Thread Number: 35749  /  Tag: 50s/60s/70s Vacuum Cleaners
A Dirty Old Kirby For The New Year
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Post# 383713   1/6/2018 at 23:19 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        

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Hello! I've been a member here since the fall of 2017 but I figured I should start posting my finds now before too much time passes and I forget the details.

The following photos are of a beautiful vintage Kirby that I won back in mid-December (I was the only bidder). Due to the seller's mother being in the hospital and his furnace going out, he was delayed in shipping the vacuum. I made a "what do I do" post about it here: before I knew what was going on. He shipped it priority mail at the end of December, but because of the new years holiday, it didn't get here until the beginning week of 2018 otherwise it would have been here in 1 day.

I bought the Kirby primarily for the carpet fluffer tool (I hope that is what it is), because at the time I bought this vacuum it was just $15 more than just the fluffer tool itself for any Kirby model. With my Kirby Ultimate G in a state of disrepair and considering how cheap this entire lot was, I figured I might as well go for it. I didn't expect to win the auction, but I did with a $19.99 bid and shelled out $21.76 for shipping. A total cost of $41.75 brought it home. I was lucky because I lived within a state away from the seller, so it was super cheap shipping considering the weight.

As per the seller's description, the vacuum has been derelict in his grandma's basement for decades, but he plugged it in and the motor ran, so that was the extent of his testing. The Kirby is completely stripped of any model tags, so I have no idea what model it is, but I guess it is something super common considering there was no interest for it on eBay. Either that or it's very desirable and I just have dumb luck!

It came with the carpet fluffer which was the entire reason I bought it, and a bunch of other random attachments. I have no idea what they go to, but they do not fit the Kirby's hose. The one tool with the jar says Electrolux on it, and it kind of looks like a paint sprayer? No idea about the other things.

I have compiled all the photos of the unboxing and what I experienced opening it and posted a description of the photos as follows:

Photo #1: The box as it was left on my porch.

Photo #2: The damage to the box, almost lost it in transit!

Photo #3: The total weight of it all.

Photo #4: You can have any vacuum you want, as long as it's a Corona.

Photo #5: The box of attachments

Photo #6: A dirty explosion.

Photo #7: More dirt.

Photo #8: Revenge Of The Dirt III

Photo #9: It's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it.

Photo #10: All the bits and bobs out of the box.

Photo #11: My sidekick has to check out my purchase and make sure it is mouse-free.

Photo #12: Opening the box of accessories.

Photo #13: All the accessories spread out.

Photo #14: Electrolux sprayer tool

Photo #15: Weird shower head/turbine thing (Front)

Photo #16: Weird shower head/turbine thing (Back)

Photo #17: perspective view of the Kirby

Photo #18: The last repair shop tag. In business from 1972-1996. Original owners died in 2007 and 2008.

Photo #19: The Kirby plug end

Photo #20: A weird screw hole on the back of the dust bin tray, no idea what is missing here.

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Post# 383714 , Reply# 1   1/6/2018 at 23:21 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        
Continued from above

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Here's two more photos that didn't fit in the image cache in the above post.

Photo #21: The Kirby bag tag

Photo #22: The only type of ID number I could find on the vacuum - the part number for the handle.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 2         View Full Size
Post# 383715 , Reply# 2   1/6/2018 at 23:26 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        

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As an aside little tidbit of info if anyone was curious to know, by researching that repair shop tag, I found online the old obituary for the owner of the vacuum shop listed on the tag. I figured this would be a place to post it being a forum for vacuum collectors. He seemed to be well known as a Kirby salesman.

Valparaiso, Indiana
Age 77

passed away Monday,May 19, 2008. He was a salesman and self employed by Kirby Vacuum Sweepers. He served in the Air Force during the Korean Conflict. His wife,Dorothy preceded him in death in 2007. He is survived by 4 sons, Joseph Jr. and Douglas both of Portgage, Christopher (Cathy) of Valparaiso and Timothy Angela) of Niles, Michigan; 10 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren; 1 sister, Jerry (Don) Gaddis of Portage; 1 step sister, Janet (Frank) Bunchek of Minnesota; 1 step brother Russell Long of Illinois; half sister, Diane Piazza Shay of Portage; half brother, Peter (Katherine) Piazza of Lake of Four Seasons.

