Thread Number: 95283  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
Presenting the 1961 RCA Whirlpool Ultimatic. Another Gyromatic Production
[Down to Last]'s exclusive eBay Watch:
scroll >>> for more items --- [As an eBay Partner, eBay may compensate if you make a purchase using any link to eBay on this page]
Post# 1199296   2/14/2024 at 20:30 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        

swestoyz's profile picture
Hello AW family!

I have the honor of presenting something really fun here for everyone to enjoy. John E, or better known on AW as Gyromatic, asked if I could post his recent restoration of a 1961 RCA Whirlpool Ultimatic combination washer dryer. The first portion of the post will be focused on the finished product that includes photos and videos, as this is what most folks are here for.

Afterwards, Iíll get more into the back story of this particular machine that includes a major twist! And, I'll cap it off with some history I've learned about the overall 29" combo platform that I thought folks would enjoy reading.

  View Full Size

Post# 1199298 , Reply# 1   2/14/2024 at 20:34 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        
The finished product

swestoyz's profile picture
I dropped the Whirlpool off to John as a gift back in October 2023. John literally started working on it that same evening, and worked on it almost daily through January 2024. He took the machine apart completely, allowing him to clean every part. The drum was not packed full of too much lint, however the machine had a lot of hard water deposits and evidence of over sudsing.

After cleaning the overall structure of the machine John went to work on taking apart all mechanical items - pump assembly, transmission, motor, blower assembly, dispensers, water valve, various plumbing lines and fittings, etc. If something could be polished or rejuvenated, John touched it. Remarkably, the machine was cosmetically in perfect condition, with perfect chrome and almost perfect paint and porcelain finish on the top. Here are several photos of the finished product.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 17         View Full Size
Post# 1199300 , Reply# 2   2/14/2024 at 20:41 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        

swestoyz's profile picture
Here are handful of videos of the machine in operation. Take note of the clip that shows the balance mechanism in operation. As the base transfers vibration from the base frame up to the balance mechanism, a shutter directs water into the three balance chambers, filling them with water ballast as the drum rotates and attempts to speed up. The balance mechanism reduces the amount of air that is bleed from pneumatic clutch as it senses less and less vibration from the base.

There are also clips of the roto-spray wash action, as well as a great clip of the detergent dispenser throwing detergent out from the cup down into the drum! Lastly, enjoy the clips of the 525 RPM spin, quite possibly the only 29Ē combo with a functioning 525 RPM transmission!

Wash cycle - full machine shot

Wash cycle - detergent dispenser in action!

Wash cycle - close up shot

Rinse Cycle - first of three rinses

Slow motion rinse:

Tumble - low speed - high speed. You can hear the balance mechanism slowly decreasing the amount of air bleeding off to the clutch

Start of low speed - close up shot of the balance mechanism bleeding off air for the clutch to maintain a slower spin while it deflects water into the water baffles

Rear shot of the machine going into spin

Start of dry cycle:

Slow motion dry:

Post# 1199301 , Reply# 3   2/14/2024 at 20:45 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        
Mechanical Restoration - Part 1

swestoyz's profile picture
John does things right. He takes the machine apart and slowly works to restore each component, one at a time. This is how he is able to get both the outside and the inside of the machines looking better than factory new. Here are a few shots of individual items that he meticulously restored. One part of the restoration effort that I thought went above and beyond was re-lining the lint filter with felt, to ensure a proper seal around both the screen area as well as the handle. Brilliant!

John also was able to mold from the original and create new shifter diaphragms, located inside the transmission. The originals have gotten hard and no longer hold a seal, effectively leaving just about all 29Ē combos unable to spin. With Johnís efforts several late 60ís Kenmore combos have been revived, with this being the first Whirlpool!

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 16         View Full Size
Post# 1199302 , Reply# 4   2/14/2024 at 20:49 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        
Mechanical Restoration - The Assembly, Part 2

swestoyz's profile picture
Once everything was cleaned and the mechanical items restored, the machine then is reassembled. Once the basic parts of the machine were assembled he spent time ensuring that nothing leaked, and would go back and address any issues before moving forward.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 14         View Full Size
Post# 1199303 , Reply# 5   2/14/2024 at 20:50 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        
Mechanical Restoration - The Assembly, Part 3

swestoyz's profile picture
Continued... now all the smaller items are assembled.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 11         View Full Size
Post# 1199304 , Reply# 6   2/14/2024 at 20:58 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        
Mechanical Restoration - The Assembly, Part 4

swestoyz's profile picture
One item that could have thrown this project for a loop was figuring out what type of belt to use to power the blower. The very early lint filter conversion machines use a poly o-ring belt for the blower, vs. the micro groove v belt used on all 1963-1971 machines.

