Thread Number: 1431
My New Air-Way Signature Series Vacuum
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Post# 14595   6/3/2007 at 22:04 (6,026 days old) by buffster ()        

Thanks to Charlie Watrous I now have a new Air-Way Signature Series vacuumm in my quickly growing collection. Thanks Charlie. I'm having lots of fun with my new toy.

Here are a couple of pics...


Post# 14596 , Reply# 1   6/3/2007 at 22:05 (6,026 days old) by buffster ()        
pic number two...

another pic

Post# 14597 , Reply# 2   6/3/2007 at 22:06 (6,026 days old) by buffster ()        
and finally...

the close up...

Post# 14598 , Reply# 3   6/3/2007 at 22:14 (6,026 days old) by andy (Boston, MA)        

Gorgeous. Simply gorgeous.

Post# 14601 , Reply# 4   6/3/2007 at 22:26 (6,026 days old) by buffster ()        
Thanks Andy,

Hey, I may have a lead on some Miele horse hair dusting brushes. I'll let you know what I find out.

Post# 14602 , Reply# 5   6/3/2007 at 22:32 (6,026 days old) by air-waycharlie (USA)        

air-waycharlie's profile picture

I am so glad you are enjoying your new Air-Way Signature Series. The design may be thought of as, "dated", by some, but, arguably, they still are one hell of a vacuum! I am of the opinion that any vacuum collector or enthusiast should have at least 1 Air-Way in their collection, either vintage or new.

As much as I adore my Miele Champagne, nothing will ever come between me and Air-Way, just like Brooke Shields and her jeans in the late 1970's!

Again, Mike, I am glad that I could put you behind the seat of a new Air-Way and am willing to do so with any others that may be interested.

Andy, we still need to talk.........maybe later this week?


Post# 14603 , Reply# 6   6/3/2007 at 22:52 (6,026 days old) by charles~richard ()        
That is SO beautiful

I have two Air-Ways of the same design but older -- a green 77 and a turquoise one (Mark II ??).

Post# 14606 , Reply# 7   6/4/2007 at 05:09 (6,026 days old) by arh1953 ( River Park, in Port St. Lucie, Florida)        
Buff Airway

arh1953's profile picture
If that design is "dated" I'll take at least two. Lavender is quite nice, and Buffster, I didn't forget you, I am still looking for decent Trimlines. Happy vacuuming!

Post# 14610 , Reply# 8   6/4/2007 at 07:26 (6,026 days old) by kirbyvacuum (Long Island New York)        

HI Mike VERY, VERY, NICE. I love the Air-Way vacuum.Could you tell me if they are STILL in business i cant find then on the internet THANKS and enjoy that vacuum Doug

Post# 14611 , Reply# 9   6/4/2007 at 08:22 (6,026 days old) by buffster ()        
Alan and Doug

Alan, this is a bit off topic, but since you brought up Trimlines... I just added a bright yellow Trimline to my collection. It's not NOS, but it is in Mint condition. I also got my first princess phone--white. And, the base housing and handset are NOS. Email me offline sometime so we can compare notes.

Doug, Thank you. It took a little while to get use to it, but I'm really enjoying my new Air-Way. It's now my daily driver. It revives the nap of my carpet like no other cleaner. I also had trouble finding the Air-Way site. I'm including a link; though, if there's an Air-Way dealer in your area, they won't sell one to you direct from the factory.
You might want to take Charlie Watrous up on the offer he made above. He's an Air-Way dealer.


Post# 14612 , Reply# 10   6/4/2007 at 08:26 (6,026 days old) by sleepdoc (St. Louis, MO)        
Production of the Anniversary Edition (Signature Series)

sleepdoc's profile picture
Charlie, does Air-Way still make these machines? Their site always has been terrible, but it's even worse these days. Can you give me an assessment of the general state of the company? Thanks!

Post# 14613 , Reply# 11   6/4/2007 at 08:52 (6,026 days old) by buffster ()        
Production of the Anniversary Edition (Signature Series)

I may not have been clear in my earlier posts. My Air-Way is brand new and, according to Charlie, just came from the factory a week or two ago. As for how long Air-Way will be producing the Signature Series... that's a question for Charlie... I hope that helps some...

And, Patrick, I agree with you. The Air-Way site is poorly constructed and difficult to navigate. As of now, there is still a pic of the Signature Series on their site.


Post# 14614 , Reply# 12   6/4/2007 at 09:01 (6,026 days old) by rexairman ()        

They absolutely still build these wonderful machines. I sell them in my store. However, the last several shipments I've received have the new style Power Nozzle with the Whisper Belt. The purple color was to honor the first Air-Way Sanitizor, the pre-war Model 55 and 55A. (The post-war 55A's are blue.) The whole idea was developed, and presented to Steve Tomberlin, President of Air-Way, by a former VCCC member whose name I am not allowed to mention, or that he is a 3 term Past President of the VCCC. It was this mystery individual's signature which the first 100 of this model bore. If you want more info on this, feel free to e-mail me. I'll fill you in if the Gestapo doesn't get me first.

