Thread Number: 73457  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
POD - 11/26/17 Westinghouse FL
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Post# 970016   11/26/2017 at 01:46 (207 days old) by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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Today's picture is certainly a sure fire way to keep those [sarcasm]productive[/sarcasm] top vs front load arguments going...

Still interesting, Westinghouse certainly was wrong to have placed their bets on FL machines at the time, it took another 50 years for FL machines to become commonplace. Their description of agitator action was a little exaggerated because they forgot to mention how most TL machines turn the load over thus washing all the clothes not just the clothes on the center, although if you looked at a Norge of the era their criticism would seem correct except for poor results as CR claimed Norge a top performer. They also forgot to account for the rope making aspects when claiming gentleness. Then again, if you had to regularly deal with "two cups of dirty sand" they really were good performers!

Does anyone know why Westinghouse chose the slant design?

Post# 970030 , Reply# 1   11/26/2017 at 05:40 (206 days old) by HiLoVane (Columbus OH)        
Westinghouse "Slant-Front" design

I've always heard that it was supposed to make the machines easier to load and unload.
Their ad's extolled "no bending or stooping..."
But, of course, like just about every other advertisement for just about everything in the postwar '50s,
something called "lies of value" we're prevelant. They were used to create images in order to help make the products they were pitching stand out from the competition.

Post# 970041 , Reply# 2   11/26/2017 at 07:18 (206 days old) by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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Wasn't the slanted tub supposed to drain faster?

I think I saw that point advertised in Westy washer literature....

Post# 970068 , Reply# 3   11/26/2017 at 10:09 (206 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        
WH Slant Front Design

I would imagine that Westinghouse was doing their best to avoid infringing on the Bendix design in making the slant front design since Bendix was the first with a front loader and the Westinghouse design allowed them to be able to offer a front loader that did not need bolting down before Bendix did. The tumbler was simpler to build than a top loading automatic and could be sold for less. As for Westinghouse (and Bendix) being wrong to place their bets on front loaders, they managed to sell enough of them to keep the design going and if they had not sold enough of them, they would have stopped making them. Like many early designs, they had to be improved and were improved and the slanted tub was gone by the early 60s which brought increased capacity and better cleaning. If you think Westinghouse was alone in have lower rated washing performance, the GE Filter Flow washers before the V12 machines were rated fair in washing ability. And, as far as the washing ability is concerned, I never heard an owner of these machines complaining about poor cleaning and they usually replaced their front loader with another. For getting white loads sparkling, the half cup of bleach was carefully poured onto the bottom of the tub then the detergent was poured over that to shield the fabrics which were quickly loaded and then the machine was started.

Post# 970100 , Reply# 4   11/26/2017 at 14:12 (206 days old) by twintubdexter (Palm Springs)        
No pins in the Joe voodoo doll if I'm wrong

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When I was about 13, one of the "seasoned" old service guys in the shop told me the slant tub had something to do with patents that Bendix had. He was a real fan of Westinghouse even though at the time the store didn't carry it. Of course he was talking about machines he had serviced years ago. As I recall, he was also a real nut.

Post# 970114 , Reply# 5   11/26/2017 at 15:56 (206 days old) by HiLoVane (Columbus OH)        

Addendum: As for Westinghouse being superior to TL's, look at their commercials in YouTube for the '56 and '58 models. You'll notice that the TL's washing action is "inferior" for one reason; both machines were deliberately overloaded.

There is also a '50s era commercial foe ALL detergent, that uses the same ploy to create the illusion of how a high-suds detergent screws with washing machine performance.

Post# 970138 , Reply# 6   11/26/2017 at 18:24 (206 days old) by agiflow2 ()        

She must have been pretty strong to be holding that porcelain coated steel wash tub the way she was. I would imagine they would have been fairly heavy.

