Thread Number: 35501  /  Tag: Recent Vacuum Cleaners from past 20 years
Dream vac acquired! Fantom Thunder!
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Post# 381668   11/21/2017 at 17:03 (362 days old) by broomvac (N/A)        

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Hi all,

Pleased I was to stumble upon a Fantom Thunder at a local thrift shop! I had been looking for a classic dual-cyclonic Fantom for a while; now I can say my craving has been satisfied.

First impressions--this thing is big! Much bigger than I anticipated. Its handle grip is very comfortable. From the hose setup to the dual cyclonic system, the whole thing feels like a prehistoric Dyson, which is what I was expecting. Prior to getting this machine, I brushed up on Fantom's history. Honestly, reading the cool story behind the inception of this vacuum is part of why I wanted to get one.

Right now, the Fantom has been decomposed to each of its individual components for washing.! This Thunder cleans up well! However, since it is mid-restoration, I don't have much by way of pictures. The only shot I have is of the ID label. Interestingly, it appears this cleaner has been rebuilt by Fantom! See the marking in the lower left corner? I suspect this is why I am having to scrub old white lithium grease from several of the internal moving parts, such as the height adjustment mechanism. As soon as I recover from my recent surgery, I will get this thing back together and post pictures of the final product.

Aside from the non-available OE belt, which belt works best in the Thunder? I found "Durabelt" Dirt Devil 4/5 belts which claim to work in the Fury. Can I use these in my new-to-me vacuum?

Thanks all!


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Post# 381669 , Reply# 1   11/21/2017 at 18:45 (362 days old) by FantomTechGuy (US)        
Nice find!

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Very nice Fantom find!
Those Dirt Devil Durabelt belts will work with the Thunder. I have them on mine and they are nice! Just keep the extra in the crisper part of the fridge so they keep their shape. If you need any assistance with your Thunder, feel free to contact me for assistance!

Post# 381701 , Reply# 2   11/22/2017 at 15:01 (361 days old) by Ultralux88 (Denver, Colorado)        

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I think I put a 4/5 bely on mine too, its been a couple years, I hardly use the thing.

Post# 381735 , Reply# 3   11/24/2017 at 13:25 (359 days old) by broomvac (N/A)        
I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!

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FantomTechGuy & Ultralux88--Thanks for the info about the belts. Sure enough, the Durabelt brand Fantom Fury belts work great in this thing.

I also appreciate the offer for help with this vacuum. I had no problems disassembling the thing as far as removing the motor and also separating the base into individual components for dishwashing. If I ever decide to go further but run into trouble, I'll be sure to come back to this thread and call for help.

Now, without further ado, here is my Fantom Thunder, all sparkly now. Thankfully, everything works and virtually nothing is broken. This is a very good thing--Fantom parts are hard to come by. The motor is smooth as silk, the bristles have lots of length remaining, the cord has no damage, and the hose looks absolutely flawless. All this Thunder needed was some super glue inside a small crack developing in the lower cord hook. Now the hook seems stronger than before it had cracked! A new belt and HEPA filter served this cleaner well. It sure seemed to pull up a lot of crud from my carpet!

The final thing this vacuum needs is a set of attachments. Unfortunately, it didn't come with any.

My only disappointment with the design of this cleaner is the lack of a pre-motor filter, but I can live with it. Overall, I think the cleaner is awesome and I am very glad to have it!



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Post# 381736 , Reply# 4   11/24/2017 at 14:28 (359 days old) by FantomTechGuy (US)        
Very Nice!

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That is a very nice Thunder!

By the way, I don't know if you saw my post, but I have some Tips & Tricks for Fantom Vacuums.

If you want a pre-filter, just grab some cut-to-fit filter and place it inside the exhaust vent. It works out like a charm! I clean it out every 3 months to ensure it stays clean. You do need to strip it down to the motor to do so, but it is worth the time! The HEPA filter lasts longer and the air stays cleaner!

Post# 381737 , Reply# 5   11/24/2017 at 15:21 (359 days old) by broomvac (N/A)        

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I considered buying some washable foam filter sheet, cutting it to the shape of the HEPA filter, then placing it directly on the "dirty" side of the HEPA cartridge inside the filter housing. This maintenance-friendly setup would prolong HEPA filter life. However, it would not keep long, stringy material such as hair from being ingested into the motor. Dust alone will not hurt the motor; true harm comes from fibrous materials that wrap around the fan and throw it off balance (this could accelerate bearing wear) and/or block airflow (this could cause overheating).

