Thread Number: 41010  /  Tag: Pre-1950 Vacuum Cleaners
Cadillac Junior Handheld
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Post# 435377   11/24/2020 at 02:26 by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

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"Junior" is legit the model designation as far as I can tell.

Got this one from ebay, referred by Hoover300, thanks!

So I *believe* this is the oldest Clements machine I own, now. I say that because of my other two handhelds, they share a common design for the motor, and one is 155 watts, and the newer one is 200 watts, or thereabouts. This Junior is 130 watts. I'm thinking as time went on, they made them more powerful. Also, the motor design seems older, and the model plate is actually etched and not just printed like the newer ones. I'm guessing early 1920s or maybe a bit earlier.

The switch is bad. It has a sweet spot where you can get it to run. It actually runs pretty smoothly for something that looks like it's been neglected for eons. Because this is different from my other Clements machines... I have no idea how to oil it! Anyway, I will have to do a complete teardown to inspect everything. That might be a while before I get to it, though.

Bag has a small hole in it, but is otherwise pretty nice. The fabric is not hard or stiff. I had it delivered to my shop (packaging was awful), so I cleaned the bag thoroughly there. The bag ring was stuck in the housing, but I was able to get it out with brute force. I cleaned the minimal aluminum oxidization and it fits nicely now. The bag has a strap on the backside, which is pretty cool. You can put your arm through it so the bag is supported while you use the machine. Also the bag is very round, and the bag clip falls off easily. I wonder if it's not the original bag clip. My newest handheld has the same bag clip, but so does my Eureka model 10, so I guess they all used off the shelf parts.

The twisted lead cord, cool though it looks, I highly doubt is original. It is *an* original cord... to something. It's crudely spliced into what I assume is what's left of the original cord. It looks like it was a twisted lead cord, but maybe one of those where it's just the two wires twisted together without any additional cover over them. I will have to see once I tear it down.

The cord's stiff and cracking, though...

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Post# 435380 , Reply# 1   11/24/2020 at 08:55 by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
I like the color of the bag

whether it's original or not. Wooden handle...nice too. The cord looks similar to the cord used on a string of 1940's Christmas tree lights I have. Works and it doesn't bother me that the insulation is probably asbestos. I just keep them around for posterity. At around 80 yrs old I wouldn't leave the room for very long with that old line in use.

Just to clarify it's the lights that are 80,not me hee hee. Is that a band of brass or gold tone tin (?) at the bag opening. Does it twist on or is it like a friction fit coupling there? Nice find! Billy

Post# 435409 , Reply# 2   11/24/2020 at 16:30 by huskyvacs (Indiana)        

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Nice find! Early 1920's, the cord likely would have been single wires braided together and meeting at the plug ends, like my Bee Vac. If the cord is not original, that has to have been replaced before the advent of vulcanized rubber cords, but after separately braided cords were phased out (not to say someone couldn't have had something around their junk bins saved for future repairs).

It's in really nice shape considering. It was likely used heavily in the early 20's and then maybe a dog ate the cord or a mishap happened to it and then the cord was replaced, in which the owner seen it as not worth much, and eventually when the depression ended they splurged on something new and fancy and put that in a box or chest and forgot about it.

Post# 435432 , Reply# 3   11/25/2020 at 00:20 by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

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@kirbyklekter - Yes come to think of it I also have a very old string of xmas lights, I believe with a similar cord. The bag ring (pictured below) is taper fit. Identical to my other Cadillac handhelds (though the newest one seems a touch smaller). It's nickel plated steel, with some rust spots. Nickel is naturally a bit yellow, but the camera can exaggerate sometimes. Also it's pretty much got to be the original bag. The bag clip, on the other hand...

@husky - lol why's it specifically gonna be a dog chewing the cord? But yeah, it sure looks like the original original cord would've been like you say.

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Post# 435523 , Reply# 4   11/26/2020 at 22:29 by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

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It's a ball bearing motor! The tiny screw on the back center is a placeholder. You take it out and use a long #3 screw to push the armature out.

Despite the obvious differences between this vacuum and my other Cadillacs, once it was open, the similarities were there.

On the armature, it's handwritten:

I wanna say 32 is the year, but it's anyone's guess. That whole line might be a part number. 40/60 makes me think line frequency hertz, though I don't really think 40Hz was ever really a standard anywhere. 25Hz was an oddball standard, and even I think 125Hz. Even if it was, it's a universal motor. It will work fine from 0-60. Come to think of it, maybe it's a model designation. The newer (presumably not invented yet) model 60 is a hand vac, and also model 41. I suppose it could be like the 40 series and 60 series. Not sure.

