Thread Number: 75236  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
Early Europeanen automatic front loading machines
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Post# 990592   4/13/2018 at 15:52 by nokia2010 (Bucureşti, România (Bucharest, Romania))        

I've arleady mentione "Miele" 410 around here (505 I think is alsmot the same)

But there are some older models. I will mention the German one because I have found more information about them.
Before I do mention them, I must say that my favourites are the front loading ones. Besides automation, I like to see what's happeing with the laundrary.
One of the earliste models is the "Constructa". 1st had 2 engines!, one for washing, one for spining (drying). Up untill 1954-1955 probably (the company was established in 1951). It's my opionion (and I hope will not upsted), but it looks like it was made for hospitals... Excluding the looke, the mechanics are very intresting.

Around 2:52 you can notice a flotor?

Some newer models.
The one with the light in the middle is very good looking.

Before "Miele" 410 and 505 (was there an 405?) where the 700 and 702. The 700 had an small round window, with a thermometer? You can see what "low" power compsution
this machines had - see the images attached below.
There are some filmings with the 702 on youtube, but very low qualty.

"A.E.G." Lavamat was another one. There was the simpler version and the incorporable version. I like the simpler version. This was eating less then "Miele" 702, about 5 k.W. (there where some pictures with one, but I can't find the site... anyway, it was an around 1960 machine)

Am good looking machine was "Bauknecht" WA35. It was working only at 380 Volts. The machine needed to be screwed onto the floor, or elese it was starting "Walk this way". But why the WA35 needed so many hoses? Note that the plug from the pictures isn't the orignal one. The machine was put for saleing on ebay, but the seller writhdaw it from sale.
I will put a clip with another model of "Bauknecht", who needed the same screwing. It's and WA441

I never ever seen one for real. In Romania I don't think they ever bought them, or if they did, there where just a few. I will look at scrape yards, anyway.

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Post# 990603 , Reply# 1   4/13/2018 at 16:42 by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)        

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AFAIK those early Constructa's were not meant for hospitals but for household use. Hospital laundry used totally different equipment, such a front loader would not meet the standards for hygiene.

Post# 990608 , Reply# 2   4/13/2018 at 17:29 by nokia2010 (Bucureşti, România (Bucharest, Romania))        

I know they wheren't made for hospitals. But I sayed the way it looks makes you think of that... But how a hospital waching machine would look like?
I wonder how old is the one from the 4th image.
Here you can see at bigger size the images with "Bauknecht" WA35

Post# 990669 , Reply# 3   4/14/2018 at 02:01 by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)        

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Hospital laundry looks and looked totally different. Although some modern machines look like huge front loaders.

Here's a link to Miele's hospital laundry:

Here's a picture of a hospital laundry in prewar Antwerps. And another picture of a modern hospital laundry machine made in China.

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Post# 990675 , Reply# 4   4/14/2018 at 03:02 by virabhadrasana (France / Italy)        

Very interesting thread!! I hope lots of people will write something!!
In Italy, front loaders appeared a little bit later (beginning of the 60), mostly by Candy, who offered a complete range of machines for domestic use, from a reduced size 3 Kg (Misura, which then became Aquamatic) to a 7 Kg machine (A7, sold in different version until the 70's), which, I think, during those years, was the only machine for domestic use bigger than 5 kg.
In the same period Indesit introduced the K5 (very similar to the Constructa K5), equipped with the genial sud saver, which did not need to be screwed onto the floor because it has wheels. Actually, Candy were so jumpy, It would have been a good idea to screw them on the floor, too :)
I'm joining some links from you tube and I hope that the Collectors who restaured the machines and posted the videos don't mind if I'm using their videos !
Candy Misura

Candy Superautomatic 7 "SA7"

Intesit K5 later version, without sud saver

Post# 990680 , Reply# 5   4/14/2018 at 06:35 by nokia2010 (Bucureşti, România (Bucharest, Romania))        

But in case there was a power cut-off there was an emergency way to open the door ("Miele" haves something for machines with no lockers on the door).
On "People's Century", ep. 14 "Boom time" there is mentioned the home apliances industry from Italy. Beeing curios what washing machine was in an comercial (they cut the commercial before it's ending, so no brand mentioning)I found out it was an "Castor". Before that, I never ever heard of that brand. Man, "Electrolux" got this one too.
I wonder how good where those old "Indesit"... the more recent ones have a bad repution.

Here is another "A.E.G."

Post# 990686 , Reply# 6   4/14/2018 at 09:06 by Helicaldrive (St. Louis)        
Thank you

For posting all this!

