Thread Number: 40816  /  Tag: Pre-1950 Vacuum Cleaners
Kirby 515 motor turning slow
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Post# 433662   10/17/2020 at 16:54 by Vaclover (Freestate, Virginia, South Africa)        

Hey everyone! Ive got a kirby model 515 from someone yesterday, ive switched it on it sound like it should, but the bearings were rough, today i opened the motor, cleaned and repacked the bearings now it sounds like the motor is running slower. And i see sparks coming from the commutator wich wasnt there. Its not getting to the speed where you can hear that kirby sound. The shaft turns free. I thought maybe ive swopped the brushes i tried that but its still slow. I lightly cleaned the commutator with sandpaper while i was greasing the bearings, can it be that the sandpaper may have been too rough?

Warm Regards

Post# 433663 , Reply# 1   10/17/2020 at 16:57 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

kirbyclassiciii's profile picture

I wish you good luck getting your 515 fixed, if yours is indeed the rare 240-volt version.

I would have to guess the armature and/or field may need inspection if you think you are seeing excessive arcing.


Post# 433665 , Reply# 2   10/17/2020 at 17:42 by Vaclover (Freestate, Virginia, South Africa)        
Mine is 240 Volts

Mine is indeed a 240 Volt Version. Maybe i should just try to clean the comutator with a finer grid sanding paper. I know that seating stone will be the best option, but its very expensive here. It didnt had any sparks around the comutator before i took it apart.and it sounded right.

Post# 433684 , Reply# 3   10/17/2020 at 22:53 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

lesinutah's profile picture
Repack bottom motor bearing and vise a commute stone.
If you have an electrišal tester you can text the armature. I believe you test in pairs.
Example 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock . If current is the same for each one it's either field or maybe fan is threaded to tight? Are you using older soft non knurled belts?
There is a few different things to do to test the issue.

Post# 433691 , Reply# 4   10/18/2020 at 01:42 by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

Do the brushes move freely in the brushholders?That could cause arcing or erratic operation.

Post# 433692 , Reply# 5   10/18/2020 at 01:47 by Vaclover (Freestate, Virginia, South Africa)        
Soft belt

Its a soft belt on the brushroll, i didnt check to see if the brushes move freely, that may be the problem. Thanks for all the input, im going to check again today.


Post# 433697 , Reply# 6   10/18/2020 at 03:29 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

kirbyclassiciii's profile picture

It should be known that the brush roll will only fit one way. If you need to order a new one, it would be part no. 1525.

Also: does your 515 have the 10-blade aluminum fan?


Post# 433699 , Reply# 7   10/18/2020 at 04:03 by Vaclover (Freestate, Virginia, South Africa)        
Thanks Ben...

Ben yes its got an 10 blade fan. Im just going to make sure when i take it off, its 10 or11, but im sure its 10. The motor also doesnt have that cardboard thing before the field coil like my 508's have. Will that make the motor run hot? When i tried it before opening the motor the suction was very good and much better than the 508, but now its almost the same as the 508.


Post# 433700 , Reply# 8   10/18/2020 at 04:07 by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

madman's profile picture
What grit number of sandpaper were you using? You couldn't have damaged it with 500+ grit. It's also important to blow off any leftover sand after you're done. Likely the brushes are binding or something happened that you need the brushes to be seated again. A stone isn't really necessary. As long as you didn't really tear up the commutator, you may simply need to run the motor long enough to break them in.

But, that being said, I have no idea the condition it's in, or what exactly it sounds like. So I don't know.

Post# 433704 , Reply# 9   10/18/2020 at 07:46 by bikerray (Middle Earth)        

bikerray's profile picture
Is the motor running the correct direction?
Did you take the leads off of the carbon brushes?
If the wires are going to the wrong carbons the motor will run backwards and will run hot.

Did you nick any of the wires on the armature?
Did you nick any of the wires on the field coils?
If there are shorts in the armature or field coils it will run hot as well.

Post# 433705 , Reply# 10   10/18/2020 at 07:55 by Vaclover (Freestate, Virginia, South Africa)        
Bikerray, you have the answer!!

I think its running backwards! I noticed the brushroll is running in the wrong direction!! Thanks a lot!! Im sure thats whats wrong with my one 508 also!

