Thread Number: 71157  /  Tag: Refrigerators
Help with Old GM Frigidaire Refrigerator
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Post# 941893   6/5/2017 at 12:55 by cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

I have this 1970s vintage fridge in red at my up north cabin. It gets used about 8-months out of the year. It works, but has started to make some rather scary sounds, bad enough my buddy and I thought we had an animal in the place when we first heard it. Now, when you open the door, it goes "BLAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH". Best I can describe it, pretty loud too.

I'm wondering if perhaps just a fan is going bad? Maybe two fans? When you open the freezer door, there is no off switch, so you can hear the fan/compressor grumbling away, which is not new. The noise in the upper half is.

Is it worth fixing or if I should replace it? It's kind of cool but not super retro, other than the color.


Post# 941896 , Reply# 1   6/5/2017 at 13:23 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Ok, a few possibilities

panthera's profile picture

1) The flowing cold fan is in the freezer or way down deep behind the right crisper. They eventually suffer worn out bearings and make similar sounds. A standard kit fits these just fine (they'll tell you they don't work, they don't exist, blah blah blah but I've done a 1967 and a 1965 with them in the last two years so, yeah, OK.)

2)It's possible something fell into the fan or broke an impeller or it came loose on the shaft and is hitting something when it turns off (when running, it moves nearly 3 millimeters out from the frame).


In any event, it's reparable, worst case a universal kit. Just have a made up Whirlpool number for the idiots when you go into the store or order it online.

Post# 941899 , Reply# 2   6/5/2017 at 14:03 by cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

Thanks. What exactly do you mean by a "made up Whirlpool number"?

Post# 941939 , Reply# 3   6/5/2017 at 17:35 by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

goatfarmer's profile picture

Bad fan motor. Get the model number, and post it here. Can get complicated to fix, but certainly worth fixing.


Model # may be stamped on the back, or look on the side of the crisper drawers for a model tag.

Post# 941957 , Reply# 4   6/5/2017 at 20:03 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
made up number man's

panthera's profile picture
A model number for a real whirlpool so you don't have to listen to the Tom-fool idiots tell you it can't be done, too old, etc.

Post# 941982 , Reply# 5   6/5/2017 at 22:05 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
70s FD Refrigerator With Noise In The Freezer

combo52's profile picture

I am assuming you have a top freezer model, if so you either have a bad fan blade, a bad fan motor or a another very common problem with these refs was an ice build up from the automatic defrost function where the water does not drain properly and builds up and freezes and starts hitting the spinning fan blade.


If you think it might be ice you can shut down the ref for at least a few days [ unplugged with both doors open ] then turn it back on and if you don't have the noise for a week or longer it was likley an ice build up.


Getting to and repairing the fan area of these refs was a PITA, unless you are really in love with this ref you may want to replace it with something more energy efficient that will also keep your food better and longer.

Post# 941985 , Reply# 6   6/5/2017 at 22:36 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Not fun but doable

panthera's profile picture

I wouldn't classify replacing these fans with changing the belt on a Whirlpool belt drive washer from the 1950's but there's no question but what it is a project.

Still, I've done two fairly recently and if I can, anybody can.

Post# 942110 , Reply# 7   6/6/2017 at 18:20 by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

goatfarmer's profile picture

The worst ones were the ones that used the square nuts BEHIND the housing holding the fan in place.

Post# 942169 , Reply# 8   6/6/2017 at 21:34 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Oh, yeah

panthera's profile picture

BOTH of the two I did recently had those dratted nuts. What were they thinking?

Well, I know what I was feeling.

However, it's all good. I did one on a brief visit from Germany to the 'States back in the late '80s - little young to blow out, but, well, it did. Replaced the bearings by using two top bearings from VM record players. Still working, today.

Post# 942208 , Reply# 9   6/7/2017 at 07:02 by cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

This is a bottom freezer model. I will have to look for the model number the next time I go up, it will be at least a couple weeks.

Post# 942215 , Reply# 10   6/7/2017 at 07:56 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Red Bottom Freezer FD Ref

combo52's profile picture

Well its not a 70s model for sure, FD probably only ever made about one bottom freezer model [ ever ] in red around 1968-9.


You can disregard most of what I said about what the problem is and what to do about fixing it on a 60s BF ref. The most likley thing that may be wrong with this ref is just a worn out freezer fan motor.


Post a picture of your ref if possible and even a recording of the noise it is making, we can give much more accurate advice that way.

Post# 942447 , Reply# 11   6/8/2017 at 09:08 by cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

Heres is the sound (link to youtube video).

Only pic I could find was one of my mom standing in front of it about 20 years ago. Sorry, not very helpful.


