Thread Number: 84531  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
Maytag A608 Washer - No Agitate - Please Help
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Post# 1089407   9/14/2020 at 11:45 (918 days old) by Hjelle1 (Fergus Falls, MN)        

We have a Maytag A608 Washer we have had since it was new. I replaced the timer about a month ago and it was working fine until yesterday. We heard a nasty noise and there was smoke in the basement. This happened after the washer was full of water and tried to begin the agitate cycle. The smoke was due to the belt slipping.

After investigating, I noticed the big pulley under the machine turns by hand fairly easily clockwise causing the drum to turn. It also turns counterclockwise and the agitator moves but it takes a lot of effort to turn the pulley.

I found a video on a newer model and the person turned the big pulley easily in both directions. He said if it didn't turn easily the transmission was shot.

Is his diagnostic correct? Is there any other explanation? Is there any reasonable thing I can do to repair our washer?

Thank you very much!

Post# 1089452 , Reply# 1   9/14/2020 at 19:27 (918 days old) by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        

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Very likely A locked up transmission, If you want something similar get a Speed Queen TC5000.


If you are ready to move up get a Front Load washer, The only that could last as long as you trusty MT did is a SQ FL washer.


John L.

Post# 1089478 , Reply# 2   9/14/2020 at 23:59 (917 days old) by Good-Shepherd (New Jersey)        
reasonable thing I can do to repair our washer?

Sorry to hear about the washer.

If you're an advanced DYI'er the machine is repairable with a new transmission but involves removing the inner/ outer tubs and replacing the tub bearing/stem seal along the way, (included with some trans kits). Big job, but there are plenty of detailed threads here and videos on youtube. Plus, you should check the damper pads as well.

Also, probably the only new trans available would be the later short stroke orbital trans and you'd need a matching load-sense agitator to get the best performance.

Other alternative SQ washer suggested or Craiglist/Facebook for a used vintage Maytag.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO Good-Shepherd's LINK on eBay

Post# 1089529 , Reply# 3   9/15/2020 at 12:59 (917 days old) by Hjelle1 (Fergus Falls, MN)        

Thank you for your responses.

I am fairly mechanically capable but probably not willing to do a major overhaul on a 36 year old washer. (Removing the agitator looks like it could be a real project.) I don't see any oil leaks. It leaks a tiny bit of water between the two tub pieces on a extra large load but that is an easy fix. There is very little rust on the washer. Everything is clean.

I am really curious about what might be wrong with the transmission since the large pulley does turn in both directions. There isn't bearing any grinding or looseness. I don't know how easy the pulley should turn. Can you give me some idea? For example, should I be able to turn the pulley with one finger in one of the holes? Two hands with gloves? What would be a reasonable test? If it is too hard to turn, what might the problem be internally?

The drum tips from side to side easily with no grinding sounds so I assume the damper pads are O.K.

Post# 1089531 , Reply# 4   9/15/2020 at 13:21 (917 days old) by robbinsandmyers (Conn)        
Im no authority.....

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On vintage appliances. But I do know engines, cars, outdoor power equipt very well and am pretty mechanically inclined. That said I think these old Maytags are prob the easiest washers to tear into due to their simple design. At this point you have nothing to lose on it. Watch a bunch of videos here on it to know what you're looking at once you get into it, then remove all needed parts to make the trans able to be removed then tear that down. If it wasnt spotting clothes with oil thats a good sign the top bearing should be tight. Maybe you can save that trans or just buy a good used trans off a member here and service it before installing. Then replace the bearings, bushing, seal, and damper pads and belts when reinstalling. New stuff is shit plain and simple. If you refurbish this machine you will prob never have to buy another. Cant say that with any new ones. Im gonna tear down my 1974 A407 and really go through it. Pretty worn out but still very reliable with lots more years left in it.

Post# 1089546 , Reply# 5   9/15/2020 at 16:47 (917 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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Unless you go with a Speed Queen TC5000, I would definitely repair the Maytag.  The overall repair will be cheaper than a new washer, AND you'll have a much more dependable and solid performer than most of what's on the market today. 

Post# 1089550 , Reply# 6   9/15/2020 at 17:38 (917 days old) by Good-Shepherd (New Jersey)        
what might be wrong with the transmission

If binding in the agitation direction probably a seized agitator shaft which is part of the trans top cover assembly. Water gets past the seal over time and corrodes the shaft. You may need a replacement top cover or donor trans to fix or convert it to a short stroke new trans.

