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Direct-drive washing machine motor....any way to make something useful out of it?

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  • Direct-drive washing machine motor....any way to make something useful out of it?

    I know there have been several threads about converting treadmill motors to power machine tools, but how about the direct-drive washing machine motors. I've read some about converting them to generators, but was wondering if anyone here had used them for powering tools.

    If nothing else, the rotor has a bunch of magnets.
    Any products mentioned in my posts have been endorsed by their manufacturer.

  • #2
    There has been a lot of work done with these in years gone by, this site has a lot of information... just search for F&P, Fisher and Paykel were one of the first appliance makers to use this type of motor (about 20 years ago) and they have been stacked up in recycling piles in New Zealand and Australia for some time.

    Yes, they make effective generators and have been especially favoured by the wind turbine guys as they put out useful power at low RPM. They have also been used in small electric vehicles.

    They are of course stepper motors and can be driven like any other stepper but they are mostly, if not all, 3 phase in operation as there are three series of stator coils. (Nothing directly to do with 3 phase mains).

    They have plenty of torque and can be directly mounted on mill table feed screws etc. I suppose they could be used in a direct drive lathe project but I have not heard of anyone doing that.


    • #3
      I've considered putting one on my lathe- directly mounting the magnet wheel on the spindle. The only thing stopping me is the fact that it will add a lot of momentum to the spindle. If you have a crash, that will probably make things worse. It could of course be mounted as part of a clutch pack- something that would allow it to slip when a certain level of torque is reached. There may be balance issues as well.

      I have a few of these motors. I see the specs on one at least say 310 volts, 5,5 amps, 2000 rpm. It's wired star, but all the wire ends are available so it could also be re-wired delta. I have yet to figure out the module, but it seems that the module is a failure-prone item. I don't know how true this is, but the other problem would be getting the proper voltages to the right wires to be able to use the module. Then of course you would have to come up with the power circuitry to drive the coils.
      I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


      • #4
        The original F & P electronics are reliable enough in their intended application but prone to sudden death when being messed with. It is also difficult, if not impossible, to get reliable circuit information.

        Considering the F & P machines were on the market 20 years ago there are probably better, easier, cheaper ways of driving them.

        The balance of the rotors is pretty good, in my experience.

        Fortunately the stator coils are easily reconfigured to various combinations of serial/parallel as may be required for low voltage operation.

        The star point of the motors I have is just a metal clip that pulls off.


        • #5
          I'm a member of my school's Electrathon electric car race team.
          One of the big contenders (he's a one-person team!) is using a 3-phase motor that, I believe, may be out of (or offered for) industrial washers.
          I asked a bit, but information on a competitor's vehicle is understandably not always freely shared.


          • #6
            What brand or brands of machines have these motors here in the states?

            I could Google it I guess, I'd be curious about any hacks for the controller?
            Last edited by topct; 12-25-2012, 08:41 AM.


            • #7
              The drive circuitry sounds like an interesting "reverse engineering" problem.
              Wish I had one to look at. I've done quite a few switch mode power supplies
              in my time. :-) If they have been around for as long as is indicated above
              the components should be identifiable. ie. not some OEM specific part like
              a few computer manufacturers in the past. :-)


              • #8
                I've repaired a couple of the drives for direct drive washing machine motors a few years back. Not sure if the motors looked exactly like that or not, these were USA consumer brands but I forget which. The ones I saw looked to be essentially VFD's, they had no hall sensors, just a 3 phase output. These used discrete IGBT's for the outputs (which were blown up), I'd guess the newer ones are more integrated now. Might be a fun thing to mess around with. On the other hand, "real" VFD's are pretty easily available at some pretty reasonable prices these days. So it may not be worth the bother from a cost standpoint. If one wants to fool with one just for the fun of it and to see if you can make it go, I certainly understand (and applaud!) that.


                • #9
                  The original F&P motors have a hall effect sensor.

                  The motors might turn quite slow on a regular VFD as they have many poles.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by The Artful Bodger View Post
                    The original F&P motors have a hall effect sensor.

                    The motors might turn quite slow on a regular VFD as they have many poles.
                    That's ok, the Hitachi WJ200 can go up to the usual vfd max of 8 poles, but also 1000 hz
                    Last edited by lakeside53; 12-25-2012, 02:11 PM.


                    • #11
                      I think the original motors had 14 poles but please dont ask me to stand next to one if you put 1kHz on it!

                      It sure would be interesting to try one on a VFD but I fear the voltages would be far to high for the motor especially at low RPM. It is very unlikely that I would get to try one as VFDs seem very expensive in this country.
                      Last edited by The Artful Bodger; 12-25-2012, 02:33 PM.


                      • #12
                        LG and Asko are two current brands using direct drives. I think at least some of the Askos are rebadged Daewoo machines. Daewoo may also supply other brands, e.g, Kenmore - but I'm not sure.


                        • #13
                          Both Whirlpool and Maytag use the F&P motors, maybe others do too.


                          • #14
                            So, what's the worst thing that could happen if you hooked up a 1HP VFD to the three big wires on the F&P motor?

                            On the other hand, seems like it would make a really good brake by putting DC on it.
                            Any products mentioned in my posts have been endorsed by their manufacturer.


                            • #15
                              It will probably whirr and buzz and likely heat up, it might even turn but dont forget they are permanent magnet motors and putting AC on the stator coils will have uncertain results, IMHO.

                              They make a very good brake just by shorting the leads.