Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit

Anyone else interested in MonitorTop fridges?

ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,083
I'm curious if anyone else in the forum has an interest in the GE MonitorTop refrigerator.  I've wanted one since I was around 9 years old and finally got my hands on one 20 years later.  I am currently working on restoring two of them. 

One is from 1933 and the other is from 1934.  Both still have their original methyl formate charge with no leaks and run great.  Typical power consumption is between 110-130 watts once the cabinet is cooled.  Power factor is pretty poor, around .50-.60 depending on load.  The motors are split phase with resistive start using a simply relay.  I installed a PTC relay on the 1933 unit due to the original relay having a noisy coil.

Currently the 1933 top is sandblasted and painted a bright glossy white and the racks have a nice new nickel plating on them. All that is left is the porcelain cabinet needs some minor cleaning.  I expect it to be up and running before Christmas. 

The 1934 unit is untouched and will need a fair amount of cosmetic work but I'm looking forward to it.  Here are some pictures of the two refrigerators.  The first picture is of the 1934 with the 1933 fridge behind it in pieces.  The next two are of the 1933 top after painting.

All comments welcome!
Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment


  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    My parents had one something like that.

    In France, where I was born, my parents had a gas refrigerator. Since my mother and I left France when I was 14 months old, I do not remember that one. The Nazis got it.  We moved to USA and the first food cooler I remember was a wooden ice box. The Ice man came every other day and gave us a huge block of ice. We dumped the melted ice at least once a day.

    At the end of WW-II, we got a used GE with a coil on top. The coil did not look just like yours. Eventually it died by leaking, and it seems to me it contained ammonia as the refrigerant. THey then bought a new top for $106, which was a lot in those days. THe techie told me it used sulfur dioxide instead of ammonia. That lasted quite a while until they eventually got a new one. The advantage of the new one is you could keep ice cream in it.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,083
    Methyl formate and SO2

    1927-1932 and 1935-1937 Monitor Tops used sulphur dioxide.  The 1933 and 1934 I have are the only two years to use methyl formate.

    Another interesting difference between the two is the SO2 ones used scotch-yolk type reciprocating compressors while the methyl formate used rotary-vane.  I can only assume this had something to do with methyl formate running at a vacuum on the evaporator side.  The methyl formate ones also have an occasional problem with refrigerant condensing in the oil and causing it to rattle when cold.  The SO2 ones have the suction line plumbed directly into the pump while the methyl formate ones have the suction line plumbed to the compressor housing and the pressure line goes straight out.

    Not sure why they did what they did and why the two units differ so much but they seem to last a long time :).  The methyl formate units run near silent as long as the room is above 60F or if you replace the crank case
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
This discussion has been closed.