Thread Number: 73980  /  Tag: Refrigerators
G.E monitor top problem
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Post# 977405   1/7/2018 at 22:42 by Stan (Napa CA)        

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Many years back , this old girl had the ports changed and recharged with 409 A
Had to be recharged about 5 years ago, and has been doing fine until now.
Now she's over cooling? And I don't think is cycling off.
Do I need a recharge, or do I have a bigger problem?
I'm calling the same Co out of Berkley that did the recharge, and see if they come and check.
I'm not sure if I'm getting a even frost over the freezer either?
Any ideas from the refrigerator guys here?

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Post# 977410 , Reply# 1   1/7/2018 at 23:26 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Sounds like a cold control issue. 


Check out the monitor top forums in the link.  Travis is on that site a lot, and he knows the most about these machines.


Post# 977422 , Reply# 2   1/8/2018 at 00:28 by Stan (Napa CA)        
Thanks Ralph

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I thought of Travis, and looked through some old threads here to see if I could email him, but when I tap on his profile nothing happens? Is he still a member here? I may have to join the MT forum in order email him.
Reading through the MT forums and there are some suggestions of heating up things with a hair dryer ect to loosen a possible oil clog. I'm going to try as I can't see it hurting anything.

BTW my fan run smooth and quite so...

Post# 977428 , Reply# 3   1/8/2018 at 01:42 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Stan, Travis isn't a member here anymore.


If that is your current e-mail address displaying in your profile, I can send you his e-mail address.   I didn't see his e-mail information in his profile on the MT site.


I'm not so sure if the oil clog problem would apply to your system.   On the MT site, your fridge would be covered on the "FEA Machines" board under the "Technical" heading.  I found a discussion about the thermostat on that board.  Here's the link:


Post# 977441 , Reply# 4   1/8/2018 at 08:26 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        

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Best of luck - these are really well loved (and deservedly so) machines, so I'm sure there'll be someone who can help you sort it out.

I'd check whether the cold-control had stuck in permanently 'on', too. Easiest way to do that - unplug the refrigerator, turn the cold control all the way to the warmest setting, wait five minutes, plug it back in. If it turns on at once, it's very likely the cold control or the wiring to it.

Post# 977461 , Reply# 5   1/8/2018 at 12:17 by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        
Willing to assist

Stan, I have communicated to Travis your post/situation. He advised ď absolutely I will help him, you can give him my contact information. Anyway, your initial assessment was correct, if anyone knows about refrigeration and especially refrigerators of that generation, Travis knows. He also sent to me his latest find ... talk about a true ďfindĒ.

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Post# 977464 , Reply# 6   1/8/2018 at 12:51 by Stan (Napa CA)        
Thank you Ralph, Panthera, and Mike

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Woke up this am worrying about the old girl in the kitchen, mostly about the possibitly of have to move her out!
(takes three men and a boy to move)
The link Ralph provided seems like it may fit my situation?
It's been turned off all night but not un plugged, I've unplugged per Panthera's suggestion, but since it at room temp now..if I turned it to lowest setting,and plunged in, I would expect it to kick on?
Panthera, can you elaborate further? Should I turn on, get it cold then try as you sugested?
Mike, that's some find that Travis has! Did someone put wood veneer on that! I'd like to see how it turns out when he finishes it.
If you all don't mind I'd like his email, or give him mine, hopefully he can diagnose
Thanks guys

Post# 977465 , Reply# 7   1/8/2018 at 12:57 by Stan (Napa CA)        
Pics of switch/ and or thermostate

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Assuming it serves as both?

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Post# 977467 , Reply# 8   1/8/2018 at 13:29 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Stan, the thread in that one link I posted covered how the cold control operates.  Turning it to "OFF" will almost always shut things down, but turning it to the warmest setting may not.  The thermostat has a spring and a bellows that close the contacts for cooling, and open them when the set temperature is reached.  


Also mentioned is a small piece on the cold control shaft that's held in place by a set screw.  Unless you've been messing with the temperature setting a lot, I doubt this component is the culprit.


