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Hagerty Employee

The amazing similarities between auto repair and appliance repair | Hagerty Media

Today, we're going to talk about my oven. This isn't a metaphor; I don't mean how my car feels when the engine is overheating, so you turn the heater valve on and shut off the A/C. I'm talking about the actual oven in our kitchen.

You’re lucky. My expensive 10 year old Kenmore clothes washer stopped working and started throwing error codes. I paid for a service call, only to have the technician tell me they can no longer get parts for my model. He was nice enough to give me the part number I needed, and I bought a remanufactured circuit board online for $50. After spending hours to get the part installed, the washer still did not work. Oh, and electrical parts can’t be returned. So my washer that looked brand new is now in a landfill. I have my parent’s Hotpoint refrigerator which was their wedding present in 1947. It still works, but I plan on getting it restored.

The first problem is there are error codes. Rule 1 water and electronics do not mix. No matter how hard you try to keep the water out of electronics eventually it gets trapped inside instead of outside.

Real washing machines have mechanical timers and are repaired using wrenches and a multimeter.

Agreed, my next one will be a mechanical Speed Queen. They make all the commercial washers hotels use. American made and they come with real warranties.
Advanced Driver

Kenmore of that era is almost certainly Korean, (LG/Samsung). Yet another desperate Sears cost-save attempt from the earlier, better-quality Whirlpool-made units they built their good name upon.

Advanced Driver

Wow; WE had an ancient Hotpoint fridge (with a vertical handle and a gold-colored "scoop behind that.) No separate exterior freezer door — it was inside.
Anyway, that thing refused to give up the ghost, but we finally decided to get a new one, simply to avoid the cultural embarrassment. The old Hotpoint wound up on the back patio, no longer used.
Probably within 5 - 6 years, the new one failed. We go out back and plug the Hotpoint in, and... she still ran well. Her return to the kitchen soon followed.
Intermediate Driver

I know that feeling and try to recreate it as often as possible. really love your articles by the way. You inspire a whole lot of us to be Hack Mechanics as well.
Intermediate Driver

"No market for vintage refrigerators"? Try an online search of "International Harvester refrigerator" or "International Harvester freezer" once. Designed by engineers who made farm and industrial milk coolers, built by IHC from 1947 to 1955 in the former WWII Republic Aviation factory in Evansville, IN when refrigeration equipment had a 100-year designed-in life cycle, you can't kill them unless you try very hard. Not only is it a collecting specialty for IH truck and tractor enthusiasts, but folks who know about them for their reliability will chase them down. Just make sure you add a way to lock the door or remove the locking latch, since unattended kids can and have locked themselves into them (common to any 'fridge made before non-physically latching doors were required in the 1960's). Also, the Best Garage 'Fridge. Ever.
Advanced Driver

Funny you should mention it, but I recently replaced the drum bearings on our washer and you are right; it is definitely not a job for the faint hearted. Still, $100 in parts and eight or so hours of work restored our like-new nine year old washer to quiet operation. It also saved the $1,000 cost of a new one, which is more than enough incentive for me to do a job not even professional repairmen want to take on. Not every repair we choose to make is fun, but the satisfaction upon successful completion remains.

I love your recognition of and insight into a certain kind of age-related parallax.

"Analog" and "mechanical" are 2 of my favorite words when it comes to our "modern inconveniences", as a friend's Dad used to call them. And yup, by no coincidence, the newest vehicle I own is a 1997, and that's got more than enough inscrutability should something go awry.
Pit Crew

Nicely written. We are cut from similar cloth - my first thought with appliances and vehicles is usually "how can I fix it" and not "who do I call"... And you're right, you can't beat the satisfaction from a successful fix. Sometimes it even overcomes the frustration in getting there (eyeroll)... Regarding stoves, I still have fond memories of the big chrome Gaffers & Sattler gas stove in the corner of my grandmother's kitchen. Wish we had room for one now.
Intermediate Driver

I feel your pain. My Samsung refrigerator and Thermador stove have been a steady source of explorations of sharp edged sheet metal and confounding choices made by designers. Why do I have to disassemble everything to get to a common service part? So far I've kept the Samsung refrigerator running, but I can tell I'm going to lose the battle soon.

