The ad read something like "Vintage GE Refrigerator, good working condition, $75." It included this photo.
I think the thing on the side of it was a magnet decal. It wasn't there when we picked up the fridge.
It was being sold by an older couple in a nice neighborhood in a town about an hour from here. Turns out, this refrigerator was in continuous use since it was new. It was the main fridge in their kitchen for many, many years. When they needed more space, they bought a new refrigerator for the kitchen and this one was put to into the basement as a spare fridge. They listed it for sale because they bought a new fridge to replace their kitchen one, and the old kitchen one was going down to the basement, so it was time to pass this old one on to a new home ... ours.
As we visited with the gentleman and cleared a path through his stuff to get the refrigerator out of the basement, he said, "I like you and I know that this old fridge will have a good home with you. Just give me $50 for it." (Mind you, we hadn't talked price at all, because I was going to give him the $75 and giggle all the way home at the deal we got.)
The fridge has lived in our detached garage since then, sometimes with bottled water in it, sometimes empty. It has run perfectly and its only real problem was that the door gasket was hard and cracked and didn't seal well. I tried for a while to find a replacement gasket, but was unsuccessful.
Last week, on a whim, I searched online again for a replacement gasket. This time, I came up a big winner. Antique Appliances in Georgia restores and sells vintage refrigerators and stoves AND they sell parts INCLUDING DOOR GASKET MATERIAL!!! They even have a video on their site to help you decide which gasket to choose for your particular refrigerator, since the ones they sell may not be an exact match to the original. I watched the video, weighed my choices, and placed an order for 12 feet of gasket ... a foot and a half more than I needed, but ordered the extra just to be safe. (Running talley ... $50 for the fridge, $75 for new door gasket = still a great deal on a seriously cool refrigerator.)
As with most of my projects, I did not take nearly enough photos of this little refrigerator's sad Before condition. It was almost all cosmetic, thank goodness ... lots of basement grime from the previous owners, and garage grime from us.
While I was waiting for the new gasket to arrive, I set the fridge outside in the sunshine so it could defrost. I honestly don't remember when I last defrosted it, and you can tell that it had been a long, long time. I propped the door open, put a dishpan under the icy mass to catch the water.
The next job was to figure out how to get the old gasket off of the door. The vague instructions I found online told me to look for screws and/or clips. Turns out, this gasket is held in place beneath the door liner panel by long L-shaped brackets and screws. (The gasket itself came off in pieces during this process.)
I kept the pieces of old gasket ... just in case.
The best way I found to deal with the grime was to use Soft Scrub with Bleach and 0000 superfine steel wool. I gently scrubbed and polished each part and side of the fridge until it was clean. The bleach in the cleanser even helped lighten some of the little rust stains on the front and side of the fridge!
Lower inside door corner, Before.
Same corner, After.
Front of the fridge, Before and After. The screw holes are for the bracket that holds the top of the door.
See the difference between the part of the door that I had cleaned and the part that I hadn't?
The worst of the mold and rust stains were on the bottom corner of the door, as shown in the photo below. I am super excited about the way that so much of this came out!
After I finished scrubbing the outside of the fridge, I gave it a good coat of car wax to help protect the finish.
With the outside of the fridge all clean and polished, it was time to attempt that door gasket. It took me a couple of hours to do it, because it was tricky to keep the gasket under the bracket AND cut accurate miters at each of the corners. I kept at it, and finally was able to stand back and admire the brand new gasket.
This is the material as it arrived in the mail. I put my baggie of screws into the box so I wouldn't lose them.
It took a while for me to figure out how to cut an accurate miter at each corner. I used a short piece of gasket material to help me mark each side of the 90 degree cut. The piece of newspaper is there to help keep my hands out of the fiberglass insulation.
Gasket's all installed!!
With the new gasket in place, I reinstalled the door's liner panel.
... and here it is, with the door screwed back in place.
I will do a better cleaning job on the inside part of the fridge later.
What a difference, all clean and polished and working beautifully!
I have tried to find the age of this fridge, but have been unable to so far. Everything I find about determining the age of GE appliances references a system where the serial number begins with two letters (which represent the month and year of manufacture) The earliest date for the two letter system appears to be 1944. The serial number on this fridge is H3019-890 (model number AC-62-CA16). I wonder if this may mean H=August and 3=1943? 1933? It's just a guess. Yesterday I used the contact form on the GE appliances web site to send them the question. I hope I hear back from them.
Photo taken before I vacuumed the mess out from under the fridge.
It feels great to have our sweet little refrigerator looking good and in proper working order! As of now, it will stay in the garage ... but it will not have things piled onto and beside it like it was. Once construction gets rolling on the renovation of our Shack, whenever that will be, I plan to make a place for this little vintage beauty in there.
Once again ... the Before and the After.
Is it weird to be totally in love with a refrigerator?