Thread Number: 11237
Kirby Model 508
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Post# 121276   1/14/2011 at 09:43 (4,796 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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I acquired this Model 508 a few months ago, and it was already in good shape. I think the previous owner must have refurbished it not too long ago; however, it had a step-on switch instead of the original toggle switch. It also had been trimmed out in red and had a tan Sanitronic cord and Emtor tray. Therefore, I was determined to restore to a more original look.

Post# 121277 , Reply# 1   1/14/2011 at 09:45 (4,796 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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A previous owner also used a little "farmer engineering" and retrofitted a Sweet-Aire assembly on this 508. That feature wasn't introduced until the 510.

Post# 121278 , Reply# 2   1/14/2011 at 09:47 (4,796 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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So I decided to give it the spa treatment.

This post was last edited 01/14/2011 at 10:13
Post# 121279 , Reply# 3   1/14/2011 at 09:48 (4,796 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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Et Voila! The result of the face-lift!

Post# 121280 , Reply# 4   1/14/2011 at 09:50 (4,796 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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I had to reach into my parts bin in order to refit this 508 with the correct switch.

Post# 121282 , Reply# 5   1/14/2011 at 09:53 (4,796 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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Luckily, I also had a Sani-Emtor sitting around that is specific to the Model 508. It's not in the greatest shape, because the latch for the Emtor tray is loose. But I wedged a little piece of rubber in between the latch and the tray door to tighten it up. It's not a great fix, but it works OK.

Post# 121283 , Reply# 6   1/14/2011 at 09:56 (4,796 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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As far as I can tell, the Model 508 and 509 are almost identical except for a couple of minor differences.

Post# 121284 , Reply# 7   1/14/2011 at 10:04 (4,796 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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The most obvious difference (though subtle) in this photo is with the belt lifter. The 508 belt lifter used the same script as that found on the 505. But notice the difference in the 509 on the right. That belt lifter was used all the way through the Model 515. The other difference that's not obvious is with the headlight trim. The 508 was still using three pieces of trim. Each piece was held on separately by rivets. On my Model 508, a previous owner had new rivets installed in order to use the one piece trim that was introduced on the 509 (on right). The 508 on left has a sprayed out bumper. The 509 on right has the original bumper. I was able to match the trim color pretty closely!

Post# 121285 , Reply# 8   1/14/2011 at 10:10 (4,796 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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I guess the 508 (1948) belt lifter is, perhaps, the most rare of all Kirby belt lifters, being used only on this model. The Model 505 was produced with a black belt lifter for three years, from 1945 to 1947. The belt lifter on the 509 (1949)was used used for a total of seven years, all the way through the 515 (1955).

Post# 121287 , Reply# 9   1/14/2011 at 10:59 (4,796 days old) by a007kirbyman (--->> Originally My Mom <<--- (now Wisconsin))        
Kirby 508...

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Hello Bill.

Incredible job as usual on the Kirby 508. It's obvious you take pride in your restorations.


Cheers & hagd all,


Post# 121299 , Reply# 10   1/14/2011 at 14:57 (4,795 days old) by djtaylor (Salt Lake City, Utah)        

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She's a real looker. The wheels look black, are there black narrow wheels being made now? Also, are the nozzle bumper and head light trim new, used or painted grey?
Looking good.

Post# 121302 , Reply# 11   1/14/2011 at 16:08 (4,795 days old) by chrisb32 ()        

WOW! nice work there. I have had good results polishing like that on my classic III and Heritage 84, but for some reason I cant get as good of a finish on my D80. It looks good, but there are still traces of some stains. But I am a little ocd, most people probably wouldnt even notice. I would love to get a hold of some of these older kirbys. I have never had anything older than the D80. the classics are really my favorites, but I grew up around alot of omegas and classic III. One thing that I dont like about the G series is I miss the big ole billowy bag inflating. That was always my favorite thing about the kirbys, the bag, and the sound. I thing a kirby is one of the most pleasant sounding vacs out there. Or at least as far as what I have used. Well, those and the older luxes. You cant beat the sound of the model G. One thing I have noticed and tell me if anyone else has......I had my classic III factory rebuilt back in '99 and it came back beautifull, but I have since noticed that I think there is a sound difference. I know that they are a little louder until the bag gets a little more clogged but while mine still does have a great kirby sound, it sounds more like a heritage/legend to me. Which, is still a great sounding cleaner and maybe even quieter. I didnt notice this until I got my D80 about 10 years ago and when I turned it on, I thought Oh my! TAHTS the sound I remember, lol. I know its just a slight difference, but it did take me back to when I was little. It sounds just like my grandmothers classic III did, so I wonder if there is a motor difference in the original classic motor, and whatever they put in it when they rebuild? Is it just my overactive imagination? Wouldnt surprie me. Another thing is the bag they put on my CIII while it looked great, it never would "firm" up quite loke it should, and it was always a little too loud. I thought with some use it would quiet down, but it never would. It had the big shape it should have had, but while it was running all it took was a touch and you could mash in on the bag. I remember them being pretty firm while running. Anyway, way it always urked me, so a while back I found a original kirby classic III bag new in the package on ebay, and I wondered if it was older and thicker because it had a silver zipper like the original and my rebuild came back with a black zipper. So......I figured maybe they just used a thinner cloth, or I got a dud bag. I bought this ebay one, put it on, and it was perfect. Quiet, and firmed ight up loke it should. So what was the difference? This ebay one does have the same type of cloth as the other one, but it works properly so I dont know what the difference. I remember the original ones seemed like they kind of had a flannel feel to them. I remember most of thwm were really soft. Oh well, it works and looks great s I guess I will leave well enough alone. I guess my complete boredom is obvious, lol. Sorry for the rambling, but I just wanted to nkow if anyone had the same thoughts about the sound differences, and that bag "problem" Take care guys

Post# 121322 , Reply# 12   1/14/2011 at 18:05 (4,795 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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Thanks everyone! I always have fun rebuilding these old machines.

