Thread Number: 361  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
Help me understand Frigidaire...
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Post# 47665   10/23/2004 at 23:18 (7,120 days old) by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        

cadman's profile picture
Hey Guys,

I've still been making the rounds looking for my first washer/dryer to drag home. Last time I posted I mentioned I had made friends with the app' recycler, so I was over there today crawling through a dark, loaded semi-trailer and pretty much came up empty handed. Monday though 50 or so should be coming in!

Afterwards, I ventured to the nearby Amana/Maytag dealer and what did I discover (besides an '80s Radarange showroom shelf) but a great Frigidaire set sitting out back! Now there's something that attracts me to the Frig's but
I'm lost when it comes to the jargon and models and agitators that I see discussed frequently. The link below is very much what the pair looked like, though I don't recall there being buttons in the middle like that? My memory is a bit fuzzy. The dryer was gas and the washer had a large, bulging, tapered cone that I've seen around the site here. I'm working on getting the OK to haul them home, but have some questions in the interim...

I know some of the landmark years and styling, like the '57 Control Towers, and the beautiful 58's, but when exactly did the agitation become vertical (like on the home page)? Is this called pulsamatic, and what's a unimatic? How long did Frig use this?

What am I looking at, a '65? Can parts still be had? Did the BOL still have a flourescent light at the bottom of the controls? What else would be helpful to know?

I'm sure I'll have lots more questions as I get into the swing of things-



Post# 47668 , Reply# 1   10/23/2004 at 23:44 (7,120 days old) by Unimatic1140 (Minneapolis)        

unimatic1140's profile picture
Hi Cory, I repost this again from a few years back as it might be somewhat helpful...

The Unimatic transmission was designed and built by a Frigidaire engineer named Kenneth O'Sissen back in the late 1930's. Kenneth, who was hired by Frigidaire after working at Bendix where he invented the incrementing timer for their bolt-down washer and Kenneth’s basic timer design is still used today in some washers and dishwashers. His Unimatic, (Uni. meaning one and Matic short for automatic) consisted of a pulsator crankshaft & spin cage/brake assembly type transmission located on the top, a motor mounted in the middle and a water pump mounted underneath the motor. It was one complete direct drive unit without any clutches, drive belts or pulleys. The motor ran at 1140rpm, the gearing ratio in the pulsator part of the mechanism made the agitator go up and down in a 1 7/8” stroke at 330 pulses per minute. Since there was no gearing in the spin section of the mechanism, the tub spun at the same rate as the motor -- 1140rpm, which made for incredibly dry clothes. Because of the war effort it wasn’t until 1947 that Frigidaire introduced this mechanism in its very first washer, model WJ-60. Unimatic washers for domestic use were continued to be produced through 1958.

In 1955 Frigidaire engineers experimented with a belt-drive mechanism and introduced the Pulsa-Matic mechanism on its lower end washer model WV-35. The Pulsa-Matic agitated up and down at a very rapid 630ppm and also spun the tub at 630rpm, which was the slowest spinning full-size washer GM Frigidaire ever produced. Because of the rapid agitation with the Pulsa-Matic, Frigidaire shortened the length of the stroke of the agitation from 1 7/8" to 3/4". This change in agitation stroke and pulse rate did reduce the rate of turnover of the clothes which made for less tangling, but did not clean anywhere near as well as the Unimatic’s agitation. For this reason the Pulsa-Matic only lasted 4 years as they continued to market it in '56, '57 and '58. These models (WV-35, WS-56, WD-56, WS-57, WD-57, WS-58, WD-58 and WDP-58) are now some of the rarest of the Frigidaire washers and I only know of one collector that has one of these Pulsa-Matic washers.

The only major design of the Unimatic washers outside of the normal yearly changes in the cabinet and control panels was the introduction of the 3-Ring Agitator in 1956, with a neoprene rubber, gray colored cap, lint-chaser ring and circulator ring. The same colors were used in ’57 and a bleach cup was added. In ’58 Frigidaire’s advertising firm suggested that they color the rings (sort of like they did in the ’57 magazine ad’s), so the cap became turquoise, the lint chaser ring became yellow and the circulator became a coral color.

In 1959 Frigidaire introduced their first coin-operated washer (model WCOZ). The WCOZ used the Unimatic tranny and coin-op Unimatics were produced until 1964. Starting in 1965 Frigidaire introduced other coin-op machines with various mechanisms and continued to make them until the mid 70’s. About 1962 Frigidaire introduce their top-loading Dry-Cleaner, it too used the Unimatic mechanism and I'm not sure how long it was produced for (anyone out there know????).

For the new 1959 domestic washer line Frigidaire discontinued the Unimatic (for home use) and completely discontinued the Pulsa-Matic. They now introduced the Multi-Matic which was nothing more than a very advanced version of the Pulsa-Matic. It consisted of two drive belts (one for agitate and one for spin), a new two speed motor and a special clutch to shift drive power between the two belts. This arrangement produced Frigidaire's first multi-speed washer, allowing for 330ppm for normal wash speed or a 220ppm delicate speed as well as a 850rpm high spin speed and a 330rpm delicate spin speed. Because of the slower 330ppm Frigidaire was now able to return the agitator stroke back to a full 1.25" just like the old Unimatic. For the 1963 line Frigidaire introduced it's new 12lb capacity tub, but unfortunately for both the 1963 and 1964 line Frigidaire cheapened the clutch design of the Multi-Matic which dropped the high spin speed from 850 all the way down to 710.

