Thread Number: 9621
Kirby Model 517 Rebuild
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Post# 105308   8/6/2010 at 22:23 (3,532 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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A couple of weeks ago, a lady at my church told me she had a "green Kirby" she wanted to give me. Well, that excited me because I've been wanting a D80. I know a lot of people don't like the color scheme, but I find it quite endearing. So I finally made it over to her house today and followed her out to a storage building/barn. She pulled out a box and inside was a Model 517 with a D80 bag and green bag top. It apparently had been stored since 1984 since it was wrapped in yellowed newspaper from 1983 and 1984. It wasn't in great shape but still not terrible. So I schlepped it home, emptied out a boat load of dirt from the Sani-Emtor and fired it up. It actually worked! So I disassembled it and found that the commutator is still in good shape. The fan was busted, but I have a new fan and everything I need to overhaul the motor. All I need is a more appropriate bag and new headlight trim. After a bath in Purple Power and a little wet sanding on the castings, it's ready to be polished tomorrow. I discovered that the front of the belt lifter is a decal, which washed right off in the Purple Power bath. It was already looking really withered. I panicked until I remembered a friend of mine sent me a floor polisher with the exact same belt lifter that's in perfect shape! Crisis averted! LOL! Now if I can just get that one last wheel off the front axle!

Post# 105310 , Reply# 1   8/6/2010 at 22:57 (3,532 days old) by a007kirbyman (--->> Originally My Mom <<--- (now Wisconsin))        
'Green' Kirby...

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Hey Bill,

Sorry to hear it was not the 'green' Kirby you were L@@King for.

It is still a nice acquisition. And, you've got a nice start on this one's restoration. I anticipate seeing it completed.

A neat side note for all, is that even though Kirby redesigned the '500 Series' in '56, they still retained the 'old style' commutator arrangement & 'caps' until the model 518 Kirby.

Cheers & hagn all,


Post# 105312 , Reply# 2   8/6/2010 at 23:08 (3,532 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        
The Green Bag

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The D80 bag is still in excellent shape. It's slightly faded but held up well through two washings. I always wash a used bag twice. I'm sure it's not necessary, but it makes me feel like ALL the old dirt is gone. I'll hang onto this until a real D80 finds its way to my house. I may need it!

Post# 105369 , Reply# 3   8/7/2010 at 18:57 (3,531 days old) by kirbykid63 (Wilmington Delaware)        
Cant wait to see it done

What sand paper grit did you use to wet sand with?

Post# 105382 , Reply# 4   8/7/2010 at 21:51 (3,531 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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For some odd reason, the handle fork had a lot of deeper scratches on it (I guess from it being run up under furniture), along with the usual scratches on the nozzle. I began with 80 grit dry sanding, then 100, then 150. Then I switched to wet sanding with 320 and finally 400. Doing that saves a lot of time when polishing a casting.

The castings look beautiful; however, I discovered that the armature is bad. So I think the field and armature are both doing to need replacing. It'll be a couple of weeks now before I get it all done because we're going on vacation next week.

Post# 105383 , Reply# 5   8/7/2010 at 22:45 (3,531 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        
I Forgot . . .

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I used 220 grit after the 150. I used it for wet sanding too (even though it was made for wet sanding).

Post# 106364 , Reply# 6   8/19/2010 at 01:12 (3,520 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        
My "Green Kirby Is All Done!!!!!!!

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The parts to complete this rebuild came in while I was on vacation, and I was bound and determined to get this project done tonight. I ended up having to install a new motor, because the old armature and motor field were both bad. I hit a snafu but with Bill's (a007KirbyMan) help, I got it worked out over the phone. Thanks Bill!

Post# 106365 , Reply# 7   8/19/2010 at 01:14 (3,520 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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The new black bag looks very classy. However, I noticed that Kirby no longer puts the "Scott & Fetzer" tag on the back.

Post# 106366 , Reply# 8   8/19/2010 at 01:19 (3,520 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

eurekastar's profile picture
The new motor is noticeably stronger too. It's still a 4 AMP motor, but I think it's a more efficient design. Besides the parts I ordered from Bill, I was able to use some genuine headlight trim and a belt lifter that I found while on vacation. The cord is original. I'm very proud of this vacuum and may just use it for my daily vac.

Post# 106375 , Reply# 9   8/19/2010 at 05:18 (3,520 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

That's really a beautiful Kirby and I love the look of the black bag. Maybe some time you can experiment with silkscreening or sewing a Kirby logo on the front - that would be the perfect touch!

Post# 106376 , Reply# 10   8/19/2010 at 05:23 (3,520 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

P.S.: Why do you have the cord hook hanging from a bag chain? Just wondering.

Post# 106421 , Reply# 11   8/19/2010 at 18:15 (3,519 days old) by clothbag (West Springfield, Ma.)        

Bill, nice job on the Kirby. I like the way it looks with the black bag. Was the bag brand new or did you dye a generic bag?

Post# 106426 , Reply# 12   8/19/2010 at 19:36 (3,519 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

eurekastar's profile picture
The bag is a genuine Kirby bag. Black is now the only color that Kirby is making for both styles of replacement bags through the Classic Omega. As for the bag chain on the cord hook, I was just trying something different.

Post# 106582 , Reply# 13   8/21/2010 at 18:06 (3,517 days old) by a007kirbyman (--->> Originally My Mom <<--- (now Wisconsin))        
Kirby 517...

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Bill, I'm glad it all came together for you on the 517. She LQQKs really awesome.

I like that black bag with the red trim. I'm eager to see a couple with a black trimmed & grey trimmed model. I believe that the black is a 'better universal or neutral' color for the variety of models of Kirbys.

Anyway, you've done another excellent job on this one. Congrats.

Cheers & hagn all,


Ps: Has anyone seen Rick hiding in this thread somewhere? I see 'universal' snuck into the middle of my post. ~~lol~~

Post# 106609 , Reply# 14   8/21/2010 at 22:49 (3,517 days old) by crevicetool (GA )        

huh? (sniff) eh - s t r e t c h....

Oh! sorry I fell asleep.

Did someone say there was a black Universal in neutral in this thread?


Post# 106610 , Reply# 15   8/21/2010 at 22:53 (3,517 days old) by crevicetool (GA )        

Bill, You did an absolute beautiful job on that machine!!! Bill knows his stuff doesn't he Bill? I've talked to Bill on the phone too Bill, and Bill really.....


Yeah, that's right.

Anyway he really knows his stuff!

The machine looks showroom perfect. You should be very proud.



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