The Largest Collection in the US (possibly the world)
In the world of antique dishwashers, Mike Haller is a god! He owns the largest collection of antique dishwashers in the United States, possibly the world.
Haller rolled into my driveway one evening like a museum curator on wheels driving his truck from his home in Peoria, Illinois. His mission was to pick up two antique dishwashers for his collection and one happened to be close to where I live and that’s how I had the privilege of meeting the man who calls himself “dishwashercrazy” on YouTube.
This story starts when I leased an old rental house. “This doesn't work,” the landlord said tapping his hand on the lid of the old kitchen sink top, “in fact I wouldn't even open it.” But I’m the curious type that’s how Haller ended up inspecting the old appliance in my kitchen.
Haller was able to confirm that I had a Youngstown Electric Sink on my hands. “They were called Electric Sinks because the cabinet included the electric dishwasher and could also have been equipped with a garbage disposal . . . it is from around 1952 or a little after.”
It’s hard to believe that Haller has only been collecting since 2008. As of his visit, he had 47 dishwashers in his collection, 37 date from between 1937 and 1960. Haller said he used old magazine advertisements to help him date some of the machines. “The month/year of the manufacturer is probably stenciled on the machine on the dishwasher tank,” but warned Haller, “was probably only visible from somewhere in back.”
I could see how Haller knew these details because the night of his visit he removed the front panel from the old dishwasher with ease and proceeded to inspect it. He showed us where a separate heating unit once sat before the age of large hot water tanks. Haller took us back in time as he explained all the details and inner workings of the old monstrosity. Finally, he gifted us with a rack in case we ever did get it working.
Haller himself has a 1949 General Electric sink in his modern kitchen. He found the treasure in Massachusetts. “It was brand new, never used, never installed, still had the shipping block under the motor and decals on the sink and dishwasher. It even had the 1949 GE Garbage Disposal, which made it a true electric sink.” And yes, Haller still uses this machine on a daily basis.
Dishwashers were Rare in the Early Days
It was quite rare to have an electric sink in the early days of dishwashers and they were expensive. Holler said originally these work horses could cost between $400 - $500. As I look around at the shabby chic little Cape Cod I live in, I can not visualize it once being a home of privilege.
But according to Retrorenovation.com, “Youngstown Kitchens were the #1 brand of steel kitchen cabinets across America in the postwar period.” Ironically, in a Life magazine Youngstown Kitchen ad from 1947, the reader is asked, “Why dream at these prices?”
Embracing the Past
But dream was all we could do. It would have been great to get the old electric sink working if only for nostalgia sake because the old appliance certainly would not clean like today’s modern technology, but the electric was not hooked up, the seal was rotted and there a hole in the bottom that would need patched. Haller estimated that it had not been functional in over 30 years. This was an imposition that even an enthusiastic family member would not want to tackle.
Still for Haller, dishwashers are a labor of love and memories. He recalled when he was 6 or 7 years old spending time with relatives who owned an electric sink and believes his fascination started back then. He claims the best thing about collecting antique dishwashers is the people he meets with the same interest. So what are Haller’s future plans - definitely more space and possibly a museum someday to house his beloved collection. I always find it amusing and curious to meet someone who is passionate about what they love in life. Being with Haller was no different.
Despite my complaining about doing dishes by hand, I have grown attached to my retro cooking environment and somehow it has actually made me more domestic as I imagine former occupants cramming the old top loading electric sink with dishes fresh from a delicious family dinner. And with Haller’s blessing, I embrace my retro kitchen as a part of history – a part of history that makes some people dishwasher crazy.
Videos from Dishwasher Crazy
Dishwasher Crazy YouTube channel is found here:
keith thorne on January 03, 2016:
my mother in law is having an auction soon and was wondering approximate value of a dishomatic dish washer??her husband never did hook it up because she did not want it.it has never ran and manual is still laying inside.
Carla J Swick (author) from NW PA on September 10, 2015:
David, that sounds very exciting too. I'd love to interview you if you'd like your story told. Thanks for sharing.
David Oestreich - Vintage Vending-Soda Machine Sales on September 09, 2015:
I always enjoy seeing another antiques appliance enthusiast. I have worked on Antique,Vintage, and more modern Soda machines for over 20 yrs now....and It's never work when it's a labor of love....to bring new life to these well built appliances that made our life a lil simpler....Great story!.....
Carla J Swick (author) from NW PA on April 06, 2015:
Please email me at email@example.com. I will put you in touch with Mr Haller. Thank you
monica on April 05, 2015:
Hi I am looking for an older magic chef dishwasher model num. UD 458-1.
WE removed this dishwasher from this 60s house when we first moved in because of a burned out motor. But now we wished we would have kept it and got a new motor. the new one of only 2 yrs is not quality and is not cleaning well or near as well as this Powerhouse model by magic chef did. Would you or could you please expert man please help us find this original dishwasher in magic chef that even had a plate warmer on the dial and round neat crisp push buttons on the panel. i have beat myself up about putting this jewel on the curb a million times. Please advise or help. The rest of the kitchen is all magic chef and this house was custom designed for a doctor back in the 60s. oh if I could only find this model. It washed them and washed them and dried them and never did I ever remove anything with not even a spot from this older dishwasher. i miss it so. please please help.
Carla J Swick (author) from NW PA on January 02, 2015:
Thank you, I've seen his videos. The old machines are incredible. They don't make 'em like they used to as they say. Mike Holler has an amazing collection. Thank you for sharing.
Mike on December 31, 2014:
Just watched a youtube about this thing. Wow. BTW: It only took 9 and 1/2 minutes to complete the whole cycle. No heated dry but still. 185 degree hot water booster built in. These things are MINT as they say.
9 1/2 minutes! Mine takes 2 hours and I still have to wash the dishes by hand before and after which means I don't use it.
Look up the video, I'd rather have a working on of those then anything I've used today.
Carla J Swick (author) from NW PA on July 29, 2013:
Thank you for sharing.
koby on July 28, 2013:
wow! i do like antique dishwashers they riminds me about my childhood (sory about my horible english)and loundgrey washer aswell.....
Carla J Swick (author) from NW PA on January 21, 2013:
Thanks Annie, I had a really great time getting to know Mike Haler and hearing his story. Thanks for sharing.
wabash annie from Colorado Front Range on January 21, 2013:
I loved this Hub! The 'appliance' collections are so interesting. Thanks for writing on this topic.
Carla J Swick (author) from NW PA on January 07, 2013:
I think he doesn't have much room left so he's thinking about a museum which I think is a great idea. Interesting guy. Thanks for reading.
Dianna Mendez on January 07, 2013:
Wow, that's an interesting collection. I can't imagine how much space would be needed to store them, but then there are those car collectors who have built huge buildings around their trophys.