Thread Number: 78527  /  Tag: Refrigerators
URGENT: My '57 GE Combination -- Is it Done For?
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Post# 1025349   2/22/2019 at 13:32 (464 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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I've noticed a buzzing sound from what I presume is the compressor on the subject fridge.  It's been about two weeks and over the past few days it has gotten louder.


Just now I went to check on it because I haven't heard it running.  While standing at it, I heard a click and a brief sort of hollow growling noise --maybe a second or two long -- then another click, and silence.


I have a feeling the compressor has given up.


Any thoughts?


I've been scanning CL for a potential replacement in case this buzzing sound was going to become terminal, which I think it where things are at now, but so far there's nothing interesting to replace it with.

Post# 1025351 , Reply# 1   2/22/2019 at 13:49 (464 days old) by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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Ralph, it could be a bad relay but the 'combination' designation has me wondering if yours is a model with a resistor like the wall refrigerator combinations had. The symptoms you are describing sounds a lot like my LW-11 sounded like when the resistor failed... The problem got resolved with a 9-ohm 130-volt resistor.

Post# 1025352 , Reply# 2   2/22/2019 at 13:56 (464 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Paul, the condesner fan tries to turn as the relay or whatever makes the click-groan-click sounds.  I'm hoping it's just a component like a resistor or relay, but would those cause the buzzing sound the fridge has been making lately?


It appears that the compressor itself jitters a bit when the clicking happens, but it won't kick in. 


I'll post a picture of what I can see through the small access opening on the back.

Post# 1025355 , Reply# 3   2/22/2019 at 14:08 (464 days old) by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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I can't be sure but I think mine buzzed a bit before the resistor failed...

It may also be the condensor fan motor; I know there is a way to replace the 2-phase model fan with a regular 110v one. I don't have a lot of service literature on these fridges, though.

Post# 1025356 , Reply# 4   2/22/2019 at 14:27 (464 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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I'm noticing that the fan tries to ramp up to full speed but quits.  This seems to happen even in between the clicking sounds, as the blades were trying to turn while I was vacuuming before taking the attached picture. 


Would the fan's failure to run prevent the compressor from kicking in?  I tend to think not, but have no idea of how the wiring sequence is configured on these systems.


I'm hoping that you can identify the resistor in the attached picture.  Also, the cardboard cover for the connections on top of the compressor had fallen off, if that may indicate any issues.


Post# 1025358 , Reply# 5   2/22/2019 at 14:42 (464 days old) by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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Ralph from what I can see, you don't have a resistor on yours. That's a good thing because the fan motor, should it need replacing, can be replaced with a modern 120v fan.

It's possible it's the relay - the clicking you describe could be the relay trying to kick the start winding into operation to get the compressor motor running. In the meantime, the fan and compressor will try to run, then the overload protector is likely kicking in.

I am not that well-versed in relays alas, and I've probably condemned at least a couple of vintage fridges that had bad relays...

Post# 1025360 , Reply# 6   2/22/2019 at 14:54 (464 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Thanks Paul.  It sounds like an old monitor top when it tries to kick in, with a sort of gravelly solenoid sound.


I don't know if that connection block on top of the compressor is the relay or where else it might be located.  It's not easy to access any of this stuff through that little opening.  I'll see if ephemera has any helpful material.


I've posted on the monitor top forum as well since they have a section for other types of refrigerators, and I've contacted Travis directly.


I hope it's an easy fix.  Craigslist has been barren lately and I'd hate to have to replace this nice old fridge with something modern that has stationary shelving.  I've been spoiled!

Post# 1025361 , Reply# 7   2/22/2019 at 15:18 (464 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Travis thinks it's the relay.  The compressor has four terminals on it.  He suggests finding the OEM part rather than trying to figure out a Supco.  I don't know if the connections on the existing relay are even marked, so may be opening up a can of worms with anything but OEM.


Any chance there's a commonly known part number for it?

Post# 1025363 , Reply# 8   2/22/2019 at 15:38 (464 days old) by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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I'm not sure at all... Can you post the model number? Maybe someone here has a parts list for your fridge.

Post# 1025364 , Reply# 9   2/22/2019 at 15:59 (464 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Managed to get the relay dismounted.  I don't know how they even got it in there, since it's held with a hex head screw and not enough room to get a nut driver around it.  I finally got it to move, but am going to replace that screw with a slotted hex head.


PN is WR7X32.  Wires are brittle, particularly the three-conductor cord that appears to go from relay to fan.  No way I can even plug this fridge in again until that section of cord is replaced.  How I even access the fan, I don't know.  There's no room to get at much of anything from the opening in the back.

Post# 1025365 , Reply# 10   2/22/2019 at 16:08 (464 days old) by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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I would have said that the Supco RO-81 would have worked fine (white-start / blue-run) until I saw the extra "green" wire. I have no idea what that does and it looks like the relay is playing around with the voltage upon start - maybe it acts as an internal heater once there's enough current against the start winding? Hopefully someone with more knowledge on the 3-wire GE set up will chime in (John).

Here's the wiring diagrams from the service manual.


EDIT - on a side note, GE's connection diagram is so easy to follow! LOL

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 3         View Full Size
Post# 1025366 , Reply# 11   2/22/2019 at 16:16 (464 days old) by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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Well, how about that! The relay is the same as in my '56 Wall Fridge! So, if that's a three-conductor cord, that's the oddball 2-phase motor. The wires on mine were disintegrated, too; I found an older gent who once had a motor repair shop and he replaced the wiring.

