Thread Number: 78382  /  Tag: Modern Automatic Washers
Consumer Reports
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Post# 1024110   2/9/2019 at 14:02 (1,837 days old) by tomdawg (Des moines)        

What do you all think of consumer reports accuracy on appliances? is it a joke? politically driven? (lobbying)

I find it hard to see a entry level Bosch dishwasher outperform a TOL Bosch dishwasher. or the fact Electrolux washing machine is rated so much lower than LG and Whirlpool Brand. Im curious to hear of your opinions.

on the side note, I was trying to compare a Bosch to a fisher paykel dishwasher, the FP was almost at the bottom of the ratings. I know many people who love their FP more than their previous dishwasher they have had.

I feel something doesn't add up.

Post# 1024112 , Reply# 1   2/9/2019 at 14:18 (1,837 days old) by ea56 (Cotati, Calif.)        

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I haven’t liked Consumer Reports for well over 25 years now. Their reviews are no where near as in depth and detailed as they were many years ago. Also, they have seemed to have a bias for quite some time now too. I don’t know exactly how they come up with what they intend to promote, but I’ve felt for many years that the reviews weren’t impartial.

To me, CR is a big waste of my money and time, and I have no use for their opinons. And now, with the internet, its easy to do my own research on line by reading about several different options of what I’m looking to buy, and come to an educated decision that way.

Granted, its not the same as actually having the products tested by CR, and the results carefully tabulated as they used to do back in their heyday. But since CR doesn’t review and test thoroughly like they used to, I’ll stick with doing my own research and save the money I would have wasted on their almost useless publication.


Post# 1024113 , Reply# 2   2/9/2019 at 14:31 (1,837 days old) by appnut (TX)        

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I would also look at at their product reviews.  

Post# 1024115 , Reply# 3   2/9/2019 at 14:40 (1,837 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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I was put off from CR on three points when I was a subscriber many years ago.

1) The yearly subscriber survey from which reliability ratings are garnered instructed to include ONLY appliances bought new within the previous 5-year period.  Seems they actively promote that anything older than 5 years isn't valid for repairing.

2) The ratings suck for detailed information, and often have errors.  I contacted them regards to a particular error and it was never corrected (I checked several times).

3) Some aspects of their reviews are available only via online.  I signed-up for it (was extra cost at the time, don't know about nowadays).  They did not refund the balance of the online subscription time if canceled early, and there was no way to remove my credit card information to prevent auto-renewal if I wanted to maintain access up to the last day that I had paid.

Post# 1024125 , Reply# 4   2/9/2019 at 17:50 (1,837 days old) by IowaBear (Cedar Rapids, IA)        

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Our local library provides remote access to it for free (with a library card.)


I probably wouldn't pay for it otherwise.  I still find it an interesting data point, but not the be-all and end-all.

Post# 1024128 , Reply# 5   2/9/2019 at 18:41 (1,837 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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CR used to be all about thrift, with guidance for making a wise purchase.  Not anymore.


Eddie summed up today's CR nicely above.  All I will add is, now that they have made recommendations such as Telsa as their top pick for a new car and seem to have an affinity for luxury items, it's quite clear that they've lost their way entirely.

Post# 1024365 , Reply# 6   2/12/2019 at 07:56 (1,834 days old) by imperial70 (MA USA)        

I gave up on CS when they rated the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon poorly for torque steer. Turns out that all front wheel drive cars can do what they got these pioneer US made front wheel drive cars to do.

I tear up the mail from them at least a couple of times a year.

Post# 1024404 , Reply# 7   2/12/2019 at 16:55 (1,834 days old) by Spinmon (st. charles mo )        

What CR is and what they could be is usually just a paragraph or two short on good info per product. As is they just don't disseminate enough info (considering they ''bought'' and spent time with product) to warrant paying for their opinion. Shame.

Post# 1024416 , Reply# 8   2/12/2019 at 20:21 (1,834 days old) by rinso (Meridian Idaho)        

I have to agree with the input by ea56 regarding Consumer Reports lack of objectivity. I miss the anecdotal write-ups that would help one decide how it would feel to use the products daily. But, I also remember they had their favorite brands back in the 60's 70's and 80's as well. 


