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Old 26th Sep 2022, 4:01 pm   #1
Techman
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Default Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

I picked up yet another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner yesterday. I've already got a very similar model that I've covered before in the thread linked to here below:-
https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/....php?p=1194173

That was the 'Model Z25', I believe that this particular one is the 'Model X11 Universal', looking on-line I couldn't find any direct reference to this exact model.

There's a bit of a story to this one and without any direct 'on-line' reference to the model type, how I know the model type of this particular one is that some while ago I was given the wooden box with the book and instruction card for it, which had the model type on it by the then cleaners owner, but he wanted to keep the cleaner itself. You may think that this was a strange thing to do, but he was about to dump the box and instructions, as the whole lot had been very badly stored and he was convinced that he could see small 'creatures' running around in it and that it was infested with worm - actually it wasn't and just needed cleaning out and drying. Anyway, he decided that as it wasn't being used and was taking up space in his loft he asked me if I wanted it, knowing I already had a similar one - he'd actually forgotten that he'd already given me the box and was apologising for getting rid of it when I reminded him that I was the one that had saved it from the bin or bon fire a year or two back! It doesn't have its full compliment of tools, but has both its metal tubes and the hose is in better condition than my previous one.

These cleaners make excellent blowers for safely blowing the muck and dust out of old radios etc. The hose on my original Z25, although complete, had degraded and hardened internally and had started to break up. This didn't stop it from functioning and there were no air leaks, but despite my best efforts I could never stop bits of hard rubber from the inside of the hose sporadically being blown out while using it as a blower and for this reason I had to stop using it on radios etc. This wouldn't have been a problem using it as a vacuum cleaner, as any bits from the inside of the hose would have just been sucked into the bag with the rest of the dirt. I've tested the hose with this latest cleaner and although it looks well worn, it's actually still nice and supple and not producing any debris from its internal structure.

According to the voltage plate on this cleaner, it's rated for 230 volts, which is much closer to todays mains than my other cleaner, which according to its plate is rated for 195-205 volts. It would be interesting to date this particular model - I suspect it will be somewhere in the 1930s, as was my previous one.

Pictures below showing it reunited with its box - original instruction book and card are in the box with the other one:-
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Old 26th Sep 2022, 7:35 pm   #2
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

We still have the now-vintage Electrolux 345 we got as a wedding present over 40 years ago, possibly their last model that blows as well as sucks. The BLOW is also good for rapidly inflating air beds and paddling pools (use with the corner nozzle), as well as rapid defrosting and drying of fridges and freezers. The younger people at work thought I was pulling their legs when I said our vac blew as well as sucked.
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Old 26th Sep 2022, 10:52 pm   #3
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

I just looked up the model 345 to see what it looked like and I think that model looks like it probably dates from the early 70s. My mother had a previous model similar to that one in green, with white plastic handle, filter housing and end caps, with the filter and output on the top, which would have dated from the mid 60s, or perhaps a bit earlier. I remember that one burning out and also the previous 50s model that it replaced going the same way. The fitting of the filter and air dispersal on the top was a good design improvement over the earlier idea of having the air blowing straight out of the back, albeit directed slightly down at the floor, blowing papers and probably the open fire ashes in all directions if it happened to be pointing the wrong way. The downside of this later design was that it was more of a performance to fit the hose in the top when using it for blowing.

It's remarkable how many of these pre-1950s models seem to survive in full working order. It almost seems like they were replaced due to being outdated rather than because of motor failure. I guess that because they were still working, they were put away into storage as a spare rather than being thrown away due to being broken. It seems like these much earlier ones lasted better motor wise than the later ones - it almost seems like motor reliability went down hill from the 50s onwards.

According to the 'internet' the 'Model X11 Universal' doesn't exist, well not that I could find anyway, so even though they're all much of a muchness from around this time period, this is a 'first' for this precise model. Looking on-line for images of models with that particular style of brass name plate on the top would indicate that this model probably dates from the early 30s and is slightly earlier than my previous one, which looks like it dated from around the mid 30s. I don't think the mains lead and connector are original with this cleaner and are from a later model, probably 1950s. It has provision for an earth in the connector, although it's still only a two core lead that's fitted.