John ended up testing some 1/4" fuel line which proved could work and eventually made belts from this fantastic 1/4" belt material. He was able to "glue" the two ends together by heating them up with a heat gun and smashing them together.

With the belts figured out, John was able to tie up a few loose ends and finished the machine!

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 3         View Full Size
Post# 1199305 , Reply# 7   2/14/2024 at 21:00 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        
Action shots!

swestoyz's profile picture
It was exciting to watch John restore this machine. I'd get updates just about daily, and once he got to the point where he could fill the machine with water, I was in awe.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 8         View Full Size
Post# 1199306 , Reply# 8   2/14/2024 at 21:06 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        

swestoyz's profile picture
Machine History - with a twist!

Would you believe that there is a TWIN of this Whirlpool? Back in the late summer of 2020 I stumbled across a post on Facebook of a Philco washer that was looking for a new home out in western Nebraska. Within the photos of the Philco I could see the corner front right edge of the Whirlpool, and seeing the front trim and noticing that there was a dryer door on it I knew immediately what it was. I reached out to the poster and asked about the Whirlpool. He mentioned that he was keeping it, but also mentioned that there were TWO of them. I let him know that if he ever decided to sell one of them to contact me. Well, about a year later, he reached out and said he would be willing to sell both of them. I struck a deal for the pair and scheduled a weekend in February 2022 to drive to Omaha to pick up Greg on the way out to western Nebraska.

The story we were told was that the shop where the Philco was located was Nelson Furniture, in Valentine Nebraska. The furniture dealer also sold televisions and appliances, starting with Philco and switching over to Hotpoint once Ford pulled the plug on most of the majors in the early 70ís. Greg had gone out to Valentine earlier in 2021 to pick up the Philco, and talked to the original store owner. There was a Whirlpool dealer across the street and he believed that the Whirlpool shop had sold both combos new. The Philco turned Hotpoint dealer got both in on trade in the mid 70ís, and kept them and a few Philcos in the back storage room of the store ever since. The guy that posted the Philco to Facebook had gone to an auction at the store as the original owner was selling off assets and closing down what was left of the business. I believe a mint mid-60's turquoise Maytag 700 set came from this location, as well.

After chatting with the second owner for a few minutes we loaded the pair into a U-Haul trailer and drove back across Nebraska to Omaha. Of course, we hauled both into Gregís garage later that evening and hooked both up so we could turn the console lights on! After wiping off decades of dust, it was apparent that both were cosmetically in amazing condition, with the one that went to John E being a model 501 with the reset light, and the one I kept as the original model 500 without the reset light.

Once I got them back to Iowa I staged the model 500 Whirlpool next to my í61 Whirlpool washer in my recently finished wash studio. It didnít take long for me to decide that John E was the perfect person to take on the privilege of restoring the model 501, and Iíve decided to keep the 500. Now that John E has finished the restoration of his, it will be a combined effort between he and I restore the 500, sometime later this year.

Iíve included photos of the serial number tags of both. The 500 is serial number S 2013 34, with the 501 being S 5186 37. The S represents assembly in St Joseph, MI. What Iím unsure of is if the serial number is sequential along with Kenmores, or not. I suspect they are as the number on John Lís 1961 model 500 Kenmore is 1742 S 53, and his Lady Kenmore 800 being 15847 S 63. Quite possible Johnís 500 is the 1742nd 29Ē combo made, and the model 500 Whirlpool is 2013, with the last two numbers being either some week of year code or assembly line/shift indication? Purely speculation, but still pretty fun never-the-less.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 9         View Full Size
Post# 1199307 , Reply# 9   2/14/2024 at 21:15 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        
Platform History

swestoyz's profile picture
In September of 1960, Whirlpool and Sears introduced a brand new combination washer and dryer for the 1961 model year, sold under both the Kenmore and RCA Whirlpool lines. The new combination was a fully re-designed platform with the original 1957 Whirlpool combination design scrapped. The new ďhigh speedĒ combination was built around a smaller, 29Ē footprint, fitting into the existing cabinet of a 29Ē Whirlpool dryer, reducing the width from 33Ē and shaving the weight down, from 355 pounds to 280. What made the new platform special was the absence of an actual suspension and instead the machine utilized an incredibly effective water ballast balancing system, where the machine would inject recirculated water into three balance chambers around the outer diameter of the drum. Once balanced, the machine would allow a pneumatically actuated clutch within the transmission fully spin the drum at 525 RPM, matching the spin speed of the original Bendix Duomatic and increasing the spin from 200 RPM on the original 33Ē platform.

