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Thread Number: 33869  /  Tag: Pre-1950 Vacuum Cleaners
Electrolux Shipping Tragedy
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Post# 367692   3/1/2017 at 07:37 by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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Does anyone have a good reference or link to a detailed description of what happened when that famous cross-Atlantic shipment of Electrolux vacuums was lost at sea?

I have always wondered about this tragedy: when, why, what and if any sailors were rescued from the accident. I keep on reading that the loss of this shipment caused the company to set up manufacturing in the USA in the 1930's, but no one ever talks about the details....especially if there was any loss of life because of the incident.

Kind of sad to think that there is an undersea graveyard of 100's of vintage Electrolux cleaners out there somewhere....

Post# 367695 , Reply# 1   3/1/2017 at 10:36 by rugsucker (Elizabethton TN)        
Vacs in the Atlantic

I have seen very little information on this.The ship must have sunk about 1930 causing Electrolux to move inventory from branches that might have too many to branches with too few until another shipment arrived from Europe.They then went to a building in Cleveland OH that was or became an Apex factory.By the mid/late 30s Elux was in CT and in late 60s part of their operations moved to a former Monroe calculator factory that they added to over the years in Bristol VA.
There are also boat loads of used vacs off the NE coast as at one time trade ins as well as garbage from major cities was towed out into the Atlantic and dumped.

Post# 367696 , Reply# 2   3/1/2017 at 10:43 by s31463221 (Frenchburg, KY)        

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I too have found very little to go on. Jimmy, you're definitely in the ballpark. Among the information I could find, was an article Tom Gasko wrote back in 2010 where he mentions the shipwreck happening somewhere around 1932. I found a website listing all of the shipwrecks that happened in 1932, but not knowing the name of the ship, it's like looking for a lost ball in high weeds. The site, of course, doesn't list the manifest of the ships, and by searching for Sweden, there were close to 20 shipwrecks involving Swedish cargo ships......

Jimmy, could you imagine what a dive to THAT dump site would look like!?

Post# 367699 , Reply# 3   3/1/2017 at 14:38 by rugsucker (Elizabethton TN)        
1st USA made Electrolux

The move to Cleveland may have been described as a White sewing machine factory that then or later had a connection with Apex.Much of my Elux information is'in a box somewhere'.

Post# 367703 , Reply# 4   3/1/2017 at 15:46 by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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So sad that we have no information on the tragedy - certainly there must have been loss of life as well.

Would be good to at least have a date to commemorate the loss every year... maybe one of our European friends can do some research in Swedish for us?

Post# 367704 , Reply# 5   3/1/2017 at 16:25 by electrolux137 (Los Angeles, California)        

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"By 1930, machines were still being imported to the US from Sweden, but company executives felt the time had come to build a factory in America so they could end the overseas shipment of cleaners. This belief was affirmed when a ship's cargo was lost at sea with a shipment of a thousand Electroluxes aboard."


From Electrolux Factory News of June 1963, a special issue commemorating thirty years of manufacturing at the (now closed) Old Greenwich, Connecticut factory. That's all the story says, and I've never come across any other references to the tragedy.


(I expanded, updated, and corrected the story with facts and information gleaned from other Electrolux sources, including web sites for Electrolux USA, Elektrolux-Sweden, and Lux-Germany. It appears on my web site at the link below.)

CLICK HERE TO GO TO electrolux137's LINK

Post# 367706 , Reply# 6   3/1/2017 at 17:00 by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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Wow. One thousand Electrolux cleaners were lost. But we don't know if the cargo fell overboard in rough waters, or if the entire ship went under.

Maybe one of our European Vacuumland friends knows enough Swedish to find out exactly what happened.

Post# 367768 , Reply# 7   3/3/2017 at 09:18 by dysonman1 (Rolla, Missouri)        

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We do know that the White Sewing Machine Company (a subsidiary of Electrolux Sweden) made the 120 volt motors for the model 12's built in the USA at Old Greenwich. Electrolux wouldn't build their own motors in the USA until the model 30.

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