Thread Number: 8069
Apex problem
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Post# 89801   1/23/2010 at 17:42 (3,677 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        

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I've recently won a Vintage Apex upright from the US dating from about 1920. Only thing is the seller is having trouble getting the upper wooden handle off the metal fork below and says he needs to do this to ship within suitable limits.

I emailed him to say I'd give him some advice if he sends pictures showing the handle fixing arrangement in more detail, since I've not had this model before, so can't assume it's just like on the Hoovers.

From what I can see, from the picture that he listed the machine with, is that theres an electrical lead underneath, which probably goes to a removable plug and that the front of the handle fork juts out and has a bit that looks like a screw hole - so it may screw in front to back instead of side to side.

It seems like the problem is that there's a sleeve, which moves when the screw is turned. I was wondering if this might be a threaded stud and part of the handle fork, which has worked loose, preventing removal of the screw..but because I can't see what he's done I can't offer advice, except to say that he could maybe grind off the head of the screw. I can run a nut and bolt through of some sort so long as the main part of the handle and fork remains intact.

I know that on Hoovers, there's either a nut and bolt that goes from side to side...or on earlier models with wooden handle either a bolt underneath with nut in the handle or a thread directly into the handle fork and a threaded stud in the main handle. On the very early ones you have to unscrew the whole handle.

Don't know if any of you guys know what's involved with this Apex?


Post# 92171 , Reply# 1   2/24/2010 at 11:49 (3,645 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
It's here...but now I need to get the armature out..

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This early straight-suction Apex machine is currently partially dismantled, since I can't get any electrical continuity through the motor or switch. However, it's difficult to hold the armature still in the normal way, whilst attempting to unscrew the fan. There's no internal cooling fan to get a grip on and it's not possible to grab hold of the armature at the other end by hand. I've already tried making a small slot in the end of the shaft at the fan end with a hacksaw but it's too tight to hold it still with a screwdriver whilst attempting to undo. The only other way that seems possible is to insert some sort of armature locking tool through the vents at the rear of the motor.

Any ideas? The last patent date on the machine is from 1919.

The switch appears to be a rotary type, possibly General Electric?..but the knob is missing.

I'll see if I can take some pictures of it later.


Post# 92267 , Reply# 2   2/25/2010 at 13:12 (3,644 days old) by watsonw (Newport, Shropshire, UK)        

Hello Stephen,

A friend has what sounds like the UK GEC version, i'll ask him when next in touch.

Regards, Walter.

Post# 92270 , Reply# 3   2/25/2010 at 14:55 (3,644 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Thanks Walter!

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I've not yet seen a straight-suction GEC upright in the UK, though I have a straight-suction GEC from the US.

There's a lot of variation in design between machines, so I'm not sure if your friend's GEC will be similar.

Usually, it's a simple matter of unscrewing a nut or belt pulley and twisting off the fan, which is unthreaded...but not so on this machine, which has no nut or pulley; the fan is threaded straight onto the armature and appears to be right, as opposed to left-hand threaded.

Some machines, such as Cadillac and some very early Hoovers have a pulley that screws onto the fan, which is itself keyed onto the armature shaft.

I was prompted to look up an armature tool, which I remember seeing listed in Re-New's 1943 American Catalogue. There was only one tool listed, which was a rather crude device. This was like a screwdriver and had a 90 degree angle in it towards one end, so it could be hooked around a suitable locking point. I could fabricate something similar myself but don't want to damage the windings by accidentally cutting into them.

I may try applying some localised heat onto the fan - again I don't want to fry the windings..but the shaft is on tight.


Post# 92532 , Reply# 4   3/1/2010 at 13:13 (3,640 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Finally, it comes off!

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Just got the fan off the Apex today. I warmed up the fan a little with the oxy-propane torch, then poured some plus gas releasing fluid onto the shaft.

I eventually unlocked the armature from the fan by jamming a screwdriver through the rear of the motor casing into one of the armature slots and turning the fan by hand.

Having removed the fan I discovered that there is probably an easier way - there's no screws hidden behind the fan!! Instead, the backplate holding the front oil bearing can be prised away from the main motor casing using a screwdriver, something I hadn't spotted it's probably possible to remove the backplate complete with the armature and fan and then unscrew the fan, whilst holding onto the armature. That would have been easier.

Now I just need to figure out why there's no continuity through the field coils and the switch..

Anyway here's some pictures:

1 Showing the fan - you can just about make out the right hand screw thread

Post# 92533 , Reply# 5   3/1/2010 at 13:17 (3,640 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Showing motor with fan removed & oxy propane torch

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There's possibly 88 years of filth behind the fan!

Post# 92534 , Reply# 6   3/1/2010 at 13:23 (3,640 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Showing rear of fan

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Here's the back of the fan. It's hard to tell from the picture but it's flat,unlike on some other machines. The torch and motor can be seen on the ground.

Post# 92536 , Reply# 7   3/1/2010 at 13:26 (3,640 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Showing front of the machine

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Here's the front casing. Do you recognise it now?

Post# 92537 , Reply# 8   3/1/2010 at 13:31 (3,640 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Showing inside of motor & backplate

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Here's what the inside of the motor looks like with armature and field coils in-situ.

Post# 92538 , Reply# 9   3/1/2010 at 13:35 (3,640 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Showing name plate

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Here's the nameplate on the motor. The last patent date is from January 1919 but I suspect that the machine may date from 1922, since the armature is stamped 2 22.

