Thread Number: 71832  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
POD 7/27/2017
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Post# 950215   7/27/2017 at 04:42 by brucelucenta (tulsa, oklahoma)        

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The only one of these machines I have ever seen was sitting at the city dump. I have not ever actually used one of these machines. The appearance of the one machine I saw was that of a small machine with a rubber lined tub that apparently somehow squeezes the clothes against the agitator, which is riddled with holes like a Kelvinator and pushes the water out of them. The agitator looked much like a conventional machine with the exception of having drainage holes throughout it. From what consumer reports wrote about these, they did a poor job of extraction and about fair on washing and rinsing from what I recall. It was one of many ideas in the infancy of automatic washers to counter the vibration of spinning the clothes to remove water.

Post# 950217 , Reply# 1   7/27/2017 at 05:22 by Easyspindry (Winston-Salem, NC)        
The Economat . . .

. . . washer was presented as an improvement over the Bendix front loaders that had to be bolted to the floor to keep from "walking" during the spin cycle. The spin cycle of the first front loaders was only about 200 rpm and did a poor job of extracting compared to other machines such as the first Frigidaire.

The Economat came along and did not have to be bolted to the floor. It could be used in apartments. There was no vibration. Easy to install or use as a portable similar to a portable dishwasher.

The agitator reminded me of a Maytag agitator except it had holes in it so the water could get under the agitator and down the drain hole.

The lid of the machine had a large bubble type gizmo that, when closed, fit down inside the rubber tub creating a seal. During the extract cycle, the water would drain down through the holes in the agitator. And as the pump continued pumping, the sealed lid would create a vacuum causing the sides of the rubber tub to get sucked in toward the agitator thus squeezing the clothes against the agitator.

There is video on Utube made by Robert of his machine extracting. He was able to make a plexiglas lid so that the operation could be watched. I shall never forget the first time I saw that video, having waiting for over 60 years to see the operation.

These machines cleaned well, but the extraction was poor.

There is an Economat at the museum in Beltsville, MD. It is amazing to me that the rubber tub is still in good shape after all these years.

Time marches on.

Jerry Gay

Post# 950218 , Reply# 2   7/27/2017 at 05:38 by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

Every time my attention was drawn to one it's because the owner HATED it. Poor water extraction and hanging clothes out on a line was not a big step-up from a manual machine. As mentioned the agitator was so nearly identical to Maytag's in appearance one has to wonder if there was some kind of back-room deal made to modify the Maytag product for use in the Bendix.

Post# 950224 , Reply# 3   7/27/2017 at 06:16 by brucelucenta (tulsa, oklahoma)        

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LOL I was going to say that the agitator looked like a Maytag agitator, but I thought it would sound kind of bizarre. I am glad I am not the only one who was of that opinion too.

Post# 950226 , Reply# 4   7/27/2017 at 06:42 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Rober tPerdue

In Roanoke Va had one, it actually washed pretty well, kind of like a Maytag on steroids, but the water extraction was abysmal, a wringer would do far better!LOL

Post# 950237 , Reply# 5   7/27/2017 at 08:32 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

I remember in the days before cell phones a friend and I went to see  movie in NW DC and when we parked, I saw an older Economat across the street, still on the shipping pallet. He was amazed that at that far distance, I recognized what it was. After I got home, I called John and we got it.  A couple of neighbors had these and they were both replaced at the same time, 1958, both due to the seal on the transmission allowing water to get in and displace the oil. Two reasons the machine was so cheap to make was that it only needed a wringer washer transmission and no suspension.  


The washing action with that flexing tub was vigorous, but in another bit of cheapness, the agitator had a plastic spline, not a metal one like the Maytag, to hold it onto the transmission and it wore after a lot of use. Again, the width of the "pear-shaped" tub at the base, allowed that 4 blade agitator to work as well as Maytag Gyrators did in the wide tubs of their conventional washers. The rubber tub sat in a cage and as it filled, it was the tub pushing against the metal that tripped the water level switch which was pretty ingenious. 