Looks like the Euro FL’s were much more sophisticated and higher quality than the American Bendix and Westinghouse of that era.

Did the Euro FLs reverse the tumbling direction in that early era?

Post# 990695 , Reply# 7   4/14/2018 at 11:23 by wft2800 (Leatherhead, Surrey)        

I love the styling of these early machines. The Constructa K3 is a bolt-down model, I believe, but the similar-looking K4 is soft-mount.

Does anyone know why the Miele 700 had the second smaller window next to the door? Also, were it and the 702 rigid or soft-mount?

What was the model number of the 702's matching dryer?

There was a bigger commercial version of these machines, reportedly rated at 64kg (double the current biggest PW6321!), which had machine-turned stainless steel cases. Examples of the washer and dryer exist in the Miele museum, which I'd love to visit at some point.

Post# 990719 , Reply# 8   4/14/2018 at 16:45 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Which detergent was recommended?

rolls_rapide's profile picture
I am curious as to whether these early European front-loaders had to be used with a particular low-foam detergent?

We know that the English Electric 'Liberator' had a low-foaming detergent created for it: 'PAT', by J. Bibby & Sons Ltd; before Lever and P&G cottoned-on to making low suds versions of their own powders.

Were there any equivalent European low-suds powders?

Post# 990721 , Reply# 9   4/14/2018 at 17:03 by nokia2010 (Bucureşti, România (Bucharest, Romania))        

Ha. I've forgot about that aspect. Automatic washing machines are needing detergent with less foaming. Probably "Henkel" (which ownes the brand "Persil") made something.
Wait a minute, I do have some West-German 1961-1962 fashion magazines. I will look throught them... can't find any digitized German catalogue from that period.

Post# 990734 , Reply# 10   4/14/2018 at 18:44 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Have a crate of Persil 59

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Cannot speak for other brands, but Henkel's *Persil 59* was their first non-soap laundry detergent that relied upon surfactants (anionic), phosphates and supposedly contained "foam intensifiers". It was designed for "pulsator and agitator" washing machines.

Henkel actually had been losing market share in 1950's as housewives and others moved away from soap for wash day, so Persil 59 was their answer.

As with many other detergents sold in Europe at that time Persil 59 could be used in wash tubs, boilers and or washing machines. Have used up to 1/4 cup in either my older Miele washer or newer AEG Oko-Lavamat and neither have any issues with froth or whatever. Stuff cleans rather well, but likely this is because it is also loaded with phosphates. Henkel would not phase out that substance until the 1980's when they were replaces with zeolites (SASIL).

Persil 65 was Henkel's first laundry detergent designed for use in top loading and H-Axis washing machines, along with boilers and hand washing.

From Henkel's website:

"Persil quickly made its name on the market, winning the trust of consumers. To assure consumers of the product’s consistently high quality, Persil was given a manufacturer’s warranty. Advertisements also emphasized its dependable cleaning power, carrying the slogan: ”Only Persil is Persil”. The “White Lady,” created in 1922, is probably Persil’s most famous advertising image. She featured on placards and metal signs until the beginning of the 1960s. When she started smiling again for Persil in 1950 for the first time since the World War II, she conveyed to many Germans the feeling that lasting peace had finally arrived. In the 50s and early 60s, the detergent market was revolutionized by the growing popularity of domestic washing machines. Persil responded to these new requirements by launching “Persil 59” – a synthetic laundry detergent that was also suitable for machine washing. In the 1960s New textiles such as the man-made fibers of nylon and Perlon also appeared on the scene alongside traditional fabrics such as cotton or linen. On January 1, 1965, Henkel presented Persil 65, a genuine heavy-duty detergent with temperature-dependent foam control, which provided optimal care for the new fabrics as well. In 1986, Henkel once again underscored its pioneering role as market leader, bringing phosphate-free Persil onto the shelves. Here too Henkel set a standard: all household detergents in Germany are now phosphate-free"

Post# 990738 , Reply# 11   4/14/2018 at 19:39 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
@ Launderess

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Ah - thanks for that!

Post# 990745 , Reply# 12   4/14/2018 at 20:19 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Wait I Told A Lie!

launderess's profile picture
Totally forget that Henkel came out with Dixan in 1959. That product was (supposedly) less foaming and thus for use in washing machines.

It is important to remember that much of Europe and UK were still dealing with the aftermath of WWII well into the 1960's. This applied to consumer goods such as washing machines and other laundry appliances.

