Thor Washing Machine -World’s First Electric Washer

A very nice lady and her mother stopped by to drop off their old family heirloom electric powered Thor Washing Machine, made by Hurley Machine Co. (of Chicago & N.Y.). It is also marked Red Electric #709.

All the major parts of the washer are wood, with a small 25 amp. electric motor to run it. The agitator is a wood block with four “fingers” protruding down. As the block is turned, the fingers sweep back and forth to agitate the clothes and clean them. It’s in excellent shape with all its original red paint. It looks like it could be used as is. One thing that I found quite interesting about it are the electrical connections to the motor. The motor is under the wash tub, near the drain. The connections are all exposed and would have presented quite an easy opportunity for getting shocked. It might be one of the reasons so few of these washers remain today.

The Hurley Company is credited with making the first electric washer in 1900, with the patent issued in 1907. It may (or may not) be an interesting coincident that the machines number is 709, nearly the opposite of the year of patent. Whether this particular model is one of those first is not yet clear, but certainly it is very early. The washer was probably sold in a city where they first wired for electric.

We  are very happy to add this washer to the museum collection. It nicely fills in a gap of the evolving technology of clothes washing equipment.

The ladies also dropped off a quite unusual wood block plane.

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