Thread Number: 34091  /  Tag: 50s/60s/70s Vacuum Cleaners
Kirby Pre-G repair & restoration tips!
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Post# 369439   3/28/2017 at 20:58 (2,524 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

During the restoration of my newly acquired Tradition and my well-used Omega, I used some unique techniques and tricks for disassembly and reassembly. Some were obtained from this site and many I came up with on my own. Here are most of the unique ones, all in one place, based on the Tradition & Omega that might help other restorers as well... Keep in mind that many of these can apply to other pre-G Kirby models also. Some may apply to G and later models, too.

When buying parts, do not rush to online retailers until you check with your local Kirby service center (if you have one in your area). My Kirby dealer beat ebay by a long shot after considering shipping. My dealer also had some attachments I wanted and never knew they had, they tossed in some good used parts that were unobtainable online that I had to have, as well as provided technical info and some fun historical facts. They even seated my brushes for me without charge. The cat and dogs there were bonus entertainment! :o)

Post# 369441 , Reply# 1   3/28/2017 at 21:08 (2,524 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

Separate main components first.
Remove carpet nozzle, remove bag/emptor assy, remove cord, remove handle. Then each component can be broken down as desired/needed. Below are tips for unique issues, in order as listed above:

Belt finger from front dial on carpet nozzle (Tradition).
While it looks like this will not separate without a lot of prying and damage, a simple twist of a small screwdriver makes it come apart easily. Just insert small screwdriver in metal slot shown, twist a little and pull them apart gently.

Belt finger from front dial on carpet nozzle (Omega).
There is a screw under the label that must be removed. I used a razor blade to get the corner of the label loose, then used my fingers and fingernails to SLOWLY work it off. Yes it will take a while! It came off in one piece but it is curled. I will try to use contact cement to put it back on. Replacements are available but then it would not be original...

Suction release plastic dial on carpet nozzle.
I used a 4mm socket on a nutdriver handle to compress the four internal tabs together and push out on the dial up from inside. From above I inserted a wide, flat screwdriver and pried up gently at the center at the same time. Out it came!

Belt viewing lens on carpet nozzle (Tradition).
This was damaged so I sanded it on a flat scrap of granite countertop. A cinder block or other KNOWN-flat object can be used. Start with 400, then 600 at right angle to 400, then 800 at right angle to 600, then 1000 at right angle to 800, then 2000 at right angle to 1000.
After then I put an old cotton sock over the granite chunk and applied Novus plastic polish, working the lens on the sock in the polish. Result was pretty nice - not perfect but very good. While you can buy a new lens for $3 or so, I wanted to keep as many original parts as I could on this unit. Fine automotive paint polish can be used in lieu of Novus.

Corrosion inside carpet nozzle.
If any is there, scrub off with a brass wire brush. Then wash the unit out with soapy water and dry it well.

Brushroll with sleeve bearings.
Sleeve bearings can be confirmed if turning one side turns the other side. If the bristles are good but it is just stiff to turn, it can probably be disassembled, cleaned, lubed, and reused. Be sure to keep all parts in order so that they will be assembled in their ORIGINAL PLACES! Mark them somehow. Remove both screws from the ends, then the plastic caps (if present), then the round pieces over the roll itself (these may be pressed on), then work the end(s) from the rod in the center. Only one end may come off; pliers may be needed to work it loose (by twisting). It is possible you may need to file the rod at the screw hole if burrs keep the rod from slipping out. Once the rod is out check for wear at the ends where the bearings run. If wear is evident, replace the brush roll. Mine were okay so I washed the parts and dried well. Make sure you get out any internal dirt and hairballs.

Emptor bottom cover assy.
Simply grip each of the thick 'wires' with each hand and pull them out of the emptor with both arms at once. You may also use your thumbs on the emtor for leverage. Easy! Check the felt seal on the tray for damage and brush only lightly when cleaning it.

Fill tube assy from emptor (Tradition w/paper bag option).
This simply pried out of the emptor as it was an interference fit and used no sealer. I actually used my fingers to firmly push it out from below. Mark its position first. Remove this before removing bag to make it easier to remove the bag.

Bag topper.
Simply pull off carefully and over wire hanger. Easier to do when it is warm (like from the sun or a hair dryer.)

Bag hanger wire from bag.
Simply manipulate each side of bag from the wire but only one side at a time. Feel the wire inside to get an idea of the shape.

Bag from em-tor.
ROLL the bag spring off. Easy to do with two thumbs and reduces risk of damage from tools.

