Looking for James washing machine

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Hi ya'll, I'm new to this forum but I'm really enjoying all the posts. Hope someone here can help me. I am looking for a used James washer with ringer. My current electric machine is on it's last legs, and in anticipation of our move next June to a homestead, have decided to go with a non electric as a replacement. I know Lehmans sells them, but they are soooo expensive! Even some plans to make a homemade version would be a great start. I live in N CA and will pay shipping. Thanks, Sam

-- Sam McFarland (sammc0@yahoo.com), November 29, 2001


I have something, not a James washer, it has a plunger instead of the thing that drags the clothes back and forth. I got it at an antique shop, and works well. I remember seeing the plans to make a James washer in a book called "Countryside: wit and wisdom" or something like that. It's out of print, but I get it from our local library. I'll look it up, if you want.

-- Dawn (olsoncln@ecenet.com), November 30, 2001.

Country Wisdom: the art of successful homesteading by the editors of Countryside Magazine. I love that book. I just know it by the blue binding... There's alot of good info in here.

-- Dawn (olsoncln@ecenet.com), November 30, 2001.

You also may want to look out for another contraption which is still selling in those catalogs which offer the unusual items. For lack of words, my description is a cylinder with a plunger mounted on a hinged top, mounted on a base.

If I remember the description of how to use, you placed UP to five pounds of clothes in the cylinder, put detergent and water into it, closed it and worked the plunger a couple of times, forcing water and soap into the clothing. You then removed that water, changed to plain water, worked the plunger to rinse the clothing. Or something to that effect. Cost? I've seen it from $24.95 - $39.95; not bad for a washing machine. Never having used it, I can't say how well it works either. Can't for the life of me remember what the name of it is. Hope this helps.

-- j.r. guerra (jrguerra@boultinghousesimpson. com), November 30, 2001.

When hubby and I moved to our place we didn't have a washer. I would take the jeans and heavy items to town to wash them and then bring them home to dry. For t-shirt, socks and small items I used an old fashioned toilet plunger and five gallon buckets of water. We put a hole in the top of the bucket for the plunger handle to fit through. I have an antique wringer that was used between two wash tubs and used that to wring the items out. The clothes came just as clean as they did in the washing machine.

-- Grannytoo (jacres40@hotmail.com), November 30, 2001.

Dawn, thank you I will get the book from my library. Its exactly what I need I think. JR, I know what you're talking about, its a pressure washer, but they only wash about 2 shirts at a time, so I would prefer the James if I could buy or make one. But it is a good suggestion, and I thank you for it. And Granny, I have done the same thing in the past, only I got sick of plunging, so put the 5 gallon buckets with lids on tight, in the back of the truck. They would 'agitate' while I ran errands, etc. When I got home I would rinse and hang out. Didnt they use to make non electric wringer washers too? Like the electric ones you can still buy? Thanks everyone! Sam

-- Sam McFarland (sammc0@yahoo.com), November 30, 2001.

Sam.... I own a James Washer... and tho I haven't kept up on the price of the washer with the wringer... when I bought mine back in the late '70's... they were expensive...

Quality wise... they aren't the best... but the best at the time...they are flimsy in my opinions... and jeans are a challenge running through that small wringer... tho can be done...

I agree with using a plunger would be easier... and I do that with two large bushel tubs... one for wash water... wring out the best I can and then rinse water... Lehman's hardware has this neat plunger that is metal and has baffles in it to move the water... I really like that.... have used a rubber plunge too... it works...

I still have my James washer... the washer itself is in need of some repair while the wringer is quality made... just small openings to wring through...

about a year ago... I read somewhere about a man in Kentucky making a stronger James washer version... this lady (keeping her name private) responsed to my e-mail...

I have one and use it. It's made by a man named James Habegger 1960 Shores Rd, Scottsville, KY 42164.

Some mennonite friends in TN have one they've used for years. They keep it outside and wash farm clothes every week. They are the ones who told me about Habegger's and recommended it over the James. My neighbor has a James and it is flimsier than mine. This one is made of marine plywood and poplar finished with GlassSpar marine varnish inside and aluminum paint outside. It's less expensive than a James, too. A releative of James, Howard Habegger, runs a store in Scottsville and sells the wringers for about $90 which is cheaper than any of the other places for the Lake City wringer.

