Thread Number: 43482  /  Tag: Recent Vacuum Cleaners from past 20 years
WOW....polishing a Kirby is a pain this arse.
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Post# 454137   6/27/2022 at 13:36 (226 days old) by Gvox (Georgia)        

I bought an Avalir for $60, it was working but looked like it'd been stored in a garage for a long time.  It was really quite dirty, and the metal bits had all lost their luster.  


I took it apart to give it a clean-up and service and thought I might as well shine up the metal bits on my bench polisher while I had it apart.  Running through different compounds I got the parts OK.  But then my OCD kicked in and I wanted to make them perfect.  ...3 hours later I'm still not perfectly happy with the results.  Don't get me wrong, most people would be fine with it.  But I still see some sort of oxidation line or something between where the rubber bumpers fit and the exposed metal.  You can see the outline of the bumpers. 


At this point, it probably would have been easier to just buy new metal covers and be done with it.  


Is there some "special compound" or process people use that I'm not aware of?  What do people use?  

Post# 454139 , Reply# 1   6/27/2022 at 13:41 (226 days old) by myvacsrock (USA)        
Two words: wet sanding

Itís the only way

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Post# 454142 , Reply# 2   6/27/2022 at 14:29 (226 days old) by suckolux (Yuba City, CA)        

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And eye protection, trust me on this one 😢

Post# 454144 , Reply# 3   6/27/2022 at 15:47 (226 days old) by Bimmer740 (Long Island, New York)        

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What is the best way to protect the finish once it has been polished? I just had my Diamond Edition rebuilt by the factory and I'd like to preserve the mirror like shine as long as possible. I've owned it since new and periodically polished it with Flitz so it never looked bad, but it wasn't perfect. I'm wondering if I can use a wax or ceramic sealant on it?

Post# 454146 , Reply# 4   6/27/2022 at 16:29 (226 days old) by huskyvacs (Gnaw Bone, Indiana)        

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" it probably would have been easier to just buy new metal covers and be done with it. "

And then it would oxidize again and you'd be in the same situation again, and then you will have just been wasting money.

If you are seeing an oxidation in the metal between the exposed metal and the metal behind the bumpers, then you are not polishing it right, and it should not take 3 hours. An hour at most if you are really slow at it.

These two videos were helpful to me, and I bought an ancient Sears & Roebuck table sander/polisher off eBay to perform the work. Also those covid face shields are very helpful to protect your eyes from compound splatter, metal dust, and polishing wheel fluff.

Post# 454147 , Reply# 5   6/27/2022 at 16:33 (226 days old) by huskyvacs (Gnaw Bone, Indiana)        

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Forgot to add - You only want to wet sand if you want to take out every single scratch and gouge in the metal. Not even Kirby wet sands. They have a secret way of doing it.

I have my Kirbys polished but I will not take any crash damage off them to preserve their history.

Post# 454156 , Reply# 6   6/27/2022 at 19:52 (226 days old) by Rowdy141 (London, UK)        

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To answer your question regarding preserving the finish;
I'd apply a good automotive liquid wax polish, one which is high in carnauba wax. Carnauba is one of the hardest waxes, when dry. Expensive, but you get what you pay for. It'll reduce oxidation, preserve the shine, and protect against bumps to some degree.
I use it all over the plastic trim, the flex, and bumpers too.
Just keep re-waxing the outside surfaces every now & then, as you would a classic car that has shiny paintwork. Oh, and I never use crystallized shampoo, dry foam, or Shake'n'Vac... to keep the inside corrosion free too.

Post# 454157 , Reply# 7   6/27/2022 at 19:53 (226 days old) by Louvac (A)        
Here's my two-cents on Kirby Polishing...

Like everyone else, I too like my Kirbys to shine like brand-new-out-of-the-box, BUT they all will oxidize over time. The reason why they "tarnish" is because of oxidation which is a naturally occurring process. I tend to want to believe that Kirby only uses an Alodine(TM) process which is a Chromate conversion coating that protects aluminum and other metals from rust and corrosion. This is different than a plating process which utilizes zinc Chromate to also clean but then leave an actual coating upon the metal.

