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Thread Number: 34171  /  Tag: 50s/60s/70s Vacuum Cleaners
Kirby classic 111
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Post# 370282   4/8/2017 at 11:52 by Toddk13 (Milwaukee, WI)        

There are two classic 111 models near me. $30 with tools. What's good and bad about them.

Post# 370288 , Reply# 1   4/8/2017 at 12:19 by dysonman1 (Rolla, Missouri)        

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Kirby Classic 3 vacuums are well made, but heavy. They tend to tip on the backstroke toward the bag side. The cloth bag leaks fine dust and is very messy to empty. The original 2 row brush roll was meant for shag carpets, a new 4 row brush as well as belt would be needed for modern carpets. The suction, for an upright, is very good. For $30 you really can't go wrong if this is your first Kirby.

Post# 370302 , Reply# 2   4/8/2017 at 13:51 by sptyks (Woburn, MA)        

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I bought a Classic III a while back and I am enjoying using it very much. It is a beautifully designed machine. It cleans very well with the new style brushroll and I find it's no messier to empty than a modern bagless vacuum. I have uploaded some photos of my fully restored Classic III.

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This post was last edited 04/08/2017 at 14:38
Post# 370309 , Reply# 3   4/8/2017 at 16:02 by Toddk13 (Milwaukee, WI)        
Here are the CL Pics.

This is a "one owner" Kirby. Small rip in upper part of the bag. Mother of the person selling it used it until very recently when she moved to a hard floor home. Time to sell, they said. Supposed to have a new belt. No idea what those tools are. I'll check it out Sunday. Would there be a better shake out bag available or worth converting to a disposable? I'm terribly clueless but interested in Kirbys. Can I connect the older handy butler tools to this?

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Post# 370318 , Reply# 4   4/8/2017 at 20:12 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
A great deal!

This is a super deal since it comes with the rug shampooer, hose, most likely all the hose attachments in the box in the big box. In fact the hard floor wands and brush nozzle should be in that box, too. Plus a shag king and suds o gun spray gun as bonuses! Not sure why she thinks that it can't do hard floors, because it can very well!

Since the bag has a small tear in it, it will need to be fixed before using.
If you want to use the hepa bags, all you need is a mini-emptor and twist-on disposable bag setup from a later model - Heritage II to Legend II. Just remove your bag and em-tor and attach the new one - easy!

Kirbys are very well built and perform very well, even with the stock brush roll when properly adjusted. Every part is still available if you need anything.

So go get that Classic III!

Post# 370319 , Reply# 5   4/8/2017 at 20:13 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

Yes, you can use a Handi Butler on this as well. I see sets on ebay all the time, even red ones to match the Classic III!

Post# 370320 , Reply# 6   4/8/2017 at 22:03 by Kirbysthebest (Wichita, KS)        

Though an all aluminum machine, it is not that heavy, approximately 19lbs. By comparison a Riccar Radiance is 22.5lbs according to their website. A Hoover anniversary bagged is 20.2lbs. A Dyson ball animal is 17.35.

The Kirby is already 40 years old, and will still be running when the others mentioned have made their way to the landfill--get it! Its a good price the renovator alone sells for $30 on eBay.

Post# 370321 , Reply# 7   4/8/2017 at 22:18 by Paul (MN)        


Check out the manual at the link below that will get you better acquainted with the 2-CB:

Post# 370323 , Reply# 8   4/8/2017 at 23:51 by jeschbac (Texas)        
Not so fast

Older handi-butler units before the Omega probably won't trigger the Classic III safety switch. Best to double check before mixing and matching models.

Post# 370371 , Reply# 9   4/9/2017 at 14:55 by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        

Brushroll, it will beat the carpet much better than the newer one.

Post# 370382 , Reply# 10   4/9/2017 at 15:36 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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The ball-bearing version currently being made is even better!


Post# 370383 , Reply# 11   4/9/2017 at 15:47 by Toddk13 (Milwaukee, WI)        
I'm a Kirby owner!

