Maytag Neptune Washer Drum Bearings

I am one of the owners of an original Maytag Neptune washing machine. Mine is one of the early model MAH3000AWW units. I recognize that these models have had many problems over the years, some more significant than others, and mine has certainly been no exception. The latest has been deafening.

My little Maytag Neptune washing machine had gotten noisy recently. Really noisy. It produced a loud roaring noise whenever it hit the spin cycle. It was, of course, the Bearings. Oh yeah, I'd know bearing noise anywhere. So if I ever expect to enjoy re-runs of Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi or Joanie Loves Chachi on laundry days, I obviously needed to do something.

This particular Neptune has been disassembled before. Several times, actually. In fact, If I recall correctly, this would be the third bearing replacment on this machine. Unfortunately, due to the design of the original shaft seal, it likely will not be the last. There is also a sordid history of control board repairs, wax motor replacement, drive motor replacement, drum boot retrofit, motor controller repairs, and more - it's very much a "project" machine. This machine and I are very well acquainted, but I digress. The important point is that during a previous bearing job, this machine was retrofitted with a "bearing repair kit" which was purchased from the internet. This kit eliminated the spacer tube between the bearings, so you won't see me trying to fit it into place, as I no longer have it. Just a heads-up.

First, I know I will need bearings. The Neptune uses a pair of 6200-series bearings: A 6206-2RS (rear) and a 6207-2RS (front). I generally order my bearings from The Big Bearing Store, and these were no exceptions. They 'lost' my order, but managed to sort everything out and get them to me. They are by no means the only source for these very common bearings, but I have had good results with them, I still trust them, and the prices are right.

I also need a drum shaft seal. Seal kit #12002022, which I ordered from Point-and-Click Appliance Repair. I've ordered from them before as well, and never had a problem with them. Again, they are not the only place to get this kit, but I am happy with them. Once upon a time, I could order Neptune parts directly from Maytag, but now that they're Whirlpool, I guess that they don't do that anymore.

Half a Benjamin (and a few weeks) later, I have bearings and a seal.

You will also need some hand tools, fine sandpaper, maybe a good-sized brass punch, and a pair of internal snap ring pliers.

What's next? Oh, it couldn't be simpler. After all, it's only a three step job. 1) Disassemble the washer. 2) Replace the parts. 3) Reassemble the machine.

Seriously, it's not quite that simple, but it can be done by most mechanically inclined types.

Let's get started, shall we? You can click on the thumbnails for full-sized images.

