Thread Number: 30706  /  Tag: 50s/60s/70s Vacuum Cleaners
Late 1979 Kirby Tradition
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Post# 339895   12/24/2015 at 00:58 (969 days old) by kirbvacsrock (California)        

Hi all I was wondering if anybody could tell me If there is a such thing as a late 1979 tradition because I have a tradition with the f in the serial number, but there is no headlight latch or metal fan. My friend told me that it most be a late 1979 tradition. Which apparently is basically a 1980 tradition with a f in the number.

Post# 339929 , Reply# 1   12/24/2015 at 13:12 (968 days old) by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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Yes, of course there were.

Units built prior to serial #F500000 not only came with metal fans, but also these had the speed switch mounted to the inside of the headlight cap, also with a lock, to ensure the machine would not run unless any of the front-mounted accessories (rug nozzle, hose, Crystalator, Miracle Head, Handi-Butler or Rug Renovator) were properly attached.

This speed switch was notorious for being busted as some users would slam the headlight down toward any of these accessories, which had a metal pin that jibed with one of two slots on the speed switch (one for low speed, one for high speed). Kirby issued an advisory to its service centers in early 1980 to bring in any of the affected units for conversion to the bottom-mounted speed switch (as last used on the Classic III) free of charge.

At first, when Kirby changed back to the speed switch as mounted on the fan case below the intake opening, a blue dust cover was installed around it, to keep moisture out of the switch when the Rug Renovator was being used. However, that was still problematic as the speed switch arm ended up getting jammed, causing the motor to run high all the time. Thus, Kirby then advised its dealers to remove these covers.

Apparently, the one that you have probably had its metal fan replaced a long time ago. Your example falls between serial no. F500000 and F999999.


Post# 339990 , Reply# 2   12/26/2015 at 15:30 (966 days old) by adambomb (Undisclosed )        

The Kirby Tradition was the first model to introduce the Lexan fan. No Traditions had the metal fan. Tom Gasko confirmed this for me, as he is the Curator of the Vacuum Cleaner Museum in St. James, Missoui. He also sold Kirbys in the late 70s and he witnessed the first shipment of Traditions come into St. Louis in 1979 and none of them had metal fans. It was in Late 1979 that Kirby fired the man resposible for that ill fated headlight hood switch and they went back to the Classic Omega style switch. This time, it had a blue rubber coat over the switch to protect it from mositure from the Rug Renovator. That, too, was short lived. There are so many brand new Traditions still being found because when the Heritage came out in the Fall of 1981, Kirby salesmen did not sell the rest of their stock of Traditions because it was such a terrible model. Kirby would not get it right until thrre years later when the Heritage II was introduced. That model was the most improved Kirby of it's time and it sold very well. By the time Kirby released the Generation 3 in the Spring of 1990, Kirby's were being sold for $900 door to door. The new Kirby Avalir is still being door exclusively door to door and costs twice that much of a Kirby Legend II.

Post# 339991 , Reply# 3   12/26/2015 at 15:40 (966 days old) by Marks_here (Crossville TN & Altoona PA WOO HOO )        
Gee that's strange

Because mine is all original with the headlight switch and a metal fan. Hmmm

Post# 339994 , Reply# 4   12/26/2015 at 17:49 (966 days old) by vacman1961 (North Babylon, New York)        

Adambomb, I beg to differ with you, I was a Kirby AD and the early Traditions had a metal fan as well as the instructions in the use and care book for the Crystalator attachment. The later Traditions with the Lexan fan, the use and care book did not instruct you to use the Crystalator to moth proof, they just explained to use it as an air intake tool, to run the machine as a blower. With the Lexan fan you could not run moth flakes in the Crystalator because the Paradichlorobenzine in the moth flakes would melt and warp the Lexan fans.

Post# 340003 , Reply# 5   12/26/2015 at 23:48 (966 days old) by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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I don't see any mention of moth crystals in the original 1979 version of the instructions (with the locking headlight cap), either.

The Crystalator was referred to as just an air intake nozzle, even then.


Post# 340072 , Reply# 6   12/27/2015 at 19:11 (965 days old) by vacman1961 (North Babylon, New York)        

Ben, as I said I was a former Kirby Area Distributor and when the Tradition came out we were instructed as part of the demo to show the Kirby as a moth proofer, then when they switched to the Lexan fan, we were instructed to tell the sales people that it was no longer to be used as a Crystalator but to be used as a air intake tool. I have to see if I still have a copy of the original Tradition use and care book to see if it is listed?

Post# 340077 , Reply# 7   12/27/2015 at 21:07 (965 days old) by Marks_here (Crossville TN & Altoona PA WOO HOO )        

There is nothing about the crystalator/mothproofer in my instruction manual. Starting in section 7 page 24 it tells you how to use the air intake nozzle.

I got mine on August 16, 1979 with a note saying: out only 2 weeks

1920 West 114th Street Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A. 44102

June 21, 1979


Listed below are the currently effective suggested prices of the kirby Tradition with Shag King and other Kirby products:

Kirby Tradition, including Shag King, with Standard Set of Attachments $419.95
Model 1579 Miracle Head $ 34.95
Model 2579 Handi-Butler $ 79.95
Model 5579 Rug Renovator $ 64.95
Model 8579 Handi-Waxer $ 12.95

The above are cash prices. They do not include carrying charges or state or local taxes, if any.

