Thread Number: 73980  /  Tag: Refrigerators
G.E monitor top problem
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Post# 977405   1/7/2018 at 22:42 (281 days old) 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 (281 days old) 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 (281 days old) 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 (281 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (280 days old) 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 (279 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Sounds reasonable.

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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 (279 days old) 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 (279 days old) 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 (247 days old) 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 (247 days old) 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 (246 days old) 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 (246 days old) 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 (246 days old) 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 (245 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
John I'd love to see pic ps of both

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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 (245 days old) 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 (245 days old) 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 07:37
Post# 982608 , Reply# 30   2/13/2018 at 09:05 (244 days old) 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 (244 days old) 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 (243 days old) 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 (243 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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No Lilt for her!

Post# 982879 , Reply# 34   2/15/2018 at 00:11 (243 days old) 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 (243 days old) 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 (243 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        

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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 (242 days old) 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 17:19
Post# 982919 , Reply# 38   2/15/2018 at 10:01 (242 days old) by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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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 16:27
Post# 982929 , Reply# 39   2/15/2018 at 14:10 (242 days old) 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 (242 days old) 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 (236 days old) 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 (235 days old) 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 (235 days old) 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 (235 days old) 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 (235 days old) 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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Post# 984201 , Reply# 46   2/25/2018 at 00:12 (233 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
Worked on her feet today

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Looks like she sat in 3 inches of water for too long sometime in her life.
Gave her a pedicure.
I use a floor Jack to lift one side, used Jack stands to hold while I un bolted two feet.
Sanded off as much rust as I could, primed with Rusty Metel Primer.
Used appliance appoxi on inside of feet. (Will use oil based enamel on outside of feet later)
After re attaching, repeated the process on the other side.
Still working up the courage for the rewire.

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Post# 984259 , Reply# 47   2/25/2018 at 09:05 (232 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        

panthera's profile picture

The quality of your work is beyond words - it's better than factory!

As to the re-wiring: I agree that it is better to do it before permanent damage occurs. Here's a few things I do when dealing with ancient equipment:

1) The way these refrigerators work makes it very hard to install a fuse set to blow as one would in an old tube amp or AA5 radio, but it would not hurt to keep this plugged into a single user, 15 amp circuit using a GFCI outlet until you can get the rewiring done. 

2) There are much better choices for the wiring you draw into hard to reach places today then there were back when this magnificent refrigerator was built. Thinner insulation, yet better and (most importantly, more slippery). I don't have a link to him, there is however a man in Australia who rebuilds these refrigerators all the time and I recollect him mentioning this point. Somebody around here will know how to find his extensive photos and videos and written advice.

3) Before I started 'recapping' AA5s I practiced my work on less-valuable things such as (in those days!) 1950s and 1960s transistor radios. You clearly have the skills to do this really well, a bit of practice will increase your confidence.

Post# 984369 , Reply# 48   2/25/2018 at 23:16 (232 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
Thanks Panthera

stan's profile picture
For the vote of confidence.
I do have this plugged into a power strip with a 15 amp breaker, it was only a attempt to save me from possibly having to change a fuse in the basement. This is a old house with glass fuses, and no ground wiring.
As I understand.. The old relay on these.. has a overload protector.. but with age can sometimes be a problem if it gets stuck in a closed position.
I worked on the door today. The door isn't as heavy as my old one, so managed to get it off and outside without straining my milk LOL
Use a putty night to dig off the very old and very dry door seal.
I repainted and replaced door seal. Also tinkered with the hinges. I repainted the hinge covers Travis sent me. When I got this, one hinge was broken..and missing both the covers.

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Post# 984382 , Reply# 49   2/26/2018 at 00:16 (232 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
Wanted to mention

stan's profile picture
That while I used appliance epoxy for the inside portion of the legs, my preferred paint for this project has been oil based gloss enamel. Long dry time, but works for me. If somethings not right, I can usually wait a couple of days, wet sand with 1500-2000 grit, then use polishing compound, and it seems to work out.
Smells like real paint to.

Post# 984385 , Reply# 50   2/26/2018 at 01:04 (232 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

rp2813's profile picture

Stan, that is going to be a showpiece once you're done with it.  I'm glad Travis is helping you with the parts you need to accomplish this.


I don't blame you for feeling intimidated by the wiring job.  I suppose if I could see a master like Travis do it first, I'd feel confident about it.

