Thread Number: 34158  /  Tag: Pre-1950 Vacuum Cleaners
Rob's basketcase Kirby 505 restoration!
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Post# 370182   4/6/2017 at 20:50 (560 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

Now this one has been an adventure...
Last month while seeking a D50 on craigslist for a parts donor for my mom's original D50, I came across a nasty-looking vintage vac for 20 bucks. I did not think too much of it then. A few days later in cross-referencing armatures for my mom's D50, an online vacuum website claimed that the same armature was used in models 505 through the Classic. Only much later did I find it did not. (Keep in mind I only have 2 months of technical learning on the intricate workings of all of the Kirby models at this time...) After seeing that cross reference, that $20 junker came to mind again... I called the poster and she still had it. She tried it out and it sounded okay over the phone. The best part is that she lived 10 minutes from me. When I asked about the model number, she told me it was a model 505. I was then on my way to get it!

It was complete with all Kirby major parts from what it appeared, but it turned out to be a real Johnny Cash "one piece at a time" creation! Can anyone assign YEARS to all of these unoriginal parts? The headlight trim, handle grip, & rear wheels are in 5xx red, cord is D50 copper-color with red plug, nozzle bumper is tan, wide cherry-red front wheels from a Classic III, red belt lifter from a 508 (I think), em-tor bottom is aluminum and possibly from an earlier model (4C?), and has a D50-looking open top bag with no zipper. Far from ideal, and even further from model-correct, but hey - it was only 20 bucks. I made 20 bucks two months back selling some junk metal headboards on craigslist, so what the heck...

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Post# 370184 , Reply# 1   4/6/2017 at 21:00 (560 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

I got it home and proceeded to empty the bag - geez what a mess! It was full of light red powdery dirt and carpet-fresh, so it could have been from East Texas or somewhere with red dirt (we have black dirt here). The current owner said she got it at an estate sale and never really used it. I made a big mess emptying the bag (it was late, dark and I was tired) so I tried to use the machine to suck up its mess. It did a poor job doing so. Dirt was too heavy and I did not want to drag the nozzle on the concrete drive. (Why didn't I just do this in the yard?) It got over half of it, and a few distinct PINGs indicated it had a metal fan. It did emit a cricket-like noise which could be dry bearings. Or perhaps it was a cricket? It was dark out when I was doing this...

After getting the worst of the crud out of it, I test ran it a few more times and confirmed noisy bearings. It sounds a lot different than any of my other Kirbys, even despite the bearing noise. I broke it down into its main components for a quick inspection. The rug nozzle fit VERY loosely and had no gasket to seal it to the motor unit. Should it have one? This explains lack of suction. It fits well on the lower bar but the nozzle retaining lever is very loose. Later models were spring-loaded - am I missing a part? The nozzle was missing the center rug plate also. The brush roll has a deep groove dug into it from the belt (which was completely stretched by now). According to info on this site, wheels and trim color differences could be the result of a Kirby rebuild and that the bag (brown with widely-spaced Kirby ovals) is a factory replacement one. However, there is no tag indicating a Kirby rebuild. My conclusion is that an independent shop 'rebuilt' it.

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Post# 370185 , Reply# 2   4/6/2017 at 21:21 (560 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

So in early March after the Tradition and Omega projects, I was tearing down the 505, a little bit each day after work for a week. Overall, this little guy was pretty easy to work with. The 10-blade metal fan is in near-mint condition with '74' stamped on the front (like my Omega!) The original fan must have broke as the fan case has a inside-out through-fracture on the switch side. I will patch it with some JB Weld later. After marking and pulling the motor brushes, the motor spun freely but the bearings were indeed noisy.
Removing the fan was easy on this one with the hole at the cooling fan inside. The bearing plate was stubborn but with some repetative tries, it loosened and came off. After getting the armature out of it, I found it to be very different from the D50's. In fact the D50 armature was too big to go into the 505's field. The commutators were very similar but overall shaft length was a little different, too.
So now I am very curious! In researching this site, I also read how D50 armatures could be used with 5xx machines. I also read that two motor types were used in the early 5xx series. Might this be the difference between the 3 Amp and 4 Amp motors that were used in the early 5xx models? Since Kirby discontinued many or all of the 3A fields & armatures back in the 60s, and recommended replacing them with the later (4A?) parts, was it assumed most early 5xx models had the later style motor? Might this be what that website assumed? Oh, well....