For some reason, Royal metal uprights appear to have more of a plating than an Alodine application. This is similar to Bonderite and Iridite which are other trademarks. However, don't hold me to it as this is only my speculation.

This being said, I personally do not sand or use any harsh applications on my Kirbys. What I generally do first is to use a dry 0000 grade steel wool pad to clean the metal first and use a blow dryer to blow away the dry dust and grime. Then, I use Mothers Mag Polish, or Blue Magic Metal Polish Cream. I also discovered that over time the metal will actually appear brighter and shinier and less "blothchy". After a few applications over a period of a few days or weeks the leopard spots are less noticeable and the machine will look pretty good. Sanding removes and wears down the metal and makes it thinner which is why I am not a fan.

The way I look at it, if that's the way the company manufacturers their machine, then it's a reflection on them. It's a vacuum cleaner and if you don't use it, you lose it. The natural occurring battle scars give it character. It's more important that it's mechanically sound and fully operational than being bright and shiny new. Yes, we all like them like that but there is nothing wrong with having a machine that has some age marks on it.

Again, just my two-cents. Feel free to agree to disagree. But it's funny, most machines that ever made an impression on me as a child or even now as an adult has been a machine in just its average used condition.

Post# 454161 , Reply# 8   6/27/2022 at 21:53 (226 days old) by Gvox (Georgia)        

I don't think it'll show up in a picture.  But there is a faint but clear line of demarkation between the metal that was under the plastic bumpers and the metal above.  It just tickles my OCD.   The parts are shiny.  I just find it curious that no matter how much polishing I do, the faint difference isn't going away.   So, I'm pretty much done.  It'll look fine and be functional. and once the bumpers are back on no one will notice them.  


Thanks for all the info.  

Post# 454190 , Reply# 9   6/28/2022 at 18:12 (225 days old) by Louvac (A)        
That's the...

That's the right attitude! Mine would look the same as yours, trust me. I don't obsess with it anymore. Over time if you polish it again in a few months I believe those marks will fade. The only way a machine would not tarnish or oxidize would be if you kept it in a temperature controlled glass case. Enjoy it!

Post# 454214 , Reply# 10   6/29/2022 at 11:02 (224 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        
Labor of Love...

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I've never really had any desire to make a machine look perfect but shining one up, for me, is a labor of love and I really have to be in the right frame of mind for it. It usually takes me an afternoon to dismantle everything and polish it up by hand. I use a combination of Mother's and Never-Dull. Somehow, the two seem to have a synergistic effect.

I've got a couple of two-sided bench grinders with grinding wheels on both sides. I really need to change one of them over for a buffing wheel.

Post# 454513 , Reply# 11   7/6/2022 at 21:42 (217 days old) by vacuumdevil (Vacuum Hell )        

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Low quality aluminum like what kirbys are made out of is absolutely a pain to work with! It would also seem the alloy changes once you get to the later generation series. Seems to get softer so I'm not sure what they added to it but it's not great.

I personally like to start with the belt grinder go up to a polisher with some rouge and finish up with a wet sand by hand. The average Kirby takes about 2 hours to do.

Post# 454599 , Reply# 12   7/9/2022 at 00:02 (215 days old) by panasonicvac (Northern Utah)        

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I'm planning to experiment with a Kirby to see how long it would take to polish and buff the metal back to a shiny new look by sand blasting. That's what Kirby themselves do when they rebuild their machines.

Post# 454623 , Reply# 13   7/9/2022 at 22:19 (214 days old) by MadMan (Chicago, IL, USA)        

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Well, I suppose if you could find graded blasting media in progressively finer grit, it would work. Very dusty, though.

Post# 454629 , Reply# 14   7/10/2022 at 00:31 (214 days old) by huskyvacs (Gnaw Bone, Indiana)        

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Might as well track down ex Kirby employees and have them give you a grocery list of equipment at this point, lol

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