Is there a point at which it's unsafe to keep an old washer/dryer going?

I've got a 70's era washer and dryer that I got used in the late 80's. The drum sliders on the dryer have worn and the drum is at a low angle, the transmission on the washer finally gave up the ghost.
I can get a replacement transmission for the washer and renovate the drum sliders on the dryer, but it occurs to me that besides the hardware, there's also 30-plus year old electrical components. I wonder if at a certain point appliances become dangerous to keep going.
The problem I have with new appliances is that they all seem to utilize computer chip/circuit board technology. One of the great things about the old washer/dryer is they utilize relatively simple mechanical controls which appear to have contributed to their longevity.
Does anyone still make rock-solid barebones washers and dryers with mechanical controls?
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On Mon, 25 May 2009 20:46:04 -0700 (PDT), brassplyer

I got some from Whirlpool last year. I'm with you, give me mechanical timers. I am looking for an old style oven, having no success, as we speak.
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wrote:

Last year we bought a Bertazzoni gas range for the reasons you state. No electronics, cooks fantastic. Fairly new in the US, they've been around for 100 years and make a quality product.
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We had a commercial set that lasted about 35 years, new consumer stuff today is junk. Just check out the weight of your unit and compare it to new stuff today, today they are made to last 3-10 yrs. For quality like you have look at commercial units, they are maybe double the price but 5x the quality and you should find simple heavy duty controls. If you can cheaply fix what you have, do it.
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brassplyer wrote:

Dangerous? I don't think so. I've never heard of a washer or dryer failing in a potentially lethal manner.
When I paid my bill last year at a small hotel, the manager computed the charges on a comptometer (an exotic mechanical adding machine, with gears and stuff). He said the machine had been working reliably at the hotel for over 50 years. So, I guess there's something to be said for ancient technology.
Me? I'd fix them.
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HeyBub wrote:

Dunno about that. An old beater washer that barely worked came with this house. After about a week, it flooded the floor, and the buzzer went off. I run down there, in bare feet, and rebalance the load, and fuss with the knob to restart the cycle. I see a flash of fire from the back of the machine reflected off the wall, and the magic smoke that makes electrical devices work comes wafting out of the back. Did I mention wet floor and bare feet, and I'm standing in a wet spot? Freaky enough having a washing machine catch on fire, but pondering possible electrocution at the time put it right on my life list of 'aw shit' moments.
I had a new machine in there within 48 hours- Sams Club entry-level special, and it even almost matched the dryer that came with the house. Took me a month to get the old one out of there- even after removing the motor and concrete block, it was too damn heavy for me to get up the stairs on a dolly, by myself. Some guy who wanted the old steel tub for a burn barrel finally took pity on me and stopped by. New one was no problem- plastic tub. Easily wheeled it in and installed it by myself.
-- aem sends....
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I don't know of any safety concerns. The only one that comes to mind is a bit far fetched. The windings in the electric motors may be wearing through. But, that's not a likely problem. Since they work well for you, I'd keep using them.
My personal washing machine was here when I moved in, 1994. Since then I've had to oil the motor twice, and clean the dried oil out of the timer, once. I line dry everythign, so no dryer to worry about.
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I bought a new GE electric dryer in 1970 and it's still in use today. Only repairs in all that time were a belt and a drum bushing. I'll keep it until it dies. By contrast, I've been replacing my washer about every 5 years. They just don't make 'em like they used to.
KC
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"KC" wrote:

I bought my washer, *used*, almost 20 years ago. In that time, I have replaced the pump twice.
My drier is also a used purchase from 20 years ago, and I replaced the heaterbox five years ago.
I have no plans for replacing either unit.
Jon
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wrote:

probably saftey isnt as big a issue as parts availability and cost effectivness.
I finally retired my over 40 year old GE washing machine because the motor internally shorted to ground and new motors didnt fit and rewinding motor cost as much as a new machine.
it was bought to wash my diapers when i was born, still feel bad it died.
the replacement machine now 12 years old has issues, and no doubt woiuld of gone to trash except i have 2 washers and 2 dryers, its my back up macxhine
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In article

What I've seen in dryers. as a danger is lint build up. a fire hazard. I vacuum and blow it all out, maybe every yr, and avoid obstructions in the flow. good luck, and you can post in misc.consumers.frugal-living a fine NG.
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brassplyer wrote:

I wouldn't worry about safety, except for parts related to the control of gas in a gas dryer. It's possible the wire insulation has become brittle and can easily crack, but that shouldn't be much of a hazard since the appliances are grounded and made with metal housings. However I'd probably replace an appliance if its wire insulation was bad in many miscellaneous areas, as opposed to just one spot, unless I was in the mood to completely rewire it.

Electronic controls aren't that bad and can be repaired, unless a custom-programmed chip fails. I don't know if such chips are available, but they were for TVs. Common electronic problems are worn pushbuttons, cracks in solder and circuit board traces, bad capacitors, and shorted power components.

Roper, a Whirlpool brand, offers nothing else, but mechanical controls are still widely utilized in dryers and top-loading washers.
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On Mon, 25 May 2009 20:46:04 -0700 (PDT), brassplyer

I would not consider an old appliance that is properly maintained as "dangerous." The washers with 50 buttons on them don't clean clothes any better than one with two buttons. Consumer Reports says the fewer the buttons, the better the value.
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I second the Roper brand suggestion. When my Whirlpool died, I looked at the Ropers at Lowes. They had one that was one of the cheapest there, and internally, it looked virtually identical to my old Whirlpool. In fact, it was sitting back-to-back with a Whirlpool that had identical features, and was like $100 more. Here it is:
http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId00180-46-RTW4440VQ&lpage=none
For $328, you can hardly go wrong. It has the only features I cared about - four water levels and a separate Delicate cycle. Most of the other stuff is just fluff, anyway.
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Good that it's Control Type: Manual. At least if the wash control goes bad you don't need a new board that costs 80% of the washer. The manual dial will only cost 1/3 of the machine.
Whole year on both parts & labor for a super-econo is decent.
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