Repairing the White-Westinghouse Washing Machine
(Model number LA271MXW2)
by Chuck Kichline

Larger photos under thumbnails

My nine year old White-Westinghouse Washing Machine had been squalling on spin cycle for a while, but last week I noticed the puddle of water on the floor.  Not a good sign, was it time for a new washer?  Was it even worth considering calling a repairman for this washer?  It had cost me $225 nine years ago and HAD to be the Ford Escort of washing machines with NO features.  I had the time and the inclination to check it out so I got my two wheel dolly and moved it out to the back porch to investigate.

If you don't have a dolly, go look at a home repair center or cheap tool outlet.  They're CHEAP now, and will save you a lot of work.  I found out after disassembly that I could have worked on this washer in place, but it was nice to be outside with good light and LOTS of room.

I set up a "test stand" by the back of the porch.  Hooked the cold water inlet up to the hose, plugged the hot water inlet with one of the blanking plugs off of a lawn sprinkler.  The water outlet has to be up above water level.  I hooked the power up to a GFI protected outlet on the back porch.  This is probably time to insert the warning - DON'T DO IT, YOU COULD GET HURT, and if you do get hurt, I already warned you.  Unplug everything before you even GO NEAR the washer.

When I started disassembling the machine, I found out that it was really well designed for maintenance!  It may be cheap, but the guys from White-Westinghouse really did a good job in reparability.  To pop the lid, you push a thin blade (like a putty knife) in from the front, about three inches from the edges.  That pops latches and lets the lid swing up.  Then you can undo two screws at the bottom front of the machine and lower the front by about half an inch and remove it.
The works are exposed!

When you lift up the top, get something to hold it so you don't rip the wires or the little tube that goes up from the washer into the control head.

Looks like this, I also noticed that the agitator could be removed by unscrewing the knob at the top of the agitator and then pulling up.

If it's leaking, check the hoses first for cracks or looseness.  Mine were fine.

On examination, it looked like there was corrosion under the pump, so my immediate idea was that the pump had gone out and needed to be replaced.  That's it sitting on top of the motor.  It's attached to the motor base with two little pop off thumb springs on the top, and two hose clamps toward the back.  Take them off, lift it out, get the part, and put it all back together.

The hose clamps work well with pliers, but take some effort to get them back on cleanly.  I put it back together and ran a test load.  It was still squalling awfully!  I could tell it was the belt now though.  There is a belt tensioner back under the motor that pushes out on the drive belt, it's the v-belt under the motor.  I tried adjusting it for more tension (there are extra slots to put the spring in) but that didn't make any difference.  I finally bought a new belt and tested it again.  It went into spin without any noise!  IT WAS STILL LEAKING THOUGH, and it was obviously coming right from the center shaft where the motor entered the tub!  THE DREADED MAIN SEAL!!!!!!

I noticed then, that they had a catcher all the way under the tub that funneled everything out under the motor and to the front of the machine!  Well, I bet they did it to catch the user's attention when something went wrong - nice design, guys!

I asked around and was told, "The main seal is a BIG JOB and you have to remove both the inner and outer tub to replace it.  But, being a fool for adventure (and thinking that a person shouldn't own anything they don't at least TRY to fix), I decided to have a go at it.  Why not?

Here's the top of the tub with the agitator removed

Just unscrew the top knob and lift out the agitator.

Next remove the agitator holder by taking off the stud and pulling up on the grooved metal part.  I had to thump mine some from the bottom.  The outer basket ring has a bunch of snaps that hold it to the outer tub.  Pry these up, but don't break any.  They hold the big white ring down to the outer tub.  There's a gasket in the ring that split on mine after I took it out and I had to glue it back together.
Looks like this with the top ring off.

Now you can remove the inner tub - six bolts. and lift it out.  By now you may have noticed that everything is covered with a soap scum - hard water deposit.  Clean the stuff off as you go, especially the center shaft, because you're going to be sliding stuff off of it.
Here's the inner tub holder.

The inner tub holder is held on by two bolts from the side which clamp a flat bar onto a flat cut into the center shaft loosen them up and you should be able to slide off the inner tub holder.  Turns out that on this model, that gives you access to the MAIN SEAL!  If the tub holder doesn't want to come off AFTER removing its mounting bar, clean everything, soak it in penetrating oil, and then bolt the tub back up to it and try using the tub to leverage it off!


I already pulled the mail seal off in this photo, and what you see down there is the slinger.

You can slide off the main seal from here, there are three parts, the top, body, and a slinger.  The top moves with the center shaft, the bottom is spring loaded and seals from the outer tub to a flat seal that mates with the top seal.  The slinger is on the bottom and just makes sure that any leakage doesn't go down the shaft into the transmission.
Downward pressure by the inner tub holder pushes the top and bottom seals together and make the spinning seal on a flat surface on the top seal.

Here's the parts, sitting on the bottom of the inner tub.  From right to left:  the agitator stud, the agitator holder, the inner tub holder, the flat locking bar from the inner tub holder, the top seal, the bottom seal, and the slinger.

I'd been told that I had to remove the outer tub to replace the seal, so I did.  I didn't HAVE TO do it, there was nothing to be replaced there.  My seal kit had extra parts and snap rings that my model didn't use - so maybe those were the parts for a different model.

It was only three bolts to remove the outer tub from it's holding brackets.  Remove the drain hose from the pump and the little hose (water level control) from the back of the outer tub if you do remove it.  Remember, I didn't really have to!

Here's the works.  Neat, huh?  (remember, there are bigger photos linked to these thumbnails).  If you haven't replace the pump and belt, it would be even easier now.  You can also see the transmission filler plug in the top of the transmission.  I understand that they use 90 weight gear oil and should be reasonably close to the threads.  Mine was just fine so I didn't mess with it.

 CLEAN OFF the shaft, clean clean clean.  I used some VERY fine steel wool, you're going to be putting new seals over this and you could mess up the sealing.  Clean out the seal area in the bottom of the outer tub.

Like I said, you probably don't have to go this far.  I put my main seals in using the instructions included with the seal set.  There is even special lube included and tells you to be very careful when you slip the seals past the flat that was milled in the shaft.

Put it back together.  Make notes and take digital pictures when you take it apart if you have any doubt about remembering or there is going to be a time lapse between disassembly and reassembly.

So what is the outcome?  My washer works again, and looks like it will work for quite a while longer.  I was really impressed by the repairability features of this washer, I've worked on machines before where it was very difficult to repair them, while on this machine you could do anything I showed with it in place and from the front.  The total parts outlay was about $50, twenty each for the seal and pump, and less than ten for the belt.  I saved a bunch of money over replacement or repair.  If I have any sense, I'll spend some of the money I saved on a set of armored hoses before one of my inlet hoses pops and floods the house.  But the important thing is that I now understand how one more thing in my house works.

Let me know if it helped or to offer suggestions,
Chuck Kichline
chuck@kichline.com

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