At this point I knew I could not use this 505 for spare parts for the D50. However, given the machine worked, I saw some resto potential in it. It would go well with my other vintage stuff once cleaned and polished up. I plan to use all red trim so the colors will at least be consistant. Perhaps I will pattern it after a later model that had all red trim and a brown bag - is there one? I am thinking that the correct black parts will be too costly and I do not want to spend much on this. The reproduction black bag is far out of financial reach - I know that already.

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Post# 370189 , Reply# 3   4/6/2017 at 23:32 (560 days old) by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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Wow... that ten-blade metal fan does still look great indeed! Kirby originally used that on the 515, the last model to have the original 1930s motor design.

Getting back to restoring your 505, this model originally had black trim all over, including the cloth bag and the belt lifter. The very first batch of 505s delivered continued to assume the decorative belt plate as all of the pre-500 models (1942 and back). It was with the second batch in 1946 that the "Magic Finger" belt lifter was declared a new feature.

The 508 was the first Kirby to have gray trim (except for the wheels and the Emtor bottom), as well as the new "Kirby Kabinet" standard attachment box. Model 509 heralded a slightly updated Kirby script logo, and also now had a gray Emtor bottom, and later on the Handi-Butler. Model 510 was the first machine to have the "Sweet-Aire" cap on the back of the Emtor casting, which would remain a feature up to the model 561.

The first Kirby with the 4-amp motor was the 513, although that was with the second batch of machines, which also assumed the swiveling top cord hook and red handle grip.

While all 513s had red trim for the headlight and nozzle bumpers as well as the step-on foot switch and a newly-updated Kirby script logo (except on the belt lifter, which would change to that version starting with the newly-designed 516), the very first machines still had the 3-amp motor as well as the gray handle grip and non-swiveling top cord hook. But until the model 515, the six-blade impeller fan was used.

The latest armature and field to use on machines this old would be, respectively, part numbers 114960 and 103960, both last used on the Sanitronic VII and possibly also the American-Lincoln Super-Sweep/Super-Vac 180 and the COMVAC 1300.


Post# 370234 , Reply# 4   4/7/2017 at 15:13 (559 days old) by KirbyKleanKarpet (Florida )        

Wow, Rob! That is one mix-matched 505! And what are you talking about, "The reproduction bag is far out of reach?" You know you want to go all out and restore it to completely original. Lol!

Does that headlight still work?

Honestly, I have seen one of these before with a black bag with dark red trim on the headlight hood and bumper. What a good-looking machine that was! Wish I had downloaded the picture of it. That Kirby was the closest thing to a Gothic vacuum I've ever seen.

Can you upload a picture of the armature and commutator brushes? I'd love to compare to my 517, which has the 4 amp motor. (If you ever want to get rid of it, I'd be a happy candidate.)

Post# 370253 , Reply# 5   4/7/2017 at 20:04 (559 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

The pictures I had of the armatures somehow did not get uploaded last night - they shoulda been.
Here they are, the 505's (bottom, long skinny coil) vs the DS50's (top, short fat coil). I bet your 4A armature looks like the DS50 one. Commutator brushes are the same for 505 and DS 50 (and all in between I assume.)

As for restoring the factory black parts, I will check with my Kirby guy next month when I am in that area again. He says he has large boxes of used parts for these vintage units so I will see what kind of deal he can give me for all the trim. The repro bags I have seen sell over 100 so I will keep my brown one for now.

Oh - and the headlight did work!

I hope you will not quiz me on all that - its a lot to remember! Any idea on the cord on mine?

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Post# 370254 , Reply# 6   4/7/2017 at 20:19 (559 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
So let the resto begin!

Last month all parts were disassembled, cleaned, washed, degreased, or whatever it took to get them clean. What looked like glue on the headlight actually came off with simple green and water (and a bit of scrubbing.) Some mineral spirits poured in the height adjustment ratchet disolved the hardened grease well.

The front bearing plate does not appear to be the original, as the bearing was just pressed in - didn't these older units have bearings held in by rivets? However it did have the old-style bearing with the shoulder on it - it tapped out of the plate without much effort. It was open on one side so I could soak it in solvent and repack it if desired, as it still seemed tight. However I would rather just replace it since new bearings are still available. I will keep the old one just in case it is needed way in the future. The rear bearing still seems tight also, and was open on one side. I had to modify my homemade puller tool to handle this particular armature, as the bearing is closer to the commutator. It was really on there but with enough pressure it finally broke free. I will keep that bearing as well.

