Thread Number: 16241
My Fantom Story
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Post# 173172   3/14/2012 at 09:25 (2,940 days old) by man114 (Buffalo NY)        

For whatever reason I researching Fantom this morning, particularly the Wildcat. I didn't know they had any sort of real following so I figured like the old commercials I'd tell my Fantom story.

First of all I'm in Buffalo, they were importing these right through here so Fantom was everywhere around here. When they first released the 11amp models Lechmere was selling them in plain brown unprinted boxes (not like the later stuff), and was as far as I know they only retailer outside of Sears that had them back then. I was only like 10 at the time but somehow convinced my parents to buy one for me. Power switch no longer works but my grandparents use it at their house now serial number is really low on that one. It was pre hepa but through some sort of program they let you get two filters and a housing to replace the dust cap.

Like I said they were all over the place there, you could pretty much go down to the main warehouse and get them if you wanted (if I recall they sold refurbs right there).

When you had the earlier ones start to die off, or have minor problems, people were donating them to thrift stores, or curbing them. Aside from the Thunder which had loads of parts they were pretty easy to fix quickly. I was fixing them and selling them to people at work for a good while in the late 1990s.

Over the years I ended up wound up owning over dozen or so Thunders or its 11 amp derivative. I still have probably a pallet of them in the barn at my grandparents (I'll still pick one up on occasion, found a nearly mint Thunder for $25 a few months ago, and an 11 amp one with no HEPA for $10). I have two Kenmore Destinys one my sister uses downstairs at her house, the other I scored NOS when they were liqudating but my mom uses it. I have a few Furys still floating around 2 or 3 all 12 amp. I had another 10 amp one that I assembled from two broken ones but sold it off to a lady I work with who still has it.

I have thrown together a few from spare parts like the Thunder in my garage. I failed on occasion too. I found a 9 amper tossed in the trash but couldn't find a collection bin to work as the cone was slightly longer than that of the Thunder (or at least the rubber seal at the bottom of it was). Many of the parts were direct interchanges, I still have the motor as a spare, it fits fine in the Thunder housing.

Other models, I have maybe 4 or 5 lightnings only two have complete working powerheads but all the canister portions work. My dad uses one in his finished basement because it works well on the low berber carpeting. I have one Crosswind 200 but its a refurb so it has a black special edition Fury deckplate. I have 2 Cyclone XTs, one is like new but the circuit board is shot for the bottom brush roller is shot, so I have salvage it from the other which is basically a parts machine. I have 2 Wildcats, one Green one Blue, they rarely get used though. I don't think the design is that great outside of cosmetic appeal, but they don't really work too bad, they're pretty good for bare floors. Also have one of those Drytech ones which have a pretty unique roller brush.

I don't really have a special attachment to Fantom in any particular way other than that they were plentiful around here, relatively easy to work on once you figured them out, and I was able to sell them with decent resale value because they were priced quite a bit higher than most back then (I could easily garbage pick, clean and repair one and make $75-100 on an hours worth of work back in the late 90s when a Thunder was pushing $200+ still).

I still do it though, if I see that lonely Thunder for $10 at the thrift or on big garbage day I still grab it, maybe not for resale but for fun. I still actively use 3 myself one 11 and 2 12 amp ones (including the really nice $25 one I got a while back), occasionally I'll do the bare floor with the Wildcat, most of the time I use the Dysons now though but I've still got my buckets of parts, no less than 5 spare motors, a complete parts Thunder and Cyclone XT so I have to do something with all the stuff.





Post# 173193 , Reply# 1   3/14/2012 at 11:24 (2,940 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

eurekaprince's profile picture
Just a little geographical and historical addition to this story:

The history of Fantom Technologies is related to the Iona/Regina vacuum factory that was located in Welland, Ontario which is not more than an hour drive from the US/Canadian border, Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New York.

This was the Canadian factory that produced all our Regina "bagless" Electrikbrooms with the dust-cup. Not sure why or when the transition occured, but at some point Regina went under and the Canadian Iona subsidiary decided to re-invent itself by buying the Canadian rights to the British Dyson cyclonic system. So the plant in Welland, Ontario became the launching pad for the Fantom Cyclonic vacs that were sold all over North America until they went bankrupt. That's how the bagless dustcup Electrikbroom evolved into the Fantom bagless upright vac.


Post# 173241 , Reply# 2   3/14/2012 at 15:35 (2,940 days old) by director12 ()        

Is it true if Fantom went under due to 9/11?

Post# 173248 , Reply# 3   3/14/2012 at 16:49 (2,940 days old) by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

eurekaprince's profile picture
I think Fantom went under due to poor vacuums. There seem to have been a lot of problems - maybe bad workmanship, poor design - not sure. Other vac repair shop owners here at Vacuumland probably know more than I about the demise.

Post# 173249 , Reply# 4   3/14/2012 at 16:55 (2,940 days old) by TheBillbot ()        

Don't tell FantomVacuumFan you have all this, he'll break down your door.


Fantom unfortunately Imploded. Biggest mistake they made was making them from Dual Cyclonic to Single Cyclonic. That's what I think did em over.


