Used Speed Queen

HomeblessingsAugust 22, 2014

We are building a home and will have 1 laundry room downstairs and a small laundry closet upstairs. We can only afford a new set for the laundry room right now. For the upstairs I found a used Speed Queen set for $375. The model number of the dryer is LES17AWF. Would this be worth getting and approximately how old are they? Anything else to consider?

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If you are buying used, why get a Speed Queen? There are much better washers that were made in my opinion. The whole point of Speed Queen is that they are the best if you're buying new because the competition has discontinued theirs. If I were you I would look for a nice Maytag Dependable Care or Whirlpool Direct Drive set. Much easier to work on.

Speed Queen top loaders are basically an old Amana design that has been improved by Alliance Laundry Systems who took over production. If you can't find any other washers available and you really want to buy this one, the key thing you're trying to figure out is whether it was made by Alliance or Raytheon. I would say it's only worth it to buy an Alliance made one as they have improved the design. I'm not sure from that model number who made it but maybe someone else here will. You really want to try and get the model number of the washer too as that is the important one.

This post was edited by hvtech42 on Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 14:14

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 2:13PM
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The seller advertised the washer and dryer as only being a couple of years old. That's why I thought it would be a good buy to go with Speed Queen. However after searching online it appears that it is much older than two years, although I haven't found out much info. The model number I was given for the washer is 201502. I think it is wrong, but the appliances are in storage and so the seller can't check it right now. Here is the picture of the pair. Can anyone tell from this photo about how old the washer and dryer might be, or what the model #'s are?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 6:19PM
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More than a couple years old BUT they may have only used them for a couple years before being put in storage for some reason.
Mechanically they are the same as todays SQ's, difference is just styling and it too is not all that different either.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 7:05PM
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Serial number decoder


First two digits year like 14 2014
Next two digits = month 04 = April

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 7:37PM
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I did some research and figuring out that these are Raytheon made. If the model starts with "L" it's Raytheon, "A" for Alliance. "LWS" is probably the beginning of the washer model #.

This pair would be more than "a couple years" old, probably manufactured sometime before 2000. Worth it? I think you could do better both in terms of machines and in terms of price, but this is probably better than anything you could get today for $375. I would try negotiating a lower price - give yourself some bargaining power and get the serial numbers so you can prove they're that old.

Really, these were not bad machines and weren't reliability disasters at all, but their main problem is that they were just more difficult to repair than the leading brands at the time. Having a machine that's easy and cheap to fix is a real boon when you're buying used.

BTW these are NOT the same mechanically as today's Alliance built Speed Queens though they are similar. The real disasters were the Maytag SAV's: they took this design and made it worse. At the same time, Alliance was working on the exact same design to make it better and getting ready to release to the residential market!

This post was edited by hvtech42 on Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 23:28

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 11:24PM
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Thanks for finding all that info. I think I'll pass on them, and keep looking. It isn't critical that we find something immediately since we will have another set in the home. If I can't find a newer Speed Queen, I'll look at those other two brands and models that were mentioned. Anything else that I should keep an eye out for?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:18AM
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Assuming you want a used top loader, besides the 2 I listed (Whirlpool DD and Maytag DC) there were many other excellent washer designs BUT they were discontinued a long time ago. Maytag DC was discontinued in 2007, and Whirlpool DD was mostly discontinued in 2012 and is still in limited production for commercial laundry and stack units. Both designs sold very well so parts are cheap, widely available, and most repairmen are familiar with them.

Maytag DC's can usually be identified by the words "Dependable Care" on the control panel though older models may not have those. Earlier model numbers start with "A" or "LA" and later model numbers start with "LAT" or "LAV".

Whirlpool direct drives are harder to identify on sight for those unfamiliar, but they have been in production since the early 1980s and most use mechanical timers. The newer non direct drive machines have cycle sequence lights and a start button. So basically, if you want a direct drive, avoid machines with cycle sequence lights and start buttons! If you are looking at older machines with these criteria, you may come across older Whirlpool belt drives. Those are a good design too but parts are getting harder to find. Whirlpool direct drives were sold under the Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Kenmore, Roper, Estate, and later under the Maytag, Amana, and Admiral brand names.

Other good machines include Speed Queen/Amana like you looked at and Maytag MAV, PAV, and HAV models. Those work well and are pretty reliable but they aren't as easy to work on.

