove the brake assembly to get the trans out, just remove the lug screw and the trans lifts right out after the tub is off.

It may look somewhat intimating in the service manuals but if the mounting stem comes off without a battle the trans can be out and on a work bench in well under an hour.

There are several threads here detailing the process.

Post# 1001669 , Reply# 3   7/27/2018 at 22:43 (502 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Maytag Helical Drive Washer Transmission Servicing

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Of course you are talking about the older models with the pit-man style transmission, This was the real beauty of the better orbital style transmission that MT installed in all their DC TL washers after 1990, not only did they wash much better without all the fabric damage the old long stroke models had with the Power-fin agitator, but the transmission was almost completely serviceable without removing it from the machine.


If I was going to use a MT DC washer as a daily driver I would differently upgrade to the orbital transmission with a Load-Sensor agitator. And for even better performance you can install a 50 cycle motor pulley and get an over 700 RPM spin speed.


John L.

Post# 1001689 , Reply# 4   7/28/2018 at 01:45 (502 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

I found I had MORE clothes damage with the orbital Maytag than a Helical one.The orbital one was like a DD KN-WP was like putting your clothes in a blender!For the short time I had the orbital Maytag-traded it off like the DD KN.The slow-long strokes were BETTER as far as it goes for me.The orbital Maytag was WORSE than the DD KN/WP!

Post# 1001724 , Reply# 5   7/28/2018 at 10:11 (502 days old) by kenwashesmonday (Haledon, NJ)        

I've been using a 1972 Maytag A606 with a pitman transmission for over 15 years and have had no problems with clothing damage at all. Sure some of my towels are starting to fray at the edges, but since they're about 20 years old and get washed every week, I don't consider that to be undue wear.

Post# 1001954 , Reply# 6   7/30/2018 at 21:30 (499 days old) by LowEfficiency (Iowa)        

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Thanks guys, appreciate the replies!

Mom & Dad bought this washer new, and it's been in continuous service ever since. Dad has kept it running, but this would be the largest repair it's ever had. Hopefully we can fix it without changing the way it washes - that's what Mom would like at least. :)

Assuming the problem is the upper bearing, what's the typical prognosis for an early transmission once that bearing gets tight? If the lubrication is restored and the bearing (bushing?) can be freed up, do they typically survive for a while if put back into service? If the bearing can't be freed, can it be pressed out and replaced?

Post# 1002015 , Reply# 7   7/31/2018 at 12:12 (499 days old) by good-shepherd (New Jersey)        
can it be pressed out and replaced?

Once the trans is disassembled the agitator shaft pin can be pressed out, removing the shaft from the top half of the trans but it may need the services of a machine shop to do so.

If its not salvageable I'm sure someone here could fix you up with replacement parts.

No need to over-analyzes, just get the washer apart, then you'll see exactly what needs to be done.

Post# 1015776 , Reply# 8   11/25/2018 at 20:49 (381 days old) by lowefficiency (Iowa)        

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Small update: It put up a good fight, but we finally got the agitator removed!

As you can see from the picture, we had to make a puller. Even pre-soaking the agitator in hot water, it still wouldn't budge. We had so much tension on the puller we were starting to worry about denting the top of the washer... Even had to switch to longer wrenches to tighten the nut on the eye bolt. Ultimately a few rounds of boiling water poured down the center while tensioned did the trick, and it popped free, thankfully with no damage to the agitator.

Now to see if we can get the rest apart...

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Post# 1015782 , Reply# 9   11/25/2018 at 21:42 (381 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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I love you're ingenuity!  I removed a Maytag agitator a few months ago and ended up destroying it in order to get it off the agitator shaft.  I tried everything in the world and it wouldn't budge.  Now, the real fun begins!

Post# 1015814 , Reply# 10   11/25/2018 at 23:13 (381 days old) by robbinsandmyers (Hamden CT)        

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When I removed the bakelite agitator off a 1964 500A I removed the stainless lint filter and drilled a hole over the trans shaft so I was able to fill the chamber with Kroil and let it soak a few days. It worked its way down the splines and although I had to tug a bit it came right off and saved it from being destroyed. If is gets put to use you just have to JB Weld the hole over and paint it black and no one will ever see it.

Post# 1015855 , Reply# 11   11/26/2018 at 12:22 (381 days old) by lowefficiency (Iowa)        

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>> I removed a Maytag agitator a few months ago and ended up destroying it in order to get it off the agitator shaft.

