I spent a fruitless hour trying to figure out how to disassemble and remove the tub so I could get at the bearing that's failing. There's no obvious way to remove the agitator and there are a mere two screws holding the tub onto the transmission, so I know that's not it.
I tried searching on line for schematics, using a variety of permutations, but none was successful; I kept being pointed back to the same sites.
But I did figure out two things.
1) The "escaped bearing" sound was coming from the dynamic balancing ring at the top of the tub. That's no big deal, then.
2) It's not a problem with the transmission.
#2 was my big worry; you blow the transmission in a washing machine and the whole thing is junk. This washing machine is about nine years old, and it wasn't exactly top-of-the-line when it was new; a new transmission costs about $160--which is more than the machine's worth.
The problem is, in fact, the main bearing. The transmission shaft runs through the main bearing, and has the main pulley mounted on the end. I noticed oil slung hither and yon below the bearing and none above.
The main bearing is like $60, and I can replace it if I can figure out how to get the damned thing apart.
Anyway, realizing that it's still usable, I buttoned the thing back up and threw in a load of clothes, and started it up.
...well, I just went down there to put those clothes in the dryer, and instead found an overflowing washing machine. Obviously I missed putting something back correctly. The lid fell off the top of the machine while I was working; my guess is that the hose that tells the "brain" the tub is full of water popped loose.
There's a hose running from the tub to the control panel, and if I don't miss my guess there's a pressure switch at the end of it that reads the air pressure in the hose and switches the motor on when the pressure goes high enough. I bet the hose popped off that thing.
At least it didn't flood the damn basement.
Maybe those guys where Og works made the right decision about not hiring me, after all. *Sigh*