Post# 970141 , Reply# 7   11/26/2017 at 18:59 (206 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        

I thought the same thing when I saw it! Probably was suspended from a monofilament thread...that was used a lot back then. Today, of course, they'd just Photoshop it out.

Post# 970145 , Reply# 8   11/26/2017 at 19:54 (206 days old) by wft2800 (Leatherhead, Surrey)        

The Westinghouses in one form or another continued to be sold right up until the Electrolux takeover of WCI, didn't they? Hardly such a horrible failure. It could be argued that the oscillating agitator design was a technological dead-end derived from the old wringers - the only ones that really rolled over a load well were Frigidaire's Unimatics. The old Maytags and suchlike really don't roll over that much, and the same remains true of the Speed Queens so prized by some here. They certainly don't have the vigorous action of a decent front-loader. It was really only in America that the top-loading agitator washer continued to dominate - this side of the Atlantic, although several firms did make them (most notably Hotpoint with its scaled-down 24" Filter-Flo models, discontinued in the early 1990s), they were never more than a marginal player in the market, with all the major firms producing an almost entirely front-loading range. To be honest, though, I wouldn't even have the Westinghouse as a representative machine of its era - give me a Constructa K4 or a Miele W410, W416, W420 or W421 any day! Much more sophisticated machines...

Post# 970150 , Reply# 9   11/26/2017 at 20:19 (206 days old) by Washerlover (Lake County, California: Wines With Altitude)        

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And I love how the Westy marketing folks depict the sharp, angled fins of the sinister “center post” agitator drawing compared to the smooth design of the Westinghouse agitator-tub! Another marketing gimmick, for sure.

Post# 970153 , Reply# 10   11/26/2017 at 20:28 (206 days old) by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

It's a cute little tub/drum. Miss Betty would be completely hidden by today's enormous 5-6 cu. ft. drums.

Post# 970158 , Reply# 11   11/26/2017 at 20:46 (206 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        

That's 'cause you're over there, and not here.

And today, we've got an overdose of 'sophistication', when what we need is an extra dose of 'quality'.

Post# 970181 , Reply# 12   11/27/2017 at 00:11 (206 days old) by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        

My impression is that Ms. Furness is holding the tub, yes, but that also the tub is on top of a table or something similar -- look at how her dress distorts in contact with the blue surface. That is also a bit over half the tub, they removed the front.

As for the way they described the action of the average agitator, it depends a lot on how you look at it. In the beginning, most washers had a one speed motor because a two- or multi-speed motor was much more expensive, and although back then transmissions were less expensive than electric motors, they would add cost to a machine that was already very expensive to begin with.

So, from that point of view, the average agitator *did* roll over the load and the average agitation was satisfactory, but it was still true that clothes that were on top of the tub received very little agitation until they started following the center post, then they would receive average agitation until they reached the agitator fins where they were beaten very vigorously. This is not unlike a microwave oven set to 30% power ("defrost"), the food receives very little to no microwaves for 2/3 of every minute and full power for 1/3 of every minute; conversely, a microwave with inverter "technology" will receive an amount of power much closer to 30% most of the time of every minute; similarly, the tumbler agitated the clothes in a more uniform way; as such, nukers with inverter technology are more likely/capable of defrosting delicate things without beginning to cook the outer layers and, while ordinary nukers *can* defrost things in a satisfactory way (particularly thick cuts of beef), they can cause trouble with thin frozen fish fillets, for example.

As for the slant design, we were talking about that during a wash-in or convention many years ago, and I think it was Jon Jetcone who had been doing research into the subject of automatic washers and he said that Westinghouse had patents on most of the washer including every surface of that drum. Supposedly, the idea was that when the tub filled with water, it would be in a more horizontal orientation, where it would tumble/wash the clothes, and as it pumped out the water, the tub would be more slanted and the clothes would tend to ride the "bump" in the back of the drum and distribute themselves better, thus avoiding a load too unbalanced to spin.