As mentioned vintage Maytag washer are very rebuildable and parts are still available. If the machine is clean and mostly rust free it may be worth it.

And yes, in some case removing the agitator is the hardest part of the job. Maytag should have told customers to remove the agitator every now and then and hit the spines with some Vaseline.

Post# 1089553 , Reply# 7   9/15/2020 at 17:56 (917 days old) by qsd-dan (West)        
Binding upper agitator shaft

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You should be able to turn the pulley counterclockwise easily with one finger.
This is a common problem with Maytags due to age and use, particularly when overloaded (very common). This failure happens with one or more combination of circumstances.

How it works:

The upper transmission housing contains an agitator shaft with a pinion gear attached at the bottom via a tightly fitted groove pin which meshes with and is driven by the sector gear in the lower housing. This upper drive shaft is supported by 2 bronze sleeve bearings. The bottom sleeve bearing is constantly bathed in oil and is almost never a problem. The upper sleeve bearing is lubricated during the spin cycle via centrifugal force through a small passage drilled into the housing. In machines built before 1975, Maytag used a very thick oil that liked to churn itself to an almost grease like state after a few decades. This thicker viscosity prevents oil from entering the passageway and getting itself high enough into the upper sleeve bearing during the spin cycle. Overtime, lack of lubrication causes friction and heat, scoring both the upper bearing and the shaft. Eventually, the shaft will start seizing up and destroy itself and the bearing. Most people wait until agitation is sluggish or the transmission starts groaning. By this time it's too late. The shaft and sleeve bearings are scored up and no good. If one picks up one of these older machines and it still has quiet, brisk agitation, rebuild it ASAP and properly load thereafter.

This area can also fail from the top down if the center seal leaks and water enters the shaft, destroying the shaft and upper sleeve bearing. This failure can be detected by a rusty shaft and pin holes in the bearing side of the upper portion of the shaft. Water intrusion here will also contaminate the oil, eventually destroying everything within the transmission before catastrophic failure takes it out.

The third common failure is simply overloading. Remember that this little 3/4" shaft does extend all the way to the top of the agitator like other designs and it's is plowing through 20 gallons of water plus clothes/material. If one constantly overloads their washer, it places and incredible amount of strain on the bronze sleeve bearings, particularly the upper bearing. Keep this up, and the shaft will eventually seize up even with proper lubrication. I've taken apart transmissions from 12 series machine of the late 1980's where the oil still looked and flowed like new, the stem and seal were completely leak free and in perfect condition, yet the upper sleeve bearing was seized up and the shaft badly scored. Absolutely no trace of water entered the housing. With two of those machines, I happened to be in the know of the original owners and their destructive laundry habits..... persistently over stuffing them on a regularly basis from the moment they were installed.

With that said, my daily driver (1975 HA806 Series 02) of the past 11 years came from a lady who had a ginormous family and that machine saw 4-5 loads A DAY for decades. However, not only did she take excellent care of the washer, she just happen to mention she always slightly under loaded it at all times. When I decided to tear that machine down a year later, I expected thick oil in the transmission from heavy use along a with a scored upper shaft and upper sleeve bearing. The oil was clean with no traces of thickened viscosity or water intrusion. When I removed the upper shaft from the housing, both the sleeve bearings and shaft looked brand new like they just came off of the assembly line. My jaw dropped to the floor. How could a machine that saw an incredible amount of use for 4 decades indicate zero wear? That's when I made the connection to proper loading and long bearing life.

In pre 1966 washers, Maytag placed a piece of wicking material in the upper transmission housing which held oil against the upper bearing, helping extend its life. By 1966, Maytag quit installing that material in there with it's new generation of washers. Sometimes age and use deteriorates that wicking material and it comes out in pieces. Other times, it's fully intact. If it looks good, I'll clean it with solvent and soak overnight in Maytag trans oil before re-installing.

Maytag made every single part available, down to every nut a screw for many, many, decades EXCEPT those damn sleeve bearings in the upper transmission housing. Until Whirlpool bought out Maytag, one simply bought the entire upper housing from Maytag, bolted it on, and went on their merry way. Whirlpool kept producing the upper shaft and most of the other transmission parts until a few years ago. However, replacing the upper shaft does not fix scored bronze sleeve bearings. l see this type of repair going on in this forum and it's not correct way to fix it. It will work for a while, but agitation will be on the nosier side and the bearing will eventually chew itself up, develop slop, and self destruct. The bronze sleeve bearings MUST be replaced for a proper repair along with a new shaft.