Post# 173252 , Reply# 5   3/14/2012 at 17:17 (2,940 days old) by FantomVacuumFan (St.Petersburg, Florida)        
OH.... MY.... GOD....!!!!

fantomvacuumfan's profile picture
Wow that is a nice collection! I am so jealous! Haha! Hey Man114, I got your email address of your profile on here, and emailed you privately. I hope you don't mind, I just love talking with other Fantom lovers!

Post# 173263 , Reply# 6   3/14/2012 at 18:05 (2,940 days old) by director12 ()        

I agree. Fantom's change to a single-cyclonic model was the real reason why they failed. The Wildcat was cheaply built, brushrolls were crappy, clogged easily, and the warranties were always getting voided.

And yes, when Euro-Pro got Fantom's name, they got much worse, with horrible machines, and the worst customer support on the planet.


Post# 173298 , Reply# 7   3/14/2012 at 23:35 (2,940 days old) by man114 (Buffalo NY)        

I think Fantom's problems started before the single cyclone design.

They invested a lot of money making the Fantom Calypso water filter. There were loads of them floating around in local liqudation places after Fantom went under for about $25. It was actually a good machine I still have one, still made today by those who bought the design after Fantom went under, and it rated highly in a recent Consumer Reports. It was majorly expensive somewhere near $300. I can't say it was on the market more than a month or two before they went under. Its a good machine, however they built all this inventory (and it had to be a lot there were pallets upon pallets of them floating around locally). It was complex as all can be, they were building them in Canada (I'm sure they're now coming from China). I diassembled one it, it certainly wasn't simple. Ever disassemble a Keurig and look at their water routing system you'll get an idea. It bubbled ozone through a pitcher that locked onto a base, then reverse pumped it through a carbon block filter into a standing pitcher.

So they had loads of money tied up in water filters that never even had a chance on the market place. There were literally thousands of them, $300 machines, never even got shipped (I think they released this thing maybe 3 or 4 months before they went under). They'd probably have done OK, I mean the design help up 10 years, someone else is still making it and selling it and it still tests well.

Then they started making single cyclone vacs and cheapening the designs, building them in Canada. Meanwhile comepetitors were building cheap knockoffs in China. Losing to labor, cutting the wrong corners, and divesting into other things. None of this should have been a problem.

I'm honestly surprised Euro-Pro never tried building copies of them in China. Most of the patents in those models are probably expired, or are expiring. The Fury (which by my esimation was the easiest of these things to build), would easily outperform most of the current crop of department store fodder and I can't see it costing much more. I could swear I saw a Fury Special Edition built in China but I could be wrong. I'm not so sure about the Thunder. It has about double the parts of the Fury or Cyclone.

Instead of trying to mass market them they should have built original Thunders, marketed them as a better machine and been done with it, they'd probably still be in business. I'd say 90% of the Fantoms I still run across are Thunder, or earlier versions. They're all a minimum of 10 years old by now.

The Wildcat could have been a decent machine with some modifications.

The stuff sold well too. I worked in a housewares dept. back then when I was in college. I'd order pallets of Furys and you could never keep them in, Fantom couldn't supply them fast enough. I can tell you people in a pinch bought other stuff more often than not because there were no Furys in and thats what people wanted. The other models never moved as well. The out of box defect rate was pretty low. You'd almost never get them back. They'd last sometime into the warranty period. The higher priced stuff always moved slowest.

In 98-2001 when I was working with that stuff, I can almost guarnatee I could have sold several hundred more Furys than I could ever get from Fantom. I'm just one person, who worked in one store in one city back then. If you multiplied it nationwide Fantom could have probably sold 50,000 more of them, because if I couldn't get them I'm sure others couldn't either.

They sold themselves too. You'd put a few out people would be in "Oh get a Fantom, they're pretty good". Either from infomericals or from the fact that even their low end model was built well enough to outlast a slightly cheaper single cyclone knockoff. If anyone remembers when Bissell released their current bagless unit, it was selling for $100 or so and a Fury was maybe $150.

I very much doubt warranty problems were the most of their problems only a portion of it. I think it as mostly their inability to get parts. Couldn't get parts to fix the warranty claims or build enough units to meet demand. Money invested elsewhere, ideas in the wrong directions.



Post# 173309 , Reply# 8   3/15/2012 at 05:23 (2,939 days old) by director12 ()        

I didn't know Fantom made a water system. Fantomvacuumfan, are you aware about Fantom calypso water systems?

Post# 174165 , Reply# 9   3/20/2012 at 10:47 (2,934 days old) by FantomVacuumFan (St.Petersburg, Florida)        
Yes and no.

fantomvacuumfan's profile picture
I heard rumors that they were working on it, but I have never seen one, and didn't know that they actually made them and were selling them! Would love to see one!

Post# 174345 , Reply# 10   3/22/2012 at 07:58 (2,932 days old) by man114 (Buffalo NY)        

Yes, they were around, Wal-Mart in Canada was selling them a few months before Fantom went under, as were a few stores here in the Buffalo area. Most of them destined for the US seem to have been liquidated locally, even the few people selling them on Ebay at the time were all local liquidators.