However, I am pretty sure that if you replaced the fan motor with a new 120v one, you can connect just the black and white wires from the fan to the black and white terminals on the relay. I'm not sure what the right relay would be to replace this.

If can get a better look inside, you may still have a resistor - look for something like the ones in these pictures below. First picture is the original one that went ZOT on me, second is the replacement that the appliance gods allowed me to find on eBay.

Last picture is Rotom fan motor that I bought to replace the 2-phase one.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 3         View Full Size
Post# 1025367 , Reply# 12   2/22/2019 at 16:16 (464 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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I wonder if that extra green wire has any relation to the fourth terminal on the compressor. 


I'd like to find something that's not too expensive for a replacement and besides, a search for the PN I posted above returned nothing.


Meanwhile, I need to transfer freezer and fridge contents into the big basement freezer and an ice chest.

Post# 1025368 , Reply# 13   2/22/2019 at 18:46 (464 days old) by wiskybill (Canton, Ohio)        
Hey Ralph

I looked for your WR7x32 on a couple sites, Partselect and Easy Appliance Parts, and both cross reference this to WR7x57.

There are two on Ebay. Maybe someone with more knowledge can verify.

Hope this helps.


Post# 1025370 , Reply# 14   2/22/2019 at 18:56 (464 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Thanks Bill.  I think I saw that other PN referenced as well, but couldn't confirm it as a viable substitute or not.  The number is certainly in the same neighborhood, although that may not mean much.  I'll look into this.


Paul, I'll try to determine whether that green wire on my relay goes to the compressor or a resistor somewhere.  Or do I have the resistor's purpose mixed up now?


Meanwhile, I borrowed a nice cooler on a rolling stand from a friend.  It's keeping the important things like beer cold.  The Penncrest freezer in the basement had plenty of room for the Combo's freezer contents.

Post# 1025372 , Reply# 15   2/22/2019 at 19:15 (464 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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While researching the WR7X57, I came across a Supco R041, which claims to be equivalent to the WR7X57.


The thread Ben linked to above deals with the Supco R081, so I'm wondering if the R041 might work.


The link has more pictures, but the instructions only reference compressors with three terminals.  I can't find a good enough image of the WR7X57 to see if it will accommodate all of the wires currently connected to the WR7X32.


RO41 Image / Photo


Post# 1025373 , Reply# 16   2/22/2019 at 19:30 (464 days old) by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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Ralph - per the service lit (page 40), the green wire from the aux winding in the compressor activates what GE is calling an "electromagnetic coil" within the relay, that then causes the contacts to open and switch the relay/compressor from start to run. No resistor here.

I'm glad Bill found the cross reference to the WR7X57. I noticed that one as well on ebay, as it had the same 3ARR5xxxx number the lit refers to as being an A series relays - not interchangeable with previous types (M and R). Guessing either the M or R is the resistor type, and the other is the traditional two wire?

EDIT - just saw your post about the RO-41. Makes sense as the service manual calls out the fridge to be a 1/4 HP - RO-41 is rated for 1/4 to 1/3 & the RO-81 is 1/12 to 1/5. I'm wondering if the green wire from the aux winding isn't used on the solid state relay, but what I'm not sure about is how you'd wire the solid state relay in place with the guardette still wired as-is from the factory.

Maybe the grey going from the cold control to the guardette is re-wired to the black power lead on the RO-41, the red from the solid state relay to the grey going to the compressor for run, and white from the relay to the white/start on the compressor, and the blue between the guardette and the old relay is left disconnected? Curious what others thoughts might be.


This post was last edited 02/22/2019 at 20:21
Post# 1025378 , Reply# 17   2/22/2019 at 20:15 (464 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Thanks Ben, that's promising.


Additional searching seems to indicate that WR7X57, 29, 41 and 64 are all interchangeable.  Not a thing comes up for PN ending in 34 other than the x-ref to 57.  I'll take a closer look at the ebay item.  It seems like the most likely to have all of the connection points that I would need to make this a fairly simple replacement.  Partselect and Easy Appliance both show the PN ending it 57 as discontinued/NLA even under their own PNs.


I'm thinking the ebay item may be worth the gamble.  I've attached a picture of the ebay relay and one of my relay for comparison.  The ebay part seems to have the right number of terminals but I have no idea about what goes where. 


I did find the 3AAR5 and D1A4 designations on my relay.  I also found it dated 4/20/57, so I can't complain about it finally failing after almost 62 years.


One thing I'm really concerned about is the three-conductor cord from the fan to the relay.  It's super crispy and I can't see any way to get at the fan from behind the fridge or underneath it.



This post was last edited 02/22/2019 at 20:52
Post# 1025381 , Reply# 18   2/22/2019 at 20:49 (464 days old) by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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If you have time to wait I'd totally go with the ebay relay. I ran into similar issues with the wiring on the '51. Totally crispy and I replaced what I could reach, within reason. If you're able to swap in the NOS relay without disturbing the fan motor wiring I'd say you're probably good.

Post# 1025382 , Reply# 19   2/22/2019 at 20:59 (464 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Thanks Ben.  The leads in the fan cord all lost some brittle insulation right where they exit the cord/sheathing, so I think they're literally toast.   I sure can't plug the fridge back in until that's fixed.  I have a feeling that if I try to use the existing cord, which is stiff at this point, the insulation on the three leads will disintegrate as I work with them.


I added a couple of pictures to the post above yours.  Let me know what you think.  I'm OK with waiting if the ebay part will work.  In the meantime I can try to come up with a solution for the fan cord.