Viewing Thursday from 4 p.m. til 8 p.m. at Rendina Funeral Home, 5100 Cleveland St., Merrillville, IN, Friday viewing at the funeral home at 9 a.m. and burial at Calumet Park Cemetery at 10 a.m. for an outside service at the graveside with Bishop Alfred and Pastor Paul Deeds officiating. Published in the Post Tribune from May 21 to May 22, 2008

Post# 383716 , Reply# 3   1/6/2018 at 23:31 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        

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These photos were taken on Jan. 2, 2018.

Post# 383717 , Reply# 4   1/6/2018 at 23:35 by crazykirbydude (Lexington, KY)        

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The "shower head" thing is actually a moth crystal vaporizer for an Electrolux Model XXX! The sprayer also belongs to the same machine.

Post# 383718 , Reply# 5   1/7/2018 at 00:04 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        
@ crazykirbydude

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Wow! Wonder how that got lumped together with the Kirby? It's brand new too, I went and smelled it after I read your comment, no smell of moth balls or any residue.

Post# 383730 , Reply# 6   1/7/2018 at 08:10 by vacuumlad1650 (Chicago Suburbs)        

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Wasn't it nice of them to include some clamshell and Corona's? You can reward yourself once it's been thoroughly serviced LOLOL
In all seriousness, it's a nice find in need of a little TLC, but sometimes the best finds are the ones that need cleaning. No fun in buying a trophy, one must earn it!

Post# 383740 , Reply# 7   1/7/2018 at 10:24 by Phaeton (Los Angeles)        
The famous red knob, a kids toy?

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Hello All and huskyvacs,
I have these pictures I took off eBay of what is missing. I am missing that knob also and have search out everyone I know trying to find it. I think it had to do with adding one of the Kirby scents. It is not detailed in the booklet that came with my Kirby. It also was easily lost by the adult owner who forgot to put it back in the hole. I believe only a few years in the 50's had it but a real Kirby expert would know more about it.
I have to say that was a great price for your Kirby and with an interesting history.
Thank you for looking,

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 2         View Full Size
Post# 383756 , Reply# 8   1/7/2018 at 15:23 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        
@ vacuumlad1650

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It actually isn;t all that bad, but the seller wrapped the bag around the vacuum to ship it, and within transit it shook the dust out backwards through the brushroll area and then it got all over the vacuum. It's in pretty good shape, no cuts or abrasions in the metal.

I just want to service the motor before using because like an old car, parts will go bad and it's not a good idea to use it, as it will cause more damage.

Post# 383773 , Reply# 9   1/7/2018 at 18:51 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

From the looks of the nozzle, belt lifter, and foot switch, you have something around a model 516 or later - like late 50s to early 60s. The model # should be under the motor unit.
Pretty sad it was shipped with a full bag - you were brave working on it inside! I would have dumped the bag in the snow...
The screw hole in the emtor is for the Sweet Aire dispenser - it was for making the bag smell better. Cork it with a screw for now.
Despite its current condition, I bet it will fix up nicely.
Pull the motor case off, turn it on and look for excess sparking at motor brushes. If good, then tear it all down to the last screw, wash/clean every part, polish the metal with Mother's mag & aluminum polish and a wheel in your drill, replace bearings, replace motor brushes if less than 1/2 long, replace/repair anything else that is broke. Reassemble carefully and enjoy it for another several decades!

Post# 383774 , Reply# 10   1/7/2018 at 18:58 by kirby519 (Wisconsin)        

Can you get us a picture of the fan case opening? Remove the head and we will be able to give a better idea of a model range by the safety/speed switch. 1 button on the safety switch located under the fan opening will be a early sixties 4 amp single speed motor. Which also dates to the 50's 500 series models.

