Thread Number: 36558  /  Tag: Recent Vacuum Cleaners from past 20 years
My mistake.
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Post# 391512   5/3/2018 at 23:17 by broomvac (N/A)        

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For those of you (everyone here?) who buys used vacs and fixes them up: how often do you find something and think ďThat looks good. Iíll buy it.Ē only to discover the vacuum is just too far gone?

Iíve gotten pretty good at picking out the good from the bad. Worn out brushroll, wheels, or bag will automatically disqualify a vacuum I come across. This $6 Oreck, on the other hand, seemed promising to me. The bag had no wear and everything seemed good, albeit dirty, so I bought it.

My mistake. I opened it up to find a cracked fan case, worn out felt seals, rusted screws and fasteners, and a horrible dog smell. The nail in the coffin was the base plate; it was worn enough to necessitate replacement, which would set me back around $50. Ouch.

Parts required:
Fan housing
Felt seals
Base plate
Paper bag

In the end, it just wasnít worth fixing, so I sent it on itís way. Itís a shame because I really like the bag design, two speed switch, and white motor housing. At least it set me back only $6.

Iíve had some great luck with used vacs, just not so much with this one.

What about you all?

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Post# 391523 , Reply# 1   5/4/2018 at 09:34 by dysonman1 (undisclosed)        

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The first thing I do is to turn them ON. That gives you a sense of motor/fan condition, as well as smells coming out. Brush rollers are so inexpensive that it won't disqualify a used from machine from becoming a rebuilt.

Having repaired many thousands of vacuum cleaner during the past 38 years of my life, sound will almost always tell me anything I need to know about an old vacuum.

I have been wrong a very few times. Picked up a Kenmore Commander one time that seemed prime. Great sound to the motor. $2 at a yard sale. Opened it up to find a rusted fan cover where the filter sits and that mice had eaten the bag. Into the trash it went. I did same the hose as it had absolutely no flaws and was sealed.

Post# 391535 , Reply# 2   5/4/2018 at 16:29 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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That Oreck sounds like the Filter Queen Majestic I picked up a couple of years ago for $5 at Goodwill and ended up spending around $50 to more or less recondition. It's now sitting buried at the back of my barn. A large part of my late father's toy collection is sitting in front of it right now, but whenever I sell off enough of to reach it, the thing is out the door, back to Goodwill and good riddance.

Post# 391550 , Reply# 3   5/4/2018 at 20:36 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        

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The Oreck XL is a great simple vacuum to cut your teeth on for repair work, and very easy to repair. Orecks are always worth it because they were never sold in stores, only through catalog order and authorized vacuum dealers. This is why you rarely see them show up in thrift stores.

I got an Oreck XL too at restore last year for $13. The motor is on its last legs but I will get it going again with some maintenance and general cleanup and it will be as good as new. Someone used it with no bag at all in it, so it will need a good bag bath too.

Nothing is too far gone for me. It's about saving the vacuum and keeping it out of the landfill. Just think about all the vacuums from the 20's to the 60's that were commonplace then that are now rare and very expensive because everyone just 'threw them away' when they broke. Cost me $80 for a Hoover 700. I also paid $40 for a Bee Vac that sat in a barn for 50-60 years and it's not seized but everything rubber has rotted off and it's totally corroded and rusted. But how many Bee Vacs do you see running and being used in a collection? None. Mine will be the first.

All the vacuums I buy right now are for my collection, so I get them as close as I can back to showroom condition. They are old and used so I don't get them to concourse condition, they show their age. For example, if there is gouges in the plastic I will fix it as best I can to smooth them out but I won't replace the entire shroud. But they will be in perfect order mechanically.

Vacuum cleaners are always run into the ground by the people that use them, so you will never get a "good " vacuum that 'needs no repair' no matter how cheaply or expensively its priced. They will all need repairs, and as you use them they will need repairs and maintenance repeatedly like any machine does.

When you buy the parts, you just have to know where to look and get them as cheap as possible. A lot of vacuum shops charge $30-$50 way over market value.

I always check eBay first for parts from individual sellers or wholesalers piecing out lots. If I can't find any, then I hit all the vacuum shops on the internet and find whoever has what I need for the cheapest price. It also never hurts to ask vacuum shops if they have any dirty salvage parts you can buy, and I'm sure it would be cheaper than eBay. A lot of mom and pop shops have small "junkyards" that they use to pull parts from for most vacuums. My uncle does that with his lawnmower and tractor repair business.

Also, for bags, filters, and belts, hunt through thrift stores and Walmart's clearance aisle. All of February and March I was picking up bags and belts galore at Goodwill and Salvation Army for $2.99 or less, and then I found all kinds of Arm & Hammer filters at Walmart that were 10 years old marked down to $3 each. My local Ace hardware store also had all kinds of vacuum bags for vacuums from the 1990's and early 2000's. They even had Broom Vac bags there, the packaging all faded from nearly 30 years on the shelf.

