Saturday, July 20, 2013
Rocks to Agitators to No Agitators, Washing Machines
We bought this automatic washer a couple years ago when the last automatic washer died. If I had known the old one was an outdated antique, I would have opened the lid and taken a photo of the agitator inside. The new washers don't have agitators. They have a rotating tub. The washer gets the clothes clean so I haven't bothered to figure out why.
As long as I can remember agitators were a part of top-loading washing machines. They were a bit like a screw. They rotated left, then right as the clothes were being washed.
I can remember that until I was four or five we had a washing machine like the one below which I photographed at the Madison County Historical Museum in London, Ohio. I don't remember all the details of operating it. I do remember the soapy water was squeezed out of the clothes with the wringer. The clothes were rinsed and then squeezed through the wringer again.
There was a tub arrangement associated with the washer. Someone reading this blog probably could tell me more about the whole system.
When I was four, my twin sisters were born and shortly afterward, Dad bought an automatic washing machine, a great new invention. It was a Bendix, with two inserts for the tub. One was used if the machine was being used to wash clothes, the other if the machine was being used to wash dishes.
Tom's family didn't have indoor plumbing when he was four or five so his mother used an old way to wash clothes. In the summer, this rack with a wringer in the middle was placed outside close to the clothesline where the clothes were hung. Tubs were placed on either side and filled with water, one tub with soapy water, one tub with rinse water.
We didn't see this in a museum but at the barber shop the last time Tom went to get his hair cut. One of the barbers collects, buys and sells antiques. Here is a view of the wringer with the side benches folded up front and back.
The patent on this model was given in 18?6. I cannot read the third number.
Clothes were scrubbed on washboards.
Washing clothes is much easier these days and I am thankful.