Thread Number: 35761  /  Tag: Pre-1950 Vacuum Cleaners
My First Truely Antique Vacuum
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Post# 383881   1/8/2018 at 18:05 (283 days old) by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana)        

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Here is some photos of the first antique vacuum in my collection, received and photographed on 11/25/2017. As Indiana Jones would say "it belongs in a museum!"

I paid $39.73 for this old heap, and it looks to be from my research a Birtman Bee Vac, Model D, sold by a distributor in Milwaukee with their own custom model tag. A mind-boggling 1.5 amp motor at 110v through a wonderful asbestos-braided cord, mmmm gotta love cancerous fibers in my vacuum collection.

It came out of Cashton, WI which is pure Amish country. By the looks of it, it was left in a chicken coop for the past 60 years! That must have been what happened to the bag, chickens ate it, lol

I hope to get it running soon once I learn how to do motor repair. These old vacs are pretty easy to work on as it's literally the bare minimum to function and easy to figure out what goes where for a n00b like me. It did not come with a bag but I hope to figure out a way to jury-rig a bag - any bag - on it eventually by utilizing some plumbing conversion pipes to adapt to the weirdly sized connector port. No clue at all what the bag even looked like IRL aside from magazine photos.

I have no idea what the year is on this vacuum or how rare it is, but none of the photos of them I seen online in magazine photos look anything like this one. I do not believe it ever had front wheels behind the brushroll, there is no mounting holes for them. It looks like the friction brushroll was intended to be the front wheels but the tires have long since rotted off.

Photo #1: The box it was shipped in. No, I didn't order a giant sledgehammer...I wonder what the mailman was thinking when he delivered this!

Photo #2: The vacuum unboxed.

Photo #3: My mouse inspection agent has worked over the vacuum and determined it to be safe

Photo #4: The very old school wooden handle and old fashioned switch.

Photo #5: The strain relief on the cord is feeling very strained these days.

Photo #6: Amazing old bakelite plug - need to get a cardboard insulator for it. I dunno how you're supposed to grab it to unplug it without shocking yourself (outlets back then were rounded and protruded more outwards than the flat ones we have today)

Photo #7: The underside and rear of the machine.

Photo #8: The motor terminals.

Photo #9: The model tag before cleaning.

Photo #10: The fan blades

Photo #11: The rear wheel, it looks like a thread spool!

Photo #12: The "brushroll".

Photo #13: The brushroll wheels.

Photo #14: The model emblem after cleaning. The red ink print started coming off, so I couldn't clean it anymore. All I used was water, so it must be a water-soluble ink...lovely design choice.

Photo #15: Close up detail of the emblem.

Photo #16: A fray in the wire I found hidden at the pinch point on the yoke. This is why you never plug vacuums in without inspection first!

All photos taken on 11/25/2017 3:26-3:54 am

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Post# 383886 , Reply# 1   1/8/2018 at 19:32 (283 days old) by bikerray (Middle Earth)        

bikerray's profile picture
The front wheels inside the nozzle drive the brushroll. The motor should have two ports for oil for the motor bearings. The rear wheel should be made of wood with a rubber tread over it.

Birtman also made parts for Federal, Fedelco and Energex.

If you look at my Federal you will see the wheels that drive the brushroll and the brushroll that I just rebristled.

Other Info
Model D Bee-Vac has friction driven brush and oil bearing motor.
Model G Bee-Vac has outside swinging floor brush and oil bearing motor.
Model G DeLuxe is the same as the Model G, excepting it has Ball Bearing Motor.
Model 301 is motor driven brush model with ball bearing motor.

Post# 383891 , Reply# 2   1/8/2018 at 20:12 (283 days old) by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana)        

huskyvacs's profile picture
What do you think would work to retread it? Old vacuum belts and construction glue?

Post# 383964 , Reply# 3   1/9/2018 at 16:53 (282 days old) by bikerray (Middle Earth)        

bikerray's profile picture
Trim the width of the belt to fit the wheel, cut to length, use a little ply-o-bond to bond it to the wheel and use some superglue to join the ends of the belt together so it forms a continuous tread.

Have fun and DON'T glue your fingers together.

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