Tight screws (such as in fan case and wheels).
Use a WELL FITTING, fat-handled screwdriver, lots of downward force, and rock the screwdriver in the loosening direction until it breaks free. This acts a little like an impact driver that gets most of the tight ones out. If this fails, a screwdriver bit on a socket ratchet is the next best thing as one hand can put great downward pressure on it and the other hand can rock it until it breaks free. If the heads start to strip, try tightening just to break it free, then try to loosen again. Power drill-drivers can easily strip the heads out - I avoid them. An impact driver can work in many cases (with lots of downward pressure), but can also strip the heads easily. Out of four vacuums I had torn down completely in the past couple months, I only lost one wheel screw.

Hub caps from wheels (Tradition).
Use a flat screwdriver to unbend the multiple tabs on the inside of the wheel. Then use your thumbnail to pop them off.

Wheels and axles.
Remove wheels from axles before removing axles from the body to make it easier to remove the wheel screws. After removing eaxles, check for bends and straighten if needed. The rear axle on my Tradition was bent as if it was in a few stunt shows...

Power switch (on rear of motor unit).
Loosen this BEFORE removing back housing. There is a screw under the plastic trim plate and another one under the rear wheel axle. The trim plate simply pries off (pegs that go into the motor cover ).

Front height adjuster.
Beware the spring that lurks inside of the toe button during disassembly - do not let it escape! Remove all old grease from these parts with a rag dipped in solvent (like mineral spirits).

Headlight hood.
Check to see if your model uses a sheet metal spring on the attaching rod before removal - it could be obscured with dust and crud. If a spring is used, make note (or picture) on how it is installed.
My Tradition & Omega had solid attaching rods. I used a punch and a hammer to tap out the rod. Tool will be on the air outlet side of the case, driving rod out the other side. If you have the roll-pin, this procedure may need some modifications...

Headlight bumper trim on Omega.
To prevent tearing off the bumper's little pegs that protrude through the casting, I washed the headlight assy in hot water to heat up the bumper and make it more pliable. I then sprayed some soapy water under the bumper and on the pegs. Once that soaked in, they popped out without too much effort

Fan shaft (plastic fans).
This turns CLOCKWISE to loosen (same direction as the motor turns). I inserted a scratch awl (looks like an ice pick) into the shaft hole and made the tool vertical. With a rubber mallet I whacked the awl from the fan exhaust side (forcing shaft CW). The sudden shock broke it loose without having to hold the armature. Just make sure that there is an all-clear, unoccupied area for when the awl flies out of the hole. A small screwdriver can also be used. When taking the shaft and fan off, note all parts removed and where and how they went. Make they are correct as well! There should be a bushing on the shaft between the fan and motor bearing - it is often hidden under dirt. If the fan looks non-original, verify the correct parts were used! Also inspect fan for any damage. If damaged or cracked, or if grey plastic, replace it. The grey colored fans deteriorate with age, are now all past their useful life, and will crack and break very soon.

Safety switch wires (Tradition & Omega & many others).
These wires just poke into the switch, with a similar mechanism like 120V outlets and switches have. First make a good note what wires go where (switch may have letters at the holes to correspond with the colors). To release the wires, take a nail or small screwdrver that is a little bigger around than the wire and poke it in beside the wire to be removed. Pull out the wire, then the nail/screwdriver. Repeat for all wires.

Fan case.
It is most likely that the case is sealed with sealer. After removing the screws and it does not come apart easily, gently insert a thin screwdriver to try to coax it apart gently. Running a razor blade or utility knife around the perimeter can help cut it apart while it separates it. When apart, use a blade to scrape away ALL sealer so it will reassemble flat. Go over it several times to make sure ALL sealer is removed but do not damage the machined surfaces. As always, use extreme care with sharp tools!

Fan (metal).
It is easier to separate the fan case first before loosening metal fans. After case separation, I hold the motor cooling fan firmly with needlenose pliers (for Omega and newer machines) or scratch awl in armature hole by motor fan (for Classic and older machines). I grip the fan with hand, thumb, and fingers, as low as possible to avoid breaking any blades. (Remember this has reverse threads!) Then I give the fan a firm, sudden twist clockwise and it comes loose easily. Inspect for broken or severly bent blades. The one on my Omega had one blade that was bent about 3/16" at the tip. In fear of breaking or weakening an unobtainable part in attempt to straighten it, I left it as is. It ran good for 22 years this way so why risk it...

Motor brushes.
Remove motor brushes carefully as they are spring-loaded. They will try to launch themselves when the clips with wires are pulled out so hold your fingers over them when pulling the clips. New brushes on the Omega to Legend series are 3/4" long. If the old ones are 1/2" or longer, they can be reused. Mark exactly how they came out and from what side and orientation, as they must be reassembled exactly how they came out so that reseating is not needed. I put dots on them with a silver sharpie pen. One dot on brush and holder on top, two on brush and holder on bottom. Alcohol can remove the dots later if desired.

