Thread Number: 77389  /  Tag: Refrigerators
1930's Norge Rollator Refrigerator....
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Post# 1013604   11/7/2018 at 09:16 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Hi Folks!  Let me introduce the Norge Rollator. This is a 1930's mid size refrigerator built by Norge division of Borg-Warner Corporation. Its claim to fame is it's rotary compressor, the Rollator. It was invented by a Mr. Roloff; and the trademark is based off his name. 


I have recently acquired two Rollator refrigerators, one of which will be repaired in this thread and video series. This one is complete and in good shape; however it has a painted cabinet and therefore is less shiny than the porcelain models. It does, however, have a good history. I am the second owner - buying it from the grandson of the original purchaser.


Has a Norge branded Delco motor; and the famous Rollator compressor.


In the attached pictures, I dismantle the unit for resealing. It seems that the compressor was just about empty of oil and contained a huge amount of that nasty black soot / carbon sludge which SO2 systems are famous for.

I made a video showing the compressor teardown in detail.






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Post# 1013606 , Reply# 1   11/7/2018 at 09:31 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Next the evaporator needed servicing.


First observation was..... There's all the oil! I got about a full water bottle of oil out of the evaporator, not counting what I spilled and lost during the teardown. The Norge service manual (yes I actually have the factory manual on it!) says this is a possibility due to running with a low refrigerant charge.


This has a low-side float evaporator; similar to the Frigidaire units of the day. Experience with Frigidaires has taught me that these require adjustment when used with refrigerants other than SO2. If the density of the refrigerant liquid is too low, the float will not float. If it does float at all; it will ride too low in the liquid, causing the evaporator to overfill with refrigerant and send liquid back to the compressor.


On the Frigidaire low-side float evaporators, I have determined that adding an additional spring, which seems to provide about half the force required to lift the float (allowing it to lift easier) will compensate for the lower density of the new refrigerant.


The Norge evaporator has the end brazed onto the header. The float is not accessible, however the needle valve assembly is accessible. To help compensate for the refrigerant density, I placed a torsion spring into the needle valve pivot, which provides about half the force needed to lift the float. We will see if this works. It's totally experimental! I'm not sure if the dynamics here will be the same as the Frigidaire float systems.


The control is extremely well made. It's a Cutler-Hammer integrated motor overload / thermostat. Sealed up and connected by a plug at the back.


As said in the video, I am due to go out of town some day soon, so if I seem to stop making progress on this project don't despair. I do these projects around my work schedule; which is hard to predict.


I'm planning to try to repair the compressor shaft today. Hopefully the compressor can be re-assembled before I leave town. I want to get all the tiny little bits back in place so nothing untoward happens.


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Post# 1013619 , Reply# 2   11/7/2018 at 11:43 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
I cant waitTo see this run,,,

I need to come to Alabama and see these great fridges!

Post# 1013698 , Reply# 3   11/7/2018 at 22:25 by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        
Great video!

supersuds's profile picture
40 lbs. of cast iron, can't get much more American than that! They were made in Detroit, right?

I'm loving hearing it run, too, even as is.

As I mentioned, my grandmother had one of these. My parents used to laugh about visiting her just after they got married, and having to sleep in a room next to the kitchen, with no door. The Norge kept them awake, maybe because they weren't used to it, but it's easy to imagine it chugging away with a slipping belt.

I also didn't know that GE used a rotary compressor in the methyl formate monitor tops...just assumed it was the same unit as the sulfur dioxide ones.

Thanks for making the video!

Post# 1013726 , Reply# 4   11/8/2018 at 01:48 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

LOL at the your parents having to sleep in a room next to one of these running!  I can imagine if the belt was bad or the springs weren't working well - it could make a lot of noise!


So today I got some more of the compressor work done.  The seal repair was more involved on this one than on the Frigidaires. Darn them for machining that extra keyway into the shaft! That caused me a lot of extra work. I had to turn down the shaft so that a seal journal could be installed. Then, a tapered wedge (like a collet) was made to re-install the flywheel since that whole area got turned away.


The parts look so much better cleaned up!  There was virtually no wear in any part of this, other than the seal with its corrosion damage.


Lots of details in the video!


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Post# 1013731 , Reply# 5   11/8/2018 at 03:43 by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

toploader55's profile picture
You sir are amazing.

Just Brilliant.

