May 14, 2021
Olympia, WA
Model Number
Hello all,

I'm a newbie to this forum, and I'm looking for some advice. Last weekend, I bought an immaculate vintage fridge, still in working order. It's a 1939 General Electric 6 cu ft refrigerator. Model number is B6-39-A. (I have seen this type of fridge described as a "CF," but I am not sure what that stands for or means.)

210509 GE refrigerator in kitchen 1200x900 20210509_105224.jpg

I got it into the kitchen and went to plug it in -- and discovered that the power cord needs replacement. The outer insulation is broken where the cord meets the plug. I think the cord might actually be the original, because the plug is in an art-deco style. The previous owner had been using the fridge for years, but mentioned, "I think it needs a new cord." Roger that. I want to put this into regular service in my kitchen, and I'm not going to plug it in until the cord is replaced.

210510 power cord 1 1200x900 20210510_095252.jpg

Sounds simple, right? Well, no.

I do not consider myself at all skilled with electrical stuff, and there are some good reasons to call in a repairman with expertise. But whenever I call appliance-repair shops, I always get, "Oh, that's too old. We wouldn't know where to get parts."

So the only way I'm gonna get someone out to my house is to tell 'em, "I have the parts already."

The cord is super-easy to find. I bought one at Home Depot. But I found an excellent YouTube video last night about how to repair this model. It appears the cord attaches to a relay that is mounted on the condenser motor. The YouTube video has convinced me that the relay ought to be replaced at the same time. In addition, it looks like an in-line fuse should be installed to protect the motor. (Link here:

This means I have to locate a relay that will work with this fridge. Does anyone have any thoughts on where to turn? What should I be looking for? Part number? I don't know where to begin.

I've also read that there are "universal relays" available for those who cannot find OEM-style relays for vintage refrigerators. But again, I don't know what I'm looking for, or where to find it.

This is probably the most common prewar flat-top fridge on the market today -- I see 'em listed all the time. I actually have a near-identical working 1941 model that I picked up a couple weeks ago during my big "refrigerator hunt." That's out in my garage. My guess is that there must be a body of knowledge about these old GE fridges out there, and I just haven't managed to find it yet.

I know some of you are probably chuckling, "He's afraid to replace a power cord himself? A freaking power cord?" Well, there's something about it that spooks me. Take another look at that pic above, of the cord and plug. There's no ground. The plug isn't polarized. I know that's how they had to make things back in the day, but it doesn't seem the wisest way to go about things in an age when everyone has grounded outlets in their kitchens. Replacement cords these days are all grounded and therefore polarized. I wouldn't know the difference between the "live" terminal and the "neutral" terminal, and I figure it's a job for someone who knows what he's doing. If it would be safer to connect up the ground wire in the replacement cord, I'd want to do that, too. Yeah, I do need professional help. But first things first, I think it's on me to locate the parts.

Does anyone have any ideas on where to start?

Thanks much,

Erik Smith
Olympia, WA


Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Jul 11, 2006
Murray, Utah 84107, United States
The YouTube video has convinced me that the relay ought to be replaced at the same time.
No. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Does anyone have any ideas on where to start?
I'll make it super easy for you. Pick up a regular 3 wire power cord so it matches your outlet;

Cut the old power cord off so you're left with two wires coming from the machine, black wire and white wire. The white wire might look more gray-dark gray.

Connect the black wire from the new cord to the black wire going to the machine using a wire nut. Solder is better. Black tape alone won't last.

Connect the white wire from the new power cord to the white wire going to the machine.

Connect the green wire from the new power cord to any cabinet screw or any screw on the compressor frame. It might be easier to connect this green wire first to make sure the other two wires are long enough.

You're done! Easy Peasy. I'll make you a diagram: