Thread Number: 70433  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
So Many Questions
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Post# 933540   4/20/2017 at 13:57 (428 days old) by fridgenut (Cape Girardeau, MO)        

...but I'll try to keep it as concise as possible. I just joined your lovely forum yesterday. For those of you who did not see my post in the Super section yesterday, my name is Raymond. I'm glad to be a part of this vibrant community. I love antique appliances with all my heart. I always have. I may not be old or have the experience of you seasoned members but that is why this forum exists right?

I'll cut to the chase. I'm trying to plan ahead for when I have a home to call my own. I already have many antique appliances that will adorn my home. I want to have a 1930s kitchen which I am well on my way to having. In a future post I will be asking about sourcing a dishwasher to match the other 30s appliances, a tall order I know. The rest of the house, I'm not sure yet. Having a total 30s house would be a tall order I imagine. I have already talked with a few people about what kind of washer I should get. Maytag is the initial answer. I would be fine with that I suppose but since there is such a great community here I thought I would open this up to debate. I honestly don't know if I want a wringer washer that would be more period correct for the 30s or if I want the luxurious convenience of an automatic. I am well aware of the nightmare that repairing and running an old automatic can be. I would imagine that the easy answer would be to simply get a wringer washer and just put in more effort.

So, what do you all think? I am pretty competent when it comes to repairs (I've repaired a few fridges electrically and physically). I do know though that sourcing parts could become a nightmare depending on what model I select. I've used a wringer washer in the past, an old maytag, when I was in between washers. My old roommate grabbed his grandmothers old beast. It was fun to use but it was a bit cumbersome. Not impossible, you just had to be careful to pay it full attention so that you don't get your buttons pulled off or forget and leave some clothes agitating for hours.

I want this to be a fair and objective debate. I'm open to all brands and types of washers. I just want something that will either
A: require no work at all or
B: require a reasonable amount of work to get going but should be somewhat reliable after that.

Heck, even my 10 year old Maytag flooded my basement once due to a sticking solenoid valve. Fixed that and it hasn't done anything bad since. Too bad it ruined a bunch of albums I stupidly had stored on the floor...
Let the debate begin!

Post# 933542 , Reply# 1   4/20/2017 at 14:14 (428 days old) by brucelucenta ()        

A 1930's kitchen would probably not have any dishwasher other than your hands, since they were available, but not really popular till much later. It would have been an old style impeller dishwasher, so not a really good cleaner and automatic washers did not come about until the very late 30's and then they were bolt down units made by Bendix, not a great machine either. The interesting automatic washers did not come about until after WWII.

This post was last edited 04/20/2017 at 14:50
Post# 933553 , Reply# 2   4/20/2017 at 15:36 (428 days old) by fridgenut (Cape Girardeau, MO)        
I guess I should add...

That I would be fine with suggestions from later dates. This stuff wouldn't have to be from the 30s. If I could find something that old that works well it would be great but I understand the limitations of appliances that old. I guess I should have been more specific with my question and should break it down like this...

What are the most reliable (or just plain cool) wringer washers out there? This would be more along the lines of models that would fit in a 30s theme. Or if I throw the theme out the window...

What are the most reliable (or just plain cool) automatic washers out there? I would like to have something earlier than the 60s but of course I am open to just about anything if it really strikes me the right way.

I have heard from a few people that the old dishwashers that are of the impeller style are not as good at washing dishes. Are there any exceptions to this rule? If I could find a GE dishwasher from the 30s I would probably just install it anyways due to them being so rare but if it won't wash anything well, then I may just have a portable unit that I can bring in and enjoy when nobody is looking!

Post# 933558 , Reply# 3   4/20/2017 at 15:45 (428 days old) by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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A working 30's automatic would be a difficult one to find, for sure, but there are some still out there.  As Bruce has mentioned, Bendix was THE only automatic available in the 30s - most folks back in the day had wringer machines.  Heck, up here in Canada most folks seemed to have a wringer washer right up until the 60s!  


There are some very interesting wringer washers other than Maytags, too.  Perhaps one of the early Easy washer-spinner machines might be a good 'fit' for your 30's themed laundry room... 


