Appliances that last

Not everything is disposable these days.
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02.Case studies

The good...

Circa 1960s – Sunbeam Radiant Control Toastermatic

OldApps_TOASTERMATICWe had a few readers write in about their Sunbeam Toastermatics, introduced as Australia’s first pop-toaster. Margaret Howe, Ross Barry and John and Susan Balint all received theirs as engagement or wedding presents and praise the resilience of this Australian-made appliance. Trina Phuah remembers being fascinated by the appliance as a child and Vivian Eyers still remembers how her children would occupy themselves by toasting loads of bread at a time, amazed by the automatic rising of the bread.

Circa 1960 – Kenwood Chef mixer 

OldApp_1HeatherVanHaeringenAfter seeing the Kenwood Chef Mixer at a Brisbane exhibition in 1961, Heather Van Haeringen bought her own for Christmas that year for £40 (she says this was equivalent to a few weeks wages then). As a home economics teacher she was impressed - it had planetary action: the bowl stays stationary while the beater moves in one direction and the drive shaft moves the other. The unit still works perfectly, she still has the original glass bowl and liquidiser attachment and it has only needed minor repairs.

50 years later the design of the Kenwood Chef KM300 (a What to Buy in our 2009 test of benchtop mixers) is similar to its iconic predecessor. These days, the mixer will set you back $449 - less than half an average weekly wage.

1974 – Kelvinator refrigerator

OldAppLenBarbaraGrundyfrKelvinator fridges scoreed well in our lab tests and scored very well in our appliance reliability survey. Len and Barbara Grundy report their two Kelvinators haven’t missed a beat.

In 1974 they paid $50 for a second-hand Kelvinator which now serves as their drinks fridge. They bought a second Kelvinator, a 480 frost-free, in 1985. Neither has had any major problems and while the Grundys have been tempted to upgrade to a more economical model, they’ve been told newer ones won’t last as long.



1976 – Phillips dishwasher

Carolyn Koger purchased her Philips dishwasher in 1976. She loves the fact that there’s plenty of space to fit large pots and tall stemmed glasses. She reports it's always run on a maximum load and cleans everything very well. The door seal recently needed replacing, however Carolyn says, “I can count on one hand the number of breakages over the last 35 years.” Sadly, Philips no longer makes dishwashers, and Carolyn is yet to see another model she thinks is as good.

Circa 1980 – Simpson oven

OldApp_BrianWinch_ovenThis is just one of the long-lived household appliances owned by Brian Winch. In its early days this fan-forced oven was put through its paces regularly, often running for six to eight hours non-stop. In 31 years, only a fan and an element have been replaced.

Other pieces in his collection include a 1986 Hoover 920 Elite washing machine, 1970 Kelvinator air conditioner, circa 1963 Breville hair clippers and a milkshake mixer. His policy for products reliability is: “buy right and maintain, and you won’t buy often.”

 1984 – Maytag washing machine



Merinda and Don Welsford purchased their washing machine for $961 in the mid-80s and since then they’ve washed more than 10,000 loads, cleaning up after kids, pets, gardening and fishing. After 19 years it was given a major service, costing $650 for parts and labour. While they realise it may not be the most energy efficient washing machine, Merinda and Don are pleased that it’s still going strong, 27 years later.




The bad

2010 - Breville ikon Baker’s Oven BBM100

Michael Plutte purchased this bread maker less than a year ago after reading CHOICE’s test results on bread makers. Michael’s unit broke down after making only two loaves. He had it replaced, only for the replacement to fail after three loaves. In each case, the program selected would change without warning and the baking would stop. The store took both units back; but Michael didn’t give Breville a third chance. He spent an extra $50 for a Sunbeam model that’s worked perfectly since.

2011 – Russell Hobbs irons

After a iron broke down after only 14 months, Elizabeth Trudgeon bought a Russel Hobbs Slip Stream Steam iron RHC903 early this year. Although receiving a good score, this model performed towards the bottom of the group in our recent test of irons. After only 20 days the iron wouldn’t start. Honouring the extra 2 year warranty Elizabeth had paid for her initial iron, the shop simply told her to bring it in and choose another two to the same value. She chose the same Russell Hobbs and a Philips GC4856. The second Russell Hobbs also broke down after a month.     

2011 - Cross trainer

Georgia V bought her elliptical cross trainer from an online site on 1 January 2011. After having it delivered and assembled she uses it for the first time. Just nine minutes later, the magnetic flywheel broke. Georgia contacted the store for a return and refund, and was told she needed to disassemble and then repackage the 54kg piece of gym equipment! Not helpful at all for something that lasted less than 10 minutes. Before lodging a complaint to Fair Trading she made a final attempt to get a refund. The company agreed to send a courier (as long as Georgia removed the arms of the unit) and give her a full refund for the unit.

See our cross trainer buying guide for some tips if you're looking to buy one.


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