In the USA largest movement in post war years was movement from semi-automatics (mostly wringer washers) to fully automatic top loaders. Meanwhile across the pond for various reasons housewives/households were still doing washing by hand. That and or using various semi or fully automatic washing machines. In UK as we know women were saddled with twin tub washers..

Thus laundry detergent makers had to come up with products in Europe that were suited to all and sundry various types of washing; h-axis, top loaders, pulsators, twin tubs, kochewasche (boiling), and hand washing. Adding even more petrol to that fire was arrival of man made fibers (nylon and so forth) that were taking on and in some cases over from linen and cotton fabrics of old. I cannot imagine sleeping on nylon bed linen, but apparently the things sold quite well in post war Europe.

Movement from soap to man made surfactants was all very well. But those early anionic types created lots of froth. In the USA that wasn't minded much because housewives seem to want (early versions of low suds Tide bombed; but when foam was increased, sales took off), and top loading washers dominated market. OTOH in Europe after a slow start h-axis washers began to edge up in sales until they became the dominate type of machine sold.

Henkel also came out with another detergent called Dato (have some in my stash), which seems to be designed for synthetic fabrics.

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Post# 990748 , Reply# 13   4/14/2018 at 20:25 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
"Wait I Told A Lie!"

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Post# 990750 , Reply# 14   4/14/2018 at 20:41 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Nylon bed linen

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It seemed to be everywhere in the 1970s. In garish colours, and it was pretty much indestructible stuff, lasting forever.

A thought as to why it (Nylon) was popular:
tumble dryers weren't terribly common in most households, so drying took place on the clothes line, clothes horse, pulleys and radiators - where fitted.

Obviously, cotton sheets took forever to dry, and large cotton sheets weren't always a good match for twintub capacities, but nylon sheets could be whisked through the smaller capacity washing machines, spun, pegged outside or hung inside, and thus dried in a fraction of the time. Ironing wasn't required either. Typically, nylon was an easy care fabric.

Post# 990753 , Reply# 15   4/14/2018 at 21:12 by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)        

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Yes, Dixan was an early low sudsing detergent. IIRC Skip was also an early brand here in the NL. My grandmother was advised to use Radion in her early Zanussi, but that was far from low sudsing. Radion was made by Unilever, their other early brands were Omo and Sunil.

Post# 990754 , Reply# 16   4/14/2018 at 21:16 by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)        
Reverse tumbling

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Yes, all European front loaders tumbled both ways as you can see in the Constructa videos. Constructa was the first front loader brand on the European market.

Post# 990755 , Reply# 17   4/14/2018 at 21:18 by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)        

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Those early Indesit were rather well made IIRC. But watching that video is a horror. Letting a machine run like that without bolting it to the floor should be a deadly sin!

Post# 990760 , Reply# 18   4/14/2018 at 22:03 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Nylon bed, table and even body linens

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Can understand to an extent why European/UK housewives flocked to nylon; after centuries of dealing with (often heavy) linen, then cotton (ditto), that required effort to wash, ages to dry then having to be ironed; nylon must have seemed like a gift from God.

Problem is the thing is famously flammable thus not the sort of thing you want to sleep in or with; especially for children/infants.

Post# 990779 , Reply# 19   4/15/2018 at 03:55 by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)        

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I have no memories of nylon bed or table linens. As a child I may have had some underwear of a mixed material, but am not sure about that. But for the rest we were not a nylon or polyester household.

Post# 990783 , Reply# 20   4/15/2018 at 05:22 by nokia2010 (Bucureşti, România (Bucharest, Romania))        

Well, thank you for the info. Those fashion magazines are from 1964 and no big info about detergents. But did "Sunil" made detergent especially for automatich washing machines?

I do remember hearing or seeing an documentary few years ago (probably heard it at the radio, I'm not 100% sure). The narrator sayed about detergents and how expensive where automatic washing machines in the '50's and '60's *. Couldn't thnink at my life without an automatic washing machine. Back then I wondered how the old automatic washing machine looked (well, in an episode of "Tom and Jerry" you can see an American automatic washing machine, front loading, but with an horizontal agitator, like a top loader). Searched few years ago old washing machines, but didn't found back then the very old ones. A guy from a Romanian forum mentioned last month about a Romanian assambled (later made) washing machine and I've started the search.
I wondered if any one had here front loading automatic washing machines in the '60's. In the '70's I think they imported some from "Gorenje" (they mentioned them in a repiar book), but I don't know about '60's. They bought automobiles from Wester-Germany (imported for the state or by private persons)**, but I don't know about washing machines. Funny thing: in Romanian washing machine is maşină de spălat (plural: maşini de spălat). But maşină is generally used for automobiles (automobile in Romanian), and by many for buses too and sometimes even trolleybuses!