Whirlpoolís use of the unique water balancing system would also have mostly been driven by patents Bendix had locked down for the Duomatic. The Duomatic would have been covered by strong patents for having an effective suspension: a hanging assembly within a wrapper cabinet, using four springs at top and two hydraulic shocks at the base. Many other appliance manufactures struggled to design a a combination machine that could spin well and get around not using a patent compromising suspension. This led to many combination machines not spinning fast enough to allow the dryer potion of the machine to operate within reason.

By the summer of 1961 Whirlpool had an issue on their hands with the new 29Ē combination. The original machines handled dryer lint with a similar system to the 1959 - 1961 Lady Kenmore and model 80 dryers, using a high speed separator fan that was designed to send dryer lint through a collection chamber (dubbed the ďCyclone FilterĒ), and would get flushed out using water and drained out of the machine using the drain pump. While on paper the design may have seemed effective, in reality the machines were getting plugged up with lint out in the field. By the fall of 1961 Whirlpool and Sears had a major repair campaign that would replace several components on all three Sears models and revisions (800-801-802/500/100), and the one Whirlpool model with a revision (500/501) with a lint filter blower system. The porcelain top, blower assembly w/ new lint filter, pump assembly, partial wiring harness, the upper portion of the back panel, contractor for the Electric versions, detergent dispenser assembly, the misc. smaller items were replaced. Once converted, Whirlpool reported a 90% decrease in lint related issues, of which they considered a success in solving the original lint packing issue. The machine also no longer ran the pump during dry as the pump assembly was redesigned to shift the pump drive belt to drive the blower belt via and idler pulley on the pump shaft. The pump also no longer needed to run during the dry cycle to handle the flushing of the Cyclone Filter.

More improvements came for the new 1963 model year, with a revised transmission assembly that reduced the high speed spin to 400 RPM, as well as a redesigned drum that was narrowed slightly and slight revisions to the base, detergent dispenser, and wash filter. The reduction in RPM speed and other changes were done to decrease walking and stabilization issues on wooden floors. The change in RPM speed also improved the transmission assembly, with an improved rubber diaphragm used to more effectively shift or modulate the air clutch, and a switch over to phenolic gears for the high speed spin that helped reduce transmission noise during high speed. The detergent dispenser updates were done to fill the detergent reservoir with recirculated water, rather than a direct line run from the water valve. The clean out drain trap in the drum was replaced by a maze filter located behind the kick panel. By 1965 there were revisions done to the rear leveling legs to further help with stabilization during spin, and small improvements made through the final model released by Sears in 1971. Whirlpool dropped the combination after the 1963 model year, however John L believes Whirlpool may have sold this model for several years after 1963.

The 1961 Whirlpool model panel was a carry over design from the 1959/1960 Mark XII models, with the 1961 Lady Kenmore 800-801-802 carrying over the 1961 Kenmore Model 70 panel design, and 1961 500 combo carrying over the 500 series panel design. For 1963, the Whirlpool carried over the new 1963 LKA 9920 panel redesign, with Sears starting the lagging design pattern by carrying over the 1962 4-Star 800/Lady Kenmore panel. The 1965 models carry over the 1963 Lady Kenmore 800 panel design, with the 1967 models seeing a slight refresh of the original 1963 Lady Kenmore design. By 1969, the Lady Kenmore looked similar to the 1969 Lady Kenmore washer line, and the last model, the 1971 line, carries over the frame of the 1969 Lady Kenmore but incorporates a new push to start button and a "New Feminine Escutcheon with Polished Chrome BezelĒ, or whatever that means.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 11         View Full Size
Post# 1199308 , Reply# 10   2/14/2024 at 21:19 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        
I'm sure I'm forgetting something...

swestoyz's profile picture
Hopefully everyone has enjoyed the photos and videos that John had put together, documenting his journey on restoring an incredible and rare piece of appliance history. I wouldn't be surprised if Whirlpool came knocking on his door to see it... ;)

Thanks again John, for taking the time to restore this washer. And thank you for allowing me to post your journey and efforts here on AW, to share with everyone!


  View Full Size
Post# 1199310 , Reply# 11   2/14/2024 at 21:59 by Delco1946 (Oregon)        

Very impressive! How on earth is everything so clean? What sorta tools and equipment does John have? Quite professional results, Iím in Aw.

Post# 1199312 , Reply# 12   2/14/2024 at 22:02 by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, Friesland, the Netherlands)        

foraloysius's profile picture
Such a wonderful restoration John! And thank you Ben for sharing the pictures, videos and background information. Fascinating read!

