Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Vintage Appliance Maintenance


Frost should normally be present on coils and walls of freezer boxes. Ice buildup over time will need to be removed every 1-6 months depending on model and use. Overfilling freezer will increase timeframe.

1. Set temp to “defrost” or “off” and leave door open
2.   Set catch-pan up if present, or put a towel in bottom drawer
3.   Use bowls of boiling water set on shelf or a heat gun to separate large pieces of ice from walls
4.   Use ice scraper to break/scrape ice off into bowl or tray, but do NOT stab at ice, or punctures in parts may occur.
5.   When most of the ice is removed, dry excess water, turn temp back to original setting and close door.

Note: early automatic and self defrost models often still require defrosting just not as often.

Every 6 months, apply 2 drops of household oil into each “oil hole,” platter bearing, and into 3 beater holes.

Vintage Fridge Laws
You know those cool old handles on all these fridges that go "ka-chunk" when you open and close them? They're technically illegal! 

During the post war years a surprisingly high amount of young children were crawling into abandoned fridges and suffocating. They are self locking, air tight, and can only be opened from the outside. You can see how this would be a problem if a little boy found one while playing hide and seek.

It got to be such a common problem that in 1956 congress passed the "refrigerator safety act" which banned manufacturing the latching type handles. It went into effect Oct of 1958 and started the move to pressure latches and the modern magnetic latch. The actual law mandates that a refrigerator must be "able to be pushed open from the inside by a 10 year old boy." 

Though it solved any future problems, but there were still plenty of them being tossed into fields and junkyards every year. So many cities had posses that would roam around and find abandoned refrigerators and break the latches or otherwise make them safe. Also individual states made laws that made abandoning them without breaking the latches would be a crime. In Oklahoma is was actually a felony! 

All of these things put together drastically cut the accidental deaths to the point of non existence. Also there are so few latching refrigerators out there and they don't get abandoned now, the law is basically dead in the books. 

Surprisingly though, even as recently as 2013 in South Africa 3 kids got trapped in one! Word to the wise, don't abandon your fridge in a field and kill someone's kid!  

Rosie & Westinghouse

Look real close at the poster of Rosie and you'll see a button on her lapel. It's actually the Westinghouse company pin! 

What the world knows as the iconic Rosie the Riveter image was in fact one of a series of posters designed by 24-year-old artist J. Howard Miller for the Westinghouse Electric Co. for just two weeks. Fewer than 1,800 copies were printed, and the image — titled “We Can Do It!” — was mostly forgotten after its brief run in 1943, only to be rediscovered years later. In fact, the slogan was a regular Westinghouse saying. Every meeting before and after for awhile people would repeat the refrain as a production rallying cry. 
Norman Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter

The name Rosie the Riveter, however, first showed up the year before in a song by American composers Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. Norman Rockwell created his own iconic image of the female factory worker for the Memorial Day 1943 cover of the Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell’s painting is depicting “a somewhat more zaftig Rosie, modeled by a Vermont telephone operator, munching on a sandwich, rivet gun in her lap, foot squarely on a copy of Mein Kampf.” 

Westinghouse’s Rosie, however, was never meant to recruit women to the workforce during WW2.  "She’s not calling women to the factories — she’s telling the people who are already there to stop looking at posters, work harder and follow orders.” Another, encouraging shorter bathroom breaks saying, was as pointed as possible: “Killing time is killing men.”

The specifics of Rosie’s rediscovery are not altogether clear, though  the original Westinghouse image was reprinted in a 1982 Washington Post article and seems to have taken off from there.

Car Companies and Kitchen Appliances

Most refrigerator companies from the 1930s-60s were sort of  by-products from another industry. 

Ever wonder why they all have so much awesome chrome and body lines? It's because the same companies that made those awesome cruisers of yesteryear often put their minds to making kitchen appliances as well! 

If you have a Fridgidaire, you'll notice it will probably say "Fridgidaire by General Motors" on it somewhere. Fridgidaire was owned and operated by the General Motors company for a long time! Also International harvester made fridges with their nameplates on them as well. 

But less known is that the Kelvinator brand was produced by Nash Motor Company. And Philco fridges and radios were made by Ford, which explains why this Ford man likes em so much! 

Energy Hogging Vintage Appliances?

To answer the most common question I get: No, Antique fridges aren't the energy hogs people say they are. Sometimes switching can even make your energy bill go down. 

Let me explain. Besides long ago earning their initial carbon footprint, most pre 1960s fridges draw the same amount of power as modern ones. This is because frost free technology wasn't around yet, which invokes constantly heating and cooling the unit. The unit itself is usually smaller, which means less air to cool. And finally, the motor on these old beasts only turns on when the temp reaches the setting. If you aren't leaving the door open or opening it constantly, it stays cool for a surprisingly long time without the motor even turning on! This means no energy draw whatsoever most of the day. 

When we switched, our energy bill actually went down. There's only a few exceptions where they can in fact take a lot of energy:

1) You open the door constantly
2) You have a late 1950s or later model with a self defrosting option.
Or 3) and the most common, is that your door gasket cracked with age or is not sealing correctly and letting the cool air out constantly. 

Old cars, old appliances, and old things in general really can be "green" without you doing anything! And most of them have been pulling their weight faithfully for 60+ years!