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john martin <symoondog@...>
In Martinique we bought an Electrolux Arthur Martin Model AWTS 10120W to replace the original Thomson Australe. It is essentially the same size, and is a top-loading machine. I am very happy with it although it is much more complicated than we need - multiple cycles and an infinte variety of special features. Many of the cycles can take 90 minutes - I have finally found a cycle/feature combo that takes about 45 minutes, uses 40-50 liters of water, and does the job well. The manual is only in French but I know some French so that has not been a big problem. We shopped at the BUT "big box" store in Martinique. You will have an overwhelming number of choices of machines/features/prices with very similar size that should fit in the space available. All in all, we are very happy with it.
Advice for buying a new one - delay as long as possible, but, as you know Martinique or Guadaloupe are the only sources on the west side of the Atlantic for a replacement ! The Thomson Australe was a wonderful machine in my opinion. Our Thomson was a wash and dry unit but we never used the dry feature - because the Thomson had such a high spin rpm (I think it was 1200 or 1300 rpm) and thus the clothes were amazingly dry just after a wash cycle, and dried quickly even in cool climates.
Back to a new one - buy one with the highest spin speed but the fewest special features. The max wash load weight can vary as well. Our is 5.5 kg which is a pretty good sized load. If you can look at the manual, check how long the cycles take. (I don't recall that they have the manuals on display, so you may not be able to see the manual until after you have purchased the unit and picked it up. ) If you don't speak/read French, try to get one with a manual in English. Be very careful about the total actual height of the unit (including little display knobs etc) as noted below - see yellow text below - measure the space on your boat and then measure your preferred unit in the store to be sure.
By the way, when our boat was about 6 years old, the Thomson wouldn't operate and we ordered a new control unit for it, installed it ourselves (very simple), and got another 5 years out of it. As I recall we just happened to be in Guadaloupe at the time and the Amel rep there was very helpful and ordered it for us. I think the Amel rep is now in Le Marin ? Since your boat is several years newer than ours (ours launched Nov 98), this might be an option for you.
The logistics of getting the old machine off the boat (and disposing of it) and the new machine on the boat are doable but a bit of a chore. These machines are quite heavy and an awkwardly large size. You must arrange at a marinas to tie up alongside the end of their dock to easily get the machines on/off. You need to figure out how to dispose of the old one (we were told to leave ours by the marina trash dumpsters, so we got lucky that day). You need at least 4 strong adults to manhandle the old one out and get the new one in. You need a dolly to roll the machines up and down the dock. You need a couple large thick pieces of cardboard to make a ramp/slide up the companionway steps to slide the machines in /out of the cabin - the new one may come in a box that can serve this purpose. You must rent a car with a trunk large enough for the new machine to be stowed in the trunk. You may also need some type of dense foam or padding to wedge the new machine in place, as most of them were slightly less wide ( a few inches) than the Thomson.
Hope this helps, and good luck !
MOON DOG SM 248
To: symoondog@...; amelyachtowners@...
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2013 16:05:10 +0000
Subject: Re: [Amel] Thomson Australe Washing machine
Hi John and Ruth,
I noticed this post from a couple of years ago. We're looking to replace our Thomson Australe too. We're in Grenada and plan to get to up to Martinique this season, so your advice would be very valuable.
Which brand and model did you buy in Martinique, and would you buy the same one again if you had it to do over again? If not, which one would you buy this time?
Steve and Donna Constantine
--- In amelyachtowners@..., john martin wrote:
Hi Pen Azen,
We have not replaced the bearings but we did replace our Thomson Australe while in Martinique a few months ago. Our washer was on the fritz and we decided it was too old to invest in a repair. We were amazed at the large number of brands and models and features available for top loader washers at the "big box" stores there, all of them almost exactly the size of the Thomson, if not a little bit smaller in width. There were at least 15 models to chose from ! Prices in Martinique started in the mid-300 Euros on up into the 700 Euro price level. If you decide to just buy a new one, I would think that you could find a similarly good selection of choices in France, if we had such in Martinique.
If you do buy a new one, the main issue to worry about is the height. Even though their stated height dimension may be exactly the same as the Thomson (850mm) many of the models have buttons and knobs etc on that top control panel area and some are just a tiny bit higher than our Thomsons, and if so, the countertop lid will be propped up by the contact. We were worried this might happen to us, but our new one fit just right. If it hadn't, our plan was to use a dremel tool to just buzz a small hole in the underside of the top where a knob might be hitting it. Also, check out the users manual of your finalist washer before buying. There are some French brands that provided their users manual ONLY in French. The other brands provide their users manuals in multiple languages.
Good luck !