Thread Number: 36694  /  Tag: 80s/90s Vacuum Cleaners
Kirby Tradition Upgrade
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Post# 392628   6/1/2018 at 13:33 by Rowdy141 (United Kingdom)        

Hello everyone,
I'm refurbishing a Kirby Tradition, but I'm confused trying to determine which bits are best replaced to improve reliability & performance.

Should the Grey Fan be swapped for a White one?
Should the bog-standard Roller be swapped with a newer design (five bar)?
Do ribbed Belts last longer, or work better?
Is performance improved with a different Fill-Tube/Bag set-up? What was wrong with the original set-up? What should I be aiming for?

Any help would be much appreciated.
BTW: If anyone wants a part for their Tradition, I'll probably have it.

Post# 392629 , Reply# 1   6/1/2018 at 13:37 by Louvac (A)        
Do you have a

spare ORIGINAL speed control switch that was originally housed in the light visor?

Post# 392631 , Reply# 2   6/1/2018 at 14:05 by Rowdy141 (United Kingdom)        

Hello Louis,
Just had a look for you. No Speed-Control Switch (that I can see) in the Light Visor area. This would have had the Black Safety Switch fitted to the front of the Motor Housing, below the drive-shaft. So as you refit the Brush-roll unit, the switch is made.
Whether that affects speed also, I don't know. I'm unsure how/why two speeds were switched.
I THINK the light-visor-switch design was only the very early ones? If I'm wrong, post a picture of it, and I'll look again for you.

Post# 392635 , Reply# 3   6/1/2018 at 14:37 by Louvac (A)        
the first rendition

is the speed switch that I am looking for! The one that was up in the headlight!

Post# 392648 , Reply# 4   6/1/2018 at 17:14 by Rowdy141 (United Kingdom)        

Louvac, Shouting "The first rendition is the speed switch that I am looking for!"
"The one that was up in the headlight!"
doesn't make it have one.

As I said, "No Speed-Control Switch in the Light Visor area."
This had the Black Safety Switch fitted to the front of the Motor Housing.
There's NO SWITCH in the Headlight.
Kirby changed the Tradition design several times.

You're looking for the 'Holy Grail' and I can't help you.
Thank-you for your help on my questions.
(photo courtesy @TexasKibyGuy)

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Post# 392655 , Reply# 5   6/1/2018 at 18:28 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

kirbyclassiciii's profile picture
I can see that unmistakable metal fan!


Post# 392658 , Reply# 6   6/1/2018 at 19:07 by Louvac (A)        

That's the switch I was looking for. I have two model Traditions that are original-one is pristine with the original speed switch setup, and the other one is a little finicky.

Post# 392696 , Reply# 7   6/2/2018 at 11:53 by sptyks (Skowhegan, Maine)        

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If your gray fan is metal, Keep It. If it is gray plastic, then definitely change it to the white Amodel fan.


You should swap the brushroll with the newer 4 row brushroll with ball bearings.


The newer ribbed or knurled belt will definitely last longer but it should only be used with the newer 4 row ball bearing brushroll. Using the knurled belt with older brushrolls will destroy the sleeve bearings used in those older brushrolls.


The fill tube used on the Tradition was poorly designed. It is too narrow which restricts airflow. This reduces cleaning performance. The easiest fix for this is to replace the entire emptor and bag assembly with a Heritage II emptor and bag assembly which has a much wider fill tube and will greatly enhance cleaning performance. The Heritage II bag assembly will also allow you to use the newer internal cloth HEPA replaceable bags which will further enhance cleaning ability over the older paper bags. 



Post# 392703 , Reply# 8   6/2/2018 at 15:46 by rowdy141 (United Kingdom)        

Thank-you so much @SPTYKS.
That's just what I needed, a concise summary of what & why.

Post# 392712 , Reply# 9   6/2/2018 at 19:22 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

The picture shown above is my Omega, where I was demonstrating how to get the headlight spring in at the 'tips and tricks' post. Just wanted to note this to eliminate any possible confusion.
While my Tradition has the factory mechanism for latching the headlight, the switch itself is long gone.

Post# 392714 , Reply# 10   6/2/2018 at 20:48 by gottahaveahoove (Pittston, Pennsylvania, 18640)        
I must say:

gottahaveahoove's profile picture
that even everyone knows I'm ALL Hoover, (I have 3 Kirbys in the lower level, to SELL), I'm proud to see how you guys get together to help each other like this. It restores faith in humanity. Someone has a question, others jump in, sometimes complete w/ videos/photos. KUDOS to all of ye.