Post# 1025397 , Reply# 20   2/23/2019 at 07:09 (464 days old) by ozzie908 (Lincoln UK)        
Where is Turbokinetic ?

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He is an excellent fridge repairman some of his rebuilds from what look like scrap is simply amazing...He helped me fix my Admiral SxS last year too, lovely chap.


Post# 1025401 , Reply# 21   2/23/2019 at 08:32 (463 days old) by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        
Hey guys....

Sorry I have been (and still am!) overseas. I am vicariously disenjoying your winter weather from the lovely climate of Trinidad, West Indies. And I am being paid to be here 'cause it's a business trip! :)

I made a wiring diagram with AutoCAD to show how to implement a Supco RO41 device.

See if this wiring diagram will help you to solve the problem. The original configuration is shown at the top, with the replacement relay shown below, for comparison as to exactly what changes need to be made.

Printable version:

This is based on the diagram that swestoyz posted earlier in the thread. I already had a different scan of that page.


CLICK HERE TO GO TO turbokinetic's LINK

  View Full Size
Post# 1025402 , Reply# 22   2/23/2019 at 09:57 (463 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Hi David, and thanks for your post.


I'm not very good at reading/understanding schematics.  I see in the Supco schematic that the green wire isn't used, as your description indicated.  Would I just leave it hanging (safely out of trouble's way) or remove it entirely?


Do you know if the WR7X57 will work as claimed?  I feel comfortable using something that will hook up the same way as what's happening on the old relay, and am willing to pay more for the ability to match things up and transfer them off the old relay and onto the new.  Otherwise, I would need layman's terms for how the Supco would be adapted.  I'm on the verge of buying a WR7X57 if it's GE's authorized replacement, as I got stung many years ago after buying a Supco for my mom's '75 Coldspot and ending up unable to make it work.


Enjoy the nice Trinidad weather!  Even here in the Bay Area we're all tired of the cold days (for us, anyway) and frosty nights.

Post# 1025462 , Reply# 23   2/23/2019 at 21:21 (463 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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I bought one of the ebay relays.  It's scheduled to arrive on 3/1. 

Post# 1025466 , Reply# 24   2/23/2019 at 22:50 (463 days old) by Stan (Napa CA)        

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I've been following.. Hoping for grand solution for you.
Glad David stopped by for this.
I'd be in a Panic if it was my old fridge!
If it was a old washer, I'd figure it out. But a sick vintage fridge..catastrophic!
Good thoughts

Post# 1025477 , Reply# 25   2/24/2019 at 06:12 (463 days old) by spacepig (Floridas Emerald Coast)        

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Does anyone know if the above e-bay part would also work for a '55 or '56 combination?

Post# 1025487 , Reply# 26   2/24/2019 at 09:04 (462 days old) by Combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Relay problems with a 1957 GE combination refrigerator

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Yes sorry Ralph I have not been available I also am enjoying the warmth of Fort Lauderdale and Key West at the moment finally had a break to look at the site.

The first thing I would do with this problem is try testing the resistances of the compressor to see if the windings are any good. Then if you can get it to run check the overall I am drawl and see if it’s within specs.

There’s about a 50-50 chance it’s a bad relay or a bad compressor.

I would try cleaning up the contact and loosening up the old relay with some solvent and lube and see if you can get it to work then you can determine whether the compressor is really bad or not. These compressors unfortunately do wear out mechanically you can also have a winding failure in them ultimate solution may be to put a new were compressor in it.


This post was last edited 02/24/2019 at 10:23
Post# 1025503 , Reply# 27   2/24/2019 at 12:40 (462 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Thanks John.  I already bought the replacement GE relay, but if that turns out not to be the problem I'm sure someone here will have a need for one at some point.


The thing that concerns me is that when the fridge was trying to kick in, the muffled buzzing sound didn't seem to be coming from the relay.  It sounded more like it was coming from the back corner behind the condenser fan.


If the compressor is shot, I won't pursue a replacement.  It's a nice fridge, but I prefer a bottom freezer type.  If it were a BF model, frost-free or frost-y, I'd be more inclined to pursue a new compressor.


The compressor did jiggle a bit during attempts to cycle on, as if it wasn't totally frozen up and dead, but I know that doesn't necessarily mean it's OK, either.


The sad truth is that even if the compressor is fine, the access issues to replace the wiring between the fan and the relay could be what really ends up rendering the fridge a lost cause, at least as far as my ability to repair it goes.  If anyone has replaced a condenser fan or related wiring on one of these, I'd appreciate any helpful information on how to get at it.  As you can see in my reply (ending in 356) above, the opening is small and I don't think I can even fit my hand through it to reach the fan, and I certainly have no view of the mounting screws.

Post# 1025532 , Reply# 28   2/24/2019 at 20:32 (462 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Would the 1958 GE refrigerator/freezer service manual be worth downloading from the library?  I imagine only the door hardware and interior trim would be different, and I'm only concerned with the cooling system.



Post# 1025533 , Reply# 29   2/24/2019 at 20:37 (462 days old) by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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Ralph - I have a copy of the ‘57 service manual scanned. I can send you a copy if you’d like. Feel free to shoot me a PM.


Post# 1025564 , Reply# 30   2/25/2019 at 00:32 (462 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Thanks Ben!  Message sent!

Post# 1025733 , Reply# 31   2/26/2019 at 15:15 (460 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Many thanks to Ben for sharing his scanned service manual!


I was able to remove the condenser fan motor, but I see no way to take the housing apart in order to replace its crispy cord.  It looks as if the two sections have been pressed together.