The bag and emtor were disassembled easily but the upper metal bag hanger was fused to the fabric by white crusty stuff - carpet fresh that had gotten moist a few times? I used a putty knife to carefully separate them.

The bag was washed and rinsed in a bucket a few times then run through the washing machine. The picture shows why dump bags should always be washed in a bucket first - there was also a layer of dirt and animal hair at the bottom. It is now super clean and it no longer reeks of carpet-fresh.

Now I could not decide if more dirt & dust was in the bag or in the motor housing... It took quite a while to get the motor case and field cleaned up. I opted not to disconnect the brushes, switch, and field as the wire insulation is most likely fragile and did not want to damage it. I used a variety of brushes to clean it all up and I did well.

Brush roll was disassembled and cleaned up - its bearings were surprisingly still good so it just might be reusable! I had thought it was supposed to be brown in color but after washing, it turned factory-silver!

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Post# 370255 , Reply# 7   4/7/2017 at 20:29 (559 days old) by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

kirbyclassiciii's profile picture

The cord was also black originally (rounded plugs on both ends), but the gray/red one I see was originally used on models 516 to 561.


Post# 370256 , Reply# 8   4/7/2017 at 20:38 (559 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
A polishing we will go...

A few Saturdays ago I went to polishing metal like I did with my Omega. I again used Mother's aluminum polish and the 4" wheel on my cordless drill. I did this outside so I would not make a mess in the garage. The headlight and handle fork were so bad that they had to be sanded. In the end they were 'acceptable' but far from perfect. I did not want to sand all of the very deep scratches out, so I left 'em as-is. Someone here simply called them 'beauty marks'. I call them battle scars obtained over 72 years of existance and hard work. Heck, I had more scars on my body at only half that time...

Last week I went to my local Kirby service center to get bearings, but unfortunately he did not have them in stock, and were quite expensive to order from kirby. Now he did have a complete front bearing plate, as well as a rug plate for the 505 so I did get those (as well as a bunch of stuff for my my other machines). I ordered online the rear bearing for this unit plus bearings for the two D50's that I will do this fall, as well as a bunch of 'soft' belts to be used on all my vacs. My Kirby shop only sold the newer stiff belts for later models.

Today I finished up the polishing - round 2 on some parts as well as switch housing and screw heads.
So as of now, everything has been cleaned up and polished, at least as good as I choose to do. Hopefully this weekend it will be reassembled into a whole working vacuum!

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Post# 370325 , Reply# 9   4/9/2017 at 00:30 (558 days old) by KirbyKleanKarpet (Florida )        


Thanks for posting the armatures!

That poor thing was filthy inside! But what a beautiful polishing you did on it. At least from a phone, it is turning out remarkably! I finally got my rug nozzle for my Tradition, so I'll soon be doing what you are doing with the 505, finally.

It's good to hear you're using the older style "softer" belts on it. The knurled ones (part 301291) can cause premature bearing wear. I assume you're using part 159056S, or 17389?

If you find an original bag, you'd better get it. They're hard to come by.


Post# 370338 , Reply# 10   4/9/2017 at 07:21 (558 days old) by myvacsrock (Dayton, OH)        

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I was given a box of those brush rolls NOS (New Old Stock). I have probably 15-20 of them.
If you would like one, send me an email and you can have one for just the shipping.


Post# 370398 , Reply# 11   4/9/2017 at 22:01 (557 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

I ordered 159056, which are still pretty stiff. I have some of the new ones and they are super stiff. In fact the 159056 damaged the belt lifter on the 505 as a tab was missing. Not sure how to fix that...
The polishing came out very good. There are still marks that would not polish out and I did not sand all the deep scratches.
I got it back together today and it runs good. I will post the writeup and pics soon.
Seems you've done jinxed the headlight, as the bulb burned out on trial run. :o) I did have a new spare though that was put into service.

Kyle, I will let you know on the brush rolls soon - many thanks for the generous offer!

Post# 370404 , Reply# 12   4/9/2017 at 23:08 (557 days old) by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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I am sorry to hear about your broken belt lifter. If still available, ask for part number 144356S. Lots of people seem to have trouble installing belts correctly on machines of this vintage.

It is especially disastrous if you were to use the new-style 301291 belt on your machine.

Kirby did make a belt 1590S for models 505-515, but they hadn't produced this old style belt for over 10 years.