The only models I'd actively stay away from are post 1980 Frigidaires and Maytag SAV/Amana NAV models.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 3:14PM
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> Speed Queen top loaders are basically an old Amana design that has been improved by Alliance Laundry Systems who took over production.

Actually, more the opposite - the basic design derives from 1970s (or earlier?) Speed Queens back when they were owned by McGraw-Edison. When Raytheon (which already owned Amana) bought out McGraw-Edison's appliance division, Raytheon not only continued production of Speed Queen laundry machines, but also used the acquisition to give their Amana brand laundry machines to sell. Previously, Amana was known for their refrigerators, "deep" freezers, and RadaRange microwaves. Thus, Raytheon-built Amana and SQ laundry machines were nearly idendical.

This continued through the late '90s, when Raytheon sold off their appliance units. The consumer side (which besides Amana still included long-gone brands like Caloric, Hardwick, and Modern Maid) went to HVAC/holding company Goodman, which later was bought by Maytag, which in turn was bought by Whirlpool. But Raytheon's commercial appliance business held on for about another year. Raytheon kept the US rights to the Speed Queen brand and continued to sell residential-style washers and dryers, but contractually only to the commercial market for the next 5 years. A year after the residential appliances sale, Raytheon sold the commercial side (SQ) to Alliance Laundry Systems. They still couldn't market Speed Queens to consumers due to a legal agreement with Goodman/Maytag, who was at first selling the same machines under a different name. However, the design of the SQ and Amana machines began to deverge almost as soon as the sale commenced, with SQ retaining the heavy-duty, minimalist designs that commercial cusomers liked, whereas Goodman and later Maytag cheapened them slightly and went to larger cabinets and door openings and more bells and whistles to woo the consumer market. After the 5-year commercial-only clause lapsed in about 2004, Speed Queen could again sell their machines to consumers. By this time, the current Amana lineup bore little resemblance to Speed Queen's offerings.

Anyway, if you're buying a used top-load washer there are lots of reliable ones that can be picked up on the cheap (or sometimes free) . Besides those already mentioned, I've found the older GE washers and dryers (up to mid-'90s) to be reliable and easy to find parts for because they didn't change much year to year beyond cosmetics. They can be identified by smaller doors and metal rather than plastic tubs. Whirlpool and Kenmore are usually reliable, if unspectacular performers (beware of really slow spin speeds on older or lower-end models). Maytags that used their own design rather than cheaper ones from companies they later bought out were good. General Motors-era Frigidaires are terrific, but becoming hard to find (up to 1980). Really, most of the older TL washers were solidly built.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 8:30PM
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I'm pretty sure these perforated tub models were developed under Raytheon/Amana ownership. McGraw Edison did the solid tubs which were redesigned in the early 80s after the purchase.

Yeah GM Frigidaire and Filter Flos are great but I did not mention them because I was unsure of parts availability. Wow I didn't realize there were still lots of parts for the Filter Flos, that's pretty cool.

The Whirlpool BD's are the ones with the low spin speeds (500 rpm I think). Whirlpool DD's are on par with Maytag DC and most other top loads in terms of spin. I beg to differ about performance: having owned both I would argue the Whirlpool DD's are better performers than Maytag DC's though they are both excellent washers. Despite their nicknames the DD's will not shred your clothes if you load them properly and pick the right cycle. Getting a higher end model with lots of cycles and speeds helps. Stay away from the cheapo apartment grade single speed ones. Plus the multi speeds shift into lower agitation speeds during later parts of the wash cycle to minimize damage.

I will recommend Maytags to others but the only top loaders I would ever have are a Whirlpool Calypso or a Whirlpool DD with a 3 speed motor. THUNKA THUNKA THUNKA THUNKA. I like that so much better than the slow long agitation strokes from the competition. The vigorous agitation on HIGH speed really beats your clothes nice and clean but the delicates cycle is super nice and gentle. Of course this is 100% my own opinion and yours may differ. Most people prefer the long slow strokes I'm just different that way.

