Thread Number: 35167  /  Tag: 80s/90s Vacuum Cleaners
So, let's talk dirt devil hand vacs
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Post# 378802   9/22/2017 at 18:42 by icee (Indiana)        

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One of my favorite parts of my collection is my old school dirt devil hand vacs. I saw one as a kid and they might honostly have what sparked my passion for sweepers. I'm trying to collect all colors of the old ones. I have many of them, I even have one of the green rare ones. I DID have a 2nd green plus model, which I didn't even know they made. Very very unfortunately, a shelf I had put up that it was resting on fell and hit the kirby sentria I had sitting below it, and it shattered into way too many peices to fix :(. I know, I was very devastated.

But I was wondering, what other more rare colors are there? I'm interesting to find out!

Post# 378804 , Reply# 1   9/22/2017 at 19:04 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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I prefer the model 501 Prince all-metal hand vacuum, which shares the same belt and brush roll as the earliest Dirt Devil hand vacuums (models 103, 500, 503, 513, 523 and 533).


Post# 378811 , Reply# 2   9/22/2017 at 21:58 by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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I like them, and although they seem to turn up quite often in the thrift stores, sometimes with the attachment kits even, I have yet to add one to my collection. But I do believe I will someday.

I don't know much about rare models. I know there is the Car Vac version that's black with a checkered black and white bag and I think that one is 12V. Other than that I mostly just see the red versions.

When I was younger I had a toy red Dirt Devil hand vac, that ran on AA batteries and had a brushroll driven by a rubber band! It did actually pick up pretty well for a toy. I believe it went in a yard sale. I kind of wish I had kept it, they are probably pretty rare these days.

I also really like the Broom Vacs which are basically a hand vac on a stick in my opinion. These seem to turn up at thrift stores too, but again I have yet to get one of them.

Post# 378836 , Reply# 3   9/23/2017 at 16:40 by icee (Indiana)        

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Oh that toy sounds adorable! I'd love to find one! I have a couple broom vacs, a blue model and a couple red ones.

Post# 378845 , Reply# 4   9/23/2017 at 23:17 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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I agree with Ben. I'm more a fan of the Royal Prince 501. I've got two of them—an early one from the '60s with a red and gray bag and a light blue one from the late '80s. Last summer, when I was helping my parents pack up to move, I found two plastic Dirt Devil hand vacs but I left them behind. One was black and the other was red and had a short hose coming off the brush roll housing. It was pretty obvious something was missing. I probably should have grabbed one or both of them for parts, if nothing else, but I was already feeling overwhelmed at the amount of stuff I was bringing to my house so I left them behind. Besides, I'd already snagged an Electrolux 1205 and a Hoover Quik Broom so that was enough.

Post# 378848 , Reply# 5   9/24/2017 at 00:40 by repairman (Stickney, IL)        
Doesn't deserve to be mentioned but,

The Dirt Devil Ultra handvac is absolutely terrible. The thing is way too loud, gets clogged easily, and hose is awkward to use.

Post# 378849 , Reply# 6   9/24/2017 at 01:47 by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

Hose awkward top use-the suction of those hoses was no more than you inhaling!

Post# 379200 , Reply# 7   10/3/2017 at 20:51 by oldskoolguy (Chicago, Illinois)        

I believe I may have your green dirt devil! Yes indeed! It's the m08510 with a 6.8 amp motor, which is not like my other one i'm trying to sell, m08510, 7 amp amp motor. I could be wrong though!

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Post# 379203 , Reply# 8   10/3/2017 at 23:13 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        
I just have two....

one I bought new in 1995 to keep my new work truck clean-12 volt model, black with the 'forever' cord and inline fuse.  Put that beetle butt thing on it to blow up air mattresses etc. The accessory hose was/is a joke....hardly any vacuum at all. Then I found another at  a yard sale of about the same vintage, red....this time 120 volts and accessory hose/crevice tool. Put another beetle butt thing on that one too. It has more vacuum with the hose...probably because it's 120 volts.


