Thread Number: 9670
My New Kirby Model C4
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Post# 105755   8/12/2010 at 11:13 (3,480 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

eurekastar's profile picture
Right now I'm on vacation with my family and we're visiting my Mom in another part of Texas. This morning, I went into a local vacuum store to get some things for my Mom's Kirby Diamond G. I asked the store owner if he ever got older Kirby vacuums in for service or trade. He showed me the usual suspects -- a Heritage, a Classic III. Then he said, "I have this really old one in back that I used to keep on display. I wonder if you can identify it?" I followed him to the back and low and behold it is a Kirby C4!!!!!!!!! I said, "I'd like to buy it if you're willing to part with it." He said, "I'll take $25 for it." So while I was there, I called a friend about my find. The guy at the vacuum store was so glad that I was excited about getting the vacuum that he ended up just giving it to me! I forgot to bring my camera with me and my Mom doesn't have one, but I'll post a photo when I get back home. It has the original bag that only has one small fray on the back at the top. That's easily fixed. It appears to have the original cord that's in good shape too. And when we fired it up in the store, it had just a hint of bearing noise but that went away very quickly! I'm very excited because I never thought I would come across a find like this. The only major issue is the handle grip. The rubber is is worn and tearing on it. But I am THRILLED!

Post# 105756 , Reply# 1   8/12/2010 at 11:26 (3,480 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

eurekastar's profile picture
It is correctly called a "Model 4C". Also, I forgot to mention that this model has no belt lifter, just a black cap with the red "Kirby" logo. And the Em-tor tray appears to be chrome.

Post# 105758 , Reply# 2   8/12/2010 at 11:41 (3,480 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

WOWWW, what a find!!!!!

Can't wait to see photos of it.

Post# 105759 , Reply# 3   8/12/2010 at 12:01 (3,480 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

P.S. You're darn lucky the Kirby dealer didn't increase the price by ten-fold when he saw how excited you were. That has happened to me more than a few times.

I'd go into a vac shop, ask if they have any old machines. The proprietor would often say, "Well, I have a pile of crappy old machines in the shed out back, they're not worth a red cent and I really need to get around to having them hauled away."

I'd ask to have a look.

"Well, go ahead. If there's anything you want in there we can make a deal but I really ought to pay you to haul the stuff away."

He opens the door to the shed and there's some real gems in there -- say, maybe a 1930s all-original Kirby. I make the huuuuuuge mistake of gasping in shock and unabashedly showing my great glee. "OH WOWWWWWWW! What a wonderful old Kirby! I've been looking for one of these for yeeeeeears!!! What do you want for it?"

The man casually crosses an arm across his chest, holding his other arm up as he rests his chin into his hand. He looks skyward and says after a long minute, "Well, I've been holding on to that particular one for a long time. I kinda hate to part with it but I'd let it go for ... hmm ... two thousand dollars, sales tax included."

I stand there for a long minute, my blood beginning to boil. I say, "A minute ago, all the stuff out here was junk and crap that you said you should pay me to haul away. Now they're worth thousands of dollars?"

He'd say, "That's right. I had forgotten about all these rare old treasures I've got out here."

One time I got so mad with one of those opportunistic creeps that I said to him in a low, soft, trembling voice, "You know what? When you die and your relatives come in here to clear this store out, or when you go broke and have to close your business, those old machines are going to get thrown into a dumpster, and you won't make a f@#$%&* nickel on them. To hell with you, you greedy crook."

And off I went, and never darkened his doors again.

A couple years later I happened to be in that area and found myself driving past the store. It was now a tax preparer's office. I could just see that shed full of old vacuum cleaners getting dragged away by a scrap metal dealer.

The moral is, we collectors really do need to keep a poker face when going into a vac shop and find some really old machines. Otherwise, 9 times out of 10 that "old crap out back" is suddenly going to become a goldmine to the shopkeeper.

Post# 105760 , Reply# 4   8/12/2010 at 12:51 (3,480 days old) by a007kirbyman (--->> Originally My Mom <<--- (now Wisconsin))        
Kirby 4C...

a007kirbyman's profile picture
Hi Bill.

As I said when we talked earlier, nice acquisition. Congratulations on the 'improved' deal you got.

If you want to improve your cash outlay on the deal, I will still do the same deal as I said when we spoke, (even though you now got it for free ~~LOL~~).

Seriously though, wtg on the deal. L@@K forward to seeing it both b4 & after you've 'restored' it to it's grandeur!!!

Cheers & hagd all,


Post# 105761 , Reply# 5   8/12/2010 at 12:55 (3,480 days old) by joe22 ()        

CONGRATZ on the awesome find

Post# 105771 , Reply# 6   8/12/2010 at 17:03 (3,480 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

eurekastar's profile picture
Well, I went and borrowed my brother's camera, so here are a few photos. The store owner was a super nice guy. I couldn't believe he just GAVE it to me. But he was listening to my conversation on the phone with Bill (a007Kirbyman) and heard my enthusiasm for the vacuum. He said he was just glad it's going to someone who appreciates it. He used to keep it on display but rearranged his floor and didn't have room for it. So it's sat in the back for a few years just collecting dust.

