Thread Number: 75030  /  Tag: Refrigerators
Penncrest Freezer -- Who Made It?
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Post# 988509   3/27/2018 at 17:32 by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Would this be a GE/Hotpoint re-badge for Penney's?


I've been on the hunt for an older freezer because when we move, the '61 Ward's Tru-Cold will be staying behind.  A mid-'60s reconfiguration at the top of the basement stairs precludes its extraction.  It seems fitting.  It's never lived anywhere else since it left the Ward's warehouse.  It might suffer from philodendron syndrome if it's moved anyway.


This Penney's box is super clean, and I'm betting it's not that many years younger than the Tru-Cold.  Per the ad it has been well maintained, and it shows.  I see no reason why it won't run forever just like the Tru-Cold seems destined to do -- if the TC doesn't get junked during the coming renovations.  I was in love as soon as I saw the chrome handle and aqua blue/black Penney's logo.  It seems handles on freezer doors are a novel concept these days.


We're moving up in the world -- from Ward's to Penney's (as a certain long lost member would tag that line, "always first quality").




Post# 988514 , Reply# 1   3/27/2018 at 18:05 by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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I donít know who built that Penneyís freezer, but if I were you Iíd jump on it fast! It appears to be in pristine condition. And donít freezers usually last forever anyway? You arenít likely to find another this nice for a long time, if ever. Thats just my two cents worth.

Post# 988526 , Reply# 2   3/27/2018 at 19:54 by superocd (PNW)        

That's very nice. An aunt of mine had an old freezer by Firestone (as in the tire people). It was about the size of this Penncrest and it ran and ran. It was probably older than her but I wouldn't know for sure without the serial number, but it's long gone. Cheap razors by now.

It would still be running if the moving company didn't drop it down a flight of concrete steps. She got a new freezer out of the deal, plus they had to pay the for the damages they did to the stairs to the apartment complex she lived in. Apparently that thing took chunks out of the stairs on its way down, and yes, it was empty.

My parents have an old Whirlpool 18 cu. ft., still chugging away. Only needed a door gasket in its 35+ years of service.

These old units with R12 are usually tossed to the curb only because they suck a bit more energy than the newer ones, someone saw a deal in the Sears ad or something or they just got tired of looking at it. They don't give up without a fight.

Post# 988527 , Reply# 3   3/27/2018 at 20:14 by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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My Mom got my Grandparents little Admiral Upright freezer when they passed away. They bought it in 1955, Mom got it in 76í, and when she died in 04í it was still working fine. It had been in her garage since she got it and as far as I know its still working. I havenít spoken with my stepfather for over 10 years.

Grandma got it to freeze strawberries and peaches, as well as other things. She thought it was so much more modern than my paternal grandma who canned everything. My grandma thought you needed to move with the times, sheíd been a Suffragette!


Post# 988528 , Reply# 4   3/27/2018 at 20:21 by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

This post has been removed by the member who posted it.

Post# 988529 , Reply# 5   3/27/2018 at 20:22 by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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I've been looking for a few months, and this is only the second freezer I've found that meets my criteria.  I swear I was seeing old freezers every time I pulled up CL with search term "vintage" when I wasn't shopping for one . . .


The only other freezer I came across was another Penncrest with the same handle and badge, but it had the later JC Penney logo.  It was also clean, but was an hour's drive away, and it went fast before I could line up help to go get it.  It may have been a little smaller.


This one is right in town, but I may not have access to it until 4/7.  That gives me time to find a space for it in the garage.   It's larger than I need, but not any bigger than the Tru-Cold.  I was going to scale back if I found the right size and age, but this Penncrest is too nice to pass up.


Modern freezers (<35 years old) are butt ugly and don't even have kickplates.  Some don't even appear to have a drain in the bottom.  Additionally, I don't know when all refrigerators and freezers started using Chinese compressors, but I don't want to take any chances.