Start by removing the door. Remove a screw from each hinge, then lift/wiggle the door while pulling forward. It pops right out.
The opposite side has a pair of keepers that come off the same way. Remove the screws and lift/pull the tabs out.
Twist the top portions of the front cover outward just a bit, and the panel will pull away at the top
The front panel lowers away, then lifts off.
Now, to open the top, remove the soap/bleach/fabric softener bezel and door. There are four screws - which you do not want to drop inside the machine. The bezel lifts off.
Remove the top hold-down clips. One on each side.
I used a piece of wire to hold the top. This is actually a piece of 16-gauge galvanized wire which was formed to length and shape specifically to service this machine some long, long time ago, and lives in the "Neptune Parts" box.
Remove the cover from the bottom of the latch assembly.
Two screws hold the latch assembly in place.
This little section of weedeater line is supposed to be a manual door release device for those cases when the latch doesn't let go. Pull the cord free. We'll come back to how this is routed later on.
Tilt the latch assembly forward and lift it out.
Begin peeling the boot away from the front facia panel. Be very careful with the boot. It's actually fairly fragile, and can tear easily. You'll notice that I'm using only one hand, but that is ONLY because I am taking this photo. I really use both hands to make sure that I can be gentle with this, and don't yank or tear it.
Work around the edge of the boot, freeing it from the facia. Did I mention that it is a tender item? Be careful.
Here the boot is fully free from the front panel. Notice how I didn't tear it.
The front panel can now tilt forward for removal.
It will need to be slid to the right once it has been tilted forward in order to lift it out.
Four screws will release the top bar...
Which can then be swung up and out of the way.
Now remove the front frame.
Pop the boot cover clips off by gently prying them off. Pry the front edge of the clip up first. I try to keep a finger on them as they come off, because they will fly away. If I am not mistaken, there are supposed to be 12 of these, as indicated by the raised/reinforced areas where they go. Mine has 13. I discovered this when I replaced the original boot many years ago, during my very first re-install. I have yet to figure out where the 13th one actually goes.
The boot cover pulls away pretty easily. You may notice that I marked the cover and outer drum at the to to help with alignment.
Thats about as far as we can go on the front for now. There is nothing left in the way here.
Now to the back. Remove the access cover. The top screws are long...
... and the bottom ones are short.
This little frame tilts up to release the tabs from the slots. Wow - after all these years, I can finally make a 'Tab A' in 'Slot B' reference, but I won't.
Formal mechanical training tells us to loosen the motor to release tension on the belt, but what we really do is place a screwdriver under the belt and tilt it off the pulley...
...rotating it gently until it just pops off.
A 9/16" wrench removes the bolt securing the pulley. I should mention that if you hold the pully by the spokes, you may pinch your fingers as it turns. Those ribs on the back of the outer tub can be close to the pulley spokes in places. You have been warned.
OK, there are better ways than this, but I had this handy wire-brush-shaped piece of hardwood close by, so I used it. Just don't beat directly on the shaft. We're not trying to send the drum flying out of the machine, just breaking the shaft loose from the bearings. It may be necessary to lie the machine down on it's front supported by a couple of wooden 4x4s to do this.
Once it's loose, the inner drum can be pulled out from the front.
Here is the empty outer drum.
Remove the snap ring which holds the rear bearing in place. You really need a pair of internal snap ring pliers for this job. Literally everything else you may try is ineffective, time-consuming, frustrating, and dangerous.
Here'a a tip they don't teach you at clown school. Do yourself a favor and place a rag over the sump at the bottom of the outer tub. This will keep a lot of crud out of the pump. Now drive the front seal and bearing out with a soft punch. A brass drift punch is the best, as it is soft enough to help avoid damaging anything.
Well, THERE's your problem! The front bearing (right) is heavily damaged due to the failure of the shaft seal, which allows "laundry" to infiltrate the ball bearing. There's no way that this bearing can spin quietly at 800 RPM