Post# 370414 , Reply# 13   4/10/2017 at 08:52 (556 days old) by KirbyKleanKarpet (Florida )        


That is a real bummer about breaking the belt lifter. I know a company that has some 505 vintage used belt lifters in stock. KirbyFans (eBay seller 16910) has them, and even has the one for the 505. Haven't checked his price.

Sorry about your headlight! I have a replacement as well in storage for when the 517's burns out.

Can't wait to see the polishing job! Your work looked awfully good on the Tradition!


I never knew of that older belt you describe. I wish I could acquire a NOS one for my vacuums. The knurled ones are too stiff for any of my vacuums.


Post# 370439 , Reply# 14   4/10/2017 at 17:30 (556 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

The problem with these old belt lifters is that the belts are just too stiff, even the 159056 (which I recently ordered from kirbyfans). Since my belt lifter is missing a tab, it just pops out of the hole. The 505 came with a petrified spare belt that had hung from the handle from what appears to be decades. It has a thinner wall than the 159056 (64mils vs 90mils; the new 301291 is 100mils ). Now since I am a prolific packrat, I have several very old 159056 belts that were used on my Omega and had started slipping. I am going to try to use one of those on the 505 instead. Since it will be driving a shorter brush roll, there may not be any slippage. Worth a try anyway.
I would certainly recommend the 159056 belt for the Tradition and Classic III since they have plastic belt lifter dials. Get them from kirbyfans.
I will see what my local Kirby guy has in used belt lifters when I go there next month in case I cannot fix mine. The prices of NOS ones I saw online could give even a healthy guy a heart attack...

The Tradition I did was only hand polished. Check out my Omega resto thread to see how well a buffing wheel does.
The Omega came out twice as nice!

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Post# 370596 , Reply# 15   4/12/2017 at 21:00 (554 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
Reassembly time!

Reassembly went well, but not without some challenges along the way...
Handle was reassembled, using pictures to aid in how the 'coin-bank' cardboard retainers and washers were installed. Cord was wrapped up as well. Done with this easy assembly, now to the motor unit...

First challenge was how much headlight wiring needed to be outside the housing. The excess needs to be tucked into the housing before the insulator is installed. I referred to pictures and marks on the wire to determine this. Screws and insulator for the field were installed, screws snugged first to secure brush holders, then the two nuts snugged to secure the field. Gentle snugs are all they need.

Rear bearing was tapped onto the armature shaft with a socket (with a tad of oil on the shaft to hopefully prevent the two to fusing together over time.) Spring finger and grease washer (the latter no longer functional with the new sealed bearing) were dropped into place, then the armature. I popped the grease seal off the front bearing to verify the grease was still okay, as these bearing plates were a bit old (NOS). Grease still seemed okay so bearing plate was installed.
A test spin of the shaft offered near silent, fluid motion. I love the feel of new bearings!
Motor brushes were reused since they were over 1/2" long and still full of life. They were reinstalled exactly how they were in originally. A test spin offered only some slight brush-commutator noise.

Next was rewiring the switch, safety switch, and the bakelite junction block. After wiring, the junction block needs securing to housing before the switch housing so excess wiring gets poked through the hole under the switch.

At this point, it was test-run time! An alligator jumper across the safety switch, cord plugged into current meter, and RPM wheel on shaft. I looked inside the rear bottom cooling air intake hole and observed only slight normal brush-commutaror sparking, which is normal. Measurements were 1.4A, 16000 RPM.
I installed the fan (CCW to tighten) and repeated the test. Measurements were 3.7A, 6400 RPM.

Knowing the motor runs great, I sealed up the fan chamber to the motor unit with clear silicon. Great care should be taken in cleaning any squished out sealer before it gets all over your fingers and everything else!
I took another test with it assembled - open intake and exhaust. Measurements were 3.02A, 8200 RPM. Perfect for a 3A rated motor!

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Post# 370598 , Reply# 16   4/12/2017 at 21:10 (554 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

The front axle support plate was installed next, as well as the safety switch, which was a puzzle in itself. Here is where before pictures really came in handy! Just make sure the switch plunger spring is centered to the spring hole, as the spring is not self-centering. Visualizing it is all it needs. If the plunger makes odd sounds and feels when depressed, check the spring alignment.
Rear axle had quite a bit of wear - how many miles was this thing pushed?? Did the old black original wheels have metal inserts? I reinstalled the axle upside down to let the wheels wear the other side of the axle. Axle ends were smeared with a little silicon grease before the wheels went on.
Height adjuster ratchet got a light greasing with lithium grease. Front axle and adjuster were installed, axle ends silicon-greased, then wheels installed.

