Thread Number: 82353  /  Tag: Vintage Dryers
Lady Kenmore 800 Soft Heat Gas Dryer Start Up
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Post# 1063899   3/20/2020 at 11:19 (1,096 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        

I recently picked up an early 60's Lady Kenmore 800 turquoise gas dryer. I removed all panels and cleaned it up the best I could. It appears to be all there. Seller claimed it was in working order when removed from service. Any advice as to what to check for when I hook up gas and attempt to use for the first time? Any advice would be appreciated.
BTW New member, but long time visitor to this site.

Post# 1063903 , Reply# 1   3/20/2020 at 11:43 (1,096 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

By "Early 60s" are you talking about a dryer with the perforated drum back or a dryer with a solid bulkhead with an inlet grill for the hot air on the left side and another grill on the right side for exhaust? The design changed about 1964 or 65.

You will first connect it to electricity and see if it starts. Have the lower panel open and see if the igniter comes on and glows until it is yellow or, if it still has the original spark igniter listen for a loud racket. If that works, and you have the pieces needed to connect it to gas, I would say try it. Depending on how it has been maintained, it probably needs to be disassembled and cleaned and the tub bearing lubed, if it is a perforated tub back machine. While the tub is out, you will cut some felt strips to glue on the solid bulkhead behind the drum in a crescent shape to the right, above and below the air inlet and to the left, above and below the exhaust port. This helps keep the air from travelling behind the drum and forces more of it through the rear of the drum into the load for greater efficiency. I hope your dryer has the 37,000 BTU burner. Those are amazingly fast dryers. Write back for what you need to do for a solid bulkhead drum

Post# 1063909 , Reply# 2   3/20/2020 at 14:12 (1,096 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        

Thanks for the info. Here are a couple pics. Haven't been able to confirm year. Guess would be '63.

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Post# 1063910 , Reply# 3   3/20/2020 at 15:00 (1,096 days old) by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        

maytag85's profile picture
That more than likely is a 1963 Lady Kenmore dryer. The things I like about these dryers is the lint screen is easier to clean since itís the older smaller square type lint screen and the baffles on these dryers are stamped in and the speed bump baffles of these dryers are gentler on clothes since clothes tend to glide over them. One thing Iíd do is try to source a replacement blower/fan belt since they arenít easy to find and if the blower belt breaks it wonít really work since there will be no air flow but other than those quirks these are good dryers

Post# 1063920 , Reply# 4   3/20/2020 at 19:15 (1,096 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        

Found and repaired a broken wire terminal on the timer dial while cleaning. Now unit seems to start and spin fine. Haven't tried gas connection yet, but ignitor appears in good shape. Even found a burned out bulb behind the drum that is now functional. The display panel bulb was bad too, have one on order.

Post# 1063924 , Reply# 5   3/20/2020 at 19:44 (1,096 days old) by DADoES (TX,†U.S. of A.)        
Haven't been able to confirm the year ...

dadoes's profile picture

The serial number is coded for the year & week of manufacture.† Model number for market year.† Someone can probably come along and translate if you're not sure and provide the info.

Post# 1063928 , Reply# 6   3/20/2020 at 20:57 (1,096 days old) by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        

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This is a pretty neat dryer and it looks like its in pretty good condition, But is almost as old as you are and it is unlikely that it will not need some attention if you want to use it much.


I would take the rear and lower front panels off and see what condition it is in, if the belts both look good and everything turns when moved by hand, then plug it in and see how it runs.


depending when this dryer was actually built it could have either a 2 1/2 volt glow coil ignition system or direct 120 volt spark, if it seems to run well hook it up to gas and see if it works.


John L.

Post# 1063943 , Reply# 7   3/20/2020 at 21:53 (1,096 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        

I did do a complete clean and visual inspection with all panels removed. It was dirty, but no rust corrosion to speak of. Door and sides have some paint discoloration, but not too bad. Gonna be a week give or take before I can get it into place where the gas is. Won't get used for more than a couple loads a week. Hopeful and optimistic after today's trial run.

Post# 1064834 , Reply# 8   3/27/2020 at 18:01 (1,089 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        

Supplied gas today and she seems to be heating up and working fine. Thanks Maytag85 for the spare belt suggestion, was able to find one for both the blower and drum.

