Thread Number: 17565
Kenmore Progressive "Multi-Force" series
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Post# 189920   7/14/2012 at 21:52 (1,958 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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This is an overview of the Kenmore (Matsushita/Panasonic USA)Progressive Multi-Force upright vacuum cleaners. These are bagless machines. These come in two basic models. One is the Beltless; the other is the Twin Brush. These were made circa 2007.

Progressive is a generic name that Sears has used on many of their upper tier vacuum cleaners and doesn't describe a patented design, say, as Hoover's "Windtunnel" design and name does. In this particular case, "Multi-Force" refers to edge cleaning technology. The reference here is to the two separate vacuum sources in the floor nozzle.

The bagless feature is described by the name Easy Clean which is a type of bagless design that Sears has used on a number of Kenmore upright machines. They take a common Kenmore pleated element-type, cylinder-shaped primary filter.

I don't have a history of working for Sears; I'm in the very bottom-feeding zone of the secondary market. However, I don't see many of these machines. I pick them up when I can because repair parts for these two models are very dear.

The Beltless version in the pictures below is Model 116.33912301. I've got a couple of these in blue and have seen one in red.

Post# 189921 , Reply# 1   7/14/2012 at 21:55 (1,958 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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In this picture, the twin hose sources of vacuum to the floor nozzle are shown, the basis for the "Multi-Force edge cleaning system." There is a diverter valve in the hose on the operator's left side. With the handle upright, all vacuum is directed to the hose; when the handle is moved out of the lock position, the value cams open and all vacuum goes to the floor nozzle.

Post# 189922 , Reply# 2   7/14/2012 at 21:56 (1,958 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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In this picture, you can see that the bagless canister is not accessible from the front, but rather from the back which is somewhat unconventional. Under the tool door (where is says Progressive) resides a turbo hand tool.

Post# 189923 , Reply# 3   7/14/2012 at 21:57 (1,958 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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Back of machine.

Post# 189924 , Reply# 4   7/14/2012 at 22:00 (1,958 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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Closer pic of back of machine. Dust bin is a tight fit. The empty cavity is for a combination upholstery tool/dusting brush. These are narrower than those used on most Matsushita-made Kenmores and harder to find. Replacements cost almost $20. Parts for these machines are expensive, and they seem in particular to victimize people on the most commonly needed parts. Bulb, $5.

Post# 189925 , Reply# 5   7/14/2012 at 22:01 (1,958 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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Picture of the bottom which shows the Beltless brushroll. It's a fat thing, because it contains its own long, narrow motor within. Replacement cost? $138.

Post# 189926 , Reply# 6   7/14/2012 at 22:03 (1,958 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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Here's what the brushroll looks like out of the machine. In this picture, you can see the brushes and commutator. This one is a spare out of a donor machine.

Post# 189927 , Reply# 7   7/14/2012 at 22:09 (1,958 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        
On to the next version of this machine

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This is a long string of posts, but of necessity due to the pictures.

The pictures following are of the second version of the Progressive Multi-force, the Twin Brush. So-called because it has two counter-rotating brushrolls, long skinny things. The one in the pictures is Model 116.32735201. I've worked on many Hoover V-2 series and have never warmed up to the multiple brushroll gimmick. To my way of thinking, the more moving parts, the more there is to go wrong. Also, multiple brushrolls tend to be smaller in size due to the limited space they are accorded. The more numerous, smaller parts seem to wind debris around themselves more quickly than a single roll.

Both of these designs, the Beltless and the Twin Brush have a means of turning off the brushroll for doing hard floors. The Beltless has a three position power switch and the control is electrical. The Twin Brush uses a mechanical belt lifter in the floor nozzle to do this.

Post# 189928 , Reply# 8   7/14/2012 at 22:10 (1,958 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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Floor nozzle.

