Comes to the
Home for Wayward Vacuum Cleaners


A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a very nice lady who found me on the Internet:

My family recently cleaned out the house of my Great-grandmother. Among the stuff were 2 vintage vacuums. I have no use for them but I cringe at the idea of dumping them into the landfill. Can I donate them to you? I will pay to have them packaged and shipped to your location. If you would be willing to provide me with a destination address, I would appreciate it very much. I think I have vacuums that you would appreciate. And it would certainly calm my heart to know that they are appreciated and well cared-for. Many thanks, "M.S."



I replied:

Dear Ms. S.,

Thanks for your nice email and offer to donate your great-grandmother's vacuum cleaners. I'd be delighted to receive them and give them a happy home here at the "Home for Wayward Vacuum Cleaners."

I was going to call you right now but looked up your area code and see you're in Wisconson. Didn't want to call in case it's too late.

Here is my address:


Many thanks to you,



She wrote back a week later:

Hi Charles: I am not going to be able to send the vacuum cleaners today, but I expect to be able to ship them next Thursday. I will keep you posted. Many thanks for your assistance. "M.S."



I replied:

Hi Ms. S., "no hurries, no worries."

Thanks very much,



She wrote late last week:

Hi Charles:

I was actually able to send off the older of the 2 vacuums yesterday. It went UPS Residential. Thank you, again, for giving my grandmother's things such a good home. "M.S."



Of course, I was dying to know what kind of vacuum cleaners these were but decided to let it be a surprise -- so I didn't ask her.




Well, a few days later the UPS man came with a carton almost the size of a hot-water heater! Holy Cow, what the heck could be in there?!


Oh, WOW!! It's a Hoover Model 105 from 1919, rebuilt fairly early in its life as a "Special."

Some differences between this 105 and the one I already have:

My first 105 has a broomstick-type handle, rounded off at the top; this one has a handle like the Model 541.

My first 105 has the "center-tilt" handle lock; this one has the side-mounted handle lock -- again, like the 541.

Finally, the power switch on my first 105 has a round metal (steel?) switch-lever mounted in a brass housing; this one has a bakelite switch mounted in bakelite housing.

So, this is either a late 105 with these changes, or the changes might have been made when it was rebuilt at the factory.


Red replacement bag -- and note the white belt looped around the handle bale -- I wonder what vacuum cleaner it came from!


The motor housing was painted with silver metallic paint -- presumably when it was rebuilt -- the paint is flaking off. I'll have to strip the old paint and then either polish the metal or repaint it (which would actually be closer to the original.) It has a replacement bumper, which I will paint black when I clean up the machine.


Here you can more clearly see the paint flaking off.


"Special" serial number plate.


This is a bojack replacement bag, but it has the original Hoover instruction at the bottom, "Empty After Every Cleaning" so I wonder if maybe this bag was placed on the machine by Hoover when it was rebuilt.


It's an original-type spreader-top bag.


The little pin that the handle bale latch locks against is missing, so the handle flops over and won't stay upright.


I found a perfect replacement -- a bit from a changeable-bit screwdriver set!


The underside is very clean, and the wheels are all in excellent condition.


The brush roll, which would have been re-bristled when the machine was rebuilt, is also in excellent condition -- all the tufts are present and full, and nearly the original length. It doesn't look like this Hoover was used a whole lot.




Time to see how well it runs.

I plugged an extension cord into the wall, turned the Hoover switch on, then quickly connected and disconnected the Hoover cord to the extension cord to see if the machine ran. That way, if it had problems such as shot or dried bearings, bad or frozen armature, or a short in the cord, I could find that out without damaging the machine or (hopefully) not blowing a circuit breaker!

To my disappointment, the motor did not turn on at all.

So I began troubleshooting.

First, I checked the switch. It worked fine.

Then I looked for breaks in the cord; there were none, but one of the wire leads inside the plug was loose. I tightened the screw and tried again, still no power.

So I took off the motor cap and looked at the carbon brushes.


No wonder it wouldn't run! One brush has just a sliver-thick piece of carbon remaining, and the other one is totally gone - worn down to the spring. I guess it just got ground away to nothing!




I called the lady to let her know the Hoover had arrived in excellent condition. I told her it was manufactured by Hoover in 1919. She said that made perfect sense since her great-grandmother's home was wired for electricity in 1917. (The lady still lives in her great-grandmother's home by the way!)

I told her a little about the Model 105, saying the Hoover vacuum cleaner at that time was the "Rolls-Royce of vacuum cleaners," and about how people who had Hoovers would sometimes keep them on display in their homes, their Hoover "just happening" to be in view when neighbors and friends stopped by, eliciting great envy in those who had lesser vacuum cleaners!

I also told her about the instruction manual -- that, rather than depicting the ubiquitous "housewife with pearls and high heels," it showed uniformed servants using the vacuum cleaner: only well-to-do households could afford a Hoover in the 1920s.

I mentioned that a 1926 Ford Model A automobile sold for $300; the Hoover Model 700 from the same year sold for $75.00: one-fourth the cost of a new car, which, of course, she was amazed to hear.

She then told me the second vacuum cleaner she's sending is enroute. She said it's another Hoover, "newer than the first one but still very old." I'll be counting the hours until it arrives, having great fun speculating about which model it might be. Dare I hope for a 150 -- the numerical inverse of 105? Wouldn't that be just too cool??!


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