Post# 1024439 , Reply# 9   2/13/2019 at 04:57 (1,834 days old) by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        

Well, my opinion of Consumer Reports is not good.

We could just leave it at that.

But hey, you asked.

I think that just like a lot of folks we meet in real life, CR suffers from a lack of understanding of what they want to test, what would be a good way to test it and how they run the tests affects a bunch of stuff.

So, let's start from that.

No matter how you run a test, someone will complain, period, end of sentence.

Naturally, they pick their favorite way and try to spin it in a way to elicit sympathy from the readers.

For example, for a long time, they tested washers with an 8-pound load (if I remember right), "because that's the average load a typical family washes". So, imagine you have a big-ass washer and dryer designed to wash a 20-pound load. Washing an 8-pound load. Because it's the "average" for a "typical" family.

There's all kinds of crap that can come from that test: the load could be too small for the machine, and either not get washed as well as if it were a 20 pound load, or it could be that such a small load will be wearing out more than a bigger load. Conversely, everything might go just swimmingly (because the manufacturer is *counting* on the fact the test is run the way CR does) and it gets a fabulous rating, but when you try to use it for the designed max capacity (either the only 3 times you do a year, or, conversely, because you *needed* a machine with such capacity), all kinds of things happen, from not cleaning very well, to excessive wear and tear (either on the clothes or the machine(s)) to failure to properly balance for spin (either at max capacity or at smallish loads).

In the past 30 years or so, people who read the magazine often may have noticed (I did) that their tests are just too rigid and manufacturers take advantage of them. For example, for a while, they tested only the "regular" cycle, so machines that were otherwise identical mechanically (for example, WP and Kenmore) would "clean" differently because they had different regular/normal cycles with different durations or agitation speeds. Then, when people complained, for a while at least (I dunno if this changed, I have not read their publication regularly in a while), they took to selecting the heaviest/longest cycle.

This is no way to run tests. If they were *serious*, they'd buy _every_ model that was different, to run every test. Every battery of tests should include one item, two items, three items, a "small" load, a "medium" load, a "large" load and a *full* load to the design specs, in *addition* to an "average" load of a "typical" family. Which, by the way, has gone up from 8 pounds (25 years ago or so) to at least 14 pounds. They should also include in those tests every major cycle the machine has. Even though I *can't* line dry and use a dryer for everything, I *still* want to know if the "permanent press" cycle really does help reduce wrinkles, or if the silk cycle and the wool cycle are worth bothering with, or if a different brand/model with just a "delicate" cycle would be sufficient. What is the difference between each cycle? Are they effective? How does buying this model/brand compares to all the other ones?

We read their "reports" and we *still* need to go to the internet and ask real users.

Same thing with both the detergents and washers test: I want to know what would happen in my home if I bought one of their recommended machines. Sadly, I *need* to run my machines with real clothes and real dirt, which is precisely what they *don't* do, or at least what they claim they don't do. They say the put in an 8-pound load of *clean* clothes to which they attach (if I remember right) about 10 "swatches" that have a "scientific" set of stains applied to them. Sadly, since I have never seen those for sale, I can not do the only thing that is interesting when one runs a test, which is to *reproduce* the tests. Are those stains much harder to remove than the ones in my home? Are they much easier? Is the "load" of stains much more dirt than the totality of "dirt" in my loads? How can we compare those?

Here's why I ask. Consider the dishwasher tests, for example. They don't teach us how to run that either. They just patronizingly assure us that "their dishes are *much* dirtier than your dishes". And that they run the tests in "scientifically mixed" hard water to make the test "as tough as possible". That creates problems. Because machines (and dishwasher detergents) that work well in hard water may foam excessively in softened or naturally soft water. The glass may become etched. It is also possible that their dishes are *not* as dirty as our dishes.

