Thread Number: 78251  /  Tag: Vintage Dryers
Gas KM Dryer from mid 70s---ambient temperature cause of no ignition
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Post# 1022685   1/27/2019 at 15:53 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

Good afternoon and brrr from Detroit. Threw a load into the mid-70s KM gas dryer, and notice that 2 hours later it's still running and the gas clearly hasn't been on. It's chhhillly here in Detroit at the moment; probably about 50-55 degrees in the basement. Would that temperature negatively impact the automatic ignition? I might have had a failed ignition several years ago--otherwise it's been 100% reliable. Is this just a swap out the glow bar?

Post# 1022690 , Reply# 1   1/27/2019 at 16:42 by akronman (Akron/Cleveland Ohio)        

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Ambient temp should not have any affect. You are correct, the first thing I'd look at is the glow-bar. Take off the bottom front of the dryer and locate it GENTLY, watch closely as you start the dryer and give it a minute or so to try to glow. It's usually an inexpensive fix, but watch and be sure first. Sometimes, the glow bar might look ok from a foot away but won't heat up, then the second you touch it it crumbles away. And while you're there, get as much lint out of as many places as you can, probably it's pretty ugly. If you replace the glow bar and it still doesn't heat, come back here and report to us for next steps.
Most 70's Kenmore dryers have 2 or 3 lifetimes with minor repairs, they are well built and easily maintained, but need a de-dusting delinting every few years inside.

Post# 1022696 , Reply# 2   1/27/2019 at 17:37 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

My grandmother had about a '68 gas WP dryer which my grandfather got quite good at filing the contacts of--it would quit about every 18 months. He ended up buying a maintenance agreement right before the contacts became too corroded to be touched up.

Post# 1022699 , Reply# 3   1/27/2019 at 17:48 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

The contacts would most likely have been on the spark igniter which is the predecessor to the glow igniter.

Post# 1022706 , Reply# 4   1/27/2019 at 19:22 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

yep--she had a late 60s; mine is a mid-70s.

Post# 1022757 , Reply# 5   1/28/2019 at 07:25 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Electric Ignation On A Mid 70s Kenmore Dryer

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With the lower panel off you should see the igniter heat up and then cycle off as the gas lights within 2 minutes.


If you do not see the igniter come on check for power getting to the gas burner [ the easy way is to listen for a click from one of the gas valves as you turn on the dryer or switch from a heat to air setting ] Then if you have power you either have a bad sensor or bad igniter [ check the igniter first as is more likley, also if you have to replace the igniter replace the complete igniter with the updated WP design with leads permanently attached ]


If its not the igniter or sensor you likley have a bad valve coil, this is where it gets more difficult on a dryer of this age as the valve coils are NLA and you may have to replace the complete burner assembly.


Often if you have a bad or weak valve coil the dryer will come on and heat but as the VC heats up it will go open after about 5 minutes and stop heating till it cools down completely [ usually 1/2 hour to an hour ]


John L.

Post# 1022759 , Reply# 6   1/28/2019 at 08:12 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

I believe I'm hearing the click of the gas valve, so will drop the panel and investigate further; thanks for the step-by-step.

Post# 1023655 , Reply# 7   2/5/2019 at 13:09 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

Dropped the panel (a little warmer in the basement today) and saw no glow from the igniter; there was a small spark about a minute after everything was going (seemed like a broken-wire spark not an intended spark. Now to take it apart--the parts store couldn't definitively cross-reference from the model number. From looking at Google, it looks like the "round" igniter (not the "flat")one.

Post# 1023715 , Reply# 8   2/5/2019 at 21:41 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        

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The round igniter had problems with poor electrical contact , the flat igniter kit replaces the bad contacts and the igniter, WP Part # 279311.


If you take the old round igniter out of its contacts and turn it 180 degrees you might get the old one to work a little longer, but we always replace it if we have a new part available.


John L.

Post# 1023756 , Reply# 9   2/6/2019 at 11:06 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

This makes sense. I went to the parts store yesterday with model number. Counter agent looked up model and was getting the flat cross-reference. I hadn't taken it apart so didn't have it with me, so will do that when I drive back there.

Post# 1023892 , Reply# 10   2/7/2019 at 14:57 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

I'm about to throw in the towel on this--I can't see how the flat igniter retrofits in, unless it combines with another sensor. I'll post pictures from my phone, but the round ignitor kind of pokes into the flame path (as expected) with two wires coming from it but outside it (mounted to the shroud) is a sensor of some nature with two wires coming from it. It appears to be sensing through a rectangular punched hole in the shroud (flame sensor?). The mountings appear quite different than the retrofit kit which she showed me at the store.

Post# 1023918 , Reply# 11   2/7/2019 at 18:45 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
New Style KM-WP Flat Gas Dryer Igniter

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The new flat one comes with a new bracket, all you do is attach the flat one to the new bracket and attach the bracket to the gas burner with the same screw that held the old bracket, clips and round igniter to the burner, all you have to do is splice the wires with the supplied wire nuts, it is easier to do all this by removing the complete burner assembly from the base of the dryer first.


For someone like me who has done hundreds of these it takes about 10 minutes, I love simple jobs like this.


John L.

Post# 1023968 , Reply# 12   2/8/2019 at 08:45 by ponchoguy (NYC Suburbs)        

I did that same repair on my grandfather's 1975 "All American" WLP made Kenmore in 2003 and it worked great. It's a whole kit with a new bracket and such. We sold the machine in 2014 when we sold the house after my grandfather's passing. It was still working like brand new and I got $125-$150 as I recall for the machine. The buyer turned it on for a minute and said, "I'll take it!".

It was an excellent machine. Even the end of cycle buzzer still worked when we sold it. A bygone era of quality.

Post# 1023971 , Reply# 13   2/8/2019 at 10:10 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

ok, you've given me confidence. So I take the entire burner assembly out of the dryer (which will make it a lot easier, I grant). Let me try an extraction!

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