I can't find a part number on the housing.  Just this:  5K51AL24D.  Per the service manual, this is a two-phase motor, and as was stated further up, the cord has three conductors, black, white, and green.  They connect to the relay as follows:


Green = Terminal 1, shared with Blue wire from the guardette

White = Terminal 2, shared with White wire from compressor start terminal

Black = Unnamed, possibly AKA Terminal 4 --shared with the power cord and either common or run wire from the compressor, I can't be sure.


New aftermarket replacement fan motors only have two conductors (as seen in Paul's picture).   I guess I'm OK with that, and it looks like placement of the holes for the mounting screws is standard.  Unless there's a way to get the existing fan motor apart, this may be the best solution for the fan. 


Now here's the interesting thing I discovered.  When pulling the green fan wire connector off the relay, the whole blade it slid onto was moving around.  The screw holding this blade and the wire from the guardette was slightly loose.  Could this have been the source of the trouble?  It would be just my luck that tightening one screw would have fixed the problem and left the fan and its wiring undisturbed.

Post# 1025764 , Reply# 32   2/26/2019 at 19:39 (460 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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I went ahead and snipped the fan motor cord near the strain relief and spliced/soldered on a new section with black, white and green conductors.  I feel fairly confident that the old wiring I spliced onto won't short out.


I'll still look for a replacement fan, but I know anything new will fail well before 62 years go by.  If I can hold out for a NOS 2-phase motor I will.  I don't even know the difference between 2-phase and single phase, or why GE thought two-phase was a better idea. 


If I do end up with a single phase replacement, is it safe to assume the black and white leads are interchangeable?  Everything I've seen has a standard tandem black cord.  And if there's no third (green) wire from the fan motor, should I assume that the blue wire from the guardette will live by itself on relay terminal #1 and the fan will still operate properly?


As for the replacement relay, I noticed it has no mounting piece like the existing relay, so I guess it will just hang or lay somewhere like a Supco would.

Post# 1025794 , Reply# 33   2/27/2019 at 01:38 (460 days old) by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

Question regarding brittle wires - has anyone simply slid some heat shrink tubing over the crispy insulation? Add a little heat and it should be as good as  new. Might be easier than stripping and soldering.

Post# 1025804 , Reply# 34   2/27/2019 at 06:19 (460 days old) by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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Yes! I did that on the drive motor of my '53 Westinghouse washer because I didn't feel competent enough to replace the wiring. That might work in this case!

Post# 1025810 , Reply# 35   2/27/2019 at 07:31 (460 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Replacement Condenser Fan Motor For A 57 GE Ref

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Hi Ralph, you can use almost any two wire motor, WPs PT# is 833697 for example we usually have these around because they sell them in quantity to servicers for around $11.00.


GE originally used the 3 wire 2 phase motor because it had more starting torque and used less power once it started, the compressors relay also started the fan motor.


The orignal 3 wire motor drew around 30 watts when running, most 2 wire CFMs drew around 45 watts, new electronic ECM motors today only draw around 5 watts toady, I always like putting these new ECM motors in all my rebuild projects, but lets not make this any more complicated.


The new 2 wire motor will just get connected to two of the orignal leads [ I am not sure which two as we don't do this repair that often any longer, I would always just test which set is hot when the compressor is running ]


John L.

Post# 1025830 , Reply# 36   2/27/2019 at 12:45 (459 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Thanks John, I'm going to test my fan motor repair today.  I'll use a power strip with a breaker in it, and plug that into a GFI outlet.


Matt and Paul, I had thought about a way to re-insulate the wiring but didn't know that heat-shrink tubing was a thing.  I'm not sure if it would have been any better than electrical tape, as the sort of twine material in the fan's cord makes the whole repair process difficult.  If the motor shorts out when I test it, I'll either go back to square one and give heat-shrink a try (I hope it comes in at least three colors) or buy a new fan and replace per John's input. 


Can I assume that a new motor designated as a GE replacement (for refrigerators a lot younger than a '57 Combination) will have mounting holes in the same places as the current one?



Post# 1025862 , Reply# 37   2/27/2019 at 19:33 (459 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        
The Fan Is Toast

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I tested the fan motor on a GFI outlet, using only the black and white leads from the motor.  Dead.  But apparently not dead enough to keep from tripping the outlet.   I'm sure this is about the crispy wires deeper into the sheathing than I could reach.


Now the question is, if I buy a replacement motor, how can I be sure the blade will mount on it?  The existing blade has two tabs near the center mounting hole and they fit into a component of the motor that doesn't exist on replacement motors.  Do I just flatten those tabs?  I was surprised to find that the blade is fastened to the motor with a simple zip nut.



Post# 1025863 , Reply# 38   2/27/2019 at 19:53 (459 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Replacement Condenser Fan Motor

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Will it fit a 57 GE ref ?, Hi Ralph, I though I said it would in my reply # 35 if you use a WP 833697, there are also GE Pt#s that fit as well, these fan motors are one of the most universal parts out there, this WP part literally will fit billions of different refs built from 1950 through many new models roiling off assembly lines now.



Post# 1025875 , Reply# 39   2/27/2019 at 22:00 (459 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Thanks John.  It's been a hectic day between trips to the DMV (because their web site is so lame) and the usual responsibilities for Dave, so I'm feeling kind of like a human pinball.  I completely spaced out on the information you shared above.


The relay arrived today (it's bigger than the original), so now it's just the fan that's holding me up.  I don't know if I can test the relay without the fan connected, so won't do anything until I have a replacement fan motor.


