Thread Number: 90977  /  Tag: Refrigerators
GE LH12-N Refrigerator
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Post# 1154899   7/21/2022 at 17:05 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        

Hello folks

I recently came into a 1956 GE 2 DR top freezer. Its actually in good cosmetic shape but does need a new cold control and a few other things. I have a couple questions I'm wondering if I can tap into some of the expertise in the group for.

The first one may be a dumb question. The fridge came with no levelling legs - did GE use a unique size for the threaded end or were they some kind of special item?. I tried standard levelling legs and they were too big for the holes in the back corners and too small for the holes I believe they are meant to go into on the front.

My second question is the appropriate replacement for the cold control. The original is WR9X114 - long ago NLA. I've attached the specs of the original and also a chart of various Gemline replacements. From what I've researched, the recommended replacement is GC404 or GC403 however GC409 looks to be a closer match with the original capillary length - any opinions on which would be the best sub? I can't see where the original was clamped to the evaporator in the fridge section as it was removed long ago. I have to use the original screw in dial due to where its placed in the fridge section

Or is there another one thats not listed here that might be better?

Thanks so much in advance for any advice.

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Post# 1154901 , Reply# 1   7/21/2022 at 17:11 by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Cold controls are a common weak spot in these otherwise reliable refrigerators.  I had a '57 model with cold control mounted on the top portion of the liner at center front.  It went bad and I got a Gemline universal replacement that installed perfectly.  I still have the box somewhere.  If I can find it, I'll give you the part number for comparison.

Post# 1154908 , Reply# 2   7/21/2022 at 18:34 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        

Hi Ralph - thank you so much for that info. This one too has the temperature dial mounted a little offset from the center of the top front lip of the liner. Where did you mount the end of the capillary tube on the evaporator coil? Did the kit come with clips or anything to mount it with?

Post# 1154910 , Reply# 3   7/21/2022 at 18:50 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
Late 50s GE2 door refrigerator

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Hi James, it should be pretty easy to find a suitable thermostat to replace the cold control in your old refrigerator.

On your Gemline picture you would want one of the first three thermostats the GC 301 Through 303

The first thing I would do with this refrigerator is bypass the cold control and let the machine run for 24 hours and see how cold it gets the freezer should get to at least 10 below zero Fahrenheit and the refrigerator should also go below freezing a little bit, itís very common for this vintage refrigerator to have a weak sealed system mainly from a bad compressor and if you donít have a healthy sealed system the proper temperature control will never work properly.

John L

Post# 1154915 , Reply# 4   7/21/2022 at 20:28 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        

Thanks so much John - I'll get the GC 403 then (I think you meant 403 instead of 303) - the original had an 18" capillary, that one has a 24" so I won't have to hide too much of it if any.

Interesting on the compressor - it has actually been replaced at some point with an R12 Embraco. Looks like whomever did it fabricated a steel base to hold it in place.

I did run it for about 4 hours without the cold control. Both the freezer and the fridge section did get nice and cold in short order. All sides of the freezer were equally cold including the ice tray shelf and got to below zero. The frost pattern was even across the evaporator in the fridge. The compressor was surprisingly quiet, no strange noises. The garage I was testing in was over 100 degrees so I didn't want to test much longer than that but I could if you think I should investigate further.

Gaskets are OK, they are ugly but functional without any cracking although a bit deflated looking as the fiberglass inside them has compressed over the years. I will need to do a bit of adjusting on the door and the magnetic latch to get a more uniform seal however.

I just need to figure something out for levelling legs and then a few other minor things

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Post# 1154917 , Reply# 5   7/21/2022 at 20:55 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        

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This is good news that the compressor has been changed as there are almost no GE refrigerators from this era where are the original compressor is still operating properly.

Someone went to a good deal of work to put that in looks like it was done a decade or more ago. Itís nice that it even has it run capacitor should make the refrigerator more efficient.

This compressor was supposed to be installed with either an oil cooler or a small fan blowing air over it to assist in the cooling of the compressor, you also need a fan to help the water evaporate in the plastic tray.

I would add a fan from a modern refrigerator the new electronic fan motors only draw four or 5 W and just have it blow on the compressor.

Yes youíre correct I did mean GC 403 for the cold control that should work in this refrigerator

Post# 1154930 , Reply# 6   7/22/2022 at 02:12 by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

James, it sounds like you have the cold control figured out but I'll still look for the box mine came in just in case you have any issues.


