Thread Number: 14603
My new Kirby 508
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Post# 154517   10/8/2011 at 08:01 (4,527 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

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I got given this by a freind in Johannesburg,

Vintage vacs in saare seriously hard to find , to give you a realistic idea on how rare this is her I had as much chance of finding this as I would a hoover modl o or electrolux 1 


she runs great , needs a headlight globe . the rubber strip from the top of the headlight cover is missing and the handle rubber is all but gone( if any one has these items and will sell them to me I would greatly appreciate it) 


She came with a hose and polishing head ( not unpacked yet ) 


Bag is intackt and blows up nicly 


personally I think it works better than the sentria's I have , mind you a Dustbuster works better than they do


I am trully happy to add this to my collection 

Post# 154523 , Reply# 1   10/8/2011 at 08:24 (4,527 days old) by twocvbloke ()        

Just out of curiosity, is that one of the rather rare 220v models, or is it an original 110v one?

The bag looks like it's lost it's silk screen print, but is otherwise in good condition, just needs a clean as it should technically be a sort of speckled grey (I think?), but opinions vary on how you should go about it...

As for the handle grip and headlight trim, well, the handle is made of a rubber that was well known for falling apart over time, so finding one intact will be as hard as finding the vac itself, the easiest solution is to buy the Tan replacements parts (see ebay links below) and spray them black with the correct flexible plastic primer & paint, Kent, the seller there, did sell some Tan & D80 Green parts he had sprayed red himself, to match the later 500 series models, so it's not too hard to accomplish to make it look somewhat original... :)

Tan handle grip (copy & paste) -

Tan headlight trim:

CLICK HERE TO GO TO twocvbloke's LINK on eBay

Post# 154525 , Reply# 2   10/8/2011 at 08:41 (4,527 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

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She is a 220v one 


she runs beautifully  as I said I think it cleans better than the sentria's I have , easier to use to.


There is a company here that will make me a replacement handle cover , they actually mold it to the alloy shape 

Post# 154534 , Reply# 3   10/8/2011 at 10:48 (4,527 days old) by Brandon_W_T ()        

Gorgeous machine! Congrats on the rare find. 508 s are rare enough over here! Probably see more 505s than 8s!

Post# 154535 , Reply# 4   10/8/2011 at 10:49 (4,527 days old) by Sablekid ()        

def. a rare find in these parts. congrats! jealousss! :)

Post# 154539 , Reply# 5   10/8/2011 at 11:16 (4,527 days old) by kirbymodel2c (Nottingham, England)        
Very nice!

kirbymodel2c's profile picture
Very Nice. I have a 220/230 Kirby models 508,I was lucky enough to get the tools and box with it. Mine came from south Africa also.
And why it does clean well it sure does NOT compare to the Sentria. Even if you personally don't like the Sentria or G series you can't say that.

I had to put a new cable/cord on my 230 volt Kirby 508 as the original cord had been cut short. Luck it still had the original plug that went on the cord to the machine its self.

I had a chance to buy a 230 volt Scott Fetzer sanitation system sold in the UK at the time. But they was re-badged under another name. Imported in to the UK by some company in Manchester at the time. But the unit I was offered had no tools and the bag was not original so I passed on it as the person wanted to much for it and as I already have a boxed Scott Fetzer with tools etc I didn't feel like over paying for another in poor condition etc...


Post# 154541 , Reply# 6   10/8/2011 at 11:40 (4,527 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

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I have two sentria's and think that they are useless.They will be stripped for parts soon like all the other sentria's we get in I don't really like any of the g series Kirby's I think they are overweight and difficult to use , they also have very poor reliability.

at any given time we will have atleast 20 Kirby's in for repair most of them either sentria's or G3's


I think the Sentria is the worst Kirby that they have made ever. That new plastic handle( they so proudly say that there machine is constructed from metal but them make the handle out of cheap plastic) snaps like a twig we (just ordered another 50) and the belt lifter is made of the kind of plastic you find on cheap Chinese toys and it breaks all the time. the fans shatter on a daily basis and when they do the throw out the balance on the motor either breaking the bearing housing or totally destroying the armature.with the older machines all you would have is a broken fan , now you have a broken motor and it happens in mere seconds. We resell the old legends heritages and legend two's allot but never a g series , they are two unreliable and we have our company reputation to think of 

Post# 154542 , Reply# 7   10/8/2011 at 11:44 (4,527 days old) by kirbyvacuum (Long Island New York)        
Very Nice

Your 508 looks very nice .I Love the 500 series the 505 being the one i would love to have. However my friend I dont agree with you when you say it cleanes better then any g series Sorry no way.I guess that is what makes us enjoy vacuums in our own way. So ENJOY that 508 Doug

Post# 154543 , Reply# 8   10/8/2011 at 11:52 (4,527 days old) by Sablekid ()        

Ive had no experience with any of the early 500 therefore they are highly sought after for me. But I do have a 518/562 and comparison to my G5.