Post# 1199318 , Reply# 13   2/15/2024 at 00:21 by bigalsf (Salt Lake City)        
Blown Away!!

Wow!  That is an exceptional renovation!  To say I'm envious is an understatement...that has been a dream machine of mine for a long time!  It is absolutely gorgeous!  Thank you Ben for sharing, and thank you John for detailing the work done. It is stunning! 


I had two Kenmore models (a '68 electric & a '69 gas) many years ago; they were lost somewhere in a cross country move (which is ironically how I found this site while looking for them!).  A few years ago I acquired a 1970 Kenmore model that I have yet to work on; the transmission won't shift to hi-spin and I'm pretty sure the clutch is the culprit.  I figured all was lost, but now i'm inspired to get on it!  John,  do you accept transmissions for repair? (seriously)


So many things come full circle...the motor to transmisson coupling used here was resurrected with the design of the direct drive platform.  The "Filter Stream Washing" concept has been resurrected with some LG front loader models (mine included!).  These were great machines once they were converted to standard venting (rather than the seperator).   And relatively fast thanks to the high speed spin.  Loads usually finished in 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, about the same as seperate machines.  


Congratulations again!  Great pics!  :)

Post# 1199319 , Reply# 14   2/15/2024 at 00:21 by Repairguy (Danbury, Texas)        

repairguy's profile picture
Congrats on a beautiful restoration of a rare machine these days.

Post# 1199320 , Reply# 15   2/15/2024 at 02:47 by Slowspin66 (lincoln uk)        
An amazing story

slowspin66's profile picture
Ben this is fantastic thread and the wonderful story of these amazing machines .. Iím
Always fascinated with the back storyline to machines but this is incredible . Iíve seen and lived some of Johns restoration projects but this is absolutely breathtaking as the machine looks better than when it was new !!!
Iím sure your machine will be just as good Ö totally amazing and thanks for such a detailed well planned thread Ö you could write a book !!!!! Best wishes Darren

Post# 1199324 , Reply# 16   2/15/2024 at 06:06 by christfr (st louis mo)        

christfr's profile picture
sweet sweet sweet. awesome.. love it

Post# 1199326 , Reply# 17   2/15/2024 at 06:31 by peteski50 (New York)        

peteski50's profile picture
This is a incredible restoration - such a awsome combo!
Thanks for sharing all the great details and videos

Post# 1199327 , Reply# 18   2/15/2024 at 07:00 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
What a nice read to wake up to

combo52's profile picture
Ben, thanks so much for posting this and there arenít enough. Good words to thank John for doing this, I knew this was coming. Iíve been talking to John along the way helping where possible.

I have long dreamed of putting together one of the original lint separation machines, I think Iím going to convert my 61 lady Kenmore or the gas 61 Kenmore 500 machine to lint separation operation. I have one of these 61 whirlpool combinations that was brought back from Aberdeen South Dakota that was never converted to the lint filter system, and Iím going to use components from it to convert one of the Kenmoreís back to its original design.

In addition to not having to empty your dryer, lint filter, the original lint separation machines also heated the wash water with either the electric heaters or the gas burner for a hotter wash temperature., They were able to do this in the original design, because the blower ran all the time and they could fire up the gas burner or turn on the electric heaters, and the superheated air was blown through as the thing was washing. They also could run the heaters or gas burner as the machine was in the final spin to start preheating the machine for faster trying performance, so things were pretty hot by the time it finished spinning, and the clothing started tumbling to dry.


Post# 1199330 , Reply# 19   2/15/2024 at 07:45 by marky_mark (From Liverpool. Now living in Palm Springs and Dublin)        

marky_mark's profile picture
Wow! What an amazing, meticulous restoration. I'm in awe. A beautiful machine.


Post# 1199332 , Reply# 20   2/15/2024 at 08:08 by chestermikeuk (Rainhill *Home of the RailwayTrials* Merseyside,UK)        
RCA Whirlpool

chestermikeuk's profile picture
Hello Ben & John - Well what great finds and complete restorations you guys, love it when a glimpse of a washer on a picture can lead to all of this.

Very innovative with that swirly detergent dispenser, balance ballast tanks , empty pump and the lint fan spinner seperator which I would love to see and hear more of !!

Congratulations John on this meticulous restore and Ben for capturing the story, history & timelinr for posterity .

Cheers, Mike

ps, if you spun the wet clothing in a separate spin dryer and put them back in to dry how long would they take to dry on low heat as opposed to the original slow spin ?

Post# 1199341 , Reply# 21   2/15/2024 at 09:44 by jons1077 (Vancouver, Washington, USA)        

jons1077's profile picture
Stunning restoration! Really amazing work!