I would be tempted to perform your modification of placing a filter medium actually upstream of the motor, but I don't want to be taking apart my Fantom frequently--or ever again, for that matter. Plastic threaded holes do not last forever; each time you back out and then re-screw in a screw, the threads in the housing wear. Eventually they will yield or fracture. This would ruin the Fantom, something I do not want to do. Plus, I want to keep it original. I appreciate the tip, but I think I'll depend on the little screen in the clean out port to catch any hair.

Another modification I am strongly considering is replacing the shielded ball bearings in the brush roll with true rubber-sealed ball bearings, which are better suited for dusty applications, such as a vacuum cleaner brush roller. Not only can dust more easily slip by the metal shields of a shielded ball bearing, but you cannot remove the shields like you can on a rubber sealed ball bearing for cleaning out contamination and re-packing it with grease. At least, not without destroying the shields and/or the bearings. This is why vacuum cleaner applications use sealed ball bearings almost exclusively rather than shielded ball bearings.


Post# 381738 , Reply# 6   11/24/2017 at 15:23 (359 days old) by broomvac (N/A)        

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And thank you for the compliment on my Fantom! You have a nice collection of them, too! I wish I could come across a Cyclone XT.

Reading through your tips & tricks thread, I spotted your tip about the Pledge. I'll give that a shot! Armor all worked well for me, but the Pledge may do even better!

Post# 381784 , Reply# 7   11/25/2017 at 15:38 (358 days old) by broomvac (N/A)        

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A thought occurred to me: the vacuum seems reminiscent of a Lamborghini Countach! I know its a stretch, but, hey, there are some common styling cues.

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Post# 381796 , Reply# 8   11/25/2017 at 21:39 (358 days old) by AmwayClearTrak (Honolulu, HI)        
Nice find!

I also have a Thunder which I got for free a couple of days before you. I'm jealous of the condition yours is in, my Thunder is a bit..."beaten". But still works perfectly fine. Was it hard taking the Thunder apart? I want to try and take mine apart to clean it and make sure nothing is wrong.

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Post# 381825 , Reply# 9   11/26/2017 at 12:36 (357 days old) by broomvac (N/A)        

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Thank you! To be perfectly honest, mine looked worse than yours when I found it. It was the "elbow grease" that improved my Thunder's appearance. I wish mine came with the accessories yours did.

Disassembly is pretty straightforward, although I'm not sure I would recommend doing it unless something is wrong with the cleaner or you are interested in doing a very thorough "deep clean" of the vacuum's internals. I get the feeling that things inside these vacuums are quite fragile. If your vacuum works and sounds fine, I'd say there is nothing wrong with yours.

Nevertheless, I completely disassembled the base of my Thunder so I could run all the parts through the dishwasher. Then, I removed the 8 screws holding the lower motor cover on the cleaner so I could clean the motor and motor area. That's as far as I got before I was satisfied with the cleanliness of the machine.

I'm happy to give whatever guidance I can if you decide to do the same.

Post# 381830 , Reply# 10   11/26/2017 at 15:07 (357 days old) by AmwayClearTrak (Honolulu, HI)        

Trust me, your vacuum is in way better condition then mine. The tip of the handle is broken, the spring on the bottom had somehow broken off, the little plastic things on the soleplate are broken. Lots of things wrong with my Fantom lol. I am currently in the process of getting a replacement spring and I am trying to find a replacement handle for a 1996 Thunder. Do you happen to know anyone who has parts broomvac?

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Post# 381845 , Reply# 11   11/26/2017 at 21:11 (357 days old) by broomvac (N/A)        

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I'm sorry to hear about the issues with your Thunder.

Do you still have the spring? One end of mine was broken but the spring was still present. I simply bent the next loop in line 90 degrees to make a new "end." This repair was perfect!

You can scour the Internet for a handle. I didn't see one for you on Ebay, but I'm sure one will show up before too long. You're likely going to pay a lot more for the part online than if you found one locally.

I look to donor machines for parts, too. If I wait long enough, a machine similar to whichever one needs parts will show up at one of the local thrift shops, often for less than the part would cost alone. Vac shops may also be able to help you, but don't expect miracles. Vac shops these days usually do not have parts for older machines.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help. Good luck!