It sounds to me like you can still follow Keven's instructions by turning the cold control to the warmest setting and then plugging the fridge back in.  I would leave it at that setting and see if it shuts off at some point -- I'd say that if it's still running after 30 minutes to an hour, the cold control's contacts are staying closed instead of opening when the set temperature is reached.   Travis can help you check for the source of the problem.  It might be something as simple as a broken spring, which was what caused my '39 Westinghouse to stop running completely, and was easily fixed.


I'll send you Travis's e-mail address.

Post# 977468 , Reply# 9   1/8/2018 at 13:30 by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        


Sent info to your email address.

Glad the other remedies look promising. Iíll ask Travis to send me the photos of that incredible refrigerator once the restoration is complete.

Yes, someone glued wood vaneer on top of the beautiful original porcelain. It looks to be quite a project, however, the intensive labor will be worth the effort.

Post# 977486 , Reply# 10   1/8/2018 at 15:32 by Stan (Napa CA)        
Thanks Mike and Ralph

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Got his email. I just let it run for a hour and it did not cycle off. Here's a pic of the freezer that appears to be foisting un even.
Now that it's cold I'll unplug, wait a while, set to low, and plug in.
Want to have as much info as I can when I contact Travis
Thanks again guys

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Post# 977491 , Reply# 11   1/8/2018 at 16:24 by Stan (Napa CA)        

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Got back to me, and will email me later with some suggestions!
I'm wondering if it needs to be recharged since the frost dose not get to the temp sensor?
I let Travis know this, so I'll wait and see what he thinks.
What do you all think?

Post# 977493 , Reply# 12   1/8/2018 at 16:29 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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I guess it depends on how much it's overcooling.  Are contents freezing?  If so, then I don't think there's a lack of refrigerant.


On the other hand, if it's running constantly just to try and maintain optimum temperature (37-40), then the refrigerant may need topping off, so to speak.  If the system has a leak, it's an itsy bitsy teeny weeny one considering how long it goes before needing a charge.

Post# 977496 , Reply# 13   1/8/2018 at 16:55 by Stan (Napa CA)        

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Some things were freezing!
The un even frost has me worried. The idea of cracking open the switch (Travis may have me do?) to look inside makes me a bit nervous..dont want to break anything

Post# 977517 , Reply# 14   1/8/2018 at 19:15 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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It could be a combination of a refrigerant issue as well as the thermostat. 


If Travis has worked on models like yours, and I'm sure he has, he'll know how to open up that housing without damaging anything.

Post# 977538 , Reply# 15   1/8/2018 at 21:25 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        

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I suspect you'll get a firm diagnosis before it gets to that point. Several of us suggested the warmest temperature test. You can wait until the refrigerator is truly cold, cold, cold. Unplug it for five minutes. Turn the thermostat to the warmest setting. Plug it back in. If it comes on and runs non-stop, then it's very likely that either the cold-control has jammed in the 'on' setting or there's a short in the wires to it, overriding it.

It's all fixable - remember, nothing in these was throw-away cheap junk. Even a failed part has a modern equivalent or workaround. It'll all be good.


Post# 977547 , Reply# 16   1/8/2018 at 22:47 by Stan (Napa CA)        
Thanks Panthera for the encouragement

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I'm going to test again, I notice each time I run it, the frost pattern is getting smaller..I think?
Or I'm going stark raving crazy. Or both! Ive looked at it too much today!
But it's got me wondering.. if I ran it a while... could I even get it cold again? I kinda don't think so?
I'll see, if that's the case, then recharging will be in order. Hopefully the same co that did it for me before will again.
Ralph, thanks. I hope its not that thermostat!

Post# 977559 , Reply# 17   1/8/2018 at 23:45 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Stan, did you try the hot water trick in the freezer?  With fridge shut off/unplugged, place a shallow metal pan in the bottom of the freezer (be sure it's not warped and makes good contact with the freezer bottom) and pour a generous amount of boiling water into it.  You should hear gurgling, which provides a sort of temporary re-charge effect.   Repeat if you want -- once you get no gurgling sounds, you're done. 


