Sorry, haven't had a chance to put thorough info in here yet. I'll try to get pictures also. For now, here
is what you need to know to inspect a mangle:
If you already know how to use one, you are ahead of the game, but this is written as if you were not an experienced
Safety Warning: It pains me to say this, but in today's
crime-ridden world, you should ask yourself, do I trust the seller of this mangle? Am I going out to an unknown location,
meeting an unknown person, all by myself? In fairness to mangle owners, my experience has been that they are a noble
and honest group. Besides, you can't exactly ask the mangle owner to carry the 200-lb. mangle to a public place for
this inspection. I've gone out to many a wierd location to inspect a mangle and never had a problem, but here a
few steps I recommend for your self-protection:
1. Let someone whom you trust know exactly where
you are going and what time you expect to be back. Ask them to call you at that time to confirm you are back.
2. Take along a friend, preferably someone you
would trust in a crisis and someone who would not be scared to death after reading this!
3. During the inspection, arrange for your friend
to be within sight of you but far enough away to present a problem to someone who might want to do you harm.
4. Both of you take cell phones.
Inspecting a mangle:
1. First, read all the steps on the previous page "How to find a mangle." This will tell you what to expect.
Plan on bringing the following things with you:
a. Some basic tools--at least a pair of pliars, screwdriver/s for
both phillips and standard screws, and a crescent wrench or a 9/16-inch end wrench to open the oil drain plug,
b. A small bottle of hydraulic jack oil (see below)
c. An old pillow case, sheet or thin towel to use in an ironing test.
d. A wooden chopstick or something similar to check gearbox oil level and
e. A rag to catch or wipe oil drips.
f. Something to use as an oil drain pan if you have to drain the oil
(see the oil servicing section for some suggestions).
g. A flashlight to see what you're doing, because mangles are usually
in someone's dark storage room or garage!
2. Make sure there is a source of electrical power to test the mangle.
3. Look at general condition of cabinet, outside and inside. If it's really dented or rusty and you plan
on using the cabinet, don't buy it! If you're only interested in the working parts, read on!
4. Confirm the model number (back of cabinet).
5. Look at power cord. If it's cloth-covered, and/or a two prong plug, and/or cracked or frayed, it will
need to be replaced with a three-prong plug (about a $10 job) so base your offer accordingly.
For the following steps, open the cabinet cover:
6. Look at the motor, the underside of the cabinet, and the inside near the gearbox and under the roller.
If it is badly coated with oily residue, there has either been a leak or machine has been tipped onto its side and oil has
leaked out of gearbox. If it looks bad, don't buy it!
7. Move anything with hinges (black formica forming board, white "wings" on the sides, cabinet cover). Do
they move freely?
8. Check the oil. Please read Oil Servicing
before you go out to inspect. It's difficult to eyeball the oil quantity, but for inspection purposes, you
just need to see if there is any oil at all and that it's not congealed from lack of use.
Warning: Operating a gearbox with badly congealed or no oil could damage the many mysterious parts
I've always just peeked into the gearbox but I think the following "new" step is a better way ( I've never
used this, so if you try this and it's not practical, please let me know!):
a. Open the gearbox cover and dip your wooden chopstick as far down
to the bottom as you can get. Pull it out and see what clings to the wood.
b. If oil level is about an inch or so from the bottom, and it looks
viscous like motor oil, that's okay for testing.
c. If there's nothing at all, or you get clumps of congealed stuff like
a gel, you should probably drain the gearbox and add new oil. If it's really bad, you may want to fill once, drain,
and fill again to flush out the bad stuff (Mangle "purists" will say that you have to clean out the gearbox with some
type of solvent first, and that would be great in a perfect world, but I think using solvent would make this a way too complicated
process. The only reason I would do this is if, later in your inspection, you find that the knee levers and/or roller
do not operate properly. If you had the interest or the time during your inspection, and the owner didn't mind, you
could follow the "cleaning the gearbox" instructions in Oil Servicing
Note: If you eventually buy this, be sure to drain the oil out if you plan on transporting
this with the cabinet laid flat. Instructions on draining are in "oil servicing" section. Please dispose of oil
in a environmentally responsible way.
9. Look at the roller. Does it have a nice cover? Are there scorch marks on the cover, indicating uneven
heating? If it's really scorched, that means heating element or thermostat problems and you probably do not want
10. Check condition of the heating shoe (the silver heavy metal curved thing!)
If it's scorched, that's bad (see above on scorching). If it's just rusty or dirty, that can be fixed. Also
look for cracks. Cracks are a no-go.