I was surprised we got it off, to be honest. The amount of tension we had on the puller was unreal. And it was quite nerve-racking to be pouring pots of boiling water on/into something with that much tension, just waiting for it to go *bang* and send boiling hot water or parts flying at you. But it worked! :D

The design is roughly patterned after those we found in searches of the forum here. Perhaps the biggest trick to not damaging the agitator is that we used long sections of rope, passing them down through the eight holes in the agitator core, and looping up and over several times. If you have one piece of rope for several holes, and just tie its ends together, then when you grab all of the loops up top to pull it, the rope will slide and will distribute the force evenly over those holes when you tension it. So the longer the rope, and the more holes you can pick up in one run, the better. It also helped to have an extra long eye bolt, as you use up quite a bit of travel just tensioning the rope.

Post# 1016368 , Reply# 12   11/30/2018 at 23:15 (376 days old) by lowefficiency (Iowa)        

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good-shepherd wrote:
>>No need to over-analyzes, just get the washer apart, then you'll see exactly what needs to be done.

Well, you were correct! It took a ton of work and several homemade tools for Dad to get the tubs out, but once we removed and split the transmission, several issues were immediately obvious...

1) Even though we had it upright, oil flooded out when we separated the halves. When we tipped it into a pan we realized why - the transmission had taken on a substantial amount of water, so it was just oil floating on top of water, basically filling the entire transmission. (Failed upper O-ring?)

2) The agitator shaft pinion gear has two adjacent teeth broken off.

3) The pitman gear is completely missing one tooth, and has a ding in another.

4) The intermediate gear has a chipped tooth, with maybe 1/3 of the tooth missing.

5) The agitator shaft was extremely tight and difficult to turn by hand. Once we pressed it out, we found a significant amount of crud (and some rust pitting) on the shaft in the central section between the two bushings. It looks like it will clean up OK, but it had definitely been binding and starving the upper bushing of oil.

(I have photos of all of this, I'll post them in a day or two when I have more time...)

So.... at a minimum, I think we would need to replace several of the gears before reassembly. The pitman arm and segment gear both look OK, and we could likely reuse the damaged agitator pinion gear if we rotate it 180-degrees, but the pitman gear is toast and the intermediate gear is iffy. We haven't checked the nylon gear for damage yet. It might be good to replace the agitator drive shaft as well, as the exposed end had quite a bit of rust pitting where the agitator fits over the splines. Also, the pin holding the pinion gear to the agitator shaft split in two when we removed it.

Alternately, it might make more sense to swap in a full transmission if we could find one...

Post# 1016417 , Reply# 13   12/1/2018 at 07:34 (376 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        

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Hi Dave, I think it is time for another transmission, I wish you were closer as we have a lot of good used transmissions like this, unfortunately once water has gone through the top bearing and been in the transmission or any period time it much ruines everything, even the bearings in the lower case  would have to be damaged, about the only good reusable parts from this transmission are the bolts that held it together.


Its great that your Dad can still help you work on this washer as your profile indicates you are 97 years old, WOW


Keep us posted, John L.

Post# 1016597 , Reply# 14   12/2/2018 at 21:11 (374 days old) by lowefficiency (Iowa)        

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Haha, Thanks John for the reminder to update my profile - I needed to anyway now that I have the A408. Thankfully neither myself nor my father are 97 yet, so we both still have some time to repair and use these machines!

I'll make some inquiries locally, but if I'm unable to source a suitable replacement, would you consider shipping a transmission?

Post# 1016599 , Reply# 15   12/2/2018 at 22:24 (374 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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I finally came across a good Pittman transmission and had it shipped to me.  The seller packed it well and it shipped just fine.  I'll install it in my A407 hopefully in a couple of weeks.

Post# 1016600 , Reply# 16   12/2/2018 at 22:27 (374 days old) by lowefficiency (Iowa)        

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Ok, here are the pictures.

Splitting the transmission case did take some effort. We found the best tools were stiff putty knives. They have the right combination of a wide semi-sharp edge and stiff enough to tap with a hammer, yet not so thick that it would mar the case like a wood chisel or screwdriver might. Dad made the stand from some wood and a used brake.

You can see the level of the transmission oil when we lifted the top. Not a great picture, as it only took a second for us to realize that grabbing a tray was a higher priority!

With the "oil" tipped out, you can see some of the water that came with it...

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Post# 1016601 , Reply# 17   12/2/2018 at 22:33 (374 days old) by lowefficiency (Iowa)        

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And the damage to the gears...

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Post# 1016602 , Reply# 18   12/2/2018 at 22:37 (374 days old) by lowefficiency (Iowa)        

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This is the O-ring that was pinched/stretched. It's a bit hard to see, but it no longer sits in the V-groove between the agitator shaft and the transmission case.
Is that the only seal that keeps water out of the transmission?

