Thread Number: 70161  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
POD 4/6/2017
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Post# 930807   4/6/2017 at 04:37 by brucelucenta (tulsa, oklahoma)        

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This washer helped start the wave toward top loading washing machines. Frigidaire introduced this machine shortly after WWII. It was truly a terrific washer that washed clothes quite well and spun them out nearly dry. Unfortunately, Frigidaire washers in the beginning had the ability to tie whatever you washed in them into literal knots! When loaded in the careful way that Frigidaire instructed, the tangling was lessened quite a bit though. The tangling issue caused them a great deal of grief along with the owners of Frigidaire washers. Many who purchased those machines hated them and vowed to NEVER buy another Frigidaire washer again! Although in the mid '60's Frigidaire introduced the "Jet Action Cone" agitator, that for the most part did not tangle clothes, Frigidaire washers never fully recovered from that stigma. Frigidaire was one of the last to incorporate a large perforated tub until about 1970 when the 1-18 machines were introduced. Those machines were capable of washing the largest loads of any washing machine at the time and did a very good job of it. It was the end of an era though, most everyone that was going to get an automatic washer had already done so and what was left was people who replaced what they had with new. Frigidaire washers had a good run for over 30 years while owned by GM. In 1979 the appliance division was sold to White Westinghouse, never to make a washer that agitated up and down again. The washers made after that were Westinghouse "clones" at the time and the dryers were the worst machines ever made until WCI started making them in the Westinghouse "clone" too. I have always thought it a terrible shame that Frigidaire had not made the "Jet Action Cone" agitator from the beginning. Considering that "frigidaire" and refrigerator had become synonymous, had their washers not tangled history might have been different for the appliance industry.

Post# 930810 , Reply# 1   4/6/2017 at 05:20 by appnut (TX)        

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I knew 4 ladies that were fiercely loyal to Frigidaire washers.  That's all they owned in the 30+ years of their life here before passing away.  I also knew 2 others who after their late 1940s or early 1950-s Unimatics, were replaced with Kenmores when the time came.   

Post# 930812 , Reply# 2   4/6/2017 at 06:22 by brucelucenta (tulsa, oklahoma)        

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Yes, I knew of people who were loyal to Frigidaire too. However, there were more I encountered that hated Frigidaire washers they either used or had owned before the new agitator because of the tangling. I encountered people who had just heard about the tangling too and wanted nothing to do with a Frigidiare washer because of what they had heard. Was just a shame since they were such well built machines and worked so well otherwise. The first rollermatic washers with the solid tub were some of the best machines I have EVER seen. I sold a basic two speed machine to someone for $50 once and it lasted them 10 years before they had to replace it.

This post was last edited 04/06/2017 at 08:08
Post# 930842 , Reply# 3   4/6/2017 at 12:50 by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

Too complicated for them to figure out. They wanted something they could just throw the clothes in and walk away. Didn't want to have to figure out how to load it or figure out level of soil. Maybe a load had mixed levels of soil, so they just set it at Heavy and they got a tangled load.

Some (of the line-drying) people overlooked the tangling issue and LOVED the Rapidry feature. Especially if they washed a lot of heavy garments.
Those in hot climates loved line-drying in 30 minutes. I remember them all over the place in Miami.

The flat-tops were pretty good survivors. I've got two of them. I know a few few others with them as well. One of mine is a very early one, however, the original perforated tub has been replaced. I wonder what happened?

Post# 930852 , Reply# 4   4/6/2017 at 13:08 by 48bencix (Sacramento CA)        
Always loved them

Thank goodness the lady next door had a Frigidaire washer. She would let me watch it. Also where we stayed in Santa Cruz, a few times, had a Frigidaire washer. I was maybe 10 at the time and did a load of sheets. Not only did they tangle, because I did not load in 4 quarters, the sand from the beach stayed in there. None of this would deter me from owning a Frigidaire because I enjoyed the action of the agitator and the acceleration into the spin, no other washer has that acceleration. My mom had the '44 Bendix which I watched on a daily basis, but I still liked watching top loaders.

I think another problem area for Frigidaire was the two bellows seals. It was OK if the owner repaired them, and in those days people would have their appliances serviced, but if not disaster would follow. Leaks or oil in the clothes.

I also used a Frigidaire Coin Op model in 1966 in Berkeley, the one that did a complete cycle in 18 minutes. Compare that with todays hour long loads.

By the way, a new Speed Queen TL can produce a pretty good tangle, yes, you need to load in the 4 quarters, especially with sheets.


Post# 930868 , Reply# 5   4/6/2017 at 14:45 by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

I think Martin is right about those bellows. They were the weak point in the design. Back in those days people used cloth diapers and those huge diaper pins could really do a number on a bellows if it got caught under the Energy Ring the right way. I saw one completely pierce through and lodge in an Energy Ring once. That homemaker thought it was funny! I'm sure back in the day there were plenty of pocket-knives and other tools that cut them as well.
You just can't engineer everything out.

Post# 930882 , Reply# 6   4/6/2017 at 15:18 by brucelucenta (tulsa, oklahoma)        

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If you put clothes and not knives or safety pins or anything else in them they did just fine. Falls under the category of user error. I actually never saw one of the bellows on models before the jet action cone get anything stuck in it. Those agitators had such a big activator ring it pushed the water away from it.

This post was last edited 04/06/2017 at 16:18
Post# 930923 , Reply# 7   4/6/2017 at 19:38 by jeb (Mansfield Ohiio)        
Jet cone

These were very hard on bib overall no matter how you loaded them. The wire hook would be bend out of anything recognizable over 50 percent of the time. It didn't matter if you fastened then, put them in the pockets, or put them down the leg they would be mangled. They were also hard on plastic buckles on baby clothes.

Post# 931008 , Reply# 8   4/7/2017 at 06:34 by brucelucenta (tulsa, oklahoma)        

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You are absolutely correct about that!!!! When I used the 1-18 machines at the dry cleaners/laundry I had to take the fasteners off of overalls and such or it would destroy them. They could be kind of brutal with any ornamentation on clothing. Not something you would normally have a problem with in a Whirlpool/Kenmore or most other washers.

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