Owner had a $35 offer before me. I ran it on their plush carpet. Pushed a little hard, and there was a little side to side play in the pivot point of the handle. Motor sounded good - no funny noises, and not loud. Rug renovator, floor tools, and manual were in good shape. Offered $40 and took it home.

Bought a "classic 3" handy butler on eBay for $22.20. Nice red housing seems to match my vacuum.

There is a local guy that has a bunch of Kirby parts for the classic, heritage 2, and legend 2. He used to collect them, but lost interest. I have some pictures of his stuff - which includes a turbo sander / polisher, turbo brush, a big pile of attachments, a classic bag with emptor attached, and heritage bag with emptor. Hmmmm. He'd like to sell all. I'll stop by late this week to check it out.

Post# 370399 , Reply# 12   4/9/2017 at 22:08 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

Glad to hear you are a proud new Kirby owner!
Even at 40 it was a steal of what was included. And the handi butler seemed to be a steal too!
When you check out all those other parts, look for a bag assy with a fill tube that will take a disposible bag with a 2" or so ROUND opening. The disposible bags with oval openings are not the desirable ones.

Post# 370401 , Reply# 13   4/9/2017 at 22:52 by Toddk13 (Milwaukee, WI)        
At first blush

I can tell the belt is slipping. Looks like I gotta replace. What's the wisdom for the best fit? The brushroll appears okay. Is there an adjustment to bring the brushroll higher or lower in the frame?

The best part of today was that my wife came along when I looked at the Kirby. She was impressed with all the accessory options. She was also impressed that I filled her gas tank with $38.00 in fuel as an offset to my spending $40 on a vacuum. Happy wife. Happy life.

Post# 370403 , Reply# 14   4/9/2017 at 23:04 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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Brush roll bristle adjustment is by two screws, one at each end of the roll. Brush bristles should protrude to at least 1/16" outside the rug plate openings.

For belts, Kirby makes two - dependent on brush roll bearing construction:
Use the old style 159056 belt if the brush roll you have installed has the non-removable end caps.

Use the new style 301291 belt if the brush roll has ball bearings and removable end caps.


Post# 370415 , Reply# 15   4/10/2017 at 09:14 by KirbyKleanKarpet (Florida )        

Congrats on becoming A Kirby owner! The Classic III is a beautiful machine, one of the best Kirby made. With some tender loving care, it can easily outlast you! And what a price! For $40, you definitely made a steal of a deal. Keep an ear open for change in the sound of the machine over time. Fans and bearings are common replacement items on Kirbys of age.

Nevertheless, congrats, and enjoy your new Kirby!


Post# 370583 , Reply# 16   4/12/2017 at 19:37 by Toddk13 (Milwaukee, WI)        
Found a Kirby bag with a vacuum attached

I thought that it would be nice to change out my classic III tired bag with a newer style bag that takes disposables. The conversion is not cheap for eBay offerings. I browsed Craigslist and found the perfect conversion with an entire vacuum attached! $15. Came with a new belt and three new Kirby bags. Quiet motor. I guess that I'm a two Kirby vac owner. I'll leave the classic III as is.

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Post# 370591 , Reply# 17   4/12/2017 at 20:36 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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A Kirby Tradition!


Post# 370593 , Reply# 18   4/12/2017 at 20:45 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
Nice score!

Check out my Tradion restoration thread in case you want to rebuild it from the ground up and make it look and run like new.
Despite the inefficiencies of the style 1 bag system, they still work quite well = I really like mine!
Check to see what color and material the fan impeller is. If grey plasic, it will need replacement very soon as they deteriorate and blow apart from age. Metal or ivory plastic are both good.