Here are a couple of pictures that show how the cold control tubing was positioned to run across the back wall at the bottom of the serpentine coil in my '57.  In the close-up you can see one of the clips that holds the tube in place.  There were three clips in all, I think.  The universal replacement control didn't come with new clips, which in this particular application makes sense. 


I made sure to remove the bad control assembly without bending the tubing so I could shape the new control's tubing to match.  It was a cinch to put in with that part of the job done before installation.  And if you're wondering, yes, I had to rig up a freezer drain assembly because the original was missing when I got the fridge.

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Post# 1154962 , Reply# 7   7/22/2022 at 15:59 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        

Thanks so much for the guidance John on the fan and the appropriate sub for the cold control. I'll take your advice and see if I can add a small fan to help keep the compressor cooler and aid in evaporating the water that collects in the pan below.

Ralph thanks for those additional pictures - that's really helpful to see how the control was clamped as mine was already disconnected when I got it. That is a really nice fridge. Very similar on the inside to mine except mine has a turquoise liner and copper shelves. Mine did have one additional revolving shelf but I removed it - it seemed to be too many shelves to have reasonable height, plus the little metal key that held that particular shelf in place was broken anyway

Really appreciate the support - I'll keep you guys posted

Post# 1154968 , Reply# 8   7/22/2022 at 18:48 by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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James, as you can see, I just lowered the bottom revolving shelf down as far as it would go without scraping the crisper covers that also serve as shelves.  Better to have two revolving shelves than two stationary ones IMO. 


Before I got the GE, I had a '70 Whirlpool for drinks and would store canned sodas in the 12-pack boxes they came in.  That wasn't possible on the revolving shelves though, but having all cans displayed individually on a lazy susan was a far more elegant presentation for guests to serve themselves anyway.  I was also fortunate that my favorite beer comes in short bottles.


I miss that fridge and hope to find another one from 1955-'62 or so to replace it someday.

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Post# 1154997 , Reply# 9   7/22/2022 at 20:50 by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

Very nice fridge and a very nice selection of drinks!

Post# 1156122 , Reply# 10   8/5/2022 at 23:36 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        

So I received the Gemline GC-403 cold control I ordered and with a bit of ingenuity I was able to make it fit in the same spot the old control was mounted and it came with the correct adapter to use the existing temperature dial. Because of the way it is mounted on this fridge, using the old dial is pretty necessary so was happy about that.

However, have run into a bit of a problem - the existing clamp that the old control was mounted to was still there in place (the old cold control was removed when I got the fridge). It mounts onto the metal bracket at the top of the fridge that the evaporator mounts to. Here is what I've figured out so far:

-When I mount the capillary tube to this clamp, the fridge cycles off too warm, it maintains about 40 degrees even on higher settings.
-I have tried completely covering it in the clamp and leaving the end about an inch proud of the end of the clamp and it still cycles too warm
-I made sure it wasn't touching any part of the evaporator coils
-If I just leave it in the air without the clamp it gets to a reasonable temperature in a reasonable timeframe (with nice even frosting) but it just continues to run
-I know the bracket is in the correct place because of the mounting screw holes and the length of the old tube
-The freezer doesn't have a separate cold control, its all tied to the cold control in the fridge and the freezer section gets below zero, its just the fridge section thats too warm
-The specs on the GC403 control are very close to the original as I posted above so I don't think thats the issue
-In the picture the clamp is on the right, outlet side of the evaporator

So something is wrong with the way I'm mounting it so hoping to get some help with ideas. It appears having it directly mounted to the metal bracket is making it artificially too cold - I'm wondering if there is supposed to be a plastic or rubber shroud around part of the tube or anything like that. Does anyone have the 1956 service manual that details the control replacement they could check for me or any experience with these? I have downloaded the manual on the site but its more of a troubleshooting guide and doesn't go into details on all the service procedures. This is a great old fridge and I'm really hoping to be able to get it to go!

As a side note, just in case anyone runs into this - this particular fridge (maybe other older GEs too?) uses 1/4-20 thread levelling legs. As I had mentioned, mine didn't come with any so had to figure this out. The standard is 5/16-18 so these were a bit tricky to find but I ended up making something work. Hope this helps someone in the future!