I'm familiar with those old WP fan motors since replacing the one on my mom's '75 Coldspot.  As long as the mounting holes match up, I'm good with anything that will be compatible.  I've bought a motor that appears identical (except for that 3rd wire) with WP PN 833697 so now I just have to wait for it to get here.  Thanks again.

This post was last edited 02/28/2019 at 00:22
Post# 1026140 , Reply# 40   3/3/2019 at 12:12 (455 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        
R I Prius

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I'm sad to say that a new relay didn't fix the problem.  The compressor tries to kick in -- rattling to a start -- and then clicks off, like maybe there's a problem with its "run" circuitry.   The more it tries, the shorter the attempts.


As much as I've enjoyed using this refrigerator, I can't justify the cost of replacing the compressor and it would be difficult to find anyone locally to do the job even if I wanted to.


This coming June would have marked nine years since Nate and I buzzed up to Reno and picked this thing up after RCD had hauled it back to his shop as a filthy "cash for clunkers" garage fridge surrender.  Apparently it has decided to quit at 62.  Not a bad run at all, and by today's standards, flat out impossible.  It was fun while it lasted.



This post was last edited 03/03/2019 at 14:49
Post# 1026153 , Reply# 41   3/3/2019 at 16:52 (455 days old) by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Awe man.   Sorry that the relay wasn't the problem.


It seems that this style of compressor has a somewhat finite life to it. There have been so many similar sad stories on the site about them.


They should have kept the scotch-yoke compressor; as the CK Monitor Top and several others have. I just got one going for someone. It's 83 years old and still runs and sounds like new.


This person has been trying for 2 years to get someone to fix it. The wiring was crumbly and the control sensing tube had been broken. Should be fairly simple to get that done but all the service companies act like you're asking them to overhaul a flying saucer when you mention a MT fridge.

Post# 1026155 , Reply# 42   3/3/2019 at 17:28 (455 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Thanks David.


I knew when I got this fridge that it wasn't going to last forever.  Since I have the room for one (no need for a shoulder hinge type), I'm open to an older GE Combination as long as it has a drain in the freezer, as that makes defrosting a cinch.  The ones from the late '40s and early '50s seem to run forever, and they show up on CL now and then.  I don't know what I'll use in the meantime, but I hope to find a temporary fridge soon.  The Combination was always well stocked with a full shelf of sodas and another one full of bottled beer.  We've had a drinks fridge of one kind or another for about 30 years. 


One other thing I forgot to mention was that when the compressor tried to kick in, the condenser fan did too, but cut out.  This makes me think that the fault lies with the "run" wiring.  All connections to the compressor are good.


As much as I hate to do it, I'm going to have to offer this fridge up for free to whoever wants to haul it off.  I don't have room to harvest parts off of it and store them, so away it has to go.  I'm so bummed.

Post# 1026157 , Reply# 43   3/3/2019 at 18:15 (455 days old) by spacepig (Floridas Emerald Coast)        

spacepig's profile picture
Ralph, I am sorry to hear that you were not able to get your fridge working again. If you change your mind about parts and are willing to ship, let me know. I would be interested in your door shelves. Hopefully you will find another vintage refrigerator that brings you as much joy. Jeannine

Post# 1026164 , Reply# 44   3/3/2019 at 19:31 (455 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Jeannine, yes, easily harvested parts can be shipped, so feel free to send me a washermail with your list.

Post# 1026174 , Reply# 45   3/3/2019 at 21:55 (455 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        

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Hi Ralph, Sorry to hear that the compressor is shot, I just wish that I was closer [ or someone else that can diagnose refrigerator problems ] it only takes someone like David or I 10-15 minutes to figure out why the compressor was having problems starting with a few simple tests.


It is normal that the condenser fan motor would start running and then cut off, the CFM on GE refs is wired through the compressors thermal cutoff so as soon as the CO trips it also kills power to  the CFM.



Post# 1026309 , Reply# 46   3/5/2019 at 11:56 (453 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

Yeah John, I unplugged the replacement CFM once I saw that it wouldn't run if the compressor wasn't running too.  I never bothered to mount it. 


I think the buzzing I had been hearing for a week or two was an indicator of something (other than the relay) that was frying itself.  The compression part of the mechanicals was keeping everything nice and cold until the end, so I'm pretty sure it was wiring/windings that failed.


Of course, there's nothing interesting out there for sale right now, and I've been looking since the buzzing started.  The only thing that's a remote contender is a mid '80s WP BF model, but I'd prefer something older and more efficient, unless it's a later Frost Guard Combo, which I would grant an energy hog exception .  It's primarily a drinks fridge, so it doesn't need to be huge, and another frosts-freely type would be OK.


Off hand, would anyone here know if the earlier ('54 and older) Combinations had gliding shelves and if they're counter depth like my '57 (24" not including the handles)?  Shelves that glide would be an OK compromise.

Post# 1026365 , Reply# 47   3/5/2019 at 21:58 (453 days old) by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Ralph, did you make a recording of the "buzzing" sound so that we could have this to compare to other possible failures on other units?

Post# 1026367 , Reply# 48   3/5/2019 at 22:10 (453 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

David, sorry, but I didn't record the buzzing.  I'm not much of a cell phone user for anything besides calls, texts, and pictures.


The buzzing was kind of high pitched and sounded like your average noisy compressor that just runs like that normally, but I knew it wasn't a normal sound for what had been a quiet GE.


