Thread Number: 43764  /  Tag: Pre-1950 Vacuum Cleaners
Circa 1915 Birtman "The Republic"
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Post# 456733   9/13/2022 at 15:12 by Hoover300 (Kentucky)        

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A fellow collector picked this up for me at a certain store that I am sure a few of you are familiar with, and shipped it to me. I did pay an arm and a leg to get it, but worth it for something as rare as this. The bag has one small repair at the bottom, and no holes. The original cord is in very good shape, the 2 taped spots were rid of the old hardened cloth tape and redone in a more flexible electric tape. The original metal body inline switch has been gutted a long time ago but the shell is on the cord and shall stay there. A new inline switch will be fitted in its place. The original motor tag was missing so I added one from a similar, for parts motor from the same company. The handle can be removed, a small handle screwed onto the side, and the bag can latch on the box where the cord comes out in order to be turned into a primitive handheld. There is a brush bar controlled by a lever on the bottom, but the bristles are nearly gone. It sits on 3 small wood wheels, the rear one with a height adjuster knob.

Sadly the commutator is shorting out between 2 or 3 of the bars, causing it to run slowly and arc quite a lot. The rotor does seem similar to one from a sleeve bearing Bee Vac, I will attempt a swap tomorrow.

As far as I know, this is the only one. If anyone else has one, please post pics! I'd love to see!


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Post# 456743 , Reply# 1   9/13/2022 at 20:09 by huskyvacs (Indiana)        

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Wow what a goofy looking vacuum, you can tell this was when they were just trying anything they could think up and seeing what worked best. Looks like they were trying to build a lawnmower, lol

You are definitely giving Kyle a run for his money with these finds! Keep it up!


Post# 456747 , Reply# 2   9/13/2022 at 20:47 by royalsuper (france )        

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congratulations to you Kieran ! It's a very old and beautiful machine you have there. difficult to find documentation or information about this one , I hope you find a compatible rotor !

Post# 456761 , Reply# 3   9/14/2022 at 16:41 by Hoover300 (Kentucky)        

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I found that a Bee Vac G rotor is very similar, but with a longer end. So after many tweaks and modifications, I got it to work! Little to no arcing at all!

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Post# 456762 , Reply# 4   9/14/2022 at 16:54 by Hoover300 (Kentucky)        

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The only info I can find on this. The ad dates to 1915, yet the patent was applied for in 1916. Either the date for the ad is wrong, or they started production before applying for the patent.

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Post# 456763 , Reply# 5   9/14/2022 at 17:15 by royalsuper (france )        

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$ 22 .00 this vacuum cleaner was rather cheap for its time compared to other competing brands ! i am happy to know that it is now working with a new rotor

Post# 456770 , Reply# 6   9/15/2022 at 01:22 by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
Brushroll position

Am I right in thinking that with the brushroll positioned back from the front,almost centered to the motor that more weight is being put on said roller? At first I thought that it would be awkward vacuuming up to a wall, but then how many people had wall to wall carpeting back then,mostly area rugs I believe.

If you did have wall to wall carpets I guess you would just have to vacuum at right angles along the wall! Interesting machine, I'm glad you solved the arching problem. Does it have oil wicks for the bearings?


Post# 456778 , Reply# 7   9/15/2022 at 08:27 by bikerray (Middle Earth)        

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I think it's interesting that the brush strip (not a brushroll) is centered inside the nozzle rather than clipped on to the front or back of the nozzle. It also looks like it needs a few bristles.

Post# 456808 , Reply# 8   9/16/2022 at 12:48 by royalsuper (france )        

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Kieran, I found this photo which comes from the stark's museum ,the vacuum cleaner seems to have been manufactured in 1915.is it the same manufacturer as yours ?

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Post# 456810 , Reply# 9   9/16/2022 at 13:45 by Hoover300 (Kentucky)        

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Wow...........
I've looked everywhere for a pic of that in Stark's old museum. The other aluminum vac behind it is 1 of a kind but I would pay a LOT for either of those. That is a Bee Model D. I own the modified motor to one. Same manufacturer but the motors are entirely different inside.


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Post# 456813 , Reply# 10   9/16/2022 at 14:02 by Hoover300 (Kentucky)        

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Oil wicks - Sorta. There are oiling holes on both bearings, but unsure if they have wicks.

Positioning - It is near impossible to push on any non-looped carpeting due to the low clearance and placement of the handle. I can't imagine how bad it was when the brush had bristles. Getting in corners is a paaaain lol

I wonder if the brush strip was partially for safety, as much like my Brilliant, the fan is very close to the ground. However, unlike the Brilliant, the strip prevents fingers from being pushed into the fan.


Post# 456814 , Reply# 11   9/16/2022 at 14:04 by Hoover300 (Kentucky)        

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Back to the Bee D - the Grand Rapids Public Museum has one too. But theirs has an updated bag connection, a spot for a little lint roller in the head, and a cap on the front for a small hose.

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Post# 456815 , Reply# 12   9/16/2022 at 14:20 by royalsuper (france )        

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kieran i sent you the photos in high resolution !
I love the cartwheels of the vacuum cleaner even if it had to be very difficult to handle on the carpets !


Post# 456816 , Reply# 13   9/16/2022 at 14:23 by Hoover300 (Kentucky)        

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Thank you!!

Post# 456817 , Reply# 14   9/16/2022 at 14:36 by royalsuper (france )        

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indeed the model D of Grand Rapids is an improved model with a hole in the front to adapt the accessories in options ,the vacuum cleaner which comes from the stark's museum is perhaps older ?


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