Thread Number: 37885  /  Tag: 50s/60s/70s Vacuum Cleaners
Does anyone hot rod their Vacs?
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Post# 403838   1/9/2019 at 13:48 by ABCVacPlacentia (California)        

I'm new here, so I apologize in advance if this thread is redundant, but does anyone soup up their vacuum cleaners? I come from the high-end audio biz where modifying your gear is a right of passage. In fact, a cottage industry of tiny companies exists solely to upgrade amplifiers, preamps, speakers, turntables, DACs, etc.

I see lots of people restoring their vacs to factory condition, but is anyone going beyond the factory? I know that some Kirby fans eliminate the emptor and upgrade to Hepa bags. That's a good idea. So, here are a few more. I'm spitballing here, but how about:

• An Electrolux that can suck the fingernails off your fingers, or . . .

• A base model Riccar upgraded from a single to twin fan, or . . .

• A Kirby made entirely out of Carbon Fiber.

I know, this last one sounds crazy. But, then maybe not. I'll bet there are 100 Kirby enthusiasts around the world who would buy one, so it would be easy to amortize the required tooling. In the audio biz, we work with carbon fiber all the time, so I probably know how to pull this off, if anyone is interested. Come on Lesinutah, you know you want one!

Post# 403839 , Reply# 1   1/9/2019 at 14:05 by gottahaveahoove (Pittston, Pennsylvania, 18640)        

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Second: you'd actually be amazed at the things people have donr to their vacuums. Years ago, at The VCCC convention. a member, Dave Kerr, demonstrated a WILD concoction of things. Another made a dual-pipe- turbo head commercial shop vac! It was crazy, BUT amazing at the same time.
Never be afraid to be a little 'different' in here. We're all equal but definitely not the same.

Post# 403844 , Reply# 2   1/9/2019 at 14:21 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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Some people do ramp up the power of their Kirbys or Royals to increase cleaning power.

For example, during production of the Kirby model 513 in 1953, the motor group was changed from the old 3-amp style to the new 4-amp style. I would guess over the years some users found the old 3-amp motor a bit weak for their carpets and took them in to be converted to the 4-amp one.

Royal was another company that had many different sizes of motors (of the non-drop-in type) available for their metal uprights, ranging from 3 to 7 amps. Here is a 1982 Royal 880 (video: 0rnery) that had its original 4.5-amp motor changed to a 7-amp one:


Post# 403846 , Reply# 3   1/9/2019 at 15:06 by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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Welcome aboard Ted!

You should keep an eye out for posts from our friend Mike in Finland. He seems to be an electrical wizard at adding power nozzles to canisters that were sold without sockets for them! His latest “intermarriage” concoction is a Miele C3 and a Sebo power nozzle....

Post# 403849 , Reply# 4   1/9/2019 at 16:04 by Blackheart (North Dakota)        

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I rarely do soup them up but I've occasionally done it. The most recent one was my Lux Legacy upright. I found it original motor (VM3) annoying and underpowered for it's power draw. So i replaced the motor with the motor a modern Numatic uses. The CFM at the bag chamber increased by nearly 17, and it's not as annoying sounding.

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Post# 403854 , Reply# 5   1/9/2019 at 20:37 by ABCVacPlacentia (California)        
Skateboard wheels on a Kirby

Hey Blackheart, now you're talking! Improved performance is always a good thing. It may not be "factory," but I think it makes your vac worth more, not less.

Another idea, why not skateboard wheels on a Kirby? Kirby wheels are so cheap and flimsy. Is wheel weight really that important?

A decent urethane wheel with a real bearing and maybe a hubcap/washer to top it off could make a noticeable improvement in how it drives. You could even print the Kirby logo on it.

I know a few companies in SoCal who can make it. Is this a bad idea or a good one?

Post# 403858 , Reply# 6   1/9/2019 at 21:01 by n0oxy (Saint Louis Missouri, United States)        

I'm not sure if this would be considered hot rodding, but I like to pair my vacuums up with different attachments than what they came with, especially if this will help them clean better. An Aerus classic combined with a Sebo ET1, or how about the Miracle Mate paired up with the sidewinder hard floor brush? The possibilities are endless. And if you want to hot rod a straight suction canister, pair it up with the Volt or Centec battery powered nozzles, they will allow a straight suction canister to clean carpets as good as if they had electric hoses.