I'm posting this picture for Jeannine, who has a '56 GE, to see if there's much from the interior that might have a chance of fitting her fridge.  Due to radical design changes for 1957, I'm not so sure much of it is backward compatible.

  View Full Size
Post# 1026393 , Reply# 49   3/6/2019 at 06:29 (453 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Good Picture Of Your 57 Combination Ralph

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That is the exact ref my Aunt Arline had in Elisabethtown Pa. When they built a new custom home in 1966 they moved it to the new homes kitchen, hers made it till the early 1970-2 time period before its compressor wore out and was replaced with a FD top freezer model which had its IM repaired at least every year till it was replaced with a WP in the mid 90s.


John L.

Post# 1026409 , Reply# 50   3/6/2019 at 12:13 (452 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

That shot was among a few I took during initial clean-up after hauling it home from Reno in June of 2010.


I wish I could donate this box to an appliance junk yard for parting out (if there was such a thing), as there are many good, hard-to-find parts on it.


One thing I don't have to hunt down anymore is the two knurled fasteners for the bottom grille (grille not seen in the picture above).  I always had to get out the socket wrench to remove the bolts that were holding the grille in place when I vacuumed the condenser.


Now it's time to find another interesting fridge for beer and soda.  I had gotten used to a little extra zero-degree freezer space off the kitchen, but the basement Penncrest freezer has room to spare, so maybe something smaller and single door is the way to go.  I need counter depth again due to the spot where the drinks fridge is located.  The Combination was such a perfect fit there.

Post# 1026427 , Reply# 51   3/6/2019 at 17:37 (452 days old) by spacepig (Floridas Emerald Coast)        

spacepig's profile picture
Here are pictures of the interior to my '56. You can see the bottom piece beneath the drawers is broken, so I would love an intact piece to replace. However, I'm not sure if yours will work, and how much work it would be just to remove that one.

I've also attached pictures of the inside of the doors so you can see how the configuration of the "steps" that the shelves lay on, and also the shelves themselves. It does look like they are a match, except for the color.

You'll also see the rubber piece that fits on the back where the drain tube attaches. I could use another one of those.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 5         View Full Size
Post# 1026495 , Reply# 52   3/7/2019 at 13:33 (451 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

Jeannine, that exterior drain in picture 5 of 5 isn't applicable to the two-door Combinations from 1957 on -- at least not on top freezer models. 


Unlike your '56, the '57 and later Combinations have a clean back with condenser coils underneath, which are cooled using what GE called a "forced draft" system with a fan that draws air across the coils from one side of the front grille  and routes it out the other side after passing over the drip pan to speed evaporation of condensate (this same system is still widely used on the various makes of refrigerator-freezers today).  Drain tubing like what you have pictured would have the potential to be smashed against the wall if paired with a clean back design.


With a bottom freezer arrangement like your '56 has, I'm not sure how the condensate drains from the freezer, but I would assume it drops directly into the same pan as that crumbling tubing routes the condensate to from the fresh food section.  How the condensate drain for the fresh food section serpentine coil is routed on bottom freezer models for '57 and later, I don't know.

Post# 1026853 , Reply# 53   3/12/2019 at 00:46 (447 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        
John, David, Anyone?

rp2813's profile picture

There's an HVAC guy on my local Nextdoor board who may know someone who would be willing to change out the compressor with a modern replacement.


Can anyone direct me to a site where I can price out a replacement, or provide details on the type of compressor to look for?  I would need to ballpark a figure for parts and labor to see if it's worth doing.


One of my concerns is that the existing compressor is a long cylinder shape, and that a replacement would be tough to fit into the same spot.  Also, since the existing compressor has four terminals, how is that addressed with a new compressor?

Post# 1026910 , Reply# 54   3/12/2019 at 20:23 (446 days old) by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Hey great that you're planning to get this fixed!

I haven't done much experimentation with modern compressor swaps because I have been fortunate enough to locate original used ones.

A new Embraco compressor can be had for about $75 on eBay Here is one example:

The 80 or 100 series Embraco compressors are roughly the right capacity for a full size side-by-side fridge.

You will also need a dryer for the system to catch any wear materials from the old compressor. Those are very inexpensive as well, about $10.

From what I have gathered reading online and talking to people "in the know" it is a good idea to add a little extra oil to a modern compressor on any older model refrigerator. This is because the older systems may trap a larger, and more variable amount of oil in the lines. The new compressor will have an oil specification from which the oil type can be obtained.

I wish I could offer more info but at this time, I just haven't done much experimentation with these.


Post# 1027243 , Reply# 55   3/16/2019 at 21:35 (442 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

Thanks David.  I haven't heard from the HVAC guy so it may be difficult to find anyone to swap in a new compressor.  I'll see if the guy at the appliance parts place near me can recommend some people to contact.

Post# 1027275 , Reply# 56   3/17/2019 at 08:17 (442 days old) by estesguy (kansas)        

You might try a used appliance store for help. I went into one here and the guy changes out many compressors while refurbishing different brands and sizes of used refrigerators they get in for resale. It would be a little out of their normal line of work, but for the right price, they might assist you.

Post# 1027354 , Reply# 57   3/17/2019 at 21:04 (441 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

Thanks John.  At this point, any possibility is worth pursuing.

Post# 1027543 , Reply# 58   3/20/2019 at 11:55 (438 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        
Embraco Question

rp2813's profile picture

I'm interested in pursuing the Embraco option but have questions:  Are these compressors relatively quiet?  The shot GE compressor was barely audible.  If an Embraco will sound like one of those noisy "True" brand self-serve beverage refrigerators as found in most hole-in-the-wall eateries, that will be a deal-breaker.


