Thread Number: 73324  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
Single Speed Washers?
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Post# 968608   11/17/2017 at 19:33 (189 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        

My first machine was a 1977 Filter-Flo 5400P bought when I was in college. It was what I could afford at the time, and it had a single speed. There were toggle switches for water level and wash temp, and the simple timer dial had options for regular and permanent-press cycles, with the soak cycle being part of the regular cycle. The exact control panel is thankfully included in the 1974 GE brochure in the ephemera. This machine worked without incident for me for 9 years.

I owned two other TOL Filter-Flo pairs into the late 90's, purchased with new homes. They had, of course, two speed agitation and spin. Then, two front loaders for nearly 20 years, and while they both had 'delicate' selection on the dials, I never used them.

Now, I have this 432 SQ TL with a delicate cycle that agitates, apparently, at a lower speed than the regular cycle.

I've never used the 'delicate' cycle for anything! The clothing I wear is nothing delicate, virtually all natural fabrics, I don't have any linens that I'd describe as delicate, either. My dress shirts are done with my suits at the dry cleaners.

Question for you men out there: do you ever use your delicate cycle, and if so, what do you use it for? As far as I can tell for me, I could be happy as a clam with a single speed machine again...

Post# 968609 , Reply# 1   11/17/2017 at 19:55 (189 days old) by appnut (TX)        

appnut's profile picture

I had a GE set purchased April 1978 at Foley's.  Was one or two from tol.  I felt normal agitation was too aggressive on things such as knits I was still wearing, sweaters.  Used normal wash/slow spin speed combination for my perm press poly/cotton shirts.  Got a 1st generation Lady Kenmore DD October 1986.  I think many people found DD normal agitation to be too aggressive.  The only thing I didn't use delicate for was sheets and towels.  Eventually by the 1989 or 1990 renditions of WP & Kenmore, they'd begun using stepped down agitation whereby started on normal and switched to gentle on PP & Normal Cycles, Heavy Duty had all normal.  Sears eventually put speed control switch on many of its models.  Regular/Normal speed setting was gentle wash/normal spin.  Heavy duty was Normal/Normal.  I had several things ruined in that machine.  One being an expensive wool blend sweater that managed to get ripped by getting caught under the agitator fins at the base and that was with just that sweater and medium high water level.  I only got to wear that sweater a few times before it was ru8ined.  Similar with a heavy cotton woven sweater.  Hence I coined the phrase Lady Shredmore.  I'll never go back to a top loader.  I despise them.  My Duet with onboard heater far out cleans anything I've ever used in 53+ years of laundry.  Plus my water gets more expensive the higher my sewer rate usage is calculated for the year.    I cringe every time I hear that thunka thunka from a DD machine. 


My Duet is the 2011 version of Frigilux's 2015 Maytag Maxima and he immediately could see such a difference and understood why I am so crazy about my washer. 

Post# 968610 , Reply# 2   11/17/2017 at 20:20 (189 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        

I bought my 1977 avocado pair on the 9th floor at Foley's downtown! The hospital where I was working was just moving from downtown to the SW Frwy and was 3 blocks from the downtown Foley's.

Your reply probably indicates a reason for me with agitation: I hated knits, still do. I only owned a couple of sweaters 'cause in this Houston-area climate I'd have to pull them off immediately when I got inside, so I just didn't fool with them. And I've never had any clothing damaged in a washer, either my own or in a laundromat. However, I'm pretty conscientious in my use of lingerie bags for some items.

Though I'm now in a TL again, it makes sense to me that FL machines would be easier on clothing, particularly flimsy items. Maybe I've just always been into heavy-duty clothing and didn't know it...

Post# 968612 , Reply# 3   11/17/2017 at 20:34 (189 days old) by Washerlover (Lake County, California: Wines With Altitude)        

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I use the delicate cycle for dress shirts/pants -- the slower agitation works fine and slow spin is great. I just take the shirts out and put on a hanger to hang dry. The slow spin keeps the wrinkles to a minimum. No need to iron!

Post# 968617 , Reply# 4   11/17/2017 at 20:48 (189 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Two speed machines are perfect for the permanent pressers out there like me. I use this cycle for dress clothes and work uniforms.