Post# 1013755 , Reply# 6   11/8/2018 at 09:14 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Hi toploader55, thanks for the kind words! I am not that good really. Just persistent. :)


Did the video work for you? Last night I waited to post this until YouTube showed the video was available. Then this morning, I had an e-mail about a non-working video, and found that YouTube had regressed the video from "available" to "processing" and "This video is private." Strange and I apologize for the corrupt video. It is working now.

Post# 1013833 , Reply# 7   11/8/2018 at 22:38 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

So, today I got the Rollator back together and letting the sealant dry overnight.


Also, some pictures of the inside of the evaporator, using a borescope.



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Post# 1013844 , Reply# 8   11/8/2018 at 23:32 by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

supersuds's profile picture

It looks like new!

Post# 1013850 , Reply# 9   11/8/2018 at 23:45 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        

Cant wait to hear it run

Post# 1013882 , Reply# 10   11/9/2018 at 08:05 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Thanks guys. It does look pretty nice, I have to say. I just cleaned all the parts up really well before putting it together. I'm planning to paint it back the original silver with black flywheel; however I plan to leave the brass parts natural brass color.


Will definitely be letting y'all know as soon as it's together and running! I'm just an anxious to hear it as well! :)

Post# 1013975 , Reply# 11   11/10/2018 at 01:33 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Today I replaced the motor's start capacitor; and also cleaned and re-varnished the winding. It seems to be very healthy!


The compressor skid is back together, save for installing a non-spliced belt.


A quick video about it, just showing the progress today.



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Post# 1014069 , Reply# 12   11/10/2018 at 22:23 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        
It's alive!!! :)

So, today I cleaned up the fridge cabinet in the area where the compressor skid goes. That made it look a lot better!  Then, installed the skid.


I had to make a loop in the liquid line, because it was too long, after installing the sight glass. That looks sort of ghetto but it does eliminate cutting any lines.


The vacuum pump ran for about two hours and there did not seem to be any leaks; so in went some refrigerant. She held 4.5 ten-ounce cans of R152A, and chilled down to sub-zero temperatures! 


Here is a video of the charging process. Listen to this machine working again after decades of being only a relic!


Hey, if anyone has any video links or other evidence of another running Norge Rollator; please share it with me. I have a feeling this could possibly be "one of one" running example.

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Post# 1014075 , Reply# 13   11/10/2018 at 23:36 by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

supersuds's profile picture
That sure did quiet down with the new belt and a full charge of refrigerant. Like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, it just needed a little love. Great job!

If nobody on the Monitor Top forum knows of another working example, there may not be one.

Now that you've got it working again, how about making some Rollator cookies, or Rollator salad? (This is from, which has the whole Norge advertising booklet, "Famous Foods of Famous Stars."


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Post# 1014088 , Reply# 14   11/11/2018 at 02:38 by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

toploader55's profile picture
Incredible work Sir.

And the ad is fun mentioning the names Norge and Rollator.

Post# 1014096 , Reply# 15   11/11/2018 at 07:09 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        

Other than the seal problems, A rotary compressor is about everlasting.

Post# 1014117 , Reply# 16   11/11/2018 at 10:32 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Thanks for the really cool ads. I like the idea of the Rollator cookies. I see how slices of the rolled up layers of chocolatey and less-chocolatey dough would actually look like the Rollator emblem. This is a great idea just so long as the similarities end there, and don't continue on to flavoring the cookies like oil and SO2! :)


As for the MT forum guys, nobody there knows of a working Rollator fridge. I have also talked to two other offline folks who are older and very knowledgeable. One stated he had heard a Rollator run but it was several years back; and the unit was without charge and not cooling.


Yep, the Rollator design should have a long life, due to how it works. The pumping chamber is oil-sealed, so there are no spring-tensioned seals to wear or fail. The rotor slowly spins around as it orbits, ensuring no one point suffers from excess wear against the housing. The fact that it came with a 10-year warranty speaks volumes. Back in that day, this sort of guarantee was unheard of!

The Achilles heel for rotaries seems to be dirt getting into it. Because of the design, any particles will get wedged between the housing and the rotor, causing gouges. This one does have a few gouged areas. They are small and don't seem to affect it much!