Dishwashers, as stated, were not common at all in the typical home of the 30s;  I fear that finding one would be difficult to say the least and that when you did, it would need lots of work.  However, I helped save a 1920s Walker dishwasher from a Vermont basement a few years ago.  It was in decent shape and amazingly, it still worked!  Finding something that you could just plug in and use would be a pretty tall order.   However, if you might be interested in a KitchenAid Electra top-loader that you could hide in the pantry so as not to take away from the atmosphere, let me know... LOL  


Welcome to the site Raymond and I look forward to seeing how your plans develop!  I re-did the Ogden kitchen to mimic a 1956 home, so I completely and totally get where you are coming from!!

Post# 933561 , Reply# 4   4/20/2017 at 16:09 (428 days old) by norgeway (mocksville n c )        

And Whirlpool/Kenmore had good wringer washers too.

Post# 933562 , Reply# 5   4/20/2017 at 16:26 (428 days old) by brucelucenta ()        

The really fun stuff didn't come along till the late 40's, early 50's when everyone and their brother were making automatic washers. There were some really cool machines, like the Kelvinator, ABC o matic, Apex, Frigidaire and Philco, just to name a few.

Post# 933563 , Reply# 6   4/20/2017 at 16:26 (428 days old) by fridgenut (Cape Girardeau, MO)        
Wow! More responses!


Thanks for the brand ideas. If I were to get a wringer washer a Norge would be at the top of my list. Simply because I love the style of Norge appliances and I love the name. My 1957 Norge Customatic fridge is our main fridge at the house. It works flawlessly.


The easy spinner washer that you mentioned is a nice thought. I'm assuming that is a twin tub? I honestly didn't even think about that. If that is the case it would be a good compromise between a wringer and an automatic. Most people wouldn't know the difference anyways and the hardest part about washing with a wringer washer would be eliminated. I'm amazed that a dishwasher from the 20s still worked. Wow. The Kitchen Aid Electra that you mentioned, I've heard that the old Kitchen Aid dishwashers work well. How true is that say compared to a modern unit? Keep in mind that our brand new kenmore unit leaves a lot to be desired. I've had many dishes come out of it that looked like they didn't even get touched. And yes, I am very particular about how dishes go in. I'm constantly re organizing my roommates terrible dish stacks.

That is neat to hear that you designed your kitchen to look like it came from 1956. I'm not going to get that specific lol. I mainly am aiming for the 30s since I already have SEVERAL 30s fridges and a very nice 30s GE range.

Post# 933564 , Reply# 7   4/20/2017 at 16:28 (428 days old) by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

speedqueen's profile picture
as stated is the only automatic from the 1930s. Not too bad from what I have read with regard to reliability. Bendix really overbuilt them. The main issue w/ With a bolt down Bendix is the lousy spin speed (275 RPM?) which meant clothes were rather wet, but this really isn't any worse than a wringer. Bendix machines of this vintage also must be bolted to concrete. This shouldn't be an issue since you stated you have a basement.

Consider something else, there were NO tumble dryers in the '30s. A Hamilton is said to be a good, fast(need that w/ Bendix) dryer from the late '40s early '50s. I think it would look the part enough to set beside the Bendix.

Some pictures of such machines.
***Credits to picture owners***

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 2         View Full Size
Post# 933566 , Reply# 8   4/20/2017 at 16:34 (428 days old) by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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Also, to answer a question, any Hobart made KitchenAid will blow a modern DW out of the water in 1/2 the time.

Post# 933567 , Reply# 9   4/20/2017 at 16:38 (428 days old) by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        
not exactly PC but...

firedome's profile picture
here's a hilarious ad from Sept 1937 Nat Geo, showing a GE "electric sink".
Probably rarer than hen's teeth, but the much more common Youngstown d/w-sink from the early/mid '50s looks very similar and imo would look appropriate in a 1930s kitchen. Work reasonably well, and maybe others here can weigh in with pics and the parts availability situation. My best friend's house in the '50s had one, it got me started on being a fan of dishwashers, by watching all the "action" through the round glass window!

A good alternative is a '50s KitchenAid "cast iron wonder".