Sam... I have the best of all worlds in washing clothing... I have electricity... but have used my wringer washer on a generator... I wash the clothes with the wringer in warmer weather and have a automatic for winter use...

when all those fail... the James washer comes out... and for dry cleanable and bigger items like sleeping bags and etc... the big tubs with my metal plunger...

good luck on your search...

-- Yarrow (lovelyladyofrenaissance@hotmail.com), November 30, 2001.

We have electric and I have an automatic washer that someone gave me but I still use the buckets with the plunger in the summer time. In fact I sit the buckets and the old wringer right out by the clothesline. If I'm feeling energetic I wash everything with that method. I sit down in a chair and ponder all the goings on in the world while I plunge away. We haul all our water and that method takes much less water. With just DH and I we don't have that much laundry anyway. If I still had a house full of kids I'd certainly be looking for an easier method.

-- Grannytoo (jacres40@hotmail.com), November 30, 2001.

Of course the Amish have been refurbishing old wringer washers and turning them into gas-powered ones for years.

-- Sandy Davis (smd2@netzero.net), November 30, 2001.

Well I cant tell you folks how much I appreciate your responses! I have posted this same question on other boards, and gotten nothing!!! I have ordered the Country Wisdom book from my library, and I will write the man in KY a letter tonight. After hearing that they are rather flimsy, I have definitely rethought my position on buying one, and although my fiancee doesnt know it yet, making it will be our first homestead project . Thanks again for all your suggestions. I may do the plunger thing too, and just get a good wringer that fits on a tub. I'm not really sure where I would buy one of the gas powered ones that the Amish refurbish. Do you know Sandy? Blessings, Sam

-- Sam McFarland (sammc0@yahoo.com), November 30, 2001.

If you live in a small town, I'd put the word out. I just saw one sitting in an alley in our town, waiting to get picked up with the garbage, this week. Seemed a shame, as it looked like it could just use some work. I use the electric washer in the winter (brr,it's cold by the clothesline right now), but have been known to do the laundry in the bathtub. Did it that way for the first year we had this land. Now that the kids are getting bigger, though, I'm not sure I'll venture down that lane too often...

-- Dawn (olsoncln@ecenet.com), December 01, 2001.

Sam, We bought one during Y2K and I was really disappointed at how flimsy the washer was made. I bought it from Lehmans with a ringer or whatever you call it too. Anyway, I advertised it in the Nickle ads and never got a response. Later on ended up selling it at a yard sale for $150.00 brand new. I would never buy one again and would most definately look at anything else first. P.S. the ringer (if that is what it is called) was of much better quality and we kept that. Good Luck! Mary

-- Mary (Mary@home.com), December 01, 2001.

Mary, You are the second person to tell me the James is shabby. I am sooo glad I posted the question, before buing. I have written to the fella in KY, asking him for plans. Thanks for your help. By the way, why did you sell the thing for half price? Even though Y2k didnt cause problems, the same caution that caused you used to buy it, still applies in our world today, dont you agree? The question now is 'WHEN will the oil run out, not WILL it? Thats one of the reasons I am still trying to prepare myself and my family for any possible future problems. The feeling of satisfaction and peace I receive from being self sufficient, far out weigh the 'hassles' of depending on another country's oil. Blessings, Sam

-- Sam McFarland (sammc0@yahoo.com), December 02, 2001.

we put an ad in the paper wanting to buy a "james handwasher with wringer". ended up getting a call from a man who said he had an old one that was a different brand, that had been his aunts and was in perfect condition - were we interested? well, you bet we were, and we paid much, much less than what a new james would cost - perhaps that's something to try!? ours is "mystery" brand and we love it - used it all the time!

-- leslie in mo (whomestead@hotmail.com), December 02, 2001.

Leslie you lucky thing! If the man I have written to in KY cant make me one reasonable, and if the library book I have ordered doesnt have good plans, I may just run an ad. In fact, I may do it anyway since you had such good luck. Thanks for the advice. Sam

-- Sam McFarland (sammc0@yahoo.com), December 02, 2001.

I have a James I bought used about a year ago. I paid around $200.00 for it with the wringer. I use it and like it. BUT, it was disappointing and flimsy. I've made several modifications. If I would have paid $600.00 for the thing I would have sent it straight back! The wringer is good. The rest of the thing could be made easily for almost nothing. Unless someone can get one dirt cheap and then repair the flaws, I'd NOT recommend one.

-- David Constantin (cajundavid@hotmail.com), January 13, 2002.

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