ABC Washing Machine

The ABC Washing Machine

ABC Washing Machine (called the ABC Super-Electric Washing Machine) was made by Altorfer Brothers, Peoria, IL. and operated between 230 and 600 watts (hence the Super-Electric). It costs 2 1/2 to 6 cents an hour to run in 1920 (the most consuming in this bunch). We will take a look at some of its specifics as well as the advertisements for this now vintage washing machine.

play-audioListen to a vintage music of the period – Charley Jordan – Keep It Clean

1919 ABC Washer

The ABC Washer was a “Beast” and the woman in this photo looks absolutely thrilled to work with it

Construction – Is a reversing and revolving horizontal metal cylinder type of very rugged build. Has an R&M motor with special starting brushes. The tub makes 23 revolutions a minute. All gearing is covered. Has a galvanized tub, with a semi-cylindrical bottom. Tho top of the tub is 35 ½ inches above floor and the maximum height of wringer top screws above floor is 50 inches, it requires a floor space of 27 x 29 inches.

Special Features – The tub requires only six gallons of water and has capacity equal to eight sheets. Clothes are satisfactorily washed in 15 minutes. It requires four minutes to drain the tub, which makes 24 revolutions a minute.

The A B C Super Electric Washing Machine ( a more detailed look from 1919) – This machine is characterized by its rugged construction — it is “a heavyweight,” so to speak, warranted to wear well and not to strike. Its capacity is great (eight sheets to a load) and the washing was satisfactorily done in fifteen minutes, while one load went through the wringer and was inspected in 8.5 minutes. One and a half bar& of white soap was used, but the suds filled the tub and they might well be used for several loads. An unusually small amount of water is needed, only six gallons, as indicated by the red line on the outside of the tub, five inches from the bottom. A temperature of 180 degrees is best; the water was at 165 degrees at the close of the washing.

1922 abc electric washerHow She Is Made – The eleven-inch pail stands under the convenient drain and the tub is emptied in four minutes. A large family washing could be done and wrung out in less than an hour, at a cost for power of about 4 cents at a 10-cent rate for electricity, or 2.8 cents at the New York rate of 7 cents (1919).

The wooden cylinder is made of thirty wooden slats, each with five half-inch holes; the removable top is fastened on with two latches. The tub can be removed for sunning and airing, and the wringer is detachable so that the tub when covered may serve as a table, but both pieces are heavy, weighing 28.5 and 32.5 pounds, respectively.

The tub stands 35.5 inches above the floor, the top of the wringer 50 inches, and the floor space occupied is 27 by 29 inches. The wooden cylinder is swung in a semi-cylindrical galvanized tub, painted gray, with three red levers for operating tub and ringer. The tub moves through approximately twenty-four revolutions in a minute’s time, reversing on every stroke, which gives both clothes and water a more violent motion and consequently a more thorough cleansing effect.

1920 abc washer

ABC Washing Machine Ad – Evening Star Washington D.C. 1920 – $10 down $10 Mo.

The nine feet of electric cord is permanently attached underneath the tub and connects with any lamp socket by a separable plug. Six feet from the motor is a C. H. 70-50 switch so that the current can be conveniently broken without disconnecting at either end. This is a great convenience and the ease in operation results in a saving of power, instead of letting the wringer or tub run unnecessarily. (this unit was an energy hog in its day)

How She Works – There are many “holes,” some of them in rather out-of-the-way places, that call for oil, and the women who are beginning to use household machinery should learn not to neglect these details if they want the best results. There is also a convenient screw on the lower part of the front of the machine, just above the cord, by which the belt may be tightened without opening the case at all, and this again is a point that increases efficiency if carefully watched. Any slowing up of the clothes in passing through the wringer indicates that the belt needs this tightening. A very carefully prepared book of instructions accompanies the washer.

ABC Washing Machine

The ABC Washing Machine Could Be Purchased With Ironer In 1921


This ad from the Evening Star in Washington D.C. in 1922 offered to come to your home and wash your clothes for you – click for larger size

Comments (3)

  1. Greg Loehr

    I found a vintage model 409 abc washing machine in a building being cleaned out that was an appliance store in the 50’s. It is a large white tube with a wringer on top. Its brand new. No rust, never plugged in and has the manual, warranty, and Calgon inside. What’s it worth? Should I sell it for 200?

    1. Greg Loehr

      Sorry, it’s a 409-p
      It has the pump

  2. Sonya

    Hello I have a abc washer and was wondering about it’s value. It was made by the brothers in Peoria Ill. It does have the pump to it and works great . Any information on it would be appreciated


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