Collecting Vacuum Cleaners


So why do I collect vacuum cleaners, of all things and what do I collect?

I hate housework, but it has to be done and when I do work I like to use good tools and vacuums are a tool just like a saw is. I like quality, both in build and design. And I like performance, that is how well does this machine do it’s job? And just like a saw, there are different types of vacs to do different tasks, (ie. an upright vacuum is very good at cleaning wall to wall carpet, whereas a canister is sort of a jack of all trades.)

I collect brands like Kirby, TriStar, Rainbow, Filter Queen and Electrolux USA (known since 2003 as Aerus).

Building a Better Mouse Trap

I like these old vac designs because they come from an era: 1. when machines were built to be repaired NOT thrown away, 2. everybody was innovating on how to build a better vacuum cleaner than the next guy. Sort of like building a better mouse trap there wasn’t just one way to solve the problem. And I will give Dyson his due, of the modern machines, Dyson tried something different, it’s just that I don’t think they are all that special in performance and materials.

Buying Refurbished

I only buy refurbished machines, with the refurbishment done by a qualified person. I don’t want to buy some worn out $10 garage sale find that somebody cosmetically polished up and is reselling on Ebay for $100.

Here is what I look for in refurbishment:

  • Inside and out has been cleaned and sanitized.
  • A standard set of tools in good condition.
  • New carpet brush installed on the carpet power head.
  • New belts. Everywhere.
  • Hoses in good shape and without leaks or new replacement hoses.
  • Motor inspected, tested so it is up to specs, or rebuilt as necessary.
  • New filters.
  • Gaskets checked for leakage.
  • Everything tested and in good working order.

See more reasons for buying refurbished at my: Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide

Prices of Refurbished

New prices for the vacs listed above run from $1600 to $3000 or over.

Refurbished, depending on model and brand, start at about $200ish and top out at about $1000, with $1000 buying you something very recently made with very few hours on it. But most of the time you can find something really good for $450 - $700.

Compare those numbers to some of the better quality modern brands: $700 to $1300 or higher. I’ve seen a high end new Sebo canister on Amazon for around $1200!

Price as a hobby

I also collect manual typewriters. What I’m finding is that the vacuums I collect cost about the same as the refurbished typewriters I collect. The difference is, I actually use the vacuums all the time, whereas the typewriters not so much. Although there is something therapeutic about typing with a manual typewriter.

I currently have 5 vacuums in the collection, one of each brand. I don’t see it growing much beyond what I have. My plan is to follow this up with detailed reviews of each of my machines. Real Soon Now.

Thanks for reading.

Brad Enslen @bradenslen



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