Thread Number: 73478  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
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Post# 970337   11/28/2017 at 01:07 (355 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        

Delightful ad on today's POD for the RCA Whirlpool combo. Hell, I'd like to buy one right now!

I know so little about these fascinating machines. Among those of you on here, which one of the brands of combo washer/dryers do you consider best, or were considered best back then? I haven't seen any Consumer Reports tests on these.

Post# 970354 , Reply# 1   11/28/2017 at 06:32 (355 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
1957 WP Combination Washer-Dryer

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This combo was WPs first combo, it was a very good performer and was top rated in the gas version in CRs only full test of combos in 1960.


This machine had durability issues like most early 1950s automatic washers had, WP was the only US appliance maker to completely redesign their combo for better performance and durability.


The best US combos ever were the first Bendix combos [ 1952-1958 ] and the redesigned 29" wide WP-KM combos built from 1961-1971. These early Bendix combos were all condenser in the electric versions and all WP-KM combos were vented drying machines.


John L.

Post# 970355 , Reply# 2   11/28/2017 at 06:40 (355 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

Would love to go out and buy a brand-new Electric 1953 Bendix Combo AND a 1965 Lady Kenmore Combo.
They would be all the Combo's I would ever want.

I saw one of these Whirlpool Combos at Robert's years ago. It was just like how I had remembered them back in the day.

Post# 970373 , Reply# 3   11/28/2017 at 10:05 (355 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Earlier,  the question was asked about the drying heats in the WP combos.  I was only able to find the temperatures for the Low and the High heat settings. Remember that this is a vented drying machine so the evaporation of water from the fabrics keeps the temperature of the fabrics and the air low until the  moisture is all gone. If any of you have seen Maytag ads for the Halo-of-Heat dryers, you might remember them saying that fabrics dry at temperatures slightly higher than body temperature. That can be said for many air flow dryers while the fabrics still have moisture in them. Maytag's electronic control stopped the drying when the moisture was mostly gone so fabrics did not heat up unless the Permanent Press setting was selected and then they were heated up to 160F. In dryers without electronic moisture sensing or modulated heat input, the temperature soars after the moisture is gone. This is an explanation of the drying temperatures I am going to post.


At LOW, the range during drying was between 95F and 115F, but peaked at 150F.

At HIGH, the range was 95F-115F, but peaked at 230F


The peak temperatures were near the end of the dry period when perhaps lighter-weight fabrics were dry but heavier fabrics were still damp. I can tell you from personal observation, looking in through the big round window in the Whirlpool's door and up to the left where the heater box opened through the back of the outer tub that the heating element did not cycle off until the load was dry on HIGH heat. Those fat heaters glowed bright orange in that heater box and if you did not set the timer right, you got overdried and hot fabrics. The air pattern was from back left to right front where the lint screen was located. My friend Bob's mother's combo was in the kitchen and that combo did not have a chance to shut itself off because she had an idea of how long a load needed to dry and would check after about an hour to an hour and a quarter and if the load was dry, she pulled it out and started another one. I don't remember the fabrics being uncomfortable to handle.


It's hard to tell from the picture, but if you look to the left of "RINSE" you can see two sets of numbers on a clear collar-shaped dial. There was a collar on the wash timer shaft that served as the dryer timer. It was set by pulling out on the collar and turning it to the desired dry time.  She kept hers turned to the maximum and dried manually. 

Post# 970407 , Reply# 4   11/28/2017 at 15:31 (355 days old) by wft2800 (Leatherhead, Surrey)        

How good was/is the Speed Queen combo? I think it's a 27" or 29". There was a second-generation Duomatic that came in '59, I believe, which was badged "LTA" on the UK-built examples. I don't think we got any of the earlier 50s combos, although "chestermikeuk" has a 30" Bendix Gyramatic washer.

Post# 970412 , Reply# 5   11/28/2017 at 16:19 (355 days old) by appnut (TX)        

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Did Whirlpool ever offer a 33" combo with auto dry like Sears offered with their LK Combo? Taht was huge advantage, plus teh bleach and fabric softener dispensers.