Post# 1199345 , Reply# 22   2/15/2024 at 10:49 by Golittlesport (California)        

golittlesport's profile picture
Thank you so much for posting the pics and videos and all the information. Beautiful machine and fantastic restoration!

Post# 1199370 , Reply# 23   2/15/2024 at 14:58 by appnut (TX)        

appnut's profile picture
As usual, I'm in awe of John's restoration prowess, but that is his "normal".

I couldn't read on the panel, but what's the cycle names for #9 and #10. And sounds just like the LK that was next door (as one would expect).

Post# 1199373 , Reply# 24   2/15/2024 at 15:40 by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        
Holy Smokes!!

kb0nes's profile picture
Such a wonderful story, a simply amazing restoration and a fabulous post to share it all. Kudos to both Ben and John E for sharing the story and journey of this machine.

I will reach out to John as I would like to sometime capture high resolution audio from a cycle to accompany a video.


Post# 1199379 , Reply# 25   2/15/2024 at 16:50 by Launderess (Quiet Please, Thereīs a Lady on Stage)        
I am just stunned. Stunned is the only word I can use

launderess's profile picture
To describe how, stunned, I am....

Great work and excellent video play by play along with narrative.

Congrats on job well done..

Post# 1199382 , Reply# 26   2/15/2024 at 17:18 by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        
Nobody does it better ~

mickeyd's profile picture
This is simply encyclopedic or magazine worthy, and the engineering for me is actually dizzying: the three chamber ballast, the spinning flushing detergent chamber--am I seeing things?! Look at how high up the load rides in the tub because of the very first, very low water level, washing machine. As Big Al noted, LG did a total copycat--what a smart move and good for them.

This is just so beautiful and uplifting to see such a magnificent machine matched only by the talent of the two producers, John and Ben. The actions shots are fabulous, #7 made my heart pound, and #8 is a glimpse of heaven.

Can not overlook, in the very opening volley, the punking of the anti-coldwater vaxers, with that striking giant green and white box of Cold Power, LOL ;'D

With this masterpiece, you guys took my breath away. May I please have your autographs?

If you have time for questions: Is the first rinse a flush?

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 2         View Full Size
Post# 1199400 , Reply# 27   2/15/2024 at 23:04 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        
Beautiful Restoration. Thanks John and Ben!

When I worked at the hospital in the summer of 1968, that machine was in the central services department and was used to wash latex gloves. I only saw it once when as newbies we were given a tour of the hospital. I asked someone who worked there when it was used and she said, "at night." I never got to see it in operation since I worked 6-3.
This used the timer like the Lady Kenmore Combo with the dry part of the cycle was in the same timer. John had service literature for the 29" WP combos, but none of the bulletins dealt with this model.

The spin out detergent dispenser was a feature that enabled the use of liquid detergents which Sears sold at that time.

This post was last edited 02/15/2024 at 23:24
Post# 1199425 , Reply# 28   2/16/2024 at 07:48 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        

swestoyz's profile picture
Bob - here are some additional shots of the program guide and timer chart that describes each of the push button functions. Wash Only and Dry Only are cycle modifiers, rather than a program function.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 4         View Full Size
Post# 1199426 , Reply# 29   2/16/2024 at 07:49 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        

swestoyz's profile picture
...and, here is the timer chart for the 500 in original form, with the original Cyclone Filter/lint separator system, as well as the timer chart for a converted 802, with notes on what machine functions change with the lint filter conversion kit.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 2         View Full Size
Post# 1199431 , Reply# 30   2/16/2024 at 09:46 by Unimatic1140 (Minneapolis)        

unimatic1140's profile picture
Wow it's just beautiful John, after your restoration it looks like it just came right out of the crate! Thanks Ben for making this great post. Looking forward to seeing this machine run.

Post# 1199443 , Reply# 31   2/16/2024 at 11:54 by appnut (TX)        

appnut's profile picture
Ben, thank you. Wonderful information several of us covet. Bob

Post# 1199444 , Reply# 32   2/16/2024 at 13:17 by qsd-dan (West)        

qsd-dan's profile picture
Attention to detail is second to none!!

Post# 1199617 , Reply# 33   2/18/2024 at 13:25 by Gyrafoam (Wytheville, VA)        
Thanks, Ben------

Very interesting. It only took me one visit to John E's house to see that he is meticulous at his restorations. Every machine that I saw in his collection is like new.

Post# 1199673 , Reply# 34   2/19/2024 at 10:36 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
Rebuilding my 1971 lady Kenmore combination

combo52's profile picture
Hi everyone, Johnís magnificent work on the 61 whirlpool has encouraged me to finally finish up my 71 lady Kenmore combination.

