Thread Number: 35628  /  Tag: 50s/60s/70s Vacuum Cleaners
Tanks vs canisters
[Down to Last]

Vacuumland's exclusive eBay Watch:
scroll >>> for more items
Post# 382685   12/15/2017 at 20:47 by Kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        

Recently I have been noticing all vacuums with a hose being called canisters this may sound peevish but Electrolux never made a canister. They were all tanks. As we're model 41 42 50 51 53 and 55 hoovers Eureka 700 s were tanks if a machine has the bag in one end and the motor in the other end and is made like a tube it's a tank not a canister. Not trying to be a know it all but as collectors we all need to use proper terminology

Post# 382686 , Reply# 1   12/15/2017 at 21:08 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

human's profile picture
So if I understand you correctly, a machine with a horizontal orientation (e.g., Electrolux 1205) is considered a tank and one with a vertical orientation with the motor on top and the dirt chamber below (e.g., Filter Queen Majestic) would be a canister. But do manufacturers use these terms in that way consistently? For instance, I hear the Electrolux 1205 and subsequent models based on that design referred to collectively as "metal canisters".

Post# 382689 , Reply# 2   12/15/2017 at 22:01 by Kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        
As a rule companies today

Say canister no matter what but when these old machines were new the distinction was always made the first popular canister. Vacuum was the. Re air then the filter queen after ww2 the canister type took off in popularity consumer reports always made the distinction. This may sound silly but you would not call a 4 door hardtop a sedan or a 2 door sedan a coupe just saying

Post# 382707 , Reply# 3   12/16/2017 at 00:26 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

human's profile picture
I see your point and it is certainly consistent with the traditionalist sensibilities I often read in your posts. It brings to mind a discussion from a linguistics class I took in graduate school about prescriptive vs. descriptive interpretations of language. A prescriptive interpretation says 'this is the way it's properly done'. It's locked in, formal and largely unchanging over time. There's certainly a place for that as an anchor point to better understand the origins of contemporary usage.

Conversely, a descriptive interpretation observes and accepts trends in popular usage, saying 'this is the way people are doing it now'. The reality is that living languages evolve over time and words take on different shades of meaning as our perception of the concepts behind them change. You only have to watch a movie or TV show from the mid-20th century to see how much our language has changed over a relatively short period of time.

Your examples both of vacuum cleaners and of cars illustrate this point nicely. At one time in the not too distant past, there was a apparently a greater distinction in the vacuum cleaner industry between canisters and tanks. These days, so few of either type of machine are being produced that the distinction is lost on the average person and it is thus more expedient and comprehensible to refer to both styles collectively as canisters. Likewise, the distinction between a four-door hardtop and a four-door sedan or a coupe and a two-door sedan is lost on the average person who does not know, or maybe doesn't remember that some cars didn't have B-pillars. These days, thanks largely to modern safety regulations, true coupes and hardtops have been effectively out of production since the late '70s. In today's market, all four-door cars are sedans and the few two-door cars still being produced are coupes. The term 'hard top' today simply means 'not a convertible', although some convertibles today have retractible hard tops instead of fabric or vinyl soft tops.

For better or worse, language and words tend to change with the times and as that natural process happens, earlier meanings--or shades thereof--are diminished or even lost entirely. It's not a new concept; it's been with us since the beginning of, well, language.

Post# 382726 , Reply# 4   12/16/2017 at 09:23 by n0oxy (Saint Louis Missouri, United States)        
my definition of a canister

I tend to call anything that you pull along as you are vacuuming a canister, whether this is a long narrow machine like an Electrolux or something larger like a Sebo or Miele, I call them all canisters. Backpacks and central vacuums also have a hose that is used for the cleaning, but I don't call these canisters usually.

Post# 382727 , Reply# 5   12/16/2017 at 10:01 by dysonman1 (Rolla, Missouri)        

dysonman1's profile picture
This is a canister vacuum cleaner.

