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Old 22nd Nov 2019, 12:57 am   #1
Techman
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Default Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

I've obtained an Electrolux vacuum cleaner from one of the local auction houses, which, from a bit of research, I have dated to the 1930s and it seems to be the model Z25.

This model has featured on the forum before in April 2017 as shown here:-
https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?p=941758

I used to have a couple of these type of cleaners years ago, but let them go in the house move of 20 years ago and regretted it ever since, so was pleased to obtain this one. The ones I had weren't the same as this one and were probably slightly newer, but not by a lot, and not as complete with boxes and attachments as the one I've now got.

The cleaner showed signs of dampish storage somewhere, perhaps a damp cupboard in a damp old house, or a loft or shed. The original two core black rubber covered mains lead was white with mold, also the hose had got some white mold in places and has gone a little inflexible with age.

The first thing I did was to check the resistance across the two pins of the mains input connection on the cleaner - it measured open circuit regardless of the switch position on the top. I thought that this was actually a good sign as when these motors burn out they usually read a very low resistance, so possibly bad brush contact after decades of storage or a faulty switch. After dismantling, I found the switch was O/C. I checked the brushes which actually looked to be either very little used or new. This could have indicated that the machine had not had a lot of use in its life, or that the brushes were replaced shortly before the cleaner was taken out of use, the screw caps that hold them in place were not particularly tight, so possibly replacements to try to cure a possible fault, which would hopefully turn out to be just the switch.

I noted that with a little finger poked through the slots shown in the first picture below I could just reach the armature and commutator, so I tried to rotate the motor, but it seemed to be frozen. Looking through the slots at what could be seen of the armature, it didn't look particularly burnt, so there still seemed hope for the motor. I resisted the temptation to insert a 'tool' through the slots to try to lever the motor round as this would have very likely caused damage to the armature or commutator segments. Removing the whole motor unit involved removing one particular screw with a very strange sort of sealing compound on it that almost looked like some sort of asbestos type gunge, although it did look as though the seal had been broken before. I did try to remove this screw, but couldn't easily do it, so decided to leave it at this stage and instead fix the switch and try giving it a very quick shot of mains to hopefully jolt the motor free.

I'd already checked the two core mains lead for continuity and shorts and it measured fine. It had a very '1960s' type 'Bat Brand' made in Hong Kong 13 amp white plug fitted, so I opened it up to check that it actually had a proper fuse fitted and not a nail or bit of silver paper. It had a normal 13 amp fuse fitted, although the red and black wires were reverse fitted which makes no difference for this cleaner and there's no earth provision, just the screw on the neutral needed tightening, so it was ready to go. I already had the cleaner outside and blown all the dust and muck out of it with my other more modern blower cleaner, so while it was outside I gave it a very quick shot of mains, controlled from a switched socket just inside the door of the house. The motor freed instantly with a cloud of dust as expected from what still remained within the fan housing, the filter and the bag had been removed, so success, it ran perfectly.

The cleaner runs smoothly and sucks as would be expected from one of these in good order. I was wondering if the cleaner had possibly sucked up water due to some rust on the grid in front of the fan unit at the bottom of the bag housing, but obviously not. I found that there was dirt and fluff still in the bag from the decades ago when it was last used. On dissecting this fluff I found a Green Shield stamp and a one shilling grand slam bingo slip from 'Star bingo and social club'. I turned the bag inside out and gave it a good brush and blow outside in the garden, also giving the filter a brush and blow.

The downside of this cleaner that I didn't notice at the time in the auction room was that some of the accessories are missing, in particular the all important large diameter Bakelite screw in adapter for the 'blow' end, and also one of the two long plated metal pipes. The rubber parts have all somewhat hardened with age.

I could do with finding particularly the adapter for the 'blow' end of the cleaner, although the likelihood of finding this part are slim.

Pictures of the vacuum cleaner and its box with the attachments in, shown below:-
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Old 23rd Nov 2019, 2:36 pm   #2
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

Was "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux" ever an actual advertising catch phrase or is it just a figment of my warped mind?
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Old 23rd Nov 2019, 4:19 pm   #3
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

That catch phrase certainly rings a bell, Chris - someone will remember, I'm sure.

The first picture below shows the cleaner with the accessories that are currently with it.

Playing with the cleaner earlier today I found that with a hand over the input to feel maximum suction, the little indicator on the top (indicator shown in 3rd picture below in 'at rest' position) rotates round to indicate red as would be expected, but on removal of my hand, the indicator stays on red which would indicate a full bag I guess. However, the bag is definitely empty and has had a good brushing and blow out, so I'm wondering if its just clogged and needs a wash in some warm soapy water - so long as it doesn't disintegrate! With the bag removed from the cleaner, the indicator flips straight back to white when I remove my hand from the suction, indicating that it is something to do with the bag.

