Thread Number: 71762  /  Tag: Refrigerators
Got a GE combination fridge!
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Post# 949480   7/22/2017 at 20:10 (360 days old) by spacepig (Floridas Emerald Coast)        

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Thanks to Travis, I was able to purchase the GE combination fridge that I mentioned in the sales forum. It arrived yesterday and I've started cleaning it, but there is a lot left to do. It was working when it left St. Louis, and we'll be plugging it in tomorrow to see if it still works. It's on the homely side, but I'm hoping once it's clean, it will look a little more spiffy.

In the previous thread, Lawrence mentioned that this is a 1955. However, if I read the model number right, it should be a 1951, so I"m not sure what manual to buy in the ephemera section. Any one have any other info?


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Post# 949483 , Reply# 1   7/22/2017 at 20:29 (360 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        
Travis saves another one!

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That's a '55 for sure.  The interior color scheme is a dead give-away.  A '51 wouldn't have the spinning shelves and I don't think they even offered a bottom freezer configuration until '55.  A '51 would also be plain white inside and have no door shelving in the refrigerator section.


You'll be surprised at how well it will clean up with some elbow grease, followed by a treatment with car cleaner/wax.


Is the large basket for the freezer missing? 


By the way, to adjust the shelf height, hold the button in while you rotate the shelf.

Post# 949489 , Reply# 2   7/22/2017 at 21:36 (360 days old) by spacepig (Floridas Emerald Coast)        
Thanks for the additional info.

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Yes, the bottom basket is missing, as well as a couple of door shelves, the kick plate, and a hinge cover. Hopefully, those won't be too hard to find. When it got here, it looked to be pale lemon yellow with a greenish brown freezer door, but once I started cleaning, it is looking whiter, and the freezer door is actually grey (which is what Travis suspected).

I've read some of the older threads about cleaning, so I've got a list of Meguiars car products to get. First, we'll see if it still works before investing too much time and energy. Fingers crossed that it still works!

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Post# 949498 , Reply# 3   7/22/2017 at 22:18 (360 days old) by pulltostart (Mobile, AL)        

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Congratulations!  Very cool refrigerator.  Ralph is correct, 1955 was the first year for GE's bottom mount.  I've never seen one quite this close, so I was never sure what the finish was on that freezer door.  I assumed it was a textured aluminum skin - interesting that it's just painted?


Be sure to include more photos after you get her shiny and cold.



Post# 949662 , Reply# 4   7/23/2017 at 16:58 (359 days old) by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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Looks good!

Post# 949685 , Reply# 5   7/23/2017 at 18:32 (359 days old) by spacepig (Floridas Emerald Coast)        

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Plugged it in earlier today and put it on the coldest setting. After a few hours, the refrigerator was at 25 degrees and the freezer got down to 0. We moved the setting a little because it's a little too cold, and we'll let it run overnight.

I bought all the car products earlier today, but spent most of my time cleaning the inside. While the colors are not my first choice, I still think it's quite lovely. Hopefully a cleaning and polishing on the outside will help it look a little more snazzy.

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Post# 949689 , Reply# 6   7/23/2017 at 18:40 (359 days old) by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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that is one mighty beautiful vintage GE fridge! And your cleaning of the interior and exterior is impressive. I'm sure that there are few of these bottom freezer combos around that can hold a candle to yours. And the fact that it is working so well too is just the cherry on the sundae. Good for you! Hope you'll get lots of enjoyment and use out of this beauty.

Post# 949706 , Reply# 7   7/23/2017 at 20:01 (359 days old) by spacepig (Floridas Emerald Coast)        
Thank you, Eddie.

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I could have done a better job on cleaning the revolving shelves, but they are clean enough. The crud is off of them for sure, but they could use a good polish with a metal cleaner. I primarily used Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and Windex. I'll probably try a little baking soda tomorrow on some of the stubborn rust spots and see if I can't get those to disappear completely.

Post# 949709 , Reply# 8   7/23/2017 at 20:10 (359 days old) by Ultramatic (New York City)        

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What a gorgeous refrigerator! Never seen a '55 GE combo before. It looks immaculate inside. One question, I noticed you have a CFL bulb inside. Is it working? I ask because CFL's supposedly don't work in the cold. Anyway congratulations on the save!

