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Other Vintage Household Electrical or Electromechanical Items For discussions about other vintage (over 25 years old) electrical and electromechanical household items. See the sticky thread for details.

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Old 20th May 2024, 5:19 pm   #1
retroaudio
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Default Electrolux Z 18 cylinder vacuum cleaner

Hi

i bought this vacuum cleaner about 2 years ago and put it away as a project for a rainy day. it came in a brown case with all the accessories. I found it again the other night and decided to see if I could get it to work. I renewed the 2 core lead which was perished and fitted a modern plug. However I noticed at this stage that it was of French manufacture and on closer examination it was designed to work on 110 to 115 volts which I presume was standard at the time as it was manufactured around 1935. It is in good condition and I am working it through a variac at 110volts, However the suction isn't great, Would it be possible to operate at a greater voltage of do I risk damaging the motor?
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Old 20th May 2024, 7:29 pm   #2
wd40addict
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Default Re: Electrolux Z 18 cylinder vacuum cleaner

Are you actually getting 110V out of the variac when the motor is running?
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Old 21st May 2024, 10:35 am   #3
retroaudio
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Default Re: Electrolux Z 18 cylinder vacuum cleaner

Hi no i have never tested that. I set the variac rotary control to around 11Ov and then plugged the vacuum in. I didn't think to test it under load. The variac can go up to 200v.
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Old 21st May 2024, 2:39 pm   #4
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Default Re: Electrolux Z 18 cylinder vacuum cleaner

What power is your Variac rated for??

I would expect a vacuum cleaner motor - even an older one - to be in the 500 Watts or so range. Maybe more, so your Variac needs to be rated for quite a significant current if it is not going to sag under load.
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Old 23rd May 2024, 5:53 pm   #5
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Default Re: Electrolux Z 18 cylinder vacuum cleaner

I've got a couple of these old vacuum cleaners - there's threads regarding them on this forum. Wattage wise I seem to remember that they range from between 270 - 310 watts, it was the later models where the power increased to around 500 watts, probably as filtering and disposable dust bags demanded a stronger 'pull' for the same efficiency of 'suck' power. I have a personal theory that the reason that a lot of these later cleaners eventually burnt out their motors (unlike the earlier ones) was that they were run on the very limit of the available technology for increased power, without increasing the physical size of the actual machine.

You're going to have to meter the actual voltage from the Variac under load, as I agree with what's been said regarding possible volts drop. You're also going to have to mind you don't burn that Variac out if it's not rated for the job! You need a proper step down transformer, possibly one of those yellow site units. In previous discussions and research, it seems that some motors that were rated for non-standard voltages, had their armatures returned to the manufacturer (or perhaps even the whole motor) for rewinding/replacement for standard 240 volt operation, although when this happened, the dealer would over-stamp the rating plate with the new voltage, and I've actually seen examples of this, so worth having a close look at the rating plate on yours for any evidence of this. One of my cleaners is actually rated for 195 - 205 volt mains, but it had a modern(ish, 1960s to early 70s) 13 amp plug fitted to it when I got it, so had obviously been in use at some point on modern 240 volt mains without harm, but I wouldn't want to push my luck with it on extended use - I actually use both of mine for air blowers for blowing the dust out of vintage gear, outside in the garden.

I can certainly tell you that both of my cleaners have an excellent suction for what they are, so if yours doesn't then there's something wrong, probably down to bad voltage sag from that poor old Variac! The other thing could be a blocked bag or filter - you can very carefully wash the bag and filter in warm soapy water, leaving them to soak for a little while, then carefully rinse in several changes of warm water...the water will probably turn black with filth!

Possible ASBESTOS WARNING! There's been a suggestion that these old filters in vacuum cleaners could contain fibrous asbestos. I tried to research this at the time and couldn't find any definitive answer to this question, although what I did find was that asbestos fibres were used in many filters in the first half of the last century, particularly in the wine making industry, so take care if you like your vintage wine and don't stir the sediment up in the bottom of the bottle!

My strong advice is to not run these old cleaners in the house if they've still got their original filters fitted, as you're likely to contaminate the whole house if they really do contain microscopic asbestos fibres. Open the door and point the back end of the cleaner outside, or make a replacement filter from something modern and harmless - you need a filter in place to prevent dirt that the bag can't filter out from being sucked into the motor.
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