Kirby Model 515

I occasionally get emails from people who have found my web site and write along the lines of, "Hello, we found an old vacuum when cleaning out dearly-departed Aunt Agatha's house. We'll be happy to send it to you if you want it..."

Indeed, not too long ago a nice lady from St. Louis wrote that her grandmother had moved into a retirement community and left the chore of cleaning out her large old house to her family. "Thanks, Grannie!" she said.

One of the things they found in an upstairs closet was "an old Kirby sweeper that appeared to have been hardly used." She said they had a big yard sale and the Kirby was out there but no one bought it, so she was wondering if I would want it for the cost of shipping.

I asked her to please send me a photo of it (having received too many old vacs in pathetic condition, for which I was then obliged to cover the shipping cost, with the machine going to the dumpster).

She replied back with a photo of a Kirby 515 with the original bag and cord. It appeared to be in excellent condition, so of course I was delighted to have it. I -did- wonder why the shipping was $75.00, but just assumed the lady had wanted a little something for her trouble and I certainly didn't mind covering that.

So, a couple weeks later I got a call from the church secretary telling me there was "a huge box" down there for me. What the...? I wondered?! I wasn't expecting anything like that.

I went down there that evening to see what it was. Imagine my elated astonishment when I opened the water-heater-sized carton and found, beautifully and professionally packed, one Kirby 515, with all the cartons and attachments and instruction booklet! It doesn't look like the attachments were ever used!!

Now ... CAN YOU IMAGINE ... walking up to a yard sale and seeing something like THIS sitting there??! Would you not just plotz on the spot! Especially if you got there 30 seconds too late and saw some bedraggled family dragging the machine down the sidewalk to their car.... "Oh the pain, the pain...!" (This actually happened to me once, with a gorgeous and all-original Lux XXX - I got there just as an old man was dumping it into the trunk of his beat-up old car. I overheard him telling someone at the sale that it would make "a great shop vac." Ohhhhhh, the heartache!!)

I can't imagine why "no one wanted" this beautiful Kirby! Well, I guess other folks' indifference is my incredibly good luck!

The machine as you see it is exactly as I received it. I have not done a thing to it, other than stand there sighing with great amazement!!

I am debating whether or not to take it all apart and buff it out. On the one hand, it would look stunning. On the other hand, it is all original, and it might be kinda tragic to do anything to it. Decisions, decisions...!

Hey, here's a thought... I do have the original owner's manual, with the serial number recorded in it. I -could- take off all the original trim & bag and send it to Kirby for refurbishment!!


Original shipping carton


Beauty Shot


Upright rug cleaner


With hose for dusting


Original bag


Attachment caddy






Floor polisher


Felt duster


Paste Wax


The glass jar contains a folded pad of cheese-cloth-covered cotton, impregnated with paste wax.


Woven cloth hose


Sudser attachment for spray gun




Handi-Butler contents


"SweetAire" air refresher (the old glass syringe was inside the SweetAire box - I assume it was used to squirt the SweetAire into the Sani-Emptor)


Original cord




Instruction manual


Original paperwork








I have another 515 that I've had for a long time. There are two obvious differences between this one and the one shown above:

First, this 515 has a silver-speckled bag -- same logo, with the long point down the bag, but the fabric is darker and speckled. It's not the same speckling that the later 500-series bags had; it's more pronounced and vivid.

Second, it has smooth-sided alathon gray wheels instead of black vulcanized rubber wheels. The gray alathon wheels "officially" were introduced on the all-new Model 516 that came out next so, given Kirby's propensity to introduce new features and upgrades on a gradual basis -- e.g., across models instead of only when new models were released, it's not impossible that the later 515s had the new wheels.

(This is my friend Raul, who loves to vacuum!


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