The G5 does a good job, and i use it the most since its the newest. But I dont get that nails sucking out of the floorboard feeling like it get with the older Kirbys. They also seem to lift the carpet up better, but perhaps its all just in the feeling :)

Post# 154553 , Reply# 9   10/8/2011 at 13:16 (4,527 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

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Funny thing is that I got to chat to one of the Kirby engineers a while ago who was involved in the concept to production of the G series machines . there design brief for the new G series was that people found Kirby's to heavy to use so they wanted to fit a power drive unit, however with all the extra weight all the power drive unit did was make the machine as Light /heavy as a legend 11 in use but far heavier to pick up and move when the need be

Post# 154559 , Reply# 10   10/8/2011 at 16:18 (4,527 days old) by kirbyduh (Kentucky )        

The Kirby sentria is the MOST reliable upright, according to consumer reports. Their reliability rankings are accurate because they get their data from an annual product reliability survey.

Post# 154560 , Reply# 11   10/8/2011 at 16:20 (4,527 days old) by kirbyduh (Kentucky )        

And as far as parts for your 508, Bill(a007kirbyman) has great service. I recently ordered Kirby parts from him and was extremely satisfied! :)

Post# 154569 , Reply# 12   10/8/2011 at 18:11 (4,527 days old) by kirbymodel2c (Nottingham, England)        

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I'm sorry Gareth I think your completely wrong.Despite you saying this goes wrong and that goes wrong I think most of what you say about the G series is incorrect and influenced by the fact you personally don't like them. But just because you don't like a machine/model/range/make etc there's no reason to keep having digs at them.


Post# 154577 , Reply# 13   10/8/2011 at 21:01 (4,527 days old) by thissucks ()        

i really like my omega, its very powerfull for its amperage, the 38 year old fan is intact, i even decided to pick up a few coins to test it out- no harm.

i dont like the brush roll (single row) as its too gentle and doesnt help carry the vac along, and im upgrading the dump out bag to a paper bag, other than that its quiet powerfull and cool looking.

as far a newer ones, my neighbor has the first year of the diamond editions (15years old???) has let her kids suck up coins and other stuff and she does not maintain the machine, OE brush roll and fan, never broke anything but the drive engagement fork ($15 fix)

i really like the G series and will buy one for the right price. makes little sense to me to buy the most recent model.

Post# 154601 , Reply# 14   10/9/2011 at 01:47 (4,526 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

gsheen's profile picture



Guys my feelings on the sentria are built on how many of them I see broken in my shop, if a machine is supposed to be that good it wont break. I have all the proof I need that they are rubbish , even the Kirby guys here say that they are not made well or like they should be. I just looked thru my records and so far this year we have repaired 92 sentria's. I like the look of them but don't like the way they opperate , to cumbersome.

My feeling is that here they cost R 25,000 about £ 2033.00 or  $3164.00. Thats way to much money for a machine that is built from the materials that its built from.

I have 30 year old Kirby's coming in for a bearing change that still run beautifully , just a bit noisy but a sentria can't last 2 years with out it breaking. 


As far as consumer reports go 

When I was working for a cetrian large vacuum company consumer reports put one model as the most reliable in its class , we all laughed as they were exchanging these machines faster than they could make them they were so unreliable, they put another model as the worst in its group but we hardley ever had come backs. the trouble with consumer reports is that they don't always get the right results and are so easily misleading. You are asking some one to give you feedback on a machine they have spent a fortune on buying, People don't want to admit they have made a mistake 


Any way this post was about my lovely 508 not the new stuff 

It just needs a bit of a restoreation


Post# 154604 , Reply# 15   10/9/2011 at 02:10 (4,526 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

In general Kirbys are my longtime favorite vacuum.I own three Sentrias and have no issues at all with them.I own all of the "G" series machines.Kirbys do come into service all of the time at the vac shop my way-mostly for fan replacements.The metal fans were better and more durable.Kirby should so much go back to them and SCRAP the plastic fan concepts.and Sanitaires come in regularly-from ECU and the Hospital out here-again fan issues.the plastic fans break all of the time.and same with their fancases.there must be something wrong with the Sentrias you have tried-all three of mine are supurb performers-and will beat other vacuums I have tried against them.sometimes even the large bore bag feed tubes on the Sentria will slowly clog.Just drop a weighted object down it with the bag removed from the machine and the disposable bag removed-instant clog removal!!A 12Ga shotgun slug recovered from the shooting range works well-a fishing sinker would work,too.

Post# 154610 , Reply# 16   10/9/2011 at 02:46 (4,526 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

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Look my experience with sentria's is that they break , allot , whether it be the fan or the handle . they work well when they do work but for that kind of money I would expect it to last, at least 10 or more years without any breakage, you are meant to be buying quality . I would expect the fan on a sanitaire to break after a year as they are cheap( ish ) but not a Kirby fan. You can get similar suction from a sanitaire wich costs allot less than a sentria and seems to be built with the same reliability so WHY on earth spend the extra money , you are if you are not getting the reliability they promise

Post# 154619 , Reply# 17   10/9/2011 at 06:37 (4,526 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

No problems with mine.I don't understand the reliability issue you are having-are your customers abusing their Sentrias?the first Sentria I have is when they first came out-the dealer says I was the first customer to buy one in the Eastern NC area.Works just fine!!no problems.I don't abuse mine,though.I see more broken Sanitaires then Sentrias.Probably becuase they are more common here.I have been pleased with my Sentrias-and I will put one against any Sanitaire in my collection-the Kirby-or the Royal metal will outclean the Sanitaire anytime.My Saniatire "Contactor" series vacuum come close to the performance of the Kirby or Royal,though.It uses the new Filtrete ST bags.Big improvement over the F&G bags.

