Thread Number: 40800  /  Tag: 80s/90s Vacuum Cleaners
New Bush Roll for my Sanitaire
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Post# 433461   10/13/2020 at 13:25 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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Okay, file this one under 'can't leave things well enough alone'.

After tinkering with my Sanitaire SC686* upright off and on for a few months, I determined the bearings on the brush roll might be a little the worse for wear and perhaps that was causing the belt to drag, producing a hot rubber odor when I used it for more than a minute or two, so while I was watching TV the other night, I started perusing eBay for a new brush roll and found a genuine (albeit made in China) Eureka Vibra Groomer II brush roll that was compatible. Unlike the original, it has only one pair of brush strips instead of two and beater bars molded into the metal cylinder where the second set of strips are on its original brush roll. Once I got the old brush roll out, I gave them both a finger spin. The new one definitely turns easier and without any scraping sensation.

I just gave it a little test run in my bedroom and while it's still an absolute bitch to push and pull, it cleans efficiently and the hot rubber smell is gone. Still, there's something very off about the height adjustment. The knob has four settings—'Low,' 'Reg,' 'High,' and 'Shag'. On the first two, I can't even push the machine and it will quickly snap the belt. The 'High' setting works well but it's still a workout to use. The 'Shag' setting is the easiest and works pretty well, even on a Persian rug. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way to calibrate the height adjustment. I'm wondering if I should consider shimming the axle with some washers or or maybe bend the axle a little bit.

All in all, this Sanitaire has come a long way since I snagged at Goodwill for $10 a little more than a year ago; in fact, it's starting to remind me of the old joke about the family axe that's been in the family for 200 years and it's had only six new handles and two new heads. I've replaced a lower cord hook, the belt a couple of times, swapped the original dump bag out for a more civilized F&G set up, and now updated the brush roll. In many ways, it's not the same machine I started out with. While these uprights are not my favorite vacuums to use, they are so simple, they're really fun to work on, especially since parts are so dirt cheap. But I will say that putting the belt on makes me appreciate Kirby's belt lifter system for the elegant solution it is.

*I have yet to find any reference to this particular model, SC686, online. I see references to the SC886, SC684 and SC688 but not the SC686. It must be a really rare bird or maybe nobody remembers it because it was a Eureka Williams product. That said, any part I've ordered that will fit the three aforementioned models seem to fit mine as well.

Post# 433462 , Reply# 1   10/13/2020 at 13:37 by sanitaire (anchorage, alaska)        

my sc899 sanitaire was getting louder, I bought new bearings for the brushroll. smooth again. I got my sanitaire in the 90's

Post# 433464 , Reply# 2   10/13/2020 at 15:13 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

human's profile picture
Someone on here told me the SC686 was from the early '80s. The label underneath says "Eureka Williams Company" so it's definitely pre-Electrolux.

Post# 433478 , Reply# 3   10/13/2020 at 17:48 by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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If it says Eureka Williams, it’s from before 1975, 1976 at the latest. Sweden’s Electrolux bought the EW company in 1974 and changed the name to The Eureka Company - so even taking into account old inventory at the time, your cleaner can’t be from any year later than 1976.

Post# 433577 , Reply# 4   10/15/2020 at 16:38 by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        

Was the original brush roll mostly chrome plated with either blue or orange brush strips or was the roller like some I've seen with huge paddles and the metal roller is grey and kind of course compared to the chrome one. Reason I ask id the chrome roller is the more common and I don't really know which is the correct roller for Sanitronic.

I've got a sc888 that has the big paddles but I've seen them with the same chrome rollers to. When they switched chassis that now have a clear lens showing the fan and the wider wheels all around, I think it addressed the 'clamping' problem you describe. It changed the stance a little, just like adding wider wheels to Kirby's made for a more stable ride! I've never had problems pushing the machine back and forth and I use the lowest setting. I haven't used mine on shag yet so it may be a different experience.