This might be enough to dislodge any blockage in the refrigerant lines and restore a proper frost pattern.  Once the gurgling stops, turn on the fridge and check if there's any difference in the frost formation.


With a little luck, you might solve one problem.  The thermostat is a separate issue that Travis can guide you through troubleshooting.

Post# 977563 , Reply# 18   1/9/2018 at 00:50 by Stan (Napa CA)        

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I did, but not exactly like that.
I didnt use boiling water, I put hot tap water into the glass pan under the freezer, it's the pan that normally is used to catch water during defrost, along with a towel placed in the freezer with a pot of hot tap water. Didn't hear a thing, but honestly didn't think to listen. Waited a hour, then ran for a hour and shut off, now there is no frost patten at all and won't cool. So it's lost it's charge.
I guess the over cooling and freezing night before last was the old girl causing confusion! If it was still over cooling, then what Panthera said would make perfect sense.
Guess I could try boiling water, but now the lack of cooling reminds me of why I needed a recharge some years back. No leak could be detected back then. but as Travis has pointed out.."the leak is still there" He suspected... even with the over cooling, that it need a charge.
Now let's see who will come!

Post# 977605 , Reply# 19   1/9/2018 at 09:30 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Sounds reasonable.

panthera's profile picture

Here's a link to a manufacturer of 409A. This link leads straight to their 'find a distributor' app, which will return the phone numbers and names of companies close to you (more or less) who handle 409A.

There's several in my area, and we're the least populated state in the Union! Maybe this is a good place to start? I put in one of your town's zip codes - you can play with the others, if this didn't work out.


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Post# 977620 , Reply# 20   1/9/2018 at 10:43 by Stan (Napa CA)        
Thanks Panthera

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That may come in handy. I'm going to call the same outfit that came before and see, but if they won't then..who knows. IIRC it only took 3 ounces to fill.
Dose that sound right? Anyone know the capacity ?
Also seems like the dude that filled it last said that the 409a had a sealing quality to it? But I could be wrong? Anyone know?

Post# 977695 , Reply# 21   1/9/2018 at 22:23 by Stan (Napa CA)        
Up date

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Was able to remember the name of the outfit that recharged some years ago..
Cooper&Hawkins. They don't normally service residential fridges, but since it's a antique, and I'm a returning customer, and I knew what refrigerant had been used..long story short, there coming next week to recharge with the 409a. There going to add dye, return in two weeks to check for leaks. Women who answered the phone said if it had a leak, it could not be repaired. I'll see what the service guy says about that though

Post# 982235 , Reply# 22   2/11/2018 at 00:41 by Stan (Napa CA)        
Well..its was kind of a nightmare

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The refrigeration dude came and tested for leak.. found a small leak in the suction line.
He set up blocks on my kitchen table and he and I lifted the compressor off, set it on the blocks. With a torch he was able to seal the line. He went further than I thought he would with something of this age..but also mentioned that he had worked on one older than mine in a historic home.. anyway we put it back on the cabinet and he recharged with the 409A all was going well but it quickly started loosing its frost again. Appears that there is a internal leak in the upper deck.. between the compressor and evaporator..a very costly repair to take apart, repair, recharge.
Through the MT forum I was able to locate a guy who was selling 10 Monitor tops! Best part he's was only about 30 min away. Took the risk and ended up with a 1935 GE CK 15- A
I posted some pics of his machines and his contact in Shoppers Sqare, maybe more of these machines can be saved..
I decided to hang on the my just in case.. At least I know what's wrong, and where, and I had the space to store it away.
Travis has been very helpful to me with this CK and is helping with some parts needed. Ive learned a lot more about these machines and how they work.. not like the guys on the MT forum do..but
Right now I'm slowly getting to know this old lady, and I'll have some work to do to get her to look young again, and with Travis's advice.. Mechanically sound.
I'll post pics (before and after) based on interest shown.
Thank you all for your advice with trying to save my old girl.