Also the front bearing is pretty rough. I will clean it out and see if it improves.

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Post# 435530 , Reply# 5   11/27/2020 at 07:20 by huskyvacs (Indiana)        

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"No V" might be shorthand for "nominal voltage" based on how its written like that.

Found a newspaper article from Sep. 8, 1936


Keep in mind the OCR text conversion is not perfect. But the ad mentions "the new Cadillac junior hand type cleaner".

"99-5-32" might be a part number for it, but no idea without the original parts list from the time period.

Post# 435569 , Reply# 6   11/27/2020 at 22:50 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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Pretty sweet cadillac. It looks like it will survive.
You have to love switches my p a geier handvac that is from 1927 switch was bad too

Post# 435572 , Reply# 7   11/28/2020 at 03:03 by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

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1936, eh? I guess it could be. It's hard to date these things. I guess it kind of makes sense. Maybe it was meant to be a cheaper handheld model, compared to the 41. Cuz honestly, the 41 is a much nicer, better looking, and more powerful machine. But then, this is a ball bearing model, and it has a very detailed model plate - acid etched I guess. Clements, it seems, just did whatever without rhyme nor reason. So many different models that were all nearly identical. So many idiosyncrasies.

Also, Les, I think I saved the switch by drenching it in contact cleaner. It was sticky, actually. You could flip it off and you could hear the delay from the time you flip to when it snaps inside. I will have to test it.

I pulled the field coil, so I could rewire it, and damaged some of the wiring in the process. Will have to repair those.

I cleaned the bearings and the motor case. Considering polishing the aluminum. Also considering using the cord it came with. I know for sure it's not original. It also makes cracking noises when I flex it. But I think it might be good enough for the rare occasional use.


Post# 435573 , Reply# 8   11/28/2020 at 07:41 by huskyvacs (Indiana)        

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I would never use a rotten cord. You can get vintage reproduction cords that look like the original. The cracking noises is the insulation on the wiring splitting apart. With the wires braided together, all it takes is one touch for them to short and blow the cord or the motor.

Post# 435595 , Reply# 9   11/28/2020 at 22:50 by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

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I know the risks, heh. I like to live dangerously. Also I'm too cheap to buy some cord, lol

Post# 435625 , Reply# 10   11/29/2020 at 16:03 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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Nice save on the switch. The spring or switch mechanism on mine was gone when I got it. I put a 501 prince switch on it.
If you get a heat gun and heat shrink the electrical cord would loose up with heat and heat shrink would another it. It would be more flexible but it either would catch fire probably with the heat gun. I'd probably bet a hair driver would light it up.
My 235 royal from the leads up to the handle I wrapped electrical tape on the entire thing. That would save it from grounding out and catching fire.

Post# 436880 , Reply# 11   12/29/2020 at 22:11 by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

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Haven't patched the bag up yet. Polished everything. Greased the ball bearings. Repaired all the internal wiring. As some parts were rusty, I actually went through and replated those parts. In nickel, as they were/ would've been. It shows up as a lot more yellow in the photo than to the eye. Two big screws, two acorn nuts (they're brass), and the two handle brackets. The four little screws attaching the motor to the nozzle were in ok shape, so I did not plate those. Nor the switch. I bought a rubber cord strain relief, which unfortunately had to come all the way from China, since only the one ebay seller was the only person in the world who sells the one that fits, apparently. All the rest of the strain reliefs on the market are intended for plastic appliances.

Yes, I used the old cord. It's got the right look, and I'm too cheap (read: broke) to buy a new one. The cord is not ideal, but I took every precaution. The ends of the wires inside the motor and in the plug have heat shrink tubing over them. I'm reasonably certain that the inside of the cord will be fine, even though the rubber insulation is degraded, the cloth will keep the leads from touching. Even so, this is not an appliance that will ever remain plugged in to power. If it was, I wouldn't take that kind of risk.

Further, I made the connection to the power cord inside the motor with blade connectors, so replacing the cord in the future will be easy. Got a nice new vintage-looking plug as well.

Didn't do anything to the wood handle. The paint is chipping (mmm delicious lead), but I don't really want to try and color-match it.

