Refrigerator, Deanson; Deanson; R09077




Refrigerator, Deanson

About this object

Deanson Sealed Unit Refrigerator, Thornlands 19!9
The Deanson Refrigerator was developed during 1949 and released at the Redland Show in July 1950 and featured a revolutionary sealed unit compressor powered by a 1/6 the horsepower compressor. The cast iron compressor was designed and built by 21 year old Steve Bach of the then Redland Electric Repair (later trading as Bach Electrical) workshop in South Street, Thornlands.
The compressor was designed to operate using the very clean and efficient Freon 12 gas which was invented in the United States in 1928 but was only just becoming popular, replacing smelly Sulphur Dioxide. The fridge cabinets were manufactured by Steve's father Phil who retired from poultry farming, tnl949, atthe age of 50 years to become a fridge mechanic.
The only remaining cabinet known to be in existence is the one donated to the Redland Museum by Norm Dean. Norm's Real Estate Firm, E.C. Dean and Sons gave financial assistance to the fridge project and hence the name 'Deanson Fridge''
One of the prototype fridges was used in the Bach family home for 20 years before being donated to the Thomland's State School Tuckshop where it was used for another 10 years.
At that time many domestic refrigerators used foul smelling sulphur dioxide as a refrigerant. A noisy belt driven compressor using a separate electric motor circulated the sulphur dioxide. To alleviate the noise many home-owners had the compressor and motor removed from the cabinet and situated under the house. The compressor was connected to the fridge by copper pipes, similar to how a split system airconditioner is installed nowadays.
The Deanson sealed unit compressor was much quieter than the old belt driven units' Wood patterns were machined at Thornlands and a Brisbane firm poured cast iron components in sand moulds made by the patterns. The cast iron components were then machined at the Bach Workshop along with the piston and Crankshaft. The conrod was out of an existing open unit.
The prototype units worked very well and production began in 1950. A set back occurred when some of the units needed to be recharged after a short time. Some of the castings were found to be porous and allowed the freon gas to leak, The foundry doing the castings couldn't guarantee that all of their castings would be non-porous.
The motor was also built wound and fitted to the compressor at the local workshop. The project was quite formidable for such a small firm and many problems had to be sorted out. One being that the windings had to be installed without using the customary varnish. Suitable insulation to allow the unit to be reliable had to be found.
The very reliable and lightweight Tecumseh stamped steel hermetically sealed unit was produced in the United States and available by the mid 50's. The units were soon made under licence by James N. Kirby in Australia. The efficiency and low cost of the Tecumseh unit negated any need for the continued production of the local compressor.
The sealed unit on display at the Redland Museum is one of only two known to be still in existence.
The second one was still in use and being used as a vacuum pump in an ignition distributor testing machine at Bach Electrical up until 2010.
On the next page is a history of Freon Gas and the Tecumseh Sealed Unit.
World Refrigeration Milestones:
The following information found on the Internet demonstrates how refrigeration development in the world compares to the development of the Deanson Domestic Refrigerator.
FREON GAS (History)
(See the website
Thomas Midgley headed the research into the new refrigerants. In 1928, Thomas Midgley, Jr. and Charles Franklin Kettering invented Freon; a "miracle compound". Frigidaire was issued the patent US#1,886,339, for the formula on December 31 1928.
In 1930, Kinetic Chemical Company was formed by General Motors and DuPont to produce Freon. From 1929-1935 Frigidaire and its competitors sold 8 million refrigerators in the United States using Freon made by the KCC. The world's first self-contained home air conditioning unit, called an Atmospheric Cabinet in 1932 by the Carrier Engineering Corporation which used Freon. The trade name Freon @ is a registered trademark belonging to E.I. du Pont & Company (DuPont).
Tecumseh's Compressor History:
The Tecumseh products Company actually started in Hillsdale, Michigan in 1932. ln that year Raymond Herrick and two of his friends formed the Hillsdale Machine and Tool Company, an organisation devoted to the manufacture of automotive parts. They had however, an idea for better refrigeration parts and in 1934 they purchased a 50,000 square foot plant in Tecumseh, Michigan and changed their name to Tecumseh Products. In 1938 they brought out the first hermetically sealed refrigeration unit but this line of business was sidelined for war production in the following years. By 1947, Tecumseh was a leader in the refrigerator compressor industry. ln November of 1950 they purchased the Universal Cooler company of Marion, Ohio, branching out into the air conditioning business.
ln July of 1952, Tecumseh Products announced its purchase of the 21 year old Acklin Stamping plant based in Toledo. Tecumseh had originally planned on building a new plant in Michigan and moving Acklin's employees and equipment, but Acklin refused, not wanting to "break a good organisation" and the company stayed in Toledo. lnitially at least, there were no changes to the company's management structure. Several Acklin executives took positions on Tecumseh's Board of Directors, and Tecumseh's President and Secretary took positions on Acklin's board.
James N. Kirby Australia was granted licensing agreements with the U.S.A. based Tecumseh and Crossley companies soon after World War Two. Kirby Australia were manufacturing the Tecumseh sealed unit compressors in Australia by the mid 1950's. The revolution of the Tecumseh Sealed Unit and the Freon Gas had every Australian foregoing their ice chest and buying a refrigerator.



Place Notes


Place Made


Medium and Materials

Indeterminate (Metals - Ferrous) Plastics (Synthetic Materials) Rubber (Synthetic Materials)

Inscription and Marks

<Engraved on white plastic logo toward upper left of door > 'DEANSON (in red circle in red across drawing of ice-capped mountain)'



600 x 550 x 1240

Credit Line

Donated by N.A.C. Dean

Object Type


Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

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