Email of the day 11/14/12

Today I received an email about a simple DIY washing machine I put up on you tube at channel ‘georgeutterpower’.

The washer uses a Honda Auto Wiper Motor, and borrows the bell crank and one of the rods with end fittings that drove the wiper bell crank. 


Here’s the email:

Name: Dean Jones

Subject: 12V 5 gal washing machine

Message: Hello, I loved the video about the 12V 5 gallon bucket washing machine. Do you have more info on this or sell plans to build this?

Did you bolt a “hub” onto the windshield wiper motor with the “arm”

hooked to it?

What kind of turntable did you use– a lazy susan?

Also, inside of the bucket, it looks like there is some kind of board hooked to the side of the bucket…is that a baffle or similar?

If you sell plans for this with a detailed view of the turntable/motor I’d sure like to buy them.

Thank you!

Dean Jones

(george) Thanks Dean, as with about anything I build, I always know that the second one would be far different. One improvement would be the turn table itself, it should be made like a spoked wheel having four spokes and ends turned up to hold a standard 5 gallon bucket. Cutting a platter as I did out of sheet steel is a waste of time, effort and material.

The turn table hub is no more than a piece of round stock with a hole bored to fit the post on which it sets, one can simply lift it free to grease it, or add a grease fitting if you see your use will be high. Yes, it is best to have the hub and spokes welded, and a mig welder could be a handy tool in building yours. This is a great washer for shop rags, and even small parts cleaning. Off grid, it runs well directly off a solar panel, or plug it into the cigarette DC outlet in a car or truck, and clean your clothes and more..  

Picture the arm from the motor attached to a rod, that rod simply attached at a point you choose under the turn table (a spoke) at a point that will move the bucket back and forth. Closer in creates more travel, less torque.

We should all note the ‘hits’ this simple idea got on youtube compared to others at georgeutterpower.

As for the bucket itself, you need add some agitators inside, plastic wood or aluminum angle bolted inside work, and your imagination might cause you to cut up another bucket and allow just enough heat to ‘slump’ pieces of a second bucket into an angle shape you might pop rivet (alum or stainless) to the inside of your wash bucket.

And now the question, what would a kit sell for? I figure those people who would make the effort to pull a wiper motor from a wrecked vehicle would have the skills and tools to do the rest. So a kit offer would need the hub manufactured, AND a wiper motor and other parts as part of the kit. Dean, I hope you will comment here, and offer your opinion, you need not share who or where you are.. but then again, if you have a business and care to mention it here, go ahead!   


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9 Responses to Email of the day 11/14/12

  1. Dean Jones says:

    Hello George, I’m glad to see a discussion opened up here on your amazing little 12v “clothes washer”. I saw the link to it posted today on a solar homesteading site, thus my initial email to you.
    As for the turntable, I had thought of possibly using a small lazy susan with a wood or plastic “bucket holder” bolted to the lazy susan to sit the bucket in place.

    I am by no means a metalworker. When I need a flat piece of “something” to construct “something” out of, I always “flatten out” pieces of Schedule 40 or thinwall PVC sewer pipe, such as 3″ or 4″ diameter to fashion something out of. Thus I would flatten out a piece of 4″ PVC sewer pipe and then cut myself a round circle out of the flattened PVC pipe to bolt to the lazy susan to make a turntable.

    The way to flatten PVC is easy. Cut yourself a piece of PVC pipe of any length–just so it is not too long to fit inside your kitchen oven. Once you have a piece of pipe cut, rip one side of it with a table saw or jigsaw. Next turn your oven on very LOW heat and place the piece of PVC in your oven with the cut in the length of the pipe facing up. In a few minutes, the PVC pipe will soften and the pipe will start to “unfold” and “open up” as it softens in the oven. When you think it is soft enough, grab the pipe with some tongs and throw it on the floor. Then put a piece of plywood over it to cover it and stand on the plywood to keep the softened PVC pipe flat on the floor. In a few seconds the flattened out PVC pipe cools and will harden and you end up with a nice large FLAT piece of PVC that you can cut all kinds of shapes out of with a jigsaw. Use caution in heating the pipe–don’t get the oven so hot that the pipe actually melts as PVC gives off toxic gases when burned. I have done this for years and have never “burnt/melted” the pipe–use common sense on the heat setting…very low heat..just enough to soften the ripped pipe and make it “flexible”. I’ve cut out squares of flattened PVC pipe and glued/cemented them together to make project boxes or housings for various projects–much better than welding metal together as I don’t know how to weld.