Handle lock mechanism was installed (again I referred to before pics), then headlight assembly, then light bulb.
The NOS headlight trim I got, placed on cardboard, was heated in the toaster oven on very low until the part was 120* as measured by an IR thermometer. I then quickly poked the rivets through the holes (with the aid of a small screwdriver), then stretched it over the edge of the light. Perfect fit!

Handle was installed - this thing was starting to look more like a vacuum!

Next was the nozzle assembly. Referred back to pictures to see how it was disassembled, as this has to be correct. Brushroll rod got a dab of wheel bearing grease at the far end that rode on one bearing, and the roll's other bearing got some grease as well. I had to put washers on both sides to help take up the side-to-side slop.
Adjustment screws were installed, sizes positioned so that belt would ride in center of the rug plate.
The rug plate retainer clips were mangled so I had to reform them. I doubt I got them factory correct but they work now and rug plate stays in. A new 'soft' belt (159056) and the brush roll were installed.
The tan bumper trim was replaced with a NOS red piece - might was well match the rest of the red! It was about 2.5" short but as recommended by a member here, I heated the part (to about 120*F) and it stretched on without issue. I got the rivets through the holes first, then stretched the bumper over the nozzle. Just had to work fast before the part cooled.
Belt lifter and its retainer screw were installed. Now the belt lifter popped out when trying to stretch the belt around. The lifter is missing one of its thin metal tabs, which caused this to happen. The belt seems too stiff as well. Not sure how to fix the lifter but for now I will attach the nozzle, pry the belt on with a screwdriver, then poke the lifter back in the hole.

Another big challenge was the loose fit of the nozzle to the motor unit. When measuring the bar and the nozzle grooves, there is only a few /32's different, apparently enough to cause issues! I found that if I straigically used cardboard spacers at the attachment bar, the fit was much better and I could actually use the thing. Now the nozzle is also quite heavy and back end of the unit is easy to tip up, as it is front-heavy. I am wondering if this is actually a 505 nozzle! Any way to tell? All I know is it has the little rug plate.

So I did a quick test run and it seems to work great. I did a couple feet on the carpet with no bag to verify.
The upcoming plan is to smear some JB Weld on the front section of the nozzle hooks and mill it for a perfect fit onto the attachment bar.

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Post# 370599 , Reply# 17   4/12/2017 at 21:14 (554 days old) by KirbyKleanKarpet (Florida )        

That has got to be the cleanest metal fan I've ever seen.


Post# 370600 , Reply# 18   4/12/2017 at 21:15 (554 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
Now the bag was a whole new adventure!

After getting the old dump-bag all washed and cleaned, I did not want to get it all dirty again. I also wanted better filtration, even despite this unit will not see regular use. I decided to go where no vacuum-man has gone before (that I know of) and fit a white poly disposable HEPA bag into the cloth one, while keeping the emtor functional as well!
First was sealing off the hole in a modern F-type HEPA Micron Magic poly bag. I went overkill by screwing a masonite plate to the bag flange, sealing it with latex caulk. A hanger string went around the cardboard hanger and some foam pieces covered the sharp ends of the screws.
I cut the bottom of the bag just enough to go around the emtor horn. I hot-glued the ends of the bag around to make installation easier. So now the disposable bag went into the cloth one, with the spring of the cloth one holding the disposable one in place. The pictures will make more sense... This actually went on easier than expected. I wanted some of the white below the brown to make sure it was held securely and entirely.
The red bag guard ring was heated to 120*F and quickly stretched over the bag and emtor, covering all the white as well. It conformed very well when warm.
I folded the top of the cloth bag, with the string pulled out to hold the HEPA bag, and installed the metal crimper thing over the folds. This was a pain to do. Pushing on the back of the crimper is best to make sure you are not squeezing it, making it harder for yourself. Also a spacer or two stuck into the slots to open it up some helps.
So now the bag looks completely vintage but with a stealthy HEPA bag inside. It will keep the cloth bag cleaner, filter better, and I can empty it with the emtor as designed. Since this unit will not see regular use, I will not have to change the HEPA bag often at all. I will check it each year and replace it if it discolors (as recommended by Kirby). Now if this was a regular use unit, replacing the inner bag would be more of an issue, but maybe not any harder than changing or washing filters on a bagless vac...
I designed this all on a whim, so improvements can certainly be made, such as shorter screws (I used what I could quickly find), or better yet, an improvised reusable sealing plug that would go into the bag's hole..... Looks like a 'Rev. 2' will be in order, as I would like to do the same with my Omega's and an upcoming D50's dump-bags! Now I know one impending comment would be that I have limited airflow this way. However, these bags were designed for the newer, higher airflow machines and a lower airflow machine like this one is able to breath just fine through it. Restriction goes up as airflow goes up and vice-versa. The bag inflated quickly just as if the HEPA one was not installed and current & RPM measurements did not reflect additional restriction.
Now the round rubber gasket was reglued into the emtor with 3M weatherstrip cement. The exhaust horn was smeared with silicon lube to make installation easier. The emtor and bag assy was installed and now it is a complete vacuum!

