Thread Number: 75645  /  Tag: Refrigerators
1967 Frigidaire Frost Free Fridge - A little guidance please
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Post# 994579   5/18/2018 at 21:03 by Jukeman (Arkansas)        

Hello All,

New to the forum but been collecting vintage items my whole life. We are working on a "retro" kitchen project and are looking for a refrigerator to be the centerpiece.

I've read a bunch on the subject. Many say stay away from frost free, I understand the reasons. But, since this will be used daily I would rather have the convenience of NOT needing to defrost, plus we need a decent sized freezer. Most of what I'm finding for sale in the 50's era are single door having a freezer just big enough for a couple ice cube trays. And they want ridiculous prices for them.

I have a coppertone, 1966-67 Frigidaire "Frost Proof" fridge, bottom freezer. Works great but needs a cold control which I can fix. Defrost timer already replaced, fridge is in near mint condition, one owner, always well cared for.

I know that frost free fridges run more. I know about the electricity consumption. Not worried about that. What I want is to be sure that this fridge is considered a well-built, long lasting unit that will keep plugging away. I've seen posters here that say Frigidaires after the cold plate days were excellent, some say no. I have a local Frigidaire tech, retired with over 50 years in sales and service, who tells me this fridge will last just as long as a non-frost free model due to the nearly indestructible rotary compressor. I'm skeptical of that since frost free models run so much more and I pointed that out to him. He says if it were a piston compressor yes. Rotary, makes no difference. I must say, it shows no sign of slowing down.

So, is this a "good one" or should I look for a 50's era model and just not have a usable freezer?

Thanks for the help.

Post# 994587 , Reply# 1   5/18/2018 at 22:51 by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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I don't see any reason to not use it if you can live with your electric bill. Just about any older fridge will be more reliable than the modern ones. I have heard some say that GM rotary compressors are of very good quality.

Post# 994592 , Reply# 2   5/19/2018 at 00:57 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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If it's going to be your daily driver, then I agree that it should be frost free.


It sounds like you've taken care of one common trouble spot, which is the defrost timer.  The defrost system seems to be the weak link in early to mid '60s Frigidaires, and sometimes it's a small component other than the timer that fails.  As long as you have a retired service tech to call on, you're already ahead of the game with diagnosing problems.  If the fridge has been well maintained, that's a big plus.


If you still want to keep looking, you might want to keep an eye out for a GE bottom freezer model from the early to mid '60s.  They run quietly, and their swing-out shelving is a deluxe feature. 


Whether you opt for the Frigidaire or a GE, both are beautiful to look at and, speaking only for the GE, it needs no clearance in the back so a built-in look is easy to achieve (I don't know if the same can be said for Frigidaire).

Post# 994606 , Reply# 3   5/19/2018 at 06:57 by Jukeman (Arkansas)        

So, if the Frigidaire were placed side by side with say an International Harvester fridge from the early 50's with a Tecumseh piston compressor (which of course would already have 15 more years of use under it's belt) would the Frigidaire last just as long or longer in terms of the compressor and sealed system?

Post# 994656 , Reply# 4   5/19/2018 at 17:56 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Speaking only of the compressors and sealed systems, it's probably a toss-up. 


Usually the downfall of frost-free rigs is that something goes amiss with the defrosting system, or one of the fans that circulates cabinet air or cools the condenser fails even though the compressor is still good.  With a frosts-freely type, there's none of that extra stuff and they seem to plug along forever.  So, both compressors could run for many more years, but with the Frigidaire you have more to go wrong besides the compressor.


My personal experience with Frigidaire, combined with observations over the years (I see ads for GE fridges, frosty and frostless, that are still running fine at 60 or more [in some cases, 90] years old, while most Frigidaires I've seen often are described as running but not cooling) make me feel like the IH could still be operating long after the Frigidaire has developed problems.  Still, I'd take my chances on the Frigidaire because I can't be bothered with defrosting as often as a frosts-freely daily driver would require it, and unless you have a separate freezer somewhere, the "freezer" part of the IH likely wouldn't maintain zero degrees and would be rather useless.

Post# 994671 , Reply# 5   5/19/2018 at 21:24 by Jukeman (Arkansas)        

Well, the IH is out of the picture anyway. I'm not too heartbroken though, it really wasn't in all that great a shape.

What I DID find today, to compare to the Frigidaire, is a cute little 1955 General Electric in VERY nice condition. Appears to have been one owner. I like it a lot but didn't know the freezer would be useless? I mean, it's smaller and I can deal with that just fine but it does need to be a freezer. The owners kept food in the freezer, they actually turned it down a little at one point because it was freezing the milk!!

And yes, I too have heard of Frigidaires that run but don't cool. But, I've heard of others that do the same.

So, the little GE or the Frigidaire as far as longevity? The GE has a weird compressor, it's not like the late 40s ones with the cooling fins but it's not like the flattened football shaped ones of the 60s either. It looks kinda like a Hawaiian Punch can laying on its side. But boy does it ever run quiet and smooth, seems to be a lot of old GE's out there still purring along.

Post# 994674 , Reply# 6   5/19/2018 at 22:06 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
we have a '67 Frigidaire

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And it's perfect.
Go for it!

Post# 994684 , Reply# 7   5/20/2018 at 01:59 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        
That's the correct compressor --

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If the '55 GE is a two-door (top or bottom freezer) "Combination" model, then it does have a true zero degree freezer.  GE also made single door Combinations, but their freezers are smaller than those found on the separate freezer models.


