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Living in the Past
on March 8, 2012
1 Year update
We have now used both the Washer and Dryer heavily over the past year. All my opinions and observations below have not changed. They have worked flawlessly since the day we bought them and they still look brand new.
Whether you like this dryer or not depends on what you want in a laundry appliance, Fashion or Reliability.
Thirty years ago Dryers were made to do only one thing- dry clothes dependably and do it for decades. They were not intended to be "Information Centers" with electronic keypads, LCD screens, and more sensors than a Star Trek Tricorder. They were not much to look at neither were they intended to be.
They were simply made to dry clothes.
In recent years washers and dryers have turned into something unrecognizable from their ancestors of the past. They have become so sophisticated they now have more in common with your laptop than a mechanical device designed to perform a relatively simple task. And while all that high-tech may look impressive on the showroom floor the true price of that innovation is notorious unreliability.
We have many friends who have bought newer machines and regardless of the brand or what they paid the stories all end up the same. They work for a while but eventually they all have problems and it always involves something electronic.
Speed Queens have no electronics, they are purely mechanical. For that reason they look very much like the dryer your grandmother had. But what they lack in "21st Century Pizzazz" they more than make up for in performance and reliability.
Speed Queen is primarily a manufacturer of Laundromat equipment. Their residential machines are identical to the ones sold for commercial use with one exception, they have a control panel instead of a coin box. They are built to run in Laundromats 24 hrs a day and withstand any amount of abuse the customer can throw at them. For that reason they last almost forever in the home.
So as I said - it depends on what you want.
If you want to make a fashion statement and don't mind constant repairs and a maximum 5-7 year lifespan you would be better off looking elsewhere.
On the other hand, if you miss the workhorses of the past that only did one thing and did it extremely well the Speed Queen might be for you.
We bought this Dryer and the Speed Queen AWN542 Washer and are amazed how well they perform and the quality of their workmanship. While the name brands have moved to sophisticated electronics and plastic parts the Speed Queens are of a simple reliable design and made entirely of steel. By simple I don't mean inadequate- they just do laundry extremely well and nothing else.
But after all- how complicated do clothes dryers really need to be?
How many people need their dryers to tell them the current time, flash text messages, or connect to the internet?
I have no desire to "communicate" with my appliances; I just want my clothes dry.
Finally- all name brand appliances are now made in either Mexico or Asia. Speed Queens and all their components are MADE IN AMERICA.
One final note- Speed Queens are not sold in national chains, only local appliance stores. For that reason I would recommend you find a dealer and see them in person ( use the Dealer Locator on Speed Queens Web site).
Unlike the large retailers the small stores have people who actually "know" the product and can explain why they are so reliable and perform so well. In addition we found they were much cheaper locally than on the internet even after local sales tax was added.
But regardless of where you buy I would avoid the Extended Warranty. Every article I have read has concluded the only people who benefit from Extended Warranties are the people selling them.
Speed Queens have an excellent warranty:
1) Full 3 Year Parts and Labor on entire machine.
2) 5 Year cabinet Warranty
3) Lifetime Warranty interior cylinder.
That is more than adequate for a manufacturing defect to show up. Besides, the veteran Repairmen I talked to prior to purchase all said the same thing, Speed Queens do not break.
In fact, one told me he has never removed a Speed Queen washer or dryer from a home regardless of age which wasn't still working.
The ADE4BR is the Top of the Line in Speed Queen Dryers and has a light inside the drum. When we got it I decided to get some replacement bulbs for the future. This proved to be a challenge since it is an odd bulb and Speed Queen only sells it with the housing, they do not sell the bulb separately.
I did finally identify it and once I determined exactly what it was finding it was easy. I am including this information for other people who may need it.
Light Bulb Specs: 10 Watt 120volt Candelabra base scoreboard sign bulb
Manufacturer Part Descriptions:
1) Sylvania 16726 - 10S6 120V Candelabra Screw Base Scoreboard Sign Light Bulb
2) General 10621 - 10S6/10 120V Candelabra Screw Base Scoreboard Sign Light Bulb
SIX MONTH UPDATE:
I decided to do an update 6 months out for one reason.
Most reviews are written a few days after the purchase. But the real question is not how the product performs the first week but how is it doing months or even years later.
To me that would be more helpful since all new appliances work initially- the problem is many start falling apart a few months after you buy them. Many of our friends with newer machines have had that problem.
For the sake of time I am covering both the washer and dryer in one update. My initial reviews on both the AWN542 washer and the ADE4BRG dryer are posted on Amazon.
So how is the Speed Queen washer and dryer doing after 6 months?
They have been used heavily and we have not had a hint of a problem.
In addition, Speed Queen makes a big deal out of the fact their coatings and finishes ( think paint) are made to Laundromat standards and are far superior to other laundry appliances.
That claim appears accurate.
Both the washer and dryer look exactly as they did when they were first delivered in spite of their heavy use. They still look brand new without a trace of wear or corrosion in spite of the fact we live on the ocean.
You could put them back on the showroom floor and sell them as new and no one could tell.
I also downloaded the Speed Queen Service Manuals in order to be familiar with their construction in case I ever had to do a repair.
I discovered they were built even better than I thought.
Electronics are the primary cause of new appliance failure today. The second is Drive-Train issues.
Speed Queen has no electronic components so they are reliable in that area. All their controls and switches are commercial grade so I doubt they would ever break in a residential environment.
Second, the Drive Train has no plastic components at all. The washer transmission has only eight gears made of steel so it is unlikely it would ever break. The motor is commercial grade as well. The inner tub on the washer is Stainless Steel and the outer tub is Porcelain coated steel as opposed to plastic used in all other washers. I never could determine the type of bearings they use but from what I have seen I would guess they are over rated as well.
The washer is belt driven instead of direct drive so the belt is the mostly likely part to fail. But I have seen the belt and it looks like an alternator belt used in cars in the 70's. It is so oversized it would probably take decades to wear out.
The water pump is direct drive off the motor and is made of plastic. It appears to be of much higher quality than what was in our old Kenmore so it unlikely this would be a source of failure any time soon.
Dryers are far simpler than washers so there isn't as much to tell.
The motor is also commercial grade and the drum belt it uses is oversized as well. The weak link in the dryer would be the heating element since they do burn out. The element doesn't appear to be any different than what I have seen in other dryers so it will probably need to be replaced every fifteen years or so.
The bottom line is Speed Queens are not a gift from Heaven, they are simply built the way all washers and dryers were 30-40 years ago.
In fact, if you look at Service manuals from any major brand from the 60's they all looked and were built the same way the Speed Queens are today.
They don't do any more or less than any top end washer and dryer you could have bought in 1970. But like the old machines they clean well and last almost forever.
So to repeat myself- if you want fancy paint jobs and a lot of computer functions that fail after a few years look elsewhere. But if you want clean clothes and reliability buy the Speed Queens.