Homeblessings I have probably weirded you out/confused you by now. Lee676 gave you good advice: the vast majority of older top loaders are good, reliable machines, and you can't go wrong with most of them. The only ones that really should be avoided are the ones I mentioned in my last post.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:57PM
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BTW the whole Raytheon/Amana/Goodman/SQ/Alliance/Maytag story is an complicated one. As I understand it, even after Goodman bought Amana, they never actually made any washers. Originally there were two factories, both owned by Raytheon: A washer factory in Ripon Wisconsin, a dryer factory in Searcy Arkansas. When Raytheon cleaved their appliances division in two, Goodman/Amana got Searcy, Alliance got Ripon. Alliance manufactured washers out of Ripon for Goodman branded "Amana" for a while under an agreement. By the time Maytag bought Amana from Goodman, that agreement had run out. Maytag came to an agreement with Alliance that they would get the design EXCEPT FOR THE TRANSMISSION and as lee676 mentioned Alliance would not sell Speed Queen residential washers for a long time. So, Maytag decided to start manufacturing this washer design in Searcy which formerly only made dryers. They swapped out the transmission (which they were not given) for a NORGE transmission (another one of their acquisitions). And then, the mutant Amanatag SAV beast was born. This design garnered almost universal dislike from customers and repairmen alike since it had all the service challenges of the Ripon built units but were nowhere near as reliable. Tub seals were a big issue. This led Maytag to stop making them even before Whirlpool got their hands on them. Meanwhile, Alliance actually broke the agreement with Maytag and started selling Speed Queen residential washers in 2004 before the agreement was up. Maytag was not happy about this and tried unsuccessfully to go after Alliance in court.

Maytag was doing some weird stuff at the end. Another odd thing they did was take a former Amana oven factory in Florence South Carolina and start making those weird "Neptune TL" high efficiency top loaders with the rollers there. They also discontinued these and closed the plant before Whirlpool had the chance to.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 11:18PM
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I haven't verified availability of parts for older GE machines, but I've always found them available when I needed to repair them, and a nearby used appliance shop seems to always have a few old GE washers for sale. I'm not sure if all of them used the filters - if so, they've gone missing on some of the washers for sale. For those not familiar with them, these had a filter that had to be placed atop the agitator post after inserting your dry clothes and before starting the machine. The washer recirculated water through the filter as it ran, catching lint and debris. The filter was then removed and cleaned between uses. Apparently buyers found this inconvenient and the design was scrapped when GE revamped their washers with larger plastic tubs in the late '90s. The Youtube video below shows it in action.

I know the coin-op laundry in my old apartment I lived in in the late '90s still had some solid-tub Speed Queen washers. I think they were the last manufacturer to use non-perferated tubs. I always thought this was a good design, as it reduced water usage by not allowing water between the inner (perferated) and outer tubs. Some earlier top-load washers with non-perferated tubs by necessity had smaller capacities - the outer tub had to catch alot of water quickly as it drained - but I recall the SQ solid tubs being about as large as the newer perferated tubs.

I don't care as much for the ubilquitous direct-drive Whirlpool/Kenmore machines - the agitator doesn't have a very wide twist arc, and tries to make up for it by twisting back and forth rapidly, which can be hard on clothes. Then it slows down, saving your clothes but not cleaning all that well. When it drains, it doesn't spin like many other brands do, so the dirt floating atop the water redeposits itself on clothes as it drains (oddity - it will start to spin as it drains if you open the lid or shut the machine off briefly then restart it).. The machines are very reliable though, and parts are easy to find.

Here is a link that might be useful: older GE washers with filter

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 3:41AM
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I bought my Amana washer about a year after they started selling washing machines and yes they were built buy Speed Queen which was owned by Raytheon as was Amana. I still have this washer. After about 21 years of use the lower seal in the transmission started leaking. After checking out the new machines, Amana which was now part of Maytag didn't make the series 13 which is the one I have. So I went ahead and replaced the transmission, belt and brake pads which were all original. This machine is still running strong and would buy another when the time comes. Which would be the Speed Queen AWN542.

I would like to point out that I would stay away from HE top loaders as they do a lousy job of cleaning cloths, and if you put powder detergent on top of you cloths it will still be there when the wash is done. I found this out when I used one. AS for the front loaders they will ruin cloths epecially delicate items. The only thing they are good for is king/queen size blankets or pillows.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2014 at 7:32PM
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Too bad... the AWN542 has been discontinued.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2014 at 12:57PM
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