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Post# 370602 , Reply# 19   4/12/2017 at 21:19 (554 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
The finished unit!

While certainly not color-correct, I do have to say it looks great in red. I love the red glow of the headlight shining through and onto the red parts! I am going to visit my Kirby shop next month to search through his 'treasure trove' of vintage used parts, to see if I can get a complete set of black trim parts. I will see what I can find and if prices are reasonable.

Test run!
I waited a day for the bag caulk to dry. I hit the switch, the motor spooled up, headlight came on, bag inflated perfectly, and I vacuumed some carpet. The whole living room in fact! It certainly lacks the power of my newer units but it ran as smooth as could be. It was much easier to push, too - almost like a toy compared to my larger Omega and Tradition! But it did great at grooming the carpet. I took it to the rug runner in the hall which collects black lint from my socks like velcro. The little 505 got it all in just a couple passes - nice! Current draw was 3.2A, just a bit more than rated with the brush on the carpet.
Now after a 10 minutes or so of use I noticed a slight electrical smell but nothing major. Current was still in normal range and plenty of motor cooling air flow. I am convinced this is from the normal, slight brush sparking. I am surprised the motor was not already burned up, as clogged with dust and dirt as the motor had been!

Now to fix some residual problems...
I layered some JB Weld on the nozzle hooks and will shape them later to the bar. It needs a day to cure and I will give it a few extra days before I go grinding on it.

The emtor contacts the rear wheel. Is this because of incorrect wheels or is the emtor rotating around too far? Or is this the wrong emtor? See picture... For now I inserted a 1/8" plastic scrap in the lug slot to keep the emtor from rotating all the way around.

Need to figure out the belt lifter issue as well. I either need to replace the whole lifter unit or replace the missing tab somehow (but is is riveted on). See picture earlier in this thread...

The handle spring is not broke but the handle falls down from its own weight. Can these be tightened like on the newer models? I see no way to do this so far...

Any suggestions on these from the vac experts would be greatly appreciated!

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Post# 370604 , Reply# 20   4/12/2017 at 21:31 (554 days old) by KirbyKleanKarpet (Florida )        
Your nozzle

That nozzle is correct to the machine. Check the tension on the nozzle lock. If it has any play at all, it is bad or stripped. That is actually what is wrong with my 517. It can actually pop off during operation because it is held on too loose, at least on mine. Mine's stripped, so I need to figure out just what to do about it. But if you compare your nozzle to mine, you can see the difference in the front. Your nozzle went from the 505 thru the 515. 516 is when the nozzle changed. I posted the same pic from the "NOS Kirby Bumpers" thread to show the difference between the later nozzles and yours. Your nozzle's "beauty lines" extend from the top almost straight down, whereas mine's "beauty lines" curve out from the top and wrap around the nozzle. BTW, if you have a spare headlight bumper and nozzle bumper, I'm interested in them.

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Post# 370609 , Reply# 21   4/12/2017 at 21:58 (554 days old) by KirbyKleanKarpet (Florida )        

I'll answer what I know.

The Sani-Emtor looks to be correct, but the cup at the bottom of yours appears to be chrome, whereas even the earliest examples I can find have the black phenolic plastic. Not sure what's going on there. The shape appears correct for it, so I'm not 100% sure.

Wheels are supposed to be the black narrow ones. Should be the same all the way around, if I remember. (KR-7104 is the part number.) This might be why the Emtor is contacting the wheel.