The double sided card that has a red string loop for hanging up for quick reference by its owner states the model type on it, whereas the instruction book seems a general book covering a range of models without any specific model number being printed anywhere on or in it, well not that I can remember without getting it out and checking. I made a scan of both sides of the instruction card a while back and it's possible that I've posted it somewhere on a vintage vacuum cleaner thread before, but seeing as it relates specifically to this model and has the model type printed on it (as proof of what it is), I'll post the scans here below:-
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File Type: pdf Electrolux X11 Scan2.pdf (1.03 MB, 21 views)
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Old 26th Sep 2022, 11:20 pm   #4
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

The motor of our 345 faiied after about 6 years. As none of the then-current models could blow, and the blow feature was somethingcI used, I bought a new motor for it, which cost about one third of the cost of a new vac.
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Old 27th Sep 2022, 12:20 am   #5
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

It's possible that my mother had at least one replacement motor before finally calling it a day and buying a new cleaner, which I seem to think was an upright type, although I don't have much memory of it after that as I'd probably left home by then. I seem to remember that the 50s model went in a cloud of smoke and sparks sometime in the mid 60s, because we moved house in 1967 and the 'new' green and white model with the filter and output in the top came with us to the new house, where I seem to think it lasted into the early 70s. It so happens that two of the green and white brush attachments still exist for that cleaner and I've just been to a cupboard in the hall and got them out and I'm looking at them now as I type this. I'm going to have to have a good look in the cleaner cupboard to see if I've got any of the other bits - I know I looked for the tubes from it when I had a missing one from the Z25, as I seemed to think that I may have salvaged them and stashed them somewhere, but I couldn't find them at the time, just these small brush attachments that I've got here now that seem to have survived for some reason.

I took the bag out of the X11 today and after turning it inside out and giving it a good brush (also noticing that it had a very small hole near the bottom), I gave it a good wash in hot water with the addition of some bleach, flash and washing up liquid. It wasn't as dirty as the bag out of my other cleaner, due to the person I got it from telling me that he'd also given it a wash when he first got it and like my original one, he said that the water also turned black!

The bag has been hung out to dry all day and at this precise moment and just before typing this post, I've got the needle and thread out and am just finishing off stitching that small hole up in it - can't see it now when I hold it up to the light, so looks like a successful repair.
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Old 5th Oct 2022, 12:47 pm   #6
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

The cleaner was put to use a couple of days ago blowing the dust and spiders out of its first vintage item. I don't know if I'm imagining it, but I declare that it has a bit more blowing power than my other one!

The other thing that I've since realised is that the model numbers around this time were sometimes in Roman Numerals as well as written in standard form as in the Z25 etc., so of course it's a 'Model 12'.

I've also seen somewhere that the number on the plate indicates both model and year, so 1232 on mine indicates it's a model 12 made in 1932. I don't know what the preceding 'L' stands for, but like the Roman Numeral thing it's probably staring me in the face!

It seems the '12' was made between 1930 - 34. The Z25 being made between 1935 - 45, mine being an early one. Also according to the information 'on-line', the oldest one that I remember my parents having was the ZA55, made between 1949 - 55. The green and white replacement for this latter one I've identified as the ZC90, made between 1965 - 68, which goes about right with what I can remember.

I never would have dreamed in a million years back then that I'd become an 'unintentional' collector of these things, otherwise I'd have made more of an attempt to at least save some of the attachments from them. I remember the 1950s one was always kept in its original cardboard box with all its attachments including the paint sprayer with its glass jar in the cupboard under the stairs. It seems that several of the attachments from the 60s one seem to have somehow survived and are now with me, particularly the narrow nozzle wand that I've been using for years on my 'bin' type cleaner/blower...unfortunately it's now got a split in it and been bodged with gaffer tape!
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Old 6th Oct 2022, 7:07 pm   #7
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

We were an electrolux family for years, first a 65 (cloth bag) when the parent got married in the mid 60's, then a 345 as an upgrade around 1980 (old one still working!) and finally a Z2230 in the early 90's (previous ones all still working). The Z2230 also blew as well as sucked BTW.
I think they're all lurking in cupboards still, somewhere. They knew how to make 'em back then!
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Old 7th Oct 2022, 6:35 pm   #8
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

Interesting the comments about blowing as well as sucking. My non-vintage cleaner has this ability, too (well they, we have two the same). When an older electrolux bit the dust (get it?) we purchased a modern Hoover. Worst piece of junk, EVER. Couldn't even be bothered taking it back under warranty, and gave it away telling what the faults were. The ones we have now were just so good by comparison. TBH not sure how old they are.