Motor assembly separation (Omega - Legend).
BEFORE separation and with no brushes, spin the shaft quickly to evaluate the bearings if not done so already. It should turn almost silently, smoothly, and it should be slightly firm, as in not loose. However, if you are tearing it down, why not just replace the bearings? Now remove four motor screws, keep armature vertical with fan end UP, and motor CLOSE to the work surface when driving motor apart. I used a rubber mallet to GENTLY tap the fan shaft (and motor assy with it) downward while holding the aluminum housing. Never use steel tools on the motor shaft to avoid thread damage, and have some thick rags under the motor to catch it. Do NOT hit the shaft hard as to not break the rear bearing holder - tap only! Small parts on the rear of the rear bearing can fall out during disassembly. The rear spring finger and bearing grease washer (see picture) are the parts I am talking about - they can stick to the rear bearing in some cases... Be careful when pulling out armature and note where each part is and where they go. If they fall out before-hand, pause and see where they go. If you do not know, consult exploded diagrams and use marks on the parts to see where they may have mated. If no grease washer is there, your model may not have used it. My Omega did not have one and parts diagram did not show it.

Front bearing retaining ring.
You need internal snap ring pliers on Classic III to Legend II to do this correctly. These have a useful place in your shop/garage so buy some to make the job easier. Mine were for external only so I had used small thin needlenose pliers to remove mine. It was not easy and I ran the risk of the ring coming loose and flying into the unknown. I bought a set of proper snap ring pliers for reassembly for just a few dollars. It can be used later in my life for other projects...

Front bearing.
Inspect for damage and spin it. It should be a little firm (as in not loose), silent and silky smooth to turn. If not, or in doubt, replace it, especially if over 10-15 years old. Grease can start hardening after 15-20 years. If you plan to keep and use the machine for many years, just replace the bearings now while it is apart. I recommend Kirby genuine parts and not the generic, cheaper low-speed skateboard bearings found online. The Kirby parts are made by Peer to Kirby's specifications for use in high-speed motor applications. Cost is only a few dollars more. Cheaper non-Kirby parts introduce risk of early failure. Your Kirby is an investment - protect it with quality parts and do the job right the first time!
Although the front bearing was not supposed to be a pressed fit for Tradition (according to service manual), it was, and a tight one at that. I supported the inner nose of the casting with a piece of PVC pipe as to not chance breaking the casting. Then I placed the largest socket I could get through the front hole of the fan case and tapped it (hard taps) out with a hammer. Even though this probably damaged the bearing, I was replacing it anyway (only reason to remove it, right?)

Rear bearing.
Inspect for damage and spin it. It should be a little firm (as in not loose), silent and silky smooth to turn. If not, or in doubt, replace it, especially if over 15 years old. Grease can start hardening after 15-20 years.
Although I know a couple of methods of getting this off the armature without a puller tool, there is a need for either a custom holding jig or two people, and the risk of damaging the armature is high. Therefore, only use a puller. I personally did not want to spend $30+ for a simple tool that I would use for only one job type that will be done only a few times in my life. Therefore after studying the available tool, I realized I could make my own tool with some scrap metal and some standard-grade 1/4" bolts & nuts, all of which I had plenty of. I will let the picture show you how I did it - it took all of 20 minutes to make the tool and at no cost. Just use steel at least 1/8" thick and make the hole/slot the exact size of the motor shaft (3/8" for the Omega through Legend II). I drilled the hole then cut it out with a hacksaw. A file tuned it right in. Mine was a bit thinner than 1/8" so there was a slight warp when under tension. The aluminum chunk I already had from a homemade steering wheel puller that I used once or maybe twice before. Make sure the bolt heads are away from or under the commutator - grind them down if needed. While there are many ways to make this homemade tool even better, mine worked great as it is and I left 'well enough' alone. A moderate pressure on the two wrenches made a satisfying 'crack' as the bearing broke loose, then light pressure pulled the bearing out. The bearing on my Tradition had 'HOOVER' stamped on the brown rubber seal so it was obviously replaced, and with a non-Kirby part at that. The second setup and use of the tool on my Omega took under 2 minutes. If the vacuum is apart this far, there is no reason not to replace the bearings if they are bad, questionable, or just more than 15 years old. The grease inside the bearings dry up with age and after 15-25 years, they run dry, get noisier, and wear faster due to insufficient lube. The bearings on this series are sealed and cannot be repacked. Just replace them and they are good for another 15-25 years.