Post# 403859 , Reply# 7   1/9/2019 at 21:02 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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If you put 2 Dyson cyclone power or make own cyclonic cone at the top used cold air intake to pump in more power. Get yourself 3 nss shop vac motors basically put bike chain or ala chain saw chain like a belt combining power of 3 motors you could use a car battery so not limited by Watts or Amos. Build a coil to keep battery charged by k force from energy from chain motion. You don't want skate board wheels think caster frame will solid circular wheels used on old cannisters but bigger I'd add swivel head for wheels but setup they go anywhere. Hell add opposite motor a bike you pedal and steer vacuum. Exhaust hook up propane and an ignition switch light up exhaust. You use openware on CPU Max everything out out electrical intercooler. Basically add shiz ton of power. It's got Dyson super cyclone but forced air in increasing power it charges itself. You would probably put on a valve the thing would rip garage door or house door off. It's a Dyson twin intercooled triple motor chain belt creating endless k power charges itself flame out the exhaust you could tear up a trailer park with that. I bet you could suck up a tornado. You got Dyson cyclone tornado won't know what hit it.
That's a vacuum.YA buddy

Post# 403864 , Reply# 8   1/9/2019 at 21:32 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana)        

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"Hot rod vacuum" this picture? lol

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Post# 403866 , Reply# 9   1/9/2019 at 21:52 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

This post has been removed by the webmaster.

Post# 403919 , Reply# 10   1/11/2019 at 01:37 by ABCVacPlacentia (California)        
Great repurposing of an Electrolux!

Hey Huskyvacs, that Electrolux hot rod is awesome! That's the best repurposing of a canister vac I've seen so far. Did you build that? I'm not sure where I would put that thing, but I want one!

By the way, I noticed you have a Hoover Z as the pic for your handle. We've been making fun of it on the Worst Vac in the last 20 Years thread. Do you own one of these monstrosities?

Post# 403920 , Reply# 11   1/11/2019 at 01:47 by compactc9guy (Bathurst )        

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I did puta longer 24 feet or so hose on my shopvac 16 gallons (3 hose 8 foot together 24 )
2 1/2 inch by 8 feet x3 and it a central vac cartridge filter also
i can put a power head on it im planning on adding a plug inside the motor compartment actually wire it in so the electric hose will plug in stay tune.

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Post# 403921 , Reply# 12   1/11/2019 at 05:05 by huskyvacs (Northern Indiana)        
@ ABCVacPlacentia

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Sadly no I did not make it, I only wish I was that creative! I seen the photo in Google a few years ago, and when I read your topic title, that was the first thing I thought of.

Yes, I do own a Z700, always wanted one, and it is just as heavy and clumsy as you think it is. I sadly got ripped off by the seller, the rubber plug door for the airpath is gone and I tried 6 different parts sites + Sears and the part is all out of stock and cannot be found. Also the handle broke in shipping, but it's not critical to the performance of the machine, so I can just superglue it. It's just been a bedroom decoration since I bought it.

The whole sad story is here:

Post# 403922 , Reply# 13   1/11/2019 at 07:17 by vacuumlad1650 (Chicago Suburbs)        

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Just as I never liked hot rodded cars, I dont care too much for hot rodded vacs. Performance enhancements I don't mind, but some of the cosmetic ones drive me insane.

For example, I followed a formula from a friend, and put a PowerSurge Hoover High Performance motor in a trashed model 70. I upgraded it to the 4-row genuine metal agitator, using 2 soft and 2 firm brushes, and I upgraded it to a type A HEPA bag. This sweeper is an absolute beast!

Post# 403924 , Reply# 14   1/11/2019 at 08:03 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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I don't know whether it would necessarily fall under the category of hot-rodding or resto-modding or just bodging together available parts, but I've got a Kirby G5 that I've rebuilt with parts from a variety of generations, ranging from a G3 cord to a Sentria brush roll. I'm now considering a similar project for a trashed Electrolux Silverado. I'm eyeing a damaged but working Diamond J and thinking I could make a 'FrankenLux' by combining the best bits of the two—provided I can get the Diamond J cheaply enough. It would basically entail stuffing most of the guts of the Diamond J into the Silverado body. The one big challenge might be fitting the top plate since the two models have different power switch designs and the Silverado presently lacks a switch assembly and the associated wiring harness. The end result might or might not be pretty but I think it would be a fun project.