Post# 970452 , Reply# 6   11/28/2017 at 19:07 (354 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

There was a 33"WP combo with program buttons to select things on the TOL machine and it and, of course the 29" Ultimatic, had auto dry.

Post# 970681 , Reply# 7   11/29/2017 at 18:37 (353 days old) by Kenmoreman ( Southern NH)        
Kenmore/ Whirlpool combos

I serviced these combos for years. They were a failure for Sears and were eventually discontinued. They were an engineering wonder but they were so much more complex than the standard whirlpool washer and dryers. I once worked in a large room above the auto garage that was set up to service returns. There was a section that had at least 25 nice combos scheduled for the crusher. The problem wasn't just parts failure but a complete lack of proper in depth training.. I once had two of these machines in my basement and as a single parent they were a blessing. They were a mystery to the avaeage service tech who didn't even know to loosen the balance mechanism screw before moving. For Sears it was a major loss but their own fault.I thought they were wonderful.

Post# 971877 , Reply# 8   12/6/2017 at 06:38 (347 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Kenmoreman (it would be nice to be able to address you by your given name),

 I grew up in Atlanta and we had a regional headquarters for Sears there. They had an "Employees' store" of sorts in the basement but if you knew how to find it you could shop in it. There were combos from time to time, often the older 29" machines with the red RESET light above the lower panel and that string with the loop that had to be pulled to reset the mechanism after it went off balance. I had long heard that the reason they were there was that they could not be repaired to the customer's satisfaction in the field so Sears took them back and repaired them in house. Sears needed an elite "combo squad" to service these but it would have involved a constant stream of moving these very heavy machines in close quarters and some sort of pay differential to make up for the work and longer service calls. Many Sears servicemen did not even want to be bothered with the more complex LK washers let alone the combos. Two members here, John and Jeff, really liked these machines and appreciated their construction and complexity. Those are qualities needed for successful combo techs.


Right now, the biggest obstacle to keeping these machines working is the deterioration of the air-operated clutch diaphragm in the transmission.


I had a 33" WP combo where the bleach dispenser hose terminating above the water line in the sump had caused the porcelain to degrade so the metal rusted through, but above the water line. I repaired it with glass and epoxy. A friend who had been a service tech for Sears looked at that and told me that when they scrapped machines, they used to  punch a hole in the sump so that the machine could never be used again.

Post# 971883 , Reply# 9   12/6/2017 at 06:54 (347 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        

Thanks for the great reply. Question--are today's LG and other brands of combos redesigned and thus a wiser purchase? IOW how do today's stack up in terms of design and assembly quality?

Post# 971886 , Reply# 10   12/6/2017 at 07:02 (347 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Hi Kenmore Man

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It would be fun to talk to you and hear about some of your experiences with these cool machines, do you happen to have any replacement parts for them you might want to sell ?.


PS for everyone using this site, it would be nice if people could put a first name [ you can always make one up ] at least in their profile to make it easier to address one another, it is also helpful to know approximately when you were born and what section of the country or world you live in.


Having this information can really affect issues, questions  you may be having with an appliance.


I seldom answer questions or respond to people that do not even have a first name, approximate age and location as it is often just a waste of time because my answers could be wrong for your situation.


John L.

Post# 971904 , Reply# 11   12/6/2017 at 09:01 (347 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Johnrk, I don't honestly know. The only ones I have seen are 120 volt condenser drying machines that take a long time to dry in spite of doing a good job at water extraction. I guess that they make good adult appliance toys and are fairly dependable, but service in the US is sketchy.  I tried to tell the President of LG when I and two lawyers working for a DC law firm retained by LG  had him in the Belchville Museum ages ago that 240 is the standard voltage for electric dryers in the US, but he did not appear to be interested. I held up the pigtails on the back of every vintage electric combo I could reach to prove they were meant to be connected to 240 volts.

