The word Ironrite in this case, is a noun. The Ironrite was a behemoth ironing machine, that dwarfs any conventional iron.
Back in the ’60s, my mom had one of these contraptions and it was stored away in her bedroom. To a curious kid it was a gold mine. “What was this big white, metal box with a metal chair sitting in front of it”. Well I found out one day when my mom sat down to use it on a load of clothes. She opened up the metal cover which was essentially a big metal box that was hinged at the back. She flipped down a black plastic shelf that sat in front of a big white roller. She flipped on a couple switches and you could hear a humming noise coming from the beast.
One of the main working parts of the Ironrite was a big cloth covered roller which spins round and round and moves up and down. When the roller was in the full down position, it spun against a metal platen that spanned the length of the roller and provided the heat source for pressing your clothes.
To operate the Ironrite, you needed to be a bit coordinated, because there were two levers attached to the bottom of the Ironrite that you actuated with your knees. You hit one lever to raise and lower the roller and the other lever to start the roller spinning. And if you held one of the levers, it made the roller go up and down.
Once you put your clothes in between the roller and the heating platen, and you lower the roller, and start the roller spinning, it will pull in whatever fabric you feed it. It will also pull in small fingers too, that’s probably why they have a manual release lever to lift the roller in emergencies.
Many, many years later as an adult, my wife and I took a vacation to Washington D.C. and we visited the Smithsonian Institution. As we were walking around we came across a good old Ironrite Automatic Ironer, it brought an immediate smile to my face and memories of burned and pinched fingers.
The link below is a YouTube video that I found, that shows how to use the Ironrite Ironer, check it out if you’re interested.