My brother and I picked up this combination back in 1980. It was not even 10 years old. It has been in storage ever since, it was one of the last ones Made it was made the last month in September 1971 Whirlpool built the 29 inch combination washer dryer. This machine had a fairly good mineral buildup from poor detergent usage habits, it also had a transmission that had locked up from sitting so many years I am putting it back into service and converting it to gas.

I started on this project over a year ago, but have not been doing much work at the home shop, but itís taking shape pretty quickly now Iíll try to post some pictures.

Wondering if anybody else has a 29 inch whirlpool built combo that is currently in working condition, John E has two of them, we have one at the museum, John Charles has one in Massachusetts .

I know thereís a few other out there, but Iím not sure of any other machines are in working shape.

John E performed the most miraculous task when he figured out how to actually fix the transmission Bello I have never seen such an intricate operation performed successfully, he should get the AW award of the year. If not the lifetime achievement award for figuring this out.

to actually fix the transmission Bello I have never seen such a intricate operation performed successfully, he should get the AW award of the year. If not the lifetime achievement award for figuring this out.

If anybody has a 29 inch combo that they need help with. I have lots of parts, mostly used, but some new as well for these machines or if you need help with figuring out what to do get in touch.

These machines have long been my favorite vintage laundry, Appliance. Iíve often said that if I could only have one vintage laundry, Appliance, it would be one of these combinations. This was the most incredible engineering achievement when Whirlpool brought this machine out I canít think of another washer dryer product That had so much advanced engineering in it even to this day.

I think the next closest machine with this much advanced engineering was the whirlpool Calypso top load washer.

Many thanks Ben for the cycle sequence chart for the original 61 whirlpool combination. I love the fact that it normally heats the water during wash, but also starts drying in the second phase of high-speed spinning. My goal is to put one of my 61 Kenmore combination back into the original lens separation mode and incorporate these features in it for the museum.


Post# 1199676 , Reply# 35   2/19/2024 at 11:03 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
A few pictures of the 71 lady Kenmore combination

combo52's profile picture
This is progress so far itís going back together it will not be as meticulously, polished and internally detailed as John Es machine but I do strive for perfection when it comes to mechanical condition, I expect this machine to run 10 to 30 years with virtually no problems in my home laundry room, where it will only see a couple loads of use.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 6         View Full Size
Post# 1199707 , Reply# 36   2/19/2024 at 17:47 by Repairguy (Danbury, Texas)        

repairguy's profile picture
Glad youíre inspired to finish that project John. I have a 1965 model Lady Kenmore combo that I believe was built in 1967. Itís supposed to work but I never tried it and itís been sitting for several years now.

Post# 1199748 , Reply# 37   2/20/2024 at 08:41 by Helicaldrive (St. Louis)        

Thank you so much for taking the time to share!

Makes it like the old days when someone was always restoring machines from the 50s and 60s.

That one, though, is truly one of the most attractive ever. If only they still made them like that, with heavy, shiny porcelain, chrome, milk glass and fluorescent lighting.

Itís amazing the clothes never tangle or ball up despite the lack of reversing.

Post# 1199762 , Reply# 38   2/20/2024 at 12:46 by mickeyd (Hamburg NY)        
Thank You ~

mickeyd's profile picture
The charts are so enlightening, Ben; indeed there is a one-minute flush rinse they call a cool-down, but what has me dumbfounded is the short dry time: if you add up all the segments, they total 18 minutes! Am I reading right? The combo dries in a flash! Boggles the mind. How did these miraculous beasts ever become extinct!?

Post# 1199768 , Reply# 39   2/20/2024 at 14:01 by appnut (TX)        

appnut's profile picture
Michael, I know my neighbor's 1964/1965 LK Combo dried as an auto dry--thermostatic dry. There was a slide lever just under the console on the left side that she always had set to maximum level of dryness.

Post# 1199772 , Reply# 40   2/20/2024 at 14:51 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        
The combo dries in a flash!

swestoyz's profile picture
Not quite. The cycling and compensator thermostats also control the timer motor, similar to a thermostatic auto dry cycle on a dryer but differs as this is an automatic washer timer. It needs to advance through any remaining intervals left within the dry cycle once the thermostats are fully satisfied/no longer cycling.

I should have also included the cycle of operation list, as well as the timer chart. IIRC, John E ran a load of towels through the Whirlpool, and without spinning the load in an extractor afterward, it took about 40 minutes for the dry cycle to complete.

To Bob's point above, the lint screen converted machines and later had a dryness control, although the '61 models had it inconveniently located on the back panel post conversion, with the '63 and later machines having the control located on the panel.

FYI - T.W.V = two way valve


  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 2         View Full Size
Post# 1199775 , Reply# 41   2/20/2024 at 15:23 by appnut (TX)        

appnut's profile picture
Bin, thank you for the explanation period I always wondered why the late 50s early 60s, lady Kim Moore's had the dryness level selector on the back of the control panel facing the wall. Of course , I wasn't aware of any of that until I downloaded one or two user manuals.

Post# 1199776 , Reply# 42   2/20/2024 at 15:36 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        
Bonus points ---

swestoyz's profile picture
Yes! With the revised upper panel for the lint screen conversion machines, they stashed the added dryness control here, conveniently located for adjustment.

Bonus points for anyone who can identify what brand/year/series this knob was used on!

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 2         View Full Size
Post# 1199780 , Reply# 43   2/20/2024 at 16:14 by Appliguy (Oakton Va.)        
ok I'll be the first to hazard guess....

appliguy's profile picture
Was that knob used on some 1958 Kenmore washers? To me it looks like the ones used on the 4 Star Kenmore and Lady Kenmore washers for 1958 PATRICK COFFEY

Post# 1199803 , Reply# 44   2/20/2024 at 19:20 by neptunebob (Pittsburgh, PA)        
All of this complexity just begs the question...

neptunebob's profile picture
I know the story of how Philco-Bendix patented everything about a washer/dryer and how if Whirlpool had bought them the world of laundry would have been much different. But it then begs the question, why didn't Sears just source a Kenmore version of the machine from Philco-Bendix, especially after Whirlpool stopped making them under their own label in 1964? Again, the world of laundry might have been different had that happened and these units might have been more popular. When did these patents expire, as it had to be some time before today with the GE and LG combinations now.

Post# 1199805 , Reply# 45   2/20/2024 at 19:47 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

Bob, that was likely because Sears owned controlling interest in Whirlpool at that time.

Post# 1199812 , Reply# 46   2/20/2024 at 21:03 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
29 inch whirlpool built combination washer, dryer features

combo52's profile picture

The dry control was added when they made a major redesign of the 61 combination to the back of the machine because they didnít want to redesign the looks of the control panel and it was a clever place to put it. The dryness control was there so the machine could be customized to the desire of the user for the level of dryness they preferred, the setting also had something to do with the length of ductwork that the machine was operating with.

Of the several Kenmore combinations Iíve had some for as long as 30 years in regular use. I never had to set the control any higher than the normal setting and you never changed it from low to load, Bob doesnít surprise me that you had a neighbor that said it to maximum dry. I saw several in the field where people just put it on maximum dry figuring it would drive faster or better and we still see that with auto dry dryers today people put it on more dry or extra dry Without really needing to do so.

When the machines were built from the factory with a dryness control, they did have one model where it was right on the control panel others. It was hidden under the lint, filter door, etc..

Note that there were several top-of-the-line Kenmore dryers that also had the dryness control on the back of the machine because again it was only intended for an initial adjustment to please the owner and to make up for the installation because of exhaust duct, etc.

I count six of these machines that are in perfect working order that are in use right now thereís maybe a dozen or two dozen more in the hands of fellow collectors that can be repaired now that John E has perfected a way to repair the transmission.

The combination washer dryer failed for many reasons, not the least of which repair people even like myself badmouthed them back in the day because of complexity. My momĎs best friend and my kindergarten teacher wanted to get one of these combination washer dryers back in the late 60s because she didnít think she had room for a dryer and I remember as a young child back when I knew everything told her not to get one theyíre nothing but trouble I was repeating what I had heard regretted that later she wouldíve been a fine owner of this great machine.

Combination, washer dryers were introduced too soon the public wasnít ready for something this convenient, because the sales were very poor manufactures did not have the money to redesign them, all initial automatic washers had to be heavily redesigned to be successful, only Philco Bendix, and whirlpool redesigned their combination machines to any significant degree, GE continued to build them the longest and did work out a lot of bugs, but it was not a substantially improved machine.

The last US combination washer dryers rolled off the line around 1972, that was just about the time the baby boom generation was coming of age and family size was declining radically , and people started to expect laundry appliances in their condominiums apartments, etc.. They literally stopped making them right when they shouldíve started selling like crazy.

Full-size combination. Washer dryers are now finally becoming a reality. It will probably take five or 10 years before they make a significant dent in washer and dryer sales.