Post# 949723 , Reply# 9   7/23/2017 at 21:03 (359 days old) by spacepig (Floridas Emerald Coast)        

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Those light bulbs were in there when we got the fridge, and I didn't think anything of them. They are working with the cold just fine. However, I did take them out since they really don't belong. Will pick up some more appropriate appliance bulbs tomorrow--thanks for noticing that!

Post# 949729 , Reply# 10   7/23/2017 at 21:43 (359 days old) by pulltostart (Mobile, AL)        

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Great job, Jeanine!  That interior just looks fantastic.



Post# 949733 , Reply# 11   7/23/2017 at 21:58 (359 days old) by ovrphil (N.Atlanta / Georgia )        

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Congratulations! My parents had something similar, but the memory is vague...all I remember were the rotating shelves and as Ralph mentioned, holding in the button ...

Happy Cooling!

Post# 949737 , Reply# 12   7/23/2017 at 22:56 (359 days old) by Ultramatic (New York City)        

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Thanks Jeannine. I had always wondered about CFL's and the cold. Can't wait to see this beauty all done!

Post# 949742 , Reply# 13   7/23/2017 at 23:42 (359 days old) by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

I just noticed GE is selling LED bulbs rated for refrigerators and microwaves too - but not ovens.  Odds are I will replace my fridge's bulbs with LED when the time comes.  But I agree the CFLs have to go...

Post# 949862 , Reply# 14   7/24/2017 at 16:20 (358 days old) by fisherpaykel (BC Canada)        
GE Innovations Wow!

Wow! Very nice. 5 shelves, 3 swivel out, door pedal, 2 flip down/up bottle racks. Is the only innovation today cheapening products and occasionally bringing back one or two features from the past?

Post# 949892 , Reply# 15   7/24/2017 at 18:46 (358 days old) by spacepig (Floridas Emerald Coast)        

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Since we decided to go with retro appliances, we've been amazed at how innovative and ahead of their time they were. Not to mention, how cool they looked compared to some of today's appliances.

Post# 950685 , Reply# 16   7/29/2017 at 20:05 (353 days old) by spacepig (Floridas Emerald Coast)        
So we've run into a problem.

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For now, we've got the refrigerator on the back porch, making sure that everything is good to go before we bring into the house. I went out there to check the temp inside and ended up getting shocked by the door handle. It never happened before, but I always had shoes on, and this time I was barefoot (floor is concrete). I put some shoes on and didn't feel any shock. Got the voltmeter out to test, and sure enough, there's about 5 volts coming out of the handle and other chrome pieces.

We disconnected the wires to the butter keeper since those are inside the front door, but that didn't change anything.

Has anyone experienced this before, and if so, what did you do to fix it?

Post# 950728 , Reply# 17   7/30/2017 at 01:23 (353 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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The fridge itself isn't grounded (presuming it has its original two-prong plug), so that's the problem.  Bare feet on concrete is a textbook circumstance for shock potential. 


I remember childhood friends who had a beater TV on a tile floor in a room that was originally built as a sun porch, so there was likely no wood sub-floor under the tile.  The set's on/off knob was missing, so there was just a metal post.  If you had bare feet, you'd get shocked trying to turn the TV on or off.


I also had an old Westinghouse front load washer on a concrete floor in the garage of a home I was renting.  The girl who lived in the in-law unit behind the garage was afraid to use the washer because it had shocked her, likely because she was barefooted. 


You can look into grounding the fridge if it's not opening up a can of worms to give it a new 3-prong cord, or you might not have any issues with it as is once it's inside the house.  I have a '57 Combination with original two-prong plug.  It's on a tile floor, and I've had no problems in bare feet because there's a wood sub-floor underneath.

Post# 950785 , Reply# 18   7/30/2017 at 13:05 (352 days old) by spacepig (Floridas Emerald Coast)        
Thank you, Ralph

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It does have the original 2 prong plug so that makes sense. Per the schematics on the back, the plug goes up to the top of the freezer, so it looks like we would have to take the entire back off of the fridge in order to replace it.