I've also just noticed a couple of other things that I ought to have realised before, and that is that it's intended to run on around 200 volts mains and not 240 volts (4th picture below) - now that certainly dates it, or were different models made for different area mains voltages at the time? So no wonder it has good suction running on over 240 volts, which could also possibly be adding to the over active 'full bag' indicator.

There's some good news - I've been a 'Silly Billy' and not realised that the screw in adapter at the suction end is the same thread as the 'blow' end - I thought it looked a much larger thread at this end (second picture below), but it's actually the same, so the part I initially thought was missing, isn't. The metal slats were initially facing half sideways when the end cover was fitted correctly, which it wasn't when I first got it, but I found that it can be rotated, which shouldn't be possible due to a locating sort of lug. However, this lug can be bypassed, indicating that something has shrunk slightly over the years, possibly monkey metal shrinkage, or even Bakelite expansion, but it's only slight and the Bakelite adapter still fits the thread in this end perfectly.

Just for interest, the last picture below shows what was found in the small pile of fluff and muck that was in the bag.
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Old 23rd Nov 2019, 4:36 pm   #4
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZrQqnRhmZ0

Looks like nothing sucks like an Electrolux was a slogan used by them.
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Old 23rd Nov 2019, 4:46 pm   #5
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Herald1360 View Post
Was "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux" ever an actual advertising catch phrase or is it just a figment of my warped mind?
There's a video on Youtube of an astronaut on board the ISS giving a guided tour. She points out where the vacuum cleaner is stowed and quips "It's the only thing on the station that doesn't suck".
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Old 23rd Nov 2019, 9:06 pm   #6
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

The metal tube looks identical with the tubes supplied with my late mum's 1950's Electrolux (now long disposed of). I guess there would have been no need to change the design of such items.

Domestic appliances were certainly still being made in different versions for use with different mains voltages in the 1950's. We were on 200V AC in West Ham, and I well remember that when we were changed to 240V circa 1960, several of our relatively new appliances, such as Dad's Black & Decker, had to be taken away for a few days to have their armatures, and the the voltage ratings on their plates, changed.

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Old 24th Nov 2019, 5:53 pm   #7
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

Yes, you're right about the metal tube. I remember as a child my mother having a 1950s Electrolux, the one with the crocodile effect covering to the case, also now long gone. I well remember as a child the motor burning out while in use and filling the room with smoke. I remember it being tried again and making a lot of noise and running slow and being able to see a firework display of sparks from the 'blow' end before the smoke started again!

I know it's been discussed before on this forum regarding the various different mains supply voltages in the UK, both AC and DC, with some derived from the underground railways and tram systems in London etc. Also, from the supplies used in various coal mines from generating systems to supply the mining villages, possibly all using various different supply voltages. Searching on-line, I found a couple of different voltage plate pictures, one I think for 230 volts and another for 110 volt 60 c/s. I suppose that it's possible that my cleaner could have been up-rated with either another motor or replacement armature, it doesn't sound particularly stressed when running on what would now be 'over-voltage'.

It perhaps ought to be serviced properly. I read in an old instruction leaflet for my particular cleaner that I found on-line, that my model didn't deed regular oiling of the bearings like other models did, but would need returning to a service department for the bearings to be re-packed with grease around every two years. Mine does sound smooth and quiet when running, but would maybe benefit from some lubrication after all this time, so I'd need to try a bit harder to tackle that sealed screw!

I did the dirty deed and washed the bag last night and it didn't fall apart, but it's still hanging up drying, so we'll have to see. I never power something like this up inside the house until it's thoroughly clean, as you never know what contaminants you're likely to be spreading around the house. I've only had it running either outside, or just inside the doorway with the blowing end pointing out through the door. I'm debating whether to also wash the output filter, but it may ruin it - pity I can't find an old stock, new replacement - I read in those instructions that it recommended replacing the filter every two months and immediately BURNING the old one!

There's method in my madness buying this cleaner. As well as being a nice vintage item, it will be used as a reserve 'blower' for blowing the dust and muck out of vintage items. My other blower is a large 'bin' type cleaner with a rather unusual wide bore hose which is gradually falling apart and is more repair tape than original hose - every time I use it the hose breaks and I have to add yet more tape to it, so I can retire it for a while and use this latest one. However, the hose with this cleaner isn't perfect. It's gone a little bit stiff and bits are falling out of it, so although good on the outside, the inside could be starting to break up, but at least it's a more standard size, so I can always adapt with hose that I've already got.