Post# 392730 , Reply# 11   6/2/2018 at 22:42 by rowdy141 (United Kingdom)        

I'm taking your advice. I've ordered a new 'Genuine Kirby White Fan'. So I assume it's Amodel. Although no distributors use that term - they don't usually describe much that's useful. Some don't even use Kirby's Part Numbers.

Heavy Duty ball-bearing Brushrolls too. I'll be interested to see how they differ from the early grey ones. When you said 4-Bar, do you mean four rows of bristles in one revolution of the roller, or 4-rows because they need gaps to fit between the bars in the Plate? I couldn't find anything more than this;

New Heritage/LegendII Fill-Tube as well. I have a spare Tradition em-tor, Legend em-tor, and Top bracket. Can't say I noticed throughput was diminished, but I have nothing to measure it or compare it to.

Ordered HEPA bags as well.

I thought when a large airflow was reduced (as with the original tubes) the air would just move faster, like a high-pressure water-hose?

Hi @TexasKirbyGuy
I confused myself to be honest. Lol.
I was reading your wonderful 'maintenance manual' posted here, and grabbed your picture to illustrate to Louis that there's no switch under my light, as in the photo. Not realising that wasn't even a Tradition!

Although I can't help with your quest for the Tradition Safety Switch, I did find this;
They're less than half the price of those found elsewhere. Not too many of them available now. I paid 36 for mine, four or five years ago.

I've got a Tradition (plus spare), Legend II (plus spare), and a Generation-4, all udergoing refurbishment. It's costing an arm & a leg. I'll post some photos when they're all done.

Thanks guys.

Post# 392734 , Reply# 12   6/3/2018 at 00:28 by broomvac (N/A)        

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1. New genuine amodel fan (white) + associated hardware (spindle, bushing, washers, etc.)
2. New genuine ball bearing brush roller, 4-rows of bristles (wood colored)

Only after you have done these things, you may use the knurled belt. The knurled belt is better than the smooth belt because it has more grip and is tighter, therefore it will last longer and is less likely to slip. However, this tighter belt places more stress on the motor spindle and, more importantly, the brush roller, so these two components should be replaced before going to the knurled belt.

The original (grey) brush roll uses bushings instead of ball bearings which the later (wood colored) brush roll uses. The bushings are subject to damage from the knurled belt.

Good luck!

Post# 392743 , Reply# 13   6/3/2018 at 10:55 by vacuumdevil (Denver)        

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You can change the fill tube and it's insert to take the modern HEPA bags if you want.

Post# 392744 , Reply# 14   6/3/2018 at 11:51 by sptyks (Skowhegan, Maine)        
Upgrade parts...

sptyks's profile picture



If you ordered a "Genuine Kirby" fan then it is made of Amodel a substance similar to Kevlar, but even stronger.


As far as brushrolls go, this is what you should be getting:


This brushroll is from the Kirby Needs store on ebay where I buy all my Kirby parts and accessories. All "Kirby Needs" parts and accessories are at or near wholesale prices. Unfortunately, they seem to be out of the pre assembled Heritage II outer bag, fill tube and emptor assembly's at this time. 




Post# 392745 , Reply# 15   6/3/2018 at 12:02 by sptyks (Skowhegan, Maine)        
Heritage II outer bag assy...

sptyks's profile picture



I did find a preassembled Heritage II outer bag, emptor and fill tube assembly but be warned, it appears that this assembly has become quite rare and therefore quite expensive. This assembly will directly attach to your Tradition without modification.


Here you go:



Post# 392759 , Reply# 16   6/3/2018 at 19:28 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

kirbyclassiciii's profile picture
Sorry... but I made an error about your Tradition having the metal fan, not realizing that picture I saw was of Rob's Classic Omega!


Post# 392825 , Reply# 17   6/4/2018 at 21:08 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

I had found that getting a complete used Heritage II or Legend was cheaper than getting just the emtor and bag assy. As a bonus for doing so I got lots of other good spare parts that could be used in my other similar Kirbys. I could even slap the Handi-Butler to it and not worry about getting it dirty!
Of course with all used parts I would clean and wash the bag assy before using with your good indoor vac.

And Louvac, if you want a headlight assy that has the lock mechanism in it, I can put you in touch with my Kirby shop who has some ($20 each I think). He did not have the actual switches that go in the headlight though.

Post# 392842 , Reply# 18   6/5/2018 at 07:12 by Louvac (A)        

Thanks, Texaskirbyguy!

What I am looking for is that actual original switch. I have several Traditions as they are my favorite Kirby model. Perhaps because it's blue-my favorite vacuum color!

Thanks for the help!

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