Post# 189929 , Reply# 9   7/14/2012 at 22:10 (1,958 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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Twin brushes:

Post# 189930 , Reply# 10   7/14/2012 at 22:11 (1,958 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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Front of machine:

Post# 189931 , Reply# 11   7/14/2012 at 22:12 (1,958 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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Back of machine:

Post# 189932 , Reply# 12   7/14/2012 at 22:13 (1,958 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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Closer of back of machine:

Post# 189964 , Reply# 13   7/15/2012 at 04:05 (1,958 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke (Orlando, FL)        

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Are you quite sure they were made in 2007? I sold them at Sears in 2002! They had an orange one as well and the only difference between the orange and blue one was that one of them had a longer cord by a few feet and came with a 20 or 30 foot extension hose... They didn't sell well at all, especially the twin brush model (of course neither did the WindTunnel V2)... we always steered people to the purple bagged Direct Drive or Self-propelled WindTunnel when I worked there...

Post# 190012 , Reply# 14   7/15/2012 at 13:24 (1,957 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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No, I'm not quite sure of the date. Since you worked at Sears, you would know better than I do. The date I quoted I read elsewhere on the internet; your experience is first hand (my sister says you can't believe anything you read on the internet and sometimes I think she may be right). If these are marked as to date of manufacture, I haven't yet figured out how to read the codes. I had an idea that these were low production (meaning, didn't sell well) but only circumstantially. Part of the serial number identifies the actal unit number, typically the last six digits or so. On these machines, the ones I've seen were all under 10K. The two Beltless models I have are in the 7K range and the Twin Brush is number 6666. I believe each separate model has it's own serial range.

From seeing the on-line versions of the owner's manuals, I've noted that they sometimes have multiple model numbers on the cover. When I backtrack and look up model numbers and find pictures, I've found that two separate model numbers might have the same appearance, e.g., two blue Beltless models that look the same. Sometimes this was only a consumer package that caused the use of a different model number, such as accessory hose or cord length as you say. Hoover used to do this with the Windtunnels and may still for all I know.

From having worked on a lot of Kenmores (in the secondary market, mind you, not for Sears), I've noted a dizzying array of model numbers. Sometimes I've worked on two that appeared exactly alike but had distinctly separate model numbers. Looking closer, I'd notice that the back castings were differing shades of gray or something subtle like that. Of course, if the difference was an accessory hose or disposable bag package, I'd have no knowledge of that just based on the machine in front of me, because those items would be long gone.

I agree that the purple bagged Beltless upright would be a better machine for the consumer. To begin with, it takes a bag. Secondly, I find the dirt bin on the Progressive Multi-force to be fussy and awkward to use. My view is that consumer products should be designed as much as possible with ease of use in mind. Thirdly, the Multi-force machines are more complicated, especially the Twin Brush. Fourthly, the Multi-force machines are more fragile in construction, partly due to the nature of their design.

Post# 190024 , Reply# 15   7/15/2012 at 15:14 (1,957 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke (Orlando, FL)        

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The date code is built into the model number, but even we didn't understand it sometimes... it was very cryptic. Kenmore did that with a lot of their Progressives, uprights and canisters... we used to have to do our own signage for prices and it was just a nightmare to change all those little plastic tags just because the model number as different because of a different color or extra accessory. Often, the one with the longer cord and hose would be on sale and the other one wouldn't... I used to demonstrate the long hose by putting it on the vacuum and talking clear down past the washers and dishwashers and ending up in the housewares department :o)

I actually liked the look of these and wished they'd sold better. I remember once I was talking to a lady about them, and she joked about buying the blue one and the orange because she liked the Florida Gators football team! They came out at a really bad time, because right after they came out, we got Dyson in the USA and once people saw that there was a bagless without a paper pleated filter, these really didn't sell! The twin brush model was hard to push... the regular direct drives at least helped you out on the forward stroke and then groomed and lifted the pile... the twin brush always had something fighting against you no matter which direction you were going (of course it always had something working with you too, with both brushes counter rotating), and the work of grooming seemed to be undone by the brushes going in both directions...

I see yours are missing the mini-upholstery tool as well... My bagged direct drive takes that one and I'm trying to find it, but haven't been able to... I think I'm just going to get it from if it is still available (it was a few months ago, but I kept thinking I'd see one on eBay cheaper)....