Post# 984386 , Reply# 51   2/26/2018 at 01:37 (232 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
Good idea

stan's profile picture
I have written instructions, the wiring diagram, some pics, and now the parts to do it! But a complete vidieo would be great.
If I can talk myself into doing it, maybe I make the video LOL

Post# 984387 , Reply# 52   2/26/2018 at 01:44 (232 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
Don't go by those pics of the hinges. Those are on wrong. Either way the holes and screws match up, and the door closes the same. They just look better to me this way

Post# 984401 , Reply# 53   2/26/2018 at 08:18 (231 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
It is looking better and better

panthera's profile picture

As to the electrical: Are we working on the basis of prejudice or sound assumptions? When dealing with vintage electrical installations, it's a sound principle to think things through carefully.

We were given one of the last IH refrigerators. Yellow interior, everything still cooling perfectly after 61 years (no surprise, there - IH might have built some dodgy drive trains, but their engineering was top notch).

Having schematics at hand and a video showing how the work is to be done, I plunged right in. Got the motor compartment done quickly and easily. 

Split and cracked and broke the now fragile plastic cover and trim all around the thermostat, chipped the porcelain around the lamp and discovered that the 'ancient' door switch which took two hours to get to...was brand new and made in 2007.

So, yeah - if it must be, it must be, just - I totally understand why Stan is taking stock of things, first.

Post# 984530 , Reply# 54   2/27/2018 at 01:51 (231 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
Vintage electrical

stan's profile picture
and thinking things through is right!
this has to be done right on the first attempt as one mistake could cause death.. Hers not mine. LOL
With these old things.. I've always tried to practice what you might call A Hippocratic oath "first do no harm"
It's why I feel like I've got to court her a bit longer, at the same time the clock is ticking. So Panthera is right I'm "taking stock " of things and planing my best course of action. I have my tools lined up and my craftsman workmate set up to sit the compressor into, but haven't ruled out just lifting the compressor up just high enough to prop up in order to get into the deck.
Once the cord is cut, there's no turning back. (Scares me a bit) so..I've just been making Bessie look better, still some details and polishing to do.. I'm really trying to warm up to this.
I do feel better knowing Travis is a email or phone call away when the time comes.
Thank for the interest and words of encouragement with this guys. I appreciate it

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Post# 984532 , Reply# 55   2/27/2018 at 02:37 (231 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

rp2813's profile picture

Stan, you have the best guide you could ever ask for with Travis.  He can do this stuff blindfolded, and, like I even need to tell you or anyone else here, he is truly dedicated to saving any monitor top that he can, even from afar.  I've even assisted in the rescue of a local monitor top for him.


I agree with what Keven said above, and like you, I'd be hesitant to go against the "if it ain't broke" axiom, but this is more of a wellness issue.  Doing nothing could just as easily be terminal for the old gal, so the realist in me feels it's worth giving her what she needs to run for another 80 years.


I'm sure she'll wait until you feel up to the challenge. 

Post# 984539 , Reply# 56   2/27/2018 at 06:09 (230 days old) by retro-man (nashua,nh)        

Question for you, since I have never had one of these units or have seen this particular one, I noticed 2 knobs for the controls. One says colder so that is the thermostat, now the other says defrost. Do you just turn this on to defrost? Is it just an on and off switch or a timer? Was this a reverse gas defrost? Have seen monitor tops but they only had one switch and that was just shut off to defrost. Do you have to turn the cold control off?


Post# 984564 , Reply# 57   2/27/2018 at 09:17 (230 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
Here's a closer pic.
Control is either on, off, or in defrost setting.
While in defrost stating, the machine allows tge evaporator to thaw, but no allow things to get warm.
The compressor will kick on (while in defrost mode) long enough to keep things from spoiling

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Post# 984587 , Reply# 58   2/27/2018 at 13:55 (230 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

rp2813's profile picture

Lots of vintage refrigerators had their own versions of a defrost setting.  Our '49 Westinghouse had it.  It was one notch below (warmer) than the "vacation" setting.

Post# 984643 , Reply# 59   2/28/2018 at 05:56 (229 days old) by retro-man (nashua,nh)        

Thanks for the picture and description. I did not realize till this close up, that it was also the on and off switch for the entire unit. I take it you leave it on defrost for a period of time till the ice is melted then just return it to the on position.


Post# 984693 , Reply# 60   2/28/2018 at 12:49 (229 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

rp2813's profile picture

I'm not sure how they advised to use the defrost setting.  Perhaps it was an overnight operation.  I know it was never used on our Westinghouse.  My mom just wanted to get it overwith. 


I used to have an old "Defrost-It" timer box with three different settings on it.  It basically shut off the fridge for a designated period of time once each day to allow the condensate to melt into the glass dish below the evaporator (as was the arrangement on my little '39 Westinghouse).  It sort of worked, but after each cycle, droplets on the bottom of the evaporator would freeze, and over time, they'd become long icicles.  It couldn't be used on the '49 Westinghouse because the meat drawer was directly below the evaporator, and that drawer did double duty as the pan to contain the melted condensate during the defrosting process.