Post# 982241 , Reply# 23   2/11/2018 at 01:38 by robbinsandmyers (Hamden CT)        

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Glad to hear you found a replacement. I have a 1936 CK-2-C16 I've been using the last 5 years. It has the large two tray wide evaporator. And before that I was using a 1935 model for 15 years with a one tray wide evaporator. Both are centered inside the box and are original except for the starting relay I changed in the 1935 when I got it as someone replaced it in the 50's. There was a man named Mike Arnold in Troy NY who was the master of these things and he sold me the rebuilt relay for $100.00 no core. Both machines still use sulphur dioxide to cool and never needed recharging. I wouldnt use any other fridge these work so great. About 10 years ago my 1935 stopped cooling and I borrowed a bar fridge from a friend while I worked on it. I filled the ice cube trays with boiling water and stuffed them in the evap section and closed the door for 15 mins then turned it on. After a few mins I heard this loud POP and hear gas escaping. I opened the door and hear the liquid flowing and cooling again. the float had gotten stuck prob at the Duprene seal on the needle. Its been fine since. Good luck with your new fridge.

Post# 982313 , Reply# 24   2/11/2018 at 12:36 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
I'd love to see the pics and anything you care to add!

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It's quite interesting that these ancient machines work perfectly for decades and the modern trash doesn't even make it 10.

We had house guests a few weeks ago (not friends, acquaintances of family relations) who were quite appalled that we had a 1967 Frigidaire refrigerator. Didn't we know how awful it was for the environment?

Post# 982317 , Reply# 25   2/11/2018 at 14:09 by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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And yet those folks are likely the same type who will think nothing of replacing a modern fridge every 5 years. How's that for a carbon footprint!

Post# 982362 , Reply# 26   2/11/2018 at 18:22 by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

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Definitely would like to see pictures. Have always had an interest in Monitor Tops. I have a 1936 which works fine.

Post# 982558 , Reply# 27   2/12/2018 at 23:52 by Stan (Napa CA)        
John I'd love to see pic ps of both

stan's profile picture
your machines as the CK units are new to me. Thank you for sharing ur story using boiling water.
The cabinet that this CK sits, on appeasers to be originally pared with the compressor. I choose this from what they guy had available. My problem (besides being bummed out about my old one) was that I only have 65 inches of heigth in the space my fridge needs to sit in. It was fine with my old cabinet and FEA replacment compressor, but a CK or DR compressor stands taller. So I was lucky to find the CK on a cabinet that was a bit shorter than my old. If I'd given up and went with a modern refrigerator, I'd have had restrictions with space as well.. Ive been told that when my house was new, a monitor top sat here. So maybe it came home!
Ken.. Let's see your 1936 too!

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Post# 982559 , Reply# 28   2/13/2018 at 00:02 by Stan (Napa CA)        

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A cleaning with Lye Soap. (I ain't foolin)
It fits !
I will repaint later, but for now it's running very well, very quite, Travis has strongly recommended doing a re wire due to its age, before making cosmetic improvements.

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Post# 982564 , Reply# 29   2/13/2018 at 00:29 by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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Gee Stan it looks beautiful! Congratulations on your score. After your cleaning with the Lye soap it looks just like new. I hope you get many years of service from your ďnewĒ monitor top.


This post was last edited 02/13/2018 at 01:37
Post# 982608 , Reply# 30   2/13/2018 at 09:05 by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        
Pictures of my 36 Monitor Top

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Link will take you to my Flickr album showing all the pictures of my Monitor Top. They are from the day I brought it home. I removed the compressor/condenser unit to transport so there aren't any images of it together. I took the opportunity of it being apart to take pictures of things not easily seen when together.       


