Thread Number: 36266  /  Tag: Pre-1950 Vacuum Cleaners
Bee-Vac hand vac
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Post# 388851   3/23/2018 at 19:07 by toastermike (Milwaukie Oregon)        

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At the same estate sale that I found the Kirby 514, I also bought this Bee-Vac hand vac with a revolving brush. It's in excellent condition. Anybody know anything about these? I know the company made vacuum cleaners and other products for Sears until the 1950's. I can't find any other information.

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Post# 388950 , Reply# 1   3/24/2018 at 12:19 by Hoover300 (Kentucky)        

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WOW! Those are really rare! They were made from the mid 20s to the early 30s. The early ones were polished aluminum with a cloth cord while the later ones were blueish hammertone with a rubber cord. Yours seems to be in pretty good shape. I got one awhile back. The back of the handle shattered in shipping and the bag was missing. Yes, someone shortened the cord pretty badly, so I still don't know if it runs. Hope this helps.


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Post# 388962 , Reply# 2   3/24/2018 at 14:30 by toastermike (Milwaukie Oregon)        

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Thanks for the info! I was guessing 1930's, 40's at the latest. I replaced the belt and oiled it yesterday. While it was still plugged in it began to smell and then gave out a nice electrical pop. I haven't checked it out yet but I'm sure it can be fixed.

Post# 388964 , Reply# 3   3/24/2018 at 14:53 by Hoover300 (Kentucky)        

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My Westinghouse hand vac has the somewhat of the same issue. No matter if it was on or off, as soon as I plug in, a spark comes from the machine and the outlet. When I plug it in again, it works fine. If I were you, I would replace the cord and check everything if that doesn't work.

Post# 388974 , Reply# 4   3/24/2018 at 17:55 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        
@ toastermike

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That is why you never ever ever ever plug in old electrical items without going over the cord first! I do believe what happened is the insulation inside the main wire has perished and allowed the two wires to touch each other, and it made a dead short. If the cord was wrapped around the handle or on a hook, this would have increased that chance a great deal, since it would essentially make a crimp in the wire where it was bent around.

This happened to me in my garage to an old auto work light that had been unused in the garage cupboard for 30 years. I inspected everything on it, and it looked alright. But when I plugged it in, I heard a whistling like a teakettle, then before I could rush to unplug it, the entire cord exploded at the short and blew hot molten rubber everywhere! The cord also blew off at the plug end and then caught fire and started burning the end of the plug as it was in the socket. I grabbed a bag of sand from nearby and put the flame out with that. I had to replace the outlet later because I got sand inside it. I was smart enough to be wearing lineman's gloves anyway, so I stayed safe from harm. It was a very scary situation.

I have an upright Bee-Vac that I got last fall and the hot and neutral wires run independent of each other, but are twisted together as a pair on their own and they go up the handle, so I believe yours used to be run that way. Maybe this one had a rewire job done in the 50s and that has also decayed with time.

With these vulcanized rubber cords I replace them anyways, they do not age well. It does not detract from the value if you replace the cord, it's an acceptable loss. I'd just find a photo of one from an old advertisement and see if you can get a replica antique cord to match it.

Post# 388983 , Reply# 5   3/24/2018 at 20:43 by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

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Electrical pop? You let the pixies out!

Post# 388996 , Reply# 6   3/24/2018 at 22:01 by quebecois (Quebec, Canada)        

You guys live dangerously !

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