I have two of these, the pictured one and one from a thrift store. They're not without issues. In one the check valve for the pitcher to prevent backflow of the water into the ozone pump sticks and you have to free it with a pin every so often. On one the ozone hose started leaking, mainly because the base of the unit twists to lock when you put the pitcher on. I took it apart and the thing is a mess of tubing, like a Keurig coffee maker because you've basically got an air (ozone) pump, and a pump to empty the pitcher upwards through the filter, as well as various valves, and of course the ozone generator. As opposed to messing around, I put the other back together to fix at a later time and used its pitcher with good check valve with this unit. The filter lasts a long time if your water isn't too bad, I've still got a spare and have only used one in all this time (I only use it to filter water for coffee).

If you look at the picture the ozone generator is the tower on the left of the unit, all the pumps are located in the base part. As I say this one works fine I just used it yesterday to filter water for coffee. Some other company picked up the design and still makes the unit but it is considerably more expensive than what they were charging for them when Fantom was liquidating.


Post# 175610 , Reply# 11   4/2/2012 at 19:42 (2,921 days old) by director12 ()        

FantomLightning, do you know anything about Fantom Calypso water filtration systems?

Post# 176145 , Reply# 12   4/6/2012 at 17:49 (2,917 days old) by man114 (Buffalo NY)        

Actually found a blue Wildcat today at a thrift store. I couldn't resist buying it for $8 as parts are so hard to find for that model. At the very least the suction works at the moment, didn't test the brush roll as it needs a good cleaning.

Post# 176147 , Reply# 13   4/6/2012 at 18:06 (2,917 days old) by fan-of-fans (USA)        

fan-of-fans's profile picture
"I'm honestly surprised Euro-Pro never tried building copies of them in China. Most of the patents in those models are probably expired, or are expiring. The Fury (which by my esimation was the easiest of these things to build), would easily outperform most of the current crop of department store fodder and I can't see it costing much more."

Not sure if you knew, but Westinghouse did sell the Fantom Fury under their own brand as the Wired, after Fantom had gone out of business. It was slightly different but pretty much the same machine. I assume it was made in China, I'm not sure. Nor do I know for how long it was made.

I don't recall the Calypso either. It's a neat looking system.



Post# 176308 , Reply# 14   4/8/2012 at 09:20 (2,915 days old) by director12 ()        

What do you mean if the patents are expiring? Does it mean Euro-Pro is starting to become a horrible company.

Post# 177067 , Reply# 15   4/14/2012 at 10:09 (2,909 days old) by FantomVacuumFan (St.Petersburg, Florida)        
Man114...

fantomvacuumfan's profile picture
I might need to move up there, if you have had such luck finding Fantoms, especially Wildcats! lol

Post# 177074 , Reply# 16   4/14/2012 at 11:34 (2,909 days old) by director12 ()        

FantomLightning should read this.

Post# 256113 , Reply# 17   11/12/2013 at 07:30 (2,332 days old) by SERINA ()        
calypso filter

The Calypso filter is still available in Hongkong if you have the Fantom Calypso Water Purifier. Despite my farm upgraded wter system, I still use the Calypso for drinking water and I swear by it.

crystal.chong@chiaphua.com.hk

..is the person to write to about getting a Fantom Calypso (model CT1 by the way) filter. even with shipping the price is less than the Ohio company sells for.

It took me forever to find this online and get into communication with her. I had to send hongkong $ to her company bank to get the filter, but its ok.


CLICK HERE TO GO TO SERINA's LINK


Post# 256144 , Reply# 18   11/12/2013 at 15:53 (2,332 days old) by dysonman1 (Rolla, MO)        

dysonman1's profile picture
In 2001, James Dyson's licensing agreement with Fantom which allowed them to use his patents to make dual cyclonic machines, was up. He refused to renew it due to Fantom's failure to use his new "MEMA" filtration system (MEMA stands for "Maximum Efficiency, Maximum Airflow"). The system included a washable pre-motor filter. Fantom was "in the business" of selling Hepa filters for $75 and saw no reason to use a good pre-motor filter. Since James did not renew the license, Fantom could not make dual cyclone machine, and went to the single cyclone models, which were terrible. They were returned in droves, which led to Fantom's bankruptcy filing. The next year, Dysons were in America, and Fantom was left selling rebadged Sanyo DirtHunter vacuums as "fantoms".

Post# 256241 , Reply# 19   11/13/2013 at 19:45 (2,331 days old) by super-sweeper (KSSRC Refurbishment Center)        
Question,

super-sweeper's profile picture
Are Dyson's Dual-Cyclonic patents up?
It's been over 20 years.


Post# 258931 , Reply# 20   12/8/2013 at 12:08 (2,306 days old) by director12 ()        

I don't really know.

Post# 316124 , Reply# 21   2/19/2015 at 21:33 (1,868 days old) by snox128 ()        
Looking to buy a ligntning

If you have a working complete lightning you'd be willing to part with, I'm looking to buy one! I remember growing up watching the infomercial wanting one in the worst way!!




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