Also, is any sort of adaptive mounting hardware going to be required?  The GE compressor is oblong, while the Embraco is a more standard shape.


I really don't want the Combo to end up as a rattle trap. 


I'm going to talk to the knowledgeable guy at my nearby independent appliance parts store (same guy who recognized the bake element for my mom's '49 Westinghouse range as soon as I walked through the door), but thought I'd ask the experts here first.


Post# 1027562 , Reply# 59   3/20/2019 at 20:38 (438 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Newer Compressor For A 57 GE Combination

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Embracos are very quiet, there used to be an adptor mounting kit sold that allowed you to easily replace the old style GE compressors, My Brother Jeff used one when he installed a new Tecumseh compressor in my 1960 GE upright Frost Guard freezer 35 years ago [ it still works great ] but I stopped using it at our house about 5 years ago because it used way too much power and made the pantry too warm.


The GE FGF is at the museum now and is only turned on for events at the warehouse where we need to keep a lot of frozen food.



Post# 1027566 , Reply# 60   3/20/2019 at 21:31 (438 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

Thanks John.  I'll see what I can find out about any adaptive mounting kit.


Also, regarding David's comments above about the need for some extra oil, would 12 cf be considered a full size fridge, and where would I find a drier?  Do I need a particular type or would any old drier work?

Post# 1027574 , Reply# 61   3/20/2019 at 23:05 (438 days old) by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        
Drier and parts...

Hi Ralph.  I usually order parts from eBay HVAC wholesalers when I have time to wait. Supco sells driers in various sizes which have stepped tubing on the output end. That helps you to attach the capillary tube to the dryer.  Just see what size the condenser outlet is and order accordingly.


Here is an example of one which includes a Schrader port for connecting to the system, as well as the smaller end to solder the cap tube into.


Embraco sells compressors which are for low,  low/medium, or medium backpressure applications. When run at sub-zero temperatures the compressor has little gas density going through the housing to cool the motor. The low backpressure models are designed to operate with this low density return flow.  The medium backpressure are capable of handling higher suction pressures without overloading the motor. They are used for higher temperature systems that may not run in a frosted condition.

The low/medium design can work in either application; as well as applications which may run in both modes of operation. In the event that the compressor size you use to replace your original is slightly over / undersized, if you have chosen a low/medium rated compressor it will withstand the slight off-sizing without being outside of its design parameters. Just a suggestion. :)

Post# 1027633 , Reply# 62   3/21/2019 at 18:23 (437 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        
Repair Cost

rp2813's profile picture

The guy at the appliance parts store referred me to a repair person who recently replaced the compressor on an older GE refrigerator (likely not anywhere near as old as mine), so I called him.  He quoted me $1,100!  Yeah, that won't be happening.


Plan B is to see if the home warranty that expires next month will cover it.  Since repair would have to pencil out as the same or less cost as replacement, I'll advise that the Combo is counter depth (such types these days can cost more) and BS them about ADA-friendly features that make it easier for Dave to access contents.  If that fails, the Combo goes to the curb.


Two single door GEs have surfaced in the past couple of days, one a '53 and the other a '56, both $100 or less, but neither one is a Combination, so defrosting would be more hands-on than I'm willing to deal with, and the freezer won't be a true zero degree environment IIRC.   I'll keep looking, as the home warranty route will likely lead to a dead end.

Post# 1027824 , Reply# 63   3/23/2019 at 21:54 (435 days old) by Northwesty (Renton, WA)        

would definitely keep the vegetable drawers and the shelf above them, and also the door seal as I don't think they make that gasket anymore. Also the temp gauge.

For the $1100 would it be like a new fridge? I think it is a pretty involved process so I am not surprised. Best of luck in finding a replacement.

Post# 1028075 , Reply# 64   3/26/2019 at 23:13 (432 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        
Step One

rp2813's profile picture

The repair guy sent out by the home warranty co. was here today.  He was in his mid '40s and seemed to be eastern European, which is common in these parts.  He went bananas over the fridge and took a lot of pictures to share with co-workers, as well as a shot of the model/serial plate.  I told him I was 1,000% sure it wouldn't be in anybody's database, and of course he got nothing when he punched the info into his phone.


He urged me to get it fixed, even though he didn't know how to do the job.  He did confirm that the compressor is shot, he took measurements of the box for replacement purposes and will be providing a report to the home warranty co.  He said they will want to replace rather than repair.  Yes, of course they will.


I looked on line and couldn't find a counter depth top freezer fridge anywhere.  They are all either french door or side by sides.   He mentioned the slim ugly apartment size ones as an option, but that's unacceptable to me.  I'll attempt to negotiate a cash settlement.  The cheapest full size counter depth I could find was $1,200 and most were closer to double that, with the most expensive topping $4K.


So let's say I get a settlement that will cover the cost of repair by the guy I already contacted.  Will an Embraco fit through the opening in the back, or will the R&R have to be done through the bottom?   I don't want to pursue this if there's no way to fit an Embraco into place.



Post# 1028081 , Reply# 65   3/27/2019 at 06:22 (432 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
A replacement Compressor For A 57 GE ref

combo52's profile picture

Hi Ralph, the compressor is replaced through the bottom, the GE compressor will not fit through the rear opening either.


I would just take an Embraco out of a 6-15 YO WP, KM, GE 18 CF TF refrigerator, that will save several hundred right there, a new filter-dryer [ $10-25 ] and 10-12 Oz of R-134A refrigerant [ $ 10-20 ] and 2-3 hours labor by an experienced tech [ $100-150 ] per hour and you should be good to go.



Post# 1028116 , Reply# 66   3/27/2019 at 13:04 (431 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

Thanks John.  I don't know if the one guy I spoke with who is willing to do the work would be willing to install a used compressor, but I'll certainly inquire about it if I'm able to work out a settlement with First American.

Post# 1028142 , Reply# 67   3/27/2019 at 18:30 (431 days old) by cuffs054 (MONTICELLO, GA)        

If you can get it replaced, sell the new one and use the money to fix the old one.

Post# 1028204 , Reply# 68   3/28/2019 at 14:06 (430 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

Just after the technician left day before yesterday, I received an automated e-mail from First American inquiring about where things stood, and whether I needed further assistance.  In my reponse I added a note advising them not to kick this issue to a bottom feeder call center employee (through my experience working for a RBOC, I know how this sort of thing works, and these days they're all ESL robots) and instead to have someone with the skills, abilities and authority to make a decision contact me.


Yesterday I received a call from a sweet girl named Lizzy, located in Santa Rosa, of all places, who was beside herself over how long I've been waiting for a resolution.  She hadn't seen the tech's report and advised she'd contact the company and get the information.  She waived the service fee.  I explained to her that I wanted to keep this fridge rather than replace it and told her why, and she completely understood. 


Just now she called back to advise that the tech confirmed he couldn't work on a sealed system, and that she has gone directly to GE and will have someone contact me.  I laughed and told her I didn't think GE would know what to do about it, and she laughed too, but said we'll at least give it a try.  There's likely a process she needs to follow.  She's considering this an emergency repair and said I should hear from GE today, and that she'll call me back to follow up tomorrow.


We'll see where this leads.  She seems determined in her pursuit of repair, or at the very least a satisfactory resolution.



Post# 1028298 , Reply# 69   3/29/2019 at 12:35 (429 days old) by twintubdexter (Palm Springs)        

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While it seems perfectly understandable that "Lizzy" would resort to contacting GE as a start, vintage appliance-savvy people realize how futile that may be but at least she's trying. There's always a chance she managed to contact a genuine, caring GE associate. You deserve an A+ for your determination and effort. 

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Post# 1029417 , Reply# 70   4/10/2019 at 00:29 (418 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

GE never contacted me and Lizzie couldn't get through to them either.  They didn't return any of her calls, so she just moved on.  Sad commentary.  Haier probably doesn't even man that phone line anymore.


Today another appliance guy showed up.  His company will work on sealed systems.   I was dismayed when he said he'd have to see if parts were available.  Of course they're not -- if you're looking for the exact/authorized GE part number for the compressor. 


I told the guy about the information that was shared here about Embraco compressors, but he said installing an Embraco would amount to "customization," which isn't something they would do or stand behind, and likely wouldn't be anything the home warranty company would cover either.  I went on to tell him that the knowledgeable owner of the nearby independent appliance parts store confirmed that an Embraco compressor would be the likely replacement option and that they're widely used for this purpose.  Yet again, the tech said there's a process he needs to follow, and that he'd get back to me once he had researched parts and repair options.  He also called a guy he said was their refrigerator expert and described the Combination to him.  I could hear the expert mentioning the metal ID tag and the four terminals on the compressor, so at least he knows what he's up against.


I should be hearing from Lizzie and/or the repair tech sometime later this week, and will report in after that.

Post# 1029418 , Reply# 71   4/10/2019 at 00:35 (418 days old) by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

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I admire your determination in sticking with this. Surprised you got anything other than a flat “no,” so that’s something, anyway. Hope it works out.

Post# 1029429 , Reply# 72   4/10/2019 at 07:41 (418 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Replacing a compressor on 57 GE ref

combo52's profile picture

Yes indeed we admire your efforts Ralph, but unfortunately you have to find a tech that is looking for more than a paycheck,


The guy is not even thinking or knows very little if he is worried about the old compressor having four terminals, there are only two wires supplying 120 volts to the compressor coming out of the refrigerators harness that need to get connected to the new compressors relay.



Post# 1029467 , Reply# 73   4/10/2019 at 12:21 (417 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

Yes John, the "expert" guy was explaining to the guy on site that any replacement compressor would only have two terminals on it. 


Call me crazy, but that seems to indicate that something other than the original type of compressor needs to be considered for a replacement, and that the "expert" realizes this.


I don't know why these repair businesses don't want to take advantage of the home warranty arrangement and perform the  work, other than the possibility that the cost of repair won't pencil out for the warranty company to move forward and approve it.


Meanwhile, there's a nice looking '50s IH fridge on CL right now, but it's a single door without a true zero freezer.  Also a couple of monitor tops, a '30s Coldspot, a late '40s Westinghouse single door, and two late '70s looking Westinghouse frost free ones.  Except for the monitor tops, Coldspot, and old Westy, they are all too deep to fit in the spot.  Not a Combination to be found, but things are picking up compared to what they were when I first started looking in early February.  Maybe spring cleaning will work in my favor if repairing what I have ultimately isn't an option.

Post# 1031946 , Reply# 74   5/6/2019 at 12:46 (391 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

The saga continues.  I'm skeptical about the latest update from Miss Lizzie.  She said they can't secure all of the necessary parts.


Is there anything crucial to repair besides the compressor and drier?  I think they just want to replace the fridge instead and be done with it.


I have inquired about which parts they can't find and haven't yet received a reply.

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