Post# 984758 , Reply# 61   3/1/2018 at 00:25 (229 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        
Hi Jon

stan's profile picture
I'm no expert with this, and I have no manual for it, but to answer your question..yes.. just turn the dial to defrost for however long is needed.. I do it before bedtime. In the am the water has collected in the glass drip tray. Empty the pan..then I wipe the evaporator dry to make sure it frosts even and avoid ice sickles. As you can see there's not much to small dry cloth will get it dry. Replace drip pan, turn switch back to on position. Easy!
As mentioned, while in defrost mode, the compressor will still kick on if things get too warm. If someone keeps opening the door, it will kick on to compensate, same way it would if it was in the on position.
So.. Defrost on this only allows for ice to melt, but still keeps thing cool.
After replacing the door seal, I've not had to defrost it. My guess so far.. Maybe once every two months., I'll see.
So far I have found this old girl to be very efficient. She dose what she was designed to do.
I hope she continues.

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Post# 984759 , Reply# 62   3/1/2018 at 00:26 (229 days old) by SudsMaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture
I always used to wonder what the "defrost" setting on older fridges were for. By the time I encountered them in rental housing, the fridge operating manual was long gone. Now I understand.

My solution was usually empty the fridge, turn the thermostat to off, put pans of hot water inside the freezer, and then wait for the sound of chunks of ice falling off the freezer box. Or gently help them along with a blunt tool like a butter or putty knife.

The Kenmore chest freezer in the patio kitchen has an active defrost mode: pull the little knob out and the compressor reverses flow in the coils, and sends hot coolant into the walls to hasten the melting of the frost. Although the chest freezer still needs to be emptied out for defrosting, it cuts the defrost time to about an hour.

A few years ago I acquired an old single door 1948 GE fridge. I ran it briefly in the garage to check on power consumption (I calculated it would use about 350 KWh/yr). The interior is in great shape (remember when metal and glass, not plastic, was the interior of fridges?), but the exterior needs painting. Eventually I'd like to set it up indoors for a vintage kitchen area... another retirement project ;-).

Post# 984760 , Reply# 63   3/1/2018 at 00:50 (229 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

rp2813's profile picture

Stan, thanks for the explanation.  I can see how the fridge could still kick in if necessary, but not enough to cause the evaporator to frost up.  Kind of like a little '30s Frigidaire I had when it was failing.  It kept things cold, but just barely, and the evaporator was always sweaty, not frosty.

Post# 984762 , Reply# 64   3/1/2018 at 01:23 (229 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
Bless your heart..You were doing it the hard way!
Love to see a pic of your 48 G.E Would guess it has a defrost setting?
Don't remember when I didn't have to defrost.. I've never done anything extra to speed up the process. Just turn dial to defrost, and go to bed.

Post# 984764 , Reply# 65   3/1/2018 at 01:27 (229 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
Where's the 30s Frigidaire? Did you fix it? Any pics?

Post# 984880 , Reply# 66   3/1/2018 at 19:51 (228 days old) by SudsMaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture

Thanks. I'll look to see if I have some photos on my desktop computer. Probably do, but after several system upgrades thinks get buried... and the actual '48 GE is now somewhat buried in the work shop. With boxes of light fixtures on top of it, and various light bulbs stored inside (!). Well, we always knew GE had a better idea, right?

As for the defrost setting, I remember in one shared house a meeting about defrosting the shared fridge. One roommate wanted to just set it on defrost and shut the door. I insisted that was worthless, it wouldn't "do anything". I guess I was wrong! Well, at least I wasn't like one other roommate who pulled out an ice pick and wanted to go at it. At least I stopped that action.

Post# 984882 , Reply# 67   3/1/2018 at 20:20 (228 days old) by SudsMaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        
48 GE Fridge

sudsmaster's profile picture
OK, found some photos...

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Post# 984885 , Reply# 68   3/1/2018 at 20:34 (228 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

rp2813's profile picture

Nice fridge Rich!  It looks like a twin of the one a friend of mine has, which I think his parents bought new.  It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to exercise yours once in a while if you can get to it.  The light bulbs won't mind.  Sitting unused often leads to problems.


Stan, that Frigidaire is long gone.  It was a '70s find, back when the cost of having film developed made a person think twice before snapping a picture (Kim Kardashian was born too late - otherwise Kodak would still be in the film biz), and I think it was dead within a year or two of purchase.  I couldn't have paid more than $5 or $10 for it.  IIRC it had the push-button door opener and couldn't have been more than a few cf capacity, with a narrow little evaporator compartment in the middle.  A very deco design, which is what attracted me at the time.  After that failure, I stuck with GE and Westinghouse.

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