Thread Number: 73520  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
2 Speed Washers
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Post# 970931   12/1/2017 at 11:18 by chetlaham (United States)        

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When did manufacturers start offering two speed washers? And why do they offer two speed washers? I ask because I have seen plenty of low end models that achieve a delicate and permanent press cycle via single speed motor. Case in point, page 15:

Post# 970933 , Reply# 1   12/1/2017 at 11:32 by akronman (Akron/Cleveland Ohio)        

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They can call it delicate or Perma-Press if they want to, and if a single-speed was what my budget allowed, I would live with it and smile. But there are rare needs, curtains, drapes, dress shirts, where I really want SLOW MOTION.

Post# 970937 , Reply# 2   12/1/2017 at 11:36 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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It had to be in the mid-50s.  I have service literature from Norge referring to a 2-speed washer in 1954 and I somehow think that was the year Whirlpool introduced the feature.  GE introduced this in '57 and Frigidaire in '59.

Post# 970958 , Reply# 3   12/1/2017 at 13:09 by chetlaham (United States)        

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Looks like it was early on. What about Maytag?

Post# 970963 , Reply# 4   12/1/2017 at 13:34 by Frigidaireguy (Wiston-Salem, NC)        

I believe Maytag was 1956 or 1957 - The first Center Dial Washer.

Post# 970974 , Reply# 5   12/1/2017 at 14:11 by chetlaham (United States)        

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Guess they had good reason then.

Personally, I think manufactures should have slowed down the agitation to begin with- or used shallower fins on the agitator while increasing the wash time.

Post# 971012 , Reply# 6   12/1/2017 at 18:52 by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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I want to inquire....what about the Visa-Matic of the few that offered a two-speed motor....especially on a wringer...

just not sure what year started them...

Post# 971058 , Reply# 7   12/2/2017 at 02:26 by toploadloyalist (San Luis Obispo, CA)        

According to I've read in the Sears catalog collection in, Sears in 1955 was the very first washer brand to introduce the two-speed washers. The cycle was originally named 'MAN-MADE FABRICS'.

Post# 971060 , Reply# 8   12/2/2017 at 02:33 by toploadloyalist (San Luis Obispo, CA)        
Correction Note

It was called 'MODERN FABRIC'.

Post# 971107 , Reply# 9   12/2/2017 at 08:31 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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Have posted this before, but....

Post# 971108 , Reply# 10   12/2/2017 at 08:34 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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Just the video that came to my mind when I saw the title of this thread.

Post# 971110 , Reply# 11   12/2/2017 at 08:40 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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With early semi or even fully automatic washing machines with one speed standard advice was to launder delicate and or items made from man made fibers for shorter periods of time.

If using a spin dryer you only spun for a short time. Using a washing machine with only one speed motor usually the spin cycle was a shortened version of full speed.

The full speed haste in post war era in development of man made fibers for textiles meant changes were going to be needed in laundry habits. After all as the above clip makes clear; what is the point of all that "easy care" advertising if things had to be sent out to the dry cleaners? Might as well stick with wool or whatever other natural fiber.

Am guessing Sears sourced that "first" washer for "man made fabrics" from Whirlpool.

Post# 971117 , Reply# 12   12/2/2017 at 10:15 by chetlaham (United States)        

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@ Laundress- have not seen this before here- or anywhere for that matter! Much appreciation. So in other words- the creation of the permanent press and delicate cycle? I may start a thread on this topic...

Post# 971148 , Reply# 13   12/2/2017 at 13:33 by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Two speeds come in handy if you have certain items that will benefit from the option. 


Several months ago I found the vintage Maytag I had been searching for; one that offered a slow/fast combination.  I wanted this for rubber-backed throw rugs that our Affinity FL can't manage to balance, even if I put two of them in there.  It will often give up after about 15 minutes of trying and not spin at all.


With the Maytag, the rugs receive a gentle wash that won't rip them apart, and a fast spin to extract as much water as possible.  This process, along with hanging them to dry, makes them last a lot longer.

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