Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Vacuum Cleaners

In my dining room, under the table is a Persian style rug. It's large, very close napped, brought back with us from the wilds of Costco (I think) where it was made of genuine polyester. The rug grabs and holds cat hair like nothing else I've ever seen. I keep expecting the cats that inevitably lie on it to be stuck there, meowing pitifully, until some kind human slowly peels them up from the rug like velcro and sends them on their way, leaving a perfect cat-shaped fur patch, like the shadows from the Hiroshima bombing.

This rug is where vacuums go to die.

Cheap Chinese Hoover? Destroyed in 2 years. Uber-expensive Miele? simply refuses to clean it. "Nein." it says. "Ich will nicht mein Leben riskieren, um diese zu reinigen." (The Miele is a bit finicky like that. I really don't recommend them.) This is the rug I had in mind whilst garage-sale shopping. This is the rug for which I bought a Kirby.

Kirby vacuums, for those who've not heard, are one of those weird throw-back products. They are vacuums engineered like tanks, sold by door-to-door salesmen just as they have been for nearly a century. The Generation 4 I bought, made sometime between 1993 and 1997 was probably a $1500 vacuum when it was new. I gave 50 bucks for it. New bags? No problem. Genuine Kirby, from a dealer at Amazon. New power-head drive belts? Again, no problem, factory new, from a different dealer at Amazon. Most vacuum places I've seen online will service Kirbys, and the array of spare parts for them is astonishing. Power head rollers, belts, bags, hoses, cords, motors, power-assist system, you can even replace the wheels, for pete's sake. Ours, to be frank, stunk when it ran. Well hell, I can fix that. New bags, new power drive belt, clean 20 years accumulated dog hair out of the power head, and darned if I needed /any/ tools to do it. Not even a screwdriver. Everything works properly now and the machine doesn't reek of dog-hair-and-rubber-tires-on-fire.

But the question remained, does it suck?

Ladies and gentlemen, it does, indeed suck. That 20 or 30 pound aluminum behemoth, with its variable speed power drive (akin to my lawnmower) goes over that rug and leaves a swath of clean, cat-hair-free polyester in its wake. It digs crud out of our berber carpets that has resisted five years of lesser vacuums. While this whole post smacks of hyperbole (because it's fun), I'm serious. This machine is impressive.

So if you are looking for a good vacuum, especially if your home is all on one floor (the blasted thing is heavy), keep your eyes open for a Kirby. I don't think I'd buy one new at full price unless I was really flush, but a 20 year old model for 1/30th the price plus some TLC? Might be just the trick.


Blog Archive