SURVEY OF ELECTROLUX TANK-TYPE VACUUM CLEANERS
SOLD IN THE U.S. FROM 1924-2001

Page Two (Models XXX-XX)
 
 


DESCRIPTIONS
(will not line up with photos)

Model XXX - 1937

In 1937, a dramatic new Electrolux was unveiled, called Model XXX and sometimes the Model 30. (The company's official designation, however,was always XXX.)

This sumptuously styled cleaner was created by the great Machine Age industrial designer Lurelle Guild. (Electrolux's less- than- sumptuous slogan for this Machine Age masterpiece, however, was the unglamorous phrase "It is the finest dirt digger.")

The machine was manufactured from 1937 to 1954 (more years than any other model) and was still being offered for at least another decade to customers who still wanted the older-type model, or as last-gasp attempts to close difficult sales. (Whether or not that was according to company policy is another matter.)

Furthermore, rebuilt XXXs were available from the factory on and off over the years, even as late as 1988. (I have an odd XXX instruction brochure, published by Electrolux, Marietta Georgia, dated 1988, which depicts the machine in line-drawings with "Brand-X" cheapie plastic attachments. Now how strange is that?!)

Also, several outside companies sold rebuilt machines, including XXXs and other models -- most notably the Metropolitan Vacuum Cleaner Company who sold rebuilt machines through Spiegel Catalog and other outlets.

With the machine having been made for so many years, and with the seemingly infinite variations on the theme, dating a particular specimen can really only be an estimate — a good guess at best. (If I had a specimen of every variation I have ever seen, I'd have at least a dozen if not more of them.)

Part of the problem is that many of the variations occurred at different times throughout the total production of the XXX. There was not one new production run that suddenly had a half-dozen new modifications. However, you can group certain modifications together and tie them to a particular time-period in the 17-year total XXX production run, and thus come up with six major groupings by date. And that is how I have presented the Model XXX in this survey.

This method obviously is not 100% accurate, I suppose, but I think it does meet the objective of helping people figure out the approximate vintage of a given machine.

What would be really helpful would be to find a list of serial numbers with corresponding dates. That would answer the question more fully. As it is, I have not been able to date machines I have come across by their serial numbers because the sequences of letter/numbers are not consistent. Unless I ever find factory records of serial number designations, this will be the best I can do.

 

 

Model XXX - 1937

The original model XXX has flat-bottomed runners. The cover release lever is very, very narrow where it connects to the cover. The front cover has little rubber "feet" on each side that fit into rectangular openings on the aluminum collar around the bag chamber opening.

Top half of tank covered with very dark gray leatherette with a reptilian appearance, and striped lighter-gray leatherette on the underside.

Rear-end of the machine made of heavy-gauge aluminum, stamped on the underside with extensive patent information, etc., and the old sunburst-style logo. Spring-loaded circular louvre on blower to connect hose; and a pair of crescent-shaped louvres above the blower opening. Odd basket-type rear filter assembly.

Hose: Very dark gray (darker gray than the later XXX hoses), with white and black tracing in a different pattern than the later ones. The black and white stripes are spaced a little apart from each other rather than being right next to each other, and only the white tracing is in the XXX pattern, the black tracing is just stripes in one direction.

Primitive rug nozzle. Bumper trim: On dusting brush only. Black rubber. Wands have the old Electrolux logo die-stamped around the female ends where the narrow slits are.

475-watt motor w/ Bakelite mounts. Heavy black rubber Belden cord with standard Belden plug.

Chrome suction regulator attachment introduced some time around 1938-39.
 

Model XXX - 1939

Same machine as 1937 model, as far as I know, except for one change to rear end: Still made of aluminum, still has circular louvre over blower but with no louvres above the blower opening.

Improved rug nozzle with combed "gleaner" cleaning surface running along the length of the top of the nozzle; still with no rubber bumpers.

Model XXX - 1947

The 1947 model still has flat runners, but they are now attached to the tank body instead of the back cover and the bag chamber rim.

Redesigned front cover lever which tapers slightly to a broader width where it attaches to the front cover. Front cover now has rectangular slots that fit over corresponding rectangular metal "feet" on the new steel bag chamber rim.

Lighter-gray leatherette than earlier models but still "reptilian" looking. Bottom of cleaner painted with flat charcoal gray paint instead of covered with leatherette.

Rear-end of the machine now made of chrome-plated steel and not quite as long as version l. Still has a single circular louvre over blower. New disc-style filter pad.

Rug nozzle same as 1945 version w/ black rubber bumpers added around top gleaner area and also around the bottom. Hose: Gray cloth (lighter in color than earlier), with black/white crisscross pattern.
 

Model XXX - 1948

New round runners (in cross-section).

Newest rug nozzle (the type that continued on into the LX) was introduced between 1948 and 1949 models and sold as an optional accessory; then made standard equipment with the 1952 model..

Bottom of cleaner medium gray wrinkle finish.
 


Model XXX - 1949

(Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Model)

While there were no major changes to the cleaner's design or aesthetics per se, the 1949 model commemorated the Company's anniversary with a new, more powerful 535-watt motor with rubber mounts.