Post# 105772 , Reply# 7   8/12/2010 at 17:04 (3,480 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

eurekastar's profile picture
The cord is in fairly good shape. I don't know if this is original. It doesn't have "Kirby" stamped on the male end.

Post# 105775 , Reply# 8   8/12/2010 at 17:09 (3,480 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

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The rubber on the headlight is in fairly good shape too. The trim attaches in a very different way than later models, so I don't quite know how I'm going to work approach that part of the cleanup. It's hard to tell from this photo, but the insulation on the headlight wires is starting to deteriorate. I wonder what the insulation on the wires themselves looks like.

Post# 105777 , Reply# 9   8/12/2010 at 17:11 (3,480 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        
Switch Side View

eurekastar's profile picture
It has the old toggle style switch. I noticed a screw missing from the housing.

Post# 105778 , Reply# 10   8/12/2010 at 17:13 (3,480 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        
Em-tor Side View

eurekastar's profile picture
It's actually in very good shape. It's just dirty. I'll CAREFULLY hand wash the bag. Did these models originally have a bag guard?

Post# 105780 , Reply# 11   8/12/2010 at 17:15 (3,480 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        
Rear View

eurekastar's profile picture
You can see where a safety pin is used to close the top of the bag that's frayed. A needle and black thread should fix that.

Post# 105782 , Reply# 12   8/12/2010 at 17:18 (3,480 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        
Model Plate

eurekastar's profile picture
You can barely read where it says "No. 4C" then the serial number -- 690510. I'm guessing this was made somewhere around 1940 or 1941. That's purely a guess on my part.

Post# 105784 , Reply# 13   8/12/2010 at 17:21 (3,480 days old) by sanimatic ()        

and from a Kirby history expert, what year / time frame was this from? No belt lifter, but I see the latch to remove the brush nozzle. Did these have attachments?

Post# 105787 , Reply# 14   8/12/2010 at 17:35 (3,480 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        
The handle

eurekastar's profile picture
I don't know what I'll do with the handle grip -- keep this one or paint out a new to match the original color scheme. I can't date these exactly. I remember reading somewhere the "Model C" was manufactured from 1935 to 1937. So following the models in sequence (and this is a total guess on my part): Model 2C 1938, Model 3C 1939, Model 4C 1940? Bill (a007Kirbyman) is going to check with his contact at Kirby to date it through the serial number.

Post# 105788 , Reply# 15   8/12/2010 at 17:48 (3,480 days old) by a007kirbyman (--->> Originally My Mom <<--- (now Wisconsin))        
Year(s) & attachments...

a007kirbyman's profile picture
Hey Chris.

Bill is definitely in the ballpark with his guess.

They were produced &/or sold between 11/1940 & 03/1945. Production vs. sales is a little more sketchy as this time overlapped into & with WWII.

I hope this is of help Chris.


...on your acquisition:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ WOW !!! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And, on how...

I am impressed with the story of how you got this Kirby 4C. And, I am impressed & proud when others are able to see that their ARE other GOOD Kirby guys out there. Unfortunately when there are instances of problems, it gets 'glamorized' by the media.

Talk soon.

Cheers & hagn all,


Post# 105789 , Reply# 16   8/12/2010 at 17:52 (3,480 days old) by joe22 ()        


Post# 105797 , Reply# 17   8/12/2010 at 19:24 (3,480 days old) by eluxca ()        

It looks to be 100% original. Holy cow, nice machine!


Post# 105813 , Reply# 18   8/12/2010 at 20:32 (3,480 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

Ohhhhhh that is just absolutely stunning!! I will say, if it were me, I would not dare wash the bag, not even hand wash. Because it's very likely if you do, the silkscreened lettering will flake off. And wouldn't THAT be a tragegy. What I would do is gently, and I mean *gently* rub the bag with a dampened, soft cloth, just to remove the surface dust, and I wouldn't rub any one area very much. Better for the bag not to be perfectly clean than to ruin it.

Note that the front wheels are wider, and the rear wheels are narrower, than the wheels used on the 505 and thereafter. I think the 4C might have been the first (and only?) model to use these wheels: I have a 2C and all four wheels are the same width, although slightly narrower than the 505 wheels. Either that, or someone changed the front wheels for some reason.

Post# 105815 , Reply# 19   8/12/2010 at 20:33 (3,480 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

tragegy = tragedy


Post# 105828 , Reply# 20   8/12/2010 at 21:26 (3,480 days old) by portable (Corvallis, OR)        

portable's profile picture
That is just beautiful. Just a little clean-up will probably reap big rewards. I agree about not washing the bag - the paint on the bag is likely very brittle and may not survive even a gentle washing. Just lightly vacuum or wipe the bag clean.