Post# 971930 , Reply# 12   12/6/2017 at 11:10 (347 days old) by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        

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Those fabulous recirculation systems that made the Whirlpool combos so amazing have been copycatted by LG. Though an inveterate die-hard lover of vintage machines, I have to admit that the the LG Turbowash is a dream machine. Whoever designed it suggests a washer aficionado who knew all the older machines and their wonders, engineering as many of their best features into a hybrid machine as possible:

Dilution of the wash water at the end of the wash period, imitating the overflow; spray rinses galore, one after wash two after spin, almost a minute each; push-button cycle selection with options for every speed and temp and time combination obtainable with options up the whah-zuel; override or modify of any cycle, a hand wash cycle with gobs of water and obsessive rinsing which makes for the epitome, the apex, the all-star, the most quintessential gentle cycle on the planet, to name a few, not to mention a Speed Wash that cranks out a load in under 20 minutes, and a heater.

The LG Turbo is a miraculous washing machine that can do ANY laundry chore and every washer move imaginable, except overflow and suds-return, and I am smitten with it, as much as with any vintage! Without reservation, I would tell you to buy one.

Post# 971944 , Reply# 13   12/6/2017 at 12:01 (347 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        

Does this washer limit hot water temp? Or does it have a heater? Unfamiliar with it-

Post# 971988 , Reply# 14   12/6/2017 at 16:44 (347 days old) by appnut (TX)        

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John, yes, these washers have a heater.  But it's limited as to which cycles use heater. 


Michael, my huge beef with LG is they aren't as flexible with options as you make it out to be. 


My response about Perm Press cycle (equivalent on my Duet)


I still use the equivalent on my WP Duet.  It particularly comes in handy when I use steam option for heavy soiled poly-cotton dress shirts as well as my white dress shirts (hot water then).  It does a 2 minute water fill at the end of the wash or steam part of the cycle to cool down the load.  If I don't use steam or hot, just warm, I have another cycle that's very "European", how it approaches it task, for said type of garments with warm water.  It doesn't do any spins after the wash and does 3 rinses.  My old Frigidaire did something very similar for its colors/wrinkle free cycle. 


From the thread about WP, Samsung, & LG


I find LG front loaders aren't nearly as flexible as Whirlpool and Maytag front loaders.  Steam is only relegated to certain cycles with LG.  and steam is a way to force the heater to heat up the water and get the environment inside the tub hotter.  You can't get extra hot or steam on LG's towels cycle.  LG's Perm Press cycle doesn't offer steam or extra hot.  I use steam option and hot water on my wrinkle free white dress shirts, gets those collars clean.  With Whirlpool I can opt for extra hot as well as steam on Towels cycle.  And same temperature option on Delicates.  Even steam and extra hot on quick wash.  On comparable Maytag Maxima extra hot and steam on Wrinkle Free (comparable to Whirlpool's Delicate) as well as Bedding, which I imagine is similar to Whirlpoo's Towels.  I want to be able to get any water temperature I can select.  Cold Water cycles are totally useless as far as I'm concerned. 



Post# 972126 , Reply# 15   12/7/2017 at 10:18 (346 days old) by Kenmoreman ( Southern NH)        
Sears combos demise

The early machines were called turbomatics I believe. They were tall flat fronted machines. One of my combos that I had as a daily driver was almost brand new. It had multiple service call for heating problems. Instead of telling Sears to come and get it they moved it into a corner and bought conventional washer & dryer. I was doing a service call in that basement and inquired why the machine was just sitting there. It had been for almost ten years because it was too heavy to move. I asked it they wanted to part with it. They were thrilled and I and 5 of my friends picked it up and took it home. I discovered a burnt out internal contact in the timer. The rest of the machine was mint!!!! It went right beside my other combo that I had put a hub and speed changer in. Once they were properly repaired they actually were pretty much trouble free. Thank you for sharing your info Tomturbomatic.

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