It may be petty by today's standards to argue about spin speed, but back then most wringer washers could barely wring about half the water in the clothes, the equivalent of about 200 rpm spin; I can't remember exactly what the speeds were and I'm sure people will correct me if I'm wrong, but the Bendix front loader spun at about 200-250 rpm, a lot of the automatic toploaders in the more affordable prices had a 350-400 rpm spin more or less, the Westinghouse Laundromat had a 525 rpm spin, I think, and a few of the more expensive toploaders spun at around 650 rpm; only a couple of models of GE toploaders spun at 1140 rpm and the next models dropped the speed; and for a long time, Frigidaire was the only automatic with a 1140 rpm spin. You could get a twin-tub to spin at around 1740 rpm, but that was not automatic. It was one of the features that kept twin-tubs in the competition for a good while though, the other being that if one was willing to supervise the twin-tubs and transfer the clothes etc (which was less work than hand washing, but still hard work compared to an automatic ["Your hands never touch water!"]), you'd be done *much* faster with a twin-tub than with any automatic. Some claim that one could be done with the entire week's laundry in about one hour, but you can bet you'd be working your ass off during that hour washing 4 to 6 loads.

Low spin speed or not, automatics in general took over the market by storm, there were people in waiting lists, and there were stores doing what I believe today is forbidden by law -- they were telling customers they could have their automatic washers only if they bought a "set" of washer and dryer, or washer and ironer, or washer, dryer and ironer.

Also, if you bother going to a real library and reading the magazine reviews (including Consumer Reports) from back then, a lot of the automatics (including the toploaders) were taking a beating when compared to the wringer washers and twin-tubs, which apparently washed better because people could alter the "cycles" according to their situation, by extending the wash portion for example.

So, from that point of view, back then, the Westinghouse Laundromat was a very attractive machine for the price, and it certainly did not hurt they were one of the first soft-mount automatics out there.

   -- Paulo.

Post# 970183 , Reply# 13   11/27/2017 at 00:55 (206 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        

Thank you for this fine posting. As with so many other aspects of life from the distant past, it can be easy to look and laugh in hindsight. There were some very, very smart people working not only on designing these machines, but buying them also. And when so many people in the fifties lived in towns the size of where I was born in '55 (10K, and mostly engineers) if a washer was crappy the word would get around those Depression-era people.

Plus, it didn't hurt to have the beautiful and articulate Ms. Furness as a spokesman! I'd trust her before I would Harriet Nelson with Hotpoint...

Post# 970196 , Reply# 14   11/27/2017 at 04:35 (205 days old) by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        

I grew up driving slant Westys.  Fixing them between 9 and 18yo.  Once they got away from the gearbox, marvel of simplicity in design and maintenance. 


Ours washed for 6 plus throwrugs, running might-nigh every day.  In the lives of 2 machines only two things broke that were beyond a ~12yo (me) to fix: the infamous gearbox and the infamous boot. 


Golden age of engineering, all that post-WW knowledgebase and gung-ho outlook, fully employed.  Then the arabs came and they bought mercedes benzes.  Wait, that's Airplane.  Then those guys retired and WCI took over the world.  Then Whirlpool did but they were accountants and middle managers not laundry people. 

Post# 970202 , Reply# 15   11/27/2017 at 06:13 (205 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
I'll say it again

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H-axis washers (with or without extraction)where wash drums are on an incline have existed commercial side of laundry industry for ages. They still do in various incarnations from several manufactures of industrial laundry equipment.


Amount of incline has varied but main idea behind such a design was ease in loading and unloading the machine. Both the now defunct uber washers from Bosch and Miele had tubs with slight inclines (IIRC Miele's 4XXX was about eight degrees), and of course Maytag started it all up again with their Neptune front loaders with tubs that had a deeper incline. Hence upon their release the immediate panning by some critics comparing the new machines to the Westinghouse "Rope Makers" of old.

This post was last edited 11/27/2017 at 09:32

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