Post# 14615 , Reply# 13   6/4/2007 at 09:13 (6,026 days old) by buffster ()        
Air-Way Power Nozzle

Clay, has Air-Way already changed the new and improved power nozzle that was introduced with the Signature Series?

Post# 14616 , Reply# 14   6/4/2007 at 09:14 (6,026 days old) by air-waycharlie (USA)        
State of Air-Way Union Address

air-waycharlie's profile picture
Patrick and others:

I'll be the first to agree that the Air-Way site is and always has been very rudimentary. I know nothing of computers and web sites but I think even I could have done better!

Air-Way is a true, "Mom & Pop", operation but now only Pop as the Mom left. There is the owner, a one-woman staffed office and a few part time folks that assemble the vacuums. The one-woman staff is challenged in getting out the orders correctly. I'm still waiting on a supply of bags that was ordered over a week ago. Unfortunately, that is becoming more typical.

The company is in Talladega, AL. If you go to their site,, you will see that have a few other items besides vacuums but the graphics are kindergartenish at best.

I have no idea how long they will last or if they will be sold. There have been changes made to the bag, (and that bag is what put them on the map in 1920 and made them an industry leader during the 1930's through the early 1970's), a minor change with the vacuum itself but on the plus side they did last year introduce the "Quiet Series" power nozzle.

It is frustrating for me and other Air-Way dealers like myself to "push" the product as there is no company support for dealers. There are no printed materials, no videos and if I want a "Authorized Dealer" decal/sticker for my window or car, I have to BUY it from them.

I am also the BOSCH dealer for my area and contrastly, BOSCH provides a wonderful handbook for potential buyers that outlines the various BOSCH vacuums and their differences. I can write in the cost of each vacuum for the customer as well.

So where Air-Way goes from here is anyone's guess. There was a rumor that it was for sale several years ago but that was vehemently denied by Air-Way. (That always tells me to watch out for something!)

If I can assist anyone here in purchasing an Air-Way, please email me directly. As far as I know, the purple Air-Way is still in production, (all hand built as most of you know), and available. If you have any thoughts about owning one, my advice: don't delay too much longer as who knows how long they will be around. They have survived a rocky history since 1920 and are still hanging in there. The testimonies seen here and from my buyers still sell the vacuums for me.


Post# 14618 , Reply# 15   6/4/2007 at 09:27 (6,026 days old) by sleepdoc (St. Louis, MO)        

sleepdoc's profile picture
I know what the site, such as it is, has on it, but I don't trust it to be currently updated. I used to have an Air-Way 80th Anniversary Edition, a true Signature Series with Tom's signature plate on it, #5/100, but I let someone borrow that vacuum, and they took it with them when they moved to Boston. So, I am interested in buying another.

Quite a while back (2 years, I bet), Tom told me that Air-Way was down to the very last of its stock of "Purple Haze" metal plates that are shaped into the main body housing of the vacuum and that they wouldn't order more because of the higher cost than the white. So, that makes me wonder if the purple machines are stock from that time. I'm glad if they're not.

The Rugmaster power nozzle that came with mine was great. Is the whole PN different, or is the change just in the belt?

Also, I'm not happy to learn that they changed the bags. The cellulose bags singularly account for the machine's outstanding filtration. If they've taken that away, I may not want one anymore.


Post# 14619 , Reply# 16   6/4/2007 at 09:39 (6,026 days old) by vinvac (Dubuque IA)        

vinvac's profile picture
Mike, Congratulations on your new Air-Way. My first experience with the new model was at Fred Nelson's home in St. Charles, IL. I used it to vacuum the dinning room and kitchen after a marvelous meal that Fred had served. I was hooked on the vacuum right away and of course Charlie W. was there to help close the sale.

I am very lucky to have a set of Air-Tec tools to go with mine. Air-Tec tools are the original Air-Way tools, which I think improve the performance of the vacuum even more. Mine does not have the quiet series power nozzel. I still beleive that it out cleans any of the vacuums I have in my collection as well as any of the newer models of other brands I have used.

Mine is also the purple signiture series that Tom Gasko helped to design several years ago. The color scheme is wonderful compared to the plain white model.

To back Charlie up, the bags are what really was the selling point for Air-Way. The new bag is very good, but personally I don't think as good as the old style bag. If only Air-Way could improve their sales and marketing they would be (in my opinion) one of the best vacuums on the market for a reasonable cost.

Enjoy your vacuum it will out clean and out last any of the newer plastic models sold today...


