Thread Number: 33997  /  Tag: 80s/90s Vacuum Cleaners
Kirby Conundrum - Decisions
[Down to Last]

Vacuumland's exclusive eBay Watch:
scroll >>> for more items
Post# 368616   3/18/2017 at 15:22 (462 days old) by gefilterflo (Newark, Ohio)        

Good afternoon!

My name is Tony and I will be the first to say that I am not a vacuum collector. I have a few old washing machines and mostly lurk on the sister site but thought perhaps you folks might have time to help me out.

I have a small 1950s ranch home, 900 square feet. All hardwood except for the bathroom and the kitchen which is vinyl but I have two area rugs (5x8). As it is now, I had an old Eureka with the vibragroomer removed for the hard wood and my trusty 1989 Kenmore (Whirlpool PowerClean) for the carpets. The Kenmore does a great job and looks almost new. I have all the attachments for it. The Eureka I gave to someone else who needed a vacuum.

I found a 1987 Kirby Heritage II at Goodwill for $4.99 that, in contrast to the Kenmore, looks like it spent the last 30 years in Lake Erie. Really rough. I took it all apart and cleaned it up, washed the bag, all those things and it does work. It does a very good job on my rugs and it is much better on the wood than the Eureka but due to its mostly-unknown condition, I am unsure how much longer it will last before it is not worth repairing.

My question is this: since the Kirby has a brushroll I can turn off for the hardwood much more easily than the Kenmore, should I give the Kenmore to Goodwill and just keep the Kirby or is that asking for trouble? What is the general consensus for putting a very rough thrift store vacuum into regular service without a backup? Should I just keep the Kenmore since it is in very nice shape? If it is not a worthwhile machine, I do not need to save it.

Thank you in advance, Tony

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 5         View Full Size

Post# 368617 , Reply# 1   3/18/2017 at 15:24 (462 days old) by gefilterflo (Newark, Ohio)        
The Kenmore in question

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 4         View Full Size
Post# 368620 , Reply# 2   3/18/2017 at 15:34 (462 days old) by CharlesKirby66 (Manteca, CA)        
Keep the Kirby

charleskirby66's profile picture

I have gotten more than a few units from Goodwill in varying states of decay.  They have ALL been repaired and fostered to new homes where they have become the daily driver.  That's the thing about Kirby, it was made to be fixed and repaired to last a lifetime.  The Heritage II happens to be one of the most popular Kirbys made, especially of the 2nd generation models.  I cannot see parts going out of production any time soon.  I think if you have belts, bags, and light bulbs for regular consumables, you'll be fine.  Eventually you may need to service the carbon brushes, commutator, and bearings, but that's easy enough if you are handy.


I'd keep the Kirby and thank your lucky stars to have gotten a world-class cleaner for $5!

Post# 368624 , Reply# 3   3/18/2017 at 15:53 (462 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        
Yeah, what CharlesKirby66 said...

human's profile picture
That Kirby in the pictures doesn't look all that rough. If they were taken after your cleanup, you did a great job. Kirbys are really tough cleaners and their best feature, IMO, is they're designed to be serviced and repaired. Kirby sells their machines as long term investments and with proper care and maintenance, it could last you for decades. At $4.99, you absolutely stole it. If it were mine, especially if it were my only vacuum cleaner, I'd be looking on eBay for a hose and attachments.

Post# 368626 , Reply# 4   3/18/2017 at 16:09 (462 days old) by kirbylux77 (Orillia, Ontario, Canada)        

kirbylux77's profile picture
Tony - I would save both the Kenmore & the Kirby. Both are fine machines, & after all you did have 2 vacuums when you had the Eureka. Never hurts to have a good spare waiting in the wings or to alternate between vacuums.

Having said that, if I had to get rid of one, I would let the Kenmore go. Why? Well, for one, even though both do a great job of cleaning carpets, the Kirby will definitely outperform it. Plus the Kirby's filtration can be upgraded by buying HEPA Cloth bags, with that Kenmore you would be stuck with plain paper bags. In addition, regardless of the shape you found the Kirby in, you seem to have fixed it up nice, & what REALLY matters is what shape the internal components are in. The Kirby is meant to be fixed & rebuilt, that's not possible with the Kenmore, once the motor fails there is no hope in repairing it. Unless the Kirby is making strange noises or acting funny, it's definitely going to last you a LONG time, & most likely you could have it the rest of your life. Just take good care of it, keep some spare parts on hand such as carbon brushes, & fix it as needed.