Post# 382101 , Reply# 12   12/3/2017 at 10:25 (350 days old) by broomvac (N/A)        

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I want to let you know about this handle/wand I spotted.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO broomvac's LINK on eBay

Post# 382102 , Reply# 13   12/3/2017 at 10:26 (350 days old) by broomvac (N/A)        
Just to clarify

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I am not the seller--that is just a listing I happened to spot this morning.

Post# 382144 , Reply# 14   12/4/2017 at 14:46 (349 days old) by AmwayClearTrak (Honolulu, HI)        

I actually saw that a couple weeks back. Either though I have been thinking about it I might just wait. That handle would have been a perfect replacement only if it were black.

Post# 382149 , Reply# 15   12/4/2017 at 15:19 (349 days old) by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        
I have

A Amway and a Fantom that are going away in my vacuum sale next month.

Post# 382162 , Reply# 16   12/4/2017 at 18:34 (349 days old) by AmwayClearTrak (Honolulu, HI)        

I sent you an email about the Amway & Fantom but just in case I will ask here. Are you able to ship and what are the prices for the vacuums?

Post# 382226 , Reply# 17   12/6/2017 at 01:46 (347 days old) by man114 (Buffalo NY)        

Liquid carnauba car wax will shine a Fantom right up to like new condition. I've got tons of Thunders, they last virtually forever.

I'm not sure what Sonwil actually means. 200 Sonwil drive (behind the Buffalo airport there are a bunch of warehouse buildings) was one of Fantom's US addresses, primarily Fantom direct which was the mail order arm. There is a 3rd party leasable warehouse and contractual refurbisher in those warehouses called Sonwil distributing or something to that effect. I don't know if Fantom refurbed these themselves or had the other outfit there do it for them. They had various offices in the area at one time.

Post# 382254 , Reply# 18   12/6/2017 at 20:02 (347 days old) by broomvac (N/A)        

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Thanks for the tip about Carnuba wax. Per FantomTechGuy's suggestion, I tried Pledge furniture polish on my Thunder and with excellent results. It shines noticeably more than it when I took the pictures you see above. Dare I say, aside from the light scuff here or there, it now looks near new. I'm going to give the Carnuba wax a shot, too; I suspect I may get even better results with it.

Also, I appreciate the info about what "Sonwil" means. Based on what you are telling me, I would guess that you are absolutely right. It was likely rebuilt in one of those facilities on Sonwil avenue in Buffalo, and that is why the tag says "Sonwil" and "Assembled in U.S.A." instead of Canada. Anyone else have a Fantom Thunder that was made in the US, not Canada? Or another rebuilt one, for that matter?

I like the fact that mine appears to be "fresh," lol. It certainly seems to be one of the latest ones, with the late colors and 12 amp motor. Any idea how to interpret "9932?" 32nd week of 1999? 1999 seems like an awfully late build date for a Thunder, but then again, that may have been when it was "reborn." When did Fantom stop producing this model?

Post# 382257 , Reply# 19   12/6/2017 at 21:33 (347 days old) by Gj3476 (Dallas,TX)        

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I remember back in September I went to a goodwill store and I happened to saw a Fantom Thunder and it didnít have any attachments and the cyclone inside the dirt cup was broken so I didnít brought, kinda wish I did.

Post# 382258 , Reply# 20   12/6/2017 at 21:34 (347 days old) by Gj3476 (Dallas,TX)        

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I remember back in September I went to a goodwill store and I happened to saw a Fantom Thunder and it didnít have any attachments and the cyclone inside the dirt cup was broken so I didnít brought it, kinda wish I did.

Post# 382371 , Reply# 21   12/8/2017 at 22:10 (345 days old) by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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Nice Fantoms, I always wanted a Thunder when I was younger. I thought they were so cool and believed they must be really really powerful.

One of my neighbors had one and when I happened to go over one day, she had it out and she demonstrated it for me. Though I don't think she showed how the hose worked.

I know Kmart sold the Thunder, Fury and Lightning, and I saw them there on display back in the day, but I've only seen one Fury in a thrift store in 2007 or so. More recently I saw a Thunder at a flea market, but it wasn't for sale I don't think. Other than that never seen any other than my neighbor's.

Post# 382374 , Reply# 22   12/8/2017 at 23:04 (344 days old) by man114 (Buffalo NY)        

Thunders were made right up until the end in 2001. I have one made probably weeks before they went bankrupt. They also rebuilt them right up until the end too.

