Wring in the new

When I moved to the north country, I was a stone-broke back-to-the-lander who knew less than nothing (less than nothing is when you think you know a little bit but actually don’t even know a little bit so you make mistakes based on that little bit of false knowledge which leaves you at less than nothing in the results department) about living on a farm.

1936 Maytag wringer washer, electric or gas options. My first machine looked a lot like this one.

I lucked out in a couple of ways: a neighbor sold us his mother’s Home Comfort wood cookstove for $10 (and delivered the behemoth in his pick up truck), and another neighbor, who caught me scrubbing jeans on the rocks in the creek across the road, took pity on me and brought by their long-discarded circa 1930s wringer washing machine. I loved that wringer washer–though I lived in constant fear of catching my hair in the wringer (the thing actually was an electric vs. handcrank model).

Some years later, I gratefully inherited a regular washing machine, and yet another friend upgraded us with a later model used washer/dryer when my son was born. Still, I much prefer a clothesline to a dryer (except in the coldest, wettest weather) and there’s something that seemed so minimalist and right about the old wringer machine.

I came across this article in Utne: young designers coming up with working solutions for doing laundry in poor urban or rural communities. It reminds me of the old wringer but is ergonomic and there’s no chance of losing your scalp in it. The two takeaways: as everyone who uses any kind of tool knows (and that’s all of us), user-friendliness matters; and, sometimes it takes a young eye to figure out what should be kept from the old ways and what should be thrown out with the, ahem, laundry water.

Is there an old solution to a household chore that you remember fondly? have updated? still use? Let us know.

For buffs of old machines and tools, here’s a great sampler of Maytag wringer washers:

Evolution of the Maytag Wringer Washer

All early model information is based off public knowledge and some documentation found. All early Maytag records were lost in a factory fire. This does not cover all models, but it does have the bulk of them.

1907 1907t.gif (19022 bytes) PastimeHand driven with crank on top.There was a flywheel underneath to help with the load of cranking.

More Info.

1909 1909t.gif (17261 bytes) The Hired GirlHand powered or driven from outside power source. Wringer was added.

More Info.

1911 Model 41Electricity supplied the motive power, and the dream of an easier washday became reality.

More Info.

1911 1910t.gif (16489 bytes) Model 42Swinging and reversible wringer added. External driven.

More Info.

1914 model40.gif (9575 bytes) Model 40Hand powered and made of southern Cypress wood like all Maytag wooden machines.

More Info.

1915 1914t.gif (22327 bytes) Model 43A  engine was added for farms and homes without electricity. Single upright shown here. Battery powered ignition.

More Info.

1918 1917t.gif (20169 bytes) Model 50 SeriesMaytag first, a revolving cylinder forced water through tumbling clothes.

More Info.

1920 1919m72.gif (22414 bytes) Model 70,71,72

  • 70 was electric
  • 71 external powered
  • 72 was gas shown here with fruit jar engine.


More Info.

1921 model44.gif (14054 bytes) Model 44Easy Release wringer was added for safety.Single upright engine. Magneto ignition.

More Info.

1921 model43.gif (11265 bytes) Model 45Hand power and electric motor. Basically a model 40 with a electric motor.

More Info.

1922 model80.gif (12741 bytes) Model 80,81,82

  • 80 was electric shown here.
  • 81 external powered
  • 82 was single cyl. gas engine.


More Info.

1927 model90.gif (10693 bytes) Model 90,91,92

  • 90 was electric shown here.
  • 91 external powered
  • 92 was single cyl. gas engine.


More Info.

1929 frederick.jpg (9482 bytes) Model 20 FredrickThe machine was produced for the Fredrick Company, The Frederick Company was another Maytag owned Company – named after Frederick L. Maytag. 

Model 60 & 62

  • 60 was electric.
  • 62  gas engine  model shown here.


More Info.

1930 Model A & B

  • A was electric model shown here
  • B  gas engine  model


More Info.


Model F, G, & H copper tub

  • F was electric.
  • G gas engine  model shown here.
  • H power take off


More Info.


Model 15 & 16 Round Vitrolite Tub

  • 15 was electric motor shown here
  • 16 gas engine model


More Info.


Model 25 & 26

  • 25 was electric.
  • 26 gas engine  model shown here.


More Info.

1933 1933.gif (21405 bytes) Model 30 & 31

  • 30 was electric shown here.
  • 31 gas model 92 single cyl. engine.


1933 1933m10.gif (18495 bytes) Model 10 & 11 Copper Tubs & Vitrolite Tubs

  • 10 Electric shown here.
  • 11 Multimotr


1934 1933m10.gif (18495 bytes) Model  N-10 & N-11 Round Vitrolite Tubs

  • N-10 Electric shown here.
  • N-11 Multimotor


1934    1933m10.gif (18495 bytes) Model 110 & 111 Round Vitrolite Tubs

  • 110 Electric shown here.
  • 110 Multimotor



model30.gif (15561 bytes)

Model 32 & 33

  • 32 was electric.
  • 33 first model with 72 twin gasoline engine shown here.


1939 model108.gif (10210 bytes) Model 108 & 109 Porcelain Tub.

  • 108 was electric
  • 109 72 twin gasoline engine.


1939 1939.gif (18004 bytes) Model E or Master
1940 Model J or Commander  Square Porcelain TubThe deluxe big brother of the master. Made gas engine or electric.
1940 Model N or Cheiftain  Round Porcelain TubRound sister version of the Master. Made with gas engine or electric.

Model R or Brigadier  Round Porcelain Tub

  • RL Electric
  • RM Multimotor

Model K  Round Porcelain Tub

  • KL Electric
  • KM Multimotor

Model E2L or Master  Square Aluminum TubLongest running production of any of the wringer washers, last one made Nov. 22 1983. Made gas or electric.