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Post# 1018626 , Reply# 19   12/20/2018 at 15:26 (357 days old) by lowefficiency (Iowa)        

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A quick update for this thread:
Dad isn't one to give up easily. If something can be repaired, he will find a way to do so!

Here is the damaged pitman gear, back from the precision machine shop, where they built it back up with TIG welding, then ground the new tooth to match the profile of the other teeth.

So this transmission will live another day! The only thing we need now is a replacement for the pin that holds the gear onto the agitator shaft - Maytag part number 2-10183, apparently NLA for quite some time as we can't find one anywhere. Anyone happen to have one sitting on a dusty shelf somewhere?

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Post# 1018686 , Reply# 20   12/21/2018 at 00:26 (356 days old) by Jasonlittle (Southern iowa)        
Transmission parts.

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Not sure where you are located in Iowa. But I live in southern Iowa and I have tons of these transmissions around here. You would be welcome to stop by and get some parts.

Post# 1019382 , Reply# 21   12/29/2018 at 12:56 (348 days old) by LowEfficiency (Iowa)        

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Thanks Jason, much appreciated! We will see how things go with this rebuild, and if we get stuck, I'll definitely let you know.
Do you have any other parts or machines available? I might need some cabinet parts for my A408 at some point in the future...

Post# 1019452 , Reply# 22   12/30/2018 at 01:37 (347 days old) by Jasonlittle (Southern iowa)        

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Yup. Would probably have about anything u would need for an old Maytag around here.

Post# 1038719 , Reply# 23   7/19/2019 at 14:13 by LowEfficiency (Iowa)        

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A quick update since I'm behind on all of my machine threads!
This washer has been back together and running smoothly for several months now.

Since the agitator shaft gumming up was what killed this transmission, we had no choice but to press out the pin on the drive gear and remove the shaft to clean it. The general advice is to not attempt this on a working transmission, and after doing it ourselves, I completely understand why. That groove pin is in there incredibly tight, and the force required to drive it out in our case fractured the pin.

To our surprise, that groove pin is/was one of the hardest to find replacement parts for this project. Nobody had them, and it took weeks to locate one. The seller had two, we bought both. Upon reinstalling, the first replacement pin broke from the force. The second one we chucked in the drill press, and filed it down a bit before installing, and it still took an incredible amount of force to reinstall. It's not going anywhere. We got very lucky there.

Our second stroke of luck was finding a NOS agitator shaft. I'd been searching for one for months, they just hadn't come up, nor has one been available since. Our old shaft could have been re-used with some work, which we were prepared to do, but this find simplified things considerably. A *great* repair job on a shaft can be seen at this thread, by user 'mit634'

Lastly, my mother located what might have been the last available NOS pitman transmission gear set on the planet, and after a long journey from Australia, they arrived. The timing was such that all of this happened while the original gears were still in the machine shop, so they were purchased to have as a backup plan in case the originals were unrepairable. In the end, it is the new set that made it back into the transmission, with the repaired gears being set aside as spares. The NOS set had 30-40 years of "shelf wear", banging around from transport and their long journey across the globe, so a few dings on the teeth were filed down to avoid any uneven wear once put into service.

Everything else was relatively uneventful. Upon reassembly, we counted teeth and re-oriented the agitator shaft gear so that the broken tooth was away from the segment gear, and would never see service since the agitator doesn't complete a full rotation. (This is easily verified by looking at the wear patterns on the gear from prior use.)

Mom says her A308 now starts quicker and runs smoother than it ever has.
Ready for the next 40 years!

Post# 1038720 , Reply# 24   7/19/2019 at 14:37 by LowEfficiency (Iowa)        

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Here is a photo of the old and new agitator shafts. The old shaft had been lightly cleaned at this point, but not completely. The crud on the lower section of the shaft, between the two bushings, is what had prevented the shaft from turning freely.

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Post# 1038721 , Reply# 25   7/19/2019 at 14:40 by LowEfficiency (Iowa)        

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The cleaned up transmission lower case, and the tool we fashioned to extract the old O-ring. I needed something small diameter and stiff, and this wire with the loop came out of a "spray gun cleaning kit", which we had bought for the various sized bottle brushes it contained. A quick bend in the end, and it was perfect.

Also visible is the scoring underneath the gears, likely the result from having several broken-off gear teeth floating around.

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Post# 1038722 , Reply# 26   7/19/2019 at 14:44 by LowEfficiency (Iowa)        

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... and finally the new gears assembled in the case, with all of their bushing surfaces oiled before assembly.

These are clearly newer gears than what came out, and instead of being cast and machined, they appear to have been formed by a die pressed powdered metal process.

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