Thanks a lot! I did indeed took out the field coils and im sure ive connected the leads the wrong way round.

Post# 433707 , Reply# 11   10/18/2020 at 08:06 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

kirbyclassiciii's profile picture

You are correct that if you set up the field coil wires the wrong way that the motor may spin in the opposite direction.

As far as I know, without that field baffle paper (1047) I do believe that may be one of the other causes of your motor overheating.


Post# 433714 , Reply# 12   10/18/2020 at 09:53 by Vaclover (Freestate, Virginia, South Africa)        
You guys were so right!!

You guys were right it was turning the wrong way around. I opened it up and switched the two brushwires and there it vacuums again as happy as a kirby should. And its turning the right way round. Ben ive counted and its got 10 Fins on the fan. Thanks for all the help guys. Its stamped 110V but overstamped with 230, i wonder the amp rating on the plate its 4 amps it would be for 110V? So for 230 you divide it? So the wattage should be around 460watts 230v?

Post# 433715 , Reply# 13   10/18/2020 at 10:08 by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

kirbyclassiciii's profile picture

Yes, 4 amps on 120-volt current. So therefore, it would be about 2 amps on 240-volt current.


Post# 433750 , Reply# 14   10/18/2020 at 19:47 by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
@ Kirby Classic III

Hi Ben,

You asked Ruan if his Kirby was the rare 515 240 volt model,which it is. Seeing that he lives in So. Africa I knew they are 240v, so I'm just curious about what makes this model rare. Low production or something like that? Thanks,Billy

@ Vaclover, I really enjoyed reading this thread, it was a real eye opener when you got the answer to your problem. I definitely learned from this. Did the sparking subside to normal or did you also have to go back over the armature with a finer grit sandpaper? Anyway, mystery solved!

Post# 433764 , Reply# 15   10/18/2020 at 22:51 by vacman1961 (North Babylon, New York)        

You need to set the carbon brushes in with some commutator chalk or stone while the machine is running. there is a space between the rear wheels where you can insert the chalk as the motor is running.

Post# 433767 , Reply# 16   10/18/2020 at 22:59 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

lesinutah's profile picture
This is the first I heard if this. Its a commuter stone/seater.
I put my armature in a drill and do it. Thus wxy I don't have to blow out the dust.
I think machines where he lives are rare.
His 508 iirc has a black belt lifter and 508 bag x d tri.. I not sure how rare but his 50( had the original box and we everything. I know it's rare for a normal 508. I imagine there's very few out their.

Post# 433773 , Reply# 17   10/19/2020 at 07:13 by Vaclover (Freestate, Virginia, South Africa)        

Theres just the normal sparking left, i didnt clean the commutator again. I once saw an 508 for sale with the attachments and enquired, but it was bought by someone oversees i thought i would never ever own one. I couldnt believe my luck when ive got my 508, complete with attachments, only the crevice tool missing. The people on this site were really helpfull. Wish i could meet you guys in person! I would love to own a vintage straight suction eureka or health mor with the thin nozzle in front. My hopes are high, maybe someone brought one with them. As my vintage gibson fridge is 115V, i also have a 110V Thomas Organ and a 110V Gibson Guitar amplifier. So i still have hope for an 110V vacuum Cleaner.

Post# 433832 , Reply# 18   10/20/2020 at 00:21 by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

madman's profile picture
I wonder if South Africa ever had 110V power. Most of Europe and even America was a mixed bag of 110 and 220 in the very early days of electricity. Even up into the 50s, parts of the US hadn't decided what line frequency to use. Japan still hasn't lol. Not that that matters much for vacuums.

Post# 433840 , Reply# 19   10/20/2020 at 03:57 by Vaclover (Freestate, Virginia, South Africa)        
We only ever had 220V

We started off with 220V since the earliest of days. Most of the farms and rural areas had 32Volt Generator sets for lights and appliances. Some farms still doesnt have electricity. My grandfather used a 32Volt to 220Volt inverter to power the few 220 Volt appliances they had. We still get 32 Volt lightbulbs for sale here. We have to use a stepdown transformer if we want to use 110Volt appliances here.

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