    You can also fold the softened PVC over the edge of a cabinet if you need to make 90 degree bends in the flat sheet of PVC & once cooled, you have a nice bend. Mathematicians here will know the formula for figuring out how big of a piece of 3″ or 4″ pipe “flattens” out to. 🙂

    Anyway, flattened out PVC is what I would use to make a bucket holder out of as I am not skilled in metalworking and PVC is much easier to work with. Plus PVC won’t rot like plywood, so when you need a flat piece of “something” try flattening out PVC…the hard part of the whole process is to convince the lady of the house to use her oven to place clean, unused sewer/PVC pipe in it to soften it. 🙂

    Using a piece of round flattened PVC for the turntable/”bucket holder” would assure easy cleanup and no rot/rust problems in case water sloshes out of the bucket and onto the turntable.

    I’ll post more here as more comments come in…looking forward to hearing from others out there…I gotta hand it to you George on a nifty little device you built–ingenious!!


    • George B. says:

      Thanks Dean!

      It’s what is great about DIY….. we use what we know 🙂

      Do consider subscribing here and keeping in touch, we have visitors with a bunch of talent..


  2. Dean Jones says:

    I was searching You Tube last night and came across someone else’s video of their version of your 12V washer George:

    Please note that the URL they reference in their video shysky.*om pops up in my anti-virus as a possible attack site. I did visit the website with a “sandboxed” Firefox browser and all was fine though . Visit that URL at your own risk if you are not sandboxing your browser. The You Tube video however is perfectly safe.


    • George B. says:

      As you might guess, I did an exhaustive search for same before I built mine and posted it 🙂 Now we both can imagine.. somebody likely made the first one in the 1950s, or earlier, they just weren’t internet savvy, and didn’t post it 🙂 As for this other guy’s unit, I was careful to make mine compact, I’ve learned if it’s too bulky, you won’t bother carrying it to your cabin or? The lazy susan idea? It all gets back to what a guy knows, and what he has to work with. I’ll expect to see a kit out there soon, but I don’t expect I’ll kick myself for not offering it long ago.

      Here’s my thoughts, DIYers get the idea and will fab their own, there’s room to improve, and I think I offered sound advice on the four spokes for the table. Attempt to make yours compact as possible, the spokes allow easy access to the hub to give a shot of grease when you think it might need it. The typical kitchen lazy Susan is likely made calculating N number of turns in a life time, and then value engineering is applied, (as it normally is). This suggests Lazy Ole Susan will lay down on the job one day when you want her help the most. Not all Hill Billys are Engineers, but a lot of DIYers whether they be Hill Billys or not are natural engineers. consider your use, and how much use you’ll make of it. 4 gallons of water weighs a bit..

      So many words about a simple project, but do think about your camera, the one you take pictures with is normally the one so compact it’s not a bother to carry. This is how the washer works out, and this one will fit under a car seat. Some will say.. “well that bucket doesn’t fit under my seat”, and I counter. I fill that bucket with other stuff I’m taking along, everything from tools to paper goods. But maybe I share the magnets? Yes, you find them in junked floppies, hard drives, microwaves and more.. that agitator you make can be pinned in place, a magnet on top and bottom, one inside, and one outside, it all works with any 5 gallon plastic bucket. As for my cabin, who would be without a selection of these buckets? They function as a seat, a tool bucket, a water bucket, and sooo much more.

      OK.. now you ask, why didn’t my video show the magnets? I answer…because I kept borrowing them for other uses, and they were never on hand when I wanted to wash rags.. That’s when I permanently attached that vane inside my bucket 🙂 It’s all about pros and cons 🙂

      Now… were is that washer vane? Where did I leave it Last? Does this suggest that we older folks with memory lapses need engineer it different? And how many vanes will you use? Two, Three? Four? My experience… DIYers naturally take an idea and optomize it to suit their need. Those who would buy a kit? They are likely to have kind hearts, a love of nature and all of the outdoors, they’ll appreciate the green paint, and the fact that 10% of the kit price goes to saving the planet. The help line number will be all important too, so include that…. they’ll be calling you… “just how is it I install these nuts and bolts” they’ll ask, “and why didn’t you include that tool?” As with other things, the security you offer them will be far more important than the freedom to engineer it their way. So now.. you know how to market the kit…

      Never doubt how much I appreciate my Tribe…. DIYers are the cream of the crop, and have a triple heap of common sense…. down at the farm, or in the lab, we find them everwhere.


  3. dave s. says:

    Looking at all the pedal bikes in the trash each week……forget the wiper motor. A bike stand, removed tire, v-belt on rim, lever, front rim for lazy susan pivot. More later. KISS. Don’t need no stinkin sunlight.

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