I buy vacuums because I like them and based on my enjoyment of running them around, I never see them as a stock investment where I have to "break even" in order to make it "worth it". I don't let money rule over my hobby, I just get the parts as cheap as I can, fix them, and sweep away!

Post# 391553 , Reply# 4   5/4/2018 at 23:20 by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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I bought a Kenmore sky blue canister (late jellybean Whispertone body) at Habitat for $10. When I got it home, I realized one of the wheels was missing from the Power Mate. It has the early curved headlight style nozzle where the wheels are on the side mounted on plastic and I didn't look closely enough. And when I removed the wand from the Power Mate, the bottom of it was rusted. Oh well. The canister runs fine.

Plus I got a very early Elite II, gray with the red striped bag. It looked alright, but when I turned it on it sounded terrible. I still have it, mainly kept it because of how early it is for a tools on board model.

Oh, and I got a Dirt Devil Room Mate out of the trash. Plugged it in and smelled a terrible burning and motor was bad. To be expected, going by fact it was in the trash after all.

Post# 391810 , Reply# 5   5/10/2018 at 22:34 by broomvac (N/A)        

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Sorry for the late reply to everyone. Everything has been converging on me this month.

Dysonman1: I absolutely agree, turning a vacuum on will tell you much about a vacuum. However, the thrift store from which I obtain many of my vacuums will not allow customers to power up any appliances due to safety concerns. This doesnít bother me, though. It has been my experience (albeit much less than you have) that motors are always saveable UNLESS a) there is a short in the windings or b) the shaft is bent. These usually only occur due to a previous overheating. Any other issues can be easily and cheaply cured. Scored commutators can be turned on a lathe. Fans, bearings, and carbon brushes tend to be available and relatively cheap. Brush rolls and bags...not so much. If I wanted a Hoover DAM brush roll off eBay, for example, it would set me back $40 right now. A Kirby or Hoover Elite bag, for example, is around $60. For me, none of those would be worth buying for a $5 vacuum. I would love to have lots of parts vacuums, as I assume you, do from which these items could be pulled.

Thanks for the advice! :)

To the rest of you: thanks for sharing your stories. Iím glad to see Iím not the only one. I donít want you all to think I am wasteful; Iíve saved several vacuums which (thankfully) required only a thourough cleaning and a few inexpensive replaceables. A handful of examples are below. This Oreck, though, was just totalled.

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Post# 391880 , Reply# 6   5/12/2018 at 01:58 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana, United States)        

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broomvac, do you happen to have any tips on how to tell when a vacuum's brushroll needs replacing? Like how to tell when the bristles are too worn out? I read somewhere that when they are soft that means they are bad, but a lot of vacuums (like the Dirt Devils) have soft bristles on purpose.

Post# 391899 , Reply# 7   5/12/2018 at 14:16 by broomvac (N/A)        

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If a brushroll is warped, it is necessarily trash. Plastic brush rolls which have been melted due to friction I also consider to be finished. A rusty steel roller will require a sanding and repaint in order to avoid carpet damage. Basically, if there is any irrepairable damage to the roller which could in-turn damage the carpet and/or the vacuum, I wonít use it.

Obviously, the other thing to look out for is bristle length. Compare the current bristle length versus that when it was new. If there is a large difference, the roller may no longer clean effectively. Sometimes the bristles wonít even extend beyond the soleplate if they are too worn out. This means either a new roller or new bristle strips will be required.

Incidentally, I seem to have redeemed myself today. I found ANOTHER 2-speed oreck today, and this one seems much more deluxe! It even has LED headlights. Thankfully, this one is not too worn out. Expect refurb updates soon.

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Post# 391900 , Reply# 8   5/12/2018 at 14:18 by broomvac (N/A)        

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It came from the same place the first one did and for the same great price of $6.

Post# 391902 , Reply# 9   5/12/2018 at 15:51 by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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Hoover used to say to hold a card to the bottom of the machine and if the bristles didn't reach a certain point it was time for new brush strips.

Post# 391910 , Reply# 10   5/13/2018 at 00:05 by broomvac (N/A)        

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Well, I couldnít help myself. This afternoon I disassembled my acquisition as far as an Oreck can be broken down. Into the dishwasher went all of the plastic parts. I also laundered the outer bag, which came out without a flaw.

Pleased I was to give this Oreck a clean bill of health, something which could not be said for the one in my original post. Clearly, this unit has fewer miles than the first one had. The fan case is intact, all of the seals have plenty of life remaining, and, crucially, the sole plate is not worn out. The squeegee is fully intact and there are no gauges in the steel edge, so I wonít feel guilty pushing this vacuum across my new carpet. As an added bonus, the motor in this one is much smoother than that in the first Oreck. I was thinking I would have to replace the bearings in the first one, but I wonít have to bother with that now.