Here too, the way they test the machines introduced problems: when they compared very competent machines made in Europe with the American machines about 20 years ago, they claimed that Miele and Bosch, for example, did not clean well. That was a surprise for the owners of such machines, because their user guides were *very* clear about what to do: are you loading the dishes _right_ after the meal? You will save money (by using fewer resources) if you run the normal/regular cycle. Have you been loading the machine over a couple of days until it's full? You will need to run the "heavy soil" cycle to take care of that. Do you have pots and pans with stuck on food? You will need the pots&pans cycle. So, imagine comparing a machine with a regular cycle that runs a very short pre-wash and a wash, and then added more water changes and higher temperatures for heavy soil and pots-n-pans, and also varies the pressure of the pump according to the difficulty cleaning, with a machine that was *designed* to be tested by consumer reports, so they run a regular cycle with more water changes. It wasn't until the "energy efficiency" plus "I want a silent machine" craze hit and people wanted machines that cost less to run that American machines started stumbling to clean with less water, not to mention Euro brands started labeling their more intense cycles "normal" and the stuff that used to be normal "eco" that things equalized a bit.

All this crap could have been avoided *entirely* if they ran a full battery of tests, from the lightest cycle to the heaviest, with a nearly empty machine, to half-full and completely full. Compare all the machines. Let's see what actually happens.

There's also another factor that is *clear* if you know a line of products -- like you mentioned, why is it that a TOL machine seems to clean less well than a supposedly entry level machine? We've seen that quite a lot. We've seen people on the internet in general, and here in particular, claiming that machines that come from a factory are all the same except for bells and whistles. Implying "don't be foolish, you get the same quality, don't pay more". That can be true of a particular brand, but it's not true of all brands. At least here in US, Bosch and Miele dishwashers can be vastly different from the entry level to the top-of-the-line. Something as simple as a different rack system or an entry-level (which is usually what CR picks out to test) with a more intense "normal" cycle, which is the one they tend to test, might skew the tests, for example. They can easily program the sensor cycles to be more aggressive in some models than others. When I had a Bosch dishwasher from 1999, for example, I saw the reverse happening, friends complained their machines where not cleaning as well, and when we compared, sure enough, my TOL (at the time) machine did clean better than their entry-level machines. The cycles were slightly different, and the rack system was less flexible, and because of that, stuff that I could easily flip a few tines to expose the dishes better to the water action wouldn't get nearly the same scrubbing in their machines as it did in mine.

CR also seems incapable of reading the user guides and using the machines to the best possible advantage. They can hide behind "well, most users don't read the user guides either, so we're simulating what they do", but the truth is, they are not "simulating" what people do. They *are* the kind of people that will complain bitterly about something, then 5 to 10 years later a new batch of workers joins their work force, and all of a sudden, you go from this vacuum cleaner, dishwasher or washer sucks to it going to top of the rating, even if there were no design changes.

Like I said before, manufacturers quickly find out what CR is testing and how and "cheat" too. For example, in the early/mid-90's, they rated Ultra Tide top performance. Because supposedly, it produced "whiter" clothing than Wisk.

So, I bought a box to try. Yes, the laundry did look "whiter" when washed in Ultra Tide than when washed in Ultra Wisk. But, what a surprise it was, that when you looked at the light *thru* the cloth, stuff washed in Wisk was clean, while stuff washed in Tide had stains from chocolate milk still faintly there, because the enzymes in Tide were not nearly as effective, they were amping up the "optical brighteners" to fluoresce so much that it hid the stains from the "scientific" color spectrophotometer or whatever it was they used at the time: the equipment shone a light on the cloth and measured the colors *reflected* from them to see how clean it was, instead of shining a light *thru* the clothing and checking it out. And, even if you make the light go thru the clothing, optical brighteners can still hide a lot.

Anyway, this is all very subtle and many people can fly thru life ignoring or not knowing any of this.

It's only when CR makes some glaring mistakes that people start paying attention. It's often the folks who have good audio or video equipment, or the folks who have several expensive cars. Back then, 20+ years ago, this could be dismissed with a "people are jealous" or "they bought expensive equipment, so they are trying to justify the ton of money they've spent". But, with the internet, a much bigger percentage of people started comparing notes from real-life results, and when we found out that CR is often wrong on one or two things we actually know a lot about (sometimes more than just one or two things) that we start wondering if they got these things wrong, if they are not wrong about other stuff too. Which is when we ask that and the internet does not disappoint: folks from all walks of life with knowledge from many different areas will tell you in detail what is wrong and it starts being hard to ignore that CR is either super clueless, or plays super clueless *really* well to hide their biases.