Bag washing.
First the bag was emptied well and turned inside out. I shook, blew, and brushed as much dust & hair off as I could. It was hosed down outside to rid the most loose dust.
I then soaked it in a bucket of warm water and some woolite. I had used perhaps too much woolite the first time with my Tradition bag, as after 10 minutes the water was deep blue! In a panic I took the bag out and put it in the wash machine with lukewarm water. There was till enough detergent for it to suds up again. After first wash it was cleaner, and the machine was full of black felt remains. After rinse it was better. Paper towels removed much of the felt residue between cycles. I still noticed some dirty areas on the bag so I mixed some woolite with water and applied it with a toothbrush and brushed it in. Right after that it went back in the machine for a few more quick cycles. It was finally good enough. I did not want to chance ruining an original bag, although it is possible to redye it if needed. I hung it outside in a cool dry wind in the sun and it dried in just a couple hours. Do not use lots of heat to dry the bag.
Moral of the story - go easy on the detergent and do not soak it too long. Despite the blue water, the bag does not appear less blue on the outside. If it is, I cannot notice it. It was a little faded to begin with...
I also did two Legend II bags, an Omega bag, and a 505 replacement bag the above way and they all came out great.
My original Omega dump bag was a lot dirtier (for obvious reasons!) so it got some extra attention. I washed and rinsed it a couple times in a bucket outside. The front of the bag also had been blackened from rubbing on the aluminum handle, so I used GOOP hand cleaner and brushed it in that area with a toothbrush (while bag was still wet.) This caused no discoloration and it removed the black. I then washed and rinsed it in the washing machine. I then dried it in the sun - came out great! As always, test cleaners before use in an inconspicuous spot to see if it removes any color.
As an interesting discovery, washing the bags can reveal a geographic area where the machine was used the most. When I washed the bag from the unit I got from Virginia beach, the water was a bit reddish from their sandy loam soil. The bag from my Omega yielded grey water from our black clay soil. This proved true with the other bags I washed.

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Post# 369442 , Reply# 2   3/28/2017 at 21:19 (2,524 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

Mostly opposite of disassembly, but there are a few interesting exceptions...

Bag onto emptor.
I had feared this would be very difficult after reading posts on this forum, but I found it to be quite easy (if you have the right method and some capable fingers). I just had to try it one evening for the first time on my Tradition and it popped right on with a tad of effort. It was so easy I took it off again. See the pictures for an ideal holding position. I held the emptor with my toes in the inlet (bottom cover removed and inlet towards me), put the bag over the back side, then used both index fingers and thumbs to lever the bag over the sides and ROLLED the spring onto the front. Easy - no tools needed! Then slowly and carefully work the bag material carefully up and around so that the seam is up top. Pull a little at a time, working around and repeating as to not tear the material. Pulling hard in one spot can certainly tear it.

Emptor onto fan case.
The tightness of the rubber seal can make the emptor very difficult to rotate all the way into final position. Apply a small amount of silicon lube to the fan case outlet, then install the emptor. Easy! Although there is a special Kirby lube for this, I used silicon plumbing/swimming pool grease for o-rings, valves, faucets, etc. A small amount of armorall or STP son-of-a-gun protectant, or silicon spray lube on a paper towel will work also in a pinch, as it contains silicon. Just use a small amount. Do NOT use petroleum based products like WD40, motor oil or regular grease as that stuff will soak in and deteriorate rubber/plastic parts as well as attract dust and dirt.

Emptor bottom cover to wire squeaking.
A tiny amount of silicon oil here will make the emptor move easily and not squeak. A drop or two of armorall or STP son-of-a-gun protectant will work too. Again, use a tiny amount and remove the excess. Do NOT use petroleum based products on plastic. Do NOT use an aerosol lube, as the solvent/propellant can easily melt the plastic as it is a polystyrene material (I have seen my own spray do this)...

Fill tube assy into emptor (Tradition with paper bags).
This simply pushed into the emptor with my fingers, as it is an interference fit. However over age the material could have shrunk just a little and could possibly leak fine dust. So if it fits loosely, apply a thin bead of clear RTV around it from the inside bottom of the emptor to prevent any leaks.

Wheels onto axles.
I lubed the axles with silicon plumbing grease to prevent any squalling like I had on my Omega. A small amount of armorall or STP son-of-a-gun protectant can work too (a drop or two), but the effect can be short-lived. Again, use a small amount and remove the excess. Do NOT use petroleum based products on plastic. I then put the wheels onto the axles. Excess play can be corrected with plastic or rubber washers / o-rings behind the wheels. Do not use metal ones that can add ringing noise from natural vibration. No plastic washers in your hardware stash? Make some spacers with narrow pieces cut from plastic tubing or hose, or cut washers from thick plastic bottles...

