Thread Number: 16141
Finally got a direct drive!
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Post# 172049   3/5/2012 at 17:02 (2,945 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke ()        

I've been wanting a Direct Drive since I first sold them at Sears back in 01.... I acutally like the original purple version better as far as looks go, but I was at a thrift store today and found this for 20 bucks. I tried it out and it worked great so I just had to "let" it follow me home. It even came with 2 bags inside the bag chamber still in their original package! It's missing the dusting brush/upholstery tool (does anyone know which one it would have com with?) and crevice tool, but it came with the wands and turbo tool and the cord is intact. I haven't cleaned it up yet or played with it, but I'm thrilled! I think a few of you have gotten these before.... what do you think of them? I like that it has a hinged bag door and a gentle brush setting.

Post# 172061 , Reply# 1   3/5/2012 at 17:44 (2,945 days old) by vacman117 (Valparaiso, IN)        

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I wanted one of those really bad before I had gotten mine. I love all of the controls in the handle, in fact, I think that is what drew me to it the most. I was really excited over it when I first got it, but it quickly wore off. I don't know if it is just mine, but it doesn't seem to lock onto the carpet like it should, so I like to use it for rugs and bare floors. I feel like my original purple Direct Drive cleans much better. But you can't beat the deal you got on yours!

Post# 172077 , Reply# 2   3/5/2012 at 19:31 (2,945 days old) by kloveland (Tulsa, OK)        
Hey Bobby,

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Great find! I've near used one of those before. Does direct drive mean it doesn't have a belt. Does it use a geared belt? Your living room is looking quite nice. Almost didn't recognize your place from your previous pictures.

Post# 172081 , Reply# 3   3/5/2012 at 19:48 (2,945 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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Nice Kenmore/Panasonic Bobby! When it was being sold in stores, this model was one of the top-rated uprights in Consumer Reports testing. It is very easy to use with lots of conveniences. I remember that CR liked the fact that the unit would not tip over when in "tool mode," - I guess because it has a "hose retainer" low down on the body to keep it from tipping.

Kenny - this vac has the unique Panasonic beltless brushroll. There are no belts or gears - there is actually a small motor hidden WITHIN the brushroll at one end of the nozzle. This is why the brushroll is so large. The motor can be electrically adjusted to two speeds: regular and "gentle." It's a really wonderful vacuum innovation invented by Panasonic.

Post# 172090 , Reply# 4   3/5/2012 at 21:06 (2,945 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke ()        

I took it apart to clean the mess and try to get rid of some of the dog smell (it stank terribly!) There was thick layer of dog hair right behind the brush roll.... it was so disgusting! It was tough getting the bottom plate off, and I was surprised at how the height adjust and handle release pedal are all integrated right into the base plate!

The plastic parts, including the hose are soaking right now, so it will be several days of drying before I can play with it.

The machine looks bland in pictures, but it's a little more attractive in person. It looks like they started out making a bagless and just slapped a bag door on it instead.

Here is a picture of the brushroll for anyone interested. When I bought it, the guy who showed me where a plug was said, "Now that one takes a belt to it so ya gotta put the handle back before it will spin." To save any more "lessons" I told him I collect vacuum and this will be my 50th machine and I sold the predecessor to this model at Sears so I knew all about how it worked. I didn't bother schooling him on the fact that the whole point of this vacuum is that it does not "take a belt to it", hence the word beltless right on the machine! He then struck up a conversation and asked how many Kirbys I had. I said 4. Then he asked how many Dysons I had. I said 1. Then he said, "Wasn't that Dyson guy the one that used to work for Kirby and then went off on his own because he didn't like the prices?" I said, "Well, you almost got right... try Bison!" :o)

I thought some of you might find that funny ;o)

As I checked out, the cashier at the thrift store (this was a little Catholic place, not a Good Will) said, "Well, the only problem with that is that you gotta use bags." I didn't even get into why that's a *good* thing, I just gave him my card and got out of there.

(Thanks Kenny about the living room, I bought new furniture about a year ago because I got sick of looking at the free hand me downs I was given when I moved in and it's a vast improvement to say the least! I just rearranged the furniture a couple weeks ago when I got the shag rug and I'm loving the place now more than ever)

Post# 172092 , Reply# 5   3/5/2012 at 21:10 (2,945 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke ()        

I had no clue the picture was going to come out that big, and hit submit before I changed the size, sorry guys!

I wanted to show the bag chamber too because it's weird.... it has vents all over the place!

Brian, I did notice the hose retaining clip... looks like it might break, but I like how they made it removable in case you need more length.