I also don't want a frost free model.  They're energy hogs and you don't see any old ones of those coming up for sale, likely because they failed in one way or another.   Besides, it's only during defrosting that I toss out stuff that's too old.  With a frostless box, that would never happen!

Post# 988533 , Reply# 6   3/27/2018 at 20:47 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

JCPenney didn't really get into whitegoods until 1963 or so when they started opening mall stores; so this would be probably 1965 (when they had the opportunity to fully brand things). Wonder if this is GE-sourced or someone else?

Post# 988538 , Reply# 7   3/27/2018 at 21:12 by funktionalart (Phoenix, AZ)        
That chrome handle...

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Love it. Makes me think of the similar one from GE circa 1965. But the vertical storage dividers on the door interior remind me of what was in some late 60s-mid 70s Amana 22 side-by-sides...

Post# 988550 , Reply# 8   3/28/2018 at 00:07 by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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I guess one way to get an approximate age would be to find out when the Penney's logo changed.  The one that got away was the same style of handle except for that updated badge.  The ad for that one didn't show the interior, though.


I shall consult with my vintage shopping mall reliable source.

Post# 988561 , Reply# 9   3/28/2018 at 06:29 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

I did some google-fu with this...the earliest Penncrest freezers apparently had aluminum interiors. There was an old ad on Google which didn't even have the ribbon P logo which was a had the PENNEY'S logo on the ad in 1963.
also, they seemed to have white goods a lot more widely in the early 60s than in the 70s (when they seemed to contract back to strictly mall stores in the major cities).

Post# 988577 , Reply# 10   3/28/2018 at 10:38 by appliguy (Oakton Va.)        
JC Penny started selling Penncrest appliances in 1963

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and according to the book "A Walk in the Park" they were made by Hotpoint. PAT COFFEY

Post# 988578 , Reply# 11   3/28/2018 at 11:01 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Franklin Built Freezer

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These freezers were not too bad in their day, but with the thin walls it will use a lot of power and manual defrost upright freezers do not keep really even temperatures in the upper shelf and upper door shelves.

I would skip this freezer if you are serious about keeping a lot of food frozen.

John L.

Post# 988586 , Reply# 12   3/28/2018 at 13:45 by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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John, it's interesting that you mentioned thin walls.  This box is slightly taller, wider, and deeper than my Tru-Cold.  I presumed that was an indication of thicker insulation.


As for an upright vs. a chest type freezer, I will not even consider a chest type.  I like contents at eye level/and or not piled on top of each other as to require bending, digging and removing some things to get at others.  A chest freezer is a non-starter for me, and I'll gladly take the risks of uneven temperatures if that's the case.  The Tru-Cold has been keeping everything frozen solid for 57 years regardless of which shelf it's stored on.


Also, my source advised that the blue/black Penney's logo was used from 1963 to 1971, so my estimate that this freezer is no more than ten years younger than the Tru-Cold was about right.

This post was last edited 03/28/2018 at 14:01
Post# 988654 , Reply# 13   3/29/2018 at 01:13 by man114 (Buffalo)        

My parents have the same freezer in harvest gold or whatever they call the color. I think itís missing the door handle badge though. They bought it used in the early 1980s.

There has never been an issue with it keeping food frozen.

Theirs is in even better condition than this one, it looks practically brand new.

Canít tell you what it does for their electrical bill but my dad doesnít care about such things.

Post# 988715 , Reply# 14   3/29/2018 at 13:37 by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Erik, thanks for the testimonial.  It echoes my sentiments on how this freezer will perform.


I'm not even entertaining the idea of a frost-free box.  They're hogs, and per a friend who had one for a while, the cabinet temperature of frost-free types fluctuates (goes up) during every defrost cycle. 


Older is better with these things, at least from a longevity perspective.


Also, I'm still scratching my head over the Franklin thing.  Were they like D&M and never put their own name on anything?  I've never heard of Franklin anything except re-badged washers.  Call me a skeptic, but I've never known Penney's to have sold any large appliances that didn't come out of the GE/Hotpoint facility.   Sourcing from Franklin seems more plausible for other house brands like Grant's "Bradford" and Western Auto's "Wizard."