  View Full Size
Post# 382728 , Reply# 6   12/16/2017 at 10:02 by dysonman1 (Rolla, Missouri)        

dysonman1's profile picture
This is a tank-type vacuum cleaner. Made long, to sit on stair treads.

  View Full Size
Post# 382729 , Reply# 7   12/16/2017 at 10:04 by dysonman1 (Rolla, Missouri)        

dysonman1's profile picture
These are all canister vacuums.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 5         View Full Size
Post# 382730 , Reply# 8   12/16/2017 at 10:05 by dysonman1 (Rolla, Missouri)        

dysonman1's profile picture
These are all tank-type vacuums.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 3         View Full Size
Post# 382738 , Reply# 9   12/16/2017 at 12:15 by Kirbysthebest (Wichita, KS)        
Another distinction

I have headed machines like Filter Queen, Henry, and Fairfax referred to as a pot vacuum.
Would you make that further distinction?

Post# 382742 , Reply# 10   12/16/2017 at 13:33 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

I think you have to go with popular terms, if for no other reason, clarity for all. I see this all the time in tools. Nearly everybody calls adjustable spanner wrenches, Cresent wrenches. Or circular saws being called Skil saws. And in guns I grew up with 'double barrel' shotguns yet once out of the south, they were called 'side by side' versus 'over & under' (both have two barrels, hence the delineation).  We are a country of convenience, not accuracy and sometimes there are even geographical differences in descriptions.


I think there are greater battles to fight. Just sayin'....





Post# 382745 , Reply# 11   12/16/2017 at 13:57 by Ultralux88 (Denver, Colorado)        

ultralux88's profile picture
I learned this at a very early age, and I can't even remember who explained it to me, I think I picked it up at a vac shop? May also have been from an Electrolux owner, I don't know. To me this ranks about the same as people calling attachments by the wrong names, but not as irritating as wrapping the cord in a figure 8.

Post# 382752 , Reply# 12   12/16/2017 at 15:21 by Phaeton (Los Angeles)        
Thank you

phaeton's profile picture
Hello All of the above persons,
I often wanted to bring this subject up. But as a relatively new member and the fact that I am not a big collector, I decided it would not be correct or a good idea.
Dysonman1 who has been involved with vacuums for a long time as well as Kenkart have it right and that is the way I was taught to call them by Mr. Condo.
When I worked for Mr. Ben Condo at his shop any vacuum that was long like an Electrolux, Filtex , bullet Kenmore were called or referred to as Tanks and say a Eureka with the swivel top, GE with swivel top were called or referred to as Canisters.
The Hoover Model 50, Hoover refers to it as a Cylinder vacuum and the Royal ad for their Model 290 does not describe it as anything other than a vacuum.
A Hoover 1951 ad for the Model 29 and Model 51 reads “You can choose Hoover Triple-Action upright or Hoover AREO-DYNE tank”.
A Eureka 1965 ad for their Empress reads; “Suctions is what vacuum cleaning is all about. And the new Eureka Empress give you more than any other – upright, - canister or tank-type – yet built."
Now also as a person not involved with vacuums for 30 or so years I do not understand calling a Fan in a Hoover or Eureka upright and Impeller. Usually at the end of the motor shaft is a pulley for the belt that turns the Brush-Roll.
I see some calling a Brush-Roll a Distributor.
So why Impeller and why Distributor?
I work on older cars which have distributors. A small boat has a propeller. I believe a jet engine or aircraft engine has an Impeller.
Please help me to understand.
Thank you for looking,

Post# 382767 , Reply# 13   12/17/2017 at 01:55 by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

Jet engine-turbofan-fan.It is also the first compressor stage for the engine.The engine turns the fan-that provides the airflow to move the plane and make it fly.Like an axial vacuum cleaner motor-one end is suction-other blower.All "jet" engines today are bypass turbofans.Also think of it as a ducted propeller.