@ Justin -- The trim and handle grip are all new. I spray painted them using SEM plastic/vinyl paint. The wheels are black plastic aftermarket wheels that I found on Ebay. I've turned into a parts hoarder, but the one thing I've run out of are the old black rubber wheels. So the plastic wheels are the next best thing!

@ Chris -- I wonder if your Classic III sounded differently after it was rebuilt because the rebuild department replaced the aluminum fan with a plastic fan. The aluminum fan really does have a different sound.

Post# 121333 , Reply# 13   1/14/2011 at 18:20 (4,795 days old) by chrisb32 ()        

Well, yes they did use a plastic fan. I have wondered about that too, if it made much sound difference. It still sounds good though, especially now that I got a good bag on it. I dont know what the deal was with the one they put on it. Im just glad I got the rebuild while they still had all the right color parts. I have wanted to send in the D80 but I have heard that if they are out of a color they just use black or gray. the lady on the phone at the rebuild dept told me that. I would be mad as hell if I got it back all mismatched. It doesnt need it anyway. All the trim, bag, and cord are in perfect condition. Just needs a good buffing and a new safety switch. Im sure it wouldnt hurt for the motor to have a tune-up, but she said $350.00 no matter what model. Whether its a very old one or a G series, same price. No thanks. For that price I can do whatever it needs myself. I paid about $235 or so to have the classic III done in '99 and I thought that was high then, lol

Post# 121335 , Reply# 14   1/14/2011 at 18:23 (4,795 days old) by twocvbloke ()        

The D80 issues:

The staining, assuming it's not wet spots, may be just flaws in the aluminium casting, kind of a wavy pattern that just won't polish out, it's normal, and I kind of like it, cos if you can see it, you've polished it up perfectly... :)

The ClassicIII issues:

The sound:
This is probably due to them replacing a Metal fan with a Plastic one (most likely a white Kevlar fan), which will make the machine sound more like the late Traditions and the Heritage series... :)

The bag:
The more modern bags are able to breathe better than the older style ones, so end up feeling more mushy when in use, mushy is good, but being hard is bad. The modern versions are basically made of the same material as the Heritage Series, with that sort-of shiny, glossy look, possibly also having the same lining as the Heritage series bags... :)

Post# 121343 , Reply# 15   1/14/2011 at 19:46 (4,795 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        
Liver Spots

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That's what I call those stains. I don't know of any way to get them out. I've been working on a tricked out Sanitronic VII, and the bell housing has some liver spots on it. But I don't think anyway will notice them but me.

Post# 121352 , Reply# 16   1/14/2011 at 20:51 (4,795 days old) by Northwesty (Renton, WA)        
Quite amazing

and an inspiration to anyone trying to fix up their vintage stuff.

Looks like that detail in the aluminum that is on either side of the belt lifter on the 509 is wider than the 508. The 509 looks a little bit lower to the ground as well. Am I seeing things?

Do they sound the same too?


Post# 121356 , Reply# 17   1/14/2011 at 21:27 (4,795 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        
@ Brian

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Wow! You've got a great eye! I would have never noticed that, but it is wider. I was wondering too if there is a difference in sound. The 509 has a six blade fan and the 508 has an aluminum ten blade replacement fan. There is a distinct difference in sound. The 508 has noticeably more suction too, thus making it harder to push.

This post was last edited 01/14/2011 at 23:08
Post# 121425 , Reply# 18   1/15/2011 at 17:32 (4,794 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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I need to make a slight correction. When the 505 was introduced in 1945, the nozzle did not have the belt lifter. It only had a cap that gave access to the belt and pulley. The belt lifter wasn't introduced until 1946. Therefore, the 505 belt lifter only had a two year production run.

Post# 121683 , Reply# 19   1/16/2011 at 19:36 (4,793 days old) by KC_Kirby (Kansas City, MO)        

Very nice 508! I love it. I just recently polished up my 508 too. Mine is missing the original bag and I guess the original belt lifter as mine is the later 509 style. Interesting what you said about the 505 not having a belt lifter until 1946. I recently sold a 505 with the cap instead of the belt lifter and someone said that's the way the early 505's came. It seems as if there is some confusion as to whether the 505 came with the belt lifter only or some with the cap. Just curious if there is any documentation to confirm what really happened.


Post# 121692 , Reply# 20   1/16/2011 at 21:08 (4,793 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

505 -- belt cap came first, then belt lifter later in the run.

Post# 121696 , Reply# 21   1/16/2011 at 21:25 (4,793 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        
@ Chad

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You should have kept your 505 with the cap! I imagine those are pretty rare. Also, I don't have any written documentation regarding the early 505 cap. I have another friend who has told me that, and it looks like Charles agrees too. I wonder if a 505 manual indicates that.

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