Front bearing.
This was a tight press fit. I put the nose of the motor shell onto a wood block on concrete, a 13/16" or 7/8" deep socket on the bearing outer race, dropped a 3/8"x1.5" bolt into the socket and through the bearing hole (to keep the socket centered on the OUTER race), and hit the socket with a hammer, one hit at a time, making sure socket was centered well for each hit. This took some effort but it eventually went in. Definetely support the nose on wood to prevent possible casting breakage. Also make sure you never hit the inner race or the center of the bearing - hit the outer race only! The bearing seats just after it passes the snap ring groove (if used). The snap ring was then installed with snap ring pliers. If no snap ring was used, the the bearing seats flush with the inner surface. On my Omega I smeared just a tad of oil in the outside of the bearing and it went in a little easier with less hits.

Rear bearing.
Hold the threaded motor shaft down on a block of wood to protect it and its threads. I stuck the bearing on the rear shaft, put a small socket on the inner race, and held it, the bearing, and the armature straight in one hand and whacked the socket with a rubber mallet, one firm hit at a time. Make sure the socket is on the inner race only before each hit. It was a snug fit but not too hard. A large steel ball (pinball) would have been ideal way to get it started in straight! A tad of oil on the shaft can reduce installation effort.

Motor assembly (Omega - Legend II).
First I cleaned the armature commutator bars with a clean rag moistened in mineral spirits to remove any contaminates that may have gotten on it. NEVER get this on the motor windings as it can remove the insulation!
I held the plastic field coil frame with bearing side down, dropped in the spring finger, then the grease washer (if used; see picture for detail), then the armature with bearing (this may need some VERY LIGHT taps from a rubber mallet to fully seat it). I then took the aluminum housing and dropped it on, working the two together gently. This is a 'kinda-snug' fit only so do not force anything. Only after it is fully mated, secure the coil frame to the metal housing with the four screws. Spin the shaft - it should be slightly firm (as in not loose), silent and silky smooth.

Speed switch.
If the wires keep popping out of the speed switch, tin them with solder and make very small solder balls (more like skinny teardrops) at the ends that the contacts in the switch will bite into better.

Motor brushes.
After installation, I installed the speed switch and clamped the motor in a vice with no fan. (Motor must be secured before powerup to avoid sudden movement from starting torque!) I connected an ammeter to it and applied power. Current draw was 2.5A on low and 3.2 on high, which was normal for no load. Since NEW brushes were fitted, I observed some slightly excessive sparking at the lower brush (an orange spark shooting out over an inch once or twice a second) on high speed. This indicates that the brushes should be seated with a stone. I took the motor to my Kirby shop so the brushes could be seated and commutator cleaned with the appropriate seating stone; this worked well. He did so at no charge, since I had bought all my parts from him and that the motor was all torn down (another reason to support your local shop if you have one!) It took him all of 2 minutes to do. Consider buying a stone of your own if you plan to do multiple machines AND you are comfortable doing the job. I blew out the motor when I got it home to remove loose remenants of the brush seating stone.
If you are unable to have them seated with a stone, run the motor on carpet mode (low speed) with belt off (reduced load) for about 20-30 minutes until sparking subsides. New Kirby brushes already have a curve in them and they should seat on their own in little time. See picture of old vs new brushes and their curves...
If the old brushes are reusable, put them back in the exact positions from which you had removed them. Do a test run like above. If you have them in the right places, and you did not get contaminates (polish, oil, etc) on the brushes or commutator, then there should be only tiny blue sparks when running.

Motor test run, stage 1.
As an engineer, I like testing stuff and recording data to have for baseline comparisons. These tests are not mandatory, but are fun to do if you have the equipment. A current test would be ideal though as it can help you identify problems, like shorted motor coils. The below test is on my Tradition.
I connected the bare motor (held in vice) to an ammeter and tachometer. The tach is an optical type, so I cut a 3" round disc from black corrugated cardboard, poked a hole in the center, and pressed it over the motor shaft. The silver detection tape was stuck to the disc.
With no fan: on low I had 2.3A, 17500RPM, and on high 3.1A, 21200RPM.

Fan (plastic).
Place bushing, then fan, then washer, then shaft. Shaft tightens CCW. Finger tight is all it needs. Verify smooth and non-binding movement of motor shaft.

Motor test run, stage 2.
Again, an optional fun test on the Tradition!
With fan, but unassembled (free air) on low: 5.4A, 10300 RPM. I did not do high due to possible current overload. Static pressure (air restriction) of the assembled unit keeps the unit within design specs.