I think it's been 6 months since I put a new belt on, I'm hesitant to replace the current one from all I've been hearing from others on how fast they break. I really believe that the belts with a visible seam at right angle to the belt, you know like a joint. Those tend to snap long before they have many hours on them. I buy mine at a janitorial supply near me and you can smell the rubber and they're sticky as race car drivers refer to tires, and no visible butt-joint showing, which by the way is where they break. Did you notice stronger scution when you switched out your bag system? Billy

Post# 433578 , Reply# 5   10/15/2020 at 16:42 by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
Sorry 'bout that

I meant Sanitaire not Sanitronic...

Post# 433605 , Reply# 6   10/16/2020 at 11:15 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

human's profile picture
My original brush roll is a dull silver color with a twisted, fluted shape and has two pairs of brush strips with no beater bar. The one I replaced it with is more like what you describe. It was made in China by Bissell. I'll post some pics when I have time.

I reused the same belt when I swapped the brush rolls and for the first time since I've owned the machine, I don't get the hot rubber odor anymore.

Suction seems to be roughly the same with the F&G setup.

Post# 433607 , Reply# 7   10/16/2020 at 12:04 by Louvac (A)        
Belt Pulley

Have you inspected the belt pulley? Is it worn down? You will know if it is very thin in the center. Is the rug plate warped or bent? That can also be a factor. Without seeing it, it can be hard to assess. Sometimes, the Sanitaires have such strong suction that when the bag is new, it tends to seal itself to the carpet and will let up a bit once the bag starts to fill up. Unfortunately, they tend to do this and there is no way to calibrate or adjust the height control knob, unless you can find one from a model that had more height adjustment levels than the one you have now. It may give you more options.

Post# 433612 , Reply# 8   10/16/2020 at 16:43 by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
That would be an option

I think there is a 6 position rotary knobbed model or two out there. There was also the slide button height adjustment on some, although I think Sanitaire kept the round one. My friend has an early 70's Eureka ESP Wide track 15" and that is 6-position height.

Switching from four to six position might only entail replacing the knob with the extra two positions. That would be an in-expensive upgrade if that can be done. As Louvac mentioned a worn thin pulley can be hard on belts, I know from experience myself.

Post# 433629 , Reply# 9   10/16/2020 at 22:21 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

human's profile picture
@Louvac: The bottom plate doesn't appear to be warped or bent. I'm not sure what the belt pulley is supposed to look like but it definitely appears more slender than the one in the eBay listing linked below. I've also posted a picture of my pulley, along with a photo of the two quite different brush rolls. I'm not really certain how to remove and install the pulley, though.

@Kirbyklekter: The six position selector is an interesting idea. I've got one on my eBay watchlist for $6.81 with free shipping. Of course, the list of compatible models include the aforementioned similar model numbers but not my SC686.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO human's LINK on eBay

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Post# 433664 , Reply# 10   10/17/2020 at 17:40 by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
You're in luck!

The pulley is just threaded on top of the fan. You just have to hold the fan in place while turning the pulley counter clockwise. You should be able to get a wrench on the pulley easily. If you can't get it loose,rare, you can remove the motor with the fan attached by removing 3-4 screws on top and it all lifts off. There may be a gasket between motor and chassis, so try not to tear it up, they are about 8 bucks.

Your pulley does look worn a bit. Yours has worn flat across the shaft where the belt rides, usually these have a rounded taper like a U to cradle the belt.

Looks like your rollers have the rubber ends on them. I've had a couple that the rubber made it difficult to push the roller ALL the way down in to the chassis, I've had to wet the rubber on a few just to get it done. The belt guard is hard to clamp down if the roller is riding too high in the saddle.

Post# 433685 , Reply# 11   10/17/2020 at 23:02 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

lesinutah's profile picture
The pulley should be the size of a dime maybe bigger. I'm mean diameter of the pulley.
Your first roller is vg1 and second is vg2. The vg1 is exactly like the old hoover brush rolls.
Email me your address I'll send you a height adjustor and a pulley with a couple belts.
I have a parts machine and those two parts aren't needed.