A safety switch with two buttons would indicate a Dual Sanitronic model. It looks to have had parts replaced. The hose proper is from a Legend II. The Brown bell to attach the hose to the machine is either from a early 70's 1CR or a later 2CB Omega model.

The Buffer/Fluffer head is from a Tradition model. Unless the head has been modified to trip he safety switch. You are out of luck using that head on that Kirby.

Post# 383782 , Reply# 11   1/7/2018 at 19:58 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        

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Here's some more photos, taken tonight 1/7/2018.

Photo #23: The underside of the vacuum.

Photo #24: The model tag has been removed, reasons unknown.

Photo #25: Front of the vacuum, brushroll removed.

Photo #26: Original metal fan. That's not corrosion, just lunar dust from the Apollo shuttle expedition.

Photo #27: The back of the fluffer. I am sure I can wedge a popsicle stick to the switch to make it work. It does fit on the Kirby well enough to use.
(Or if someone has a crappy beat-up one for this series Kirby they are tossing out, I'd be glad to take it.)

Photo #28: The top of the handle, if that offers any help in ID.

Photo #29: Original Kirby light bulb, filament looks intact.

Photo #30: Brushes look new still, I think. They extend past the bottom of the brushroll plate.

Photo #31: Far view of the vacuum in its entirety. Mind the leaking space dust.

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Post# 383783 , Reply# 12   1/7/2018 at 19:59 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        

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I wonder how they ended up with such a menagerie of cobbled together parts, maybe they had a low budget and just wanted the vac shop to toss together whatever they had in the salvage bin that worked?

Post# 383791 , Reply# 13   1/7/2018 at 22:01 by luxflairguy (Wilmington, NC)        


I'm confused by you. From your first posting about this machine all you've done is complain. You haven't liked the lack of communication from the seller and now that the machine has arrived you are even more unhappy!

As you stated you bought the machine primarily for the "carpet fluffer." AKA the floor polisher. That is from a Kirby Tradition and you might not be able to use it on your machine dues to the differences in the speed selector, on which I'm not an expert.

I want to know why you are so unhappy with the purchase! You reviewed all the pictures online, you approved and then bought the machine and now all you want to do is complain about a lack of communication, a poorly packed and shipped machine as well as a it being shipped with a full bag and items that aren't Kirby! You got what the seller was selling! You and no one else talked you into buying this machine. If you think you were unfairly targeted by the seller, well, you can ask for your money back from Ebay. But that's unfair to the seller! No matter what, "let the buyer beware!" You and you alone made the decision to buy this machine. Communication from Ebay sellers is getting to be less and less. As I said before did you expect "white glove" treatment?
This is all what newer buyers experience! I've purchases many machines and have taken my knocks! But I now communicate before I purchase with the seller asking questions, I'll give guidelines regarding packing and shipping and yes! I give instruction to make sure the bag is empty or removed. The less weight the better. Buyers remorse? You can only blame yourself.
By the way, if you want to be a true member here, you don't hide behind your screen name!
Greg Bushman

Post# 383805 , Reply# 14   1/8/2018 at 01:28 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        
@ luxflairguy

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What are you talking about? Nobody is complaining. You've misread everything!

Post# 383806 , Reply# 15   1/8/2018 at 01:31 by Gj3476 (Dallas,TX)        

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Mystery Kirby with no model number! Thatís like a random person without identity! Lol

Post# 383808 , Reply# 16   1/8/2018 at 01:33 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        
@ Gj3476

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Just as hard to figure out too! Wondering if there would be any markings under the housing? Like builder's marks?

Post# 383839 , Reply# 17   1/8/2018 at 11:06 by gottahaveahoove (Pittston, Pennsylvania, 18640)        
my late friend's sister

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was going to 'give' me this Kirby. It belonged to my friend, Anna. The ONLY reason I considered taking it was because it belonged to her. Then, one day, Louisa said, "You can take it home today, if you have the cash".
God knows where it ended up. And, now, I don't care. It would never have been used, just kept as a memento.
A rare exception to allow another species into the home. Not to worry now.