Fan case assy and sealing.
Have the case screws and driver handy. Wear rubber gloves and have good ventilation. Speed switch should be removed and any wires or linkage routed through the hole in the fan case during assembly.
I found it easier to have the motor unit upside down so that the case front will be upside down during assembly. I could then use the wheel areas as handles for positioning the part without getting RTV all over my hands. (Wheels and axle were not installed yet).
I applied a THIN bead of RTV silicon to one side of the case and put them together carefully, getting the screws on soon-after. Tighten screws in sequence making sure case seats all the way around without screw pressure. Use paper towels or a rag to wipe up excess sealant before it dries (there should not be much).

Front axle assembly.
I installed this after case was sealed so sealing went easier with less parts in the way. Lightly grease the toe-adjuster ratchet with litium grease before assembly, and remember to install the spring! The spring itself does not need grease.

Motor test run, stage 3.
Another fun test on the Tradition...
With fan, assembled, no bag, no front attachment: on low I had 4.2A, 12200RPM, and on high 6.1A, 14500RPM, all close enough to design specs. This is the maximum expected load the motor should ever see from the normal user, which explains the 6A maximum rating on the rating plate beneath the unit. The current draw would decrease a little as it warms up. Brush sparking was almost non-existant on low and tiny, low, blue sparking at the lower brush on high. Nice!

High speed bypass (Omega-Legend II type motor). Here is the correct way should you want to do this...
To prolong the life of the motor, I decided to bypass the high speed, like what was done on my Omega 20 years ago. This was done at the speed switch. Red and yellow were left alone, green and white were removed and capped individually (not together!) I used 1/2" pieces of heat-shrink tubing on those. A separate 2" piece of 18g wire was looped (jumpered) from the white's hole on the switch to the green's hole on the switch. The safety switch still worked as designed. This information is courtesy of my local Kirby service center.

Install the headlight before the rear housing cover is installed.
If a spring is used, pry it in with two small screwdrivers (see picture).
Looseness of the early Tradition cover (with lock) can be fixed with some plastic or rubber washers inserted on the attaching rod as it is installed. I used two 1/16" thick O-rings. See picture for location. A bit of silicon lube on those parts is good also. It is not stiff enough to stay up part way, but it will stay all the way up so I can change attachments easier.

Carpet nozzle gasket on fan case.
Scrape out residual adhesive/sealer with a plastic scraper (broken CD fragments work well) and clean with alcohol. Then apply a thin layer of 3M weatherstrip adhesive (for cars) to the gasket. Work the gasket into the groove all the way around and when it looks good, remove any adhesive from the gasket with alcohol and attach the rug nozzle. Leave it on overnight to ensure a good bond. Scrape off excess when dry.

Brushroll assembly.
I put a dab of automotive wheel bearing grease on the two sleeve bearing points on the brushroll shaft upon assembly. Be sure to not use too much and wipe away any excess so there is no way it can end up on your carpet.

Carpet nozzle polishing.
When polishing the exterior, polish the top where the vent disk goes, and around the belt lifter dial inside and out to help ensure smoother movement of these parts without using any lube on the inside. I used a tad of grease on the outside lifter nozzle though.

Carpet nozzle vis-a-belt lens (Tradition).
A clip holds this in place but my lens had some play in it, possibly causing a rattle when in use. I bent one leg of the clip so it would provide some force on the lens when it is installed.

Carpet nozzle dial/belt finger retainer (Tradition).
This triangular clip thwarted me for a while, until I finally found the easy way to install it. The challenge is making sure the white plastic bushing inside goes through the round spring washer and through the metal shell hole. Place the nozzle dial-side-down on a soft thick cloth to prevent damage. This holds the dial and the weight of the housing keeps it down. With the belt finger UP, put one leg of the retainer over the belt finger and into the groove. With one hand, hold the one leg in the groove over the finger. Using your other hand, pull the other leg over the round piece and work it into its groove. A long screwdriver through the hole can help you if needed but I found it better to let my fingers do it all. Not too bad when you figure out how to do it!

Carpet nozzle section vent disk.
I put a dab of silicon grease on the peg before pushing it into the hole. Make sure the groove side of the dial is in the right place before pushing it home.

I used the older softer type, since my brushes use sleeve bearings and more importantly, the belt lifter dial on the Tradition is plastic. I do not want to risk damaging it with a stiffer belt.