Post# 190116 , Reply# 16   7/16/2012 at 00:20 (1,957 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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Oh yes, those mini-upholstery tools are still available but they are the ones I said cost $19- and some odd cents. You may as well say $20, but add shipping to that which Sears gets you for big-time. For just this one little item, shipping will likely be between $7 and $9. I don't order Kenmore parts from Sears very often but if I do, I try to accumulate a list of several items to maximize the value of the shipping. I attempt to use as many recycled Kenmore parts as I can. Certain Kenmores I take regardless of condition just to get parts. The Beltless Multi-force I used as a donor had been placed too close to a wood stove; one side was saggy and melted. The telescoping wand had been fused into one piece.

Kenmore parts, in general, are fairly expensive. The exception to this rule is most of the parts for the various models made by Phone Mate. Most of these parts are much cheaper than Matsushita parts, again, with some exceptions. They have focused on a few vital, high-turnover parts to jack the prices. Like an exhaust filter, $38, which isn't any more involved that a similar Eureka filter that costs $5.99 from HESCO. The Phone Mate machines, by the way, were made in '07 and '08, and thereabouts. Most (but not all) Phone Mate serial numbers include month and year of manufacture in the first four digits of the unit serial number. My experience with the Phone Mate machines is that they don't sell well in the secondary market. They tend to be heavy and kinda clunky. They are well-made enough, but some models have quirky little weaknesses in design that result in an easily broken part.

I've got a few of those bagged Beltless Direct Drive machines like yours. I believe you mean the later ones, most of them a sort of blue/gray color. These are a little better than the earlier purple ones. Or at least it seems that way to me. I like them. They are a premium machine, so when I get one ready for sale I place a higher price on it. Yes, they take that mini upholstery tool. Unlike the Multi-force machines which have a formed cavity for the tool, the bagged Beltless Direct Drive has the two prongs and you can get away with a similar but non-original tool. The coiled cord crowds it a bit.

Selling a premium grade used machine is just like selling a Ford versus a Lincoln, Chevrolet vs. Cadillac. It's higher priced, so it sits there longer. I sell lots of Windtunnels (and even Bissell Lift-Offs, the only Bissell I will work on) in the time I sell one Kenmore Direct Drive. Eventually, some special customer comes along who likes all those fancy buttons and features on it and it goes to a new home.

Right now I have one of those blue/gray Kenmore Direct Drives that I've had ready to sell for at least a couple of months. I've got two or three more that are waiting for refurb. Ditto a few of the earlier purple ones. Because they are slow movers, I only build one as I sell one. I don't want to get way ahead in something that doesn't move. On the other hand, just this afternoon, I refurbed three Hoover Windtunnel dual chamber bagless machines at the same go, just like an assembly line. By coincidence, they are all the same kinda platinum metallic color. The hoses are still drying out from washing, but that will be done in a couple of days and all three will be ready to go. But I know these will sell quickly; I just sold one like them this afternoon.

The Kenmore Direct Drives would probably sell as quickly as the Windtunnels at the same price. I just don't feel like letting the better machines go for less than I think they should get.

Post# 190135 , Reply# 17   7/16/2012 at 02:52 (1,957 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke (Orlando, FL)        

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Hey there... I think that the original purple ones were actually better than the models they preceded... the later blue one that I have is missing some features that the older ones had... The older ones had 4 rows of bristles, the newer only has two, the older ones had an adjustable sensitivity for the dirt sensor, the new one does not (I don't personally care about this, but it's an example of them removing features over time), the older ones had a sensor that stopped the brushroll if the hose was pulled out, even if the handle was reclined (again, most people wouldn't need this as they would use the attachments with it in the upright position, but still it's a "taking away features" thing)... I also like the looks of the older one better and the rocker switch for bare floors and the slide switch for power. I prefer a slide switch over the electronic buttons on the newer style... I like a positive click when I turn on or off a vacuum, it makes me feel like I'm really doing something.... plus the covering of the buttons on the touch pad of the newer styles wears through over time with repeated use.