Post# 383858 , Reply# 18   1/8/2018 at 15:02 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        
@ gottahaveahoove

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I'm fortunate enough to still have my great-gradmother's Electrolux Olympia One still. It's in disrepair from sitting around for....16 years unused, but I do still have it. She lived to see her 100th birthday and her only two sweepers she had that I know of were Electrolux tank cleaners, that was her go-to brand. She knew how to be smart with her money and spend it on products that were good quality and lasted, and easy to live with. She had a rare talent of knowing how to read between the lines of sales marketing pamphlets and know what stuff is truth and what is just BS.

Post# 383864 , Reply# 19   1/8/2018 at 16:27 by gottahaveahoove (Pittston, Pennsylvania, 18640)        
Smart woman

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I hope it rubbed off on you.

Post# 383888 , Reply# 20   1/8/2018 at 19:48 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

I do not see this thread as 'complaining'.
I only see Husky pointing out all the bad or unusual things about this vac, but hey - I did the same thing after I got my 505. Resto here:
Ya gotta point out the bad stuff before bringing it back to life and discussing the good stuff! I am sure Husky will be restoring this one too, so the good is yet to come. (hint, hint)

The polisher heads for these models can be had on ebay for as low as $10-15. I got one for my 505 just so I could have a spare belt lifter.

As for the Electrolux parts, the seller either had no clue if they went together or if he did, just dumped it all together to rid it all to a vacuum enthusiast. I got a bunch of oddball stuff with a junk unit I got.

Post# 383890 , Reply# 21   1/8/2018 at 20:10 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        
@ texaskirbyguy

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Thank you for understanding. I hope I can too. The most experience I've had with the inside of a vacuum is a Eureka Optima and a Electrolux PN2 power nozzle. I think I have the polishing technique learned in my head so far, but not practiced it yet.

I do have a crappy Kirby 1CR with a bad motor and the housing looks like someone tried to polish it with a belt sander. I planned to use as a practice dummy vacuum since it isn't terribly valuable. Hopefully this summer, my workbench is all cluttered.

I have a Electrolux Model G so the parts won't go to waste.

Post# 383892 , Reply# 22   1/8/2018 at 20:15 by Louvac (A)        
Here's a quick tip...

Hey Huskyvac!

If you have an air compressor, take the machine outside and blast it with air--it will blow much of the crap off of it. Then, take quad-grade (0000) steel wool and use it dry to polish the bare metal first. Again, you will see a noticeable improvement and it will allow you to better see the condition of the machine. I use Blue Magic Metal Polishing Cream which you can find or have ordered thru your local True Value Hardware store. If you don't have an air compressor consider purchasing one as it will save time and effort with machine restoration. You can use it for a lot of other things, as well. Keep us posted. And, I don't see you complaining about anything so don't worry about it. I understand you perfectly!

Post# 383896 , Reply# 23   1/8/2018 at 20:32 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        
@ Louvac

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I do have a air compressor, I don't know the size offhand but it's big enough to need wheels. I bought it for blowing out computers and other small appliances, so he should do the job.

Steel wool? Wouldn't that scratch the metal permanently? Also what about Mother's mag wheels polish? Any time I see someone polishing a Kirby on youtube or on here in my searching, they always have a tin of that.

I bought a cheap tattered Royal hand vacuum to use as a practice dummy for polishing technique too. I do not have a polishing machine, so I'd have to do it by hand (maybe it will cure my carpal tunnel). haha

Post# 383899 , Reply# 24   1/8/2018 at 20:40 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

See reply 4 of this thread for some proven polishing techniques that I had learned as a beginner:

Also there are many other tips and tricks in that thread that may help with your resto.
I have done 4 vacs over the past year, so I now want to sit back and watch someone else restore theirs!

