Thread Number: 70373  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
POD 4/17/2017
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Post# 932867   4/17/2017 at 04:11 (185 days old) by brucelucenta (tulsa, oklahoma)        

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Never have had or actually used a Bendix machine at all. I understand they were the inventors of automatic washing machines and combination units. I just have never heard very good things about them in general. The only person I knew who had one did not say good things about it. She stated that the only reason they had bought it was because they didn't have room for a full size washer and dryer and it was better than going to the laundromat. I did have an Aunt who had a combination Westinghouse uniit and did not like it either. She replaced it with a GE FF set as soon as they could afford one in the early 60's.The only combo unit I have used for any amount of time was a Kenmore combination and it did a decent but not terrific job of washing and drying. It wasn't much in the way of capacity though.

Post# 932934 , Reply# 1   4/17/2017 at 12:56 (185 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

The Bendix Combos were the original and the best of them. When Consumer Reports tested washers and dryers in 1954, I believe, they tested the Duomatic in with the mix. As a washer, they rated the Duomatic just behind the Whirlpool, something like 4th from the top and as a condenser dryer, it rated with the Maytag and Hotpoint condenser dryers. Unlike other combos which did not extract as much water from the fabrics before drying, the Duomatic kept drying temperatures at a safe 160F so even years before wash and wear and Permanent Press, the Duomatic dried at a safe temperature for synthetics and at the magic temperature at which Permanent Press fabrics relaxed wrinkles and the proper creases were reset into the fabrics. I used to do the uniforms for a nurse in my Duomatic and she said they looked better, both from a standpoint of cleanliness and wrinkle free finish than when they were done in the separate washer and dryer.

Post# 932935 , Reply# 2   4/17/2017 at 12:59 (185 days old) by RevvinKevin (Between Mickey Mouse & the Queen Mary (So. Cal.)        

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A couple years ago I visited John / Gyromatic in the Minneapolis/St Paul area.  He has every 36" Duomatic (economy and deluxe) model from '53 to '58 in his basement and he has fully restored all of them!  He has 4 or 5 of them connected and uses one or two for his laundry every week!  Granted he loves them, but I get the impression they are not as problematic as all the other W/D combos of the time. 


I shot this video of his beautiful and rare 1957 gas Duomatic (among others) during my visit.  



Post# 932970 , Reply# 3   4/17/2017 at 17:33 (185 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

I have known a lot of people with Bendix Combos. I don't think they were any more or less trouble-prone than anything else of the era.
What I remember of the old American made machines, was that not all users had the good sense to use low-sudsing detergent. Many of the users had been using manual machines and if they didn't see a good layer of suds they didn't think things got clean.

So that created a rinsing problem. I saw countless loads of laundry left sudsy and wet from the Final Spin because of over-sudsing.
It did not help that the soap and detergent manufacturers put a "recommended " dosage for front-loaders on the box. A half-cup of (old formula) Tide or Ivory Snow soap in a load of towels is going to cause suds-lock.

I do not think these issues help the popularity of the front-loaders in this country.
Heaven forbid anyone should blame the operator of the machine!

Gyromatic is the most meticulous restorer of machines I have ever met. He doesn't miss a single detail right down to the decals. All of the machines i saw at his home were in better than factory new condition.
Stunning, really.

My '63 Bendix Combo has been a trouble free machine.

Post# 933031 , Reply# 4   4/17/2017 at 21:14 (185 days old) by sel8207 (naples, florida 34117)        
any pics of

any pics of the 1963?

Post# 933080 , Reply# 5   4/18/2017 at 05:43 (184 days old) by Easyspindry (Winston-Salem, NC)        
I have a 1959 Duomatic . . .

. . . which has worked flawlessly for many years. It does exactly what it's supposed to do and has never had a problem. The Bendix noises are music to my ears when it is running and changing cycles. Low-sudsing detergent is all that's ever been used in it by me. No problems.

I have never used another brand of a combo, so am not able to make a comparison.

These old machines were made like tanks.

Jerry Gay

Post# 933088 , Reply# 6   4/18/2017 at 06:39 (184 days old) by brucelucenta (tulsa, oklahoma)        
consumer reports

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I looked at the issue of February 1954, it does rate the duomatic right after Whirlpool. Interesting that consumer reports really down rated Whirlpool and it was about 8th in line. I have always found Whirlpool to be very good at cleaning the clothes. More so than most of the higher rated machines of that year. It also stated that IF it was not for the severe tangling of Frigidaire washers, they would have been the top rated machine over all others.

Post# 933142 , Reply# 7   4/18/2017 at 13:22 (184 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

There were actually 8 color-checked models, then the Frigidaire then the Whirlpool. They said that the WP had average washing ability, but the washing ability was somewhat lessened with partial loads. I find it hard to believe that the AMP would wash the same size load as well as the WP, but CU had a thing for Maytags that started back in the wringer washer days.


I can tell you that friends bought the ABC-O-MATIC on the basis of the rating and had nothing but trouble followed by the machine's early death. After that, they dropped their subscription to Consumer Reports. It was wonderful back in those days for a wee washer lad because they had pictures of the machines.

Post# 933148 , Reply# 8   4/18/2017 at 14:20 (184 days old) by brucelucenta (tulsa, oklahoma)        

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I think ABC and Kelvinator were much like Frigidaire, owners either loved or hated them.

Post# 933167 , Reply# 9   4/18/2017 at 17:24 (184 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

I never put much stock in CU. Especially since they only polled their subscribers, not the general public at large. They also touted their supposed "not for profit " status which always raises a flag to me. They also do not have to follow the advice they give.

I remember the Kelvinators everywhere when I was young. I never heard anyone complain about their performance.
I have one from the late fifties and I have no complaints about its performance. It cleans very well and does not tangle things. It is easy to get out of balance and shuts down. It does about as good a job of water extraction as a Kenmore or Whirly of that era.

Im sure the Kelvy owners learned to measure detergents/soaps of that era carefully.

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