Thread Number: 20117
Minor repair of my Kirby Classic 111. The safty switch.
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Post# 225314   3/27/2013 at 20:27 (2,007 days old) by caligula (Benton, Pa)        

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Last Friday I got my Classic 111 from Hoover 94, and it works great, too great in fact! As I have hardwood floors and area rugs that Kirby made short work of getting the dog hair. I've cleaned everything, using all attatchments.

As I understand it, Hoover 94 got it at an estate sale, and here lies the problem. The owner disabled the safty switch, so the Kirby runs on high speed, and yes, runs with the nozzle removed. Being a former Kirby trainer, I know how to keep my fingers away from a moving fan (duh!) Also, the tabs on the hose connection have been removed. Now, it only runs on 'high.' While it cleans like a champ, it lifts the heavy area rugs right off the floor. Talk about triple cushion vibration! I have to run it with the suction relief valve fully open. Still for carpets it should be in low speed. I want to undo what the original owner did. While I know sales, I don't know repair! I need one of our Kirby experts to tell me how to install the switch that I just ordered from Kirby, yes I ordered a new hose too.

Right now this Classis 111 is my daily driver, and as for the Electrolux LX, it's still sulking in the closet.

Thanks guys.

Post# 225317 , Reply# 1   3/27/2013 at 20:53 (2,007 days old) by hoove94 ()        

well actually, the man that bought it had been a smoker, all of the kirbys life.
i found that once you take the hose off to actually manually lift up the safety switch.
and im really glad that you like it.

Post# 225319 , Reply# 2   3/27/2013 at 21:09 (2,007 days old) by cb123 (Mobile, Al.)        
Switch wiring configuration

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This is an Omega switch, which is identical to a classic 3.

Post# 225320 , Reply# 3   3/27/2013 at 21:15 (2,007 days old) by cb123 (Mobile, Al.)        
close up

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The switch is color coded to the wire.

Post# 225323 , Reply# 4   3/27/2013 at 21:32 (2,007 days old) by cb123 (Mobile, Al.)        
Another close up

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Match the colors up with the letters.

Post# 225324 , Reply# 5   3/27/2013 at 21:45 (2,007 days old) by cb123 (Mobile, Al.)        

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The outer part of the switch pictured in the lower part of the above photograph is the outside piece of the switch. This part has the letters G,Y,R,and W for your wire colors. Use a small jewelers screwdriver to stick in the wire clamps inside the switch and remove each wire.

Post# 225326 , Reply# 6   3/27/2013 at 21:52 (2,007 days old) by cb123 (Mobile, Al.)        
Close up

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The outer part of the switch.

Post# 225329 , Reply# 7   3/27/2013 at 22:35 (2,007 days old) by caligula (Benton, Pa)        
Thanks guys

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Hi Hoover94. This Kirby is wonderful, and I plan to replace the safty switch once I get it from Kirby, and will follow the instructions listed above. As I said, it's my daily driver, and got a real workout on Saturday. I have catherdial ceilings and set up in canister mode, with the shoulder strap I can reach high places. I plan to get a second straight wand to do the beams. Cobwebs are gone, so are dust bunnies. That first day I actually filled the bag with the dog fur that my Electrolux LX couldn't get. Set up as a hand portable I did two couches and the mattress. That Classic 111 paid for it'self in one day of heavy cleaning. Wait tiill I get the Miracle head, and Rug Renovator from storage.

And yes, I'm driving my housemate crazy by singing one Kirby song after the other. It's like I'm back in the Kirby office in Oak park, Illinois. And yes, I also have both a dirt meter, and proof book in storage. So yes, my housemate will watch me demo the Classic 111.

Here's my living room, the golden retriever and one of the area rugs.

Alex Taber

Post# 225330 , Reply# 8   3/27/2013 at 22:42 (2,007 days old) by caligula (Benton, Pa)        
Hi Hoover94

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And heres the back of the house, near the kitchen.

Post# 225336 , Reply# 9   3/27/2013 at 23:42 (2,007 days old) by hoove94 ()        

im glad that u like it, and im really glad that your giving it the real workout that it deserves ...and i would love to see you demo the classic III

Post# 225399 , Reply# 10   3/28/2013 at 11:09 (2,006 days old) by caligula (Benton, Pa)        
Hi Hoover94.

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What a great idea.

