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My new Dishmaster M-76 kitchen faucet — backdated with a vintage faceplate and circa-1948 lever handles

dishmaster faucet with vintage face plateSo our circa-2005 kitchen faucet pooped out after 10+ years of heavy use. It wouldn’t swivel easily anymore. I am sure we could have ordered parts to fix the swivel, but instead, I decided to install the new Dishmaster M-76 Imperial Four that I’ve had stored for about eight years. Yes: Dishmaster faucets are still made today! But then, I had two more ideas to hack the faucet further back into time — and they worked just fine!

You start with a new Dishmaster:

dishmaster face plates

My first hack: Adding a vintage faceplate:

In 2013 I did a story about all the vintage faceplates still in stock and for sale at the Dishmaster factory in Indiana. (Photo from the factory, above.) Readers snapped them up in no time flat. I already had three in hand and used the silver one on my new M-76. Totally cool!

original dishmaster kitchen faucet
My second hack: Add faucet levers from the first model Dishmaster:

This idea was even more genius, I thought: I had my plumber take the lever handle thingies off my NOS very old Dishmaster, which I had scored at The Amazing Electrolux Salesman Estate Sale in 2010. There has never been another estate sale to compare!

vintage dishmaster faucet in cullen meyer's apartment
Cullen rocks.

Note: My old Dishmaster seems to be a wall-mount model — although I am not really sure. It did not come with escutcheons, but maybe I could jury-rig those. Dangit. I did not think this through ahead of time. If it had been a clear-cut deck-mount model, I would have tried installing it — like Cullen did here!  

Note: The guts of old plumbing fixtures may not be up to current codes — for example, for lead used in their manufacture — consult with your own professional so that you can make informed decisions how to handle; for more info see our Be Safe / Renovate Safe page.

stealing parts from my original vintage dishmaster kitchen faucetMy excellent plumber was totally game to play with me and knew just what to do: He popped the black rubber (?) thingies off the top, unscrewed the levers, then screwed them onto the new Dishmaster. I believe he had to use the new Dishmaster screws, though, because the threads were different. Popped the black rubber thingies back on and voila! An even older look. 

Note: The levers that come with the new Dishmaster kind of stick out further, so that could be better ergonomics in terms of actually using the handles. On the other hand, the new levers [like the overall enclosure] are some sort of plastic with chrome plating, and although they seem nice enough to me, they don’t have the same heft — and certainly not the same groove factor — as the chromed pot metal (I assume) handles from my yee-old Dishmaster. My yee-old Dishmaster is basically so heavy you could use it as a weapon.

plugging the center hole when installing my dishmaster kitchen faucet

Installation fussing:

We immediately found that the Dishmaster would not sit level on my vintage Kohler cast iron sink. The deck of my sink was angled forward toward the bowls, which makes sense from a water-management standpoint. But, this was problematic for the Dishmaster — set on that deck without shimming, it looked tippy, most definitely unattractive and unacceptable to perfectionist me. So my plumber shimmed with some good plastic thingies he had in his truck… the Dishmaster tightened down nicely, then he filled in everything with silicon. So… the front of the Dishmaster does not sit flat on the front of the sink, it’s perched slightly above. It looks fine. It’s pretty darn level. If you really get your nose under and squinch, the silicon is ugly

So, improvising on the spot, my good-spirited plumber shimmed the thing with some hardy plastic thingies he had in his truck… he fussed to get it right (while I tried to help but basically just got in the way. When all was said and done: The Dishmaster tightened down nicely, pretty darn level. He then he filled in everything with silicon. If you really get your nose under the housing and squinch, the silicon is ugly globby. With more time we (I) might have crafted a more elegant solution [a homemade shimmed plastic escutcheon, perhaps?] But I was paying by the hour. It’s done. Perfectionist me let it go, for now, at least.

dishmaster kitchen faucet with optional vintage style faceplate

2018 update: Dishmaster is now reproducing the gold and black faceplates from the original tooling — see our story here. You can also buy direct from Amazon and when ya do, I earn a wee spiff that helps keeps the blog boat afloat:

When Dear Husband got home, he LOVED it. He didn’t notice the shimming at all. And moreover: I. Love. Using. The. Dishmaster! It is so fun! 

How the Dishmaster works (plus watch the short video above):

  • There’s a little plastic holding tank underneath the wand thingie.
  • You fill the tank with a tablespoon of liquid cleaner [Dishmaster’s special blend recommended] and top with warm water.
  • When you want to use the want, you pull up the black diverter.
  • Don’t push the red button on the wand, and the water runs clear.
  • Push the red button on the wand, and sudsy soapy water comes out the wand.
  • It’s kind of splashy until you get the feel for it. And I probably would still use my Dobie to clean really tough crud off of pots, for example. But like I said, for plates and glasses and silverware and the like: The Dishmaster is super fun — and seems to be effective — to use!

