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Thread Number: 33953  /  Tag: 50s/60s/70s Vacuum Cleaners
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Post# 368265   3/11/2017 at 19:21 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

Greeting from Texas! New member Rob Young from Plano just joining...
While I never considered myself a collector or enthusiast of vacuums, I had always been a user of vintage ones since my childhood. My mom has had (and is still using) a Kirby D50 since it was brand new. I was scared of it when I was little and I had used it when older (when I lived with her). I really grew to respect the performance and longevity of the Kirby, as it only needed basic maintanence and one hand grip during all those years. As a result I had bought a reconditioned Omega in 1995 just before I got my own house and used it for what it was. And used it. And used it. And used it... Vacuuming was just a chore, so it was neglected but it still kept running well. It never just broke on me, I just fed it a new belt every year or two when it started slipping, and checked the brushes now and then.
Now I have been an enthusiast of vintage stuff for a long time. I collected and fixed old stuff from the trash back when I was a kid and I still have a lot of it. I learned so much from all that. After I moved my mom gave me some of her (or my deceased dad's) old stuff, as she no longer wanted it and it had lots of sentimental value to me. It also looked and worked fine as she took good care of things. When I bought my first house in 1995 and bought new stuff, I got the best-engineered stuff I could find, as I wanted it to last and be repairable if it did break such as my 1995 Kenmore laundry pair. Neither of those machines have ever left me wet or dirty! Of course this did not mean I got the fanciest stuff because often it had shorter lives due to complexity. As I aged and saw how new stuff got so cheaply and/or poorly made, I was glad I kept all my older stuff. I also began (long ago) replacing broke new stuff with vintage stuff. When I needed something, I bought vintage wherever possible. Thrift & antique stores became my favorite shopping places. I am a restorer and a repairer of all sorts of vintage stuff, from appliances, to cars, to audio equipment, to yard equipment, and so on. I have recently completed a collection of restored chromed and polished aluminum small appliances. I now have a vintage fan and radio in every room. There are two vintage cars in the garage & one in the drive. There is a vintage mower and edger in the shed. You see where I am coming from...
My old Omega needed some major cosmetic attention and the motor bearings were getting pretty noisy, so I knew its resto was coming soon. Now the idea of pressing/pulling bearings was never comforting to me. However, I knew if I could rebuild a car engine and complete front end, I could do a vacuum cleaner!
Now the recent acquisition and resto of a cheap old Tradition last month really got me into learning about and restoring old Kirbys. They are not hard at all, but do require special know-how and techniques in some places. I found them fun to do too! I have gained a lot of knowledge from this forum and I would also like to pass on some of my expertise (as well as some bed-time stories!) to others who might benefit from (and enjoy reading) them. I will put them into separate threads with some accompanying pictures.
Thanks to all who have contibuted to this forum - you have done well for those interested!
Below are my recently restored Omega and Tradition - quite good looking side by side!

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Post# 368266 , Reply# 1   3/11/2017 at 19:25 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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Your Omega and Tradition look great!

Does your Tradition have the 10-blade metal fan, if the serial number on the fan case falls between serial no. F000001-F999999? Early units (serial no. F499999 or below), it should be known, would have the top-mounted speed switch and locking headlight cap. The switch itself, which was actuated by a metal pin placed on whatever was attached to the front of it (rug nozzle, hose, Miracle Head, Rug Renovator and Handi-Butler), was a big problem for many.


This post was last edited 03/11/2017 at 21:29
Post# 368268 , Reply# 2   3/11/2017 at 21:02 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
Hi Ben!

Unfortunately, my Tradition has a replacement Amodal fan dated 2004.
SN is F481700, so it did have that infamous lid-lock. Part of the mechanism was still there and I kept it there during resto for history's sake.
It was this forum that taught me most there is to know about that SNAFU, including that the one responsible for it was fired (served him right!)
The attachment set I got for it has the pins for the lid switch but the rug nozzle does not.

Stay tuned for the full Tradition story, coming up soon...

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Post# 368272 , Reply# 3   3/11/2017 at 21:26 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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The Amodel plastic fan you mention, that is a lot better than the gray Lexan fan that originally replaced the 10-blade metal (cast aluminum) fan during Tradition production in the summer of 1980.

While the gray Lexan fan was revolutionary at the time for Kirby, it of course wasn't without its own faults, including its weakness in handling the paradichlorobenzene crystals used for the Crystalator accessory, and many of these older plastic fans were known to break after hard use, especially when the hose was attached. The Amodel fan first showed up on the G5 in 1997.