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Post# 1064836 , Reply# 9   3/27/2020 at 18:53 (1,089 days old) by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        

maytag85's profile picture
Your Welcome 4bagger! I donít know if this is possible but would it be possible to get a video of the burner ignition sequence on this Kenmore dryer? Never seen a video of what the burner looks like and havenít seen what the 37,000 btu burner looks like inside these of one of these dryers

I have a video of what the burner looks like starting up on my 1973 Maytag DG306 and I am the first to make a video of a Maytag gas HOH burner starting up

Post# 1064884 , Reply# 10   3/28/2020 at 09:46 (1,088 days old) by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
1963 LKM Gas Dryer

combo52's profile picture
This model was in production from 1963-5, Take the lower panel off and take pictures of the burner in operation,

Thanks John

Post# 1064893 , Reply# 11   3/28/2020 at 11:39 (1,088 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

That burner operation from ignition sequence to the diminishing flame is really something. There is a roar at the start that diminishes with the flame size. The burner is so powerful that with a full load of heavy cottons, the air coming out of the vent is 160F within 5 minutes and the flame starts going down. By the end of the dry cycle, so little heat is needed to maintain the drying temperature that the flame is just this little blue flame at the tip of the burner. There is a capillary tube that runs from the gas valve on the burner to the end of the lint filter housing where there is a bulb that senses air temperature and that controls the flame size to maintain the 160F temperature. Unlike many cycling heat dryers, the Soft Heat system keeps the drying temperature steady from damp through completely dry and does not spike once the fabrics are dry . 160F is a safe drying temperature and it is also the temperature which causes optimum performance of permanent press fabrics. Even Maytag HOH dryers heat to 160F when set to the Wash 'n Wear setting to dewrinkle those fabrics. The original Duomatic dried at 160F and was safe for all fabrics. The neat thing about the 37K BTU burner is that it does not have to depend on the fabrics being dry to reach 160F because it has the power to even heat a damp load with high airflow to 160F.

Post# 1064906 , Reply# 12   3/28/2020 at 12:16 (1,088 days old) by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        

maytag85's profile picture
Photos can only show so much but a video shows more detail of whatís going on. I was the first to upload a Maytag HOH Gas dryer burner ignition sequence and youíll be the first to show a video of a vintage Kenmore gas dryer ignition sequence yet alone a gas dryer with a 37,000 btu heat output start up and show the flame slowly turning down when everything reaches up to temperature

Post# 1065008 , Reply# 13   3/29/2020 at 02:43 (1,087 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        

Well she completed two drying cylces like a champ yesterday, but when I tried to run it this evening and shoot video of the igniter, not so much. When I push the start button the motor attempts to run but then shuts down. I then unplugged it, manually moved the blower motor belt and drum and retried to start, but no luck. Sounds like it wants to go at first, then nothing. I assume the tub main bearings need to be serviced?

Post# 1065029 , Reply# 14   3/29/2020 at 09:21 (1,087 days old) by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        

combo52's profile picture

Take the blower belt off on see if it starts, if that does not work take the drum belt off and see if the motor runs, if the motor still does not run you have a bad motor.


John L.

Post# 1065055 , Reply# 15   3/29/2020 at 12:35 (1,087 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        

John L. thanks for the troubleshooting advice. I took the blower motor belt off and the drum starting spinning easily when I pressed "start". What next? Blower motor belt tension to snug, maybe? Is there adjustment on the blower motor belt tension?

Post# 1065058 , Reply# 16   3/29/2020 at 12:55 (1,087 days old) by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        

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I am not sure if the blower/fan belt can be adjusted since itís a stretch type belt. The older Whirlpool/Kenmore dryers with belts and pulleys on the back can be adjusted like a HOH though. Iíd try running it without the drum belt or blower belt attached and if the motor starts right up the drum bearing may need grease

Post# 1065062 , Reply# 17   3/29/2020 at 13:12 (1,087 days old) by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        

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You have a tight blower bearing, when we used to run into this problem we replaced the whole bearing assembly, but these are NLA so your best bet is to soak the oil wick with light machine oil [ do not try using heavy grease ]


There is no belt adjustments possible on this dryer, the drum belt is kept at the proper tension by the spring loaded idler pulley.


And for the record there is no belt tension adjustment possible on any WP dryer or on any MT HOH dryer or newer MT dryer for that matter.


John L.

Post# 1065064 , Reply# 18   3/29/2020 at 13:32 (1,087 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        

Installed the replacement blower motor belt I picked up and that seemed to do the trick. The belt that was on it looks more like an automobile fan belt compared to the correct one. Whew! Thought maybe she was done for.