Post# 950253 , Reply# 6   7/27/2017 at 09:24 by Unimatic1140 (Minneapolis)        

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Yes I created a special plexiglas insert to be able to view the extraction in this machine. Another hidden cycle exposed!

Post# 950266 , Reply# 7   7/27/2017 at 11:04 by HiLoVane (Columbus OH)        

Another aunt of my mom's had one of these in her summer home.

I understand that a more serious problem, was the rubber inner tubs getting punctured, because of sharp objects left in pockets of shirts, pants, etc. There were so many incidents of this happening, that replacement of the rubber inner tubs got to be so much of a major expense for Bendix, that this alone reputedly contributed big time to to company's demise.

Post# 950268 , Reply# 8   7/27/2017 at 11:13 by ovrphil (N.Atlanta Georgia )        

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Now that was fun to see! I find it really hard to believe that this extraction method passed as good enough to sell. So interesting, that they thought pressing against the agitator would take out enough water...

The coolest thing about this Economat is just having it and installing a display window(nice going Robert) demonstrate a rare (to me) kind of extraction.

Thanks for another cool video from "Washer Theater" - and the history.


Post# 950278 , Reply# 9   7/27/2017 at 12:02 by Mrsalvo (New Braunfels Texas)        

Interesting with the Formica tops to blend in with the kitchen, so as not to stand out. Thought I saw an ad that let you chose different colors that was available. This gave me the impression it was a fancy stowaway portable. Oh, the different colors to chose from when selecting Formica for the kitchen counter tops and kitchen table and chairs, all set off with chrome. I know it may sound weird, but I rather liked it......and of course the aluminum christmas tree with bright shiny ornaments and the revolving colored lights. Yes! Yes!

Post# 950279 , Reply# 10   7/27/2017 at 12:15 by brucelucenta (tulsa, oklahoma)        

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I would sure like to see one wash too.

Post# 950313 , Reply# 11   7/27/2017 at 15:31 by apphappy (Sparta, Tn)        
New here figuring out the process to get info on 1959 E2L

I bought what I believe is a 1953 Maytag E2L wringer washer and I love it. I bought it last year at the 127 yard sale in Tennessee because they showed me it worked when plugged in.I let my adult children use it and I think they over loaded it with sheets and towels.The agitator won't move even though the spindle in the wash tub does. We found a piece of shredded rubber and we think it is to the pinion gear (?) . I'd love to find out if this is the part I need and where I might buy it. I'd also like a good place to find a parts and service manual to buy because I don't have a computer to down load to at this time. ( I'm at the public library doing this research). Any and all advice and information is greatly appreciated.
Thank you in advance'
p.s. Yes I'm already looking for another for my adult children because they love my machine :)

Post# 950318 , Reply# 12   7/27/2017 at 15:46 by brucelucenta (tulsa, oklahoma)        

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I guess there really is no following these conversations.....

Post# 950324 , Reply# 13   7/27/2017 at 16:31 by ovrphil (N.Atlanta Georgia )        

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LOL, Bruce.

Post# 950328 , Reply# 14   7/27/2017 at 16:38 by lotsosudz (Sacramento, CA)        
Hey Mr. Webmaster

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Could we see your Economat, washing and rinsing please!!! My parents had one, but got rid of it when i was a baby, as if stopped squeezing the clothes out well enough. it ran 5 years with a family ranging from 4-6 people over its short life time. it was replaced with a 1957 60 series, 2 speed, Kenmore,with a preggie rotoswirl agi, and a waterfall filter. Would love to see the Bendix in action.

Post# 950390 , Reply# 15   7/27/2017 at 23:01 by Unimatic1140 (Minneapolis)        

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Hey David, sorry to say but I don't have the economat anymore, but I'm thrilled to have been able to capture the extraction/squeeze cycle for the world to finally see!

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