Post# 368628 , Reply# 5   3/18/2017 at 16:26 (462 days old) by kirbyvacuum (Long Island New York)        

Tony I LOVE all your Kirbys Save them ALL Doug

Post# 368630 , Reply# 6   3/18/2017 at 17:30 (462 days old) by Rainbowd4 (TN )        
About the kenmore...

If you decide to give up the kenmore, don't take it to goodwill, please. Those whirlpool made kenmores are get harder, and harder to find, especially in decent condition. There are several of us that collect kenmore vacuums, so it would be nice if you offered it up here. Whether you decide to sell it, or give it to someone, anyone interested would be glad to pay for shipping. I have mostly whirlpool made kenmore canisters, but I do like some of the uprights too. I just never run across any.

Post# 368673 , Reply# 7   3/19/2017 at 08:33 (461 days old) by Gefilterflo (Newark, Ohio)        

These are all very good tips. The fact that I had two vacuum cleaners before is completely true and I guess I can just stow the Kenmore in the guest bedroom until it needs to see service again.

Those are pictures of the vacuum after it was cleaned up. It was absolutely disgustingly filthy. It had a full bag that appeared to have spilled out at one point and the cleaner had odors and filth everywhere. I took it apart and soaked every piece that would fit and could be removed except the brushroll and the motor in powdered Spic n Span in the kitchen sink. I washed the bag after it was separated in the washing machine. I found the vacuum on the site for our Goodwill and I have attached the pictures for those who would like to see before but like I said, it was rough.

As time goes on, I will probably be seeking the advice of the very knowledgeable here at Vacuumland, whether it be by a post or through the archives (as I learned to use Dial-A-Matic belts in the Kenmore).

Thank you again, Tony

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 4         View Full Size
Post# 368733 , Reply# 8   3/19/2017 at 22:44 (460 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
What a deal!!

That Kirby wearing the Goodwill sticker looks like a creampuff compared to a Heritage I got from ebay for a parts unit (at 8x the cost)! I am thinking mine was a hurricane Sandy victim since it came from Virginia Beach. It did work though!

If you get time and motivation and you are mechanically capable, tear the whole thing down, inspect everything, replace the bearings, check the commutator and brushes. If those are good, then the kirby will last a LONG time! That is a quality machine.

Post# 368735 , Reply# 9   3/19/2017 at 23:49 (460 days old) by ryan1994jeep (Georgia)        

ryan1994jeep's profile picture
I have both of those vacuums and from experience I would keep them both. The Kenmore could be used for quick pick ups without having to lug out the Kirby or keep the Kirby in canister mode if your planing on getting attachments.Also if your concerned about filtration you can use a Oreck hepa bag in the Kenmore since the bag collars are the same.

Post# 368767 , Reply# 10   3/20/2017 at 10:35 (460 days old) by kirbyvertibles (Independence, KS)        

kirbyvertibles's profile picture
I'd keep both. The Kirby is the best for bare floor but those Kenmore were great vacuums too!

Post# 368813 , Reply# 11   3/20/2017 at 17:52 (460 days old) by Gefilterflo (Newark, Ohio)        

From just having it apart a little bit it seems fairly straightforward. I have done work on washers, mowers and cars and am fairly handy. That being said, I used the vacuum and it works extremely well on the rugs. I noticed that it makes a weird whining, grinding noise when you first turn it on and when you shut it off which makes me think the bearings are going bad. I went ahead and ordered new front and rear bearings, new carbon brushes, a new bearing brush roll and new back wheels and spacers to fix those as well. This vacuum works so well I think I'll just go headfirst and get it going. I will replace the fan as well. It is shocking how well it works and it really is not as heavy when you use it. I'll also keep the Kenmore. I guess now I go on the hunt for attachments!

Post# 368823 , Reply# 12   3/20/2017 at 21:22 (459 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

Sounds like you are in it for the long haul! Given your abilities listed, you can do it. Keep this thread updated and if you run into trouble, we will help. I just tore down and rebuilt a Tradition and Omega and they were straight forward. Just take lots of pictures and note where everything goes. Wash it up, polish it up and it will run and look like new. And good move with the fan if it is grey plastic - those are no good.

Forum Index:       Other Forums:                      

Comes to the Rescue!

Woops, Time to Check the Bag!!!
Either you need to change your vacuum bag or you forgot to LOG-IN?

Discuss-O-MAT Log-In

New Members
Click Here To Sign Up.


Vacuumland home
Discuss-o-Vac Forums
Vintage Brochures, Service and Owners Manuals
Today's Vacuum of the Day
Photos of our Collections
Vintage Vacuum Cleaner to sell?
Technical/service questions?
Looking for Parts?
Website related questions?
Digital Millennium Copyright Act Policy
Our Privacy Policy