Post# 1065085 , Reply# 19   3/29/2020 at 16:55 (1,087 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        

With the correct blower motor belt, dryer seems to run quieter and smoother than yesterday. Here's a pic of the burner about midway thru the timed cycle.

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Post# 1065124 , Reply# 20   3/29/2020 at 20:08 (1,087 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        
Blue Flame!

When my dryer is at full input, the blue flame is shot through with flecks and streaks of orange but that might be because it is outside and it might be burning pollen.

When we used to travel with my father during the summer, there were some cities that had a program put on by the local gas company called The Blue Flame Kitchen in the mornings after the Today Show and Romper Room/Miss Frances Ding Dong School etc. went off the air. It probably was scheduled for women finished with getting their families out of the house. The professionals were home economists in white uniforms with white bubbe shoes and they cooked things and talked about the features of gas refrigerators and ranges at every step of the preparation of each dish. This term "blue flame" was so ingrained in society that when a friend bought an early 50s Chevrolet with a blue engine in it and was showing it to us, someone who I can guarantee you would not have watched the type of program I have described called the car the blue flame special.

Post# 1065136 , Reply# 21   3/29/2020 at 22:47 (1,086 days old) by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        

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Hi 4bagger, is your dryer spark or glow coil ignition ?


Also was it an early build 1963 or a later build dryer, if you post the serial # we can tell when it was built.


John L.

Post# 1065179 , Reply# 22   3/30/2020 at 10:51 (1,086 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        

John L. I believe it is glow coil ignition, but not 100% sure. Where is the serial number plate located?

Post# 1065192 , Reply# 23   3/30/2020 at 12:39 (1,086 days old) by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        

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On A plate Behind The Door

Post# 1065195 , Reply# 24   3/30/2020 at 13:28 (1,086 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        

Looks like the Ser.# plate was removed. Here's a pic of the front of the burner unit if that helps.

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Post# 1065239 , Reply# 25   3/30/2020 at 18:42 (1,086 days old) by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        

combo52's profile picture

A picture of the left side of the burner assembly would confirm for sure, the Dec 62 date on the modulator would indicate that this dryer is and early build and these all had the glow coil ignition.


The GCI dryers take a minute or so to light as the pilot lights first which heats up the mercury safety switch which sends current to the main burner valve coil and 37,000 BTUs of gas lights instantly.


John L.

Post# 1065260 , Reply# 26   3/30/2020 at 20:06 (1,086 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Can't you tell by the noise?

Post# 1065318 , Reply# 27   3/31/2020 at 11:15 (1,085 days old) by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        

maytag85's profile picture
Sounds like these older Whirlpool/Kenmore dryers use a pilot type of ignition but not a standing pilot.

Not a Whirlpool/Kenmore dryer but hereís a Maytag gas dryer from 1956 that uses this type ignition system Whirlpool/Kenmore used up until the early 1960ís sometime


Post# 1065319 , Reply# 28   3/31/2020 at 11:16 (1,085 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        

John L. The burner ignition process on this LK dryer is exactly as you described "The GCI dryers take a minute or so to light as the pilot lights first which heats up the mercury safety switch which sends current to the main burner valve coil and 37,000 BTUs of gas lights instantly.." I never thought I'd be laying on my garage floor so interested in how a dryer heat element functions.

Post# 1065323 , Reply# 29   3/31/2020 at 12:19 (1,085 days old) by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        

maytag85's profile picture
The engineering of vintage appliances has always fascinated me, and itís interesting how they used a variable burner in gas dryers many years ago and it seems like they dried very fast and slowly turned down the flame as things got more dry. If you uploaded a video to YouTube of the burner operation drying s small or medium load it would definitely be entertaining to see the burner turn down as things get dried towards the end of the cycle.

Post# 1066457 , Reply# 30   4/8/2020 at 11:26 (1,077 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        

I've used this dryer about 10 times now and she really is a workhorse. Currently paired with a pristine '59 Maytag model 142. Mismatched, but still very cool set.

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Post# 1067509 , Reply# 31   4/15/2020 at 13:44 (1,070 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        
blower bearing

Dryer didn't want to start this morning. Took the blower belt off and it started right up. Reinstalled the belt and again wouldn't start. Removed the blower unit from the machine to oil the bearings. Question: does it need to be disassembled to oil bearings or is there an oil port somewhere. If it does need to be disassembled, it's not obvious to me where to start.