Post# 433717 , Reply# 12   10/18/2020 at 10:12 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

human's profile picture
Thank you Les. I've sent you an email with the subject line "Sanitaire Parts".

Post# 433732 , Reply# 13   10/18/2020 at 14:20 by Lesinutah (Utah)        
Got it

lesinutah's profile picture
I'll have it in the mail probably Tuesday.

Post# 433848 , Reply# 14   10/20/2020 at 10:16 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

human's profile picture
Thanks Les, I'll be watching my mailbox!

Post# 434559 , Reply# 15   11/4/2020 at 13:42 by human (Pines of Carolina)        
New Pulley and 'Dial-A-Nap' Knob

human's profile picture
So yesterday, I received in the mail a little care package from Lesinutah with a replacement belt pulley and 'Dial-A-Nap' knob for my Sanitaire SC686. Looking at the photos below, one can see that the original pulley (left) is considerably more worn than its replacement. Installing it (five minute job) made a HUGE difference in the machine's usability. What a difference a little extra belt tension makes. The condition of the original pulley did not register with me until I saw the two side by side.

Replacing the pulley was fairly simple. I used the six-inch extension bar from my ratchet set to immobilize the fan while I broke the old pulley loose with a 19mm socket. A 3/4" socket will also work but it does not fit as snugly. Once the pulley nut was loose, it came off by hand and the replacement went on the same way.

The 'Dial-A-Nap' knob netted me an fifth height position over the original delta-shaped four-position knob but was gained might best be described as a 'transport' position because the brush roll is a good quarter inch above the floor, which might make it easier to push the machine around when not in use but would otherwise not be particularly useful. The other four positions seem to be similar to the original and I'm still debating over which knob to use.

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Post# 434566 , Reply# 16   11/4/2020 at 14:39 by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
Looking forward

to hearing about how the actual performance is now. Hopefully your belts will last longer and no smell of burning rubber will exist. The rubber ends on the brush roll have a kind of point to them that needs to be loaded in the downward direction. A couple of mine take some extra "convincing" to be pushed all the way down in the holder on each side. That has a little to do with how high or low the roller is positioned.

If it's hard to clamp the roller/belt guard plate down because of the roller, that's an indicator that the roller needs to be pushed further down in the holders. I've never had a problem pushing the Sanitaire while vacuuming on any setting,but it is a little awkward to push it while in the incline position. More than other machines I have. I just carry it to wherever I'm going to use it. You're right it is difficult to tap the on/off switch when the bag is inflated, at least the dump bag is due to it's size. The 7amp motor is a beast in these! Billy

Post# 434574 , Reply# 17   11/4/2020 at 17:39 by human (Pines of Carolina)        
Like a different machine...

human's profile picture
I gave it a try after I installed the new pulley and it's like a whole different machine. It's still a little more of a workout than some of my others but it definitely has some better manners now. I believe what was happening was since there was too much slack on the belt with the old, severely worn pulley, the brush roll was bogging down and not turning or at least not turning fast enough, causing the belt to overheat and fail.

Billy, I understand what you mean about getting those rubber ends firmly seated in the body of the vacuum. That was more of a problem with the old brush roll than with the one I just put in and I'm certain it also contributed to a few belt failures.

I am continually amazed by how well designed the Sanitaires are in their rugged simplicity. They're tough, powerful and very easy to work on. It's been fun bringing this one back and making it better than it was before.

Post# 434575 , Reply# 18   11/4/2020 at 19:35 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

lesinutah's profile picture
to hear the pulley worked out. The belts on my Sanitaire are snug. I seen the pulley and that much play would definitely be noticeable.
I'm glad it is working out. I wasn't sure the height adjuster would do much. I only adjust the height with the vacuum off.
Your helpful and hooked me up with a heritage bag I was happy to hook you up.
Eureka/sanitaire are solid cheap and easy to work on. There also pretty solid vacuum's.
If you ever get a chance for adaptor that clips over bottom that hooks up a hose. It works pretty good.

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