11. Turn on the heat switch. Put thermostat lever at or just below mid-range.
Be careful! Don't burn your finger! After 3-5 minutes, carefully touch left, right, and center of heating
shoe. Does shoe heat evenly? If not, don't buy or plan on replacing the shoe/thermostat (a fairly big job and
requires another mangle to rob the shoe from!). Any bad smoking or excessive heat makes this a no-go. If your
inspection site is relatively quiet, you can try this step for checking the thermostat:
With the thermostat lever at a pretty high setting, listen for an electrical
buzzing sound which is the heating element at work. This sound is not always audible; I hear it about half the time.
If you hear it, turn thermostat lever down slowly and see if the buzzing goes away. If so, that's good because the heating
element has shut off based on your lower setting. There are more sophisticated ways to test the thermostat, involving
electrical test gadgets, but these are outside my field of expertise!
12. Turn on the motor switch. Motor should hum nice and quietly. Find a chair or something else to
sit on at the machine and operate the knee levers. One makes the roller lower onto shoe and rotate. The other
makes it stop. If none of this happens, check the red-tipped lever behind roller. This has two positions, "normal"
closer to roller and good for normal use and "released", or back away from roller. It should be in the normal position
for this test.
13. With your knees off the levers, and the roller just a little above the shoe, try practice ironing
the sheet or towel you brought. Realize that in practice, these things would have been sprinkled with water and
would be just a little damp but you probably won't do that here. Just operate the knee lever to get the roller
down on the shoe and feed your material into the machine. If it seems to feed in just fine, this part is okay.
14. If the machine is realtively clean and you've done all the steps above and nothing has clanked, burned, smoked
or stopped working, the machine is probably worth buying.
15. Again, a warning: If you buy this and need to lay it down for transporting, be sure and drain the oil!
Buying the Mangle, or, "How much should you pay?"
To understand mangle pricing you have to understand the following logic:
Let's face it, mangles are a thing of the past. These days, no reasonable person wants to spend his or her
time sitting at a machine doing ironing. That's why the Ironrite Company went out of business; no one wanted mangles!
So why are these things still in use? The same could be said about the Model T Ford. These are not practical
cars in modern times but there is a cult of people who spend a lot of money on them. There is a cult of Ironrite
mangle users. I believe that most people in this cult actually use the mangles. I use one every day to iron bed
and breakfast linens. I could go out and buy a Miele commercial ironing machine for over $2000 or I could use the old
Ironrite Model 75 that my friend gave me for free. Both do the same job. Once I used the Ironrite (at least 60
years old--the mangle that is!) I was hooked. It's kind of a thrill to use a machine that was built to last, and a further
thrill to maintain and repair it.
There are mangle owners out there who are not hooked and just want to get it out of their basement. If you locate
a "seller" like this, you might be able to get one for free. There are others who advertise mangles on eBay for as much
as $400. This type of seller knows the cult and knows people might be willing to pay big bucks for a good mangle.
So, what is a good mangle worth to you? If I had to pay $400 for a mangle, then needed to go out and buy a couple
more $400 mangles just for parts to maintain one operational mangle, I would soon approach the $2000 cost of a new Miele commercial
machine. I would give up and abandon the Ironrites.
Right now (February 2010) I can find operational Ironrite Model 85s or 95s for about $50. So it's still worth it
for me to be a member of the cult. They are becoming more and more rare, so the price may go up over time as mangles
wear out and are sent to the junk heap.
There is also the issue of location. If a person 200 miles away has a good mangle for sale for $50 but a person
one block away has a good one for $100, which is the better value?
Here is my bottom line advice on what to offer for a mangle:
If you are not in a hurry, pay no more than $50 for an "average" Ironrite. Pay no more than $100 for a "good" Ironrite
and no more than $150 for an "excellent" one.
If you just want it for certain parts, say so to the seller and offer less.
My own definitions:
Average: Small dents, scratches on cabinet. Little if any rust. Operates okay with no clicks or thumps
in motor or gearbox. May need a new cord. May some cleaning of heating shoe. Inside of case (where the ironing
actually happens) may need a little cleaning but is not irreparably stained or rusted. Muslin roller cover may be old
or a little brown, but not scorched. Castors (little wheels under the legs) all present but when rolled may thump a little
as wheels have worn down.
Good: Very few dents or scratches on cabinet. No rust. Heating shoe in ready-to-use condition.
Smooth, silent motor and gearbox and roller operation. Three-prong grounded power cord in good condition. Inside
of case, described above, is dusty only but otherwide ready to accept your best linens. Roller cover clean and ready
to use. Castors roll smoothly.
Excellent: Everything is shiny, clean and new-looking. Maybe a few little scratches on cover or legs but
inside is near-perfect. Gearbox has fresh, clean oil at correct level. Motor and gearbox operation very smooth
and silent. Roller cover looks new. Castors roll smoothly. Three-pronged power cord in good condition.
Ready to iron your best linens.