Vintage kitchen sink basket strainer — works MUCH better on my vintage Kohler sink

vintage basket strainer sinkHere’s a NOS kitchen product that has made my Dear Husband very happy.  

vintage basket strainer sinkGetting ready for my end-of-summer tag sale [ever seeking to lighten the load], I came across two New Old Stock kitchen sink basket strainers among my stashes. I had picked them up at some estate sale.

vintage basket strainer sink

Old stock sink strainer is on the right left.

Knowing that DH always has struggled to find a basket strainer that really works — one that really holds the drain closed so the water won’t slowly seep out — for our vintage Kohler sink, I brought the boxes upstairs to consult with him on giving the old stock a try. He was totally game.

So we did. We took a look and at first, were worried that the PVC or rubber or whatever it is on the bottom of the decades-old strainer would be too dried out, but it was fine.

We tested each one — locked each one down, ran the water, waited, and…

vintage basket strainer sink… Without question: The New Old Stock sink strainer worked better. No seepage. And DH says the gauge of the metal is much stronger.

Could it be that new basket strainers are meant for the design of modern sinks
— and you need a vintage basket strainers fit the old designs?
Or, are the old designs just better?

Seriously, as we were walking the dog last night, DH commented again on this strainer, out of the blue-ish (we had just finished cleaning up the dinner dishes). These things have been one of his lifelong pet peeves. He’s 56 years old, like me, and said he never has found one that really works. Finally.

Hurray for little pleasures! Hurray for vintage! Note: I think you should be able to get these on ebay, they are around if you also want to give it a try.


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  1. midmichigan says

    Sink stoppage technology has obviously moved into the realm of trying to fix something that wasn’t broken. Good comparo, product shootout, Pam. Thanks!

    • Ed says

      I’d say it’s devolved into “one size fits most”, and if you aren’t in the “most” group, you’re out in the cold.

  2. Allen says

    This is wonderful. I do agree that the older stoppers are much heavier and better built (like most things that are older). More importantly, I think its important that your stopper be designed for whatever brand drain you have (Sterling, Kohler, Elkay etc.). The sink i grew up with had Sterling drains and we had the original stoppers where the rubber finally wore out. The universal ones mom got never sealed correctly but once we sourced new Sterling stoppers, everything sealed fine again. The new stoppers were by far not as well made and heavy as the originals but they did keep the water from seeping.

        • pam kueber says

          I don’t know whether we received the original 1963 drain when we bought the sink. I mean, the four sinks. Yes, four sinks came with the kitchen that I salvaged. It was a former cooking school that had been run by nuns!

      • Allen says

        Our drains were brand labeled in very small lettering on the rim and on the bottom of the unit. Several drains I’ve seen do not appear to have lettering on the rim and I did not want to crawl in someone else’s under sink cabinet to see if they were labeled on the bottom. Sterling was apparently very good at labeling their plumbing hardware. My current bathrooms have Sterling faucets and drains from 1960 and all labeled “Sterling” in very small lettering.

  3. Janet in ME says

    Oh, wow, can I relate to this! My current double bowl sink is original to the house but not the stoppers – they leak, not fast but they do seep gradually. The sink in my last house was a single sink and I never had to worry about rinsing in the same sink and overflowing it, because the stopper leaked so badly, the water level never got up very high. But I did use a lot of dishwashing detergent! When we built a house in 1991, we got two extra stoppers when we bought the sink. The plumbing place thought it was an odd request but I get so ticked when the sink stopper leaks and you can’t find a replacement that fits. I agree that the old ones are heavier and better, for sure! Yup, leaky stoppers are a bee in my bonnet too!

  4. Eliza says

    In the olden days we used to wash our dishes in the sink, so we really needed the drainer to keep the water in the sink! I think these days most people don’t really notice/care because sinks rarely get filled up any more – just throw everything into the dishwasher.

  5. tammyCA says

    I hear ya! Thawing a turkey when the sink keeps draining is not good. Recently I was at my sister’s rental house doing the dishes in her vintage sink (double drain boards, too) & I immediately noticed the old heavy strainer..I remember these as a kid. Will have to look for one that’s made for my particular sink.

  6. Jay says

    Yes, NOS wins the day! You hit the jackpot, finding one that fits tightly and to think it was sitting in your own house. I’m beginning to think you have one of those mega-basements like WOT for your hoarding, I mean, storage,

  7. Erik says

    No need to hunt for new old stock. New kitchen sink basket strainers for vintage Kohler sinks are still being manufactured/distributed by Kissler & Co. in New Jersey.

    Kissler has many OEM replacement parts available for plumbing fixtures manufactured in the last 65 years for a number of different brands.

    I believe your Kohler specific basket strainer is Kissler 59-2606. See upper right hand corner of page 344 in this section of their catalog:

    The strainer can be purchased online at Faucet Shark or Chicago Faucet Shoppe.

    Perhaps a little spendy, but well worth the price if the generic replacement isn’t working out for you.

    Your local plumbing supply may also carry Kissler products. (Even Home Depot has a limited selection of Kissler products online.)

    See below to view other Kissler catalogs:

    I recently discovered Kissler because I’m in the process of rebuilding the original American Standard three-valve bathtub fixture in my 1953 home. Kissler distributes everything I need, right down to exact replacement faucet escutcheons to replace the heavily corroded, 62 year old originals. In fact, a complete rebuild kit is available via Home Depot.

    • pam kueber says

      Wow, what a resource! I can get lost in this place all weekend. Thank you!

      Yes, that looks like mine! But the online one costs $26.10 yowza. Yay for NOS found in an old garage at an estate sale.

      Note: I corrected the caption in my photo showing the two side-by-side. I got myself confused: The one on the left is the NOS one that works — the one that’s called “for Kohler” in your Kissler materials. WOOT!

  8. Erik says

    After re-reading your today’s article, I realize that you may not have a Kohler drain flange with your Kohler sink.

    Also – I wasn’t quite sure which strainer in your photos was the non-leaking one. I presumed it was the one that appears to be a Kohler and matches what is in the Kissler catalog.

    If it is the more rounded one, that also appears to be available from Kissler, part 59-2020 which is just to the left of the Kohler in the catalog that I reference in my prior post.

  9. Kristen says

    Today I think people move so fast and pay attention to so many things at once that small fixes like this are not even considered-small fixes that make a difference in daily life. These bring me such joy. I love this read. Well, as I love most every RR read!

    • pam kueber says

      Thanks! Yes, our lives are mostly filled with small, everyday pleasures — you are reminding me to celebrate them more!

  10. Mary Elizabeth says

    Wow, isn’t it the littlest things as well as the big splashy changes that make retro-renovators happy?

    I think the old baskets work better because they were made to go on the old sinks.

    In case you didn’t know this, to get that old stainless basket all shiny, use Cameo Aluminum and Stainless Cleaner. make a paste with a wet cloth, polish it all over, let sit five or ten minutes, and rinse and polish with a dry cloth.

  11. heidi trieu says

    Funny how I have had these for 11 years since we bought our 1958 house and I never thought “hey I have cool vintage strainer baskets”. I look at them with new eyes now 🙂

  12. Carolyn says

    My hubby doesn’t believe me when I say you have to start the water running while plugging the sink or it won’t seat properly. So think about this – if I was going to go through the time and effort to make something up, of all the nonsense I could think of, would it be this?!

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