Are vintage refrigerators pretty much bad?

Fori is not pleasedAugust 9, 2013

Are vintage (late '40s-1950s) fridges too inefficient or otherwise bad to consider using? (Obviously they have their size issues, but I can deal with that).


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America's oldest fridge (GE) still keeping cool

click link below

Here is a link that might be useful: LINK

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 10:30PM
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Fori is not pleased

Well I'm sure they'd keep stuff cool, but at what cost?

I prefer the space age models to the monitor tops (are they named after the ship?) for my home, but there aren't many efficiency data available. I'm sure you'd replace the seals and maybe the insulation but...hmm.... :)

Are they noisy? Nobody mentions that. Old people don't remember!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 10:41PM
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My dad has theirs from about 1950 still going in the basement. Someone I know collects old friges and he says they are not as inefficient as you would think. They don't have automatic defrost so that might help. You might also consider the cost of replacing a frig every 7-10 years and taking up space in a landfill. I was at an auction with the guy that collects and he bought a monitor top frig out of a basement running since the thirties. My dad is an electrical engineer. Ill ask him about the effeciency.

Here is a link that might be useful: My folks frig

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 11:05PM
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"Monitor" being a reference to the Civil war Union ironclad?

Possibly, but what they taught us in elementary school in Virgina half a century ago --- okay, they were still sore about losing the Civil War back then and the USS Monitor did clean the CSS Virginia's clock --- was that "monitor" was the term for the little cooling cupolas on top of barns.

Anway, vintage fridges strike me as having a certain contrarian appeal which seems to be that, if they've lasted this long, then ipso facto they must be better than anything existing now. Yeah, and maybe you want to use a Model T for your daily driving and really learn how to cook by using an old-fashioned coal stove, too.

But, ask yourself, how long did the old fridges keep salad greens from wilting? Or, conversely, how fast did you have to eat the greens? Thinking about using an old fashioned Coke machine as fridge, maybe?

And do you like really teeny, tiny freezers whose main function is freezing ice trays and maybe holding a couple packages of frozen corn and peas for a few days. And, how much do you like stepping on a door-opening foot pedal that may throw the door against youur knee-caps? (Yup, I'm actually old enough for that to have happened to me once. All the adults fell on the floor laughing, too.) And, I suppose you like manually defrosting the fridge and freezer and maybe as you think that civiilzation began a precipitous decline when kids no longer had to shovel ash out of wood and coal burning stoves, and nobody has really know how to cook since then. Etc. Etc. Etc. Ad infinitum et ad nausem.

But all that negative and hostile stuff having been said, the old fridges don't use a lot of power. My recollection is that the old monitor fridges used about 250 kWh per year where my current KA FD fridge and freezer uses at least double that.

Of course, the old beasts were only 5 or 7 cu. ft. capacity while my current unit has about 22 cu. ft. and I don't have to manually defrost it and I have a real freezer.

But, heck, if you want a smaller, old-fashioned fridge, have a look at the Sun Frosts. They are amazingly efficient. My off-the-grid friends tell me that 10 cu. ft. and 19 cu. ft. Sunfrosts can run off solar voltaic panels and use a pretty minimal 150 to 170 KWh per year. And they have real freezers.

Now, maybe I would be interested if you could sell me a working Einstein fridge. Those were really efficient. (I kid you not. Einstein and Leó Szilárd really did design and patent a very efficient fridge around 1930.)

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 11:51PM
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What do you mean by 'bad'?

What do you mean by 'vintage'? My current fridge is over 20yrs old. Does that make it vintage?

My memory of my grandmother's old GE is that it was rather noisy. No icemaker, besides those aluminum trays. And manual defrost.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 12:04AM
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My mom's frig had those rotating shelves so nothing got lost in the back. The butter keeper had its own thermostat. She bought groceries everyday at the neighborhood store and very little frozen food. I don't ever remember thinking it was too small. There were two vegetable drawers that she kept stuff like carrots and celery and recall things keeping at least a week or more. The freezer was small and got smaller until you defrosted it but it mostly had ice trays and maybe ice cream.
I can remember my grandmother getting a new "Frigidaire" in the sixties with a bottom freezer drawer and it seemed cavernous.

Here is a link that might be useful: Antique Refrigerators

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 7:39AM
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I have a 1950's GE Fridge in my garage. Food lasts longer and stays fresher due to manual defrost feature. It needs new seals and the "Freezer" is laughable but I am amazed at how much longer my overflow produce stays fresher.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 10:13AM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks all.

I suppose I should mention that I would not have a vintage (1940s-1950s) refrigerator as my only refrigerator/freezer. I already have a perfectly serviceable vintage (1990s) fridge and while it will probably be replaced with an ugly modern monstrosity in the upcoming remodel, I can see finding a place for a light duty fridge that was built to look good. I enjoy the styling of midcentury appliances (and I don't want to mess with the pilot lights on an old range, as cute as they are).

But if you've ever tried getting rid of a mattress or refrigerator (without buying a new one that includes removal service), you'll realize you should be darn sure you want it before you take it home.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 2:28PM
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Funny, reading this. I was just musing about my old 1964 Frigidaire Side by Side--and that for about 40 years, I never worried about celery. There was always serviceable celery, for months at a time. Now, celery goes bad in less than two weeks--to the point that I can't even throw it into a pot of stock. And I'm still in the habit of only buying it "once a Purim", i.e. rarely. It was not a manual defrost, but still kept vegetables fresh MUCH longer....

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 10:20PM
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Sorry, made a mistake in my previous post.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 10:22PM
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The I Love Lucy show refrigerators looked somewhat sizeable to me. At least 18 cf, maybe 20? They were a bit deep back then, I think.

I agree that modern appliances, with a few exceptions, don't have the style that older ones do. The heavy metal, the rounded corners, the chrome accents.

Vintage appliances might be a bear to have repaired, though. Finding parts and such.

There are places that make replica vintage appliances (Big Chill is one), but there is not an authorized service co. in my city. That's if I could afford to buy one (they're pricey). But they are awesome looking. I'd love to have one of those in my kitchen.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 12:52AM
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