If I were to attend a mini meet, a Kirby demo could easily be made of the Classic, Classic Omega, Classic 111, Tradition,or Heritage. Basically any model would work as the formula started with the Scott & Fetzer Home Sanitation System. While I'm no movie star, I did do some theater at Yale back in the late 1960's. I love Broadway musicals. In fact had I been blessed with a singing voice, might have been the next Robert Goulet. (Anybody remember him?) his first show was Camelot with Julie Andrews and Richard Burton. As for the Kirby demo, it was all showmanship. I could write the audio portion in a series of posts, as I have it commited to memory.

To learn about my years as a training manager for Kirby, go to the thread in off topic, 'Have you ever worked/owned a vacuum shop?'I told a lot of my favorite memories in that thread.

As for the Kirby I bought from you, the safty switch will have to wait till I get my stuff from Indiana. Running it on high speed is not going to hurt the motor. I'm also going to check to see what repair was made. Generally speaking, the kirby was kept in top condition. Thanks for selling it as it's in daily use.

How about a Kirby mine meet? anyone?

Alex Taber.

Post# 225750 , Reply# 11   3/30/2013 at 21:26 (2,004 days old) by kirby505 (Arizona)        

Shure if we could do it in idaho

Post# 225759 , Reply# 12   3/30/2013 at 22:20 (2,004 days old) by caligula (Benton, Pa)        
Hi Kirby 505

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Check out my thread on the demo of the Classic 111. This is strictly from memory, and will take several days to complete, but for now I'm telling the preliminary things, ending with the front talk. Tomorrow I'll cover the power plant, Handi-Butler, crystalator, spray gun/suds-o-gun and 4 types of vacuum cleaners.

Alex Taber.

Post# 225819 , Reply# 13   3/31/2013 at 13:04 (2,003 days old) by kirbylux77 (Orillia, Ontario, Canada)        

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Alex Taber....I have a question for you regarding the Kirby safety switch, since you used to work for Kirby. I have a Heritage II that I have modified to run on HIGH speed permanently, with the safety switch still intact. I did this by removing the metal pushrod that moves the switch's position inside the motor compartment. Now, the reason I did this is I own 2 Royal uprights, newer models from the early 1990's with 7 amp motors, that outclean the hence why I set it to run on HIGH permanently.

Since doing the modification, I have talked to a couple of vac shops that say that it will shorten the life of the motor....that it will cause the field wires to wear out prematurely. I could see the motor requiring more frequent carbon brush replacement, since it's running at a higher speed....but is there any truth to the motor field wires wearing out prematurely doing this?? Or any other way the motor could be damaged by permanently running on HIGH speed?

If you, or any other Kirby experts, could give me an answer, I would greatly appreciate it.


Post# 225829 , Reply# 14   3/31/2013 at 13:51 (2,003 days old) by caligula (Benton, Pa)        
Hi Rob.

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I was a Kirby training manager and worked with the Classic Omega, Classic 111, Tradition, Heritage, and Heritage 11. As I understand it the normal speed is low for carpet, and high for the hose. Will it hurt to run it on high? I don't think so, though most likely will add a slight bit of wear to the motor, as it's designed to be on low. On the other hand, let's say a person uses it only as a tank/canister? What I do know is that the suction is way too strong for my needs, and makes it louder than normal. For me, it's a matter of prefferance. My Classic 111 dates back to 1976, and I have no idea when the modification of the safty switch took place. I want it as it was when it came out of the factory.

In addition to this Kirby, I own several really old Kirby machines, plus two Vacuettes.

Alex Taber.

Post# 225838 , Reply# 15   3/31/2013 at 14:46 (2,003 days old) by kirbylux77 (Orillia, Ontario, Canada)        

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Thanks for your input. I figured that it wouldn't hurt the motor much, just would go through carbon brushes faster, & really didn't buy what the repair shops had told me. And your reply confirms this for me. After all, if running a Kirby on HIGH permanently would damage the motor, why would they design the models before the Dual Sanitronic 50 to run with only one speed? And to my knowledge, I don't think they changed the design of the motor drastically when the Dual Sanitronic 50 came out, other than adding the second speed. I haven't found the vacuum harder to push with the increased suction, & like you prefer my vacuums all-original, but I do like my vacuums to perform the best they can this was a minor modification that accomplishes that, & doesn't affect the Kirby cosmetically.