Maytag Wringers:

Maytag EJN wringers started their production in 1939. The N and J wringers ceased production in the 1970's but the E's trudged on until November, 1983. These wringers used an almost identical agitator shaft as the automatics did through the 1989. About the only difference was the placement of the collar the hole for the groove pin where the pinion gear attached. Maytag did make a shaft and sleeve bearing kit for these machines. Out of curiosity, I purchased one of these NOS kits over a decade ago and noticed the lower sleeve bearing was identical to the automatics in every dimension. I sent off this NOS lower sleeve bearing along with a used but good condition upper sleeve bearing (for outer dimensional purposes) from an automatic washer to an outfit that makes custom bronze sleeve bearings and had a 50 piece run of each. I use and install these on all of my rebuilt machines but there is a HUGE learning curve on how to remove and install these properly without causing damage to the shaft or the bearings, therefore I refuse to give any out to the general public.

Oh, and we haven't even got into the subject of oils in regards to different applications, extreme temperature differences and other factors. I'll save that for another time.

Post# 1089665 , Reply# 8   9/16/2020 at 18:46 (916 days old) by Hjelle1 (Fergus Falls, MN)        

Thank you again for the responses. I decided to see how far I could go with this without spending a lot of money. Much to my surprise I was able to remove the agitator with a lever and rope. After a little cleaning up the picture shows where I am at. The snap ring has been removed.

I wasn't able to find a good set of pictures or a video showing what to do next.The parts listings I found are not very clear. Is the next step to remove the large clamping nut or are other pieces removed first? Is it possible to remove the clamping nut without a spanner wrench?

Thank you.

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Post# 1089666 , Reply# 9   9/16/2020 at 18:49 (916 days old) by qsd-dan (West)        

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Post# 1089677 , Reply# 10   9/16/2020 at 21:38 (916 days old) by Good-Shepherd (New Jersey)        
remove the clamping nut without a spanner wrench?

The stem nut can be removed by carefully splitting it with a sharp chisel but the spanner wrench is still needed to remove and install the stem.

Yes, the stem can be cut apart as show in the link but that is a last resort method where the stem is seized.

P.S. Lay down some towels or rags in the tub, very easy to slip with tools and put a nasty chip in the porcelain.

Post# 1089683 , Reply# 11   9/16/2020 at 21:57 (915 days old) by Good-Shepherd (New Jersey)        
parts listings I found are not very clear.

Some other must read posts on rebuilding Maytag washers:

Note- in qsd-dan's link it shows removing the brake assembly, this step is Not necessary to remove the trans for service, just the pulley.

Post# 1089703 , Reply# 12   9/17/2020 at 07:15 (915 days old) by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
Maytag Dependable Care Washer Failures

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These top agitator shaft seizures are caused entirely by moisture getting into the top bearings, which is simply caused by time and number of times the washer has been run.


Slightly overloading will make any good washer last a lot longer, and will again not hurt any decent machine.


Like most complex mechanical things it is time and the number of hours it is run that largely determines how long it will last before failures occur.


If yo do 30 loads a month vs 24 loads a month the washer will have more failures and end up with serious problems sooner, I have researched and analyzed  this for over 40 years of working for clients and the households where they are constantly running the washer and dryer always have many more service problems and shorter life from many of their W&Ds and DWs etc than the households where there is never enough time to get the laundry done and they end up stuffing a few big loads in when they can find the time.


These Mts are Commercial Quality machines, I have seen these DC washers come out of commercial use after nearly 20 years of being overloaded with the transmissions in nearly new condition.


Underloading and running more loads wears out almost every part of the washer sooner such as , water pump and belt, inlet valve, timer,  main  motor, damper pads [ smaller loads have more balance problems and damper pad wear ] hoses, main seal and even faster corrosion and rusting of the outer tub


John L.

Post# 1090171 , Reply# 13   9/21/2020 at 17:01 (911 days old) by Hjelle1 (Fergus Falls, MN)        

Thank you very much for your help and encouragement.

It may or may not be a good decision, but we decided to purchase a new washing machine. My wife isn't comfortable with the time it would take me to repair the Maytag. Sadly, it will be picked up and junked out next Thursday.

A new timer was installed about a month ago. I can remove it and any other easily removable part before they come. Make me an offer if you are interested. I can send pictures if you like.

Thank you again.