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This post was last edited 08/06/2022 at 00:05
Post# 1156147 , Reply# 11   8/6/2022 at 10:19 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        
Conatant-Cut-in / cycle-defrost cold controls...

Hi James. Constant-cut-in controls can be somewhat tricky to adjust. They are controlling the temperature of the evaporator tubing in the fridge compartment. The temperature of the air in the compartment will be determined by how well the cabinet is insulated, how good the doors seal, AND the average temperature of the evaporator coil. There are a lot of factors at play. If the new compressor is oversized compared to the original, it might cool down and satisfy the thermostat much quicker than the original, leading to the ratio of off-cycle time versus running time being greater than originally intended. 


If there is nothing wrong with the door sealing or other issues which could allow extra heat into the cabinet; you may indeed need to put a plastic shim between the sensing tube and the evaporator bracket. The balancing act will be to get enough shim in there to allow it to get cold enough, but not defeat the cycle defrost functionality. 


I only have a manual for the wall-hung version of GE's combination fridge from this era. It works very similarly, and GE does not mention anything about the factory using shims between the control sensing tube and the evaporator bracket. 


Post# 1156205 , Reply# 12   8/6/2022 at 20:29 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        

Thanks so much for the insight David, I really appreciate it. The gaskets are ugly but they are intact, supple enough and appear to make a decent seal - I've tried the paper around the perimeter and it stays in place so although they probably aren't perfect, I'm not certain that's the cause. It seemed to maintain that 40 degree temperature pretty well.

You know, it hadn't occurred to me that the replacement compressor could be throwing things off. That makes sense. I'm not certain what the rating is on this newer Embraco FGS 95AW compressor. It has a date on it of 1995 it does say R12 and 13 LRA. The GE model plate doesn't list the compressor specs either, I'm sure that would have been on the old compressor itself.

As you suggest, going to experiment with some plastic shims on the tube. I've taken a bit of wire insulation off of a wire and have put it on the tube in two spots under the clamp to try an build it out slightly from the evaporator bracket and I'll share my findings. But as you say, I could also run into issues with the cycle defrost so it will be tricky.

Thanks again so much for the help

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Post# 1157532 , Reply# 13   8/21/2022 at 12:17 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        

Thought I would share a bit of an update on this. David I think you may have been correct about the newer compressor throwing off the replacement cold control. I tried several variations of mounting it on the existing clip, some plastic insulators etc and I would end up with the same result - the fridge would cycle off when the air in the fridge was too warm. So I finally got sick of messing around with that and just adjusted the calibration screw on the cold control about 1/3 of a turn CCW and that solved the problem. The fridge now cycles off at about 37 with the control in the middle position. The Gemline replacement cold control was actually built by Robertshaw and I took a picture of the adjustment screw in case anyone runs into this in the future

John, I also took your advice and installed a fan. I bought a Supco SM999 universal fan kit and a small fan blade to fit. The kit comes with all sorts of brackets and also a small plastic enclosure you can mount the fan in for certain applications. I mounted it into the plastic box and then mounted that onto an L bracket to the back of the fridge so it would face the side of the compressor.

Rather than splicing into the old wire that was going to the compressor terminals, I just bought some spade terminal splitters and put those on the compressor terminals so I could connect the fan with terminals. Worked good but the only thing is I can't fit the plastic cover over the compressor terminals anymore - I don't anticipate this will cause any problems but someone let me know if you think it may.

By wiring directly to the incoming electrical connection to the compressor, the fan cycles on and off with the compressor. I have to admit the fridge is much noisier now so I may look for a different fan blade. The motor I bought can accommodate either a 1/8 or 3/16 bore fan blade.

The fridge seems to operate well so far so may just be in luck. Thank you so much Ralph, John and David for the advice, I really appreciate it.

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Post# 1157675 , Reply# 14   8/23/2022 at 14:36 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Great job! That is wonderful that you got the thermostat working and gave that compressor a fan so that it will have a longer life.
Thanks for the follow-up.

Post# 1158731 , Reply# 15   9/5/2022 at 12:37 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        
Over frosting in the refrigerator compartment

So another update and a new issue that has surfaced. The fridge continues to maintain a nice temperature of about 35 which is good news. It does seem to cycle on and off more frequently than I'm used to but I think that may just be a product of the cycle defrost system this fridge uses.