Post# 368273 , Reply# 4   3/11/2017 at 21:32 by gottahaveahoove (Pittston, Pennsylvania, 18640)        

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Welcome !! Although I'm totally a HOOVER guy, 450+ appliances, I DO appreciate your passion AND skills with your Kirbys.
I had to use an Omega years ago (in a church). I also have a Tradition and 2 of the red ones.... all to be put up for sale. There's also an entire box of tools for them.
Again, welcome . You'll meet some great and some unusual people in here. You may make great, lifelong friends in here like I did.... along with many others.
John Long, Vice Pres, The V.C.C.C. (visit our site too).

Post# 368275 , Reply# 5   3/11/2017 at 22:34 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

Ben, that grey fan sure aged poorly. Not only had I seen pictures of age cracks in them, but I got a Heritage I parts unit and it had a grey fan, complete with age cracks. I Was it pure Lexan or some sort of derivative of it? I had thought Lexan was better than that. This is one of the reasons I hate plastic - many varieties age poorly.

John, thank you for the welcome! 450+ vacuums? What a clean guy you are!
I am a Kirby guy just because that is all I ever used or owned. I think I did use a Hoover - once - at our old lake cabin years ago. There was an old gold Sears canister vac there that we never even touched; wish I had it now. Now I would not mind having a Constellation, just because of its coolness factor. Of course those would scare my dust bunnies into hiding....

I have been through this site for the past couple months in the restoration of the Tradition and the Omega; just no time to post. Lots of useful info herein, as well as quite a few nice people.
I picked up a basket-case Kirby 505 for 20 bucks last month and it is currently in restoration now. This one I will be needing some assistance on later.

Post# 368288 , Reply# 6   3/12/2017 at 12:38 by kirbylux77 (Orillia, Ontario, Canada)        

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Rob Young....From one Rob to another, welcome to Vacuumland!

Great restorations on your Classic Omega & Tradition. I like the performance of the 70's & 80's Kirbys better than the G Series, primarily because of the better brushroll the older Kirbys used, at least IMHO. Having said that, the G Series is much more practical to use for normal comsumers because of the Tech Drive. I own a 519, Classic III, Heritage I, Heritage II, G4 & G6 2001 L E .

I don't use them as much anymore, as I also own a newer model Royal Metal, & I find that due to the wider wheels, brush stiffeners on the brushroll, not running in "low" for powerhead use & high for tools (Royal only has 1 speed), power switch on the handle & not having to remove the powerhead for tools, I prefer the Royal over Kirby, find it easier to use & I personally feel newer Royals from the 90's to today clean better than a Kirby does. Plus, admittedly, I do also own a few Electrolux canisters as well, they get a LOT of use, & as you can tell by my avatar, that's my personal favorite brand, due to personal & family experience with the brand.

I look forward to seeing your contributions on here, & welcome aboard! 🙂


Post# 368292 , Reply# 7   3/12/2017 at 13:20 by sptyks (Woburn, MA)        

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I have a question for Rob Walton Kirbylux77.


Rob, I am curious as to why the Classic Kirby's brushrolls are better than the G series brushrolls. Please explain.




Post# 368330 , Reply# 8   3/12/2017 at 23:16 by kirbylux77 (Orillia, Ontario, Canada)        

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Stan, you're intentionally trying to start a argument here. I'm not biting. We all have our own preferences, right? This is mine, kindly respect it, as I would respect yours.

End of discussion!


Post# 368352 , Reply# 9   3/13/2017 at 14:19 by sptyks (Woburn, MA)        

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I am seriously not trying to start anything. I own two Classic Kirby's and two G series Kirby's. I would really like to know what causes one type of brushroll to clean better than the other.


I have no intention of arguing with you over this. I respect your opinion.





Post# 368367 , Reply# 10   3/13/2017 at 21:14 by kirbylux77 (Orillia, Ontario, Canada)        

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Ok Stan. As long as you have no intention of arguing, I'll explain.

First thing, just to be more clear, I am specifically talking about the standard 15 inch Heritage I & Heritage II brushroll with 4 rows & the 4 row 13 inch small head brushroll, vs the G Series brushrolls, including the new staggered stiffer brushroll since the Sentria came out. So that would cover most Kirby's from the 516 to the G3.

I have noticed over the years that each "cluster" of brushes on the Heritage brushroll seems to be more dense & thicker vs the G Series 4 row brushroll. Also, when it comes to the brush adjustments, I like the fact that the Kirby's up to the G3 had a infinite screw adjustment for brush wear, I just feel it allows you to make it as aggressive or as gentle as you want. The Kirby G Series design & their brushrolls, with the 3 positions, I feel doesn't give you the same flexibility. I understand why Kirby made that change, to make it easier for consumers at home to make adjustments, there's no "right" or "wrong" here, it's just my personal preference. And for the record, I find this same fault on my newer Royal Metal I purchased in 2015. I also like that the bottom plate on the Heritage series is more open, they just seems to edge clean better I find. That is why I feel the brushrolls on the older Kirby's are better, & why I also feel the older Kirby's clean carpets better.