Of course they made improvements as well... variable motor speed, multi-stage dirt sensor, gentle sweet feature, hinged bag door, suction all the way up the bag chamber instead of just a hole at the bottom, on board storage for the turbo tool (which sucks by the way, especially compared to a Hoover WindTunnel), an anchor for the hose so the machine doesn't fall over during attachment use, but I think that overall, the older one was a more solid and proven design with better performance and reliability.

I know that mini-upholstery tool is insanely over priced, but it is something that I would use and it would make the machine complete (as far as on board attachments go, I still wouldn't have the peripherals like the extension hose and bare floor tool)...

It is my prediction that one day, we will see Kenmore vacuums cease to exist, so they are very likely something to hold on to and to get parts for while you still can. I say this because Sears has already stopped selling Kenmore branded sewing machines... I noticed they were gone from the web site and store several months ago and I asked the associate about it the other day when I was in Sears.... she said they stopped selling them about 8 months ago with no explanation and there were no plans to get them back. They sell only Brother and Singer now, and not very good ones at that (not to say that Brother doesn't make some decent machines, I have 2 and they are excellent ((Sears just doesn't have any decent ones currently)), but it's hard to compete with the quality and reliability and value for money that the Janome made Kenmore machines provided, much like the Kenmore branded Panasonic vacuums)....

Which Kenmore models were made by Phone Mate? I knew about LG and Panasonic, and I remember reading something about Phone Mate making the vacuums for Sears, but I don't remember which models those were! I'm quite sure those were after my time. I think I assumed the Phone Mate models were TTI made before I was schooled properly :o)

Post# 190144 , Reply# 18   7/16/2012 at 06:54 (1,956 days old) by eurekastar (Big Spring, Texas)        

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Those are very interesting designs.  Like so many modern vacuums, they seem to be over engineered, thus making them difficult to repair.  But they also look like they would be very effective cleaners.  The brush roll on the beltless model looks so big that it might actually restrict airflow and also prevent larger debris from getting getting swept/sucked into the air path.

Post# 190177 , Reply# 19   7/16/2012 at 13:38 (1,956 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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I agree that the electronic on/off switches can give the older of us the feeling of, "Is it really going to come on?"

The Phone Mate machines are kind of a family of product, sharing lots of molds for plastic parts that have a range of compatibility across the product line. They made bagged and bagless versions, with the bagged being the more common in my own experience. They made several iterations of bagless, with a dual chamber version most common of their type, but also single chamber types as well. I don't remember all of the names, but one of the single chamber bagless was the Retraxx, with the "big draw" being a retractable cord. Another one I had was a kind of metallic maroon, dual chamber, heavy as lead, with an electronic automatic carpet level adjustment. I thought my wife would have to place it in my casket with me but a customer came along who just fell in love with it.

As ever, the Progressive name was used on some. I've got a couple of these at present, one for sale, the other partially refurbed but I won't finish that one until the first one goes away. These are both Models 216.37105.800. I won't mess around with the other Phone Mate models; I've learned to stick with the basic bagged Phone Mates.

I've seen Phone Mate Kenmores in a local Sears store as recently as, oh, maybe 18 months ago. In my last tour of the vacuum department several weeks ago, they no longer had any. The ones I saw 18 months ago could've been old inventory. The build dates on the two that I have at present are '07 and '08. The local Sears store still carries new, north American-made Hoover Windtunnels, but these have build dates in '08 and '09.

Oh, wait a minute. I just checked my storage building and I found another Phone Mate product. I'd forgotten about this one. It needs an expensive filter so I haven't done anything with it yet (and won't unless I can get a filter that costs less than what I can resell the machine for!). I'll include three pics of it below. We probably should start another thread re. the Phone Mate machines.