The problem however is that after about a day of use, the first coil on the inlet side of the evaporator develops frost that doesn't melt away while the fridge cycles off. This frost then spreads, coil by coil over subsequent days to neighbouring coils all the way across. I've only let it get to the middle before manually shutting it off letting the frost melt. It starts off from warm with nice even frosting as you can see in the picture.

In the troubleshooting guide, GE points to a 6 watt heater WR51X37 clamped onto the inlet tube just before it enters the refrigerator section. When the fridge has cycled off I measure the whole fridge using 21.2 watts so something is working (I don't think I have a mullion heater on the door as shown in the wiring diagram - I think that may be for single door combinations). The butter conditioner doesn't get warm so I'm not sure that is contributing but if I feel the tube right where it enters the fridge during the off cycle before the frost starts to develop it doesn't feel warm at all. I'm guessing this may be the culprit (but admit I could be completely off track).

Of course, a search for WR51X37 turns up nothing so long ago NLA. There are various glass tube heaters available but no idea what the wattage is. There is also this small foil heater that Supco makes that is 6 watts - I wondering if anyone has any ideas if this could be adapted or if there would be a better substitute? It could be too that maybe with the different compressor, a 6 watt heater is no longer sufficient.

I know that one of the logical assumptions is also the door seals which I admit are probably not perfect but they do appear to make a decent seal so I'm not convinced that is what is going on but could be totally wrong too.

I've also included a photo with the back off that I took when I replaced the power cord with a grounding one. One thing that I did change when I did this was I did not have new permagum to seal the panel back. Instead I used Gardner Bender Duct Seal compound - similar to plumbers putty. It seemed to work well.

Appreciate any guidance anyone has in advance!


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Post# 1158741 , Reply# 16   9/5/2022 at 14:39 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
Frost not melting off on an older GE combination refrigerato

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Basically the thermostat is not keeping the compressor off long enough for the frost to melt.

Your refrigerator may or may not have had a little heater on the ends of the evaporator tubes coming and going from the refrigerator evaporator.

Even if it had a heater it may have failed after 65 years.

I would add that 6 W heater you found to the left side tube work comes into the refrigerator section. Leads from the heater are wired across the thermostat so the heater is on whenever the compressor is off.

From your picture number two it does show that your refrigerator has a Mullion heater between the doors of the refrigerator and freezer so That is probably the 20 W youíre seeing when the compressor is not running.


Post# 1158754 , Reply# 17   9/5/2022 at 16:00 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        

Thanks so much John. I will order a couple of those Supco 6W heaters and take the back off and see what I can do. There is another screw on the thermostat that has red paint over it - I'm thinking that might be the cut in adjustment? Maybe if the new heater doesn't work I suppose I could try and adjust that to have it cut-in a bit warmer if that is in fact an adjustment.

The reason I didn't think I had the mullion heater on the freezer as this is a two door model and there isn't any wire/coupling going from the cabinet to the freezer door on the hinge side like there is for the butter conditioner. I figured that maybe that mullion heater was for the single door combination that had the inner freezer door and its just a generic wiring diagram unless that mullion heater is someplace else. However if the butter conditioner isn't working then I don't know what else would be pulling the 20W. Even if those line heaters were working they wouldn't add up to 20W but I guess I might find out more when I get the back off and start playing around.

Thanks so much once again for the advice - this really gives me a good start.

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Post# 1158757 , Reply# 18   9/5/2022 at 16:12 by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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James, let me just say that I admire your determination and tenacity.  This is a refrigerator that is well worth saving, but you already knew that.


I do remember a bottom mount Coldspot that I had for a while used a mullion heater between the fresh and frozen sections.  All wiring was hidden since there was no door swing to accommodate like there is with a butter conditioner.

Post# 1158758 , Reply# 19   9/5/2022 at 16:19 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
Mullion Heater

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Yes as Ralph mentioned, the mullion heater on your ref is behind the part between the two doors where the gaskets contact the ref when doors are closed.


All two door refs had these, now almost all refs have a thin copper tube there that uses the waste heat from the condenser to save energy.


John L.

Post# 1158785 , Reply# 20   9/5/2022 at 19:13 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        

Thank you gentleman for explaining that. Makes perfect sense and then yes, that must be at why I'm getting the 20W reading. I'll let you know how things turn out once I get the heaters and the back opened up.

