Rage Against the (Washing) Machine

Rage Against the (Washing) Machine

First came the death on Good Friday, followed by resurrection on Easter Sunday. This time though, the death was of our previously trusty washing machine and the (almost) resurrection took place on the day that will be forever known as Almost Easter Wednesday.

After a great start to the Easter weekend with a session of bouldering and top-roping at the Barn Climbing Centre on Friday morning, I promptly injured my knee. The washing machine was playing up and simple solutions weren’t cutting it. The cycle was stopping after a few minutes, and the screen was flashing off and on intermittently. Being Easter, getting hold of a repair person was nigh on impossible, and faced with the prospect of being machine-less, we looked for an interim measure.

Rage against the (washing) machine

It has been a while since I moved a washing machine, and I forgot how bloody heavy they are. My initial plan involved picking up a used machine to use until our main one could be fixed, but after discussions with a local company it sounded like the machine wasn’t worth fixing. Electronic/electrical problems tend to be the end of washing machines as they are difficult to diagnose and even harder to get hold of parts for. The manufacturers are deliberately vague and do not release wiring diagrams or even provide access to spare parts in some cases. If you’ve got a cheaper machine, the call-out charge and repair fee can be the guts of a new machine.

A vicious cycle is rapidly created. It’s not worth repairing a washing machine that’s a day out of warranty, so you end up buying a new one and the previous model is scrapped. It could be as simple as one diode failing on the board (a recurrent problem on a few Beko machines) rendering the machine useless, and potentially necessitating a replacement of the main PCB (printed circuit board) when someone with a school-level experience of soldering could replace the part and bring it back to life. A part that costs 5 pence. With the current state of the environment and pressure on companies and individuals to make better choices, I find it galling that there isn’t a drive to fix these machines rather than just throw them out. We live in a capitalist society, but there are limits to what we should accept.

The main PCB with relay (RL1) removed

After pulling apart the machine and a helpful individual on the Washerhelp forums, I found what appeared to be the problem. One of the PCB mounted relays had melted and desoldered itself. To the untrained eye that was the main problem, so I ordered some replacement parts which were delivered on Wednesday. I desoldered the fried relay and put the new one in place. My skills were a little rusty but I managed to make some half decent joints. Next I reassembled the machine, hooked it up and held my breath.

The fried relay
There’s a time to solder, and a time to desolder

Unfortunately the same problem resurfaced. This time the top of the machine was still uncovered and I could see arcing within the replacement relay (visible sparks) corresponding with a click and the display turning off. It was one of my concerns setting out – the relay may have been a symptom of something else going on. Something that I just don’t have the time to get to the bottom of. My exam is next week and we need a functional washing machine. This Beko came well reviewed, but it has soured me slightly towards buying another Beko product. Unfortunately, this wasn’t going to be the resurrection we were all hoping for.

It’s not all grim tidings though. I learned a bit more about washing machine operation, how to put on a drive belt, refreshed my soldering skills and moaned on a forum. The parts were a tiny cost in comparison to calling out an engineer, and I know enough now to be able to strip the viable parts from the machine to sell on before it goes for recycling. It has been a frustrating experience, but not without some positive aspects.

Gaming

We have continued our undersea exploration in BioShock, and the story remains as compelling now as all those years ago when it was first released. At times I’ve found the combat clunky, but there are enough different weapons and plasmids to mix things up and make most encounters enjoyable. This is a truly memorable game – I found myself recognising mission after mission years after my original playthrough. I won’t mention much on the story front because it’s something you should experience for yourself if you still haven’t taken the plunge. Somewhere beyond the sea…

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