Post# 172113 , Reply# 6   3/6/2012 at 00:18 (2,945 days old) by sanifan ()        
I like it!

I have one of those. Nope, make that two. Same color.

I actually lent one to my brother on an indefinite basis. Then I was trolling at my thrift store when one of the employees started wheeling out some vacuums. Among them was another one, for $20 as yours was. But I swear, it must have been a display model or such because there was no detectable sign of use on it at all. I was quite shocked as it appeared to be in new, unused condition. I looked at it, just about passed on it because I really didn't have space for any more vacs, but I couldn't resist.

I like it a lot and it's a keeper for me, but I haven't used the newer one at all. It's a bit bulky and my apartment was on the smallish side at the time.

My brother loves it, though. Especially the Intellisense feature. He likes that feature so much that when he vacuums his mattress, he actually brings the whole machine onto the bed and uses it as if he were vacuuming a rug.

Good vacuum! Do you guys feel that it cleans as well a a Tristar, Kirby, or Sanitaire, though? I think that's one other reason I haven't used it - a lot of other vacs to play with!

Post# 172222 , Reply# 7   3/6/2012 at 17:59 (2,944 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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Bobby - have you had a chance to try the Kenmore Direct Drive on the new shag carpet? Just curious if that "gentle" setting would allow you to clean it well and with ease.....

EP Brian up here in Canada (sending you thousands of Canadian tourists next week on "spring break".......)


Post# 172229 , Reply# 8   3/6/2012 at 20:28 (2,944 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke ()        

Brian, too bad you aren't going to be one of the tourists... it would be so fun to play vacuums with you... since my main job is in toursim, we need the tourists, but most of them are college students that can't do timeshare tours so it won't affect me much!

The machine parts are still drying and it's killing me. Do you know how freaking long it takes a stretch hose to dry? It's INSANE! LOL I'm going take a hair blower to it! Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to play with it and let you know something then! I'd love to be able to form an opinion about this one compared to the original purple one I used to sell and love... I know the new one is completely different, but they are so new, they aren't on Craig's List or in thrift shops yet!

Post# 172236 , Reply# 9   3/6/2012 at 22:14 (2,944 days old) by BriGuy (Wichita, Kansas)        
Bag Chamber "Vents"

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Bobby I have the similar design non-direct drive upright in Sunflower yellow. The bag chamber vents are Kenmore's Power-Flow dual chamber design. It's supposed to keep airflow around the bag to maintian suction as the bag fills. Oh & BTW that's a great find & thanx for sharing your pics. I love the Panasonic/Kenmore machines.

Post# 172248 , Reply# 10   3/6/2012 at 23:21 (2,944 days old) by billybud21 ()        

Great find. That will clean up really nice and only a twenty spot!

Post# 172267 , Reply# 11   3/7/2012 at 04:02 (2,943 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke ()        

Guys, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the original purple version of these have four rows of bristles? I thought so.... but this one only has two... maybe I'm not remembering something right.

I just finished reassembling, cleaning, and polishing it up. I used armorall to polish the machine and the bumper which was dull after washing. I will probably go over it with plastic polish as well. I just couldn't wait for the hose to dry, so I tried an experiment that I thought was pretty clever, and it worked very well. I realized that I had 4 bags, so I could afford to waste one. I put the hose back on still a little damp and I stuffed the bag full of paper towels. Then I installed the bag and stuffed the bag chamber full of paper towels. Then I ran the machine at full power for 5 minutes, pulling the hose all the while and checking the inside of the bag chamber peridocially to make sure it wasn't flooded with water. The bag and some of the paper towels were wet, but the chamber itself was not and the hose dried perfectly. I just coudn't wait to play with the machine, so I'm glad that worked.

First impressions.... WOW! This thing has some power! Both suction and agitation are great (though it didn't pull me across the room like the original purple one did, those were like a self propelled lawn mower). The dirt sensor only works when Intelliclean is turned on.... something I found weird. The bare floor button is also the gentle button, so it has to be hit twice to stop the brush. With all those buttons, they should have made one of them the height adjustment, instead of the primitive slider on the front they went with.

It has a very Panasonic look, feel, and sound, and I like that because I do not have any Panasonics in my collection. There is no attempt at edge cleaning.... the original purple one had red brushes that swung back and forth on the edges of the nozzle plate.... they didn't work, but it was an attempt at least. I also miss the big rocker pedal for the bare floor control that was on the original... There is no way to set the sensitivity of the dirt sensor like there was on the predecessor and on Hoovers. I will want to find the original upholstery tool because that suction is too powerful not to use.