Those fan impellers I have are plastic and don't take kindly to direct shots by solid items like small rocks. I think I have one spare. The red one does a serious job on car/truck carpeting....the black one is just OK, taking a lot more passes to do the same work.




Post# 379213 , Reply# 9   10/4/2017 at 09:17 by kirbyvertibles (Independence, KS)        

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I just bought a black with yellow writing called the 500 in it's original box. It was (I'm told) a store display model that never got sold. I have no use for it. I do like them but I don't ever really use them.

Post# 379214 , Reply# 10   10/4/2017 at 09:19 by kirbyvertibles (Independence, KS)        

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I'll tell you what dirt devil I really like. The can-vac with power pak. I love those little power heads on those things. I have a full red set and I have power nozzle for the blue and maroon models. I just need to find the blue and maroon canisters to go with.

Post# 379303 , Reply# 11   10/5/2017 at 18:24 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

do you have a pic of the can-vac with the power pack? I have no idea what that is.


I only use my two for the cars and mostly the red 120 volt model because it's so much better than the 12 volt model. The 12 volt model was great on the road for touch ups. Anything serious though and I'd just stop at a car wash and use their vacs. 



Post# 379332 , Reply# 12   10/6/2017 at 10:20 by kirbyvertibles (Independence, KS)        

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Post# 379333 , Reply# 13   10/6/2017 at 10:25 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

never seen that setup before! Thanx for the pic.



Post# 379356 , Reply# 14   10/6/2017 at 21:57 by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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One of those Can Vacs was at my local Restore last time I went, but it was the straight suction version - the one that Mister Rogers used on his show once, and the assembly line of them at the factory was shown on Picture Picture.

I have seen a few of the Ultra hand vacs with the attached hose, never used one.

Are the newer bagless Classic hand vacs any good? They look interesting, sort of like the older ones but with a clear dust collection bin and filter.

Post# 379377 , Reply# 15   10/7/2017 at 11:03 by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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By the way, how is the hose suction on the typical Royal or Dirt Devil hand vac with front hose connection? If it's decent, one of these with the attachment kits may become my next car cleaning machine. It would be easy to manuever, not having a canister or shop vac to move around the car, and would probably clean the carpet and floor mats well. I haven't found a machine that can do that well, most seem to scatter the sand.

The bagless Classic handvacs use a pan style converter, similar to what Black and Decker, Kenmore and some other hand vacs did.

Post# 379379 , Reply# 16   10/7/2017 at 12:40 by broomvac (N/A)        
Dirt Devils Etc.

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kirbyvertibles: Funny thing--I have the long-lost maroon Pro Series Can-Vac for that maroon Power Pak you have! I've been keeping my eyes peeled for a Power Pak for this thing.

On the topic of hand vacs...I've had something like 4 103s, 3 Dirt Devil Pluses, 1 Royal prince model 501, and now my favorite: the Dirt Devil Ultra, which I found for $3 in excellent condition. It's apart right now for restoration, but once I finish it, I will post pictures.

I was shocked to find a brand new toy Dirt Devil "Junior" hand vac for less than a buck the other day, too! This thing will actually suck up little pieces of dust and cat hair!

fan-of-fans: Bagged Dirt Devil hand vacs can use tools with either the front port or a pan converter, which came with a number of the "Plus models." Although the pan converter is more convenient since it does not require removal of the belt, its performance is worse. I would recommend using the front port.

In my experience, your best bet for getting the highest level of cleaning performance is using a 3-amp Plus model with the hose through the front port. However, maybe the Ultra with its built-in hose and 4 amp motor will do better. I just don't know, though, because I have yet to try the Ultra out. Either way, don't expect an intense amount of suction.

The best solution I have found for vacuuming out my car is a digital motor Dyson DC34, found for $100 at Walmart, paired with a Dyson hand vac extension hose. It has just enough suction to lift the sand off my plastic floor liners and just enough battery life to clean every nook and cranny of my car in a single go.