Brushroll adjustment.
Make sure you do this before use! I make the bristles protrude 1/16" to 1/8" past the rug plate. Also if you used a different brushroll as an 'upgrade', make sure it really works in your machine. The bristles may contact the rug plate or the adjustment screws may be different lengths. I ran into these issues using a Heritage I roll in my Omega. I had to use the longer screws from my original roll. The original Hertiage screws were so short that the roll would not even extend to the rug plate and the magnet caught on the roll holder and locked it up.

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Post# 369443 , Reply# 3   3/28/2017 at 21:20 (2,524 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

Any excess dust & dirt was removed from all parts outside with brushes and compressed air.
I used Simple Green and water for most items. Use only water on parts with any silkscreening, but only after confirming water will not damage it. If in doubt, use only a damp cloth (like when cleaning 5xx belt lifters). Toothbrushes work well on small not-so-delicate parts.
Oily or greasy metal parts were cleaned with mineral spirits, then rewashed with Simple Green & water.
Small parts were washed in the kitchen sink and large parts outside.
For drying I used a clean rag and placed them either in the sun, or in front of the refrigerator warm air outlet at the bottom. The latter is a very safe and convenient way to dry parts inside; just do not step or trip on them...

Post# 369444 , Reply# 4   3/28/2017 at 21:25 (2,524 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

This was a bit new to me so I will share my experience from a beginner's viewpoint, starting with my Kirby Tradition.
First I washed all parts with soapy water and dried them. Then I polished with Mother's Mag & Aluminum polish, just to remove the surface crud so I could evaluate the surface. Many areas were 'good enough' for me after another pass or two with Mother's.
I found that terry cloth and cotton actually put new fine scratches in the aluminum. I ended up using (exclusively) plain white 'Viva' brand paper towels both to apply and to buff off. No more little scratches made and the those that were there were erased after another light polishing. I did not try any other materials, as Viva was cheap, low lint, strong, plentiful, and just worked well.
For areas with deeper scratches, the surface has to be sanded or buffed with a wheel. The headlight was pretty bad on my Tradition so here was my chance to try the sanding method. I used 3M wet/dry paper and sanded when wet. The water floats away the aluminum particles so the paper would not become clogged. A tad of soap helped also to lube it. I started with 400, then 600 at right angle to the 400, then 800 at right angle to the 600, then 1000 at right angle to the 800, then 2000 at right angle to the 1000.
Then a good hand polishing with Mother's on Viva for final touch. I found there was no real appearance improvement in going from 1000 to 2000 grit. The finish was still just as hazed, most likely from the grade of aluminum used in the molding of the parts. So this was as far as I went. I could have bought more equipment, and different polishing compounds to try to improve the finish, but I did not want to invest a lot more money and time into this project. My work room is limited as well and failure to produce much better results would have also been very disappointing. My Tradition looks stunning in indoor light and will not be taken to bright outdoor shows like say a motorcycle project would.

When I got to my Omega restoration, the surface on this machine had more discoloration than the Tradition had. I did buy a cheap 4" buffing wheel for my cordless drill that I would try out, still using Mother's mag & aluminum polish. It takes a bit of polish material, and was messier, but it did VERY well. Once thing I learned (from somewhere online) was to load up the wheel with polish at low RPM to avoid splattering and wheel disintegration. This was a key operation. I dug out some polish with a flat screwdriver, held it against the wheel, and ran the wheel at slow speed until it was evenly spread. I then put the wheel on the work piece, and with light pressure, started on low speed and worked up to high. When the 'black smeary stuff' started going away, I would buff with clean viva paper towels to check my progress. The results were amazing. Most of the discoloration was replaced with a mirror-like finish. Now there was some metal impurities that gave a mottled (or 'woodgrain') look but I can deal with those. I redid any areas missed or were worse than others, and I was happy with the results! For light scratches, I found some moderate pressure in that onle place can actually get them out. I did a light hand polish at the end to finish up.
See my Tradition and Omega restoration threads for the final outcome. I will have a 505 resto thread soon with more shiny stuff! I impressed even myself... :o)

Post# 369446 , Reply# 5   3/28/2017 at 21:35 (2,524 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
And some bonus vacuuming tips...

We know that most people gripe about Kirbys not having on board tools, and also at the idea of having to remove the carpet nozzle each time to connect the hose.
While it is not as a big a deal as some people make it seem, the way around this is more efficient usage of the machine. Efficient usage will give 'more leisure time for you'... Start by utilizing batch processes and a top-down cleaning approach. Top-down is important because some dust will likely be pushed down from a higher level to a lower level when vacuuming, and you want to get all the dust you can. The below is how I have been doing it for years. While I am not saying this is the exact or correct way to clean, one might apply some of these ideas to their own routine to see how it does. I think it can help you out in some way.