If I'd known of this forum many years ago I wouldn't have disposed of a pair of I think 1970s cylinder cleaners. My wife and her Mum had identical ones. 1970s brown. Many many years ago we got hold of an old, I think Goblin when my Grandad passed. We had to change the plug as it had a very non-standard one. Central round pin and two outer squarish ones. I think these might have been special to Manchester?

Final note. When I find it again, I have a dusting tool we found many years ago at my MiLs. Now machine that it matched and she had no idea where it's from. I'll photograph it and offer it when I find it. But it's a metal body, with a hammer finish silver. The brush part is a proper solid piece of wood with natural black fibre bristles. Must be old!
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Old 7th Oct 2022, 9:40 pm   #9
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

When using my 345 to blow, I use the cardboard plate removed from a full bag rather than a new empty bag to reduce the flow resistance.
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Old 17th Oct 2022, 12:06 pm   #10
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

I'm now pleased that being originally unsure of the exact model type of this cleaner, that I gave the thread the title of "another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner", rather than making it specific to the exact model, which at the time would have been incorrect due to me not appreciating the Roman numeral thing used on some models. So that means that we can mention and compare other old Electrolux cleaners without going off topic too much - and we've already mentioned a couple of other/later models.

The latest cleaner has now been used a number of times to blow the dust out of several items, namely one tape recorder, two radiograms and a record player. The other day I got both models that I have and set them out for comparison and as seen in the pictures below. I've put the surviving accessories from the ZC90 with the model 12, as they'll likely be used with this one and it'll keep them all in one place - we know they're not original to the cleaner, but neither is that small dark red bakelite attachment, I wouldn't have thought. The inner wooden attachments container is missing from the latest one and it wasn't until I put them both next to each other that I noticed that the box is a little smaller than the previous one - it's lower and slightly narrower.

I've done a bit of a blow test between them and I reckon that they're about the same. Bits of the innards of the green hose were still intermittently being blown out, so this one can't be used for blowing muck off chassis or out of cabinets etc. It's been suggested that the original air filters in these cleaners could contain asbestos, so not a good idea to use them inside the house if they still have these filters fitted - although there's never been any definite confirmation of this when the question has been asked in the past. However, the latest cleaner (the model 12) did have the original filter still in place when its previous owner was given it and he'd also heard about the possible asbestos thing, so he removed and disposed of it and made a new one for it, so no worries about getting in the air stream of this particular one! I haven't actually investigated the new filter he'd made for it yet, but it seems to be passing air with no problems, so no need to bother at the moment.

Why is it that so many of these earlier cleaners seem to survive in working order with no burnt out motors? I'm wondering whether a lot has got to do with the fact that these early ones were mostly power rated at around 230 watts, but when they started increasing the efficiency of the 'suck' and also probably closer mesh dust filtering for the later ones, the power rating had to be increased to such as 400 watts, but still keeping the size and weight down to a minimum and similar to the earlier ones. I'm wondering if this extra power for a similar physical size meant that the motor windings (and also cooling) were under more stress in the later cleaners. The other possibility could be that the technology advanced so quickly that the older models were just put away still in working order as a spare when a newer and more efficient and supposedly stylishly modern looking model came out, so many of these early ones survived with good working motors. The other thing is that if the motor had burnt out during its service life then the cleaner would have been thrown away, therefore meaning that the survivors that we're seeing are going to be all the working ones that were just kept as a spare when the new and latest model was purchased.