Post# 1014128 , Reply# 17   11/11/2018 at 14:17 by crevicetool (Snellville Ga.)        
Here's a similar design by another manufacturer....

crevicetool's profile picture
This is from a catalog that I have from around 1936 (I believe). David, your work is amazing! I'm following your video channel - all of your remanufacturing is incredible! From one appliance restorer to another - keep up the fantastic work!

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Post# 1014165 , Reply# 18   11/11/2018 at 20:08 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        
Universal Ice-Cycle System

Hey, Crevicetool - thanks so much for the compliment! I really enjoy making things work again. It's how I was raised and just how I live. There is nothing new which makes me happy like these old machines do.


A friend came over and saw the Rollator, with the cover off and all the crud on it. He said "scrap iron" the minute he saw it. I said "Man! You give up easily."

Also, awesome for posting that ad for the Universal Ice-Cycle System.  It is timely, as a friend of mine just bought one of those (see pictures). Sometime in the future, it will probably get rebuilt.


One thing I notice about the Universal Ice-Cycle compressor is the way the orbiting cylinder is "keyed" to the housing by the vane. Probably a way to satisfy the reasonable difference required to not infringe on Norge's patent. It seems the Rollator design with the cylinder free to rotate would help minimize wear on any one point. But I am sure both of them outlast the rest of the refrigerator... and the original owner!





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Post# 1016065 , Reply# 19   11/28/2018 at 08:08 by 63kenmore (Tennessee)        

I wish I had known of your expertise back when I had my ‘33 GE Monitor Top. It was working, but not well enough to use on a daily basis and my husband was concerned about a future coolant leak. He’s a handy guy so if he had the resources and info to repair it he could have. Not knowing about AW at the time and it’s wealth of knowledgeable people, I gave up the idea of using it and sold it. We need to pass this vintage technology know-how on to the next generation, if they will just get their noses out of their smart phones long enough to learn it.

Post# 1016067 , Reply# 20   11/28/2018 at 08:30 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Hi 63kenmore. Thanks for the positive comment! 


The 1933 Monitor Top fridge would have been a model CA, with GE's experimental low-pressure refrigerant "methyl formate" in it.


These required periodic bleeding-off of trapped noncondensable gases. This is similar to trapped air in the system, and causes the unit to work less well; and overworks the compressor.

Hopefully whoever bought yours did the research and found out about this process and was able to make it work correctly.


We are definitely in trouble with our current generation of young people. I'm thankful for the few of them who participate here, and spread the interest in antiques appliances to their peers.

Post# 1016421 , Reply# 21   12/1/2018 at 07:50 by 63kenmore (Tennessee)        

Turbokinetic, I’m 63kenmore’s other half (the handy one). Our 64 ColdSpot (106W16EL5) stopped working recently, and was making a noise. The noise sounds like a second of electrical arcing flowed by a click. Cycles about every 10 seconds or so. I’m guessing the compressor “starter”. Am I thinking correct or is there something else that would give this symptom?? I can record and send an audio file if necessary.

Thanks for any help in getting our beautiful fridge back in working order.

Post# 1016431 , Reply# 22   12/1/2018 at 09:01 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Sorry to hear about your Coldspot not working.


The arcing sound is probably the compressor start relay trying to work, but it's not working properly. I would replace that relay and see if this resolves the problem!


A wiring diagram would be helpful as well; to know what modern relay would be a good option.

Post# 1016433 , Reply# 23   12/1/2018 at 09:48 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Non Starting Compressor In A 1964 Coldspot

combo52's profile picture
Hi Jackie, your ref would have a WP-Seeger rotary compressor, these generally have a start capacitor that can fail during time period and is often why they fail to start.

Easy way to test if the compressor is still serviceable is to install a modern 3in-one-relay and see if it works, if you try this buy the larger 1/4-1/3 HP 3 in one kit.

If this works you can leave the 3in-one relay kit on this refrigerator and get rid of the old relay, overload and start capacitor.

John L.

Post# 1016434 , Reply# 24   12/1/2018 at 09:58 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

John, the failed capacitor could also be producing an arcing sound as well.


Would this be a hermetic or open-drive compressor?

Post# 1016469 , Reply# 25   12/1/2018 at 17:47 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        

combo52's profile picture

This compressor is a hermetic unit that is externally sprung, WP converted to internally sprung rotary units around 1969 and continued building these great compressors into 1984.


The arcing sound could be one of several things, but most likley the relay or the overload.


