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Post# 234113   5/26/2013 at 23:01 (1,851 days old) by s31463221 (Frenchburg, KY)        

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Okay guys, I think I'm in the right category here, if not someone please.correct me! Anyway, I just won an eBay auction for a Bison Centurion. I know what they look like and a small amount of history on them, but not much. Does anyone have a complete history of Bison they would be willing to share? Also, did this Bison I won belong to anyone on vacuumland? Thanks!

P.S. I will be sure to post photos of it when I get it!

Post# 234114 , Reply# 1   5/26/2013 at 23:09 (1,851 days old) by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        
In a nutshell...

A guy who worked for Kirby thought he could build a better one, he copied most everything, changing it just enough to get around the patents, what he ended up with was arguably one of the all time best cleaning uprights ever made, unfortunately, it was not great on reliability,but man what a collectable, and really a phenomenal rug cleaner, the motor is a GE and is great, the big problem was the rug head drive assembly was short lived, a Good friend of mine, Clay Floyd was a dealer for Bison and said he actually had a few that broke down on demo!

Post# 234129 , Reply# 2   5/27/2013 at 03:47 (1,850 days old) by s31463221 (Frenchburg, KY)        
Broke down during demo?!

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Yikes! Now THAT would stink, not to mention kill any possibility of making a sale during that demo! Thanks for the info though, I knew these things were pretty rare, that's why I decided to take a chance and pop a bid in on it when I found it, never dreaming I would actually win it! I admit it was a gamble since there weren't any photos to go by, just a description........BUT the seller had 100% feedback so we shall see I suppose! Thanks again Hans!

Post# 234133 , Reply# 3   5/27/2013 at 04:42 (1,850 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

Is that one of the reasons Bisons are hard to find-their breakdown problems?This would make most non vacuum lover folks throw the machine out rather than have it repaired.

Post# 235436 , Reply# 4   6/6/2013 at 12:29 (1,840 days old) by s31463221 (Frenchburg, KY)        

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I got my Bison and all of the attachments, and have finally put it together. I have to say, I can see why it wasn't the most popular vacuum in the world, after being used to how easy a Kirby is to assemble and disassemble, this thing is a BEAST (pardon the pun!). It's certainly an impressive looking machine though! Now, with that said, I do have a couple of questions about it. First, is the headlight a standard 110V bulb, or is it a special voltage one? Second, what type of belt does this thing take? The seller included an original Bison belt and a Hoover flat type belt, but while both are close in lenght, they BOTH seem too long for the vacuum, either that or I'm trying to put it on wrong or something....I would appreciate ANY help on these! Thanks!

Post# 235437 , Reply# 5   6/6/2013 at 12:31 (1,840 days old) by s31463221 (Frenchburg, KY)        
A close-up

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Of the tag on the handle.....

Oh yes, if anyone else who owns one would care to take a photo of it from behind, I feel like there is a cover or something mine is missing, please let me know. Thanks!

Post# 235522 , Reply# 6   6/7/2013 at 09:36 (1,839 days old) by kirbyguy (Chicago North Shore Burbs.)        
Nice machine. But what a beast indeed.

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I have the exact same model Bison as you. As impressive as the Bison looks I've gotta admit its no fun to vacuum with. Its one of those machines that's for show as opposed to actually using. Not to mention the roaring motor noise.

As for the belt. I replaced the flat belt with a knuraled Kirby belt and it works great on the beast.

All in all your new find looks good. Enjoy.

Post# 235523 , Reply# 7   6/7/2013 at 09:46 (1,839 days old) by kirbyguy (Chicago North Shore Burbs.)        
Rear photo of my Bison.

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Here's a rear photo of my Bison. Hope this answeres your cover question.

Post# 235584 , Reply# 8   6/7/2013 at 16:04 (1,839 days old) by bisonian (Where the buffalo roamed! (Ocala, FL))        
RE: Headlight bulb

I'm at work at the moment, so I can't double check on my machine, but if memory serves, that is a 24-volt bulb.

Just to fill in a little history, Bisons were made here in Ocala, Fla., in a factory just off I-75. IIRC -- Clay Floyd would know this better than I would -- the earliest ones (the green Mark 1) were farmed out to a N.Y. manufacturing plant, while the company was based in Orlando.

By the time of the Centurion, (1975? I think) company HQ had moved from Orlando to Ocala, and the new factory here was in operation. The mayor of Ocala received the first machine off the assembly line. Legal and financial problems put the company out of business by the mid-80s.

The factory building is still visible from I-75. It now houses the welcome center for E-One, a fire truck manufacturer.

Rick C.

Post# 235599 , Reply# 9   6/7/2013 at 18:40 (1,839 days old) by caligula (Benton, Pa)        
Hi Steve.

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That is one fantastic Bison.

Thanks Hans, great history on this machine. By the way, how is Clay? I haven't been in contact with anybody from the old club for many years. Please fill in the blanks for me.

Alex Taber.

Post# 369674 , Reply# 10   3/31/2017 at 15:15 (446 days old) by s31463221 (Frenchburg, KY)        
Reviving an old thread......

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Just thought I'd revive this old thread. I am giving some serious consideration to selling my Bison Centurion II (photos of the unit above). I've enjoyed it, and it runs fantastically as it always has. Truth is, I just don't have much need of it sitting around any longer because I will not use it due to the known issues with them, and the rarity of it......just wondered if anyone here might possibly be interested in it here before I post it online? You can PM me if you are. Thanks!

Post# 370312 , Reply# 11   4/8/2017 at 18:01 (438 days old) by S31463221 (Frenchburg, KY)        
Photos before and after cleanup

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Not the greatest quality photos, but it cleaned up quite nice considering it's been sitting on a shelf in my basement for four years!!


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