In Grandmother's estimation, if there was a perfume called "scent of satisfaction, " its fragrance would be that of a huge pile of just-finished laundry.
Indeed it was satisfying to have the chore of Mondays done, and to be able to sit down, have a cup of tea and just relax for a bit. During her tenured term of doing laundry, from about to , Grandma had spanned the Washing Machine age, during which a great majority of the innovation in laundry devices was made.
Before the late 's there were relatively few factory-made laundry devices which had multiple moving parts. Since , few notable changes have occurred in the way washing is done. With modern plumbing we no longer have to heat the water on the old cook stove, pour it in the washer and rinse tubs, then after the wash, haul it outside.
In rural areas, before REA electrical distribution services became available, the farmer would usually have to stay around the house for awhile on Monday morning to get the old kick-start, 2-cycle gasoline washing machine engine running. Many of this older, and experienced generation can produce evidence, in the form of scars, which attest to past dangers of using a wringer washing machine.
Technology has taken us a fair way from the rock, used to pound the clothes at the river bank, to the modern rectangular shaped white box with appropriate buttons for permanent press and delicate fabrics. What would grandma have thought if she were given the choice of "delicate" or "permanent press"?
Certainly the pair of bib-overalls that had been on granddad for the past week, or two, would not have fit within either category. The marvelous way of how we got from the rock to the big white box has gone almost unnoticed. There is little literature on the subject, nor is there any comprehensive museum display of the evolution of the washing machine.
Except for Maytag, there has been minimal corporate interest in maintaining historical archives. The Jasper County museum, Newton , Iowa houses an excellent collection of Maytag washing machines along with some 20 other washers produced by local manufacturers. Washing machines do not have the allure of other old mechanical relics such as cars, tractors, internal combustion engines or gasoline pumps, where, for each, there are literally hundreds of proud and enthusiastic collectors.
Gimmicks and Their Downsides
With rare exception, antique dealers avoid washing machines like the plague. At least one contemporary antique columnist has claimed washing machines to be little more than "junque".
Could it be that the washing machine is "antiquities'' ugly duckling"? The reader will, I hope, agree that the "almost-antiseptic" washing machines of today don't have nearly the charm nor the character, albeit hazardous character, of those our grandmothers used.
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Our presentation herein is focused on the elegant washing machines which were powered either with gasoline engines or electric motors and were in use from In there were over companies producing washers, and it is feasible here to show only a sampling of the myriad designs and shapes produced. Indeed, there is a lot more to see. Prior to most washing machines were "people powered". There were, however, some attempts to ease "women's work" with the use of water, steam or animal power to drive the washing machine.
With the advent of the internal combustion engine and especially the electric motor along with electric distribution systems, powered washing machines began to proliferate. Among the early electric powered machines to be mass produced was the Thor washer of Fig.
Features of this machine, made by the Hurley Machine Company of Chicago , ca. The drum turns 8 revolutions in one direction, then reverses. A control on the lower left side of the machine engages the clutch to start the rotation.
A lever, on the top right side, provides forward and reverse control for the chain driven wringer. At the time when this machine was manufactured, safety releases for wringers were not yet perfected. And, since most electric machines did not have on-off switches, if a finger or some other part of the anatomy were caught in the wringer one would have to grab the electric cord and yank it out of the outlet.
Some cords had a terminal which could be screwed into a light socket, and even with vigorous yanking you could not have easily stopped the wringer from swallowing your entire arm.
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One day, I was explaining to a group how dangerous the machines could be. A lady leaned over and shyly demonstrated the 2-inch diameter scar on the top of her head.
As a young girl, she had been helping her mother do the laundry when the wringer caught one of her long braids and proceeded to scalp her! Featuring very rudimentary gearing, the machine maker unknown , of Fig 2. A safety feature is provided by the lever on the lid of the tub as it disengages the clutch, thereby stopping the agitator when the lid is opened.
Before I found it, this machine had been sitting outside behind Tom Coffee's hardware store in Vienna , Missouri for some 50 years. Besides being half buried, it had a tree, 8" in diameter, growing up through its angle iron frame.
I yet believe Tom had been waiting all those years for some one like me to come along and saw down that old unwanted tree. The Red Electric, Fig. Most machines of this early 's vintage have the agitator powered from above, through the lid of the tub.