The only thing I give them any credit nowadays is when they talk about something being hard to use or access (for example, "tiny buttons on the radio make it hard to use it while driving"), and even then I don't take it as gospel, I just put it on the list of stuff to pay attention to when I'm trying out the product or looking at it in stores.

In any case, I have not found any testing company to be ideal -- one needs to be very aware of the way they run particular tests, and what kinds of strengths and weakness (not to mention blind spots) each organization and their tests have. Then normalize for that. Try to see the products in actual use, particularly if you have friends who have the product for a bit. It's very normal to be excited by something for a little while, then after you get used to the product, you see a bunch of things you didn't notice before, sometimes you learn something new that make using the product better than before, sometimes you find out a bunch of limits and limitations that seemed unimportant at first.

Have fun!
      -- Paulo.

Post# 1024595 , Reply# 10   2/14/2019 at 08:48 (1,832 days old) by SudsMaster (SF Bay Area, California)        

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I think CR has its place. I've been a subscriber for decades and have no intention of dropping my subscription.

T hat said, they do have a certain way of evaluating products, with what amount to memes on various criteria.

For example, for cars, they will comment on some models that "the motor sounds harsh at low speeds". That was a repeated ding on the Chrysler LH cars. True, there is a sort of growl through the intake manifold/air filter assembly at lower speeds. But the 3.5 liter motor on my '99 300M is a great unit. Lots of power and fairly efficient. And being a long term motorcyclist, the "harsh" sound at low rpm is to me a plus... it lets you know the motor is capable of significant HP and torque.

And so it goes with CR. They judge products according to their middle of the road mid-western family of four point of view. Motors are to be seen and not heard. Similar prejudices probably apply also to their look at various appliances. As long as one recognizes their bias, CR is a useful reference.

Post# 1024627 , Reply# 11   2/14/2019 at 14:04 (1,832 days old) by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        

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Consumer Reports are not very consistent with their tests. For example, in the one video on YouTube of their washing machine buying guide, they have a bunch of Kenmore 80 and 90 Series machines as their test/laboratory machines, and they try to wash a medium or large load on a small water level, and claim that is “real world tests”, but the “real world tests” they do are not “real world tests” since most people will set the correct water level in those type of machines. I wouldn’t be surprised if they caused the motor coupler to break on those machines since the motor coupler can break since it can put more strain and stress on the motor coupler after months or years of doing those so called “real world tests” on those KM and WP DD machines.


Post# 1024635 , Reply# 12   2/14/2019 at 14:53 (1,832 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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Sean, please provide a link to the specific CR video of reference.  I'd like to see the example load.

Post# 1024636 , Reply# 13   2/14/2019 at 15:28 (1,832 days old) by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        

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Here is the video I found, and skip to the 1:40 minute mark, and I may have exaggerated earlier, but overloading or washing a large load on a small or medium load on a WP/KM DD washer can cause the motor coupler to fail sooner than later


Post# 1024638 , Reply# 14   2/14/2019 at 16:25 (1,832 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

dadoes's profile picture

The video was posted May 2018.  Majority of the machines shown are years older.

Overloading a DD doesn't have as much effect on the coupler as people believe.  There's a lot of torque reduction through the transmission.

Post# 1024642 , Reply# 15   2/14/2019 at 16:53 (1,832 days old) by 48bencix (Sacramento CA)        
You asked about appliances

I subscribe to Consumer Reports Magazine and have for about 20 years. I also read it in the 1960's because my roomnate had it. I may not buy the appliance because of the rating but I do like to see how well the various brands hold up. Speed Queen was usually well rated for durability but not washing. But for other reasons I did buy the 2017 Speed Queen Laundry products. Product features are also pointed out such as which dishwashers have self-cleaning filters (very few). Very important for CR is energy and water usage, not so much for me because household appliances do not consume that much energy or water. Most of the energy in my home is for heating, and especially, cooling.