John L.

Post# 1016473 , Reply# 26   12/1/2018 at 19:46 by 63kenmore (Tennessee)        

Thank you for the information. Would you recommend a 3-in-1 unit such as the SUPCO that pops up when I search for “refrigerator starter capacitor”? I want to be sure that I do no damage in the process of trying to repair this lovely unit.

Again, thanks for your support!!!!

Post# 1016475 , Reply# 27   12/1/2018 at 19:50 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Yes, that 3-in-1 unit, for the 1/4 to 1/5 HP size compressors would be a good choice!

Post# 1016476 , Reply# 28   12/1/2018 at 19:54 by 63kenmore (Tennessee)        

Once again, Thank You for the quick reply! We shall get one ordered ASAP!

Post# 1017516 , Reply# 29   12/9/2018 at 19:28 by 63kenmore (Tennessee)        

UPDATE: Installed the 3-in-1 unit from SUPCO. Units seems to be running as quietly as before. I had previously replaced the defrost timer. Now, with the fridge and freezer both empty and the thermostat set on 4, she gets down to 8-10 degrees in the freezer and very low 30s in the fridge. HOWEVER, occasionally it will stop running and the freezer gets up to over 40 degrees, and then eventually the unit starts running again and back to 8-10 degrees in the freezer.

I am thinking that this is the unit going into the defrost cycle and that the temp is getting so high because there isn’t a freezer full of food that sustains the temps as the defrost works.

So, is this normal operation for an empty appliance, or is something else causing the temperature spikes in the freezer?

Thanks for sharing your expertise!

Post# 1017531 , Reply# 30   12/9/2018 at 21:41 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Spike In Freezer Temperature

combo52's profile picture

Yes you are likley seeing the rise due to the freezer being empty when its goes through a defrost cycle. The best way to monitor the temperature in the freezer is to have the probe of the temperature sensor in a cup of cooking oil so you can see what temperature the food would actually be, in the ref section the sensor probe can be in a glass of water.


This temperature should still be closer to 0-5 F, and the ref section 34-38 F, but with these earlier Frost Free refs they seldom worked as well as refs do today, this is way FF refs got a bad name and very few of these earlier ones have lasted or been kept this long.


John L.

Post# 1017757 , Reply# 31   12/12/2018 at 10:20 by 63kenmore (Tennessee)        

Combo52, thanks for the information. The only concern I have now is the buzzing noise that the fridge makes when the compressor comes on, is this something I should worry about?

Post# 1017825 , Reply# 32   12/12/2018 at 21:41 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Buzzing WP Rotary Compressor

combo52's profile picture

Glad its working, how long does the buzzing sound last ?


It was common for these compressors to have a rattling buzzing sound for a short while as they started, they would calm down to a nice light rattling-chatter after that.


Post a recording of the sound if you think its still a problem


John L.



Post# 1017849 , Reply# 33   12/13/2018 at 08:49 by jeff_adelphi (Adelphi, Maryland, USA)        

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Diagram from the Norge Rollator manual.

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Post# 1017873 , Reply# 34   12/13/2018 at 12:49 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

JefAdelphi - thanks for the nice Norge diagram! That seems to match my system pretty well.


It's still working well, by the way.

Post# 1017967 , Reply# 35   12/14/2018 at 09:01 by 63kenmore (Tennessee)        
Buzzing on startup

John L, it buzzes for about for about 4 seconds as it fades out. It is a little bit noisy, but then settles down and the temps are behaving now that the 3 in 1 has been replaced and there is some food in it. I use it as a secondary fridge in my basement kitchen and I always have my ‘47 GE as a back up. I was a bit worried though, I had just had it professionally painted and I know my husband would not have been happy if it ended up as scrap.
Thanks for the information, it’s great to have a site to go to for help.

Post# 1017993 , Reply# 36   12/14/2018 at 10:46 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        

combo52's profile picture
Hi Jacki, That sounds very normal to me for this era of WP built Refs

Post# 1018255 , Reply# 37   12/17/2018 at 08:18 by 63kenmore (Tennessee)        
Buzzing on start up

Thanks so much for all of the information, we really appreciate the help.

Post# 1018260 , Reply# 38   12/17/2018 at 10:02 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        

I had some friends who had a 67 RCA Whirlpool fridge that made a buzzing sizzling sound on ran forever like

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