Thread Number: 44379  /  Tag: Recent Vacuum Cleaners from past 20 years
Clarke and Powr Flite question
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Post# 461946   4/1/2023 at 23:46 (389 days old) by Eureka1998 (New York )        

eureka1998's profile picture
Sanitaire was a direct subsidiary of Eureka and eureka products were apparent for the longest time on their roster of cleaners, but that always made me curious. Maybe someone on here might know. Were the commercial brands known as Clarke and Powr Flite also subsidiaries, or did Eureka just make the vacuums for those companies to slap the name on? It's easy to tell when a vacuum could be a knock off but the Clarke and Powr Flite machines are definitely Eureka manufactured so idk what the story behind that is.

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Post# 461947 , Reply# 1   4/2/2023 at 00:22 (389 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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Power flite was a vacuum distributor then became a vacuum manufacturer in 1986. I'm guessing they supplied parts for eureka and then were produced in the same plant ad eureka. Clark, Kent, Dayton are all similar. The power filter and Kent have a slightly larger motor than eureka 7.2 I do believe.
Power flite is owned by Taconic. The above mentioned machines are commercial vacuums. I also think NSS the makers if the Pig vacuum make a version of this vacuum.

Post# 461948 , Reply# 2   4/2/2023 at 02:14 (388 days old) by huskyvacs (Gnaw Bone, Indiana)        

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Clarke is a commercial janitorial equipment company and has existed since 1916. Totally has nothing to do with Eureka/Sanitaire. They maybe bought Eureka's old molds, but they have no connection to Eureka. They are partners with Nilfisk though.

Post# 461951 , Reply# 3   4/2/2023 at 08:51 (388 days old) by Eureka1998 (New York )        
Lesinutah & Huskyvacs

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Thank you both for the answers! Both seem plausible here! Theres only ONE company I know that is a full on knockoff and has no sort of ties whatsoever, that being Perfect. Many may not be able to tell but there is a way to tell if these commercial units are the actual thing or not. The base and the vents of say a Sanitaire and a Perfect, is a good example. Sanitaire's and vacuums that use the Sanitaire mold have straight vents and more rectangular floorheads. Perfect has more angular floorheads with vents facing downward like an arrow almost. Perfect makes the Big Green line for Bissell, where as the acquired Sanitaire brand still has the Eureka molds, of course with a few new additions.

Post# 461969 , Reply# 4   4/2/2023 at 18:33 (388 days old) by speedqueen (Harrison Twp MI)        
History of Commercial vacuums..

Eureka was the contract manufacturer of choice for various companies in both the residential market, such as Montgomery Ward and the commercial sphere such as Clarke, Advance, Powr-Flite and others. This was simply a private labeling venture for companies that had no interest in designing and manufacturing their own lightweight upright. Most of these companies made their own heavy duty cleaner, Advance's CarpeTwin 14 for example, an almost 50lb dual motor upright that certainly wasn't easy to push(I own one), along side making things such as floor machines and automatic scrubbers. They just didn't devote the effort to making their own unit as they could simply have a top tier unit made for them, and Eureka was happy to supply it.

The one exception to this was the Kent Company of Elkhart, Indiana. In 1969 AB Electrolux(Electrolux Sweden not USA) purchased Kent and it became a subsidiary. In 1974 Eureka was also purchased by AB Electrolux and remained with them until the sale to Midea in 2016(Sanitaire division to Bissell in 2018). Kent machines made between 1974 and 1998 when Kent was sold to Nilfisk-Advance were within the same company under Electrolux and in fact some of the manufacturing equipment was moved to Kent's Elkhart plant that my former boss toured back in the 1980s as a Kent Dealer.

Now of days, the patents and designs of the Eureka platform are long since expired and anyone can make them if they so choose and that is why Nationwide/Perfect has gotten into that business of making Sanitaire clones. Curiously enough, Bissell's BigGreen commercial line is still sourcing Perfect units despite owning the Sanitaire line and manufacturing facilities in Mexico.