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Post# 436884 , Reply# 12   12/29/2020 at 22:51 by Lesinutah (Utah)        
Hot damn

lesinutah's profile picture
That looks freaking sweet. The cord looks good. If It's heat shrinked it's going to be fine but you know that you already. ask how you played it in nickel but I already know the answer. I do like the attention to detail. Most old vacs miss the details. Too bad it has globally sourced parts and lead will cause cancer every where not just california.

Post# 436885 , Reply# 13   12/29/2020 at 22:52 by huskyvacs (Indiana)        

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Wow that finish is stunning, that is a really nice job there. I'd be afraid to touch it without gloves!

Post# 436891 , Reply# 14   12/29/2020 at 23:11 by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
Oh Geeze!

What's not to love about that? That looks great. It would be right at home in a nice glass display case or bookshelf, anywhere but a dark closet or cold and musty basement,been there and done that. Nice work MadMan! Billy

Post# 436897 , Reply# 15   12/30/2020 at 03:43 by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

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Thanks guys! <3

As for the polish job, I thought I would try going all-out. All of the aluminum was sanded with 600 grit, in steps up to 2000, then polished with black, red, then white rouge, then Mother's Mag polish. It turned out really good, but I honestly wish it had turned out even better for all the effort it took.

Post# 436900 , Reply# 16   12/30/2020 at 05:29 by huskyvacs (Indiana)        

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Well I don't know if you could have done any better of a job considering the metal itself is over a century old and likely was not made with optimum quality to start with. Maybe one of the waxes or sandpapers might have dulled it slightly? Or it could just be the underlying metal aging and effecting the finish.

Couldn't hurt to test a small spot on the bottom or somewhere hidden again with just one wax stick and polishing wheel and see if it makes it any better at being shiny or less swirly, be careful not to take the finish off though.

But overall I don't really think it matters that much because it already looks significantly better for sure. A museum would not even be able to do that good of a job. lol

I bet it is a lot quieter too without the bearings full of dirt and lint!

Post# 436914 , Reply# 17   12/30/2020 at 14:14 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

human's profile picture
That does look beautiful. If it has a few flaws still, they're a testament to the machine's authenticity. For me, going over the top and making a thing look better than when it left the factory runs the risk of turning it into something it never was.

My dad used to like to tell a story about a man he knew who had an antique Packard automobile in driver condition that he had great fun with, taking the neighborhood kids for rides and such. But as will happen, the car eventually got to the point where it needed some serious work and he decided to go all out and make it a real showpiece. What he didn't anticipate was that when he got the car back from the restorers, he couldn't enjoy it the same way anymore because he was too afraid of putting the slightest nick on it and ruining his investment so he ended up selling the car to a collector who just wanted to garage it, hide it away, and enjoy it essentially as a static display piece.

Post# 436923 , Reply# 18   12/30/2020 at 19:25 by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
Forgot to ask

Did you put any kind of final wax or polish to stave off Mr. Oxidation ?

Post# 436934 , Reply# 19   12/30/2020 at 23:36 by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

madman's profile picture
husky - There's two problems. One is that my sanding job was imperfect, there are some sanding marks left. Second is that some of the aluminum really is just dull despite the high degree of polish. To that, I think you may be right, in that there's probably an oxide layer that's gone deep enough into the metal that it can't be sanded off from the surface. Oh well.

human - Yes I had thought about that. I still plan on using it, though it's somewhat weak compared to my other hand vacs. As an aside, I can say for a fact that the polish job is better than factory. Under the model plate there was a patch of aluminum still shining like new, and the sanding marks were very prevalent.

kirbyklekter - No, I haven't waxed it yet. I'll get around to it sometime.

Post# 436975 , Reply# 20   12/31/2020 at 19:46 by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

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Patched the holes in the bag. Not pretty, but functional. I will need to make a new bag clip, the one on it is not meant for it. Other than that, it's fully restored to working order. I was using it on my stairs today. The suction is pathetic by modern standards. Still fun, though.

I checked the current draw, it's just over 100 watts. 30 shy of the rating, but my instruments are not super accurate. It did get a bit warm, but anyway it sounds like it's running perfectly fine.

Would you look at that? I finally managed to actually see a project through to completion... and in less than a year, too.

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Post# 436976 , Reply# 21   12/31/2020 at 19:49 by Lesinutah (Utah)        

lesinutah's profile picture
If you really get a high speed or high powered buffer the oxidation comes off.
The vacuum looks like a mini kirby vacuette.
Very nice to go along with your upright.

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