My girlfriend has some knit fabrics that require slower speeds all around.

The only use I have for delicate or slow speed agitation is when I'm doing a low water wash. I only have a few light coloured shirts and they only need the lowest of water levels, so I'll always opt for gentle agitation and high speed spin. I just don't want the fabrics beat too much as the room for rollover is less at lower water levels.

Post# 968618 , Reply# 5   11/17/2017 at 20:51 (189 days old) by Losangeles (Muscle Shoals, AL 35661)        
Single speed washers

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I have a single speed Maytag A 282. Since getting it I have been washing anything and everything that even remotely smacked of unclean. My wifes uniforms are a cotton/poly blend. Spinning them on low in my Whirlpool Duet FL and not crowding the dryer they come out looking smart and ready to wear. No iron needed. Soo, I washed her uniforms in the Maytag but stopped the spin just before reaching full speed both after the wash and the rinse. I get pretty much the same results. It takes a little more effort but it works. I will admit that I would love to have wash/spin speed selections.

Post# 968619 , Reply# 6   11/17/2017 at 20:55 (189 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

wayupnorth's profile picture
Even though my LA 511 is a single speed Fabric-Matic, the delicate cycle runs my mothers 50+ year old afghans thru just fine once a year. I thought I needed a 2 speed 35 years ago but 99% of the time it is Regular cycle and have never regretted buying them.

Post# 968623 , Reply# 7   11/17/2017 at 21:35 (189 days old) by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

yogitunes's profile picture
having separate controls for wash and spin are great advantages for flexibility in a TLer...

you can combine any speed to any cycle......such as converting the Gentle cycle into just a Short cycle for say a half load in a hurry...

all spins are set to high....

there are times when you want the clothing to have an extended time in the detergent solution, first few minutes of a long cycle are regular agitation, then switch to slower speed for the rest of the agitation.....

a FLer is fool proof....basically one cycle, Normal, for all loads, reduce wash time for smaller loads.....warm/hot wash, cold thing I like about Neptunes, just load and hit start, the cycle just repeats, over and over...

our first automatic was a one cycle, 2 temp, 2 water level GE V12......I switched it out for a TOL Kenmore Digital.....only to figure out, we used Cotton/Sturdy regular cycle, warm/hot wash, cold rinse....just a waste to have everything was nice to know I had everything available if needed....

everyone always asked why I got such a big capacity machine......I could always reduce the water level, I cant make a small capacity machine bigger!

Post# 968653 , Reply# 8   11/18/2017 at 05:15 (189 days old) by appnut (TX)        

appnut's profile picture

Mine was bought Foley's Sharpstown in preparation of me having to move from SW to NW Houston where the apartment I as moving into had hookups for washer & dryer.  I've also used gentle speed for special table linens. 


My mom basically washed everything together.  A few of my things were ruined in 1966 due to that.  I had  begun noticing how her friends did laundry when I'd get to do laundry at their houses so I could watch the machines.  


At some point she began to appreciate some of how I did laundry.  It got to the point , probably bruising her ego, when I'd visit, even after being transferred out of Houston, when I'd walk into the back door/laundry room and there was a pile of clothes next to the washer, it meant I was supposed to take care of them while I was visiting.


One of the many reasons why I love my Duet.  I have control over water temps of 85-100 degrees, 120, 127, 131, and 150+ degrees and various tumble/wash speeds on certain cycles appropriate to various fabric types.  I use hand wash to take care of my compression stockings.    Wrinkle Free cottons get medium tumble and medium spin speed.  I refuse to iron--my washer & dryer iron for me.

Post# 968662 , Reply# 9   11/18/2017 at 07:12 (188 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        
compression stockings

I started wearing compression stockings in my 20's. Why? I learned it when I started working surgery in hospitals. This was decades ago, and the people I worked with were using them because of long hours standing. They also turned me on to SAS shoes, which I'd never seen before. Yes, they used the classic 'Amigo' style that's still sold. I've still got some, though of course not the same ones!