If the freezer is separate, the door gasket needs to make a tight seal.  I have a '57 Combination and a NOS gasket made a world of difference in how often I have to defrost it.  With a vintage defrosting heater I can have the job done in 45 minutes to an hour, but only 10 to 15 of that is hands-on.  Also, the frost mainly forms on the ceiling of the freezer so contents are never engulfed in ice.  I don't remember off hand if the '55 GE's had magnetic door latches or mechanical ones.  Magnetic ones are easily adjusted for a good seal.


Quiet as these GE's are, you're looking at the defrosting task and less freezer space.  I'd go for the modern convenience of a frost free model like the Frigidaire, and think you'll appreciate its larger, frostless freezer.  



Post# 994691 , Reply# 8   5/20/2018 at 05:31 by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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My dad was a Frigidaire tech most of his life. In 1967 he acquired a 1966 Frigidaire bottom freezer. FPCI 19 BK in coppertone. It's the same refrigerator in the ad where the lady is wearing the space helmet, with the automatic door opener, woodgrain front, etc. It was a factory scrap out, because the defrost system went haywire, and melted most of the plastic in the freezer.
He repaired the defrost problem, replaced the melted plastic, and that was our refrigerator, from 1967, til well into the 90's, when it was replaced with a Frigidaire SxS. It was still working when he sold it. Never remember having to do anything, but clean the condenser coils every year.
Go for it as a daily driver.

Post# 994699 , Reply# 9   5/20/2018 at 08:42 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
A few notes on these Frigidaires

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One - download the service manual from Robert's library. It is invaluable.

Two - modern defrost timers work perfectly in these. The sensor to end the defrost cycle early can be tempermental - you can replace it if it has failed without removing it if it's hard to do or you can live without.

Three - Frigidaire used 'green' for other than neutral in their circuits at this time. Be careful and don't make the 'default' color assumptions of the 21 century.

Four - the capacitors used over 50 years ago are probably going to soon fail. Not a problem.

I especially treasure ours because I like a freezer which runs well below -20C, keeps the dairy section at 1C, the meat section at 0C and the rest of the refrigerator at 2-3C. The current American 'recommended' settings are way too warm to be safe.

Post# 994704 , Reply# 10   5/20/2018 at 10:11 by Jukeman (Arkansas)        
The GE's Compressor

Thank you all for the wealth of information!!

The reason I'm leaning toward the GE is because I have a 50s kitchen that's fairly complete, except for the refrigerator. I really like the style of it. It's a one door with an interior freezer but it goes all the way across the top so it's fine for me. Defrosting doesn't really bother me either, we had a similar one in the basement when I was a kid and it only needed defrosting once a year.

Someone posted on here that GE had problems with their compressors during the time frame this one was built. It's an odd looking one, no cooling fins like the early version, looks like a big coffee can laying on its side. It runs smooth and quiet and from what I understand it's never been touched.

From my personal experience, GE built some of the best compressors out there during these early years. Any thoughts?

Thanks again for your help.

Post# 994707 , Reply# 11   5/20/2018 at 10:38 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
You will want to track down the year/month

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On that compressor carefully. Just like Whirlpool and Frigidaire, GE had their 'good' and their 'god-awful' compressors. I don't know enough about GE to be sure, I think you're out of the the danger zone by a few decades, but it's worth checking.

Personally, I'd go with both!

Post# 994710 , Reply# 12   5/20/2018 at 12:23 by Jukeman (Arkansas)        
The GE

The GE is definitely more of a period correct conversation piece for my house. As to the compressor, all I can tell you is that the relay is dated March of 1954. That's why I figured it to be a 1955 model, plus it has the door latch that went away in 1956.

So, would this be one of the "good" compressors? Can I use the freezer for anything at all?

Post# 994714 , Reply# 13   5/20/2018 at 13:09 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
There are serious refrigeration experts here

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Who can tell you exactly, but I do believe that's out of the danger zone by several decades.

It also is old enough that you can expect some problems with the starting system/cold-control fairly soon.

Neither of which is a big deal.

I love the styling, but am not so crazy about the freezers of that era - they have temperature swings which I don't care for. But, that's me. If it fulfills 80% of your needs, go for it!

Post# 994715 , Reply# 14   5/20/2018 at 13:18 by carmine (Detroit)        

I've been daily-driving a '64 Frigidaire for about 5 years. After solving a defrost related issue, zero complaints. The ol' lady still loves it as well.

Post# 994716 , Reply# 15   5/20/2018 at 13:19 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        
The GE

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If it's been running for 63 years, the compressor is either a "good" one, or it was replaced very early on by a "good" one.


IF the single door '55 is a "Combination" model, then yes, you can store anything you want in the freezer.  It should have the "Combination" designation on the door, and the freezer section's door should be thick (insulated), have its own sturdy pull handle, a gasket that provides an air-tight seal, and the door should snap securely closed.  This prevents accumulation of frost when accessing only the fresh food section. 


If it's not a "Combination" then the freezer won't get down to zero degrees and the door will be more like your standard molded plastic that doesn't seal.  Not viable for long-term storage.


One thing to consider with single door GE's from the early through mid '50s is that they require extra space on the hinged side for the door to swing open a full 90 degrees.  Starting with the 1957 two-door models, GE employed shoulder hinges on their new "straight line" cabinet style, which required no extra clearance for the door swing.  The single door models kept the older style hinges for a few more years. 


If the '55 you're considering has revolving shelves, keep in mind that you'll lose valuable storage space, but in exchange you won't need to stoop down and dig for anything in the rear portion of the shelves.  If it turns out not to be a "Combination" then you'll probably want to consider a small freezer for your basement or garage.

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