I agree, the way Sears is going, the Kenmore brand may disappear but so might the entire business the way things are going. Sears is in some financial trouble; their trend has been to introduce more and more brand-name merch. and reduce the amount of stuff that carries their private brand. I guess the marketing people have decided that consumers prize main-line brand names and don't identify with Sears brands. Also, they might find (in the world of made in China) that simply buying mainstream merch. in the long run is cheaper than contracting separately for it. It's becoming more apparent in the tool department, with Craftsman names being somewhat displaced by other branded names.

Phone Mate-made Kenmore Progressive:

Post# 190178 , Reply# 20   7/16/2012 at 13:38 (1,956 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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Another pic of the Phone Mate Kenmore Progressive:

Post# 190179 , Reply# 21   7/16/2012 at 13:39 (1,956 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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One more of the Phone Mate Progressive, the back:

Post# 190180 , Reply# 22   7/16/2012 at 13:50 (1,956 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        
On to the Model 116.37000800

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Okay, this is another Kenmore model made by Phone Mate. This, I believe, is their bottom of the line product. On this one, they recycled the name "Quick Clean" which is found on certain low-end Matsushita USA bagless vacs branded Kenmore. This is the stripper model. No pet tool, no fancy features, no head light. Lovely white and lavender color combination. Someone swiped the filter out of this one before I got it; it involves a unique filter only used by this model. It's a gentle tapered shape, and the filter is incomplete without a seal and two supports that hold it in place. The Kenmore parts schematic show the parts as included in the filter number.

Post# 190181 , Reply# 23   7/16/2012 at 13:51 (1,956 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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Post# 190182 , Reply# 24   7/16/2012 at 13:53 (1,956 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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Still another:

Post# 190235 , Reply# 25   7/16/2012 at 19:44 (1,956 days old) by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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I was wondering about some of these uprights. I saw a green Kenmore Progressive bagged upright recently and was wondering around what year it was. It was not a HEPA machine and under Progressive it had the words "Power Path". It also had a pedal to shut off the brushroll.

I kind of surprised the machines pictured in this thread date back to 2002. I would have thought later.

As for Kenmore vacs disappearing, I kind of doubt it. Also, Sears has one of the best vacuum departments of most retailers, IMO. The Kenmore canisters also are still a good value, and Sears is really one of the few stores where you can buy a canister vacuum.

Also, if Sears got rid of their house brands, I think they may as well go out of business altogether. There would be no reason to shop there when you could buy name brands at other stores. I am wondering what may happen though, as I hear the Craftsman brand is going to be sold at a hardware chain separate from Sears.

Post# 190251 , Reply# 26   7/16/2012 at 20:57 (1,956 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke (Orlando, FL)        

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Thanks for sharing those pictures, I remember those things now, though I don't have any first hand experience with them.... they are definitely the ones I thought were TTI until I learned differently. The looks don't impress me much (isn't that a song?)... How do they compare to the Panasonics?

Post# 190276 , Reply# 27   7/17/2012 at 00:00 (1,956 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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The Kenmore Power Path is Matsushita USA/Panasonic, made (I believe circa early 1990's), very good machines. Two motors. Nice but simple styling.

I don't know that Sears needs house brand merch. to survive. These days other stores don't need it to succeed. The Sears-Roebuck name doesn't carry much cache with consumers these days, so their house brands don't serve much purpose. What they need is to shed lots of debt that came about from corp. m & a activity, plus stop Sears Holdings taking money out of the retail side and putting nothing back in.


My personal preference is for Matsushita products and not for the Phone Mate stuff. Phone Mate tend to be clunky, heavy, some models distinctly top heavy. Styling isn't as good in my view as Mats. Some basic design flaws that lead to broken parts that shouldn't be. Then there is the deal with plastic. Plastic is plastic, right? Matsushita uses mostly ABS which is a known chemical formula. Manufacturers in "other countries" might be less picky about what materials they use in consumer products and I'll leave it at that.

One interesting design thread that weaves its way into all of the Phone Mate products that I've seen is the white surround that drapes around the back. So all designs are a kind of two tone, with a color and the white "background" if you will. Some of the colors they use are down-right awful. The Retraxx is an odious olive green; one of the single chamber bagless models is a weird kind of mustard yellow with a hint of green (think baby puke); the over-heavy one I mentioned with the electronic carpet level adjustment is a strange kinda maroon, not quite plum, not quite red, metallic. The basic, common navy blue is about their best color.