Model N2L or Chieftain  Round Porcelain on Steel Tub

Model J2L or Commander  Square Porcelain on Steel Tub

Model NX  called the “Blue Bell”  Round Porcelain Tub


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10 Comments on “Wring in the new”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    I wish they still sold carbon tetrachloride. It came in a bottle with a felt cap you would rub against stains and it worked great.
    I think it was pulled because it is highly flammable and toxic to breath in. But it sure worked on stains.
    If you used a wringer washer, did you use blueing on whites?
    I never made it but my grandmother made some great soap out of lye and lard. She also used whitewash on the basement walls.
    And by the way, I still sometimes call a refrigerator an ice box. I remember men who came around on a bike and cart who sharpened knives. I remember heating with coal. Many things I remember. But mostly I remember radio.

  2. Jim says:

    Those certainly were the days! The wringer brings to mind the mangle (iron). Before the days of permanent press all of our clothes were ironed. I’m not sure how much of an improvement it was over the handheld type but it was an impressive bit of technology in its day.

  3. Barb Heller says:

    Pete: Isn’t that what “Carbona” stain remover is? I, too, remember rubbing that on stains– it really works!
    Ellen: I also had a wringer washer; an old Maytag. Mine was avocado green, and that electric wringer was really scary! I watched it many times, popping buttons off my shirts as they creaked through the rubber rollers. This old washer would shake the whole house while it was running, and when it finally stopped, the egg timer on the side would let out a dainty little ‘ding’…. to let me know it was done. As if I couldn’t tell!!
    You brought back some interesting memories!

  4. Mike says:

    I just sold the gas refridgerator that we had used for 12 years in our old house. I loved it because it was so quiet, we had tiny house.
    Our current house came with an electric refridgerator which we now use, but its noise I still find annoying.

  5. Michael Greer says:

    When I was a kid, living on the farthest reaches of suburbia near Akron Ohio, we had delivery men. There was the big red dump-truck that brought coal, and delivered it down a little chute into its bin in the basement. There was the bright yellow and white milk truck with the image of Elsie the cow. The milkman brought more than milk…there was cottage cheese, butter, cream and ice cream too and it came right to the kitchen door. Folks with nicer houses had a little metal door on their houses that opened directly into a tiny ice-box, and you could put the empty glass milk bottles inside to swap for new ones. We had an egg man, a bread truck, and even a produce truck that came every week.
    My father was an industrial worker in the giant factories down-town. He carried his lunch-box and walked a half mile to the bus stop. We didn’t own a car until decades later when he became an ironworker.
    In the late fifties, the interstate highway system was built. Someone invented the supermarket and the drive-in theater, and a very civilized way of living came to an end. Our dependence on the automobile has led us to a far less efficient time.

  6. Kent Gregson says:

    I use a manualy powered reel mower for the front yard. It doesn’t take long and doesn’t need much maintainance. I’m still working on the design of a solar tractor, but that’s another story.

  7. Noreen Oslander says:

    I read your recent article about old washing machine models with great interest. I am a retired third grade teacher from CT. For our Social Studies unit the students learn about our town’s local history. We go on a tour of our town and one of our favorite stops is at the former Metropolitan Washing Machine Company in Middlefield CT founded in 1860. The following website gives information about the machine wringer that was developed back then, a precursor to some of the models that you pictured in your article. The website includes a photo of one of the original models. On our field trip stop at the Middlefield Historical Society the students get to see one of the actual antique machine wringers that was patented at this historic site. You can find more information at
    sagebe.freewebspace.com/middlefield4/html or by googling the Metropolitan Machine Washing Company.

  8. jeff says:

    Mom had a wringer and I remember her mother’s Maytag wringer, a square one, converted from gasoline I recall. Neighbor lady- we played with their kids- had bluing on the laundry shelf in the basement, her husband was a bus driver so dress shirts were important.

    CCl4 degrades to phosgene gas and if drycleaning was not properly aired out… well the drapes could be deadly.

    I use a hand saw more than the electric saw but most often, a Japanese style saw which cuts on the pull stroke rather than the push stroke and thus the blades and cuts can be thinner. Just shows some cultures have better ideas.

    Fond memories: my grandparents victrola. Still in excellent condition, works sort-of, classic sound, no electricity required. They didn’t get electricity until 1939. I usually play it at my parents around Christmas. Then there was the regulator clock. My mother said the sound was so lonesome but like other things, good memories of grandparents farm to me. It sits in the attic of an aunt with the glass broken but I have a similar clock.

    Alladdin lamps make quite a bright light when compared to a candle or hurricane lantern and the little bit of fiddling to keep them bright is interesting old style technology. Coleman style lanterns are even brighter. I have some of each. But I like the smell of kerosene.

  9. Ellen Rocco says:

    Noreen–Thanks for the information about your students, and the link. And, I seem to have struck a chord with memories of old stuff we remember or still use and love. You all have inspired me to think about what’s in my house today–being used, rather than hanging on a wall–that harks to an earlier time.

    If you have photos of things you are using that are so-called tools of the past, send them to me at ellen@ncpr.org and I’ll add a few pictures of my own to create a follow-up piece for this blog.

  10. Jullie B. says:

    I do remember how wringer washer and put rubber diapers through that wringer diapers and explodes and I ruined a couple of shirts
    Did you ever get anything caught in a wringer?or ruined a couple of shirts?

    Tell me the stories of you have,
    the clothes you have washed with wringer washer

    an article of the wash may
    wrap several times around a roller before it is noticed; unwinding such a
    piece is often difficult, sometimes impossible without removing a roller.

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