As for my Kirby collection....I presently own a 519, Heritage II, G4 80th Anniversary & G6 2001 Limited Edition. I also have 2 spare motors for my Heritage II & a spare motor for my G4. I did up until recently own a Classic III, but decided to sell it, as I felt I wouldn't get much use out of it & needed to downsize my collection a bit.

I plan on converting my Kirby 519 to a Heritage II setup sometime in the near future, so I can use the Cloth HEPA disposable bags. And I will also install the 4 row small-head brushroll as well. The 519 is all original, with the exception of having a genuine Kirby replacement bag from the late 1960's that has a small hole that was sewn up at some point. I do have the attachments & case, but need to find a replacement hose, as I don't have it. But then again, I usually use a Canadian Electrolux 86 or 89 canister for attachment use when using my Kirby's or Royal's, so not a big priority.


Post# 225846 , Reply# 16   3/31/2013 at 15:42 (2,003 days old) by caligula (Benton, Pa)        
Hi Rob.

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If the Kirby is hard to push due to strong suction, do what I did, open the suction release valve on the main nozzle. There are two camps in this club when it comes to Kirby. Those who like the Sani-em-tor, and those who like the paper bag set-up. I can go either way, but prefer the sani-em-tor. My loyalty is also split between Electrolux and Kirby. Both are great machines, and each has a fantastic history. Having worked as a trainer for Kirby gave them a slight edge, but the ejection system on the Electrolux LX was a fantastic feature. In a few weeks when I get back from Indiana, I'll have my folders of patents. Those books are Electrolux, Hoover, and Kirby. Some of the machines James B. Kirby designed but never patented are really wild, the same with Electrolux. I'll be sharing those plus lot's of other things like instruction books. And I think I have a proof book for the Classic 111, it it's there, I'll share that too.

Alex Taber.

Post# 226032 , Reply# 17   4/1/2013 at 21:00 (2,002 days old) by mistert ()        
Re-wiring the motor

I was told (and personally saw) a noted Kirby tech jump the safety switch with the red and yellow wires for low speed on a classic iii. It's been working fine ever since.

Post# 379061 , Reply# 18   9/30/2017 at 17:17 (359 days old) by Phaeton (Los Angeles )        

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Hello Calem member Cb123 and All,
I have an Omega with a cracked safety switch it did work but not so good in pieces like that. I was given a parts Omega it just had the motor, head light casting and front fan casting with the safety switch. I have to thank Cb123 as I never replace a safety switch on the Omega and I have to tell you what he wrote in this Thread was perfect instructions. I was able to remove the switch for on parts Omega and remove the cracked one from mine and install a good safety switch on my Omega all thanks to Cb123.
Thank you for looking,

Post# 379062 , Reply# 19   9/30/2017 at 17:27 (359 days old) by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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Chicago Mike is also a great vintage Kirby expert!


Post# 379064 , Reply# 20   9/30/2017 at 18:28 (359 days old) by Phaeton (Los Angeles )        

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Hi Ben and All,
I know Chicago Mike is. I tried to order an Omega patch from him but he gets busy. I have worked on a lot of Kirby’s but not newer than the D80. For me even though it is an old machine the Omega is new for me LOL. I could change the fan on the old one easy and fast at the shop and these new ones not so fast. So yes I can use Vacuumland on these new machines and yes the members are full of good information.
Oh now speaking of information Ben, this time it is my brain and not my keyboard. I do not remember if this is the correct headlight socket for a Kirby 519 or not. I have been working on the D50 and D80 lately and they are plastic sockets. Please let me know.
Thank you for looking,

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Post# 379066 , Reply# 21   9/30/2017 at 18:51 (359 days old) by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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The correct light socket you need for your 519 would be part no. 108268. Originally, it was no. 108256. Kirby made improvements to this on models 561 and later during D80 production.


Post# 379071 , Reply# 22   9/30/2017 at 22:52 (359 days old) by Phaeton (Los Angeles )        

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Hi All,
I looked around and found a Kirby 518 and light socket in it is the same as what is on my Kirby 519 so I am thinking it is correct. When I replaced the safety switch on the Omega it totally fell apart so it was a good idea to replace it.
Thank you for looking,

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Post# 379073 , Reply# 23   9/30/2017 at 23:11 (359 days old) by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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You are quite welcome. The replacement safety switch for the Classic Omega, Classic III, and all Traditions built after around September 1979 (when the location of the speed switch reverted from the inside of the headlight cap back to the fan case) is part no. 134380 (formerly 134373 and 134374).


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