Good luck!


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Post# 379454 , Reply# 17   10/9/2017 at 04:17 by huskyvacs (Indiana)        

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My parents had a early 90's red one that we used to clean the stairs. The motor burned up on that sometime in the mid-2000's, then we did without for awhile, and then we found a newer red one that had the sliding cover over the brushroll. That one lasted a couple of years until my dog shredded the cord to pieces on it when he was a puppy. Rubber and string and paper and wires all over the floor. Later found another early 90s red one pretty much brand new in the box, or lightly used at Goodwill. Still have that one today, and also found a mint in box accessory kit for it shortly thereafter at goodwill as well.

I also have found a 12v auto dirt devil in black at goodwill at one point, and then one of my mother's friends gave her a NASCAR or racing one, I don't know what as I haven't looked at it for 6+ years but I do know where it's at, it has a checkered flag pattern colored bag.

Post# 379456 , Reply# 18   10/9/2017 at 04:49 by huskyvacs (Indiana)        

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I went around the house and in my garage and got the model numbers off them:

My main red one:
Dirt Devil Royal
Model 103
2.0 amps
Plant B

My black and yellow one:
Dirt Devil Royal
Model DD520 (Series 500)
2.1 amps
Plant E

My Black and white car one:
Dirt Devil Royal
Model 212
9.5 amps (12 volts DC)
Plant D

Post# 379474 , Reply# 19   10/9/2017 at 12:58 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

By the way, how is the hose suction on the typical Royal or Dirt Devil hand vac with front hose connection? If it's decent, one of these with the attachment kits may become my next car cleaning machine. It would be easy to manuever, not having a canister or shop vac to move around the car, and would probably clean the carpet and floor mats well. I haven't found a machine that can do that well, most seem to scatter the sand.

The bagless Classic handvacs use a pan style converter, similar to what Black and Decker, Kenmore and some other hand vacs did.


The two hand vac Dirt Devils I have are not much for vacuum with the hose. The 120 volts model is usable, but compared to a good canister vac-dismal. It will get the job done, but stuff coming up from the floor of your car (like rocks) will be like bullets to the plastic fan impeller. They're somewhat hard to find. They do a decent job on car carpets though if they aren't really dirty with sand, rocks etc. Portability of course, is their swan song.



Post# 379511 , Reply# 20   10/9/2017 at 22:35 by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        
I have

Bunches of Royal 501s, from the 40s on up, I even have a straight suction one called a Rex.

Post# 379515 , Reply# 21   10/10/2017 at 00:17 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

How much 'better' do the older ones with the metal housings perform, if at all? And what yr did they launch into the plastic fantastics like mine?




Post# 379520 , Reply# 22   10/10/2017 at 02:16 by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        
The old ones

Perform much better because they have a better motor and a deeper blade fan, they really do a good job.

Post# 379536 , Reply# 23   10/10/2017 at 12:05 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        
Is the....

fan impeller metal? The motor on my 12 volt model is just a non plus RC motor and the 120 volt not much better.



Post# 379643 , Reply# 24   10/12/2017 at 23:28 by broomvac (N/A)        
Dirt Devil Ultra Hand Vac

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Finally got this bad boy all cleaned up. I think it turned out pretty nice!

Although I've had several 103's and Plus's before, I'd never had an Ultra until this one, so I was curious to see how it would stack up against the others.

With a new genuine bag and belt, this Ultra performs well from the nozzle in my opinion, albeit while being very loud. It seems to have the edge on even the 3 amp Dirt Devil Plus.

I'll agree with the others above, though, that the suction through the hose is mediocre at best. Light stuff can be picked up, but good luck sucking up anything heavy. But hey, at least it keeps you from sucking up any metal screws or the like into the fan!


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Post# 379648 , Reply# 25   10/13/2017 at 00:14 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

Looks like new!