Post# 382771 , Reply# 14   12/17/2017 at 07:09 by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

eurekaprince's profile picture
The brush roll featured in Eureka uprights of the early 1960’s was called a “Disturbulator”, not Distributor. It was a fancy marketing term for a revolving brush roll that “disturbed” the dirt in the carpet. It actually was quite effective as it had three rows of bristles instead of the usual two.

Post# 382772 , Reply# 15   12/17/2017 at 09:26 by n0oxy (Saint Louis Missouri, United States)        

I've also heard vacuums like the Henry called tub vacuums. And yes, even around the country, there are different names that things are called. I recently visited some friends in Pennsylvania, there, a vacuum is mostly called a sweeper and soda is known as pop. Here in the mid west, if you call something a sweeper, it's usually assumed you are referring to one of those nonmotorized devices that you push around and the dirt sticks to a pad on the bottom.

Post# 382779 , Reply# 16   12/17/2017 at 10:50 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

Yeah, don't get me going on the soda/pop reference. I asked for a soda in CO and got soda water. So reluctantly after calling [pop] soda all my life I switched to pop for the



Post# 382823 , Reply# 17   12/17/2017 at 22:36 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

human's profile picture
Here in the South, it seems like a lot of people call all carbonated soft drinks 'Cokes', as in:

Person 1: "You want a Coke?"
Peson 2: "Yeah."
Person1: "What kind?"
Person 2: "orange."

Post# 382824 , Reply# 18   12/17/2017 at 22:55 by vacuumlad1650 (Chicago Suburbs)        

vacuumlad1650's profile picture
I'm from Chicago. Folks here call is "Pop" but I say Soda.

With Vacuums, I usually say "Vacuum Sweeper" for the generalization and Canister or Tank according to the specific machine. Canister is my general name for the sweeper you tug by the hose to use.

Post# 382833 , Reply# 19   12/17/2017 at 23:35 by josh (Forest Park, IL & Spring Grove, IL)        

josh's profile picture
I oftentimes call carbonated beverages "soda pop" - it upsets people no matter what region of the country I'm in.

Post# 382836 , Reply# 20   12/18/2017 at 01:22 by Kirbysthebest (Wichita, KS)        

Carbon monoxide is deadly. Stick with CO2, one carbon two oxygen molecules. It will make your drink fizzy, without binding your hemoglobin

Post# 382839 , Reply# 21   12/18/2017 at 03:41 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

It took me a sec on that one. Hopefully you're being funny...the CO abbreviation I used was for Colorado.



Post# 382840 , Reply# 22   12/18/2017 at 03:46 by Real1shep (Walla Walla, WA)        

I did hear people say 'soda pop' growing up, but it sounded weird to me like too much detail, as us kids just said soda.


The 'tank' delineation is interesting, as I've never heard it used before I came to this site. But I didn't really start paying attention to vacs until the 80's....a newbie.  



Post# 382852 , Reply# 23   12/18/2017 at 13:04 by Phaeton (Los Angeles)        
What the hey

phaeton's profile picture
Hello All,
Try looking up "Soda Jerk" on Wikipedia or just "Soda Fountain".
I am going to get my Sassafras Tea, out of a tank or a canister?
Happy Hoovering, oh drat I am not in the UK.
Oh, Alex don't get upset as I think you are great. You actually work on your Hoovers and do a great job of restoring them.
Boy life sure is a "B" when you are a frigging old newbie.
Thank you for looking,

Post# 382855 , Reply# 24   12/18/2017 at 14:45 by Collector2 (Moose Jaw, Sk)        

collector2's profile picture
I have to totally agree with this. Its one of my pet peeves too. I have also encountered the opposite. A lot of the guys I have talked with tend to refer to any vacuum with a hose as a Tank type. It annoys me as my preference is the Tank type of machine and I am constantly having to explain that something like a Filter Queen or Miele is a Cannister, not a tank.

Post# 382874 , Reply# 25   12/18/2017 at 23:47 by Kirbysthebest (Wichita, KS)        
Oh, well that's different then

Never Mind.

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