Washing machine unravelings... Our new washer is unlike any washing machine I've ever owned before. It's a top loader with a glass door on top, so you can actually watch it working (it even has a light!). It's very easy to use, especially as it has a built-in tank to hold detergent. Normally you just throw clothes in and press “Start”; it does the rest.
When you look inside, the first thing you'll notice is that there is no “agitator” (the finned tower in the center). Every other washer I've ever used had an agitator. When you watch it work, the next thing you'll notice is that it doesn't fill up the tank with enough water to cover the clothes. No agitator and not much water. How the heck does the thing get clothes clean?
I confess to having watched several complete cycles (generally about an hour long) through the glass top, just so I could figure this out. It had me sore puzzled.
While it doesn't have a standard agitator, it does have a round plate on the bottom of the tank that it can wiggle back and forth (clockwise and counter-clockwise). That plate has rounded, gentle ridges and bumps on it. And the tank itself can be wiggled back and forth in the same manner, independently of the agitator plate (my name for it). Furthermore, the entire tank is relatively free to bobble in any direction.
When you start a load up, the washer appears to sense the weight of the clothing. Then it uses that weight to judge how much water to use. Once the wash cycle starts, some complicated motions begin – the agitator plate wiggles, with variable speeds and amounts of rotation. The tank wiggles, also with variable speeds and amounts of rotation. The result: no matter how you piled in the clothes, they all end up separated and rolled up into little balls at the bottom of the tank. I have no idea how they came up with this, but it's actually kind of amazing to watch. I've even deliberately interleaved the legs of pants, run a pant leg through a sleeve, etc. It doesn't matter. Each piece of clothing ends up as a separate ball of cloth on the bottom.
Once the load has been reduced to wet balls of cloth, the action starts to make more sense. The motion of the agitator plate and the tank churn the clothes through the water on the bottom quite effectively. All the while, water is being recirculated by a pump and poured over top of the clothes being washed.
The rinse works basically the same way, but with clean water, of course. When the spinning starts, the self-balancing tank feature kicks in.
Awesome, this modern technology...
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