To set the scene....
I have a 1700 sq ft home with wall-wall pile carpet in all rooms except two baths, kitchen, and entry. We have lots of furniture, antiques, upholstery, and nick-knacks (dust-collectors). I am a very clean and neat person, who cleans a little each day and takes preventive measures to not make a mess in the first place. There are up to two adults here, no kids or pets, and we never wear outdoor shoes on carpet. HVAC has allergen filters to help clean the air when it runs. My Kirby Omega uses the Hepa bags (Legend II bag assy). I can tolerate some buildup of dust, dirt, and some occasional grass clippings in between cleanings. As a result, I clean the house 4 times a year (every 3 months). Our 18V B&D Dustbuster helps out in between times. My dusting is primarily done with the Kirby. It gets most of it but the really fine stuff does not seem to come off with the brushes. A damp rag is then needed, which I might do every several years.

First step, before even getting out the machine, is to straighten up throughout the house. Put unneeded things away, trash what is not wanted. Make sure clothes, drapes, blind cords, etc. are not touching the floor. The less obstacles in the way, the faster and easier one can vacuum.
Next, I get the Kirby, straight & curved wands, hard floor nozzle, and dusting brushes. I personally use two of the small round brushes, one for floors (dirty) and one for furniture, drapes, etc (cleaner). I use the curved wand on the hose to give extra reach, and one brush on the wand. The other brush I poke on top of the Kirby's upper cord hook to keep it close by. There is MY "on-board tool"...
I start with the rooms with hard floors. I complete one room, then go to the next.
First is dusting with the brush. I went from the highest items - door tops, fans, picture frames, refrigerator, drape tops, blinds, shelves, knick-knacks, mantles, walls (if cobwebs are present), etc down to the lower items such as table tops, counters, window sills, baseboards, corners of floors, cabinet toe kicks, under low furniture, etc. (Did you know that the Kirby can be easily lifted at the base of the long handle at the fork for cleaning high areas on occasion?) I moved around the room in about an arm-span length. After dusting is done, the hard floor nozzle does the floor and throw rugs (as a pre-clean on both sides) and the room is considered done for now. I then repeat the above with all the hard floor rooms.
When the hard floor rooms are done, the floor nozzle & long straight wand are put away.
I then continue all of the dusting in the carpeted rooms as described above. When all of the dusting is done, the hose comes off and it, the brushes, and wands are put away. Then carpet nozzle is attached and I do all of the carpet as well as the final clean on the throw rugs in hard-floored rooms. When that is done, the carpet nozzle comes off and it and the vacuum gets put away.

This whole vacuuming process is at least a full 5 hours -, around 4 with the hose, around 1 with the carpet nozzle. It is a lot but I dust everything I can (dusting makes up for at least 3 of those hours). I often break this up into 2 days or so. Kitchen, entry, & baths one day, dusting carpeted rooms and w2w carpet the next. One could break it up more even if desired. One might think I am wearing the motor out fast with all the dusting, but the motor brushes only wore 1/4" over a 22 year span!
The result is wonderful, aside from the very fine dust the brush cannot get. However it is not too noticable and I do not mind it. If redusted with a cloth, I would at least not be getting very much and would not need many cloths...

Post# 369509 , Reply# 6   3/29/2017 at 18:12 (2,523 days old) by Jeschbac (Texas)        

Please email me:


Post# 369744 , Reply# 7   4/1/2017 at 15:58 (2,520 days old) by Paul (USA)        

Impressive work, Rob. Thanks for your sharing valuable information. It will be a big help when I restore my Kirbys.

Post# 385753 , Reply# 8   2/10/2018 at 17:25 (2,205 days old) by jpsbgt (Oregon )        

Outstanding work, thanks for sharing

Post# 385777 , Reply# 9   2/10/2018 at 20:49 (2,205 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

eurekastar's profile picture
That's a complete service manual! Nice!

Post# 385785 , Reply# 10   2/10/2018 at 21:55 (2,205 days old) by huskyvacs (Gnaw Bone, Indiana)        

huskyvacs's profile picture
All I can say is wow to that 5 hour vacuuming routine. I try to vacuum every Sunday here but I just get the floors (I have hardwood flooring with area rugs). The rest of my house looks like the Addams Family mansion. lol

But I think I can use some of those tips to make less wasted movements. The main issue is my house is cluttered or hard to maneuver in so you end up spending 90% of the time moving things and 10% vacuuming. I just got an Electrolux G I plan to use to clean house with in the basement at least, and I have a Aldi Easy Home (Shark knockoff) rechargeable to see what I can do as far as upstairs.

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