Thread Number: 73365  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
Thriftivator? Calgloss?
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Post# 969037   11/20/2017 at 03:19 (213 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        

It's always interesting to see the efforts of fifties marketing drones trying to distinguish their products with inventive terms.

Referring to the Hotpoint ad below, is there something special about the agitator that they call the "Thriftivator"? Is there anything special about the enamel that makes it "Calgloss"? My understanding is that Hotpoint was out of Chicago, otherwise I'd think it just meant it was in California-

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Post# 969044 , Reply# 1   11/20/2017 at 05:36 (212 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

The Thriftivator was a rather plain looking, goose-necked agitator that was VERY effective. Some of them had rubber-tipped fins (another sales gimmick). Early ones were Red Bakelite with Gray Rubber Tips. Then solid Red. Then later ones were solid black.
When they started using that lame-ass spiral agitator in the upper model series in the mid-sixties, I used to tell people to get an old goose-neck and switch them out. The performance improved markedly.

I'd love to come across an old Hotpoint such as the one pictured here. They may not have been very dependable (in spite of all the hyperbole), however, they were good at cleaning.

Post# 969219 , Reply# 2   11/21/2017 at 06:35 (211 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Thriftivator, Gyrator, Surgilator, RotoSwirl Agitator, Activator, Pulsator, Three Ring Pump Agitator, Spiral Dasher, Hydractor were just a few of the names for agitators. Most manufacturers had one.


Hotpoint was big on "thrift." Their deepwell cooker was called the "Thrift Cooker." Westinghouse's deepwell was called the Econo-Cooker. Frigidaire's deepwell was called the "Thermizer" and their vegetable bins in their refrigerators were called "Hydrators." All were terms to dazzle potential buyers like the shimmering eyes in a Peacock's tail.

Post# 969250 , Reply# 3   11/21/2017 at 12:08 (211 days old) by Unimatic1140 (Minneapolis)        

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Here are a couple of Hotpoint Thrifivators. Anyone recognize that rare and unusual black agitator cap in the third picture?

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Post# 969264 , Reply# 4   11/21/2017 at 14:11 (211 days old) by RevvinKevin (So. Cal.)        
Question for Steve (Gyrafoam)

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You refer to the agitator as "goose-necked", what do you mean by that?  

Post# 969364 , Reply# 5   11/22/2017 at 08:04 (210 days old) by appliguy (Oakton Va.)        
Actually according to what I have read in Maytag literrature

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Maytag called their agitator a Gyratator.........and as far as names for agitators go let us not forget RotoFlex, PentaSwirl, PowerFin Dual Action Agitator, Revolving Agitator, Blades of Water,.....have I missed any names guys?....PAT COFFEY

Post# 969378 , Reply# 6   11/22/2017 at 10:47 (210 days old) by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        
Hi Pat !

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Actually Gyratator sounds more like what a Gyrator actually does! ;'D

Two more:

Easy's Spiralator

Kenmore's Vari-flex

Those rubber extensions on the Thriftavator remind me of the extendable fins on the Vari-flex; they make for quite a bit more current.

Post# 969392 , Reply# 7   11/22/2017 at 12:23 (210 days old) by golittlesport (California)        
Kevin --

I believe the term "gooseneck" was used on the Hotpoint straight-vane agitator because it had a long, slim centerpost with no vanes on it.

Post# 969396 , Reply# 8   11/22/2017 at 12:42 (210 days old) by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

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Jet Cone, Load Sensor, Jet Action (?) Burpalator, Dasher, Was there a PentaFlex ?

Post# 969408 , Reply# 9   11/22/2017 at 14:35 (210 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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PentaVane and PentaSwirl.

Post# 970154 , Reply# 10   11/26/2017 at 20:30 (206 days old) by Washerlover (Lake County, California: Wines With Altitude)        

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And although Whirlpool’s “Surgilator” has already been mentioned, the butterfly-winged base agitators introduced later were called “Super Surgilator.”

Post# 970156 , Reply# 11   11/26/2017 at 20:44 (206 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        
Jet Cone

I always liked that term! I remember mama's Frigidaire back then had that.

One of the funniest of those marketing terms for cars was the use of Buick's calling the 1958 Buicks (those hideous things) the "B-58 Buicks", obviously trying to buy into the Cold War mentality. Of course, the damn things looked like they could demolish any other car on the road! Because of the foot added on to the trunk, the Limited was actually longer than the '58 regular Cadillac models. You can imagine, though, how tough it would be to get into driveways and parking garages with that trunk!

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Post# 970159 , Reply# 12   11/26/2017 at 20:53 (206 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        
WP Surgilators

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Super Surgilator had the lower three fins extended a bit beyond the edge of the skirt.

The winged version was called Double-Duty Super Surgilator.

Post# 970160 , Reply# 13   11/26/2017 at 21:13 (206 days old) by washman (Butler, PA)        

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And Speed Queen has Flex Vane.