Post# 14620 , Reply# 17   6/4/2007 at 11:17 (6,026 days old) by air-waycharlie (USA)        

air-waycharlie's profile picture

It is my understanding via the "factory", that the current purple machine is still in production. I was told by Steve Tomberlin, (the owner), that they were going to stop making the Centurion in purple due to a small cost of the dye used.

However, enough dealers gave them input as to changing their mind and it worked. I have never sold the black and white standard Centurion. To me it is a bit on the bland side and the purple color always seals the sale.

One lady that is a customer still keeps hers stored in a corner of her living room as she likes the color and design so much. Each to their own!

RE: the bag. There was an untrue rumor that Air-Way changed their bags because the machine that stitches the collar to the paper was broken. It is just that---an untrue rumor. Air-Way changed the paper due to cost and lack of it being manufactured anymore in the US. When they "ran" their last batch of wood pulp cellulose bags, they had to have the paper imported to meet the specifications of Air-Way. This was cost prohibitive.

A search was done and a new paper was selected that is, "superior", according to Air-Way. The color went from green to blue. Once again an untrue rumor was started that it is a 3M filtrete paper. NOT so. It is type of spun fiberglass material and I do not know who makes it.

There have been good and less than good reports on it. To the general user, they will not know the difference since they don't even know what color the bags are to begin with! I have shipped out lots of replacement bags and I have never received any negative feedback.

For those of us that are connoisseurs of these things, we may or may not notice any significant difference. Tania Voigt who is a true Air-Way guru tells me that she thinks the air flow is better. I would have to ask people here to be their own judges.

RE: the power nozzle. It no longer has a beater bar as this is no longer really necessary with todays carpet and advanced brushroll design technology. It also makes for a quieter operating experience. The belt is no longer geared rubber. It is now a rubber "V" belt that performs very well as Mike stated in his earlier post. This makes for a very quiet power nozzle, hence the name Quiet Series.

I use the new power nozzle on my Mark II 88. That model only has a 9 amp motor, (compared to the 12 amp currently used), but the entire design of the vacuum is so efficient that it works beautifully on my berber and frieze carpeting.

I find little to no difference between the old bag and the new bag. And, even if I did, I don't have much of choice anyway! I still have a large inventory of the old bags and since I use a variety of daily drivers, that inventory will last the rest of my life.

Many Air-Way collectors that I know, acquired a large number of bags in the past and are probably in the situation I am in that I mentioned above. There are a large number of NOS bags floating around as well.

One last thing...........a word of warning to Air-Way fans. DO NOT use the old style cardboard collar bags on the newer 12 amp motored vacuums as the suction is TOO strong and the bag will be pulled in on itself and dirt will then start leaking into the motor. Those cardboard collars are for the models 55 through 88. Some 88's have 11 amp motors and in my opinion you are taking a risk even using them on those models.

Sorry to go on so long but I hope this answers a lot of questions.


Post# 14622 , Reply# 18   6/4/2007 at 11:45 (6,026 days old) by sleepdoc (St. Louis, MO)        
Thank you!

sleepdoc's profile picture
I appreciate all that information very much!

I would like to know how well the new bag material filters. That's the clincher for me.


Post# 14623 , Reply# 19   6/4/2007 at 15:16 (6,026 days old) by rexairman ()        

A couple of things I've picked up on when talking to Steve Tomberlin at Air-Way (in addition to surprise when he answers the phone himself, instead of a receptionist): Steve doesn't totally own the company. He mentioned to me that Dr. Joyce Brothers, the well known TV psychologist, is a major stockholder. The purple shells will eventually be used up, and no more will be made in that color. Air-Way doesn't do their own painting of the housings. It is less costly for them to "Piggy back" on the job of another client of the company who paints the shells for them. That's why the black and white colors - they can always find someone who is having their parts painted in these colors. To do the purple shells they have to pay the painting people a charge, I think I was told $300, to clean out the paint guns and change over the color, and then change back.
I noticed Morgan said something about how Air-Way could be a viable, reasonably priced vacuum, if promoted. Actually one of the big objections a number of vac shops have to Air-Way is their high cost. To the best of my knowledge, an Air-Way (Sanitizor, not the Sani-Clean models) is more costly than other vacuums intended for vac shop sales. In fact their wholesale cost from the factory to their direct dealer, such as Charlie W. or myself, is right up there with what Rainbow and Kirby distributors pay for their machines. The difference in the retail cost is that the Air-Way is sold to the vac shop, who sells it to the consumer. The direct sales brands are sold to the distributor, then possibly to a sub-distributor, and the salesman, trainer, telephone people, etc. each receive some type of commission on each sale. But the Air-Way presents the opportunity for the vac shop to sell a cleaner of the same or better quality than the door-to-door guys.