This vacuum is so classically Kirby. What a great find. Congratulations. And how nice that the store manager was so nice about it.

Post# 105830 , Reply# 21   8/12/2010 at 21:35 (3,480 days old) by luxg ()        

Bill what a wonderful find there. I can't wait to see this Kirby after you work your magic on it! Thank-you to our other Bill as well for the additional information on this machine! You are so right, not all Kirby dealers are out to take advantage of people!


Post# 105832 , Reply# 22   8/12/2010 at 21:40 (3,480 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

I will say, the creeps that I was talking about earlier have never been Kirby dealers. To the contrary, I have known some very kind and generous Kirby dealers over the years.

Post# 105835 , Reply# 23   8/12/2010 at 21:48 (3,480 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        
I threw caution to the wind . . .

eurekastar's profile picture
and washed the bag before reading the posts. I am happy to report that the screen printing came through with flying colors! I think the vacuum has remained in very good shape because it has sat in the vacuum store for many years (and before that a house). All the other ones that I've come across look like they'd been in someone's barn!

I thought about repainting the logo on another bag I have. I even have the paint, but I just haven't felt comfortable. Circles are not my thing! I would feel much more comfortable touching up this logo if I had to. Either that or I would pass it off to someone. No one in my family is remotely artistic.

Post# 105839 , Reply# 24   8/12/2010 at 22:25 (3,480 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        
Manufacturing Dates

eurekastar's profile picture
I have no idea where this comes from or how accurate the information is, but it does provide a more complete list of manufacture dates.


Post# 105863 , Reply# 25   8/13/2010 at 08:34 (3,479 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        
Freshly Laundered Bag

eurekastar's profile picture
I guess I am a lucky bag! The logo survived the hand laundering! I washed and rinsed. Washed and rinsed. Some of the black dye faded.

Post# 105865 , Reply# 26   8/13/2010 at 09:35 (3,479 days old) by kirbymodel2c (Nottingham, England)        

kirbymodel2c's profile picture
It looks lots better now its washed:o)


Post# 105866 , Reply# 27   8/13/2010 at 10:56 (3,479 days old) by kirbyluxhoover (Pinole, CA)        

I would love to be lucky to find one of those.

Post# 105875 , Reply# 28   8/13/2010 at 12:29 (3,479 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

Yep. Incredible. You just have no idea how rare that bag is, with the gold 'stitching' across the top! I've never even seen one "in real life," only in old Kirby literature.

Post# 105898 , Reply# 29   8/13/2010 at 19:04 (3,479 days old) by kirbyklassic80 ()        

That's my favorite model. You are so lucky!

Post# 105906 , Reply# 30   8/13/2010 at 20:29 (3,479 days old) by tom519 (Long Island, New York )        

Bill (Eurekastar)
I have a Model 505 that has the same cord as the one in your pictures. It does not have the KIRBY logo either, so I didn't think it was original, but now that I have seen yours I'm wondering if it is the original type. Maybe back in the beginning KIRBY didn't put the logo on the cord. Does anybody know? I attached a few pics of the one I have.


Post# 105907 , Reply# 31   8/13/2010 at 20:30 (3,479 days old) by tom519 (Long Island, New York )        
Pic 2


Post# 105929 , Reply# 32   8/14/2010 at 01:15 (3,478 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

I'm not sure whether or not that is a replacement cord but it may be. I will say, I have two 505s and they both have type of cord - exactly.

However, I have a 2C which came with a black cord with the old fashioned round "screw-terminal" type of plug on both ends. It has a metal 'loop' to hang the cord but it's different than the later versions. The metal loop is attached to a collar about 1/2" long that slides along the cord -- e.g., not a molded "loop holder" like the later cords.

And I have instruction booklets for the 2C, 3C and 4C, and they all show the same type of cord that came with my 2C.

Of course we know how notorious Kirby was for recycling photos for subsequent models' manuals, which is really frustrating as it makes it impossible to nail down model specifics such as this.

So, while the "screw-terminal" plug may have been used for the 2C, it could have been changed anywhere from the 3C to the 505.

I believe the first model with a Kirby logo on the plug was the 509.

Post# 106035 , Reply# 33   8/15/2010 at 13:57 (3,477 days old) by eurekastar (Amarillo, Texas)        

eurekastar's profile picture
Well, this morning I was fiddling around with the headlight trim, trying to see if it could be removed. And I removed it alright! It was more fragile than I had realized and it broke apart in three pieces. I wasn't even doing any major tugging and pulling! I was just gently moving it down because it pivots on two rivets and it just broke.

Post# 106043 , Reply# 34   8/15/2010 at 15:35 (3,477 days old) by kloveland (Tulsa, OK)        
Nice 2C

kloveland's profile picture
Your 2C looks great and I know your very excited. From this club I know that they are very rare. Awhile back I had a Kirby G4 but I sold it to a man who really needed it. My collection started with Kirby, but now I am turning more towards the Hoovers. But Kirby's are still among my favorites.

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