It's really a fun vacuum, but I do think it's not as good as the one before it. Isn't that often the case? Will someone please confirm for me if the original had 4 rows of bristles? It's driving me crazy... I didn't think I made it up, but it has been a while since I dealt with those!

Briguy, thanks for the info about the vents in the bag chamber, I figured they were there for more than decoration, but didn't know what the technology was called or what they claimed the purpose was.... What's the point of having a pre-motor filter at the bottom with all those other holes everywhere? LOL :)

Brian, I tried it on the shag rug just for you! It pushed OK, it was a little difficult, and groomed OK, but the Kirby Sentria and Eureka 1934A still do a much better job. I raised the height all the way and I tried it on the gentle setting and the brushroll actually stalled! I had to use full power to get the brushroll to stay on!

Thanks :o)

Post# 172304 , Reply# 12   3/7/2012 at 10:33 (2,943 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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Hey Bobby - thanks for the "Kenmore on shag" report!!! :-D Very interesting!

I love Walt Disney World (I wanted to be an Imagineer when I was a kid!) I definitely have to plan a visit to WDW and "Bobby's Vacuum Cleaner Showcase"!!! (can you imagine a Future World pavilion on "cleanliness and the environment" sponsored by Electrolux? A roller coaster ride through a giant vacuum cleaner would be fun!) Better still - make that the Sweden Pavilion at World Showcase!

That would be an amazing visit for me: Disney World and vacs in the same trip (you could show me the "rainbow" community of Orlando, too!)....can't wait to see the new Fantasyland expansion (can you tell I'm gay?)

When I have some cash - I'll be in touch....!

Orlando would be a great place for a VCCC convention one year!!!! :-)

Post# 172345 , Reply# 13   3/7/2012 at 13:45 (2,943 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke ()        

Brian I think Orlando would be a great place too, but I think I remember someone saying at a gathering at Terrys that they try to have the conventions in central locations so that they are easier to get to for a greater majority of members....

OK, the dirt sensor doesn't work at all.... the lights light up at first, but then when I run over dirt, nothing happens.... it stays green. I wiped inside the hose where the fits on, because that's the only thing I know to do, but that didn't help. Does anyone know how to fix this or what the problem could be?

Thanks for any advice you can give!

Post# 172380 , Reply# 14   3/7/2012 at 17:19 (2,943 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke ()        

I looked up a picture of a Panasonic direct drive brushroll, and the original version did indeed have 4 rows of bristles... I feel like I got shafted because they went cheap and only put two on this newer one! That's terrible!

I played with the dirt sensor. I took the machine apart and it was quite easy, the front panel just lifted right off after I removed about a million screws (and you'll appreciate this, Brian, lost them in the shag carpet!). Then I got into the dirt sensor and discovered that there was dust under and behind it that could not be wiped from the outside so I did a minor operation with a Q-tip and now it is working perfectly. What a poor design! Dust was just blocking the sensor so that it couldn't "see". Pictures of the open machine and process to follow.

Post# 172381 , Reply# 15   3/7/2012 at 17:21 (2,943 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke ()        

Look at all the circuit boards. I need to keep this thing plugged into a surge protector! It was fascinating to see the clear plastic tube that goes to the "performance indicator" and know that was what made it work.

Post# 172383 , Reply# 16   3/7/2012 at 17:23 (2,943 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke ()        

This was the problem... sorry for the grainy pictures.... I haven't replaced my digital camera since dropping it on the Fantom Wildcat during the Fantom's Youtube debut and smashing it into a million pieces.

Post# 172386 , Reply# 17   3/7/2012 at 17:26 (2,943 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke ()        

PRoblem gone

Post# 172390 , Reply# 18   3/7/2012 at 17:30 (2,943 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke ()        

This is the final picture. I got it working! Yay :o) Simple problem, but complicated procedure to fix it. I just don't like it when my machines have a feature that doesn't work whether it's the handle release or bare floor feature or a light.... (for that matter, I don't like missing attachments either :o)

Now, if I can just get it back together.... I've got to go dig 17 screws out of shag carpet!

Post# 172400 , Reply# 19   3/7/2012 at 18:12 (2,943 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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Hey Bobby! We'll gather in Orlando one day - I am sure! Portland is kind of off the beaten path, so Orlando might be able to win the convention one year! Besides, I am sure most of us at Vacuumland would love to visit WDW at the same time!

Sorry you got a cheaper brush roll...maybe you would consider investing in a new replacement with 4 rows! Let's see if they are out there....