  View Full Size
Post# 933722 , Reply# 10   4/21/2017 at 13:56 (427 days old) by fridgenut (Cape Girardeau, MO)        
Good information


That Bendix is such an interesting looking machine. You can really tell that there were no preconceived notions about how an automatic washer should look. I like it! I honestly don't know if that would be the right machine for me though. I'm starting to get more curious about the twin tubs instead. I need to do some research and see how reliable they are and how easy they are to use. I would imagine that they have a better spin dry than that Bendix. As far as a dryer was concerned I didn't even give it much thought. I just assumed that I would hang dry everything. I've done it before and it didn't really bother me. I especially like to hang dry outside when the weather isn't terrible. I think it leaves my clothes smelling so fresh. Unfortunately it seems like the clothes are also very stiff no matter how much fabric softener you put into the load. I would also imagine that hang drying your clothes has to be better for them as far as longevity is concerned. Hmm, now I've got more questions lol. At least I know that good looking dryers existed way back when. That hamilton dryer really looks the part and I'm sure that aside from a thermostat, belt, element, or timer there really isn't much to go wrong. Maybe I would get one for those days when I really don't feel like going through the effort of hang drying everything. The house I live in now doesn't even have a good spot to string up lines!

Also, thank you for confirming the washing power of the Kitchen Aid dishwashers. I will keep that in mind. I always love it when you can find something old that can hold its own with the new kids on the block.


Thank you for the information regarding dishwashers. I've heard of the youngstown models before. I wonder how they compare with the 50s kitchen aid models mentioned previously? Like I said before, IF I am lucky enough to find a GE "electric sink" with the "electric pig" I would grab it in a heartbeat whether it works good or not. It would just be too cool and rare to pass up. However, I would probably have a portable dishwasher as well to really do the work. I guess a more sane person would simply find an under the counter dishwasher that will work and just be done with it. Hmm...
Oh, and you didn't think I was going to let that ad slide did you?! Wow, I know it was a different time but still...GE who were you marketing this to? Families who had a "mammy" maid?! You wouldn't have cared less if she was happy, she was doing your dishes in the first place! What a strange ad. It is so bad and yet so funny to look back on and see just how ridiculous people were back then. Although I can personally attest that I have seen rednecks here in Missouri who say "I'se" (places hand on Ted Nugent's Kill it and Grill It). At any rate, that ad has the exact model that I am looking for, I don't need the mammy though.

Post# 933756 , Reply# 11   4/21/2017 at 17:34 (427 days old) by neptunebob (Pittsburgh, PA)        
A modern way,,,

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Try to find a GE Artistry dishwasher that might have the styling you are looking for. The series is discontinued but the dishwashers were still on the web site so better get one while you can.

Post# 933861 , Reply# 12   4/22/2017 at 09:07 (426 days old) by fridgenut (Cape Girardeau, MO)        

Thank you for the suggestion. For a modern dishwasher I like the look of the artistry line. However, I really would prefer something old. That is why I'm not right in the head. At least the badge looks like my dads old 1947 space maker refrigerator.

Post# 933873 , Reply# 13   4/22/2017 at 10:33 (426 days old) by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)        

foraloysius's profile picture
If you're open for cheating a bit, look at appliances from the 1940's and early 1950's with the round corners. It would still look pretty much like the 1930's appliances, although many in the 1930's would be on legs. The sheer look like Frigidaire introduced in 1957 makes appliances look too modern for you I think.

Does this kitchen appeal to you?

Post# 933883 , Reply# 14   4/22/2017 at 12:15 (426 days old) by fridgenut (Cape Girardeau, MO)        

I do love that kitchen. Thanks for that video. It was fun to watch. However, I already have the stove and many types of refrigerators made in the 30s so I have that part ready to go. In fact I have one refrigerator that matches my stove exactly, they even have the same badge. I'm still not sure if I want to eventually get a 50s matching washer and dryer set or go with something more simple like a twin tub or wringer washer. I do think that I've decided that having a 50s dishwasher that is competent would be best. Not to say that I don't like appliances from the 50s and beyond, I very much do. I just thought that since I already have most of the kitchen appliances from the 30s I might as well have a loose theme to my kitchen. Of course I am always open minded :)

Post# 933950 , Reply# 15   4/22/2017 at 19:23 (426 days old) by vacuumguy99 (North Western PA)        