This machine had been used by one of the mining families of Leadville , Colorado. November 12, is the last patent date shown on the Judd rocker washing machine of Fig 4. Rocker-type machines became popular in the early 's and over twenty companies produced them. The Judd washer with no wringer safety release, a number of unshielded gears and pulleys along with a top-mounted electric motor with non-insulated terminals, and no hint of electrical grounding, would have, at least today, surely made some consumer safety group sit up and take notice.
The Meadows belt driven machine of Fig. A stationary gasoline "hit and miss" engine would have been used to power this machine. The washing machine along with the engine belted to it would have been operated outdoors or in a separate wash house.
Although, some back porches were equipped with line shafts having a number of different pulley sizes, like blacksmith shops, whereby appliances like cream separators, butter churns as well as washing machines could be belt driven by an engine located outside the house.
A pair of foot pedals at each end of the Meadows machine serve as forward and reverse controls for the wringer. The wringer is mounted on a frame which slides along a track allowing the wringer to be positioned either at the wash tub or at the rinse tub.
Pedal Operated Washing Machine Mechanical Engineering Project
The "electric motor washer", Fig. This machine features a fixed agitator and an oscillating wooden tub. A single lever on the wringer post serves as the sole control for this machine. In one position the tub oscillates while in the other, the wringer turns. This is a rare example whereby the wringer, on a powered machine, is allowed to rotate only in a single direction.
What a wonderfully gallant thought! The double tub Women's Friend machine, shown in Fig. Double tub machines, such as this, were made to decrease the time required to do the laundry.
They were especially popular in those families having more than several children. The drive mechanisms for the agitators are reminiscent of the pitman rods used in hay mowers. Grease cups on the tub lids provided lubrication for the agitator shafts. Can you imagine keeping the white shirts white as bits of grease find there way into the wash tub?
The Prima wooden tub rocker, Fig. A decal, on the side of the wringer, pictures fingers which are "never crushed. If , however, you weren't quick enough your whole arm would feed into the wringer and your elbow would surely be mangled, since no further range of release was provided. The Troy machine, Fig. The wooden tub of this machine rotates and the clothes are tumbled as they wash.
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The single control positions the belt, connected to the driving source of power, either to be on the drive inner pulley or on the idler outer pulley. With about pounds of gears and pulleys as large as those for a tractor, the Troy company made a machine which would certainly withstand much abuse.
Can you imagine children playing around this machine while it's operating? This machine features a powered wringer which could be swung around its post to allow positioning over external rinse tubs.
The wringer also has a safety release.
Being one of the Horton company's first electric models there seemed to be less than total confidence in electric power. Note the lever by which the machine can also be hand operated. An advertising pamphlet attests to the importance of this machine. It will save your health-- keep the wrinkles out of your face--keep you youthful". The Daylight Company of Minneapolis produced the majestic looking machine of Fig.
The agitator consists of a single large cone nearly the diameter of the tub. By means of a thoroughly complicated arrangement of gears, chains, pulleys and belts, the arms on either side of the tub are made to pulsate up and down pushing and pulling the agitator and causing huge tidal waves inside the tub.
This machine would stand a good chance of winning first place in a Rube Goldberg contest. At first use of this machine, the ladies surely must have had wide and amazed eyes. Note the absence of a wringer. During the wash mode, by means of a simple mechanism, twin cups, comprising the agitator, are pulled up and down and in addition, given a twisting motion. When the wash is done the operator disengages the clutch made of steel and leather and then pushes down on the foot pedal, thereby raising the basket, containing the clothes, out of the water.
By again engaging the clutch the basket is caused to spin and the water is extracted from the clothes, reminiscent of the automatic machines today. One of the models of this machine, in my collection, has as its last patent date, December 26, Somewhat surprising, since spin dry automatic machines were not in common usage until after World War II.
The copper tub has three wheels on its bottom and acts as a trolley rolling on the triple track system below it.
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Mounted below the tub is a natural gas burner allowing the water to be heated in the tub. No pilot light or automatic shut-off system was provided.
Consequently if the flame were to be blown out, sparks from the brushes on the electric motor might well explode you and your happy home! The Geyser of Fig. The shaft of the motor, mounted directly beneath the tub, extends into the tub and is connected to a steel propeller.
Clothes are put into a free-wheeling basket and are tumbled or otherwise jostled by the turbulence created by the propeller turning at RPM! Although, in the 's, there were a large number of companies producing an even larger number of different machines, only one firm, the Lovell Manufacturing Company, of Erie , Pennsylvania made most of the wringers for these machines.