Is it a range or a dishwasher? Yes, it’s both: the 1954 Universal range + James dishwasher

That’s not any ordinary vintage range. It’s a Universal range — with a built-in portable James dishwasher. Those American industrial designers — they tried everything at least once it seems!

The retro decorating gods wanted us all to know about these Universal-James contraptions because in the course of one week I was gobsmacked by not one — but two — of these Universal ranges with built-in James dishwashers online for sale. Joel tipped me to the first one, on a craigslist ad in Lansing, Mich., complete with owner’s manual. Then, I stumbled upon the same design on automatic washer. At first I thought they were the same listing in two places, but then I went to add the links and golly, two different ones!

Many thanks to John, who sent me a lot of photos, understating:

There isn’t to much history behind this.  My wife’s father sold Universal Stoves in the 1950’s.  He was based out of Kansas City.  This was used as their day to day stove until I disconnected it around 2004.  I had full intentions of restoring this myself and using it as a conversation piece, but things change.  I have moved it twice.  We are getting ready to move again in a few months and I was told we weren’t moving it again.  It is quite heavy.   

For sale on:

And more:

Video of the James dishwasher in action:

It’s just a few steps up from sitting watching paint dry (which, I am not kidding, I did this year, working on that Lounge), but I found a video of the James dishwasher in operation. Oh the wonders of YouTube. Oh the wonders of craigslist and automatic washer and the www and of all you dear readers who find these things to share with the RR community which can’t think of almost anything better than a vintage range that is also a dishwasher!

  1. sherree says:

    I have owned 2 of these Universal ranges (sans dishwasher) over the years. The first came with our first home we purchased early in our marriage. The second was purchased from a local church who used it in their fellowship hall for funeral dinners. It was like new; the broiler had never been lit. I always assumed that the empty area behind the left side door was for an optional second oven (although the door pulled out and was not hinged), but now know that the dishwasher was also an option! I used it for pot/ pan storage and put lids in the drawer below. I will say this: they were the best stoves I have ever cooked on. The pilot lights located near the burners enabled me to raise bread or rolls quickly by just sitting the pan on top of the stove. I also loved the electrical outlet located near the clock that allowed a crock pot or waffle iron to be used in that large center area between the burners. I am sure they are no longer “code” in many places since the ovens had to be lit manually (at least on the 2 I have owned).

  2. ineffablespace says:

    Engineers and designers have tried this at least three times I guess. In addition to Universal, where the range seems to act more or less as a parking garage for the portable DW, Frigidaire, I think, offered a combination eye level oven-cooktop-and DW in the typical lower oven location in the 1960s-1970s.
    A European company named Candy offers the Trio, a cooktop over a short oven over a DW on the bottom. At least they did a few years ago.

  3. Dan says:

    Went to an estate sale this year that had a combo range/oven/sink/refrigerator in a unit about this size, a combination that makes more sense to me.

  4. Chris says:

    We bought a used Universal stove when first married. My wife says it was the best baking stove. Ours was storage. Some I’ve seen have a gas space heater here, but never saw a dishwasher. Being a gas guy, had to relight many of these. Still remember an old Sheboygan lady hollering at me for not knowing about heater pilot.

  5. Liz says:

    O M G !!! Where can I get one! This would so solve my issues of adding a dishwasher to my 120 sq ft 1940’s kitchen!! I am in love!!♥️♥️♥️♥️

  6. Joe says:

    A great idea! The dishwasher mechanism seems awfully complicated compared to today’s models.

    People seemed to be free to dream and invent back then, and so they did! What a great time to have been alive! I wish we had some of that ingenuity today in ways other than cell phones.

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