It has to be said that both of these cleaners run very smoothly and quietly. I haven't done any motor servicing on either of them (perhaps I should?) and no particular restoration has been done other than just a bit of a clean up etc., not that they're going to get any sort of heavy use anytime soon.
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Old 17th Oct 2022, 12:23 pm   #11
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

Speaking of blowing, my parents had a 'Vactric' cleaner when I was young. It came with a fitment to go on the hose which could be filled with mothballs, a vane assembly caused the mothballs to swirl round in the casing, causing little bits of mothballs to break off and come out the end

I don't remember it ever being used, nor do I recall the use of the similar blow attachment intended to apply DDT powder!!!
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Old 17th Oct 2022, 12:55 pm   #12
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

Now Vactric, that's a name that seems to ring a bell!

I think I possibly had one of those many years ago, no accessories, just the hose and I used it as a blower - not sure what happened to it. I think it was a sort of red colour and the mains lead was 'captive' and not a plug and socket like all these Electrolux models. Looking at images for Vactric shows how very similar they were to Electrolux.

There were some interesting accessories, some of them possibly being optional - I think the wooden box was 'optional' with the Electrolux models, so interesting how so many that survive seem to have them...the optional box could be one of the reasons that has helped the survivors to survive intact.
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Old 17th Oct 2022, 2:00 pm   #13
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

We used to use ours for paint spraying. I think the accessories included the necessary items to do this; glass jar, spray head.
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Old 17th Oct 2022, 6:40 pm   #14
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevehertz View Post
We used to use ours for paint spraying. I think the accessories included the necessary items to do this; glass jar, spray head.
Something like this perhaps? In hiding somewhere on the premises is a little (4oz?) sealed glass bottle of Electrolux carpet shampoo concentrate, and somewhere else is a vacuum cleaner that may or may not be a Z25.

We've had that cleaner and the accessories for around thirty years. Only a few weeks ago a fairly similar model branded Barker went through the local auction, with its sales receipt, dated 1938 if I remember rightly, from the London department store: I moseyed along just to be sure it found a home, which it did for 20 or so.

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Old 17th Oct 2022, 7:26 pm   #15
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

That's definitely the one Paul, I remember it's shape and that moulded black top as clear as if it was yesterday!
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Old 17th Oct 2022, 9:17 pm   #16
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

I found our paint sprayer when I was little and insisted on respraying the inside of the garden shed with emulsion. It had to be watered down or it wouldn't come out. I remember you had to just put your finger over a hole to make it work.
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Old 21st Oct 2022, 12:22 pm   #17
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

Yes, the paint spraying accessory that my parents had with their 1950s Electrolux was exactly the same as the one shown in post #14 with the black Bakelite top fitting.

The type that would have been used in the earlier 1930s models would have been as shown in the picture below with the chromed metal top fitting. The picture I've 'borrowed' is from one with a lot of accessories that's been advertised for sale 'on-line' for the past several years and not sold. Unfortunately the whole set has been priced far too high for its condition. I paid around the same price as mentioned in post #14 for my first example, although the latest example, as said, was a free gift.

I remember that the first cleaner, the Z25 that I bought, was being sold in the 'collectables' room at the auction house with on-line bidding also in this room, and I noticed that the person bidding against me was in the room and was one of the 'dealers' that's always there buying loads of stuff, so he knew where to drop out of the bidding regarding value and regarding what he'd hope to have passed it on for to make any profit.

I'd quite like to find a 'period' example of the sprayer attachment at the right price, although I'm not that serious a collector of such things that I'd go particularly out of my way to find one. The cleaner that's for sale 'on-line' is a bit of a wreck with a smashed/missing switch, but seems to have its full set of accessories - shame!
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Old 27th Oct 2022, 8:35 pm   #18
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

my parents had a Z62 [I still have it use it for car cleaning ] somewhere around 1974 i used it to spray my vauxhall box Viva .It worked a treat . the 62 is the usual loaf shape with green ends and green attachments . I think these machines were well engineered and built to last .they were also expensive so people took care of them
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Old 31st Oct 2022, 9:02 pm   #19
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Default Re: Another vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner

Please forgive me if I turn a bit off topic now: We used to own a VORWERK Kobold "S", must have been a pre-WWII model, that also came with a paint spray jar and a hair dryer as accessories. I remember spraying a car in 1981 or 82, worked out rather well but was noisy as a star fighter jet!

I must go and dig the attic if it is still there! Haven't seen it for ages!

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