Can't say too much about the belt lifter. But you're quite creative!

I have no knowledge about the handle spring. I don't see why it would be much different to fix than later ones. Probably needs wound tighter would be my guess. I'd wait for Ben to chime in on that one, though.

Beautiful machine!


Post# 370659 , Reply# 22   4/13/2017 at 21:21 (553 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
Thanks Tim!

If the black wheels were more narrow then the ones on there now, then that is probably a cause. Not sure about the aluminum emtor bottom - even my Kirby guy is stumped from it as he thought the only the narrow ones were available in aluminum.

I fixed the nozzle fit today. I had added JB weld to the front of the hooks and the bottoms (was too deep), then filed it out slowly and carefully to match a 1/4" diameter rod. I used a screwdriver shaft first, then tried it on the vacuum. Worked out great!

Now to fix the belt lifter....

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Post# 370673 , Reply# 23   4/14/2017 at 06:17 (553 days old) by KirbyKleanKarpet (Florida )        
That's Brilliant!

I figured out that my nozzle lock screw hole is stripped, so that's why mine is loose. It still holds in the case though, just doesn't tighten, so I might do something similar to get things to clamp down. Thank you!


Post# 370690 , Reply# 24   4/14/2017 at 11:05 (552 days old) by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

kirbyclassiciii's profile picture

Yes... I am still trying to find a picture of what the very first 505 (this one also with just a cover plate - the "Magic Finger" lifter wasn't introduced until 1946) looked like, to verify whether or not the black plastic Emtor bottom was original (or if it retained the polished metal Emtor from the 3C/4C), but I remain convinced ALL 505s in fact used the plastic black Emtor bottom.


This post was last edited 04/14/2017 at 16:25
Post# 370723 , Reply# 25   4/14/2017 at 18:07 (552 days old) by KirbyKleanKarpet (Florida )        


That's what I thought. I can find nothing on it with it having the polished bottom. Even the ones I've seen with the cover plate instead of a belt lifter didn't have a polished emtor bottom.


Post# 370743 , Reply# 26   4/14/2017 at 21:05 (552 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
metal emtor bottom

Do you know when the emtor changed from the narrow one to the wide one? My Kirby guy here believed the metal bottom was only on the narrow ones but I sure have a wide one and it is metal.

In the end, I can bet the emtor is from an older machine, just like the nozzle was likely from a 508 (given the lifter design).

Post# 370755 , Reply# 27   4/14/2017 at 22:21 (552 days old) by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

kirbyclassiciii's profile picture

The 3C was the first model to use the widebody Emtor.


Post# 383895 , Reply# 28   1/8/2018 at 20:32 (283 days old) by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        
Looks like I never finished this thread!

So back in May last year I finally fixed the broken belt lifter. I had visited my local Kirby shop to see if he had a replacement lifter. He told me the lifters from the floor polishers can be removed and used on the rug nozzles. Swap the lifters and have the polisher for a display/conversation piece. He had a variety of polishers. They are also easily available on ebay for 15-30 bucks, often in the original boxes.
However, my 505 had a 508 nozzle lifter on it - a very odd-duck design, offered (from what I have heard) only that one year ('48). I really wanted to repair it. My Kirby guy dug through a bin of dusty parts and found replacement belt lifter tab pieces that were used on later models that used screws to secure the tabs. I compared those with my lifter and it really looked like it would work! So I bought two of them from him for 5 bucks.
First step was to find some tiny short screws to thread into the old rivets. I found two that were just right and one I had to cut down. A dab of oil in the rivet holes is a must for threading the new screws!
Next, was to CAREFULLY (and slowly) drill out the heads of the rivets. I used a 1/4 drill, upping to 5/16, and finally finishing with a 3/8 by hand. I kept this up until a very gentle prying gets it apart. Never pry hard or the plastic will break. Make a note at how the tabs and metal finger are positioned - it must all go together a certain way and tabs are all different sizes.
Now I was able to clean it up well and compare the old tab piece with the new. Appeared to be a perfect fit!
So now the tab piece was placed on, then the finger, then the screws, complete with lockwashers. Secure the screws well, but make sure they are not stripped.
I applied a dab of silicon grease to where the plastic runs on the nozzle exterior. I assembled the lifter to the nozzle and tried it out - PERFECT!
These new tab pieces are made of a thicker steel, compared with the thinner copper original. This should last me a long time!!
I love it when a plan comes together...

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