Oooooooo! Eureka! I found it! But YIKES! It's $135!

Here ya go, buddy:

CLICK HERE TO GO TO eurekaprince's LINK

Post# 172439 , Reply# 20   3/7/2012 at 22:49 (2,943 days old) by sanifan ()        
Purple one...

Wow, I had no idea the purple one was a different design. Any idea why the changed it? I'm always very interested in those reasons. Cost cutting or an actual attempt at improvement? Or some contractual reasons?

I also have a purple one that's bagless. I though it was okay, but some pieces are broken on the clear cyclonic bin are broken and super glue and epoxy just won't hold. Perhaps it's the older model, even though it has a bagless design?

Boy, you are very serious about getting the vac in shape. I wish you great success!

Post# 172445 , Reply# 21   3/7/2012 at 23:21 (2,943 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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Khoi - I think that Panasonic improved on the purple version of the Direct Drive (though the brushroll is cheaper). First, they added a nice secure topside storage bin for the mini turbo nozzle, which the purple one did not have. Second, they added new vents in the bag chamber to improve airflow even as the bag filled. Third, the bag door on the old purple one came off completely, whereas the new one is a swing door that is more convenient to open and close.

I think they also added a better hose on the new one which may stretch to a longer length and is designed to prevent tip-over of the main unit when you pull on the hose to move the vacuum as you use the tools and hose.

In any case, the Kenmore versions (both the old purple one, and the newer blue one) consistently received high ratings from Consumer Reports (along with the long-running Hoover Self-Propelled WundTunnel) for great carpet cleaning, bare floor cleaning, airflow for tool use and ease of use in general. They are all solid performers and great carpet cleaners that are very easy to use.

Post# 172451 , Reply# 22   3/8/2012 at 01:08 (2,943 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke ()        

Finally back together! The hardest part is always putting them back together and this one was no exception. The small stiff hose that connects the bottom to the top on the side was pushing the body of the cleaner sideways and that panel just would not go back on! I figured out that was the problem after an hour of struggling and held the cleaner straight with one hand and forced the panel back on with the other... had to remove the headlight bulb as not to break it.

I don't like the positon of the headlight.... shines on the nozzle instead of the floor.... This machine sounds different than anything I've ever used before and I just realized it's because of the extra vent holes in the back.

Another feature of this one over the purple predecessor is that the dirt sensor is multi stage.... the old one just had a red and a green light and that was it. But you could change the sensitivity on that one and cannot on this one. I'm surprised they kept the same hand grip with all the other things they changed... I've never been crazy about that grip. This one does seem to have more suction than the older one. I vacuumed the multi colored stripped rug that I used to do my youtube videos on and this vacuum actually changed the color of it (had powder on it) in one pass and left vacuum lines in it (not many machines are powerful enough to do that!). I do appreciate the hinged bag door, but would gladly trade it for the extra 2 rows of bristles and better aesthetics of the purple one. Another feature they removed that the purple one had was a sensor down where the hose plugs into the machine.... it would stop the brushroll when the hose was removed even if the handle wasn't upright... this one doesn't have that, but I imagine most people would use the tools with it in the upright position anyway.

Wish they had made this machine with a quick draw wand! Another thing I wish it had is lights to tell what mode the vacuum is in... It's hard to know if its in regular, gentle sweep, bare floor, or high., medium, or low suction modes because there is nothing to indicate any of that. With all the other lights, they could have put those useful indicators somewhere on the machine.... it doesn't have slide switches so you can't tell just my looking at the buttons. Even on my Hoover Z, when you change a setting, the button you press flashes until the machine responds and then remains lit...

Oh well, it's a fun machine nonetheless. Brian you really know your Panimores (or Kenisonics?)!

Post# 172549 , Reply# 23   3/8/2012 at 18:36 (2,942 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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Hehe! I guess I do know a bit about these - even though I have never owned one! I guess whenever Consumer Reports gives top ratings to a certain vac, I like to see what all the fuss is all about. And 9 times out of 10, there is some Kenmore or Panasonic that really gets top marks. And so you can imagine what happens to Eurekaprince Brian whenever he is in the vicinity of a Sears store!!!

I guess I have really been intrigued by the beltless brushroll developed by Panasonic. It's one of those innovations that I really think is absolute genius - hide the motor INSIDE the brushroll - amazing! And to think that it actually results in excellent cleaning of carpets, makes it even more revolutionary to me.