Post# 403925 , Reply# 15   1/11/2019 at 08:24 by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        
I have been known

To install a high efficiency lamb motor into a early Lewyt or Filter Queen,,,lol

Post# 403928 , Reply# 16   1/11/2019 at 08:47 by compactc9guy (Bathurst )        

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high efficiency motor in filter queen or lewyt of made it a beast niiice,
i change the motor in my shopvac whit bissel motor when it went bad ahha its all i had on hand at the time .

Post# 403948 , Reply# 17   1/11/2019 at 19:40 by kirbylux77 (Orillia, Ontario, Canada)        

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Hans, now we know why you like vintage straight suction canisters! :-)

I have a 1992 Kenmore EVPC canister that is all original, except I added a 3rd brush strip in place of the beater bar in the powerhead, & I upgraded the motor to the double stage Ametek motor the Perfect C101 uses. It went from pulling 90" waterlift with the stock Ametek motor to a whopping 125" waterlift! Needless to say, it packs the Kenmore HEPA Cloth bags till they're a brick, & I usually have to turn the speed down slightly till the bag is over 1/2 full. I think the ole girl would easily win any cleaning contest if I went to a convention :-).


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Post# 403952 , Reply# 18   1/11/2019 at 20:24 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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I don't know if I would hot rod. The people in thread who have they know what they are doing. I'd try to make your vacuum run as good as you can. If you try to hot rod a Kirby with wrong motor coil combo it catches on fire and it destroys the vacuum burning blue and purple. It sounds fun but when you have been meticulously fixing vacuum it's show quality on polish and your waiting testing motor out on your vacuum dream. I had 2 show and I mean these mother shined. I still have parts but 2d80s because I put in wrong armature and coil was bad in the other. Watching both literally I melt into a pile of metal you learn. It's like spending all this money fixing up this car and your so excited start it up and it blows up. It's like a hit in the gut makes you nauseated and empty.
So unless you know what your doing albeit I did for most part know what I was doing don't hot rod anything. If you get more advanced maybe but learn what you are doing and what motors and coils are kosher. Spending time lots and lots of time and having it burn both in five minutes. Honestly I could finish my d80 in no time. It's last time is why my d80 that is almost as much time invested and I bought brand new everything and I just need half hour it's done. I know it will work but you lose motivation.
So learn up and make your vacuum the best you can. Hot rodding or modding unless you can tear apart a motor put it back together and know how hot that motor runs what your putting it in is it getting airflow are wires potential to melt. I'd stick to the basics. Unless you do you will have something go wrong. I did take precautions and tested outside in gravel with GFCI outlet and another surgery protector once it went wrong I cut the power. It still melted but my house wasn't in danger and neither was I I was away next to surge protector switch.
In conclusion if you don't know don't even try. I wired my whole basement my 220 50amp hot tub plumbing HVAC I can build a house if I had too. I have also rebuilt a 440 and took out put in 700 torque flight transmission and a 3 quarter ton axle and differential and reinstall albeit with help together there 900 lbs. I know what I'm doing I didn't know coil was bad and d80s have ge motors and lamb motors and 3 coils you have to use compatible parts. I knew what I was doing. You learn something's too.

Post# 403953 , Reply# 19   1/11/2019 at 20:26 by oldskoolguy (Chicago, Illinois)        

I’m not sure if you could count this as hot rodding, but I am getting a metal bottom plate and beater brush for my Hoover c1439 in place of the current 2 brush agitator and ABS bottom plate. Plus I’m thinking about possibly converting my recently acquired Dirt Devil Broom Vac model 720 to use hepa bags. Either A style Hoover, B style Royal, or F style Kirby. All depends on the full tube and whether or not it can or can’t be removed or modified.

Post# 403958 , Reply# 20   1/11/2019 at 21:25 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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That's modifying but hot rodding implies adding new bigger motor etc. Your making your vacuum more effective. Where as messing with motor.

Post# 403959 , Reply# 21   1/11/2019 at 22:43 by broomvac (N/A)        

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I agree; the original Dirt Devil bags are pretty miserable. I’ve never known a bag which can clog up so quickly while simultaneously leaking an embarrassing amount of dust right through the paper itself! I love the Broom Vac, but I am disappointed by the original bags.

Anyways, for your Broom Vac, try HEPA Kenmore “Type O” bags. They fit perfectly without any modification to the vacuum or the bags. I believe the Miele upright HEPA bags will fit just the same, as well as several of the Tacony upright HEPA bags and even Panasonic upright bags.

Hope that helps!