Ralph thanks for the encouragement. I have to admit, this one has been trying my patience. I'm not an appliance technician so I study and study and study old posts and service manuals to try and learn how these things work and figure this stuff out and sometimes feel like throwing in the towel. However, guidance from all of you folks have really helped and I guess I've been lucky so far. And you are right, this one is worth trying to save from the scrap heap - its almost a match for the stove that I fixed up last year that was also on its way to the dump that is now working great.

Thanks again


Post# 1160715 , Reply# 21   9/30/2022 at 14:32 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        
Part has arrived

The little 6W Supco heater has finally arrived and I have taken off the back panel of the fridge this morning. As suspected, the small line heater is present on both the inlet and outlet sides and not functioning on the inlet side where the frost pattern starts on the evaporator in the refrigerator compartment.

My next task is to find a way to attach the new heater with a different design onto the tube where the old one was. I can't use the existing clips and because the new one isn't rigid like the old one and need it to make good contact. The new heater has a peel off adhesive side but I don't think this will stick to the tube long term. I"m thinking some sort of wrap is the only way to go. I was thinking of one of these options below, either the silicone tape or the poly butyl product since neither use adhesive to stick. I think the temperature range should be adequate for this application but I'm certainly no expert. The poly butyl doesn't have the curing time the silicone one does and since I'm actively using this fridge it could be an issue. If anyone has any thoughts, I'm all ears!

Once I figure out how I'm attaching it I think I will have to fold it in half given the length is almost twice as long as the original and I don't want to mess with the existing permagum on either side

The heater on the outlet side appears to still be functioning so I'm going to leave well enough alone

You can see there has been some frost developing in the back around where the tube enters the fridge and making the surrounding insulation wet so I'm glad I'm getting this rectified.

Wish me luck!

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Post# 1160720 , Reply# 22   9/30/2022 at 15:32 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        

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Post# 1163297 , Reply# 23   11/6/2022 at 14:57 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        
Another Update

So I wanted to share an update on the installation of the new heater on the inlet side of evaporator. Its been about 5 weeks since I installed the new heater and no more frost whatsoever in the refrigerator section - I'm thrilled but still want to be cautious about declaring the win because I don't want to tempt fate.

For the benefit of those that may run into this problem in the future and are looking for a potential solution, as you can see from the pictures below, I ended up removing the permagum on either side of the old heater, used the adhesive backing on the new Supco foil heater to shape it to the tube and then used self-fusing silicone tape at either end to keep it in place in case the adhesive ever fails. I then reformed the permagum on either end of the tube where the new heater was placed and put everything back together. Now, during the off part of the cycle defrost, all the frost successfully melts away before the compressor starts again.

The fridge runs about 6 minutes on, 16 minutes off with a cut out around 35-36. From what I've read this seems to be about right for this type of cycle defrost fridge.

Thanks so much John for the guidance to install this new foil heater - seems to have worked like a charm.

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Post# 1163301 , Reply# 24   11/6/2022 at 15:09 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        

Now that the frost problem has potentially been figured out, I'm going to look into new gaskets. The old ones seem to seal OK but they are permanently stained, ugly and have lost some of their suppleness as the fiberglass insulation inside them has pretty much fully compressed over the years. The freezer gasket also has a few small tears in it.

I'm wondering if anyone has one of those old Gemline refrigeration catalogues that list the original and Gemline OEM replacement gaskets along with the profile type and dimensions - and they could look up for me the cross-reference data for this model? Id like to keep my eye out on eBay in case an original or aftermarket gasket for the fridge, freezer or both ever happens to show up.

Appreciate it in advance and thanks again to everyone for all your help thus far

Post# 1163303 , Reply# 25   11/6/2022 at 15:44 by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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James, while the Gemline gaskets would be ideal, they'll probably be tough to find.


Here's a link to a site that will likely have something that will match up with what's on your fridge:


Post# 1163343 , Reply# 26   11/6/2022 at 22:40 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        

Thanks so much Ralph - I have considered getting gaskets made but I thought I would watch for awhile too on eBay and see if anything turns up if I can figure out the part numbers. Although its a slim chance, it also amazes me what shows up on there from time to time.

But this resource is a good one for the custom gasket option so thanks again for pointing it out. I'll take a look and see if I can find something comparable

Post# 1163566 , Reply# 27   11/10/2022 at 07:17 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Thanks for the follow-up on how the new heater helped!

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