Thread Number: 70184  /  Tag: Small Appliances
Further adventures in vintage toaster repair - a GE repair walk-through
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Post# 931069   4/7/2017 at 14:48 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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You'll probably think, "Hey! We had one like this!" especially if you lived in Canada.  This style/shape of GE toasters endured from about 1953 or 54 here until the bitter end when GE's small appliance division got bought out by Black & Decker in the late 70s.  The last GE of this style was seen as late as 1978 (and I know 'cause I bought one for my sister-in-law as a wedding present - got it at Consumer's Distributing no less...)


Anyway, these toasters were incredibly popular here and still can be found at garage/yard/estate sales for as little as $5.  They are pretty solidly built, but I've done a couple of repairs on 2 different ones in the past few months and oddly enough they had the same problem - the toast was getting burnt, even at the very lightest setting. 


So, let's take one apart and examine the various components.  I promise to point out what usually goes wrong with these.  


But we have to be very, very quiet so we don't wake that overgrowed puppy of mine... LOL 

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Post# 931071 , Reply# 1   4/7/2017 at 14:53 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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Disassembly of the GE is pretty easy but there are lots of screws!  


Notice in the first picture that the toast lever handle is screwed on; that seemed to be pretty common on models built in the 50s.   There are two screws on each bakelite end panel.  


On the cord end of the toaster, the two slot style screws holding the base to the end panel are pretty obvious.  

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Post# 931072 , Reply# 2   4/7/2017 at 14:54 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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Here's the first 'trick' - to get to the screws holding the end panel to the base on the toast lever side, you have to open the crumb tray.   Sneaky... 

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Post# 931073 , Reply# 3   4/7/2017 at 14:58 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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So, when the cord end panel has been unscrewed, you can now access the maze-like plate that holds the power cord connection to the toaster elements.  And, should you need to replace the cord, you can do so without dismantling the whole toaster.  If you do replace the cord, use uninsulated solderless 'sleeve' connectors - there is not a lot of wiggle room in the 'maze'.  

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Post# 931075 , Reply# 4   4/7/2017 at 15:01 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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Now, I didn't mention anything about removing the knob for the light-dark selector, did I?  


Well, if you're taking a GE apart, you remove the whole lever to remove the toast lever end panel.  


The lever is a long, flat bar and it clips onto a stud on the cord end of the toaster base.  Just slip it off and the entire bar can be removed as you slide the toast lever end panel off.   

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Post# 931076 , Reply# 5   4/7/2017 at 15:03 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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So now the toaster mechanism can be removed from the case.  No prying, pulling or tearing necessary - GE cases of this vintage are solid (and I mean solid... LOL).  


Sorry this picture is a wee bit blurry.... 



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Post# 931077 , Reply# 6   4/7/2017 at 15:12 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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I've tried to show the thermostatic release mechanism here.  The GE design, like a number of models built in the 1950s, uses a small heater unit to cause a bimetallic bar to expand.  The GE mechanism depends on the cooling down of the upper bar shown in the photo to trip the toast rack release.  So if a GE gets stuck, it's stuck... You get no warning that the toaster didn't pop 'till the smoke detector goes off! 


I'll explain as best I can about the screws you can see on the lower and upper bars in this photo.  These are, in fact, adjustments for what GE refers to as the 'Heat Up' (upper bar) and 'Cool Down' (lower bar) cycles.  And spoiler alert, it's that lower bar that will cause a GE to incinerate toast... 


Referring back to the 2 recent repairs I did on toasters that were burning toast,  cause number 1 in the GE service manual is a burnt out heater element on this 'heat up' thermostat.  Oddly enough, I have never encountered this problem.  If it is burnt out, the element can be repaired, but I don't like that approach as you can get 'hot spots' at a splice.  

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Post# 931078 , Reply# 7   4/7/2017 at 15:20 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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Now, please note that these photos were taken with the toaster mechanism upside down.  It's the easiest way to adjust the Heat Up and Cool Down screws, trust me... 


In the first photo, the screws are shown in a more or less 'normal' position.  Note how the screw for the lower bar is making contact with that middle bracket which also contacts the upper bracket.  


In the second photo, the lower bar is not making contact at all with the middle bracket.  This would potentially cause the toaster to never pop up, however if the lower bar is in this position, the toast rack mechanism is not going to make contact with a hook (which I have not shown) behind the timing thermostat.  


Finally in the third photo, the lower bar seems to be in place, but the adjusting screw is just not making contact with that middle bracket.  This is how you wind up with charcoal toast at any setting. 


So, I would recommend that the lower screw be adjusted first!  

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Post# 931081 , Reply# 8   4/7/2017 at 15:24 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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Now, testing one of these toasters while the mechanism is out of the body is a bit of a pain.  So what happens when you find that the toast is still too dark after you've gotten the whole darned thing back together again?


Fear not - most of the GE's of this era had an access through the toaster bottom to adjust the Cool Down (light-dark) adjustment.  


Here's the trick, with the toast-lever end of the toaster facing away from you, you can lengthen the Cool Down time by tuning the screw counter-clockwise and shorten it by turning the screw clockwise.  

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Post# 931082 , Reply# 9   4/7/2017 at 15:26 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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And here we are, all back together again.  I cleaned out an inordinate amount of crumbs from this one and gave the end panels a good degreasing.  Oh, and it toasts wonderfully!


In case you wondered, it's a model T31C and per the date code stamped on it, it was built in January of 1959. 


I hope this will help someone with a GE repair now or in the future!

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Post# 931095 , Reply# 10   4/7/2017 at 18:15 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

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Thanks for showing this Paul!

Today, I adjusted the cutoff point on my GE K60B electric kettle. This is like an automatic percolator, the heat goes down when the water reaches the boiling point but it doesn't completely shut off. I was wondering where the adjustment was but I figured it!

I'd like if you could remind me the production dates for these. I think you told me it was from the early-mid 1960s but I don't remember exactly. If you have pictures from your manuals, I'd be interested to see them!

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Post# 931099 , Reply# 11   4/7/2017 at 19:10 by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

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Breakfast is ready when the smoke alarm goes off!

Great (illustrated) tutorial, Paul. Thanks for posting it. This style GE was one of the first "vintage" toasters I ever bought at a sale. I wasn't as excited about the vintage part as I was having a working toaster. Wish I'd had you around back then to help repair it, the poor thing didn't work for very long and I was back at the sales looking for another.

Post# 931257 , Reply# 12   4/8/2017 at 13:37 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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Phil - per the GE book the K60B went into production in September 1961 (guess who was born then also...).  I don't see when they went out though - the last model shown is the K60BW, introduced in March 1965 so I'd have to guess 1966.


Greg - if you ever find a GE toaster again and have questions, let me know!

Post# 931266 , Reply# 13   4/8/2017 at 14:33 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

My Aunt Margaret had a GE kettle just like yours! She is originally from Scotland (came here in '69), and bought one as soon as she got to their new home in Los Angeles. I imagine she still has it; I'll have to ask next time I talk with her.

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