Post# 14808 , Reply# 20   6/9/2007 at 22:13 (6,020 days old) by electrolux-dude (Canyon, TX)        
Airway Vacuums

I have 3 Airway Vacuums in my collection, the rare white and gold colored one, I also have an Airway model 55, the turquoise colored one with 4 runners on it and my newest one is a Vita-Vac. It looks like an Airway, and uses the same bags as an Airway--I wouldn't be surprised if they aren't made by Airway. My Vita-Vac is a Black colored machine with a carrying handle on top and on the side of the machine, I will take some pics of it and post them. If I recall correctly, I think that Vita Mix Corporation now sells and owns Airway, although I may be wrong, their machines look exactly like an Airway. They are great machines, I've heard they're over $900.00 for a new one.

Post# 15056 , Reply# 21   6/17/2007 at 19:49 (6,012 days old) by skippy (New York, NY)        
Noise level

This vacuum looks very nice, but since I've never tried one I was wondering about the noise level. Are they reasonably quiet? I have a fairly new Royal that I hardly use because it's so loud! Thanks for any comments.

Post# 15060 , Reply# 22   6/17/2007 at 21:39 (6,012 days old) by buffster ()        
Noise Level


I also purchased a new Royal upright 8300 recently and agree with your assessment. It's NOISY as hell. I understand that they replaced the Royal motor and are now using the Dirt Devil Motor. I'm terribly disappointed with this change and hardly use it, even though it does appear to do a good job at cleaning the carpet. It's just too noisy.

IMHO, the Air-way is reasonably quiet and it does a fantastic job of cleaning and lifting the nap of my wall-to-wall. Charlie Watrous and other Air-Way experts can provide a better assessment I'm sure. Nothing I've ever encountered--except the Bison I tried at Fred Nelson's--is as loud as the Royal 8300. The Mieles though, especially the Capricorn, are the quietest vacuums I've encountered. I don't think you'd be disappointed if you got an Air-Way.


Post# 15189 , Reply# 23   6/21/2007 at 10:38 (6,009 days old) by eluxomarty (Palm Springs)        

Hi Mike, you are going to LOVE that Signature Series. I like to lay it on its wheels and roll it around behind me when i'm cleaning a large room or stand it up when i'm dusting book shelves or cleaning small rooms. I bought mine on ebay from a guy who had it. He was going to get married and his fiance had a Miele and wanted to keep only one vacuum and of course she wanted to keep hers so he sold his! He emailed me shortly after the the sale and said he sure missed the Air Way and should have sold the Miele instead. Mine interestingly enough was sold to him by Tom G. The seller sent all the paperwork.
I really like the older Air Way tools better but the I do like the current duster because it is normal sized and does a great job. Have fun with it!!


Post# 15209 , Reply# 24   6/21/2007 at 21:39 (6,008 days old) by buffster ()        

Thanks. I'm already loving my new Air-Way. I saw your post regarding the air tec tools and also want to get a set. I tried them out at Fred's and they are fantastic! Maybe we can get a two for or some kind of price break. I called the air tec office and was told the set would be $139 plus shipping; though the person I spoke with had no idea what the cost of shipping would be and wasn't in a big rush to find out for me--not exactly an aggressive sales force.


Post# 15225 , Reply# 25   6/22/2007 at 05:49 (6,008 days old) by chestermikeuk (Rainhill (Birthplace of the Railway),England, UK.)        

chestermikeuk's profile picture
Hi Mike, from this side of the pond, glad you like your airway, looks a very smart vac, and sturdy as well, good to see the metal models still being made, Charlie & Fred (The Airway Twins) demonstrated it at Gregs last year and I was amazed at the way a bagged vac could be "Cyclonic", that dust was certainly spinning around....

Nothing like that made over here, I stick to my miele and a choice of vintage for daily drivers, at the moment a G5 which is not so vintage yet...

Enjoy, Mike

Post# 15236 , Reply# 26   6/22/2007 at 13:06 (6,008 days old) by buffster ()        

Thanks Mike. Will you be attending this year's convention in Omaha? I also love my Miele Capricorn. You many have seen the thread where I posted pictures of it.


Post# 15469 , Reply# 27   6/26/2007 at 23:06 (6,003 days old) by hygiene903 (Galion, OH)        

hygiene903's profile picture
Belated congratulations on your Airway Signature Series. I'll bet it cleans as good as it looks.

Post# 15478 , Reply# 28   6/27/2007 at 01:24 (6,003 days old) by buffster ()        

Thanks and good to hear from you. I really am loving my Air-Way. And, it's nice to have a choice when I vacuum. I tried the Royal again yesterday. It is soooo... loud.


Post# 456665 , Reply# 29   9/10/2022 at 14:57 (449 days old) by ClosetVac (Atlanta GA)        

This model is so pretty and the history is amazing. So this is 1 of them. Where are the other 99??

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