Post# 1199822 , Reply# 47   2/20/2024 at 23:42 by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        

maytag85's profile picture
I am not certain if this is correct, but my guess is the reason why Whirlpool stopped making the combination is because they introduced their thin twin machines in the late 60ís which could be stacked with the optional stacking kit or could be used as stand alone automatics. Whirlpool figured it would be much, much cheaper to make the thin twin/portable models which only had a 24Ē wide footprint (at least with the models produced in 1975/1976) along with there being a lot less complexity as well. Capacity was definitely on the smaller side, but otherwise could accomplish the same thing as a combination washer dryer, only caveat would be you would have to switch the clothes over to the dryer.

I also believe the thin twin machines replaced the wringer machines as well since it could serve the same thing as a wringer, but in a compact automatic washer. A compact belt drive may have been slightly more than a wringer but Whirlpool probably figured people would rather spend a few more dollars for a compact automatic washer that took the same footprint and portability as a wringer.

Not sure if those observations are correct, but could very well be a possibility. John more than likely knows a little more about that since he was repairing and serving machines back in the 70ís and 80ís.

Post# 1199829 , Reply# 48   2/21/2024 at 06:27 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
Reasons why the combinations went out of production

combo52's profile picture
There are many reasons will probably never know the exact reason, but I think they simply cost too much to build. They probably never made money on them.

Their timing was probably good to stop in the early 70s and that we went into a major recession and Inflationary period in the 70s and that mightíve killed them anyway they wouldíve become very costly.

Hi Sean, the whirlpool Finn twin didnít come out until 1984 although they did make some stacking kits where you could stack their compact 24 inch laundry throughout the 70s And we space was tight. They did serve the purpose of a laundry in a smaller space.

Westinghouse introduced their stacked front load pairs in 1957 and they quickly started touting them as an alternative to the combination. Washer dryer, they discontinue their combination in the mid 60s may be a little sooner.

The only major player in the laundry industry was Frigidaire and they never introduced a combination washer dryer. They introduced their 24 inch skinny mini and 1969 and it captured some of the market that combination washer dryer might have taken.

When my brother Jeff and I started this business, we did all the service on a 400 unit condominium development in Greenbelt Maryland that all built with general electric combination washer dryers, it was built between 67 and 1971 and we kept those machines running for quite a few years.

A lot of people did not like the GE combos they took a long time and they got quite hot. I always remember one customer who got rid of the GE combo and went and bought a skinny mini in the later 70s she hated the GE and it had broken down again and she said if you wouldíve told me, there was anything worse than that GE combo I would not have believed you until I got the skinny mini what a piece of junk she said.

I remember another lady in that complex who had the GE combo and her boyfriend was a carpenter, and she accidentally washed some of his pants with 3 inch nails in the pockets and one of the nails cut through the heating element, which is a very serious repair on a GE combo.

She was a middle-aged woman and she said I had used a lot of washing machines in my life, but I never had anything that cleaned like this GE she loved the machine. She was very disappointed when we told her how much it would cost to tear that machine completely apart to fix it .


Post# 1199986 , Reply# 49   2/23/2024 at 07:23 by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

gansky1's profile picture



It's always a treat to see machines that John has restored, they take your breath away.  I can't wait to see this one in action, he's outdone himself again.

Post# 1200069 , Reply# 50   2/24/2024 at 10:55 by 114jwh (Vancouver)        

What an incredible restoration - John you are a true craftsman. I can't even imagine the effort and ingenuity you must have put into getting to this end result. Congratulations on this stunning rebuild and Ben thank you for sharing!

Its remarkable how similar the control panel is to the 1960 TOL belt drive I'm currently working on. Personal preference but I think this style of control panel is one of the most unique and nicest of the early belt drives.

I always wondered if these combos of the 50's & 60's were marketed towards a consumer who primarily still (and preferred) to use a clothesline to dry clothes. I've seen several examples over the years of matching sets where the washer was used to death and the dryer is practically brand new. For someone with preferences like this and needs a new washer, I think a combo is a perfect solution - you get a washer and also the functionality of a dryer in the off chance you ever happen to need it without having to sacrifice the real estate of a full set.


Forum Index:       Other Forums:                      

Comes to the Rescue!

The Discuss-o-Mat has stopped, buzzer is sounding!!!
If you would like to reply to this thread please log-in...

Discuss-O-MAT Log-In

New Members
Click Here To Sign Up.

Discuss-o-Mat Forums
Vintage Brochures, Service and Owners Manuals
Fun Vintage Washer Ephemera
See It Wash!
Video Downloads
Audio Downloads
Picture of the Day
Patent of the Day
Photos of our Collections
The Old Aberdeen Farm
Vintage Service Manuals
Vintage washer/dryer/dishwasher to sell?
Technical/service questions?
Looking for Parts?
Website related questions?
Digital Millennium Copyright Act Policy
Our Privacy Policy