Now, comparing Kirby to Royal, besides the brushroll & powerhead design on the Kirby, there are a couple other areas where I find current model Royal uprights are superior in cleaning performance to the current Kirby Avalir & the previous Sentria II. I really like that Royal has plastic brush stiffeners around the brushes that act as beater bars in a way. I really feel that while they thoroughly groom the carpet like a modern 4 row brushroll most vacuums have, they provide a similar "beating" action like a Hoover Convertible had. I may not have cared for the round belts the Convertible & Eureka F&G uprights used, but I can't help but admire Hoover for their brushrolls on the direct air uprights prior to the Elite design. IMHO, the Hoover uprights & powerhead canisters prior to the Elite & "Futura style" Powermatic plastic brushroll design, they set the standard for powerhead & brushroll design that the other manufacturers had to try & match for performance. And as I said to Rob Young above, I also like that Royal uprights constantly run on "high" for all cleaning modes, not a low speed for carpet cleaning & high for hose cleaning, & it seems the Royal fan moves more air & has better airflow than Kirby does. At least with the Kirby Heritage, Heritage II, Legend & Legend II, you can "trick" a Kirby into permanently running on high speed if you wanted to, & it would come very close to matching a Royal's cleaning performance, of course at the expense of wearing through & replacing carbon brushes faster.


PS - I apologize if I came across as a bit hostile in my posting last night. I just started a new job last night & had a absolutely ROTTEN day, the new boss turned out to be the boss from hell!!, & I wound up quitting that same night. It was just a second job though, there will be better ones to come. I probably shouldn't have even checked my email, let alone Vacuumland, when I got home. :P

Post# 368376 , Reply# 11   3/13/2017 at 23:07 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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Rob (kirbylux77),

If there is one group of Kirbys that's right up your alley, they would be the 240V "export" versions of the Classic Omega, Classic III and Tradition. They all use the high speed generated from the red and white wires, whether nozzle or hose.


Post# 368388 , Reply# 12   3/14/2017 at 01:29 by kirbylux77 (Orillia, Ontario, Canada)        

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Thanks for the suggestion, I appreciate your input. But I think I would find it annoying having to plug the Kirby into a voltage converter just to be able to use it, plus it would probably be rather difficult to locate a 240V Kirby & have it shipped. And I have enough of one brand in my collection now anyways.

One thing that I did do though, like I said to Stan that can be done, is I "tricked" my Kirby Heritage II with both the large & small powerheads to run permanently in high speed. All that you have to do is take the back motor housing off, remove the speed selector assembly from the fan case, leaving the 2 screws in place, & permanently place the speed selector switch in the motor compartment to high. Yes, sure, you're going to replace carbon brushes more frequently, but to me I prefer to know it's doing the best job it can. And it really does improve the cleaning performance signifigantly....with the brushroll properly adjusted on the Kirby Heritage II, if you did half the room with Kirby & the other half with Royal, with the Kirby running in high you would be hard pressed to decide whether the Royal or the Kirby cleaned better.

But in all honesty, as much as I do love my Kirby's, I really do prefer my 2015 Royal Metal. I find it is much easier to push than even the G Series Kirby's due to the wide wheels, the power switch being right at your fingertip, easier to put the hose on & use tools, & the Royal moves more air with the metal fan & has more airflow & suction through the hose than my Kirby's do. My Royal has the dump bag, & I have modified the filltube to use a Kirby Sentria HEPA Cloth bag, so it can be used either way, & I use the knurled Kirby belts, since Kirby supplies are easier to find. It was totally worth the money, & I would buy again if the Royal ever broke & it can't be fixed.


Post# 368417 , Reply# 13   3/14/2017 at 16:38 by sptyks (Woburn, MA)        

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Thank you for your reply. I appreciate your insight and expertise.


I did examine and compare the brushes on my Heritage II vs my G3 and Sentria. I did see exactly what you said about the brushes. I also agree that the infinite screw adjustment on the Heritage II is definitely an advantage over the 3 position adjustment on the G series machines. My opinion is that the Heritage II does clean better than the G3 and about the same as the Sentria.