Post# 970164 , Reply# 14   11/26/2017 at 21:48 (206 days old) by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

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I'm just guessing, but I'd think that "Calgloss" was more likely an attempt to make a connection to Hotpoint's heavily-touted Calrod surface units than a reference to California.

Post# 970204 , Reply# 15   11/27/2017 at 06:31 (205 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

John, the General Dynamics / Convair B-58 "Hustler" was the hottest jet in the sky that year! With those after-burner equipped GE jet turbines, there wasn't anything faster. I think the reference they are making must be to speed. (Remember, Jets of any kind were still fairly new in 1958----the airlines got their first Boeing 707's in 1958.) Of course, the Buick was considerably more comfortable than the jet and easier to park. My grandmother had one of those Buick's and I can tell you it was powerful and fast for the times. I loved how it started by mashing down on the accelerator pedal. The airconditioning was also very effective, (that it was effective was also a rarity in those days.) I also loved the thousand pounds of chrome on cars in 1958. I would have hated to keep them clean with all those crevasses.

Post# 970223 , Reply# 16   11/27/2017 at 09:04 (205 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        
That Body

I had an aunt and uncle with a '57 with the four-door hardtop wagon body. Biggest drawback for the '57 and '58 GM lines was that they looked old compared to those beautiful new Mopars. But then, of course, one could watch those Mopars rust away in nothing flat--except for the parts that fell off. Shoulder room in particular was deficient in those GM's. And God help you if you got air bags!

But in so many ways the '58 Buick, rococo as it looked, was still more comfortable and practical than the '59. That same aunt and uncle replaced that '57 wagon with a '59 Electra and it was like sitting on the floor, literally. The worst part on the '59, as they discovered, was that not only was the trunk opening tiny like a '65 Marlin, but the spare tire had to sit at an angle and hogged about a third of the space. And the lid sloped down. It really did get uncomfortable on long drives, even with power seats, because they were so low with upright seat backs. My parents bought a '60 Bonneville, but GM changed the body and dipped the front floorboard down 1.5" for 1960 so that even though you sat low, it wasn't nearly as uncomfortable. In fact, my parents loved that Bonneville. It was the 4-door hardtop with the wraparound back window, the Vista. And yes, down here in TX it definitely had to have a/c!

Post# 970294 , Reply# 17   11/27/2017 at 17:53 (205 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        
John, we hijacked your own thread!

In late 1958 Lockheed Aircraft, Burbank, began deliveries of their (then new) Model L-188 "Electra" Propeller-Turbine transport aircraft. It was fast and nimble compared to the sluggish piston-powered aircraft of the day. However, it still had propellers and so it was practically obsolete on delivery. Only a few of the airlines realized the public would demand jets as soon as they could be offered!

I think Buick changed the TOL model name from Roadmaster to Electra to reflect something new, fast and agile. If you take a close look at the prop-caps (minus propellers) on an L-188 you will see the tail lights of the 59-60 Buick Electra's. Especially the 1960 Electra.

I wonder what the connection between the GM stylists and Lockheed was? The -48 through -56 Cadillac tail lights were a throw-back to the twin-tails of the Lockheed P-38 of WWII.
Since Lockheed Aircraft were known for their high-speed, in an era where speed and flying went hand in hand, it stands to reason they must have wanted to imply speed and maybe agility if you can imagine those old things agile! That's a stretch!

Ironically, because of the high speeds and sometimes unknown dynamics associated with it, Lockheed designs tended to have problems with aerodynamic "flutter". A fatal condition if not held in check by structural strength.
Both the L-14 and P-38 designs of the 1930's suffered from tail-flutter. And both designs had to be modified to correct the problem

After two airlines lost new L-188 Electras due to wing-flutter, and subsequent loss of life, the FAA grounded them until the cause and fix could occur. Due to the negative media the public avoided travel on Electras by the droves. The Electras were modified as quickly as possible and had a lengthy and a successful life span with the airlines. Some were loathe to retire them. Eastern held on to theirs until the mid-seventies, Varig of Brazil until the nineties and Reeve of Alaska until the early 2000's. Some were converted to freighters and plyed the airways until just recently in Great Britain and Canada.

However, I leaves me to wonder if the Buick folks regretted re-naming the Roadmasters to Electras? If they did, it didn't stop them from using the name until the mid-eighties.

Your description of the -59 Electra is interesting. I remember when many cars with "power-seats" could only be moved two-ways, front to back. Some were four-way that included up and down. It wasn't until the six-way seats came out that you could adjust tilt and many of those had a manual adjustment for the seat-backs. Maybe it was a two-way seat that was the problem.

This post was last edited 11/27/2017 at 19:10
Post# 970296 , Reply# 18   11/27/2017 at 18:27 (205 days old) by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

I don't know how Calgloss got its name, but Hotpoint originally was located in Ontario, California. It was founded as the Pacific Electric Heating Co. in 1906, as a manufacturer of electric irons. This factory made GE irons up until the early 80's.

