3.03-8: General Controls 1953 Electro-Magnetic Flow Control Valve

HHCC Accession No. 2006.075HHCC Classification Code: 3.03-8

A 1950’s electro-magnetic solenoid, refrigerant flow control valve for low pressure refrigerant applications, operating on unique toggle mechanism, equipped with steel body and press formed, ferro-magnetic cover fitted with ‘ inch miniature electrical junction box, finished in black, trendy, crinkled enamel, with handsome nameplate and logo in red and silver, alternating current, 60 cycle, 230volt, General Controls, Circa 1953


3.03 Refrigerant Flow Controls - NEC


General Controls


General Controls


Type K-10-A

Serial No.:



7 x 4 x 5’h


6 lbs




Exhibit, education, and research quality, illustrating the engineering and application of electro-magnetic solenoid switching, refrigerant flow controls in operation in the early post W.W.II years

Patent Date/Number:

2052246 [1936]


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:
  • 60 cycle electro-magnetic
  • brass body
Special Features:

Stylish name plate and company logo in reds and silver The art-deco styling of the 1930’s had disappeared to be replaced by the simple functional styling characteristic of the 1950’s, Demonstrates the appearance of crinkled enamels, a new equipment look for the 1950’s
Unique half union brass outlet fitting Inlet strainer to facilitate installation and servicing
Miniture electrical junction box provided reflects the manufacturers interest in appealing to the needs of the installer and the one who has to services the valve The splash of white paint, helps the viewer to read a little of the natural history of the device, something of its life cycle and application, possibly in a dairy where the practice was to regularly repaint the process areas in white.

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

With a simpler more functional and smoother look, this device is, in many ways, representative of the advancements in engineering and styling changes in refrigeration component technology between the 1930’s and 50’s.

More sophisticated manufacturing processes, backed by more engineering design know-how and the availability of new synthetic dielectric insulating materials and finishes all lead to a world change in look and in the reliability of performance. For historic context see ID # 196-197

The increased use of the Freon series of refrigerants, F12 and F22 encouraged the development of valves with larger and larger capacities, up to 50 tons by Detroit Controls. See reference cat. Bulletin #199

Industrial Significance:

Refrigerant flow control quickly became a matter of interest for refrigeration system design engineers in the 1930’s with the development of low-pressure refrigerants and a growing market for small versatile, mechanical refrigeration systems - able to operate multiple evaporators, often at different suction temperatures. The suction pressure regulating valve was one solution [See ID # 192, 193, 194]. The solenoid valve with electric pressure or temperature actuated controller was another option awaiting development.

From the 1930’s thorough 1950’s the industry produced electric solenoid valves in a wide variety of configurations and sizes, to perform a wide range of system functions, each with different performance requirements and characteristics, each manufacturer bringing to the market place his unique approach to engineering design and construction. Some of these are illustrated in the collection ID # 196 to 200:

ID # 196 ‘ Penn, brass body, 3/8 IPS, 7/32 orifice, 60 cycle, dual voltage 115/230 volts AC, 14 watts, adapted for two point mounting bracket, circa 1939

ID # 197 ‘ Penn, brass body, 3/8 IPS, 7/32 orifice, 25 cycle single voltage 115 volts AC, 14 watts, adapted for two point mounting bracket, circa 1939

ID # 198 ‘ Detroit Controls, brass body, 3/8 flare, 3/16 orifice, 60 cycle single voltage 130 volts AC, 15 watts, Circa 1953

ID # 199 ‘ General Controls, steel body, 3/8 IPS inlet, 3/8 outlet with brass half union connection, 177 port, 60 cycle single voltage 230 volts AC, 14 watts, Circa 1960

ID # 200 - Automatic Products [AP], brass body, with manual lift, ‘ inch sweat, inlet and outlet, 3/8 orifice, 60 cycle single voltage 120 volts AC, adapted for single point mounting bracket, 16 watt, Circa 1955

The valve is equipped with a unique, toggle style mechanical action, marking it as quite different from many of its competitors, who employed a simpler vertical lift principle

This solenoid valve with an early 1936 patent number suggests that the same valve design was in production by General for 20 years and more

Socio-economic Significance:

For cost considerations, in the era of ‘open’ refrigeration systems, in the late 1920’s through to the pre World War II years, a popular practice was to operate two or more evaporators, even those at different temperatures, on a single condensing unit, a design known as multiplexing. The design of multiplexed, commercial refrigeration systems was a significant part of the evolution of the early 19th century Canadian commercial refrigeration industry. The electric solenoid valve played a major part in this evolution, changing Canadian’s expectations of the range of fresh foods and confectioneries available from there local friendly down town merchant.

Socio-cultural Significance:

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

HHCC Storage Location:
Bibliographic References:

Handbook of Engineering Fundamentals, Section 8-24,Ovid W. Eshbach, John Wiley and Sons, 1936


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