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Post# 942458 , Reply# 12   6/8/2017 at 10:16 by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

ken's profile picture

Sounds like the fan hitting the housing and coming to a stop. Is this fridge designed so the fresh food compartment fan stops when the door is opened? 

Post# 942464 , Reply# 13   6/8/2017 at 10:45 by cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        


Post# 942519 , Reply# 14   6/8/2017 at 18:45 by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

goatfarmer's profile picture

Fan motor, either going bad, a bad fan blade, or something in the blades. Looks like a 67-68 refrigerator,I don't recall Frigidaire's being red then. Maybe a repaint?

Post# 942532 , Reply# 15   6/8/2017 at 19:38 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Poppy Red and Sunshine Yellow

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Were, despite the official cannon, still on offer in 1967-68. We have a Custom Deluxe Refrigerator in Sunshine Yellow from 1967, which officially does not exist. And it's originally this color, not repainted.

Ditto a 1968 dryer in poppy red we saw in a home recently. Unfortunately, it got sent to the Habitat Restore who metaled it - they don't 'do' old appliances.

Post# 942537 , Reply# 16   6/8/2017 at 19:43 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Poppy Red and Sunshine Yellow

panthera's profile picture

Were, despite the official cannon, still on offer in 1967-68. We have a Custom Deluxe Refrigerator in Sunshine Yellow from 1967, which officially does not exist. And it's originally this color, not repainted.

Ditto a 1968 dryer in poppy red we saw in a home recently. Unfortunately, it got sent to the Habitat Restore who metaled it - they don't 'do' old appliances.

Post# 942901 , Reply# 17   6/10/2017 at 16:46 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        
If it's from the 60's

and the factory finish, the color is probably "Matador Red".

"Poppy" was shaded, and introduced later. In '77 the shading was removed and it became "Terra Cotta".


Post# 942941 , Reply# 18   6/10/2017 at 20:22 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        

panthera's profile picture

You're right.

Post# 943129 , Reply# 19   6/11/2017 at 23:11 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

philr's profile picture
These fridges are quite rare, I have never seen one in Matador Red like yours.

Please post pictures showing the interior of both the fridge and refrigerator sections and from the exterior too.

If you find the model number, let us know it. I have some service documentation for similar ones but I think I'm missing the "L" line from 1967 and a part of the 1966 "K" line. I do have the 1968 "N" line information.

I'd like to find one like this from 1966. Same color as yours.

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Post# 943170 , Reply# 20   6/12/2017 at 11:10 by kd12 (Arkansas)        
1920s tech

Square nuts on a 70s fridge? Sounds very 1920s. I would never have guessed they would have used those on a modern appliance.

Post# 943176 , Reply# 21   6/12/2017 at 11:34 by cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

Not a repaint. Custom ordered direct from the factory. My parents were really weird about that sort of thing. My cabin is full of treasures, like Widdicombe and Baker furniture, even a Herman Miller rolltop desk. Too bad they all smell like a 50-year old cabin in the woods in need of a new roof. They should have invested in a better roof.

Post# 944702 , Reply# 22   6/22/2017 at 17:33 by Cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

Photos! And I included a couple that may be more valuable than the fridge.

Can't find a S/N, but model # is on the manual.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 7         View Full Size
Post# 944720 , Reply# 23   6/22/2017 at 19:24 by Cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

So my apologies as it is a deluxe not an imperial nor a super.

Post# 944990 , Reply# 24   6/24/2017 at 08:00 by Cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

So I can only get the fridge down to about 42F. The freezer is fine. ???

Post# 945036 , Reply# 25   6/24/2017 at 13:34 by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

goatfarmer's profile picture

How cold do ya want the fridge? 42 isn't too bad.

Post# 945047 , Reply# 26   6/24/2017 at 14:50 by Cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

42 is outside of the safe zone. Stuff will not keep very long that warm. 35-37 is preferable.

That fridge froze stuff in the drawers on A before. I have it on 3 now which is coldest. Seriously since it is a vacation/hunting cabin, I used to leave stuff for a month and it would be fine, even milk. Not now. Two days max and stuff goes bad or molds.

Post# 945076 , Reply# 27   6/24/2017 at 16:45 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Ref temp

I think these use a tube like contraption which opens and closes thermostatically to let air up from the freezer into the fridge,They are adjustable I think, 42 is warmer than I like also, I like to see ice crystals in my milk and tea!

Post# 945568 , Reply# 28   6/27/2017 at 12:28 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

philr's profile picture
t's a 1967 model, I'm sure other forum members have also noticed the Kitchen Aid KDS-15 next to it. I'd say it's also from the same time period.