Post# 1090191 , Reply# 14   9/21/2020 at 19:51 (911 days old) by qsd-dan (West)        

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"These top agitator shaft seizures are caused entirely by moisture getting into the top bearings, which is simply caused by time and number of times the washer has been run."

As stated above, this is ONE of the 3 most common failures I have come across. Moisture related intrusions leave their own unique footprint and it's not the sole reason for ever upper bearing failure. I don't need to prove this to you or anybody else, I'm simply relaying my own personal discoveries.

"Slightly overloading will make any good washer last a lot longer"

What kind of nonsense is this? Putting mechanical workings under a larger strain than engineers designed them for will not extend their life through less usage. Excessive mechanical strain induces faster wear. This excessive strain also causes excessive heat, breaking down material at a faster rate. If I apply your rationale to vehicles, an automatic transmission in an overloaded truck with less accumulated mileage would outlast a properly loaded one with more mileage. Those results could not be more opposing of each other.

"I have seen these DC washers come out of commercial use after nearly 20 years of being overloaded with the transmissions in nearly new condition."

Oh, this is gold! You do realize you just contradicted yourself with this statement, right? I've seen the pinion gear on orbital transmissions wear out in 10 years of residential use.

"Underloading and running more loads wears out almost every part of the washer sooner such as , water pump and belt, inlet valve, timer, main motor, damper pads [ smaller loads have more balance problems and damper pad wear ] hoses, main seal and even faster corrosion and rusting of the outer tub"

Most all Maytags get scrapped their original pump and motor. My entire collection had the matching motor code tags to the placard.

You contradicted yourself again with the drive belt. You've made claims all over this forum that overloading a Maytag causes the belt to slip (not my experience when properly working). Slipping belt = faster wear.

Damper pads wear out due to lack of lubrication, not use. Time also has an effect since silicone grease dries out with age. This is why I find damper pads in pre 1966 washers hold up better because the transmission fluid used for lubrication dries up at a much slower rate. We all know those older machines with a smaller tub experienced a greater workout. And speaking of inner tubs in pre-1966 washers, overloading them causes excessive porcelain wear at the bottom.

In my findings, outer tub corrosion has almost always been from use of chlorine bleach. That stuff eats up porcelain overtime. Quit using it 15 years ago.

Drain hoses don't fail from use, they fail from age on Maytags. I bought an NOS tub to pump hose in 1960's packaging and it split when I tried to install it on my A700. In my early days of buying out old parts houses, I acquired 2 NOS drain hoses. I was told they had been sitting against the wall forever. Fast forward to one of my rebuilds, I installed one of them and it immediately blew up on its first use upon spin (I had the same exact failure on a 702 washer but it was 54 years old at the time and already sitting outside for about a year when I got it. I'll give that one a pass). Started harvesting them from used orbital washers in scrap piles after that.

I could go on about plastic timer gears breaking from age in NOS Kingston timer motors, contacts going bad from overloading through amperage draw, but I'll just stop here.

Post# 1090204 , Reply# 15   9/21/2020 at 21:30 (911 days old) by Good-Shepherd (New Jersey)        
Sadly, it will be picked up and junked out next Thursday.

Why not throw it on Craigslist or Facebook rather than scrap it so fast?

Vintage Maytags are rare as hens teeth up in your neck of the woods, someone could have been searching for a washer like that for a long time.

Post# 1090207 , Reply# 16   9/21/2020 at 21:50 (910 days old) by robbinsandmyers (Conn)        
Shame to see it tossed...........

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The spin basket looks really clean. If it was in CT I would buy it and the agitator from you for my A407. Hopefully a member here rescues it. Why not put it on Craigs or FB Marketplace for free?

Post# 1090290 , Reply# 17   9/22/2020 at 14:51 (910 days old) by Good-Shepherd (New Jersey)        
Craigs or FB Marketplace for free?

No, should be listed for $25 at least or scrappers may grab it.

Post# 1091349 , Reply# 18   9/30/2020 at 14:14 (902 days old) by Hjelle1 (Fergus Falls, MN)        

Nobody responded to my ads and the new washer arrived yesterday. Before they took our A-608 washer I removed the timer in case someone here could use it. I installed it new about two months ago. Please contact me if you could use it. I paid $32.67 for it including shipping but will sell it for a reasonable offer plus the actual cost of shipping. I will also include the indicator ring which is mostly readable. If desired, I can also include an advertising brochure, Installation Instructions, Operating Instructions and a Maytag Laundering Guide for the Maytag A-608 washer. Thank you again for all of your help.

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