Post# 191468 , Reply# 28   7/26/2012 at 00:36 (1,947 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke (Orlando, FL)        

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Gary, I wanted to add something to this discussion.... when these were made, they also made another very similar machine (it was the same basic style, in a different color, I don't remember what the color was now), and it was also direct drive with one big brushroll, but it had one big difference... the brushroll actually went forward and reverse depending on which way you were pushing or pulling the handle... the handle was like that of a self propelled vacuum and that told the brushroll what direction to move in.... it didn't sell well or last long at all, but what a cool concept. I haven't seen any since the early 2000s when I sold them at Sears, and I don't remember ever selling one, but it was definitely to compete with the self propelled Windtunnels at the time...

I didn't like it because there was a lag in the transition time and you had to wait for the brushroll to stop and reverse direction before you could move the cleaner the other way (it took fractions of a second, but still)... it wasn't a smooth free flowing motion like normal vacuums provide.... also the brushroll never went "against the grain" when you pulled back, so it really didn't groom well....

Post# 191471 , Reply# 29   7/26/2012 at 00:57 (1,947 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds, WA)        

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That's an interesting idea. I haven't seen one of the machines that you describe, but my first thought when you described it was the technical complication involved with the reversing process. My thinking is that as a consumer product, vacuum cleaners shouldn't be over-the-top complicated. People have enough trouble with broken belts. Most people thrust the machines forward and backward fairly quickly and a hesitation for transition would be a significant drawback.

Since we've been discussing this, I think I've found an NOS filter for the purple basic Phone Mate for a reasonable price. It may yet make it back to the used vac lot.

Post# 191491 , Reply# 30   7/26/2012 at 08:56 (1,946 days old) by kirbylux77 (Orillia, Ontario, Canada)        

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Gary, I have been keeping an eye on this thread for a while now, & I must admit, I at first thought you were misinformed about PhoneMate making the newer Progressives & the Quick Clean, but I will trust your word since you seem to know so much about them. But one thing that occured to me....Did TTI contract out to PhoneMate then for some of their models? In particular, the Dirt Devil Reaction D2 dirt cup & design looks VERY much identical to the PhoneMate made Dual Chamber vacuum. Also, if you look at Dirt Devil Vision's, as well as their other offerings, it appears that Dirt Devil are using the EXACT SAME Dirt Tube coming from the powerhead as what is on the Quick Clean, & the same tools too for that matter. And if you look at the Quick Clean, the pleated tower filter it uses is a shortened Dirt Devil F1 filter the Vision models use. Same with the Retraxx, the round HEPA filter that sits in top is off another Vision model.

Another possibility entirely is that both TTI & PhoneMate were contracting out their designs to Chinese firms, such as Kingclean, to have their vacuums made for them to their designs & specifications. I just can't ignore the obvious similarities to the Dirt Devils....and there has to be SOME explanation for it!


Post# 380645 , Reply# 31   11/4/2017 at 11:58 by carolinaguy1996 (Candler, NC)        
Reviving An Old Thread

I need to adress some things here...

1. The lavender Kenmore is supposedly a girl's machine due to the color, and because girls love things that are simple and not complicated.

2. Sears is definitely dying, because Amazon is the new way of shopping (but at least Home Depot and Lowes will still be around).

3. Cleva now makes Kenmore machines and not Panasonic.

4. I agree that the bagless machines are terrible. I agree that the spare parts for those machines tend to be expensive.

5. The canister market for department stores is small nowadays. I know uprights are easy on closet space, but most people nowadays end up with a dust mop (Swiffer is ass) due to hardwood flooring being the norm in homes.

6. A machine that is over-built means higher price, but it is more likely to break down.

7. How about Dyson get deported back to England. No offense to the fans, but you may want to peek into the bagged market...

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