I have never owned a Frigidaire bottom freezer refrigerator made after 1965 but I know that by 1966, many of the top-freezer models switched from having the thermostatic damper that Norgeway is talking about to a manual damper that adjusts with a knob. Is there just one or two cold control knobs? I guess there are two. One of them has the "off" position, that's the main cold control. The other one just moves a damper to increase or decrease the airflow in the refrigerator section.

My guess is that the damper is linked to the one you pictured which says "freezer cold control". If you want to make a test, feel the air flow in the refrigerator section next to the air distribution register (probably behind the light shield in the center) while holding the light switch as if the door was closed and see in which direction you get the maximum airflow to the refrigerator. It should be the at the "warmer" setting if I understand correctly how your damper and thermostat work, that will get the most cold airflow to the refrigerator section and it will make the freezer less cold. Then I don't know where you set the other thermostat but you want to have it in the coldest position which should be "3". Check the temperatures simultaneously in both the freezer and refrigerator sections to see how it does before and after moving the controls.

Some refrigerators have two blowers linked to cold controls rather than a single blower and a damper. I'm not 100% sure about how yours is but that knob seems to be the kind they used for damper doors.

Does the compressor runs almost constantly or does it often cycles off? These should run constantly a few hours after the defrost period and then cycle on and off.

This fridge is probably one of the very first models that didn't have a defrost timer that defrosted it at fixed intervals. Instead, it defrosted "as necessary" like today's fridges. At least the 1968 version of your fridge does that. I wish I had the 1967 manual to help you more.

I can't say it's a highly valuable appliance (very few are!) but if it was mine, I'd certainly try to keep it working!

You won't find another one like it easily!

Post# 945589 , Reply# 29   6/27/2017 at 14:37 by cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

Thanks PhilR! Yes it has two controls. The one in the pics is the freezer control, at the back bottom of the refrigerator. The other is closer to the top of the fridge and has the A-B-1-2-3 settings.

The compressor does run almost constantly at this point. It does turn off though, noticeably as the fan stops too and it's quite loud. It will stay off for just a few minutes then start again. This unit used to defrost fairly regularly, and when it did, you could see the heating elements light up at the back of the freezer, as there is no light/switch on the freezer door. I haven't see it do that lately, but I can't say it's not working as there are no frost issues I can see.

I posted the owner's manual in the pictures, not sure how readable they are here. Try the link below if you can't read them (Google Photos).

That Kitchen Aid dishwasher is the bomb. 45 minutes start to finish, gets dishes super clean and dry in that short time. Hope it lasts many more years.


Post# 945603 , Reply# 30   6/27/2017 at 16:42 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

philr's profile picture
If the fan is that noisy, it could be the problem if it turns too slow... Is there adequate airflow from the air registers in the refrigerator section? You just need to hold the light switch as if the door was closed, the light will turn off and the fan will turn on.

What's the temp in the freezer section?

This post was last edited 06/27/2017 at 17:18
Post# 945620 , Reply# 31   6/27/2017 at 20:32 by Cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

Not sure. But definitely frozen.

Post# 945632 , Reply# 32   6/27/2017 at 22:23 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
regarding '67 frost free

panthera's profile picture

I have one. It uses a timer and a thermostat - the moment the temperature rises above freezing, it cancels the defrost cycle.

I wonder how timer-less models prior to microprocessors would have worked?

Post# 945640 , Reply# 33   6/28/2017 at 00:12 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

philr's profile picture
I don't know but my '68 Tech Talk specifies that the equivalent of this model from 1968 uses no defrost timer while most others still had fixed defrost periods twice or 3 times a day. I couldn't find more details relating to how the defrost system worked.

I know that my 10 years newer 1977 Frigidaire side by side still uses a defrost timer that runs only when the compressor runs so it doesn't defrost at the same time everyday but the system must have been different on this 1967 as the manual states that it doesn't have a timer and that it defrosts automatically "as necessary" or something like that.

Post# 945672 , Reply# 34   6/28/2017 at 07:31 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Frigidaire Defrost Controls On SOME Late 60s Refs

combo52's profile picture

Used an interesting dual capillary control that sensed evaporator temperature and condenser temperatures, this system was designed to cause a defrost to occur only when necessary and therefor not a a preset schedule.


I have no real experience with this system and FD did not use it long but instead went back to continuous run timers well into the 70s.


If this ref does not have a conventional defrost timer it could have a system like this.


In order to give any real help we must have a model number, it should be on a silver sticker on the inside wall of the ref to the left or right of the vegetable drawers., if the sticker is unreadable it is probably also printed in bold letters on the upper back of the ref.

Post# 945689 , Reply# 35   6/28/2017 at 08:31 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

philr's profile picture
John, the model number is in one of the pictures above, FPD-14BL a 1967 model.

The information I found about a similar fridge is from 1968, for the FPD-144BN.

I don't have the 1967 Tech Talk about refrigerators.