Post# 154630 , Reply# 18   10/9/2011 at 07:10 (4,526 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

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There is that posibility , more fact realy. Most people in SA have cleaning staff who lets just say do not tend to look after the vacuum . my point is that at this price I do not expect it to break at all, it should be forged from stailess steel and granite. We get allot of trade inn Kirby's on dyson vacuums, one lady just gave me her sentria last month which was onely a year old as she had been to her doughters house for a holiday and used her dc25 and fell in love. she bought 2.

The two sentria's I have at the moment are ones that I bought in from estate sales to stripp for parts and both are in top condition but are out cleaned by a sanitaire any day. The sanitiares also handle the pet hair better and remove more of it.the sanitaires also feel much more powerful when cleaning. as I have said before I wonder if the different voltage has any thing to do with it. 


sanitaires are hard to come buy here so we do get allot more Kiry's in for repair I just hope they do a better job when they d a redesign soon 

Post# 154634 , Reply# 19   10/9/2011 at 07:18 (4,526 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

gsheen's profile picture

I am not trying to upset all you guys who love the sentria or force my opinion on any one. what i am saying is what I experiance every day. I find it interesting that you guys have not had many problems with yours and find that it cleans well , sure its more powerfull than a legend . power isn't every thing though . I like to vacuum my home properly every time I vacuum and one of the things  hate about most modern direct air vacuums is that you must dissasemble half the machine just to put the pipes on to clean around the edges. I have 2 boys aged 7 and 9 and plenty of animals so around the edge cleaning is every day for me.

Yes machines do take much more abuse here than in the rest of he world , back in the day both Hoover , West point and Kelvinator had huge testing facility's here to test here new prototypes , i it lasted in SA it would last any were


Post# 154636 , Reply# 20   10/9/2011 at 07:25 (4,526 days old) by kenmore81 (Warwick, RI)        

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So shiny, it looks to be in very good condition for its age.

Post# 154638 , Reply# 21   10/9/2011 at 07:42 (4,526 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

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I think it was well looked after by its owner , I am really please with it , I had one before that was to be restored but it was stolen in a move , I think it was a 518 though

Post# 154643 , Reply# 22   10/9/2011 at 09:30 (4,526 days old) by Brandon_W_T ()        

You know I hate to agree but I have seen more sentries in vacuum shops for repairs than other models. I know the 2009 model had a fault with the ?brushes? My friend had two that had to be repaired because of it.

Post# 154647 , Reply# 23   10/9/2011 at 10:09 (4,526 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

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thats all I am saying , we are not talking about a $30.00 dirtdevel her we are talking about the so called rolls royce of vacuums that they only give a 1 year guarantee , if it is so good why not give it a 10 year guarantee like Electrolux does on the guardian models, Hell even dyson gives a 5 year guarantee and they are 5 times cheaper ( here they are)


If you bought a Rolls-Royce Phantom and it broke down in a year and they told you sorry its not covered any more you would be miffed in a big way, what did you pay all that money for superior craftsmanship and then it breaks.

Post# 154669 , Reply# 24   10/9/2011 at 12:13 (4,526 days old) by vac_whisperer ()        

Oooh that is a nice 508! Congrats on your find. It appears to have a couple of 505 parts, though. But thats okay. :)


But why would you say a dustbuster works better than a Sentria?

Post# 154672 , Reply# 25   10/9/2011 at 12:35 (4,526 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

gsheen's profile picture

I am just so sick of fixing them I suppose , obviusly a sentria is a good vacuum I just think they have let the Kirby name down by cheapening it and still charging a fortune for it. Ie the bellows tube is now made from the same cheap hose ( but bigger diameter ) as that found on entry level bagless upright vacuums, and guess what it breaks.


As for my 508 , I am interested to know what parts are 505 ? It had one owner its whole life and although its been serviced was never rebuilt so I would be interested to know  which parts are not original  

Post# 154680 , Reply# 26   10/9/2011 at 13:31 (4,526 days old) by kirbyvacuum (Long Island New York)        
505 parts

Hi I think the BELT LIFTER IS AS IT LOOKS Black. Also what is left of the Handel grip also looks black i no they had trouble with them Doug

Post# 154692 , Reply# 27   10/9/2011 at 14:54 (4,526 days old) by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

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Thats tape on the handle , I need to get a new one, the bumper is also black , just looks grey in the photo as I adjusted the light a bit , the polisher belt lifter is red though. the handle did have black residue on it. I would like to get it as origonal as possible so any help would be great. 


I just got a heritage 11 1988 model and a legend 11 1989 model today aswell  both runners but in need of a polish. I love those models particularly the legend as its red ish I will post pics soon

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