Very Truly Yours,

Adrian E. Budlong Jr.

NOTE - These prices do not include the new polypropylene attachment box which will not be available for approximately 60 days, at which time you will be informed of your new cost and suggested retail.


Bulletin No. 8433
Printed in U.S.A.

. . . no other appliance in the world does as many things for you as the KIRBY

Post# 340107 , Reply# 8   12/28/2015 at 16:19 (964 days old) by Kirbysthebest (Wichita, KS)        
I was a dealer for Kirby

In late 80 early 81.  I sold the Tradition.  We were told in training how terrible the headlight switch was and even did some trading with people who didn't just want it removed, but gone.


We really touted the Lexan fan, and disposable bag system.  The Tradition sold very well in my area, Macomb, IL.  at that time.  The People loved the deep royal blue, the wider wheels, and the disposable bag. 


Many traded a two year old Classic III for the Tradition because of the bag system.    I don't know if C-III's bag was so bad of a dust leaker, but I think the color made it more obvious.  In any case the people in the farming community didn't care for it.




Post# 385682 , Reply# 9   2/9/2018 at 15:20 (190 days old) by Reo580 (Holland, Michigan)        

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They didnít care for the Classic 3 or they didnít care for the Traditiom?

Post# 385737 , Reply# 10   2/10/2018 at 11:31 (189 days old) by sptyks (Skowhegan, Maine)        

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People traded their Classic III just to get the Disposable Bag System on the Tradition. However that early disposable bag system really reduced airflow because the fill tube was too narrow therefore reducing the Tradition's cleaning performance.


Fact: the Classic III was a much better cleaning machine because the Dump Out bag system did not restrict airflow unlike the poor performing Tradition with it's Disposable Bag System.

 Kirby fixed the airflow problem when the Heritage came out. The fill tube was much wider so airflow was kept at it's maximum.



Post# 385738 , Reply# 11   2/10/2018 at 11:58 (189 days old) by Oreck_XL (Brooklyn, New York 11211)        

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Like everything else, there's a learning curve. It never ceases to amaze me how Kirby waited until 1979 to introduce a disposable bag system when most other companies had it decades earlier. VERY late to the game. I just wonder how much longer they're gonna milk the Generation series platform. The Classic line lasted 20 years, and the Generation series is going on 28. They've gotten more mileage out of it than any previous line. I had seen prototype drawings on here of what the new Avalir could have looked like and was disappointed to find it was a warmed over G-series machine.

Post# 385786 , Reply# 12   2/10/2018 at 22:14 (189 days old) by kirby519 (Wisconsin)        

There is no need to fix something that isn't broken. The G Series is a good machine and has been improved in ways that add to it's performance. The basic design is a good one and is a proven performer.

I agree the Tradition model wasn't their best. The early Heritage machines were not much better until later in that model run.

Post# 385791 , Reply# 13   2/10/2018 at 23:40 (189 days old) by Oreck_XL (Brooklyn, New York 11211)        

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Oh come now don't you think 28 years is enough? Volkswagen tried to do the same with their venerable beetle but eventually the carbuying public got tired of it in spite of all the improvements throughout the years. Thus came the advent of the Rabbit, and while no where near as popular it was a step forward. I was excited when I saw the Generation 3 for the first time, but I do believe Kirby has milked the G-series platform long enough. It's time for something radically new and LIGHTER. Perhaps with a switch in the handle like the Avalir prototype boasted.

Post# 385814 , Reply# 14   2/11/2018 at 11:31 (188 days old) by kirby519 (Wisconsin)        

No I don't. I have a Kirby Classic my grandmother bought for us still like it. I also have a Heritage II Circa 1987 I bought new and still like it as well.

Every time the TTI tries to improve a vacuum it becomes even less efficient, cheaper and more prone to failure than earlier models.

The Kirby is not broken. It is a tried and true design that has been a top performer for 90 years. Those of us that are true and loyal customers don't want the quality of the build or performance to suffer.

Post# 385820 , Reply# 15   2/11/2018 at 12:17 (188 days old) by Oreck_XL (Brooklyn, New York 11211)        

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I guess then we'll have to agree to disagree. I don't want build quality to suffer either, but I do feel 28 years is quite long enough and I would never put Kirby's integrity in the same league as TTI. I expected something truly revolutionary with the Avalir especially since it coincided with the centennial of Scott and Fetzer. Unfortunately that ship has sailed. I only hope Kirby isn't prolonging the G-series platform because they aren't doing well.

Post# 385826 , Reply# 16   2/11/2018 at 16:25 (188 days old) by jade_angel (Newport News, VA)        

I don't want some bagless plastic fantastic, for sure - if I want that, I know where to find it. But I wouldn't mind a somewhat lighter design and/or a less clunky attachment system if there's a way to do it without compromising airflow.