Post# 946038 , Reply# 36   6/30/2017 at 14:56 by Cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

Needs an evaporator motor. Could not make the universal one fit.

Any idea where I can find a used or rebuilt?

Post# 946067 , Reply# 37   6/30/2017 at 16:49 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

philr's profile picture
The parts book I have says #620365

Here's a replacement on eBay:

It won't look like the original but I suppose it fits there and there seems to be an adapter for the blower wheel.

  View Full Size
Post# 946172 , Reply# 38   7/1/2017 at 06:04 by Cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

Hmm. That is not the part number on the bad one. And the act of touching it has made the problem worse. Fridge is now 56 and freezer barely making ice. I give up. Getting a new fridge.

Post# 946188 , Reply# 39   7/1/2017 at 08:32 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
The fan on ebay is a univeral replacement

panthera's profile picture

All the various parts get added on or taken off or rearranged to fit any fridge on earth, including '67 Frigidaires. I know, I have done it with exactly this kit.

It's a bit time consuming, but it does work.

One thing to pay attention to, the direction the blower goes may require you to put the coil on the opposite way of how you just put the whole dratted thing together (voice of experience here), so check that in a dry run, first.

Post# 946214 , Reply# 40   7/1/2017 at 11:57 by cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        
Wish I could delete...

Forget my last post. I must have been mistaken when I looked at the ice trays this AM. I put the thermometer in the freezer and it is right around zero. SO, it's possible he got the wires crossed and the fan is spinning the wrong way, or it's even slower than before he started. I found two exact replacements for the part 5306599388 on ebay and bought both of them. I'm going to have the guy back out since I know he can do it this time in under an hour. He was here two hours yesterday, sacrificed a "universal" motor that simply wouldn't fit in the mounts, and didn't charge me much, especially considering how far out in the boonies I am.

Post# 946219 , Reply# 41   7/1/2017 at 13:13 by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

goatfarmer's profile picture

Fan is only going to spin one way, no matter where the wires are connected.

Post# 946222 , Reply# 42   7/1/2017 at 13:23 by cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

Thanks goatfarmer. So do you think it will work if I get a good motor? I hope so. Hate to throw any more money at this if not.

Post# 946229 , Reply# 43   7/1/2017 at 15:07 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
The fan will, indeed

panthera's profile picture

spin in the same direction, regardless of how the wires are hooked up. The way to reverse it - and with some universal fans, they are going backward when delivered from the factory for your fridge - is to flip the top and bottom bearings around. Easy to do, they fit both ways (designed that way) and that will reverse it.

The only way to reverse it.

So glad it's cooling.

Post# 946321 , Reply# 44   7/2/2017 at 07:06 by Cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

Well, again this AM the ice Is not completely frozen. Ice tray shelf is at the top of rhe freezer. Freezer temp is 20F. What the heck. I did fiddle with the freezer temp knob, it's on "N" (middle setting). It's just a diverter. But if the fan isn't working where is that "cold" going?

Post# 946495 , Reply# 45   7/3/2017 at 07:32 by Cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

:(. 22F in freezer. Fridge is now room temp. :(

Post# 946499 , Reply# 46   7/3/2017 at 07:49 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

philr's profile picture
Is there adequate air flow from the blower? I assume you haven't replaced it yet? The fan is what moves the cold air. In a bottom freezer model, with the evaporator coils under the freezer floor, if there's no air flow, the refrigerator section won't even get cool and the freezer won't get cool enough. I think yours should have it's evaporator located at the back which is better but still likely not enough to make it cool enough. And if the freezer is almost empty, the temp might get up significantly if you check it after a defrost took place. There's a 500 watt heater that melts the ice in the freezer for a few minutes everyday.

Some of the Frost-Proof models that had their ice tray over the evaporators (like the one I have in my kitchen) did make the ice melt in their ice trays when the defrost took place even when everything is working fine as they were sitting just above the heating elements and some models like my 1963 didn't have any insulation over them.

Right now, I hear the 1960 Frost-Proof freezer downstairs defrosting (it does make cracking noise when it defrosts). The temp will rise a bit for a few minutes and it will slowly return to 0 after.

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This post was last edited 07/03/2017 at 08:17
Post# 946505 , Reply# 47   7/3/2017 at 08:55 by Cjhsa (Grand Rapids)        

No I haven't replaced it yet. This is a cabin up north with no mailing address so I had to ship the eBay purchases to my home downstate. I'll be back up here in about a month. I unplugged the fridge. It was only getting the freezer down to about 19 no longer going to zero like it did a couple days ago. The evap motor completely seized up.

Post# 947147 , Reply# 48   7/8/2017 at 11:21 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

philr's profile picture
I hope that will fix it. Let us know what happens when you return next month!

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