4.02-15: Universal Cooler 1955 Condensing Unit

HHCC Accession No. 2003.053HHCC Classification Code: 4.02-15

A smoothly sculptured, quiet operating, fractional horsepower, commercial application refrigeration machine, part of the mid 20th century experience of Canadian grocers, butchers and confectioners, in a period when the ‘hermetic’ motor compressor was still 20 years in the future for most such equipment owners. The machine represents the work three leading Canadian manufactures [Universal Cooler, Brampton Ont. and Kelvinator of Canada, London Ont., and McKinnon Industries, St Catherines Ont. ] and the best Canadian trade practice of the 1950’s, Universal Cooler, 1955


4.02 Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Condensing Units - Commercial


Universal Cooler


Universal Cooler, Brantford Ont.



Serial No.:



15x 15x 11’h


70 lbs




Exhibit, education, and research quality demonstrating the work of two, leading, mid 20th century, Canadian refrigeration equipment manufacturers, and the repair and replacement trade practices of the period.

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:

The machine is equipped with a 1/5 HP Delco, capacitor start, single phase motor, by McKinnon Industries, St Catherines Ont., part of the motor renaissance of the 1950’s, following frequency standardisation in Ont. By then the high starting torque, fractional horsepower motor requirements of refrigeration machines were increasingly being met by a new generation of quiet operating, rubber mounted, non-commutating motors, employing split-phase, capacitor enabled, starting mechanisms.

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

The 1950’s and on into the 60’s was the ‘golden age’ of the open-system refrigeration machine. Behind the industry were its crude beginnings in Canada. Machines were now operating on non-noxious refrigerants [principally F12], were smaller, lighter, quieter, more efficient and reliable.

As important was the fact that they were readily field serviceable, allowing major components to be removed for repair or replacement. Too, major component replacement was facilitated, even with parts of a different manufacture, because of the level of universality and flexibility, which was an inherent part of the open-system design, a feature which would soon be lost, as the industry moved to higher efficiency, less costly sealed system design.

Industrial Significance:
Socio-economic Significance:
Socio-cultural Significance:

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

HHCC Storage Location:
Bibliographic References:

Related posts