Post# 982664 , Reply# 31   2/13/2018 at 14:40 by robbinsandmyers (Hamden CT)        

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Here's a few pics. Pardon the mess but I dont have a lot of room in my apartment so things get piled on. The 1935 is a storage cabinet right now. I plug it in every few months and let it run an hour to keep it working OK. The 1936 is my daily and I had a friend paint it before I started using it. When I got it it had old hippie stickers from the 60's on it. It has a foam gasket for now until I buy a repro. The 1935 has a repro gasket and rubber feet.

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Post# 982868 , Reply# 32   2/14/2018 at 21:59 by Stan (Napa CA)        

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to know I'm not the only one here that got one of these.
John I think I've heard of the Mike u mentioned over on the MT forum.
When u replaced the relay, did Mike sell u NOS or was it a new solid state relay?
Have your or Ken done a rewire on your CKs? What I mean is..replacing the cord, re wiring the compressor and control switch?
I ask because Travis is sending me a new wiring harness and instructions to do this. This procedure requires the connections to be soldered at the compressor terminals.
Also do either of you have a pic of the drip pan for the 35 CK (narrow evaporator) I know their hard to come by and I have the one for the wider evap but would like to see what the right one looks like.
Hi Eddie good to hear from you. Thought of you the other day.. I was in the attic where my aunts old perm machine is.. thought I need to send a pic of that to Eddie! Also thought... what am I ever going to do with it!

Post# 982878 , Reply# 33   2/14/2018 at 23:45 by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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No Lilt for her!

Post# 982879 , Reply# 34   2/15/2018 at 00:11 by robbinsandmyers (Hamden CT)        

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Mike Arnold was the man! He was the authority on these plus he collected them and lots of other small appliances too. He had a vast inventory of NOS parts plus he sold repro parts as well. On the relay he sold me he had rebuilt it inside with a new contactor and coil etc but it looks original outside. He even sent the original mounting screw with it because mine was missing. His work was top notch.

My 1935 still has original cords and still serviceable but getting brittle. The 1936 was bad from the light socket to the wall plug so I just soldered a new section on inside that plug and heat shrink tubed the wire going to the compressor. It should be fine as long as the wires dont get messed with and moved that they start cracking and breaking apart. Then it gets ugly. I had to be so ginger when replacing that starting relay because the wires are hard and dont like to bend. Heres a pic of my small chiller tray. They do pop up on Ebay for around $100.00. My 1935 still has its original working bulb! It also had the hanger for the tee handle that breaks the ice loose in the trays which Im missing.

When Mike died I tried calling the number for months and no one answered then one day it was disconnected. Im still wondering what happened to his collection and all those parts?

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Post# 982880 , Reply# 35   2/15/2018 at 00:27 by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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Hi Stan! Iíd love to see a pic of your Auntís perm machine sometime. When I went to beauty college they had one of these upstairs in a store room. Thatís the only one I ever saw in person. Iíve seen a few You Tube videoís on them. It sure was a different procedure than what you and I learned.

Iím enjoying the continuing story of your Monitor Topís. These really were engineering wonders, werenít they?

Post# 982890 , Reply# 36   2/15/2018 at 03:49 by Stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
Help me out. What's "no lilt for her" ?
John. From what I can dope out, the guys were pretty sad to see Mike go, and he appeared to be well thought of. Thanks for the pic of the drip pan!
From what I undestand the CKs are robust machines and for the most part run problem free. Their recommended for new be's. However according to Travis the one issue that causes problems, is the age of the wires. After all..were talking about a 83 year old machines. The general feeling is that if their re wired, it extends their life and reduces their chance of motor burn out. The cord on mine is very dry and cracked, and if the connections at the compressor are deteriorated its asking for trouble later.
To fix the problem before it starts, involves lifting the compreeor off the machine setting up on blocks (without banging the refrigerant lines) carefully opening the back deck, removing insulation, and replacing the wires going to the compressor. A soldering iron is need to disconnect, and reconnect. Along with installing a new relay. Also while your there might as well go to the front and loosen the temp sensor, carefully bend the tube int order to lift out the control switch and replace those wires. Replace with new insalation, and close her up.
This helps insure that it keeps going for years.
Eddie I get up there and get pics of that thing!
I've started some of the paint resto for the fridge, so I'll post pics of that later if there's interest

Post# 982906 , Reply# 37   2/15/2018 at 08:13 by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

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I did not do any rewiring on my Monitor Top. Just put it back together and put it in storage.

