How to Turn an Old Washing Machine into a Ceiling Fan
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If you like giving old scrap a new lease in life, then you'll certainly enjoy this amazing DIY project. In this case, we'll take the motor and gearbox from an old washing machine and turn it into a functional, and frankly badass-looking ceiling fan.
If that sounds of interest, follow this simple guide to finding out how.
As you can imagine, like any project of this nature, you'll need some tools and materials before you get started.
Materials and gear needed
- Old washing machine parts (machine motor and planetary gearbox)
- Old ceiling fan
- Steel plate
- M8 screw end rods
- Angle grinder
- Welding gear and safety equipment
- Magnetic metal welding clamps
- Various nuts and bolts and rivets
Step 1: Source your main motor and gearbox
The first step, obviously, is to find a suitable washing machine motor and planetary gearbox. You can either rescue these from an old machine or source new parts -- whichever is easier for your and your budget.
For salvaged parts, check to see that the motor and gearbox are actually functional first.
With that done, take the gearbox and remove some of the parts as shown. Then trim down one end of the main axle.
With that done, take a small length of steel rod 3/4 inch (19 mm) wide and secure it into your lathe. Machine a hole through the center of it to match the diameter of the axle of the main motor (in this case 25/64ths of an inch/10 mm)
Drill some nut sleeve holes to the side of the now cylinder and insert matching sleeve bolts, as needed. Fasten the cylinder to the main axle of the washing machine motor.
With that done, mount the planetary gearbox to the other open end of the connecting cylinder. Tighten the sleeve bolts as needed.
Disassemble the gearbox, cylinder, and gearbox once again.
Step 2: Make the mounting frame for the motor and gearbox
Next, take a disc of steel plate 5/32ths of an inch (4 mm) thick and 6 inches (152 mm) in diameter. Mark out eight equal points around the inner circumference of the circle.
With that done, bore a hole through each point using a stepped drill bit to form a countersunk hole.
Drill another hole in the middle of the plate too. With that done, core the middle of the plate. With that done, take a series of M8 screw end rods, insert them into each second hole (four in total), hold with a magnetic clamp, and weld to the disc.
With that done, take some shorter M8 rods, and weld to the reverse side of the disc on the remaining four empty holes.
With that done, take your motor, and secure it into place on the shorter rods of the disc.
With that done, secure the gearbox into a vice, and drill a hole through what will be the exposed side of the axle.
Next, add some bolts and washers to the longer rods of the disc at a distance needed to hold the gearbox in the right position. Then secure the cylinder you made earlier and remount that the motor axle within the frame.
Next, take the gearbox, line it up with the rods, and mount it into place matching the main axle (and mounting cylinder) of the motor.
Tighten all connecting bolts, and sleeve nuts, and test the action of the main drive axle of the motor. It should turn the matching axle of the gearbox nice and smoothly.
If not, adjust accordingly.
Add a strip of reflective tape to the exposed end of the gearbox axle. This is to help guide the RPM detector we will add later on.
With that done, power up the motor to test the assembly thus far. It should spin nice and fast.
Use an RPM detector to assess the RPM of the machine. In this case, it is around 450, which is pretty good for a ceiling fan of this size.
Step 3: Scavenge the parts needed from an old ceiling fan and finish the piece
With the main motor and gear assembly now more or less complete, we can turn our attention to making the rest of the fan. Either buy some spare parts or take an old, non-functional ceiling fan.
Disassemble the fan to extract its blades.
With that done, fashion a hub mount for the blades from some 4-inch (101mm) steel plate. If you are fortunate enough you may be able to find an existing disc, but if not cut one out.
Drill mounting holes around the inner circumference of the disc in order to mount the blades directly to it.
Make another cylinder from a length of steel rod to the same dimensions as the central hole of the hub. Weld the hub to the cylinder, as needed.
The hub should rotate freely and in a single plane, so adjust it by gently tapping it with a hammer where needed. Once complete, use an angle grinder to smooth down any weld points as needed.
Next, take your old fan blades and mount them to the hub as needed.
With that done, mount and secure the hub to the exposed axle of the gearbox on the main assembly.
Use a washer and bolt to hold the hub in place firmly on the axle -- you don't want it flying off when in use! Once again, power up the motor and test the main fan assembly.
It should move nicely and smoothly. Once you are happy, clean up the parts, like the blades, as needed.
With that done, your new fan is effectively finished. However, you may want to add some aesthetic touches to the piece.
For example, you can either build some form of housing for the main motor and gearbox assembly? Alternatively, and if you are more of a fan of the industrial look, you could keep the gubbins exposed and selectively paint some of them (like the discs).
Now all that remains is to fashion some form of ceiling mount and mount the fan into place. Wire up the motor and bask in the cool breeze of your hard work!
if you enjoyed this project, you might enjoy another fan-based project. How about, for example, making a wind turbine to power your new fan?