* an automatic "Bauknecht" was about 1.995 West-German Marks around 1959. I wonder what where the wages (sallaryes) in Western-Germany back then. Starting with the price of a hobby magazine I made a calcuation and it resulted in today's money it have had to cost around 3.000 Euros. Not quyte cheap for even a German.
** I made the comparation because of size. Officially they imported "Reanult" and "F.I.A.T." automobiles (for the general public). People bought electronics too, but besides television sets and big radio consoles (cabinet type), the rest could be carry in the plane or the train.

Post# 990785 , Reply# 21   4/15/2018 at 06:13 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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Early Schwanweiss and Sunil (amongst others) were all mostly meant for wash tubs/kochewasch.

Post# 990786 , Reply# 22   4/15/2018 at 06:28 by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)        

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Sunil was already an exciting brand, but they changed the formula soon after automatic washing machines on the market here. The Netherlands adapted rather quickly to automatics, so detergent manufacturers changed their products soon to step into a hole in the market.

Here's a thread with ads from the 50's, 60's and 70's.

Post# 990789 , Reply# 23   4/15/2018 at 06:50 by nokia2010 (Bucureşti, România (Bucharest, Romania))        

Curiosity: in the '50's and '60's in Europe there imported automatic front loaders from U.S.A.? There where any brand manufcaturing 'em here?

Post# 990791 , Reply# 24   4/15/2018 at 07:20 by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)        

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Not only frontloaders, but some toploaders too, especially General Electric. They were imported through the harbour of Rotterdam, I guess that's why they were so widely available in the Netherlands. They were all manufactured in the USA, not in Europe.

Post# 990794 , Reply# 25   4/15/2018 at 07:47 by virabhadrasana (France / Italy)        
Old threads

Have a look to these old threads! :))

Post# 990796 , Reply# 26   4/15/2018 at 07:59 by nokia2010 (Bucureşti, România (Bucharest, Romania))        

But I'm still curios: that "Constructa" from 1953 does have a flotor?
Beeing the 1st automatic front loader beeing made in Europe, they where copyed from other brands or the engineers just looked through some documenation and designed that washing machine?

Post# 990809 , Reply# 27   4/15/2018 at 10:49 by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)        

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"Beeing the 1st automatic front loader beeing made in Europe, they where copyed from other brands or the engineers just looked through some documenation and designed that washing machine?"

That is something history doesn't tell.

Post# 990812 , Reply# 28   4/15/2018 at 11:27 by nokia2010 (Bucureşti, România (Bucharest, Romania))        

OOps, it was only now that I've seen that link with British adds.
What is better then an early "Constructa"? A store with them (only if you could find one nowdays):

Why 2 lids? www.elektroboerse-handel....

1958 add:

Probably 1961-1963 add:

An article (in German):
I've used "Google" Transalte to translate that article and it seems that "Constructa" where made in more just one location.
They where really so famous abroad? If it wasn't for my passion, I would never ever heard about this brad.

An K6. Probably around 1958-1960.

Here and Swiss wasching machine

Ce avem noi aici?/What do we have here?

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Post# 990909 , Reply# 29   4/15/2018 at 23:25 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Original patents for Constructa washing machine

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Made several references to American machines; but nothing about Bendix.

Post# 990919 , Reply# 30   4/16/2018 at 02:32 by nokia2010 (Bucureşti, România (Bucharest, Romania))        

Very intresting. I've I will see such machine sent for destroing, it's a must to save it.
On that list of patents I've seen some images. But why when I click a patent I don't see an image?
In Romania the door of the front loading washing machines is gennerally called "porthole" ("hublou" in Romanian; plural "hublouri"). Well, if this isn't enough, in Romania most people are keeping theyr washing machines in bathrooms. Some prewar buldings are having at bahtrooms round windows, inspired by portholes! (of the TransAtlantic ships).

Post# 991014 , Reply# 31   4/16/2018 at 18:43 by nokia2010 (Bucureşti, România (Bucharest, Romania))        

The 1st one is an dryer. Probably the pair of 700 washing machine.

An "Matura" (probably around 1960).

Post# 991393 , Reply# 32   4/19/2018 at 10:42 by ozzie908 (Lincoln UK)        
Nylon bed linen

ozzie908's profile picture
If like myself you suffered with Excema those sheets were not nice at all as they brushed side caught on dry skin and if felt like electric shocks every time you moved ....

So pleased when Polyester/cotton took over from nylon !!


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