Seriously, we have lots of stories about The Dishmaster and the cool historical models:

CategoriesFaucets
  1. Erik Johnson says:

    “So our circa-2005 kitchen faucet pooped out after 10+ years of heavy use. It wouldn’t swivel easily anymore. I am sure we could have ordered parts to fix the swivel…….”

    Hope you didn’t put your $300 faucet in the trash.

    Single handle, washerless faucets are designed for very easy maintenance and repair. Individual parts and inexpensive rebuild kits are readily available and the repairs can be done by a homeowner who possesses average mechanical skill.

    Routine maintenance typically involves replacing the rubber seats and springs, ball seat/cam and packing, and spout o-rings. The ball assembly usually does not need to be replaced but is usually included in a rebuild kit. The above, a small container or tube of silicone faucet grease and 20 minutes of easy labor is all that is required.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Hello,
    I really don’t think this is the spot to post my question but hopefully it will forwarded to the right person. I am trying to purchase a 6 foot Aluminum Christmas Tree and Color Wheel and can not find out how to do it or the cost of the items. Can someone please help send me in the right direction?

    Warm Regards,
    Rebecca

  3. Evelyn Scott says:

    We had one in our 1960’s kitchen in San Diego when we moved there. Along with the knotty pine cabinets and pink refrigerator, my mom swooned. She even made pink curtains.
    My sister and I would literally fight over who was going to wash dishes! It was so fun and space-agey. Alas my Dad changed out the faucet when we got a newfangled dishwasher that had to be rolled over to the sink and attached to the faucet. It didn’t jive with the Dishmaster faucet fitting. I wonder what happened to our old one. Thanks for the memories.
    Ev

  4. linoleummy says:

    To. Die. For. That faceplate is the atomic bomb! You talked me in to getting a dishmaster too, and that wand is great for keeping a large, single-bowl sink clean.

  5. Lyndasewsalot says:

    Hi Pam. I know you have seen a gazillion retro kitchens. But I sent you a message awhile ago about my sewing studio that I was outfitting with all kinds of retro goodies. Including the Crosley cabinets we removed from the origional 1958 house that’s on the same property as the studio building. I sent you photos of my work in progress then. Well I’m finally done , and cleaning it up and organizing . I would like to send you pictures again. I don’t have a water source in the workshop, so the sink is not useable as a water source. The only thing I am missing is a faucet. The origional one replaced , with a hacked brass laundry tub faucet Everything else in the kitchen was still there. I will buy your broken faucet , (just to make things look complete) please let me know if you are interested in selling it to me. I’m excited to show you my workshop!

  6. Lyndasewsalot says:

    Oh , also your “new ” faucet looks fantastic. I love your attention to detail. It makes me feel more normal about mine! Lol

  7. Mary Elizabeth says:

    I am thinking of how long you have had that Dishmaster in the box–8 years, you said? Congratulations for getting one more thing out of your hoard–er–retro storage facility.

    It sounds like it saves dishwashing soap. Do you think it saves water also? Do you have to keep the water running throughout the dishwashing process, or just squirt the soapy thing and then rinse? The video didn’t make that clear.

    1. pam kueber says:

      So far, I’d say it definitely saves dishwashing soap.

      As for water — I’m not sure. In between soaping stuff up, I point the still-going sprayer at stuff to rinse it.

      Once you pull up the diverter, water starts flowing through the wand. First, sans the suds. Push the red button, and you get suds. Let go of the red button and the sprayer is still spraying.

      My only “complaint” and it’s minor may be that it gets a little tiresome holding down the red button. But there are only two of us at home now, and some stuff still goes straight to the dishwasher, so I’m not using it for hours or anything.

      A couple of days in and I’M STILL LOVING IT! Makes dishwashing fun! For now.

    2. Lizzy says:

      That will suck water at an alarming rate. It’s built for mid century water use ideas, not contemporary ones. The water runs as you wash, so it’s pouring down the drain as long as you’re at the sink. A dishwasher uses much less water ( contemporary ones use very little) and a dishpan even less.

      But they look awesome!

  8. Susan Halla says:

    My favorite part of the story is Pam’s use of the word “squinch”.

    Not a real word you say? But didn’t you immediately know exactly what it meant? I love made up words like that.

    When I eventually replace my kitchen countertops, I would love to have a Dishmaster. I am so excited to find that they are still made today! It would sure help out on the ucky sponge issue where it needs to be zapped in the microwave (more often than we do it) to remove all the little nasties. That and it looks totes amazeballs!

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