Thread Number: 75181  /  Tag: Refrigerators
Penncrest Freezer Is Home
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Post# 989968   4/8/2018 at 20:34 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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I had to wait until this weekend for the sellers to be home, so yesterday I took out the '50 GMC for a run to retrieve the freezer for the new house (on what just so happened to be the same date my dad drove it off the lot 58 years ago, as I recently discovered).


The interior is very clean, but the exterior has quite a bit of surface rust from damp environment(s) over the decades, and there are some scratches that will require touch-up.  I've used Meguiar's Car Cleaner/Wax on the top 5/8 or so of the door and it has removed most of the rust, but it's a slow process.  Meanwhile, the interior temperature is right around zero with cold control adjusted to a setting slightly warmer than mid range, and the compressor is running very quietly.


I didn't expect this freezer to have a clean back, but it does.  Where is the condenser coil?  I don't see a fan or hear one running.


One question I have is whether the indicator lamp at bottom right of the door provides any hints about the manufacturer.  When is this lamp supposed to be lit?  Is it simply a power indicator?  I have a feeling the neon bulb may need to be replaced, and I don't know how that would be accomplished.  As you can see from the close-up of the lens, there's a lot of detail work left to do on this box, but it's going to be beautiful.  Check out the picture of the handle and emblem!


The kick plate is chrome and needs a good polishing, which it will receive in due time. 

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Post# 989970 , Reply# 1   4/8/2018 at 20:59 by appnut (TX)        

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Congratulations Ralph.

Post# 990016 , Reply# 2   4/9/2018 at 06:55 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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Nice freezer, Ralph!  I do like the upright models, what can I say...


I had one chest freezer where the neon light was on whenever power to the freezer was connected - it is possible your bulb has burned out over time.  


Great find!!

Post# 990017 , Reply# 3   4/9/2018 at 07:19 by polkanut (Wausau, WI )        

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I've always liked that stylized "P" on the handle.

Post# 990048 , Reply# 4   4/9/2018 at 11:57 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Thanks again for the compliments.  It's larger than I wanted, but it seems vintage freezers don't show up that often.  I'll take a wild guess that the reason is because they're all still in use! 


I really like the magnetic gaskets.  They add to the quiet nature of this unit.  I think by nature of their design they retain their shape and sealing ability better than the latch and "bubble" gasket type, and there's less chance of the door not being completely closed.


I'll see if I can find any images on line that will determine the manufacturer for sure.  With all due respect, Franklin just doesn't sound right to me, and it goes against everything I've ever known about who Penney's sourced their major appliances from (GE/Hotpoint).


Does anybody have other suggestions for removing the surface rust stains?  Using the car cleaner is labor-intensive to say the least.  If there's something else that will get that job done faster and with less elbow grease, I can go over the whole exterior with the cleaner/wax once the stains have been removed.


I'm also going to buy a new bottle of appliance touch-up.  The stuff I have has become gooey and as a result the touched-up scratches and nicks don't disappear into the finish very well.  A fresh bottle worked wonders on the '57 Combination.

Post# 990055 , Reply# 5   4/9/2018 at 13:51 by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

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The 1960 Kenmore upright I got a few years back has an indicator light on the lower door. The lens with frame assembly has to be carefully pried out to replace bulb which I needed to do. I would say access to the bulb is the same on yours.

If you don't see a condenser the cooling tubes are probably attached to the cabinet making it the condenser.

Post# 990117 , Reply# 6   4/9/2018 at 23:16 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Thanks Ken.  I was considering prying the lens off, but wanted to inquire here first.  I'll go at it anticipating I might just get the lens off, or that the entire assembly may come with it.  I have some 120v neon lamps around that I bought for similar indicator lights, but if it's like the others I've replaced, it will require soldering.


Now I'm wondering if for some reason Penney's sourced their freezers from Whirlpool.  I'll keep looking for pictures on line.

Post# 990119 , Reply# 7   4/9/2018 at 23:33 by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

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Many of the freezer brands tested by Consumers Reports in November 1958 had dual purpose signal lights which would go out to warn of power failures and also to warn of abnormally high cabinet temperatures, Brands using this system included Sears Coldspot, Kelvinator/Leonard, and Philco. The Whirlpool counterpart to the Coldspot didnít have a signal light. Deluxe Frigidaires did, however. Wards Tru-Cold models signaled power failure only, not high cabinet temperature.