We have vinyl flooring on top of a wood sub floor, so hopefully that will help. We may try getting a piece of plywood under it as it is now and see if that will take care of it.

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Post# 950787 , Reply# 19   7/30/2017 at 13:07 (352 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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I think there's a way to ground it without changing the cord, but others here will have to advise on how.

Post# 950795 , Reply# 20   7/30/2017 at 13:59 (352 days old) by fridgenut (Cape Girardeau, MO)        
Glad to see it works...

Sorry to hear it shocked you. I was actually the one who helped Travis move this beast. Thankfully the previous owner was quite built and made loading it up easy. He even had an ancient 78 rpm jukebox that was interesting. Unloading it wasn't too bad but I did have to squat down more than normal when taking it out of the truck on its dolly. She's a thick mama jama!

You did a fantastic job of cleaning it up. It was filthy with mold and nicotine stains. You brought the life back out of it.

Since it isn't grounded and you are standing on a concrete floor you always have the possibility of getting shocked. Not to say there isn't something wrong. Some component is leaking a little voltage to the body. Grounding it will help get rid of the shock but it will not get rid of the leaking component. Thoroughly check the wiring to see if you see any problems.

Post# 950921 , Reply# 21   7/31/2017 at 13:29 (351 days old) by spacepig (Floridas Emerald Coast)        

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First, I want to thank you for helping Travis get the refrigerator to me, especially since it's so heavy! The inside cleaned up nicely, but the exterior will need to be refinished at some point. However, it does look much better overall than before!

We did put a piece of plywood under it to see if that would make a difference and it did drop the voltage down to 1-2 vs. 5-6. I would feel better if the plug was completely replaced, so will call around and see what repairmen would cost to do so since it appears the whole entire back would have to be removed.

Thanks to you and Travis again for helping with this. I could probably keep the two of you fairly busy running around St. Louis picking up things for me--lol!

Post# 950937 , Reply# 22   7/31/2017 at 15:26 (351 days old) by fridgenut (Cape Girardeau, MO)        
No problem at all

I'm glad you like it and I'm glad I could help. I hope that you can get it repaired without much trouble.

Post# 950979 , Reply# 23   7/31/2017 at 20:59 (351 days old) by Jed0nly (Tulsa, OK)        

Cool fridge!!

Post# 950985 , Reply# 24   7/31/2017 at 21:34 (351 days old) by Ultramatic (New York City)        

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It's a beautiful thing when members help others acquire appliances that are far from home.  

Post# 951019 , Reply# 25   8/1/2017 at 06:00 (351 days old) by retro-man (nashua,nh)        

Now we have discussed this in previous other threads about electrical current cords without a ground. Would this be one of those cases where you might just reverse the plug in the outlet and not be getting shocked? Don't know for sure but thought I would just throw this out here.


Post# 951660 , Reply# 26   8/5/2017 at 08:31 (347 days old) by appliguy (Oakton Va.)        
This may or may not help but here’s what worked for me....

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when my 1957 GE Fridge started doing the same thing...I was told by a man with a background in nuclear medical equipment maintenance to remove a screw from the back of the fridge, stick the end of a wire in the hole, replace the screw with the wire still in the hole and then take the other end and do the same thing with it on the back of my stove which is only 2 feet from my fridge. Since I did this there has been no more problems with a shock hazard. I was also told the problem is more than likely that the start winding in the compressor is starting to go bad......PAT COFFEY

Post# 951859 , Reply# 27   8/6/2017 at 15:40 (345 days old) by spacepig (Floridas Emerald Coast)        
Thanks, Pat.

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That's interesting. Unfortunately, our stove and refrigerator are not near each other, so we wouldn't be able to tie into it. I did call a couple of places about replacing the power cord. One refused to come out, and the other said they could do it, but just replacing the power cord itself would not ground the refrigerator and that a ground would have to be wired in there in addition to the plug.

Post# 952300 , Reply# 28   8/9/2017 at 08:19 (343 days old) by appliguy (Oakton Va.)        
Jeannine, I do not see why it would not work if....

