I bought one of these on eBay a few weeks ago, to use to clean my aluminum siding in preparation for painting. I paid $60. I got a chance to try it out a few days ago to clean a friend’s deck. It worked quite well for that, for maybe ten minutes. Then it slowed down and stopped, acting like it had run out of battery. I put in a fresh battery, but then when I pressed the switch it just twitched. A second battery did the same.
When I got home I contacted the eBay seller. I asked for a 50% refund and to keep the tool, hoping I could take it apart and fix it. The seller agreed, and sent me $35. I started taking it apart.
Taking the power head apart was fairly straightforward, once you realize that the screw holding the triangular drive has a left-hand thread. Once the cover is off, you end up with a motor with a gearbox/output shaft assembly attached. It separates by turning a lever.
Once you get the gearbox assembly out, you need to remove two layers of planetary gears (keep them organized so you can put them back in the right place). What’s left is the output shaft and bearing in a plastic housing.
Here I got stuck. I couldn’t pound the shaft out, so I put it in a press. That broke the housing, changing the project from an attempted repair to an autopsy. It turns out that there is a snap ring holding it together, hidden behind a rubber seal. To take it apart, use a small hook to pull the seal out, then remove the snap ring. Here is the assembly:
It became pretty clear that it was a bearing failure. There is a one-piece steel sleeve bearing running on a steel shaft with no lubrication. It is guaranteed to seize up within minutes. It is hard to believe that this design passed quality control and was released to manufacturing. Anyone with any experience working with machines would know that it would fail immediately.
If you look at the Home Depot site, you’ll see that about half the reviews describe a failure like this one. My guess is that the other half is people who haven’t used it enough to have it fail. By the way, Home Depot seems to now be blocking negative reviews for this product.
To verify that the steel sleeve bearing was what it appeared to be, I cut it in half with an angle grinder. Sure enough, it is one piece of steel. It is badly galled, with grooves worn in it:
And here is the shaft which also has galling:
The shaft is 10mm in diameter, the bearing is 24mm in diameter (I couldn’t be sure about this because I measured it after cutting it — it might be 25mm). The bearing is 13.25mm thick.
I looked quickly for a sleeve or ball bearing that would exactly fit and didn’t find anything. There may be something out there, or a combination of a brass sleeve bearing and a steel sleeve that would work. You could also drill out the existing bearing to accommodate an available sleeve bearing.
If you can return it to Home Depot you should do that instead of fussing with it.
6 thoughts on “Engineering Malpractice: Ryobi Power Scrubber”
Is there a way to get the power button to stay on?
Not that I know of, sorry. Just another thing to love about the Power Scrubber.
Hold power down for about 15 seconds
My motor is seized up in this power scrubber I can’t find or don’t know how to find a suitable replacement I searched for the ls-555pc but nothing comes up
I think in the article I explained how to take the motor apart without destroying it. You can do so and relube the main bearing with moly grease or something like it, but my guess is that it will just seize up again pretty quickly. I don’t think there is a replacement available for the motor. I also don’t know of anything like the power scrubber by another manufacturer.
Our local Home Depot quit carrying the scrubber because of all the complaints. Glad I asked a worker about the product.