Thread Number: 31106  /  Tag: 50s/60s/70s Vacuum Cleaners
bison vacuum
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Post# 343746   2/12/2016 at 21:29 (3,025 days old) by jill1990 ()        

I saw the bison vacuum in the sale section. I had never heard of a bison. I'm just curious about that brand. It looks like a mutant Kirby. I'm sure it must be very heavy and from the looks of it I would imagine it would be very ungainly to use. When were these vacuums popular? We're they as expensive as kirbys? Are they still made?

Post# 343749 , Reply# 1   2/12/2016 at 22:59 (3,025 days old) by Caligula (Wallingford, Connecticut)        

caligula's profile picture
Hi jill1990:

The Bison was made in Ocala, Florida, and was indeed a spin-off of the Kirby, though I only know that it was designed by a group of Kirby salesmen disatisfied with the company who decided to build a better mousetrap. (And the Bison wasn't it!) I've only seen and used one, and that was at one of the conventions of the Vacuum Cleaner Collector's Club. Personally, I was not fond of it, and for me it was indeed heavy and akward, but I'm no judge of the machine good, bad, or otherwise. I'll say this, I don't want one!

As for still being made? no Bison went out of business many years ago, in the late 1970's I believe, though it could have been in th 60's, again, I'm not sure, but in my opinion it was a beast!

Alex Taber.

Post# 343750 , Reply# 2   2/12/2016 at 23:20 (3,025 days old) by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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They were actually out of business during the mid-late 1980s, because they did revamp the Centurion in late 1980.


Post# 343752 , Reply# 3   2/12/2016 at 23:30 (3,025 days old) by blknblu (CT)        

Bison history, came across this ..



  View Full Size
Post# 343758 , Reply# 4   2/13/2016 at 01:05 (3,025 days old) by Caligula (Wallingford, Connecticut)        
Thanks Ben and blknblu:

caligula's profile picture
My username Caligula, is in tribute of a pet cat, and he was the mascot for the V.C.C.C. when my home in Naperville, Illinois was our official headquarters.

As for the Bison, thanks for sharing. As Father Flanagin founder of 'Boy's Town' once said "there's no such thing as a bad boy," well I say "there's no such thing as a bad vacuum cleaner!" This isn't to say I don't have my likes and didlikes, and of the latter, Bison heads the list.

As I said to jill1990, I'm not one to judge as I never tested one, only gave it a quick spin around the convention room. Yes I do have an instruction book, and frankly I'm not impressed, but am eager to learn about the history. And as A dyed in the wool Kirby man, that's where my loyalty stands.

Here's Caligula.

Post# 343759 , Reply# 5   2/13/2016 at 01:14 (3,025 days old) by Caligula (Wallingford, Connecticut)        

caligula's profile picture
as I said, I didn't have a clue of when it was on the market, thanks for letting me know.

Post# 343760 , Reply# 6   2/13/2016 at 03:27 (3,025 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

The Ocla factory building where the Bison vacuums were built is now home to "E-One" emergency vehicles-fire trucks and ambulances.

Post# 343813 , Reply# 7   2/13/2016 at 08:22 (3,025 days old) by Oreck_XL (Brooklyn, New York 11211)        

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Bisons were produced up until 1983. I have a Centurion model with a cracked motor housing handle. At best I can say it was an awkward machine. It's a shame they incorporated so much plastic into the design. If they were supposed to be as long-lasting as Kirbys, they definitely missed the boat. A lot of them have issues with cracked casings which is why so few of them survive today.

- Hershel

Post# 344289 , Reply# 8   2/16/2016 at 17:03 (3,021 days old) by bisonian (Where the buffalo roamed! (Ocala, FL))        

I have three. They are quite the noisy beast. Rheostat variable speed, and a GE motor that shrieks like a jet taking off. NO comparison to a Kirby in terms of quality -- not even close to Kirby (or Royal) standards. Having said that, I believe it could have been successful with more development and higher quality parts.

And yes, the factory building is indeed now the Welcome Center for the E-One fire truck factory. Visible from I-75 between exits 350 and 352.

Bonus fun fact -- Dog the Bounty Hunter (according to his autobiography) once sold Bisons door-to-door in the '70s at $450 each.

Post# 344291 , Reply# 9   2/16/2016 at 17:04 (3,021 days old) by bisonian (Where the buffalo roamed! (Ocala, FL))        

Ocala Mayor Bill Swigert later became a highly respected Circuit Judge.

Post# 462370 , Reply# 10   4/17/2023 at 12:14 (405 days old) by Nova_Candy (New Jersey)        

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What isthe value of a Byson, they are so quirky and space age looking, I sure would like to see one in my starting collection one day

Post# 462373 , Reply# 11   4/17/2023 at 15:59 (404 days old) by huskyvacs (Gnaw Bone, Indiana)        

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They usually sell for the $150 - $200 range on eBay in run down condition. Nicer ones a bit up from there.

Post# 462376 , Reply# 12   4/17/2023 at 17:22 (404 days old) by Nova_Candy (New Jersey)        

nova_candy's profile picture
Oh, that is not very bad, about the same margin as kirbys

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