Post# 403965 , Reply# 22   1/12/2019 at 03:19 by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

I did replace the stock motor in my Volt with a more powerful upgraded one like the Simplicity Freedom vacuums use-Noted a diffrenece right away-the battery life is slightly shorter,though.But does perform better.I modified one of my Roayal 10A metal uprights to use Kirby F-Fit bags-does work a little better than the stock ones that use a smaller diameter fill tube.I did modify a McIntosh 225 power amp from 7591 tubes to EL34 which are a lot easier and cheaper to get.Had to change the socket pinout and bias resistors.Also got rid of the voltage doubler suopply to use an external one that has a full wave rectifier with a 5U4 tube.BETTER!!!!!

Post# 403990 , Reply# 23   1/12/2019 at 23:52 by rivstg1 (colorado springs)        
well, modifying yes, not sure its hot rodding them....

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I mod'ed my Royal 886 with Kirby fill tube to convert from bottom fill to top fill and Kirby hepa charcoal bag.  Converted a Kirby Tradition smaller diameter factory fill tube to a later Heritage II larger fill tube and bag support with HEPA bag, a kirby DS50, DS80, 513, and Classic III from shakeout bags to HEPA cloth bags by inserting bag inside the cloth shakeout bag.  


Does that count? Idk

Post# 403993 , Reply# 24   1/13/2019 at 00:02 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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I use sentria 2 fill tube on tradition. It's in eyes of the beholder.

Post# 404076 , Reply# 25   1/14/2019 at 16:04 by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

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I have done a few. I used to work in R&D at Electrolux Here and one of my favorite parts of my job was building prototype machines and Test Mules often comprising of current models with new proposed parts added to run durability tests on them.

One of the first machines i can remember modifying myself was a Advance carpetwin 20. a beast of a machine but I found the suction power very poor, I owned a Carpet cleaning company by then and had a huge job to clean massive offices on a continual basses. I ripped out the single motor which i think had a rating of 500 watt and machined a new housing and fitted two 1500 watt commercial dommell motors .The suction was so insane I had to reinforce the Housing.
I loved that machine it was awesome, For the life of me I cannot remember what happened to it, Its probably sitting in one of the storage rooms right at the back waiting for me to rediscover it in a few years when I finally get round to cleaning them out.

Post# 404100 , Reply# 26   1/14/2019 at 23:56 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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That sounds insane. R@D job must have been a blast. You tripled the suction. You Know your stuff. Very envious of the line of work.

Post# 404103 , Reply# 27   1/15/2019 at 00:03 by gsheen (Cape Town South Africa)        

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The R&D job was a blast miss it every day. Nowdays I own a vacshop and also build custom industrial set up vacuums systems

Post# 404105 , Reply# 28   1/15/2019 at 00:19 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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That's still pretty sweet get hands on industrial. I've seen a few industrial set ups and thought if I get rich I'm getting one of these.
So no research just development. Still pretty sweetie job in vacuums. I'm jealous.

Post# 404204 , Reply# 29   1/17/2019 at 15:22 by ridgidwd0670 (se wood co ohio)        

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I put a Ametek high performance (115923) motor in a Tristar; esp the a101 series (exl, mg & cs series) & also my old compact c80 (its original motor was ametek 116311) now i go thru more bags because the compact now picks up more dirt with the high-performance Ametek 115923 motor than it ever did when it had the standard Ametek 116311 motor

I'm still using the straight suction metal rug tool that came with the Compact while I wait for the PN motor to arrive (its a Rainbow PN motor [R2800] with thick shaft)

Post# 404429 , Reply# 30   1/22/2019 at 16:11 by anthony (leeds uk)        
i once fitted a

anthony's profile picture
1600 watt motor into a Hoover Constelation .Whilst the suction was great the dam thing would only float for a few seconds before it started to hover then flip over on its side .I temporarily stopped this by putting some lead weights inside

Post# 404449 , Reply# 31   1/23/2019 at 03:02 by Rowdy141 (United Kingdom)        

A modded Hoover Constellation could race that Electrlux hot-rod!

Post# 404454 , Reply# 32   1/23/2019 at 08:48 by bikerray (Middle Earth)        

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Pin stripes and racing slicks?

Post# 404458 , Reply# 33   1/23/2019 at 10:54 by rugsucker (Elizabethton TN)        
Pin stripes and larger rear wheels--

--were seen on Eureka of the early 70s(Empress II ?).

Post# 404557 , Reply# 34   1/24/2019 at 19:48 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

lesinutah's profile picture
If you take air out of tires leaving half full it helps grip off the line quicker. It could be difference of winning and losing.

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