Post# 970298 , Reply# 19   11/27/2017 at 18:37 (205 days old) by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

This post has been removed by the member who posted it.

Post# 970301 , Reply# 20   11/27/2017 at 18:59 (205 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

Tom, those old irons were good and heavy. I am always on the look-out for working, heavy old irons. I think they make it much easier than the newer light weight ones.

Post# 970304 , Reply# 21   11/27/2017 at 19:10 (205 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        
'59 and '60 Buicks

That '59 had the six-way seat. The problem with so many of those cars was the angle of the seat back. And no, only Rambler had adjustable seat backs. But--my father owned a '60 Classic wagon as a 'work' car, and it verified what the car mags said back then--the steps were so few that only the most upright position was suitable for driving. If anyone is curious, visit Jay Leno's YouTube channel and check him out driving his Olds coupe from these years.

There were two four-door designs for '59 and '60 for all full sized GM's as they all shared the same inner body, from Chevy through Cadillac.

The more popular roofline was the six-window with a gradually sloping rear window. The one that collectors love now is the 'flat top', with the wraparound rear window. As I recall, though, only the Electra and Cadillac offered a choice in hardtops, for Chevy/Pontiac/Olds only offered the 'flat top'.

Like the two-door hardtop, unfortunately, the headroom was wanting; the more traditional-looking six-window hardtop had more than an extra inch of needed headroom. My relatives' 1959 had the 6-way seat (it was loaded) but, like my parents' 1960 Bonneville, had the 'flat top'.

GM continued its choice of hardtop sedan roofs for the Buick, Olds and Cadillac through 1964. The four-window was considered more 'youthful' looking. However, the six-window was not only much easier to get in and out of in the back seat, but the seat was able to be moved back further, so they also had more leg room.

My aunt Isabelle had a white '60 SDV 'flat top' with a black-and-white cloth and leather interior. However, she was only 5'5" so the lack of headroom didn't bother her at all. As a small child, I was at the grocery store with her once when she accidentally backed into the side of a pickup's bed and poked a hole in the metal with the fin on the back. That guy was sure mad! I remember it well...

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Post# 970305 , Reply# 22   11/27/2017 at 19:11 (205 days old) by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        

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Frigidaire's Agi-tub

Apex's Bouncing Basket

And let us not forget the ubiquitous, legendary, and still extent, "Three Vane" straight finned agitator. Long may it live.

Post# 970312 , Reply# 23   11/27/2017 at 19:56 (205 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

John, I never did like the looks of the flat-tops, however I can certainly understand the lack of headroom. My father was taller than I am and always got the dealers to "track back" the front seat. Almost all of our cars were "post-sedans". I think it was Chrysler that advertised their cars "won't knock your hat off". My mother had some cool hard tops over the years, and she was small in stature.

The story of your aunt reminds me of a similar incident one of my relatives had.
Their old place back in Midwood had a garage that wasn't deep enough to stuff the ever-growing American cars into.

They wanted a -62 Cadillac and ended up with a short-deck Park Avenue model. My aunt was so short she could barely see to drive it. In no time the fins were both crumpled, both bottom and tops! No telling what she backed in to. They didn't seem to care and drove that poor thing around all beaten up, for years. The interior was minty, and, of course, covered in plastic.
My parents used to chide them for the plastic cover and say "who drives a nice car with plastic covers?"
However, that's exactly what those old hearses and combos had and they were expensive. Nothing worse than black Naugahyde on a hot summers day in the Deep South.

Post# 970319 , Reply# 24   11/27/2017 at 21:18 (205 days old) by Washerlover (Lake County, California: Wines With Altitude)        

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Thank you DADoES for clarifying the Whirlpool Surgilator names!

Post# 970457 , Reply# 25   11/28/2017 at 19:38 (204 days old) by bajaespuma (Connecticut)        
Good Lord

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299 dollar price tag in 1952!??!?!


That would be comparable to buying the TOL Stainless Steel finish Miele at retail prices today, I'd bet. And for a machine that, according to most of you, wouldn't last much more than 10 years. Yikes.


And BTW, I protest! I really dig those vintage Hotpoint spiral burpy agitators that were plagiarized from the Easy agitators. They might not have been as good at cleaning as the goosenecks, but the first time I saw one in action was mesmerizing. They coaxed their loads under, in the manner as their GE cousins, but languidly, gracefully and almost silently. These were things of beauty, not of efficacy, sort of like the Gabor sisters.

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Post# 970687 , Reply# 26   11/29/2017 at 18:52 (203 days old) by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

When I was a kid, we had a '59 Pontiac Catalina 4-DR. It was Regent Black with a Cameo Ivory top. Bought new in the Fall of '58, and kept until Oct. '66, when a new Tempest was purchased.

Post# 970709 , Reply# 27   11/29/2017 at 21:33 (203 days old) by Washerlover (Lake County, California: Wines With Altitude)        

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And let’s not forget more plagiarizing of Norge’s (patented?) “burp up” lint filter...and love the Gabor sisters!

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