I've heard that when they work, the easy is a great machine. when they stop, parts are hard to find and they are complicated to fix, but that's only what I've heard.I really enjoy using my 64 lady kenmore with open top wringer. I'm able to wash what would take 8 hours in a front loader in 1 1/2 hrs and everything looks better, it feels softer and is very easy to use and take care of. I just got a maytag square tub so I dont have much time working with it but it seems like it washes a little better but I do prefer the open top wringer. Hope that helps you out a little bit, if you wouldn't mind do you have any pictures of your other vintage appliances, I'd love to see them.
Mark the vacuum guy

Post# 933972 , Reply# 16   4/23/2017 at 00:29 (425 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

I like the kitchen shown as well-its AHEAD of its time.Puts the kitchens we use today---OBSELETE!The only thing that would be a problem for me is the open,unsealed bins for flour,sugar,and such.Good roach and ant magnets.I really like the bifold cabinet doors-no head banger swinging doors!The kitchen has places for everything!NICE!

Post# 933981 , Reply# 17   4/23/2017 at 00:55 (425 days old) by qualin (Canada)        

It's unbelievable to think that in 2017, modern kitchens don't come anywhere near to the convenience of a kitchen designed in 1949. Biggest problem with this design is that it doesn't take into account a Microwave Oven or an automatic dishwasher. (I'm kind of surprised that they didn't include an electric sink with this kitchen, they would have been around by then!)

As for the Microwave Oven, well.. can't blame them there. :-) I think that a garberator probably would have also been good as well, as opposed to using the garbage chute in the counter, but it's still a brilliant idea.

If I was going to go retro, I probably wouldn't go back any further than the 1960's, at least that way, I could have a vintage late 60's period correct Amana RadarRange. :-) Besides, I have a soft spot for 1960's era GE...

Post# 933989 , Reply# 18   4/23/2017 at 02:26 (425 days old) by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)        

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Yes, the unsealed bins are a thing of the past, not very hygienic either. But you could solve that problem by using plastic or glass containers with lids that fit in there. With a few adjustments a dishwasher and a microwave would fit in there too.

Post# 934084 , Reply# 19   4/23/2017 at 16:16 (425 days old) by fridgenut (Cape Girardeau, MO)        
Man, the information keeps coming.

So your lady Kenmore is a wringer washer? I didn't realize that Kenmore was still making those by then. Seems like a lot of people were slow to switch to full automatic. Also, what do you want to see pictures of? I posted pictures of most of my fridges in the super section. It's under new member, antique appliance lover.

I also like the old Amana microwaves. I would probably hide it behind a cupboard door or in the pantry.

Post# 934155 , Reply# 20   4/23/2017 at 21:21 (425 days old) by lotsosudz (Sacramento, CA)        
Wonderful Kitchen

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The Bins pictured would not be problematic, as the housewives back then cooked and baked a lot more often then we do today. Therefore she was rotating through that sugar, and flour, alot faster than today. My Mother had bins, and we never had bugs, or contamination, that I was aware of. but we also had 5 kids, and we went through everything like Grant taking Richmond.
Cooking from scratch causes you to burn through ingredients like crazy, when its done daily.

Post# 934214 , Reply# 21   4/24/2017 at 08:42 (424 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Kitchen bins

are quite an old thing. See Farnkfurt kitchen on Wikipedia. No refrigerator.
I think of it as the pantry kitchen combination. Similar to a hoosier cabinet.
I built out my pantry in an existing deep closet that is nestled over my basement stair well in my kitchen. The space is not large enough for a walk in pantry.
I made shelves and stained them whisky cherry like the cabinet color. I applied molding to the shelf edges, and covered the shelves in plexi-glass so they re wipe clean easy. Then I installed sliding flexible plastic low rise bins that hold everything in place. Wider ones for flour and sugar canisters, narrower for bottles, boxes, jars, and spices. A detachable Led light on a magnet is on the top of the inside door frame and can light up any shelf to see ingredients in the back.
Baking sheets and cooling racks fit in the narrow slot at the bottom where the step intrudes. The very top shelf holds small appliances.
I ordered a pantry cabinet front with a double door and fitted it over the opening rather than a conventional door in a jamb so it looks custom and matches the cabinets.

Post# 934220 , Reply# 22   4/24/2017 at 09:01 (424 days old) by fridgenut (Cape Girardeau, MO)        

I like that idea. Seems like you would get a lot of stuff for your kitchen in a small area that way.

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