Well, today it refused to start at all. Making things even trickier is that the electric motor is on an overload switch that opens after a few minutes of trying, no matter what. I then I have to wander off, wait about 10-15 minutes, and then try again.
Finally, I realized there was nothing for it but to tear the damn thing apart. The trouble with that is I've never fixed a dryer before, so I had to play it by ear. Since we couldn't afford a new one, nor a repair job (which would cost about the SAME as a new one) I didn't see too much risk in the endeavor -- worst case I would still have to buy a wash line and hang it.
An hour later I had pealed off the top and front of the machine and had pulled out the drum (which took up temporary residence in my downstairs bathtub) and was horrified to discover that the entire bottom of the dryer (including the beefy high amperage electric motor) was simply packed with lint. It took another hour of cleaning it out before I could see if the motor would turn over sans drum.
Carefully pulling bits of packed lint the consistency of paper maché, I tried turning the motor manually. With no load on it, it should have spun freely at least a few times -- as it was I was forced to turn it with an adjustable wrench to get it to rotate at all. Not good.
A couple of careful applications of WD-40 (all hail!) on the bearings and careful working of the armature back and forth, and suddenly it began to spin free again. A quick power test had it spinning right back up. Another hour to clean everything out of the blower and heating element (essentially bringing everything back to "new" condition) and to reassemble everything, and (to my own amazement) the bad boy is humming along merrily, at long last drying clothing again. In fact, it's running considerably quieter now.
Yet another strange piece of a much larger puzzle: First, I find myself cooking again, remembering that "Hey, I like to cook... and I kinda do it really well!". Now I tackle a project cold, just like I used to, reverse engineering a complicated piece of hardware until I can figure out a way to fix it. I used to do that sort of thing all the time when I was younger, too.
Of course, it wouldn't have been like the old days if I didn't zap myself at least once. Damn those bare contacts!