The only piece this vacuum lacks is the bag clip, which I will be sourcing soon. I noticed this was missing before I bought the vacuum.

Below are some pictures of all of the cleaned parts as well as a shot of the end result. I must say, it does look quite sharp in black. Once I get ahold of some new, genuine HEPA bags and a new belt, I can snap one of it running if anyone wants to see the LED headlights.

Questions and comments welcome!

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Post# 392052 , Reply# 11   5/17/2018 at 08:38 by broomvac (N/A)        

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So I found an original bag clip and bought some genuine belts and bags for my Oreck. Here is the finished product, with the original LED headlights and all! The inner bag was unused so it hardly inflated.

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Post# 392058 , Reply# 12   5/17/2018 at 10:31 by Ultralux88 (Denver, Colorado)        

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Iíve been to stores that donít offer outlets for trying electrical items, Iíll usually just wander around and find an outlet somewhere and then try it. Never had anyone say anything, and not sure it would stop me if they did...

Post# 392063 , Reply# 13   5/17/2018 at 15:14 by vac-o-matic (Saint Louis, Mo.)        

You got a nice Oreck there. I worked in an Oreck store part-time years ago. I will tell you I'm surprised the original brushroll is still in it. Those were limited and wore out very quickly. They were supposed to resist bacteria or some BS like that, but they were very inferior and rarely lasted more than a year if used a lot. If you can get a deal on a new one, I'd do it. Although we noticed a decline in the newer brushroll's quality even before I left 4 years ago. TTI probably ask CWP to make them cheaper, perhaps by lessening the number of bristles. It was almost like overnight when the quality changed. I'm glad I still have the good ones in the Orecks I have.

Post# 392069 , Reply# 14   5/17/2018 at 19:22 by HonestJoe68 (Mansfield, Ohio)        

Hey Guys,

Wow, great refurb and clean up on the Oreck XL vacuum! It looks so clean and almost brand new! I have heard a few guys talk of cleaning plastic vacuum parts in the dishwasher, but Iíve never been brave enough to try it as mine (even with hot dry OFF) dishes are very hot when itís done washing. I am afraid I would end up with melted parts. Anyhow, I tend to wash mine in the bathtub with a brush and rag and some OdoBan to really clean the parts. The soft outer bags I have washed in the washing machine and had great results, I just use the gentle cycle and extra rinse cycle.

Thanks for sharing and congrats on correcting your ďmistakeĒ with this latest Oreck!


Post# 392091 , Reply# 15   5/18/2018 at 13:14 by broomvac (N/A)        
Hello everyone.

broomvac's profile picture
@Ultralux88 Yep, thatís the way this store operates. I couldnít find an outlet anywhere, and when I asked for one, they strictly forbade me from trying anything out. This doesnít bother me much, though. Vacuums are only $5 + tax, so basically any gamble is worth it.

@vac-o-matic Thanks! I had no idea the brushroll was anything different beyond just being white instead of red. The bristles are incredibly soft, which I liked because I have seemingly delicate carpet. Ironically, the brush roll was the only smelly part of this vacuum. Before I took care of it, it smelled like a dog, straight up.

Since you worked at Oreck, perhaps you could give me an estimate of how much this thing would have cost when new. Any idea?

@HonestJoe68 Thank you, too! Only recently have I started using the dish washer, and I havenít gone back to cleaning by hand ever since. I spray the parts off with the garden hose as best as I can before I run them through the dish washer. I, too, was hesitant because my dishwasher also gets quite hot. However, the light cycle without heated dry doesnít seem to hurt anything. I then run this dish washer empty and on the ďToughĒ setting to clean out any germs which might have stayed behind. The vacuum parts sure do come out like new!

Post# 392095 , Reply# 16   5/18/2018 at 16:08 by Ultralux88 (Denver, Colorado)        

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One of my favorite places to find an outlet is the drinking fountain, most if not all of them are chilled, so they plug in. I'll just use that outlet! The prices here tend to be higher than that too, and even then, if I can tell a machine is crappy I don't want to waste any money on it. Unless they'll accept returns...

Post# 392104 , Reply# 17   5/18/2018 at 21:30 by vac-o-matic (Saint Louis, Mo.)        

That Oreck retailed for 499.99 and included the hand carried Buster B. IIRC, I think it had a 10 yr. warranty and 8 free tune-ups. The tune-ups were done very thoroughly, at least they were when I was there, not just a dustoff and a new belt.

Post# 392144 , Reply# 18   5/20/2018 at 18:51 by broomvac (N/A)        

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$500. Holy cow. It seems I have procured this thing at 99% off (sans the Buster B thing, which I do not care for).

Thanks for the info.

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