Post# 382487 , Reply# 23   12/11/2017 at 02:45 (342 days old) by broomvac (N/A)        
We have a winner

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man114, I have to hand it to you: the Carnuba wax suggestion has been the best yet. The Thunder looks downright glossy now! I just love those uninterrupted reflections of light up and down the main cylinder of the cleaner. Even the dust bin looks better. That's not haze in the plastic at the bottom of the bin--that's a wad of dust. I've been putting this Thunder to work.

In fact, I was so pleased by the wax that I subjected all of my glossy plastic vacuums to the same treatment, and with good results. It sure did a good number on my Hoover C1403 and "Kenvertible" High Performance. Thanks again for the tip!

I also have ordered two brand new 626-2RS sealed ball bearings for the brush roll. I just decided I'd go ahead and do that upgrade--I'm just not convinced that the original 626-ZZ shielded ball bearings were the best choice for this application.

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Post# 382941 , Reply# 24   12/20/2017 at 13:21 (333 days old) by man114 (Buffalo NY)        
Yep the wax works

These were super super easy to find here in Buffalo in the late 1990s early 2000s, so after I got a job and car I used to pick them up out of the garbage, or get them at thrift stores, clean and polish them with car wax then sell them for $50 to co workers and online. Fantoms were fairly expensive so this was easy money. Car wax proved the best to restore the like new looks like they came out of the box.

I've got a lot of thunders, I'm currently using a late Thunder from right before they went under with... no top carrying handle! I'm sure this was to cut costs but since the rest of the vac still weighs a lot this is surprisingly inconvenient when you've used them for years and are used to it being there. What a pain. Still cleans the same though. I haven't polished it yet or anything just been giving it some test runs.

Car wax might work slightly better on Fantoms than some vacs because the Fantoms are ABS some of the cheaper stuff is some sort of junkier plastic.

I attached a pic of the top of the no carrying handle Fantom since I don't think we've seen one of those yet.

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Post# 382957 , Reply# 25   12/20/2017 at 22:36 (333 days old) by broomvac (N/A)        

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Mine has the handle but it doesn't see much use; I usually just lift from the handle that you push the cleaner with. I can't say I've ever seen a Thunder without a carry handle, but then again the only Thunders other than mine that I have seen were in pictures on the internet.

Thanks for sharing.

Post# 384387 , Reply# 26   1/17/2018 at 12:34 (305 days old) by broomvac (N/A)        
New Brush Roll Bearings

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I have finally gotten around to replacing the brush roll bearings on my Thunder.

These new sealed bearings were totally worth the couple bucks! The old shielded bearings felt (and sounded) scratchy and contaminated, in contrast to the new ones which are virtually silent.

Installation was a breeze. Pop out the old ones and press the new ones in. It's about a 10 minute job.

I would recommend this upgrade for anyone who owns one of these Fantoms.

Pictures are below. First is a shot of one of the old shielded bearing, followed by some pictures of the new ones.

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Post# 387970 , Reply# 27   3/13/2018 at 15:54 (250 days old) by broomvac (N/A)        
Here's an odd one:

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As man114 shared with us, the rebuilt Fantom Thunder I found last year has the cryptic note "SONWIL" printed at the bottom of its serial tag because it was rebuilt by Fantom in a place on Sonwil Drive in Buffalo, NY.

Last week I ordered a manufacturer refurbished Dyson Cinetic Animal + Allergy upright vacuum from the Dyson Outlet on Ebay. I got a shipping notice telling me that it's coming from "Sonwil Distribution" in Buffalo NY!

I assume that after Fantom Technologies Inc. gave up its ghost, the place on Sonwil transitioned to refurbishing Dysons and are still at it 19 years later. I think it's cool that I'll have now two "Dyson" vacuums which have been given a second chance at life by the same people!

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Post# 388531 , Reply# 28   3/19/2018 at 15:18 (244 days old) by myles_v (Fredericksburg, VA)        

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Email me at, I have a black Thunder handle for you.

Post# 388571 , Reply# 29   3/20/2018 at 07:35 (243 days old) by crazykirbydude (Lexington, KY)        

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Anyone know how to put one of these back together? I forgot to take pics of mine.

Post# 388696 , Reply# 30   3/21/2018 at 20:33 (242 days old) by man114 (Buffalo NY)        

I tried to do some digging into what happened when Fantom closed. I did find a ton of patents that were sold off for some money to another company.

The may have inherited rights going forward for due to the licensed patents from Dyson. Presumably if the refurbishment work was effective then Dyson probably just went forward continuing to use them.

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