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you screwed the opposite end of the wire into the screw hole that holds the outlet cover in place that the fridge is plugged into instead of into the stove.....I know thats what my folks always did with the ground wire on the washing machines we had when I was growing up....PAT COFFEY

Post# 952425 , Reply# 29   8/10/2017 at 00:01 (342 days old) by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

The two simple solutions mentioned are easy ans inexpensive.  The first, reversing the plug is the easiest, and often will solve the problem.  I have a Singer 500 sewing machine down the basement that I use occasionally.  Even though I have a heavy vinyl floor if I'm barefoot I can feel a hard to describe not quite tingling when I touch the machine if I have the plug in the wrong way.  Flip the plug in the outlet and all is fine.  Put a small piece of tape on the plug so I know which way is which.


Adding a ground wire is also very simple.  As mentioned simply connect a wire to any metal point on the fridge, and run that to the center screw of any standard outlet.  Folks have been doing that for generations.... 

Post# 952493 , Reply# 30   8/10/2017 at 09:54 (342 days old) by gus (Montevideo, Uruguay)        

HI FOLKS, It happens the same many years ago with a fifties Norge fridge. I called a technician in fridges, and he tied an electric cable, in green colour, and fitted it to a new plug which was earthed, like the electric socket in the wall. That worked indeed. Years later there was a short circuit with a transfo from 110 to 220 volts, the Norge was made in USA, of course, and here we have 220 volt current. And all the fridge was energized with a pole of 220 volt, so I moved the fridge and when I replaced it, it refused to start, and then I discovered the short and see sparks on the screw where the cable was attached. That saved my life! After that I ALWAYS attach a green cable where there´s no earth. ONE MAIN ITEM the wall receptacle MUST BE PROPERLY EARTHED. That´s my cent! Take care with electricity. Good luck. Gus

Post# 952511 , Reply# 31   8/10/2017 at 12:51 (341 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Jeannine, the running of a wire to the outlet cover plate screw should be an easy fix.  I've seen some situations where a spade has been placed on each end of the wire for easy fastening, but that's not absolutely necessary.


As has been stated above, this is a common practice.  Think about those adapters that allow a two-bladed outlet to accommodate a three-prong plug.  They almost always have a tab on the top with a hole in it for the cover plate screw.

Post# 952530 , Reply# 32   8/10/2017 at 16:42 (341 days old) by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

As Gus mentioned, the box the receptacle is located in must be grounded (earthed as he calls it). Otherwise, a ground wire from the appliance attached to the screw holding the cover plate will not be effective. If it's in an older house wired with NM cable without a ground (or knob & tube), the box is not grounded. If the box is wired with NM with ground, MC cable, or metal conduit, then a ground should be available. Also, if the receptacle is the ungrounded type and not in firm contact with the metal box, the screw holding the cover plate on may not be grounded.

A good ground should be verified with a tester such as a VOM or test lamp, even if the receptacle is the grounding type. Sometimes people install a 3 wire grounding type receptacle on a circuit that doesn't have any equipment grounding conductor. This,of course, is in violation of the NEC.

Post# 952554 , Reply# 33   8/11/2017 at 00:30 (341 days old) by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

The ground wire and the neutral wire are connected to exactly the same point in the fuse/breaker box -- ie. same potential.  The center screw as well as the frame of the outlet are all connected to the neutral terminal on the plug in a two prong outlet.  If the outlet is wired properly the screw will serve as ground.  the issue I believe is inserting the plug in the correct position.

Post# 952647 , Reply# 34   8/12/2017 at 06:56 (340 days old) by spacepig (Floridas Emerald Coast)        
Thanks everyone for the replies.

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The house was completely rewired in the mid 2000's, so the plugs are grounded. At the time, only plugs near the sink had to be GFCI, so the plug for the fridge is just a regular one. Now that we have a solution for grounding it without a complete rewire, we'll replace the drain hose on the back this weekend (it was severely dry rotted) and let it run for a couple of days before bringing it inside.

There's one more thing--it had a fiber board backing over the motor with some insulation that came off when shipped. Does the insulation literally sit right on top of the motor??

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