Post# 92540 , Reply# 10   3/1/2010 at 13:43 (3,640 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Showing holes in rear of motor

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Here are the holes in the back of the motor. I placed a screwdriver through one of these to jam the armature. Now I suspect there's an easier way - just lever the backplate out!

Note the rear oil (sleeve) bearing.


Post# 92763 , Reply# 11   3/3/2010 at 13:42 (3,638 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Removing tape to check Field Coils

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Some black insulating tape was removed to expose a solder joint. Subsequently belling through the Field Coils confirmed that the fault was in the cable going into the motor from the handle and that the Field Coils were not open circuit - a relief!.

Post# 92764 , Reply# 12   3/3/2010 at 13:45 (3,638 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Showing Link Wire

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The Field Coils on this machine are connected together via a link wire in series, so the current goes through both coils before passing through the armature or vice versa.

Post# 92765 , Reply# 13   3/3/2010 at 13:53 (3,638 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Oh dear!

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Oh dear, what shall I do with this old cable?

The little bits of brown cloth-covered material are breaking up and leaving shreds of cloth everywhere! say nothing of the old and unusual rotary switch, which is jammed up and missing its knob.

The switch is a very interesting and delicate item, with a little ratchet and a contact which either makes or breaks with a 90 degree turn.

I had to remove the switch and the taped-up portion of the cable from the top of the hand-grip, chop the cable and then pull it back down through the spring.

Post# 92766 , Reply# 14   3/3/2010 at 13:58 (3,638 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
The motor is back together - hooray!

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I spent some time cleaning the parts by hand, then re-assembled the motor.

A new piece of cable had to be soldered onto the cut-down Field Coil leads.

Note the oil holes with the little ball bearing seals.

Post# 92767 , Reply# 15   3/3/2010 at 14:01 (3,638 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Front end back!

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The front end goes back on in a small corner of the tiny shed.

Post# 92768 , Reply# 16   3/3/2010 at 14:03 (3,638 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Different angle

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Another view of the front end with the switch resting on it

Post# 92769 , Reply# 17   3/3/2010 at 14:11 (3,638 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
It's all back!

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It's all back together!

..and as far as I'm concerned, well worth the wait.

I've been interested in aquiring one since I saw a photo of one in a book covering models from circa 1923. This appears to have the original bag.

Post# 92770 , Reply# 18   3/3/2010 at 14:13 (3,638 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Frontal View

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Here's another angle

Post# 92771 , Reply# 19   3/3/2010 at 14:15 (3,638 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Lower View

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Showing the lower section

Post# 92772 , Reply# 20   3/3/2010 at 14:27 (3,638 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Now for the best bit - it works!

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The machine runs very well..and did so from the outset, surprising even me!

However I have cheated somewhat, since I can't fix the switch at present, so I've bypassed it for the time being and disconnected it. I have put the remains back inside the handle in case I or someone else can get parts for it at some time in the future.

The cable is new, except that I re-used the cloth-covered wiring going down a slot in the wooden handle, something that can be seen from earlier illustrations and which I forgot to mention.

I also forgot to mention the corrugated threaded bush, which pushes into a taper in the wooden handle - a bolt screws into it. There are two such fittings, one of which caused the seller some trouble, since he couldn't undo it and the bolt sheared off. I substituted this with a nut and bolt and managed to jam the nut into the taper, which saved me having to drill the handle out and run a bolt all the way through.

Post# 92773 , Reply# 21   3/3/2010 at 14:29 (3,638 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
View of bag logo

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Here's the bag logo, seen on the inflated bag.

Post# 92774 , Reply# 22   3/3/2010 at 14:31 (3,638 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Finally, a working view seen from the front

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Here's a view in front of dad's book shelves...

Post# 92776 , Reply# 23   3/3/2010 at 16:04 (3,638 days old) by watsonw (Newport, Shropshire, UK)        

Hello Stephen,

Just off the phone to my friend with the GEC / Apex variant and he said his has a nut on threat type assembly on the fan which is different yours, so im glad to see you've succeeded in dismantling things. Its certainly buffed up well ?

Regards, Walter.

Post# 92933 , Reply# 24   3/5/2010 at 16:24 (3,636 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
Hi Walter

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Yes, most machines I've seen are of the nut-on-thread variety. This machine is unusual in this respect.

I believe this to be an Apex Model A3, dating from about 1922, though I'm not sure how long they were made for.

As far as buffing is concerned I only spent about an hour hand polishing it with Autosol and was surprised how well it came up.

I have got a buffing wheel, which is only a 6" size, adapted to use on my 6" bench grinder. I fitted the supplied arbor to this, which was a little difficult to centralise and used it recently to buff up my Columbus Upright. Although it did a good job, the green polishing stick supplied seemed to quickly clog up the wheel and on some occassions left deposits on the casing, which had to be cleaned off again.

The main reaason I didn't use the buffing wheel on the Columbus was because I didn't want to have to remove the rivets holding the nameplate on the motor in case I damaged the badge by polishing over I figured that by the time I'd cleared enough space to move in the shed I would have got on quite well by hand!

One of the good things about hand polishing is that you can keep on doing a little bit without taking the machine to pieces.

I also have a Kirby Handi-Butler attachment but unfortunately the flexible drive coupling assembly is damaged at the handle end.


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