The picture below shows the bag and filter before I decided to wash the bag. The second picture shows the instruction leaflet that I found a picture of somewhere on-line, can't remember exactly where, but it's for the Australian market, so could be some differences with supplied accessories perhaps.
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Old 25th Nov 2019, 4:16 am   #8
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Techman View Post
- I read in those instructions that it recommended replacing the filter every two months and immediately BURNING the old one!
Alternatively you could just ignore the bit about not picking up hot embers and cigarette ends
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Old 26th Nov 2019, 7:03 pm   #9
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

That would light the bag before the filters......
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Old 27th Nov 2019, 3:19 pm   #10
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

That's a good idea, I never thought of that, it'd be like a blow lamp coming out of the end of the cleaner

It just goes to show how it was a 'given' that every house would have had a coal fire of some sort in regular use back in those days, so would be just a normal thing to throw the old filter on the fire rather than going outside to the dustbin. It's interesting and surprising that they don't mention the dangers of perhaps accidentally sucking up water in those instructions and that sucking (Hoovering) out the fireplace would be considered a far more likely thing to want to do with your vacuum cleaner!

With the bag successfully washed, dried and refitted, the 'bag full' indicator now works properly and no longer stays on the 'full red' position after a hand is placed over the sucking end of the cleaner, so the bag must have been well clogged with muck. I did some voltage and current checks after refitting the bag. However, while I was doing these tests I noticed there was still a musty dusty smell even with the cleaner pointing and blowing out of the door, so regardless of the consequences the filter had to be washed. I soaked it for a short while in hot soapy water and then gave it a good 'swill' in the water which turned black - it was pure soot! After giving it a number of rinses I left it to dry over night. The drying seemed to be taking rather too long and with it having possible metal content I wanted to avoid any possible rusting of these parts, so I got the heat gun out to it to speed thing up a bit. This was successful, other than me being a bit over zealous and slightly scorching it in one place, fortunately on the side without the printing on, which had fortunately also survived the washing.

I'd taken a current draw reading late at night the other day when the mains was 240 volts (it used to be higher, sometimes a good 250 volts or more, but I've noticed it's a much better to live with 240 volts average these days) and it was around 2 amps just running and around 1.6 amps sucking and pulling a maximum vacuum.

I took some more accurate readings the next day on several different voltages and at both free running for the first reading and at maximum sucking for the second reading, I got the following:-
237 volts = 1.9 amps & 1.5 amps.
200 volts = 1.6 amps & 1.3 amps.
190 volts = 1.53 amps & 1.26 amps.
You can do the sums, but I think it's safe to say that the motor is the original spec and hasn't been changed out for a higher mains supply voltage on this particular cleaner. The output filter hadn't been washed at this stage, but doubt it would be making too much difference to the results.

I found a specification plate on-line which has clearly been over stamped with a higher voltage and the casting has been deliberately broken away to gain access to the plate for removal. This seems very rough, but I suppose a dealer or repairer at the time would not have had the time to remove all the riveted fixings from the alloy surround and be able to make a decent job of refitting them, so it seems that some were converted. I tried to attach this picture, but it's an invalid file type. If I can convert it to something else then I may try to attach it later, we'll see.

Also below, I've shown pictures of what looks like a perished rubber belt in my cleaner. Obviously there's no belts used in this type of cleaner, so what its purpose is I don't know. All seals are in place so it could be something that was originally fitted tightly round the motor body to stop resonance. There's lots of pictures of these cleaners on-line, but none of the innards it seems! you can also see that screw that had the seal on it which will have to come out if I go for the full internal clean and re-lube - depending how much time I'm prepared to spend on it. Also the clean filter. I don't know what that black spot is that can be seen in the last picture, it's something I noticed after I washed it, and I don't mean the brown scorch mark. However, it no longer smells musty and dusty when it's running, so I would advise anyone who obtains one of these old cleaners to not run it in the house until the bags and filters have been either removed, replaced or thoroughly washed, you never know what nasty stuff might be in them - I don't mind my own dirt, but it's a different matter when it comes to someone else's
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Old 27th Nov 2019, 7:15 pm   #11
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

Below is a picture taken from somewhere on-line of an over stamped specification plate which has been over stamped with 240 - 250 volts from the original stamping of 210 - 225 volts, the original 270 watts remains the same. This is the plate I was referring to in the last post, but wasn't actually an invalid file type, it was just that I was trying to upload a different picture by mistake. The invalid file type picture was actually of another plate taken from somewhere on-line that actually has an original stamping of 210 - 225 volts, but with an original stamping of 310 watts shown. It seems there were some variations.

The 13 amp plug fitted to mine indicates (you would think by its date) that this cleaner has happily been operating on normal UK mains voltage for a period of time before being taken out of service. Pictures below of the plug etc. Note that the specification plate on my cleaner showing 190 - 205 volts and 270 watts is shown in the 4th picture of post #3 on this thread.
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Old 28th Nov 2019, 11:02 am   #12
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

Since it's two wire with a reversible connector at the appliance end it hardly matters, but isn't the wiring in the 13A plug reversed? That faded pale colour wire was presumably red once.