Dog hair in the cars was always my nemesis. While the Dirt Devils can vacuum the hair up OK with the roller brush, the hose suction struggles.....find myself using the crevice tool as a scraper first to loosen the hairs from the carpet, then suck....pretty useless. But gawd...bringing out a wet & dry shop vac feels like pulling an elephant through the keyhole. Tries to tip over.....they are loud as heck etc. If I bring out a canister vac, everything is great....but I hate doing that. I think I'll dedicate one canister vac to the outside like that.....use the Dirt Devils for touch up.


It's a function of time, patience and elbow grease, really. I had a nice sports car in college and this little 12 volt vac for the interior...nothing else. I had a Dalmatian too, which shed hair everywhere all yr long. The dog rode with me in the car...the car was spotless....not a hair to be found. Knowing what I know about vacs now, what folly. But hey, ignorance is!




Post# 379712 , Reply# 26   10/13/2017 at 22:46 by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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I like using my Shop Vac to clean the car as it's light weight and sucks the sand out of the carpet very well, I use my Eureka Mighty Mite attachments with it. But it is very loud and then I have to dump the tub and clean the filters off.

I use a canister sometimes but it's heavier to move around and not as strong, but you have better attachments on board. Sometimes I take the floor mats out and use the power nozzle on them.

I never found the 12V vacs to be very powerful. I used to have a bunch of cheap ones and a Black and Decker Dustbuster Car Vac 12V that was probably the best of the bunch.

Now back to Dirt Devil handvacs, that Ultra looks pretty nice, seems to have a big motor. Any idea of the age? I didn't realize these are still being made, but they are.

Thanks for the info on the suction also. I don't usually get gravel or rocks in my car, and never have pet hair, but just sand. Which may cause damage to a plastic fan, I hadn't thought about that with these being fan first machines.

There is one of the regular Dirt Devils at a thrift here in the box with the attachment kit. I think they wanted $8 which was tempting.

Post# 379714 , Reply# 27   10/13/2017 at 23:02 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

If the old ones have metal impellers, maybe that's the way to two and use one for parts.


That's why I don't like the shop vacs...the suctions and CFM is best on the two inch hose which has so much suction it pulls the darn thing toward you if the suction is an accordion. And yes, cleaning the filters.......although I retrofitted my Sears to take those big bag liners....but the whole affair is just too bulky IMO.


The canisters work best because as you say, they have the most suitable attachments. The generic shop vac attachments are cheap and don't perform well except on concrete floors etc.


The 12volt Dirt Devil I have is really more toy than anything. The noise from the thing intrigues It does OK on just carpet with the brush roll.



Post# 379846 , Reply# 28   10/16/2017 at 16:16 by crazykirbydude (Lexington, KY)        

They made a 120V version of the black-and-yellow checkered "auto" version. It is called the Dirt Devil 500 and was supposed to come with attachments more suited to car cleaning. I have it somewhere. I don't care for it too much, as the filtration is terrible. This cleaner has plenty of power, but it only utilizes a shake out bag. It does not have the "spout" for the paper bags to fit onto, just a wide opening. This would not be a problem if it weren't for the outer bag. Every time the bag gets bumped, a HUGE cloud of dust flies out. I would say if you are going to get one, get one with the bag "spout". On a different note, I've always thought 12V car vacuums were complete garbage. I bought a no name 12V car vacuum a few months ago, and from the beginning there was almost no suction or airflow, the thing was loud and vibrated a lot and it would throw grit out the exhaust port at your face. It came with two tools. Both were absolutely useless. I believe it's some generic Chinese design, as I've seen this same cleaner under multiple brands. It looks just like this, same tools and everything. The only difference was mine had a white motor housing and a blue dust cup. It was labeled "Super Wet\Dry Vac"

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Post# 379859 , Reply# 29   10/17/2017 at 00:05 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

I totally agree with that and with the B&W checkered 12volt Dirt Devil.....the bag in the only filtration. But then again, mine is not house borken and never been inside. Same with the red one that is almost identical, but is 120volts. Since it is the same as far as bag fitment, I assume there is no paper filter bag for it either?



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