Post# 383903 , Reply# 25   1/8/2018 at 21:00 by vacuumlad1650 (Chicago Suburbs)        

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If you polish with a buffing machine, I recommend doing it outside. Either way, wear a mask! The Polish flecks are really hard on your lungs. Enough exposure will cause what is known as "Black Lung" or "Coal Miners Lung." Ive seen it before, lots of folks in my dads family get it. Its nasty.


I use a Grizzley buffing machine, a gift from our own Owen Perkins. I am awful with using it, but the art f polishing will come with time. Its tucked away in the main shop at the Farm for the winter, among my other power tools that normally sit in my Garage. Their place is held by a snowblower at the moment.

Post# 383905 , Reply# 26   1/8/2018 at 21:12 by kirby519 (Wisconsin)        

Well based on the speed switch it is a single speed 4 amp model. It is 50's to early 60's machine. Just before the Dual Sanitronic (2 speed 5 amp) You can attach a short metal piece on the Miracle head to trip the safety switch. It will take some careful measuring to do that. Easiest is to locate a miracle head from the 517 to early 60's Sanitronic model. That miracle head will work with that machine. Same exact set up until the Dual Sanitronic came out. Can be found on ebay and most any vacuum shop or Kirby repair shop.

Post# 383913 , Reply# 27   1/9/2018 at 00:30 by Phaeton (Los Angeles)        
YouTube 7 part video by ChicagoMike

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Hello All and huskyvacs,

This is a really good YouTube Video by a Vacuumland member. Type this or paste it in the YouTube search just as it is:

Part 1 of 7 How to Completely Take Apart Disassemble Kirby 509 1949 Vacuum Cleaner

It is really good and informative.
Your Kirby is newer but much of taking it apart is the same.
Thank you for looking,

Post# 385659 , Reply# 28   2/8/2018 at 22:02 by Lesinutah (Utah)        
Husky Vac

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You have 516 I think belt lifter. The Grey wheels started in 516. The nozzle is 516-sanitronic 7. Your handle 516-560 but it looks like 516. Bag is replacement sanatronic 50 bag. The emptor is 510-561. The speed switch is 516 to s7. If I were to guess wheels handle belt lifter nozzle everything points to 516. They put a sanitronic bag on it. But the majority of the identifiable pieces say 516 maybe 517(i think 516-519 are the same trim. I'd say 516 thats educated since most pieces look original to 516.

Post# 386168 , Reply# 29   2/15/2018 at 21:03 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        

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I was told on youtube that dust is drywall dust....ick. Anyone have experience on how to go about cleaning that out? Use another vacuum to do it? I presume it will need to be done outdoors, right? I hope it's not asbestos either.

Post# 386169 , Reply# 30   2/15/2018 at 21:05 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        

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If that is drywall dust, I assume the seller's grandma had her house renovated and the contractors probably just stole her vacuum and used it to clean up their mess until it clogged or broke then put it in the basement where it sat for who knows when.

Post# 386186 , Reply# 31   2/16/2018 at 00:43 by Lesinutah (Utah)        
Husky Vac

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Cleaning drywall is tricky. Blow out with shop vac first. If you have any left after that soak in warm water for a day and most will come off in water. I would then after pulling from water use shop vac again. This should work. Drywall is paper and has mud which is a mild gluing type compound.
Why in the heck would u clean up drywall with kirby. That's what shop vacs are for.

Post# 386189 , Reply# 32   2/16/2018 at 01:37 by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

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Doesn't look like drywall dust to me. Too gray. Drywall is white. Odds are slim that anyone vacuumed up asbestos dust anytime within the past 40 years (despite me doing so last year). If it has a sandy texture to it, it's probably some kind of masonry product - mortar or the like. Just suck it up with another vac. Alternatively, take it outside and blow it off with compressed air.

Post# 386191 , Reply# 33   2/16/2018 at 02:27 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        

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Alright, thanks. I feel a bit better. It is a greyish-off-white in person. The camera flash messes with the luminescence of it. It will wait until summer or spring, too wet and cold to mess with it now.

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