Post# 461971 , Reply# 5   4/2/2023 at 19:16 (388 days old) by Eureka1998 (New York )        

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Interesting! I figured they were Eureka machines! Smart to actually have Eureka make the machines for all those companies, none of them look at all like knockoffs so its cool to know thats actually true in a way. Perfect definitely makes all the clones in China or elsewhere. The Big Green line is 100% Perfect machines. They also clone the former Aerus Electrolux uprights as well. Despite being bought out by Bissell, Sanitaire machines are definitely still Sanitaire despite the newer motors. It still has the same exact molds from the Electrolux/Eureka days, is still manufactured in Mexico too I believe, and they kept the newer motors from the Electrolux era. They're really still OG Eureka machines even if Bissell is slapped on the company now. Only thing added during Bissell's purchase was a plastic looped handle, a red power cord, and the fact that some obvious Bissell machines have been added to the lineup.

Post# 461979 , Reply# 6   4/2/2023 at 22:53 (388 days old) by speedqueen (Harrison Twp MI)        
A little more info and some speculation

I should note that Lesinutah is correct that Powr-Flite was originally a parts supplier that turned into a manufacturing company, they were originally known as Southwest. When exactly they became affiliated with Tacony, I'm not exactly sure, but while Tacony's residential stuff, Simplicity/Riccar, is generally well regarded around here, it is of my opinion as a service tech in the janitorial/carpet cleaning end of things that between the stuff that they source and stuff that they actually build, Powr-Flite is absolute junk with few exceptions. Parts are also far more difficult to look up, source and cost more than those from actual commercial companies like Nilfisk-Advance that build quality equipment. A year ago I worked on a Powr-Flite automatic floor scrubber and despite a fresh pad, new squeegees that were properly adjusted and good detergent it just would not clean well at all; it was as though it had all the ingredients of a scrubber but somehow it just didn't turn out right. As my old boss at Michigan Maintenance used to say about them, "Powr-Flite, Powr-Fright, don't break on me tonight!"

Another company affiliated with Tacony is Tornado Industries, who at one point were an independent company and then were owned by Karcher for some time.

Regarding some changes made during the Bissell Sanitaire transition, the mold for the looped handle already existed, it was already on the higher end machines such as the SC889 and S677/S675, also the Gray power cord lives on on the cheaper models such as the SL635, the SC679(which used to be called the "Maid Saver" due to its light weight) and the SC684. Now that they have access to the Bissell bagless units based on the old cleanview and others I wish the long trotted out commercial version of the old Eureka Whirlwind would go away with its awful filter in bin clog-o-matic nature. Unfortunately, Bissell has kept it on even longer. They also still make a Sanitaire version of the 1980s Eureka Ultra in the form of the Duralite, which is decent and should run circles around an Oreck.

About the new motors, I've still yet to find any good reason why most people here hate them. The seem to be just as long lasting as the old ones and just as serviceable(Eureka motors have always been difficult to do more than change the carbon brushes), though at the very beginning of the run they did epoxy the screws. The only scenario where they aren't as good is in event of a blown fan, if the user continues to run one of them with an off balance fan for extended periods it will destroy the motor as the lower bearing support is not as thick as on the older motor. On the old motors they were a little more tolerant of that specific abuse, but eventually it would still destroy the lower bearing anyway.

To the speculation, Eureka made their own motors up into the 2000s, then at some point it appears that they sold the original tooling to Ametek Lamb who continued to supply them to Eureka for a while, at some point I guess they decided to have another company make it for them and since they were no longer tied to the legacy tooling they took the liberty to make some changes, namely make the top of the motor out of one piece of thermoset plastic instead of having an separate steel bearing retainer screwed to the top which is what gives old Sanitaires their distinctive sound. Without their only buyer for that motor I'm guessing Ametek sold the tooling to whoever is currently making the motors for Perfect.

Post# 461980 , Reply# 7   4/3/2023 at 00:41 (387 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

I have a new "Bisseltaire" 5A vacuum I bought at the Greenville Sew&vac.Sme commercial customers were requesting them.The vacuum has a dump bag-smooth inner surface so dust doesn't cling to it.The vacuum was built in China.It is well made.Just as good as the older Sanitaires.

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