Post# 370597 , Reply# 19   4/12/2017 at 21:05 by KirbyKleanKarpet (Florida )        
That Tradition

Nice score on the Tradition! $15 is an amazing price for any Kirby! Does that one have a lock on the headlight? If so, you've got an early model! Also, you can tell by the serial number. The serial number is located on the front fan case just before the bag lock (exhaust), in case you didn't know. If it has an "F" as the first digit, and the first number after that is "4" or less (ex: F386431, F496352, etc), then even bigger congrats! Those would have the lock on the headlight (it's a safety switch), and a metal fan as stock equipment. Among Tradition models, those are the most sought after by collectors. The headlight safety switch was a nuisance among Kirby owners at that time, because it frequently broke due to misuse, and was often replaced with the Classic III safety switch. Nevertheless, big congrats on that amazing Kirby deal!

Post# 370611 , Reply# 20   4/12/2017 at 22:30 by Toddk13 (Milwaukee, WI)        
Blue is the new red (Kirby)

It has a metal fan, and appears to be in decent shape poking around with a flashlight. The safety switch is not in the headlight housing. It's in the same spot as my classic III. The owner got the Tradition from a friend. He replaced the belt, bought bags, and decided to sell. He had it listed a month ago for $40. No calls. He had it on Craigslist for a week at $15. I was his first (and only) phone call. It runs well. It looks lightly used. I just didn't have the heart to offer him less. What strikes me is how such a nice vacuum could be ignored. Is the general public so brainwashed that old is bad?


Post# 370612 , Reply# 21   4/12/2017 at 22:42 by KirbyKleanKarpet (Florida )        

Despite the extraordinary quality of practically any Kirby vacuum, many don't see the value in owning one vs any old off-the-shelf model. Kirby owners are, despite how many of us are here on VacuumLand, not in the majority.

VacuumLand makes owning a Kirby look like everyone does it! Lol!

That metal fan is hard to come by. They are a bit more fragile than the Amodel fans (the newest material out there), but when it comes to suction, they can't be beat! Plus hearing the distinctive "ping" whenever you suck up slightly harder objects is, to me at least, pretty cool. (Or maybe I'm just weird.) Just don't go sucking up any coins with it. You'll regret it.

Best regards,


Post# 370657 , Reply# 22   4/13/2017 at 21:03 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

"Is the general public so brainwashed that old is bad?"
Sadly, the answer is yes for the most part. A used vacuum is probably as avoided as used sneakers, mattresses, and carpet. I can see why though, as you do not know where it has been and what it has sucked up. Bugs are often a top concern as well. The used units I got stayed outside in the garage until I tore them down, cleaned and washed every part, and reassembled them.
And consider these Kirbys are 30+ years old, most people do not think of being able to use them. If only they know how long they last and how well they work....
There have been some old Kirbys on craigs near me for 10 and 20 bucks and have been listed for a long time.
Good news on your Tradition with the metal fan. You did get a great deal on it!

Post# 370660 , Reply# 23   4/13/2017 at 21:26 by compactelectra (Rancho Mirage, CA - New home of the Obamas)        
I Agree Rob

compactelectra's profile picture
Old is not bad. I have had a Classic III since I bought it new in Chicago around 1977(?) Sent it back to Cleveland around the mid 90's for a complete rebuild. It is still one of my favorite vacuums. It is the only vacuum in my collection that has always been out and ready for use.

Used it today. It is windy season in Palm Springs and that fine dust gets into everything. You can see in the picture that it was stored back in Chicago next to the Sentria. A good vacuum but I still like the Classic III better and the Sentria is now in its box in the garage. When they rebuilt the CIII they put on the paper bag unit and it now uses HEPA bags. One of the pictures shows many of my Kirbys including a Tradition. That Tradition was found a few years ago new in the box and it will be going on EBay soon. If anyone is interested, let me know.

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Post# 370713 , Reply# 24   4/14/2017 at 16:06 by Toddk13 (Milwaukee, WI)        
Oh happy tools

Classic III tools w/jigsaw $22.20 EBay. All the rest $50 local guy - Heriage kits, heritage bag with emptor and paper bag,nice condition classic III bag, turbo sander, classic tools that I was missing, and the hoover suitcase vacuum that I just couldn't leave there.

