Parts is parts, except for the one you need


We truly live in a global society.

Don’t believe me? Then you don’t own a Whirlpool oven with a faulty control board — part No. 8186024.

This important part is essentially my oven’s brain. With the push of a couple of buttons, you can turn on the oven, set the temperature and cook time, set for self-cleaning and turn off the oven. It’s a pretty important thing to have if you want to, say, cook dinner.

The control board on our oven has been a bit under the weather for some time, and being the busy person that I am — although some might say lazy or even cheap — I’ve been putting off replacing it. We could turn on the oven and set the temperature, but sometimes the only way to turn it off was to flip the breaker off.

In an effort to take care of some chores around the house, I took the week off last week. No. 1 on my punch list was the oven.

Replacing a control board on an oven is pretty easy — four screws and four wire busses. In a previous life I worked on furnaces with control boards very similar to the one in my oven. I was confident that I could make the repair and spend the remainder of my first day of vacation taking a nap or playing the Xbox.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Knock on wood”? You use it when you want to make sure everything goes according to plan.

I didn’t knock on wood. I didn’t think I had to.

The call to the appliance parts store in Albuquerque brought bad news. I was being smart, calling to make sure the part was in stock. I gave the guy on the phone the model number of my oven and told him I needed a control board.

“Hang on,” he said while he checked his computer, then, “Oh no.”

“What?” I asked.

“It’s not in stock and we don’t know when we’ll get any,” he said, then he added the kicker. “You’d be lucky to find it anywhere.”

The control board — Whirlpool part No. 8186024 — used to be manufactured in a factory in Japan. The parts guy said that factory was either shut down in response to or destroyed either by the earthquake or tsunami that struck northern Japan on March 11, 2011.

A common response to not being able to get a part is anger. Anyone with any years under their belt is familiar with the words “We don’t make that anymore.” For years, I used to wear high-top Oxford shoes made by Thom McAn and sold at Kmart. Then the company discontinued the shoe — which actually had been dropping in quality through the years. This forced a search for a replacement shoe, which is still in process.

The folks from Whirlpool have been cordial in their emails to me when I asked if they could confirm the parts guy’s explanation on the oven part, but so far that confirmation has not been made. Regardless of the reasons, the fact remains — I couldn’t find the part I needed.

I called all the parts stores in Albuquerque — nothing. I searched the Internet; one place said it had the part, but took back that confirmation a day later. This was starting to look like it was going to be expensive. It was looking like the only way to fix the oven was to replace the oven. I know we live in a disposable society, but …

The last resort was eBay, the famous online garage sale. I found a guy who claims to rebuild these control boards and he sold me one at a decent price. As of this writing, I have yet to get it in the mail; and, frankly, I’m a little bit nervous.

I know there are people out there who swear by eBay, but I like the idea of buying things such as oven parts from someone I can find if it doesn’t work.

So I wait, and I wonder what will happen next week when I try to repair the electric window motor on the old Dodge, part No. CH1350131.

I guess I’ll knock on wood.

Contact Rory McClannahan at 823-7102 or by email at