Post# 990194 , Reply# 8   4/10/2018 at 12:05 by pulltostart (Mobile, AL)        

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The freezer is looking great!  The emblem on that handle is really stunning.  Way too bad that nothing these days has that kind of flash.


You know, you just might need to consider re-naming yourself (i.e., your "handle").  I'm thinking maybe you should start calling yourself "penncrest".



Post# 990218 , Reply# 9   4/10/2018 at 14:42 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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For sure Lawrence -- the emblem is what sold me.  I'm glad the later one in the same style with the updated JC Penney logo disappeared from CL faster than I could decide on whether to pursue it (because it was 50 miles away as opposed to less than 10 with this one).   I didn't even notice the detail in the emblem until the camera happened to capture it.  With a casual glance, it just looks like a plain blue background, and the glittery treatment on the "P" is easy to miss too.


As for the condenser being located in the cabinet, that would explain why this box is wider than the Tru-Cold.  Seems like a good idea, as the condenser would help to keep the cabinet from sweating, which I know can be an issue in humid areas.


I think I'll try to finish the clean-up on the door today.  We get the keys to the new house on the 18th, so it will move into the basement over there subsequently.

Post# 990356 , Reply# 10   4/11/2018 at 20:53 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        
Power Indicator

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The power indicator light assembly wasn't a big deal to pry off.  Its chrome trim was so badly rusted and pitted that it couldn't be brought back to perfect, but I did the best I could.


After soldering in a new neon bulb, I snapped the assembly back into the door surface.  I didn't notice until I took the picture that the gasket that goes around the lens had shifted when I reassembled the bulb housing into the trim piece (you can see it along the bottom of the lens).  I'll have to pry it out, disassemble, and reposition the gasket, then reassemble carefully.  I don't know how hot the bulb gets, but it probably shouldn't be contacting the gasket like it appears to be.



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Post# 990376 , Reply# 11   4/12/2018 at 00:31 by man114 (Buffalo)        

Frankly I donít remember the details of the bulb, I think itís on all the time when plugged in. Iím really not even sure my mom knows!

It was go in the basement get food, stuff was frozen, my mom defrosts it every so often. I know it has the light but god knows what it does.

All I know is my sister got a frost free Frigidaire commercial when she bought a house in about 2004, she didnít need it, gave it to me in 2009, I ran it until last summer and Iíd died. So I guess 13 years is commercial.

My grandparents Gibson from the 1950s is still humming along, let alone the used Penneyís my parents have! I mean we donít even really anticipate it to stop working. My parents donít store as much food these days and my sister and I occasionally take stuff over there to store it.

Iím 37, they bought it used when I was a kid.

Rivals our longest lived appliances, the 1950s Gibson freezer my grandparents have (still going), the Hamilton gas dryer which lasted from 1967 until the late 90s (would still be going had the internet parts access been available just sooner, needed an obsolete common failure part some parts distribution place in Texas had 10 of in stock, and got an internet presence merely a year after we got rid of it), Tappan Meadowbrook range (hasnít been used since 2006) but worked prior to uninstalling, my sisterís 1972 Kenmore electric range (still works down to the timer we baked a ham in it not long ago).

Post# 990378 , Reply# 12   4/12/2018 at 00:58 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Yeah Erik, the neon bulbs don't consume enough energy to turn a meter, so that's why they're used in these application.  I ordered some on ebay for my old GE clocks that have a lighted dial.  They illuminate dials for decades on end, so I don't expect to have to replace it anytime soon.


Thanks for the testimonials on your parents' Penney's freezer.  If mine is even older, it will probably run for longer than I'll ever need it to. 


I plugged in the mile-long model number on a Google search and got all misses and no hits.  I think the emblem will end up being the best indicator of its approximate age, so will go with what was stated in the first thread about this freezer before I brought it home.

Post# 990566 , Reply# 13   4/13/2018 at 12:06 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Older Penncrest Freezer

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Glad you got it home and it seems to be working well, Shell condensers are very common on freezers, they are cheap to build and help prevent exterior cabinet condensation, down side especially on older less well insulated freezers is the freezer is always running in a room that is 80-120 F so the compressor runs more.


Be very careful to allow good air circulation around the cabinet and don't sit boxes etc on top that don't allow good circulation.