Maybe someone was thinking of US wiring colours?
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Old 28th Nov 2019, 2:59 pm   #13
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Techman View Post
It had a very '1960s' type 'Bat Brand' made in Hong Kong 13 amp white plug fitted, so I opened it up to check that it actually had a proper fuse fitted and not a nail or bit of silver paper. It had a normal 13 amp fuse fitted, although the red and black wires were reverse fitted which makes no difference for this cleaner and there's no earth provision, just the screw on the neutral needed tightening, so it was ready to go.
Ah Chris, I mentioned this in my first post, although I did wonder about the colour of the wire and whether it really was a red that had faded to yellow. It's the same at the other end where the red would seem to have faded to yellow, too, although there was also the remains of some red rubber sheathing at that end inside the plug that promptly disintegrated and fell out, although it was still red in colour - some rubber fades and some rubber doesn't!

I notice looking at other examples of this cleaner, that some have possibly been retro fitted with the type of mains connector that has the earth as a sprung connector on the outside like on some old kettle connectors. I would guess (although I haven't actually checked it for continuity yet) that the metal socket on the cleaner should have a direct electrical connection from its casing to the rest of the body of the cleaner, so it could theoretically be earthed with the use of the appropriate plug in connector.
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Old 29th Nov 2019, 1:05 am   #14
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

Those 2 pin plugs do exist in an earthed form even with keying.
I own a power supply with such a plug. It is the same pitch as a 1950s Bush radio mains lead and would trip the RCCD if the earth contact touched the chassis on one of those.
Voltage selection is achieved by rotating the keyed plate covering a circle of pins to select the input voltage.
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Old 29th Nov 2019, 3:41 am   #15
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

A Bush radio plug is quite a bit smaller than the two pin plug in question.

Seeing your post I've just been checking out the plugs I've got to hand and I've found that the vintage kettle plugs with side earth contacts are actually too fat to fit the socket on the cleaner. I tried it the other way round to see if the cleaner plug would actually fit the kettles and found that although it would, it was very tight as though either the pins are a very slightly different spacing or are slightly larger in diameter. I decided not to try to push it all the way home as I didn't want to break either it, or the kettle pins, or cause it to then be a bad fit on the cleaner. One of those old kettles is actually rated for 200 volt mains. I got the AVO on the socket surround and checked for continuity on various metal parts all around the outside of the cleaner and there was excellent continuity, including the metal name plate on the top of the casing. There is a plug with side earth contacts that fits, as I've seen at least a couple on YouTube videos featuring this model cleaner. It looks like it's made of black or brown Bakelite type material with a white, possibly ceramic or porcelain centre piece that actually goes into the socket with the earth on the side, possibly both sides of it. I'm not too bothered about it not having an earth, just that if I happened to have an earthed type plug to hand then I might have used it - these old cleaners aren't particularly known for shorts to earth, being what you might call an early form of double insulated design. After all, when in use you're insulated by the hose and when you move it you either pull it along via the hose or pick it up by the insulated handle, the danger would mainly be when you went to switch it off and touched the metal surround. It's not intended for general use anyway, just an occasional air blower, although there's a bit of a temptation to vacuum the carpets with it just for the hell of it, but that would muck up the washed bag and filter.

I don't know if it's just because I'm noticing them more because I've been looking for information on them on-line, but there seems to be quite a lot of survivors of this model still around out there. This may mean that this early model was a lot stronger motor wise than its successors. Certainly I seemed to hear of quite a lot of motor burn outs of various later models over the years. The early 1950s model that my mother had, burned out when I was a child sometime in the mid 60s, and the one she replaced it with I remember eventually going the same way, although she never replaced something because a newer product was available, so would have bought new and given it continuous use until it eventually wore out or broke and couldn't be repaired, it would then be replaced with whatever the current model was at that time. Some of the still working survivors could exist because they were taken out of service when a newer model became available and not because they were broken, they may then have just been kept as a spare due to having little resale value at that time, perhaps being put into a loft, garage or shed.

By the mains voltage rating and what's on the 'by appointment' plate on the box mentioning both the King and Prince of Wales, I date this cleaner to around 1934-35, so an early version, if anyone thinks different, then please speak up.

Below are pictures showing two kettle connectors with the cleaner connector in the middle. Also shown is the cleaner connector opened up - you can see the remains of that red rubber that I mentioned (there was more of it, but I've chucked it) and I need to work out exactly how that cord grip/separator that looks like someones tooth (perhaps it is?) is supposed to work and fit.
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Old 30th Nov 2019, 2:05 pm   #16
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Default Re: Vintage Electrolux vacuum cleaner (Model Z25)

If that red sleeve is on the black wire, it probably is American style flex. There would have been no legal requirements about colo(u)rs back then
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