Ironing or pressing clothing causes a physical change in the cloth. It can't be done in a washer or a dryer. Frankly, these days most people dress sufficiently sloppy that it isn't noticed, particularly if one chooses the right clothes to start with. Others, like my cotton dress shirts, mean there's no choice.

I used to live near Bellaire and Hillcroft so I was very close to Sharpstown. Westwood Mall had the Sears, Sharpstown had the Montgomery Ward. Westwood had the Joske's, Sharpstown had the Foley's. But I used to shop at Meyerland some, also, and it was neat because it was still open on the inside of the mall to the weather.

I worked at Memorial NW Hospital over near Ella for six years--the old hospital, not the one now. And Maryland Club had that coffee plant right near NW Mall--you'd smell it every time you went by it on the 610! We could count on at least one insurance fraud coming in every weekend to ER, having fallen at the mall in Montgomery Ward and wanting to sue...the good old days, indeed.

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Post# 968665 , Reply# 10   11/18/2017 at 07:48 (188 days old) by lesto (Atlanta)        

I have a late 60's Speed Queen, the first model with the reversing motor. It has a Normal cycle and a separate "durable press" cycle. I use the durable press quite often. The machine has a separate feed control dial so I can have a normal agitate and spin speed on the DP cycle. It's great when doing lighter loads that don't need a long wash time. The wash time on the DP cycle is 7 minutes and it has a shorter rinse and final spin. The first spin between wash and rinse is the same length on both cycles.

Post# 968670 , Reply# 11   11/18/2017 at 08:42 (188 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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My family and myself always have had 2-speed (or 3-speed) washers (my F&P and Calypso have more than 3).  Only 1-speeders I ever used is one of those ubiquitous Filter-Flos that a family friend had at a weekend/vacation home that we often visited during the 1970s, and the first washer the grandmother had at the start of my born-days with her was a 1-speed 1950s flat-top Kenmore automatic that a friend had given to her.

Post# 968677 , Reply# 12   11/18/2017 at 08:59 (188 days old) by akronman (Akron/Cleveland Ohio)        
Low speed

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I have a 1960 Kenmore, average size tub and agitator for the era, and the gentle cycle is perfect for 5 shirts I wear to the office, when the week is done.
I also have a single-speed 1974 porcelain (smaller) tub peed Queen, and it's one speed is TOO aggressive for dress shirts and pants, no way. Maybe the stainless, larger tub models, having more space with the exact same transmission and agitator, would not be as rough?

Before this hobby and so darn many machines hooked up in the basement, I never worried when I had a single speed washer, but am glad now I can pick and choose.

Post# 968686 , Reply# 13   11/18/2017 at 09:48 (188 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        

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Most fabrics get clean on slow speed. One thing I have discovered is that high speed agitation is often over kill for most loads- especially DDs. Switching to slow agi triples the life of clothing in my experience. What forces people to use a none delicate cycle is often the slow spin speeds and short times associated with most delicate cycles.

Post# 968696 , Reply# 14   11/18/2017 at 10:40 (188 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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I'd rather have a long wash period at slower speed for more exposure to detergent chemicals & enzymes ... which is essentially the FL method.

Post# 968758 , Reply# 15   11/18/2017 at 16:12 (188 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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I am currently stuck with BOL WP DD...which has only one speed. I am getting by--fortunately most of what I wash is reasonably tough--but I really wish I had a lower speed. A slow agitation/fast spin seems ideal for these washers for many normal loads.


But I'd miss that lower speed less on other washers. Although, while a slow speed is not necessarily a "must have", I'd rather have it "just in case." It might only be used a few times a year--if that--but at least its there if I do want it.

Post# 968767 , Reply# 16   11/18/2017 at 16:40 (188 days old) by Whatsername (Loveland, CO)        

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I use delicate on the LG FL for sweaters and crew neck sweatshirts, whose collars always seem to get out of shape after a while, so I'm trying to prolong their "like-new" life. Also, ski clothes, oodles and oodles of ski clothes go on delicate--ski pants, long underwear, turtlenecks, knee high ski socks, helmet liners--I like the higher water level, long soaks, and gentle spin. Delicate seems to be a wintertime cycle for me.

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