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Post# 370760 , Reply# 25   4/15/2017 at 00:04 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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That Classic III bag assembly I see in picture #4, is mounted to a 510/515 Emtor assembly (I know the Emtor's at least from a 510 going by the presence of the Sweet-Aire cap).


Post# 370836 , Reply# 26   4/16/2017 at 17:56 by Toddk13 (Milwaukee, WI)        
Classic with disposable bag

Well, I cleaned up the brushroll which had a ton of lonnnng hair wrapped around everything. Changed the cracked belt with a new correct non ribbed one. Replaced the torn bag with a heritage disposable set up. Adjusted the brush depth to 1/16". Clicked height to setting 2.

Wow. What a joy. I've used a hoover bagless wind tunnel at home for a couple years. It's done okay. The immediate improvement that I noticed is that the plush carpet feels SOFTER. Feels like it does after I extract the carpet. Huh. Yes, I am aware that I have a string holding the bag to the handle.

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Post# 370839 , Reply# 27   4/16/2017 at 19:27 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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All this modified Classic III needs is to reuse the bag top from the original Classic III bag.

Here's my 1977 Classic III with the Legend II bag system!


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Post# 370840 , Reply# 28   4/16/2017 at 20:14 by jeschbac (Texas)        
Brushroll regulation

If I'm not mistaken, Kirby now recommends 1/8" protrusion of the bristles through the rugplate on these models. (Is this because of the new ball bearing style brushroll?) I have my classic series regulated to this measurement. The machine is happy and the cleaning action amazing!

Post# 370862 , Reply# 29   4/17/2017 at 11:16 by sptyks (Woburn, MA)        

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Yes the new brush adjustment is 1/8 inch protrusion past the rugplate.


Also, your Classic III will clean much better if you install the new 4 row Ball Bearing brushroll. I made this modification to my own Classic III and noticed the beating action is much better which means it cleans my carpet even better than my 2012 Sentria.



Post# 370877 , Reply# 30   4/17/2017 at 12:53 by toddk13 (Milwaukee, WI)        
It beats as it sweeps...oops wrong vacuum

Can someone help me with what the updated ball bearing brush part number would be? Is this the same as would be used on the G models?

Post# 370878 , Reply# 31   4/17/2017 at 13:20 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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Kirby currently only sells part number 152584 (formerly 156288) for all models Heritage to Legend II, which will also fit models Classic 1CR to Tradition. This has the magnet on the white cap end, which is only effective on the 16" wide nozzles for Heritage II and Legend II machines made since March 1986.

Kirby did sell essentially the same brush roll without the magnet for these same machines, part number 152581 (formerly 156281), but that had been discontinued for about five years now.


Post# 370891 , Reply# 32   4/17/2017 at 16:37 by sptyks (Woburn, MA)        

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Here is the link to the new 4 row ball bearing brushroll that will fit your Classic III. This is NOT the same brushroll that the G series Kirby's use.



Post# 370912 , Reply# 33   4/17/2017 at 22:17 by Toddk13 (Milwaukee, WI)        

Thanks. Ordered it. That brushroll cost 50% more than the Tradition I picked up. I'm sure it'll work well.

Post# 370929 , Reply# 34   4/18/2017 at 06:42 by KirbyKleanKarpet (Florida )        
With the new brush roll...

With that new brush roll, you will -certainly- notice a significant difference in your carpet. If it feels plush now, imagine how much better it will feel sucking up almost double what it does now! Since with the new brush, the carpet will be getting brushed twice as much (due to the additional two rows), it will thus clean more dirt in a single pass. Comparing my Tradition to my Heritage, it is absolutely no contest. The Heritage wins, hands down! Plus, the new ball-bearing brush rolls last longer than the traditional rod-type bearing system, as there is less resistance. Have we talked you up enough yet? You're going to like the difference! (I could sell these things! Lol.)


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