For me CR really shines in the Automobile department. They are really pushing safety features right now, such as Automatic Emergency Braking, and Blind Spot monitoring systems. They comment if these systems are not standard on a car or even available as an option. They have very detailed information on which systems cause problems for almost all cars and trucks.

And there is a ton of other stuff that they review. Not bad for less than $3.00 per month.

Post# 1024684 , Reply# 16   2/15/2019 at 08:08 (1,831 days old) by Rolls_rapide (.)        

"I find it hard to see a entry level Bosch dishwasher outperform a TOL Bosch dishwasher."

Ah well, our Which? once commented upon the same thing, that some of the then top model Bosch dishwashers were not as good performers as the lower Bosch machines.

Part of the problem seemed to be that the expensive models had sensors, variable speed motors for quietness, diverter valves, sipped water, and had lacklustre spray.

The cheaper models tended to take in a set (decent) amount of water, have only a couple of motor speeds (noisier), sometimes no diverter valve - and got on and did the job.

Post# 1024937 , Reply# 17   2/17/2019 at 15:27 (1,829 days old) by henene4 (Heidenheim a.d. Brenz (Germany))        
Outperform depends SO much (speaking for the EU at least)

So, the "old" Eco cycle isn't much "Eco" by todays standards and that's why label testing is a little worse sometimes on the newer generation if compared to a last gen machine.

By now, basicly any machine sold by BSH should have the EcoSilenceDrive and with that the sameimproved sensor algorythm.

On the "old" generation, there were technicly machines with varaible spray pressure as well, but those were only the TOL machines of that generation, most machines sold were single speed designs.

They all had a pretty simple "Eco" cycles that AFAIK did not really change much across machines.

Machines without diverter valve hat a somewhat bigger motor and just filled with a bit more water while machines with alternating spray arms alternated spray arms in a continous pattern but reduced fill volumes a little.
Even machines with sensor did not use it on the Eco cycles.
It was a simple pre-wash, wash, filter flush, rinse, final rinse. Fixed cycle, always used the same, about 12 liters for 12 plate settings.

The new Eco cycle is really painfully optimized towards label loading and not much more.

You see, when testing is done, you always have exactly simmilar dishes (all of the same shape, kind, positioning; you get to design the loading pattern towards that one load).
So, spacing is always exactly even, so water will always reach everywhere every time.
That is what is basicly assumed when loading the dishwasher.

Now, the new Eco cycle is somewhat sensor based while also kind of not being sensor based.

It starts with a "pre-wash".

Here already the advacned sensoric setup which now has a variable speed pump and a flow meter to work with in addition to the turbidity sensor grips.

Instead of just filling till a float activates and then starting the pump, the machine fills with the basic amount of water held in the heat exchanger.

Then the pump starts up.
During these first seconds, the machine checks the motor data. If the rpm suddenly increases and/or the power draw decreases, it knows the pump is running dry or cavitating.

If that happens, it adds more water while the pump is running. Thanks to the flow meter, the machine always knows exactly how much water is in the machine at any time.

It does that until it can reach a certain motor speed (something verry low) and maintain it.
Then it switches to the other arm. Usually, it dosen't have to add water here anymore, but if it has, it does again.

This sensing allows the machine to check how much water it needs to run at the lowest motor speed and to wet all the load.

Once that filling sensing is done, it ups the water level slightly, then it does a short prewash at a medium spray pressure.

Now, I can't say for certain, but it might do a soil sensing towards the end of the "pre-wash" and adapt the mainwash accordingly, but I could be wrong with that.

After a predetermined time of (I am pretty certain cold) prewashing, the machine stops for a moment to let all the dirty water settle in the bottom of the tub and to allow some of the heavy dirt to settle in the bottom of the sump.

Then the drain pump activates ever so shortly.
As the machine can check if the machine runs dry by monitoring the drain pump speed as well, it would know if it would run dry here.

But that is not the goal of that drain.
The goal is to remove as much dirt as possible while only dropping the water level to that predetermined minimum needed water level.
As the machine knows its drain rate and the amount of water it wants to drain, it knows pretty well how long to run that drain pump for.

If the algorythms worked exactly enough, there is now the exact minimum required amount of water in the tub no matter which load is in there.