Post# 385839 , Reply# 17   2/11/2018 at 18:41 (188 days old) by kirby519 (Wisconsin)        

The reference to TTI is that they have bought up all the other major manufacturers. Shipped production to other areas and we have retailers that decide how much they are willing to pay per unit. Hence quality and performance has suffered.

Kirby is in a league of their own. If Kirby decides to stay with the G Series platform I'm ok with that. I know what I can expect any time I purchase a new machine.

Post# 385850 , Reply# 18   2/11/2018 at 21:06 (188 days old) by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana)        

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It seems the issue with today's society is everyone has to have something new and trendy and expensive to show off to their friends about, they don't want something that works consistently and reliably and never fails, they just want something that works long enough for the new model to come out next year that has a more expensive price and some flashy new feature so they can pitch the old one in the dumpster. It's like owning a Lada 1600 versus a Toyota Prius. Or in vacuum terms, a Kirby versus a Dyson. There's no need to change something just because "the design is old". I always stick with what works and never change from it. I still have a 25 year old TV set, I still listen to CD's and watch DVD's, I still have my Zune and not a Bluetooth and I still have a pager and not a smartphone.

My Kirby Ultimate G has worked reliably with little to no maintenance for the last 16 years. It's due for a total tune-up and refreshment though. A Dyson or any other bagless plasticrap that is supposed to be "innovative and revolutionary" can't even go 6 weeks without clogging, or breaking. If it clogs? Good luck getting that out, you have to take the entire vacuum apart.

Also, you need a heavy vacuum so that it will sink into the nap and create a secure suction bond to the carpet and pick up stuff deep within the fibers. All those plastic vacuums only skim across the surface and will bounce up over any lump in the carpet. Those old Power Drive Hoovers must weigh as much as two Kirbys but they can hunker down into and clean the carpet like you wouldn't believe because they weigh so much. And they won't tip over if you happen to be stretching to get that last cobweb in a corner or at the top of the stairs.

Post# 385855 , Reply# 19   2/11/2018 at 21:42 (188 days old) by Oreck_XL (Brooklyn, New York 11211)        

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You're looking at it more from a nostalgic eye than what most people look for in a vacuum today. Would you buy a brand new car that hadn't changed its sheet metal design since 1990!? Perhaps but if you're like most of the public probably not. It was a revolutionary step forward 28 years ago! I remember Consumer Reports calling it "robotic" in a 1990 issue. The truth is, the Tech Drive did and still does add bulk to the machine and in that way the Legend II was better. I do think as jade_angel pointed out tool conversion could be improved. Why not offer a 12 inch granny head to customers again? And for those frugal customers who don't want to spend money on bags offer a shake-out with a Sani-emtor? I'm all for keeping a design that works but R&D really should've had a new design out there a long time ago. I might be very wrong but here in New York Kirby has lost a lot of dealers. Maybe they're prolonging the G-series as long as they can because they know the end is in sight. It happened to Air-Way not all that long ago and it could happen to them too.

Post# 385886 , Reply# 20   2/12/2018 at 10:28 (187 days old) by Oreck_XL (Brooklyn, New York 11211)        

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Just for the sake of argument I went on Kirby's website looking for dealers in the New York area. Only THREE came up - One in Bellerose, Queens and two in the Bronx. Very sad. Are distributors dwindling this much in other parts of the country?

Post# 385995 , Reply# 21   2/13/2018 at 21:08 (186 days old) by kirby519 (Wisconsin)        

Don't forget many people are going back to hard surface floors thru out their home. A Kirby will work in that environment how ever it was designed for carpet.

From what I have heard from a friend. The Kirby dealer doesn't recommend using a Kirby strictly as a canister/tank type vacuum. The extended use at the higher RPM will ruin the motor.

Built in central vacuums have gotten more popular with new home building as well. Which lends it's self well to a hard surface environment.

I don't foresee Kirby dropping out of sight any time soon.

That and those in the world that believe that they can't tolerate a dust mite and will die if they come in contact with one.

As I have said many times "If the Kirby doesn't meet your needs don't buy one."

The same as I wouldn't by a Dyson, Fantom or water trap vacuum. Doesn't meet my needs or expectations.

Post# 386006 , Reply# 22   2/13/2018 at 21:54 (186 days old) by Oreck_XL (Brooklyn, New York 11211)        

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I was excited as anyone the first time I laid eyes on the new Generation 3, and subsequently with the G4, G5 and so on. But my point was just proven AGAIN with the Avalir 2. It's a Generation 3 in drag. All the improvements won't make a bit of difference when the outward appearance goes on unchanged. I would love to see Kirby thrive and more distributors come about, but how can they when they keep dressing up a 28 year old vacuum? You're right in that many homes today utilize bare floor space now more than ever. A good canister or central vac is the ideal way to go. In hose mode, the Kirby is awkward at best, unless you install the small handle.

Post# 386013 , Reply# 23   2/13/2018 at 22:34 (186 days old) by kirby519 (Wisconsin)        

The G3 did nothing to impress me. It wasn't until a G6 I got at a yard sale got my attention. I did recently get a Sentria. I am impressed with the improved air flow and how the newer drive tech handles. (on the Sentria that is)

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