2.01-2: Kelvinator 1930 Two Tray, Icemaker with Low-Side Float

HHCC Accession No. 2003.011HHCC Classification Code: 2.01-2

Two tray, icemaker evaporator with low-side float; cooling unit for household cabinet refrigerator. Fabricated in tinned copper plate with deep draw brass header , brass flanged float valve calibrated for use on liquid sulphur dioxide. It was temperamental and came previously close to not working at all ‘ and would not have, except for the precision and dedication shown in engineering, materials development and manufacture, as well as in the knowledge and skill of the service man who had to attend to it needs on a regular basis, Kelvinator,1930 [Rev 08-03-20]

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2.01 Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Evaporators - Household




Kelvinator of Canada



Serial No.:



9x 14x 11”h






Exhibit Quality, Rare

Patent Date/Number:

From York County (York Region) Ontario, once a rich agricultural hinterlands, attracting early settlement in the last years of the 18th century. Located on the north slopes of the Oak Ridges Moraine, within 20 miles of Toronto, the County would also attract early ex-urban development, to be come a wealthy market place for the emerging household and consumer technologies of the early and mid 20th century.

This artifact was discovered in the 1950’s in the used stock of T. H. Oliver, Refrigeration and Electric Sales and Service, Aurora, Ontario, an early worker in the field of agricultural, industrial and consumer technology.

Type and Design:

Flooded evaporator with low-side float


Constructed in tinned, heavy copper plate, with brass float chamber, brass, flange mounted float assembly, calibrated for S02 refrigerant, 8 pass, 3/8’ copper distributing tubes, with right side box fin, for left side cabinet mounting.

Special Features:

: Equipped with 2 formed, heavy copper, tinned sheet, ice cube trays with one removable ice cube grid, tinned steel hanger bracket

Performance Characteristics:
Control and Regulation:
Targeted Market Segment:
Consumer Acceptance:
Market Price:
Technological Significance:

The technological significance of the evaporator in a mechanical refrigeration system lies in its ability to evaporate liquid refrigerant (allowing it to absorb latent heat and thus perform useful cooling). In the public mind, however, the useful work was more simply that of cooling.

This lead astute manufactures to popularise the use of the term ‘cooling unit’ in place of evaporator. It was the term adopted by the industry in the early years, as it attempted to connect with the human experience of the times to better promote its wares, gaining market share in the embryonic years of Canada’s emerging consumer society. (See examples in early sale literature from the Kelvinator Co. of Canada)

Human experience and the social culture of the 1920’s also associated useful cooling with the melting of ice. Historically manufactures successfully played to this sense of public understanding by further marketing cooling units as icemakers. By this means they appealed to wide spread cultural understandings of how things got cooled, through the controlled melting of ice (the popular Canadian icebox of the 1920’s and 30’s). In a peculiar twist, it was often the job of the refrigeration sales or service man to explain to the homemaker that it was not really the ice in the ice cube trays that cooled the refrigerator, but the motor and compressor underneath.

In the 1920’s manufactures of mechanical refrigerators for the home appealed to the consumer public by promoting ice and ice cream as the new consumables, the new food sensations available for all those sufficiently affluent to enjoy the experience. Promotional literature focused on the pleasant sensation of ice cold beverages and on ice cream making at home ‘ using the latest cooling unit. A recipe and food life style book came with the refrigerator for the edification and instruction of the homemaker (See examples in early sale literature from the Kelvinator Co. of Canada). Ice and ice cream making in the home was, in fact, one of the significant, new ‘Gee whiz’, household technologies of the times.

This specimen is an early example of the genre, engineered by Kelvinator for use in one of its household cabinet refrigerators. Trouble prone, the flooded evaporator with low-side float would be would quickly be replaced, however, with less expensive and more trouble free evaporator technology well within the decade.

Industrial Significance:

With complex, demanding construction, the evaporator would make many demands on manufacturing and materials engineering in Ontario in the early years of the 20th century.

Socio-economic Significance:
Socio-cultural Significance:

G. Leslie Oliver, The T. H. Oliver HVACR Collection

HHCC Storage Location:
Bibliographic References:

See Kelvinator sales, service and engineering manuals


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