I routinely boast that I can fix "anything with moving parts". From an analog meter movement ("D'Arsonval") to freight elevators. I've only been beaten once: by an IBM Selectric II.

The thing to remember is that our wondrful Planet is grossly overpopulated with people that all need aPaycheck to survive but more and more of them are not needed to do real work and real repairs so the whole world is turning to make more junk faster and obselete it faster and faster llook at every driveway-garageSale Mostly Plastic Junk made in the eastern world and shipped around the world by s Super Polluters ( and we traded good stuff for it : like Iron Copper and coal and Lumber) and we should be perfectly capable of making stuff like we used too that lasted and lasted this is not going to end well
Advanced Driver

Very good article until I got to this line:

"There’s not really much of a market for vintage refrigerators—they’re too small and too power-hungry..."

1) You haven't seen what people ask for such things on FB/Craigs, etc. There exists an entire subculture who restore them.

2) Typically they are smaller, although larger versions bring the highest prices. Most people either use them as back-ups for when the 5-year old model dies, or if they use it as a primary unit, they have a freezer in a pantry.

3) "power-hungry" is a myth that electric utilities like to exploit so they can pay $50 to destroy an old fridge in lieu of upgrading their own equipment; basically appliance cash-for-clunkers. The kernel of truth is that 60s/70s defrosting models draw hundreds of watts during their (short) defrosting cycles. A watt in 1950 is equal to a watt in 2021, even in the era of Covid-19. An electrical data plate and/or a wattage meter will tell the real story. Having said all that, I have a '64 Frigidaire-by-GM range and worst-offender 20 cuft self-defrosting fridge as primary appliances. I see no appreciable difference in my electric bill compared to my neighbors who throw away "durable goods" like Kleenex and ohh-and-ahh at my kitchen that looks like a cruise night of chrome, stainless and metallic-coppertone.

...and just a minor aside to one of the comments about mechanical latches. Again the kernel of truth is that some-kid-somewhere likely did climb inside an old fridge at a dump, or placed out for trash. That's why its typically a local ordinance to remove the door when tossing one. However the odds of a kid removing the food and shelves inside an operational unit, then latching the door shut behind them are about the same as them dragging a desktop PC into the bathtub to play Fortnite. Low enough that I manage to sleep at night.

New Driver

rings to mind the phrase "They don't make them like they used to." I still have a "Turbo Convection Oven" (about the size of a microwave) that we bought for our RV when my daughter was 5. (she has grandchildren now!) Still use it EVERY DAY! Only had to change the "on/off timer switch for a HD toggle. Love that thing.

Excellent article Rob!

MMMMMM..... Cookies! I'm not much of a baker, but I do bake cookies once in awhile. I like the parallax thought and apparently I'm also in that time frame with you. My oven was new around the time I bought my house, which is over 20 years ago. My washer and dryer were purchased at the same time and I haven't had any trouble with them yet. They are both, what would've been considered, the lower end because they are fully mechanical without any sort of electronic gizmos to get in the way. 🙂
I did have to replace my original refrigerator, some years back (probably 19, if I was to actually count) because I punctured a cooling line when defrosting the freezer one day. For some reason I lacked patience that day. I bought a new one then, also low end, and it's been working perfectly ever since.
In my basement, I had a really old Hotpoint (probably from the middle sixties) that finally broke around 18 years ago. The father of a friend of mine was getting rid of an even older Hotpoint fridge at that time and it's been chilling beverages in my basement ever since. 🙂 All of this seems like it was just a couple years ago.
In fact, I was sitting at the annual Back to the 50's car show, a couple weeks ago, and realized the car I was driving had been in my possession for more than 20 years! Then, I realized I hadn't missed a BTT50's since back in the early nineties. Where did it all go? I'm not sure, but i do have a lot of fond memories...
Maybe it's time to bake some cookies?
Maybe not, it's 90 degrees today, and I don't want to tax the AC unit that's been cooling my house since Nixon was President. Guess I'll just go down to Cake Box, my local bakery, and liberate a package or two of Monster cookies... And maybe some cup cakes... And maybe some... Yummmm.