I also have a Royal. It is the Everlast 8300 made in 2008 and it is in like new condition. Yes, it was made by TTI in China, but the build quality on it is excellent. I would have to agree and say that it is the best carpet cleaning machine I own. It does have the 10 amp motor which is sort of loud but it does not bother me because it's really only slightly louder than my Sentria. It does have the brushroll with stiffeners which does seem to beat the carpet quite well. I use Royal Type B cloth HEPA bags in it so it filters the air as well as any of my Kirby's. The only reason I don't use it daily is because I have a bad back and it is not as easy to push and pull as my G3 or Sentria because of it's tremendous airflow which causes it to really suck down to the carpet. I do get it out about once a month or so when I feel the need to really deep clean my carpets. Is your 2015 Royal the Pro Series model with 7 amp motor, or is it something else?


In Reply #12 you told Ben that it was easier to use the hose and tools on your Royal than it is on your Kirby's. I don't understand. Granted, it is easy to get the belt off and install the hose adapter on the Royal, but I find that getting the belt back on is not easy for me even with the belt tool that is supplied with the machine. Do you know some trick to getting it back on easily and quickly?





Post# 368445 , Reply# 14   3/14/2017 at 22:50 by kirbylux77 (Orillia, Ontario, Canada)        

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Stan, my 2015 Royal is a commercial M1028. I was told by the store I bought it from that the residential models were already on their way out, & would be much harder to obtain from their supplier. It has the 10 amp motor, shake-out bag, infinite screw height adjustment instead of the 2 pedals, 50 foot cord & Adjust-O-Rite front plate. I have modified the filltube to use the generic Kirby Sentria HEPA Cloth bags. Here's a link to it below.

I totally understand you not using your Royal as much if you have a back problem. I assume your Royal has the 2 height adjust pedals? Hmm, I wonder if you had the infinite screw adjustment that it might make it easier to adjust to your carpeting so it doesn't suck down against the carpet so much. As for putting the belt back on after using tools? I don't have any tricks, like you I just use the belt lifter. I have really strong arms & hands since I do a lot of heavy lifting in my job, so I guess since I am strong I have never felt it was a problem.

I definitely agree with you on the Royal being louder than the Kirby's, too. In fact, sometimes it can be quite annoying how loud it is! I also wish I could have gotten one with a headlight, & that it had a residential cord not the thicker 3 prong commercial cord, but those are minor things I can live with.



Post# 368521 , Reply# 15   3/16/2017 at 15:36 by sptyks (Woburn, MA)        

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Thanks for the link to your Royal 1028. That's a really beautiful Royal. I love the Orange bag.

I know how you feel about the missing headlight. I have really grown accustomed to having a working headlight as all of my vacuums have one.


I don't really care for the 2 pedal infinite (not the 5 position one) height adjustment. It is very tricky to get it at the exact height I want. I am wondering if there is a way to convert it to the infinite screw knob.


I have added some photos of my Royal Everlast 8300. 


  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 6         View Full Size
Post# 368548 , Reply# 16   3/16/2017 at 22:20 by kirbylux77 (Orillia, Ontario, Canada)        

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Stan, I imagine your Royal could probably be converted to the infinite screw knob height adjustment system. But the problem is, from that side shot of your Royal & how that metal pin goes in at the back, I would bet you would need a new rear motor housing. By the time you put together all the parts, you could EASILY be looking at a $200 to $300 parts bill, since the parts are polished aluminum. Assuming there's no major differences between the rear motor housing on older Royals since the 90's till now, I think the easiest & cheapest way to go about it would be to buy a scrap Royal off Ebay, or from a vac shop, & scavenge the parts from it. Or, even easier, just find another newer Royal with the infinite screw knob height adjustment system & sell yours on Ebay.

I totally agree with you about headlights on vacuums. It's just something, IMHO, you need to have, & it's just as annoying I might add when the headlight is dim & weak. It's nice to have for seeing into corners & on edges to make sure you got all the dirt, & to avoid things like that 1 single sock under the bed. And thanks for the compliment on the bag, I don't really care for the orange color myself, or the orange cord, but hey I just consider myself very fortunate & thankful to have found a new one before they are discontinued & gone forever. I really like the black bag you have on yours, that looks like one heck of a classy Royal there Stan. And btw, before I forget, I have always had the greatest respect for your seem to know what you're talking about & very respectful & wise, & most times I feel your advice can be counted on.


Post# 368584 , Reply# 17   3/17/2017 at 20:34 by sptyks (Woburn, MA)        

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Thank you for the compliments. They mean a lot coming from you.


Well it certainly seems that it WILL NOT be a piece of cake to convert my 2 pedal height adjuster to the infinite screw knob. I probably need to just use my Royal more often and then I will get better at adjusting the height with the pedals. I really do love my Royal. Not only do I love it's looks, but it grooms my carpet really well. I got lucky when I bought it from another collector for $100 a couple of years ago. I had been searching for a Royal Everlast in good condition for some time because TTI did not make a lot of them which makes them somewhat rare.


Rob, thanks again you for your opinions and your advice. I have found them most useful.






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