Lilt was one of the first home permanent kits. Early 1950s I believe. Another was Toni. Advertising would show twins who both had curly hair and ask: Which twin has the Toni? Used chemical to curl the hair rather than heat like the machines did. I remember my mother giving her/my cousin who lived next door permanents with Lilt. I would be sure to get out of the house because I thought it smelled awful.

I remember my mother talking about the first permanent she had when she was 13-14 years old. It was done using a permanent machine. She said she still had curl in her hair almost a year later. Guess they really worked. Ive heard horror stories of them being left on too long and burning women's hair.

This post was last edited 02/15/2018 at 11:19
Post# 982919 , Reply# 38   2/15/2018 at 10:01 by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

ea56's profile picture
My maternal Grandma told me that she got her first permanent in 1925 in Wichita, Kansas and it cost her $1.00 a curl (or rod wrapped), and they used 52 rods, so it cost her $52.00, a virtual fortune in 1925 for average working people in 1925. When she told me this story in 1970 I was surprised that Grandpa sprung for the $52, as that was probably 1/2 a months income for him then.

This post was last edited 02/15/2018 at 10:27
Post# 982929 , Reply# 39   2/15/2018 at 14:10 by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Thanks Ken -- you provided a more thorough explanation about Lilt than I ever could have! 


I just remember the ads from prime time TV in the '60s and '70s, and always during beauty pageants, where Lilt, Clairol, or other such products were invariably the sponsor, as sure as Helen O'Connell provided the color commentary.

Post# 982941 , Reply# 40   2/15/2018 at 16:07 by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

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You're welcome Ralph. In checking my facts after posting above I saw that Toni, at least, was available in the 1940s. Was thinking of posting some pictures I found but didn't want to hijack the thread unduly.

Post# 983786 , Reply# 41   2/22/2018 at 00:47 by Stan (Napa CA)        

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The wiring harness from Travis, While waiting, I started the paint restore. Need to stop and focus on the rewire now.

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Post# 983875 , Reply# 42   2/22/2018 at 17:17 by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

Stan, I am glad this is is in great shape and perfect for the space.

Post# 983931 , Reply# 43   2/23/2018 at 00:28 by Stan (Napa CA)        
Hi Mike

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Don't get me wrong, it's working now! It did from the beginning! She runs very well, efficiant and quite.
The problem is..that since the wiring is 80 + years old, Travis has suggested doing a rewire to keep it that way.
And it's not like I can wait til it fails, then do the rewire, as current wire failure could cause damage that would be fatal.
I've always had the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" attitude, and it usually serves me well. But in this case I'm forced to operate sooner or later. I'm nervous about it but..hope I don't hesitate too long
My partner has named her Bessie..We'l see if Bessie makes it through her surgery!

Post# 983932 , Reply# 44   2/23/2018 at 00:35 by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

Ahhhh...fully understood...on both the refrigerator AND the mindset (I am the same way regarding "if it ain't broke, don't fix it") and it comes back to bite me in the ass, almost every time!

I think the re-wire is smart and I understand that Travis sent the entire package to accomplish the feat. Again, a smart move, in my limited understanding of electricity and refrigeration items.

It really is a beautiful unit and again, I am glad it will be going strong another 80 years!

Post# 983934 , Reply# 45   2/23/2018 at 01:25 by Stan (Napa CA)        
It requires

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A heavy pun intended
The compressor needs to be lifted off and either propped up or taken off completely to get under the deck to the compressor termanals. Replacing the relay, and running new wires to the control switches on front.
Hope Bessis can't read this LOL

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