Post# 988720 , Reply# 15   3/29/2018 at 14:26 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Re Frost Free FreezerI

I had one that was a early 2000 Frigidaire I inherited when my aunt died, I didn't keep it long because I don't like freezer burned food, and that's all any frost free is good for, I wouldn't have another one if you paid me, anytime you are blowing air over food, you dry it out.

Post# 988736 , Reply# 16   3/29/2018 at 15:14 by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Hans, I've seen clean, working, frost-free freezers in the "free" section on CL and passed them right up, mainly because of what you've said and what Nate shared with me about his experience, plus there's more to go wrong. 


In addition, they're ugly on the outside and boring on the inside, and absolutely were not built to last (unlike anything produced prior to the 1990s or so).  I'm not about to allow a flimsy Chinese compressor to control the fate of my frozen stockpile, so a vintage machine is mandatory.

Post# 988743 , Reply# 17   3/29/2018 at 17:04 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

I don't know much about Franklin, but it became a division of WCI (Electrolux) sometime in the late 60's. Previously it was a part of Studebaker (circa 1962). I don't think they ever sold any appliances under their own name. Later Gibson/Kelvinator/Hamilton laundry equpment was their product (WCI ownership).

Post# 988750 , Reply# 18   3/29/2018 at 17:52 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

I wonder if Gibson had a parent/offshoot which produced freezers in grandmother had a Montgomery Ward chest freezer from the 1965-1966 timeframe with a white interior which was white painted aluminum, I think. (My mom's 1966 Coldspot chest had a porcelain enamel interior). There was an old Consumer Reports from that era which might shed some light too.

Post# 988895 , Reply# 19   3/30/2018 at 22:36 by man114 (Buffalo)        
Older Gibson

My grandma still has, and used a 1950s Gibson freezer.

The one shelf coil does not get cold for whatever reason but itís in the middle so it doesnít really effect overall performance. It stil, hits -10F with ease. It has been in use basically since they came from Germany and bought it when they first moved into their first house. When my grandpa built a house in the country it was moved exactly once, and it resides in their basement to this day.

They bought a ďreplacementĒ at Sears when it hit 50 years old and that one is running along side it. We donít discourage them from abandoning and storing less food, we are in a snowy area and only my grandpa can still drive, so having more food rather than less is not a disadvantage.

Post# 988896 , Reply# 20   3/30/2018 at 22:40 by man114 (Buffalo)        

Apologies for the autocorrect typos, we donít encourage them the abandon the Gibson and itís still not stil

Post# 988905 , Reply# 21   3/31/2018 at 00:43 by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Now that I've caved in to the smart phone reality, I'd like to drop it off the Empire State Building sometimes for its goddamned auto correct and/or suggested words -- placed right on top of the space bar.  It's very persistent and extremely annoying, and I swear I have it set not to interfere, but it still does. 


I have a Blackberry Priv with real keyboard, so when I want to type without backspacing ten times during the course of a message, the tactile keyboard is what I use.


As for certain shelves not frosting over as much as others, our Tru-Cold is the same.  The frosting on shelves decreases the lower you go.  Top shelf becomes an ice cave if I let it go too long, while the lower ones remain mostly clear.  Everything stays frozen solid, and I've checked it in the past to make sure it's maintaining zero degrees.  I expect the same sort of thing from the Penncrest.  It will perform just fine, of that I'm certain, and will happily take my chances based on the overwhelmingly positive testimonials here.


Because as we all know, Maytags from the '60s, '70s and '80s are useless and don't clean worth a damn, and vintage KitchenAid dishwashers are overrated too.

Post# 988914 , Reply# 22   3/31/2018 at 02:44 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Ill go along with

The Maytags not being much, my experience with them has been worse than bad, BUT Kitchen Aid is stll the gold standard of dishwashers,,,at least the Hobart ones!!!

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