“Saloon-door” louvres now over blower instead of single circular panel.

Handle: Light-gray rubber. Lighter-gray leatherette than earlier models, with a variety of textures and patterns that ranged from reptile-like to a more symmetrical "grainy" look.

Many new accessories were also introduced in 1949 — including an air-powered floor polisher, the “Companion” (hammertone-gray tool caddy that rides atop the cleaner, also with a ball-chain to hang in a closet), the "Garment-aire" garment storage bag, and an automatic cord winder (chrome-plated).


Model XXX - 1952

Sold as low-tier model along with the new Model LX.

Same machine as 1949 model except for color: Has LX-matching color scheme - dark-blue leatherette and dark turquoise wrinkle-finish paint on under-side. Front cover and rear flange area that filter ring fits into painted hammertone blue. Companion now hammertone blue; ball-chain replaced with dark turquoise strap.

Blue-gray rubber trim on attachments. Hose: Gray w/blue arrow pattern (same as LX).

Handle: Blue-gray rubber. Lighter-weight, black rubber cord with molded plug with "Elux" logo. Optional cord-winder now hammertone blue.

Variations on the "1952 theme"

1. I have seen late (blue) XXXs that still had plain aluminum front covers and chromed rear flanges, instead of both being painted hammertone. I have also seen some where the front cover was painted, but the rear flange was still chromed; and I have also seen some where the front cover was still plain aluminum but the rear flange was painted.

2. I have seen specimens that had the earlier gray leatherette, with the new dark turquoise wrinkle-finish paint; as well as machines that had the new turquoise-blue leatherette, but still with the earlier medium gray wrinkle-finish on the underside.

3. I have seen blue or blue-&-gray XXXs with the older gray/black/white XXX-weave hoses.

4. And I have seen specimens with further "sub-combinations" of (1), (2), and (3) above. As I said earler, the varierty of combinations of aesthetic elements you will find seem to be nearly endless, especially with the 1949/52 versions.

A possible explanation for this:

(a) The gray-leatherette / turquoise-bottoms were probably made new at the factory and they were just using up the last of the gray leatherette that was in stock.

(b) The blue-leatherette / gray-bottom versions were most likely factory-rebuilt machines, fitted with new leatherette if the existing leatherette was damaged, but not repainting the bottom sides.)

One final observation about blue XXXs:

If you have a blue XXX and the hammertone paint was obviously spray-painted on, then this was a "bojack" job and not done at the factory.

Factory machines done in Hammertone always had the "real" BAKED Hammertone finish, and not spray-paint. The difference is easy to tell:

The baked finish is very smooth, durable, more of a gray-blue than a bright or vivid blue, and practically impossible to scratch off with a fingernail.

The sprayed hammertone is a very bright blue, fairly rough in finish, and can be easily marred and scratched. Furthermore, the ribbed lines going across the front cover, and the cover release handle, were never painted at the factory but were polished out.

Also, if the entire back side, and not just the flange part, is painted blue, that also would signify a non-factory rebuild. Same for the switch housing...these were never painted blue at the factory. Well, at least, I have never SEEN any... and I have seen quite a few XXXs in my time!

     PHOTOS
      (will not line up with descriptions)

 

 

 


(The following photos show
some variations on the 1952 model)


(The following photos show
comparisons of various models)


 


Model XX ("20") - 1941?

There is some ambiguity about this model. Some say it was sold during WWII while Electrolux was involved with wartime production. Others declare that it was a new model meant to replace the XXX; yet others assert that it was meant as a "lower-tier" economy model as an alternate to the pricier Model XXX. Whichever assertion suits you is fine with me, since I don't know which one is true! (And ... "can we tawk" ... I don't suppose this matter will change the course of recorded history...!)

In October and November 1941, Consumer Reports Magazine reviewed this model, listing the retail price at $49.50. It had only the following attachments according to CR: Round brush, floor brush, and small drapery nozzle. Floor brush had no swivel.

Model XX has flat-bottomed runners like the early XXX, but they mount onto the body housing like the 1947 version.

Any way you look at it, it’s a very rare model as it appears to have been made for about a year or so, maybe even less than that.



 



Historical Narrative

Electrolux Today

Models V through XII

(Models XXX through XX)

Models LX through S

Models F through G

Models L through Present

Electrolux Patents 1924 to 1964

George Nilson, Electrolux Salesman 1947 through 1965
 

My Web Site “Home Page”


 

Please note that this entire Website (1377731.com), and all text and some images* therein, are copyright © 1995-2006 by Charles Richard Lester. You are welcome to disseminate information or graphics from this site for non-commercial use only but only after requesting — and receiving — permission by its author (me). Please apply to Charles Richard Lester: one_three_sevenat1377731.com (change "at" to the "@" symbol). Thank you for appreciating the value of creativity.

(*If you’re not sure whether or not a given image is in public domain, just send an email and ask.)

THIS APPLIES WITH SPECIFICITY AND, IN PARTICULAR, TO EBAY AUCTIONS. Under NO circumstances is anyone EVER permitted to use text, photos or images from my web site — or to put links to my site — on their ebay listings, or on any other similar auction web sites.