In 1965 (actually it was the end of the year 1964) Frigidaire introduced the Roller-Matic mechanism. This was now a belt-less mechanism again with rollers of different sizes to drive the transmission. They also brought back the high speed spin of 1010rpm (not quite as fast as the 1140 of the Unimatic, but still very impressive). The Imperial and Custom Imperial washers had this 1010 “Rapidry spin” as well as a 650 mid level spin and a 330 low speed spin. Agitation speeds remained at 330 normal or 220 delicate speeds. In '65 they also introduced the "Deep Action Agitator" which was also referred to as "Jet-Action". They had been experimenting with this 3-cone agitator since 1962 when they stated placing it in their coin-op machines, but for some reason waited until '65 to introduce it into the domestic line.

The 1970 line brought some very big changes. They introduced the new 1-18 washer with big 18lb perforated tub and the Jet-Cone agitator. The normal agitation speed was brought up from 330ppm to 360ppm and the spin speed was lowered from 1010 to about 660. They day's of the high speed spin were now over, even though its 660 was still the fastest spin available through the 1970's.

Of course in 1980 GM sold off Frigidaire it will never be the same :( . For a few years they kept the same general look of the cabinet and control panel of the 1-18 but inside was a 1970's design Westinghouse Top-Loading washer, one of the worst top-loader washer designs ever. It was a very dark-day in applianceville. The first time I saw this new Frigidaire after catching my breath, I nearly cried. I don’t need to describe to anyone out there in applianceville what WCI is producing now as a top-loader.

If anyone has any additions to add this piece of history, that would be really great!

Post# 47677 , Reply# 2   10/24/2004 at 08:55 (7,119 days old) by westytoploader ()        

With the introduction of the 1-18, did they bring back the belt, and was it essentially a belt-driven Rollermatic?

Post# 47678 , Reply# 3   10/24/2004 at 09:20 (7,119 days old) by laundromat (Hilo, Hawaii)        
Rollermatic mechanism

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Yes.There were so many more differences in features though.The new perferated tub was huge,the water entered in through a circular hose that wrapped around the top of the tub and had 12 slits evenly distributed around it to spray the water in to fill the machine and spray the clothes during the spin cycle.The top of the line washers had a 3 speed motor.Only Whirlpool and Frigidaire had 3 speed machines available.Some washer models were available with glass see through lids as well as full widt flurescent lighting on the control panel.

Post# 47680 , Reply# 4   10/24/2004 at 09:29 (7,119 days old) by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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You're looking in the 1965-66 range of washers.I think only TOL washers had the fluorescent lights,not sure about that.

If it's a matched set,it would be worth aquiring.Some parts should still be available,but not everything.


Post# 47716 , Reply# 5   10/24/2004 at 21:42 (7,119 days old) by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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Hey Uni, thanks a lot for the explanation- just what I was looking for. I'm still trying to get through to the person 'in charge' at the app store, no one there at the time wanted the responsibility of giving me the ok. The demanufacturer picks them up tomorrow afternoon. One way or another I'll get them : )

I assume this is a multi-matic then?

Post# 47717 , Reply# 6   10/24/2004 at 22:09 (7,119 days old) by westytoploader ()        

If it isn't a Multimatic it sure looks like one!

Post# 47723 , Reply# 7   10/24/2004 at 23:35 (7,119 days old) by jerry (Santa Maria, CA)        

It sure looks like a 1964 model.I used to have one very similar.

Post# 47734 , Reply# 8   10/25/2004 at 06:28 (7,118 days old) by laundromat (Hilo, Hawaii)        
fluorescent lighting in washers and dryers

laundromat's profile picture
The Frigidaire Imperial and Custom Imperial Jet Action 1-18 washers and the Custom Imperial Flowing Heat 1-18 gas and electric dryers DID have fluorscent lighting on the control panel.That feature was not discontinued until after GM slammed the car door on FRIGIDAIRE back in 1978.

Post# 47746 , Reply# 9   10/25/2004 at 08:28 (7,118 days old) by frontaloadotmy (the cool gay realm)        
1st Vintage Laundry Pair

Hi Cory,
If that is your first vintage washer, IMHO ya done great;
It's real handsome. Congrats. Darrel

Post# 47747 , Reply# 10   10/25/2004 at 08:30 (7,118 days old) by Unimatic1140 (Minneapolis)        

unimatic1140's profile picture
My guess would be WCD-63 or a WCD-64 -- 1963 or 1964 model.

Post# 47753 , Reply# 11   10/25/2004 at 09:49 (7,118 days old) by PeterH770 (Marietta, GA)        

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That is a 1964. The last year of the Multimatic. It should have the tall, gray column pulsator with the blue and green rings on it. Congrats!!!


Post# 47774 , Reply# 12   10/25/2004 at 15:05 (7,118 days old) by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

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Neat washer - can't wait to hear if it still works! Good find!

Post# 47821 , Reply# 13   10/25/2004 at 23:44 (7,118 days old) by appnut (TX)        

appnut's profile picture
Incredible washer and there's the matching dryer to boot.

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