We have to clean up the bearing seats. I am using red Scotch-Brite, but a fine crocus cloth or emery paper, perhaps 320 grit or so, could be used as well. The goal is to remove any rust or crud and polish the surface without removing too much metal or enlarging/distorting the bore..
You want it clean and shiny, like this.
Once clean, coat the bearing seat with a light coat of grease. This will prevent any oxidation and ease bearing installation.
Now for the front bearing seat. There's a lot of gunk/crud/crap here. Scrape off the bulk with a scraper or screwdriver. Don't gouge the aluminum or plastic, but remove the gunk.
OK. Desperate times call for desperate measures. This crud is just too much for red Scotch-Brite. For info: This little 3-inch wire cup is made by Black and Decker, and I believe that I found it in the automotive aisle of a large Arkansas-based chain retailer many moons ago. It's a nice fit here, but use it lightly. Once clean and polished, the front seat gets a light coat of grease too.
Here you can see that brass drift punch to which I keep referring. The front bearing is driven in place. I probably should mention that you should tap it in straight, which means tapping evenly around the perimeter, not just beating it in one place. If it gets cocked in the bore, it will wedge. The seal goes in after the bearing is in place. Sorry, but for some reason, I didn't seem to get a picture of it. Directions come with the seal kit, though.
Tap in the rear bearing the same way. These bearings need to be driven in until they hit solidly against the shoulder in the bore. The back bearing must be clear of the snap ring slot.
A light coat of grease on the snap ring can help to prevent it from rusting into the slot. Did I mention that there's virtually no substitute for snap ring pliers for this job?
Turning attention now to the drum, remove the slinger part of the shaft seal by prying it off it's seat.
Oh yeah, if you wondering when would be a really good time would to check the drum baffles and make sure that they are nice and snug, that would be now.
Back to the shaft... Lotsa crud here, too. Scrape away the bulk.
And polish the seating surfaces of the shaft. Here...
... here...
... and here.
The seating surfaces of the shaft gets a light coating of Moly grease. This comes with the seal kit. Don't try to use it all, as only a light coat is needed. If you get carried away with it, it may end up in your laundry.
Slide the inner drum shaft into the bearings. It's a finicky fit, requring that the drum be aligned and straight. It should slide through so that some of the splines are protruding out the back.
If you have a 3/8" bolt about 1-1/2 or 2 inches long, you can use it to pull the shaft through the bore until it is seated. I didn't have one that long, so I grabbed a couple of steel plates and the old bearing to pull the shaft through in stages. It really only needs to be far enough to allow the 1" bolt to engage and tighten through the pulley.
If all of the splines are through, you can move on.
Place the pulley onto the shaft. The "bowl-shape" goes toward the drum. Don't ask me why I feel compelled to point that out.
Using the bolt and washers provided with the seal kit (or the original if your seal somehow didn't come with a new bolt and washers), tighten the pulley. Technically, this should tighten to 33 ft-lbs, also known as "There - nice and tight".
The drum should turn with a little resistance (from the seal), but I can spin it with two fingers. Ordinarily, I would do this with my right hand, but I'm lefty-ing it to capture this wonderful educational photography. Sheesh - no one ever appreciates my vast generosity.
Here's a close up of the belt, just in case we ever need to get the numbers off it.
Place the belt over the motor pulley, and wrap the belt around the drum pulley. Hold it and rotate the pulley until it pops in place. This is a lot easier to do with both hands; I sure hope everyone appreciates that I had to do all of this one-handed, with my left hand, just to score all these phenomenal pictures. Everyone? Anyone?
The drive assembly is complete.
You can see the drum is in place. And it is not touching the outer drum at the bottom. That's just the camera angle playing tricks on you. It played tricks on me too, which made me go back and check. There is clearance, just like there is supposed to be.
Here's the perfect opportunity to clean the lint out of the brush on the boot cover. Like everything on the boot cover, be gentle with it as the little tabs which secure it to the cover are fragile and can break, leaving the brush loose.
Align the boot cover with the outer drum, and snap a clip or two on the bottom.
Now snap a couple of clips on the top. As you can see, I use a pair of ChannelLock pliers to squeeze the gap closed to facillitate clip installation. But seriously, don't force anything. If it doesn't fit together fairly readily, stop and check that the cover is properly aligned with the drum.
I mentioned that there are 12 of these, right? Or maybe a thirteenth that no one knows quite what to do with? I generally try to find an inconspicuous place to snap the 13th one where it isn't too loose. We'll let that be our little secret. Promise not to tell my wife, okay?
I don't recommend doing anything with or to the boot unless it's really necessary, but you may want to take a look in this little drain tube. As you can see, it can collect a fair bit of goo. But be very careful. Did I mention that you need to be careful? Just checking. It's important enough for me to take the picture with my left hand so that I can use my trusted right hand to do this. 'Nuf said?
Re-attach the frame onto the front of the machine. Don't fully tighten the screws yet - just snug them up.
The screws on the lower struts should be just snug too. After everything is in place, we'll shake the machine to settle everything and tighten these fully. This will prevent racking of the cabinet.
Now attach the top bar. Snug is good.
I had an extra pic of the left side too. You can also see that at some earlier disassembly, the pieces have been labelled. That was before someone brilliantly decided to take all these pictures.
With the metal frame in place, drop the front facia panel into place. The tabs go into the slots, and the panel slides to the left. More "tab and slot" action.
Reach inside and begin pulling the front of the boot through the hole. Don't try to press it into place in those slots just yet. Just pull the boot through all around.
Now begin pressing the little tabs into the slots. Work around evenly in both directions from your starting point until it is nicely and evenly tucked in all the way around.
Place the latch assembly onto the front facia. I told you we'd come back to that pull-cord routing, right? It should be like this.
Secure the latch assembly with two screws.
Now we'll tighten that front framework. Shake the machine cabinet a bit to make sure that everything is stable, then tighten all the screws on the frame, the top bar, and the two struts.
Lower the top and replace the hold-down clips.
The bottom of the washer front panel fits onto two clips at the bottom.
A small clip on each side must align with holes in the front panel.
Ready for the door.
Reinstall the door and screws. Don't forget the 'keeper' tabs on the opposite side too.
Button up the back. Remember, long screws up top, short ones on the bottom.
I took the liberty of marking the hot and cold hoses, so that I don't have to have to guess or feel about at hookup time.
Mickey sez: "Wow, that's really quiet, big guy! That's a really nice job that you did so much of left-handed to take all those wonderful photos for everyone. What a great guy you are!"
Thanks for noticing, Mickey.