This freezer is a Franklin built product, and it differently had nothing to do with Whirlpool, that comment gave me a good laugh.


John L.

Post# 990568 , Reply# 14   4/13/2018 at 12:26 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Thanks John.  This freezer will be in the basement, so it would take an extreme heat wave to create temperatures above 80 down there.  I'll be sure not to place anything on top (I do store Costco-size packs of paper towels and napkins on top of the Tru-Cold, but it has condenser on the back) and give it a wide berth in whichever part of the basement it ends up.

Post# 990595 , Reply# 15   4/13/2018 at 16:04 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

Interesting that it's a Franklin product, when all other appliances sold by J.C. Penney were manufactured by Hotpoint. That makes me wonder if Penney's contracted directly with Franklin, or if Hotpoint freezers at that time were made by Franklin.

Post# 990600 , Reply# 16   4/13/2018 at 16:30 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

Freezers have often been OEMed...even recently I think there were only two manufacturers left in North America....Electrolux in St. Cloud, MN, and Whirlpool somewhere. There was a plant (Woods') in Guelph, ON but I think they shut down (they were making smaller sizes than the other two companies). I
have a Woods which is about 15 years old--bought at Home Depot--nice and small (I can manhandle it around myself which is nice). Would be curious about the cabinet liner on this this era I think there were 3 or 4 options: shiny aluminum (Amana?) painted aluminum (Franklin?) porcelain (Whirlpool, probably GE) and plastic (Admiral). which correspond with the manufacturer pretty closely.

Post# 990662 , Reply# 17   4/14/2018 at 01:00 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Interesting thoughts.  It's hard to imagine that back when the freezer was produced, GE/Hotpoint wasn't making their own units.  That makes it all the stranger that Penney's had a separate deal with Franklin for their freezers.  Such a mystery . . .


I can say at the very least that the liner in the Penncrest is metal.  Whether it's painted or porcelain, I don't know.  There's a decal/label on it that I haven't remembered to read due to my glasses not being handy, but would think that plain old paint wouldn't be anything to boast about with a decal, as opposed to porcelain.


I did see a couple of Woods freezers show up in my search.  I didn't know anything about them and both appeared to have had a hard life.  Even if in nice shape they don't have the same vintage appeal as the Penncrest.  As stated above, the Penncrest is larger than I was looking for, but that doesn't mean I won't eventually fill it up, just like the soon-to-be-abandoned Tru-Cold has been for most of its existence.

Post# 990663 , Reply# 18   4/14/2018 at 01:11 by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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Freezers have often been OEMed...even recently I think there were only two manufacturers left in North America


I remember reading something like that in something like Consumer Reports. Not recently, but I'm thinking it might have been within the last 20 years or so. But don't quote me...


I've wondered time to time how many freezer makers there were many years ago. I have a feeling that a reason why there might be only two companies in recent history is that it doesn't seem like very many people have freezers now. But I have the feeling that freezers were considerably more popular once.



Post# 990744 , Reply# 19   4/14/2018 at 20:16 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        
One Very Hot Backside

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The freezer has been unplugged for a few days since it had tested out OK and I was still messing with the directly wired neon indicator lamp.


This afternoon I rotated the cold control from "OFF" to just past where it kicked in.  About 30 minutes later I felt around the exterior for warm spots from the embedded condenser and found a really hot one on the back.  This would be at lower left rear when facing the front of the freezer.  About 18" off the ground it's so hot to the touch that it feels like an old HOH dryer does above the door.  The entire hot zone is about 1.5' x 1'. 


If this is normal, I'm going to allow for space behind the box the same as if it had an external condenser.  Inside the cabinet, the rear wall is as cold in this area as it is anywhere else.  Strange, and a little bit worrisome.  Is this normal?

Post# 990764 , Reply# 20   4/15/2018 at 00:08 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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The hot spot appears to be a phenomenon involved with an extended run period to recover after power is restored.  When running simply to maintain cabinet temperature, it's warmer than other areas, but not nearly so hot to the touch.

Post# 990846 , Reply# 21   4/15/2018 at 15:22 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

It's possible that Hotpoint brand freezers were sourced from another manufacturer, even if GE brand freezers at that time were made in GE's own factory. Remember that Hotpoint automatic washers were made by Beam for while, but GE was building their own during that time. Though Hotpoint was a division of GE, they were pretty much autonomous for many years while headquartered in Chicago.

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