When you think about it, it's really too bad that Japan's Matsushita/Panasonic company did not buy Hoover, instead of TTI. Panasonic had already bought the rights to the old Dial-A-Matic design, and after 30 years of tweaks and improvements, your Kenmore Direct Drive is basically what the Hoover Dial-A-Matic could have become. It would have been great to see the Hoover name on some of these really great performing uprights with really innovative features like a beltless brushroll. Can you imagine how great these Panasonic uprights would be with a WindTunnel brushroll cavity?

What a lost opportunity for the Hoover name......:-(

Post# 172584 , Reply# 24   3/8/2012 at 22:27 (2,942 days old) by sanifan ()        
Okay. You will kill me...

...but I was in the thrift store today and I found the exact same vacuum we are talking about for $4. $4!!! It was in very good cosmetic. Quite a bit nicer than the one I gave to my brother, but not as nice as the minty one I found, of course.

When I turned it on all the buttons worked but the brush roll was dead. I'm no dummy, though (I think), so I pressed the little reset button on the brushroll and, walla!, we have brushroll! It was missing the turbo brush, but all the other attachments were there.

The only glitch was that the dirt sensor would not budge from red. Whether there was some obstruction blocking the light, or it was just dirt, or the sensor was broken I don't know. I'm sure it would have been easy to find out, but I had to steel myself and walk away. I have no more room for vacuums, what with everyone wondering why I have so many anyway. Add to that the fact that I never get around to using the one I already have. I had to convince myself I didn't need it. Still, it was a great deal for someone to check out and fix up.

One thing I worry about though is the longevity of those control buttons. They are the kind of buttons that are arranged in a line on a small printed circuit panel, which are then covered by a thin plastic membrane with raised bumps where the buttons are. Like the ones you sometimes see on microwave ovens. The one I gave to my brother was worn through the membrane on the "stop" button so that you cannot see the lettering, just the red color. The vac I saw today showed signs that the membrane was about to crack on one of the buttons and was soft on another. The buttons still work, but will be impossible to tell which button is which once the words crack off and fall away. That style of button is inexpensive to produce, but is not durable.

I did check the brushroll on the $4 vac. It had only 2 strips, as you described.

Post# 172637 , Reply# 25   3/9/2012 at 12:49 (2,941 days old) by Vacuumfreeeke ()        

Oh man I should have had you buy it just to get me the upholstery tool LOL Mine didn't come with it and I want the original and I think I would use the hose because it is long and the suction is variable.

That's a good deal though! Wow, 4 dollars!!!

I do know what you mean with the membrane switches. I've seen a few Kenmnores with similar switches (but they were older Progessive uprights) and they were worn clean through! So annoying. If that ever happens to mine it will just drive me bonkers... I wonder if I could cover them with clear nail polsih or something.... The off switch is just starting to show a little spot where the button under the membrane is, but its just the color, not the actual surface of the membrane. I will have to baby it!

You could go back and get that vacuum and sell it for a profit on Craig's List if you were so inclined... I don't like doing that because I think people deserve to find good deals, but I have a neighbor who makes his entire living buying stuff cheap at thrift shops and reselling it on C/L... He got some Kenmore Progressive canisters for 15 bucks and sold them for 180.... I don't know who the fool was that paid that much, but I feel sorry for them! I think it's kinda mean! LOL

Post# 172640 , Reply# 26   3/9/2012 at 12:54 (2,941 days old) by sebo_fan (Scotland, UK, member AKA ukvacfan, & Nar2)        

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vacuumfreeke - did you see the post I left about the Windsor upright on (

It's a rare Winsor Sensor, only has two lights for the brush roll and bag fill - but it does state on the fascia that it has automatic height adjustment.

Post# 340065 , Reply# 27   12/27/2015 at 18:14 (1,553 days old) by vacuumlad1650 (Chicago Suburbs)        

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My friend has one of these, a Hoover Windtunnel, and a Hoover Elite. The Kenmore is great, but i hate those Dirt Sensors

Post# 340068 , Reply# 28   12/27/2015 at 18:27 (1,553 days old) by kirbysthebest (Wichita, KS)        
I love the dirt sensors

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Though I am easily amused.  


I recently bought a Hoover Windtunnel Anniversary Edition, It's my first ever Hoover.  I really like it, and the dirt sensor is fun to watch, I keep finding myself throwing things down so the sensor will turn red.  Then again like I said, I'm easily amused. 


Post# 340162 , Reply# 29   12/29/2015 at 12:45 (1,551 days old) by floor-a-matic (somewhere)        

I bought the 1st generation Direct Drive & a Kenmore Cyclonic (Eureka Whirlwind) back in 1999; both great vacs but I wish I still had them

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