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Post# 1067516 , Reply# 32   4/15/2020 at 15:30 (1,070 days old) by 4bagger (Long Beach)        

Okay she's back up and running smoother & quieter than ever. Getting the blower unit apart enough to oil the bearing became obvious as I was cleaning it. Great advive John L. Should've oiled the unit out of the gate.

Post# 1091559 , Reply# 33   10/1/2020 at 21:26 (901 days old) by Mgmachine (Easton)        
Lady K Dryer here

I own the same dryer, a few things to watch out for, the drum is installed using a big brass bushing and flange,occasionally remove the plastic access port inside the drum,set the dryer to air dry only. Use a flashlight while the drum is spinning,make sure the bushing is spinning with the drum,you can use a sharpie to mark the front of the bushing.If the brass bushing is not spinning with the drum,the flange in back of the drum will score the bushing,eventually will cause the dryer to fail.I had a hard time finding a bushing, by luck on eBay, I found a new one.I coated the new bushing with non slip rug pad,solved the issue.

Post# 1091562 , Reply# 34   10/1/2020 at 21:46 (901 days old) by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        

maytag85's profile picture
I have a 1963 RCA Whirlpool Imperial dryer in electric, and I greased the bearing but I might grease it again just for the sake of greasing it and making sure it doesnít start squeaking.

Iíll post a picture of my 1963 Whirlpool Imperial dryer just Incase if anyone wants see what it looks like

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Post# 1170913 , Reply# 35   2/1/2023 at 21:15 by GELaundry4ever (Killeen tx USA)        
dryer update

What are the updates on this dryer? What is the drying temp for sturdy cottons?

Post# 1170922 , Reply# 36   2/2/2023 at 00:45 by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        
Reply #35

maytag85's profile picture
I believe most of those Kenmore soft heat dryers had all the temperatures built in. Even the timed drying cycles on a Kenmore soft heat are a sort of automatic dry cycle. Basically on the gas versions, it starts out with the full 37,000 heat output then gradually starts turning the flame down and if the temperature canít be held once the clothes are dry, itíll shut off the heat completely. The electric versions of the Kenmore soft heat simply just use a lower and high wattage element, basically the higher wattage element cycles on and off while lower wattage element stats on to maintain a steady temperature, if the temperature canít be held once the clothes are dry, itíll cut off the heat early before the cool-down. Probably left out a thing or two but thatís how it works from my understanding from surfing through the archives on the Kenmore soft heat dryers.

Post# 1170932 , Reply# 37   2/2/2023 at 06:18 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
Kenmore soft heat dryers from the 60s

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Reply number 36, mostly correct

During the heated portion of the timed or auto dry cycles. The heat never shuts off, unless something goes wrong.

On the electric versions there is no operating thermostat at all the smaller heating element will always be on.
On the gas versions themodulating burner will hold the temperature between 160 and 165 depending on the dryer itís one or the other, if the modulating burner failed to modulate down word such as a failure, the heat was shut off at 180 to protect the machine and the clothing. but normally the flame never goes out until it gets to cool down.

John. ⛽️ j

Post# 1170972 , Reply# 38   2/2/2023 at 12:25 by DADoES (TX,†U.S. of A.)        

dadoes's profile picture

Combo52: On the electric versions there is no operating thermostat at all the smaller heating element will always be on.
What controls the larger element?

Post# 1170998 , Reply# 39   2/2/2023 at 16:04 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

I think it is the operating thermostat. I had an electric Kenmore Soft Heat dryer and it was amazingly fast because when the larger element cycled, there was still heat input from the smaller element so the dryer did not have to depend on those old heavy thermostats cooling down to cycle the heat back on which can be a lengthy process during which moisture removal slows. The smaller element will be on until the timer sends the machine into the end of cycle cool down or if the high limit thermostat shuts off the heat.

My KA Franken Dryer with the 37K modulating burner provides an exhaust temperature at the end of the vent hose of 165F within 5 minutes of starting.

Post# 1171000 , Reply# 40   2/2/2023 at 16:25 by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        
Reply #39

maytag85's profile picture
Do you have any photos of your KA Franken dryer with the 37,000 btu burner on it or not? You seem to have some very interesting machines in your collection but have no photos of them..

Post# 1171021 , Reply# 41   2/2/2023 at 18:48 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

It's just a white dryer with the black control panel that matches the KAWE860, but is one step down, but it is under wraps for the winter because it is outside under the deck with the other gas appliances. I will try to learn how to take pictures. I don't know how to document the 37K burner, though. I do have the same dryer in electric inside which I use some during the winter. Maybe I can get a picture of it.

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