This is the start of the main wash.

The machine starts the wash pump again on the lowest speed.
It checks again if there is any sign of cavitating. If so, it adds the tiniest amounts of water until there isn't any cavitating anymore. Though, that rarely happens.

In most cases, that system is pretty exact and does not have to add water anymore and gives the go-ahead for the main wash.

This means at this point, the machine managed to reach the minimum usage conditions: The pump runs at its slowest speed, so it uses the least power it self, the machine uses the least water possible and thus has to heat the least water posssible.

It switches to the middle wash arm, releases the tablet and dissolves that first.

Then it starts a long soaking phase with alternating sprayarms.
During the long soaking phase machines with Zeolith drying use the heater in the Zeolith container to dry the mineral. The heat produced is funneled into the chamber to help with warming up the water.

Then it does it short heating phase to about 50°C. That temperature is not held at all, but there is a long post heat wash phase.

All of that (a better part of 90 or so minutes) is done at the verry lowest wash pressure.

Now we drain fully for the first time.

Then - if applicable - the water softner runs its regeneration cycle.
Then - depending on wheather there was a regeneration or not - either a verry short filter flush or a slightly more elaborate filter flush is run AFAIK.

Next is an interim rinse with - again - lowest spray pressure and lowest fill level possible.

That drains again and switches into the final rinse.

The final rinse runs with lowest water level and spray pressure again and depending on which class of DW you bought is either of 3.

It's either a 69°C final rinse and normal condesation drying, a 60°C with extended drying and automatic door opening or a 35°C final rinse with Zeolith drying.

Some highest end Zeolith machines do have automatic door opening as well I think.

At the end of this all, you basicly have eliminated one full fill while still getting advantages of having a seperate prewash and main wash.

Of course, one full water exchange would be better for certain soils, but for most, it is good enough.

This is the "standard" Eco cycle across most sold BSH machines.
That uses 9,5l for 13/14 plate settings for both the A+++ and A++ machines.

There is a more extreme version in terms of efficency that uses a water storage tank. There is no XXL-Version (14 plate settings) of this designs, but it uses a water recycling tank that allows it to drop usage to 7,5l.

The lowest end DW which only reach A+ use about 12l, but still take about the same time and still only run the mainwash at 50C, so the biggest difference probably is just the final rinse and that they do not run the elaborate super sensing system.

So the lineup looks like this (at least for Germany):

ALL have variable speed pumps.

The lowest efficency class (A+) is only avaible as Sereis 2 machines.
Some of those have "Auto" cycles, some don't.
On Eco, they ALL use about 12l and the same energy, but run about 3h 30min still.
The ones with Auto cycles use at least 9l here on the Auto cycle.
This leads me to belive they just run 4 full fills with some more water.

Next step up are A++ machines.
They do that elaborate pre-main-wash fusion sensing magic and trick with the drying somewhat. The Eco cycles here use about 9,5l as a result and actually run either the same time or somewhat shorter at 195min (3:15h)
On Auto, these go as low 7l.

Then there are the Zeolith machines. All of them are A+++ and basicly only save energy due to the drying system. Most of the still use 9,5l.

Except those verry special machines that have the water carry over tank the holds the final rinse water of the last cycle.
Using that for the prewash, these drop to 7,5l for Eco and as low as 6l for the Auto cycle.

Now, given that most people would use the Auto cycle (or an option for that matter) anyway most testing that focuses on the Eco cycle is pretty much meaningless to pretty many.

And Auto is still the go-to all-rounder.

And if you know what button on your machine does what, more up the line certainly will outperform lower end by now.

Of course you can run the Auto cycle. But if you don't like that, you can adjust the Auto sensor sensitivity on the Series 6 and higher.

Using the VarioSpeed option basicly takes out the sensing anyway.

The Intensive cycle will always give outstanding results and isn't terribly wastefull anyway.


Yes, it was and still is true that the most basic machines perform better on the Eco cycle (and thus in most tests).
Mostly because the "Eco" cycles on those aren't and weren't as restricted.

On any other cycle more up the line machines allow more controll while allowing for generally more efficent operation with still better results.

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