Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Is This a Hack or a Good Marriage?

I love my old Oreck XL9000 vacuum. It was my mother's, and she hated it, which I think in the beginning was part of it's charm. I do love to be contrary. She discarded it immediately after having it serviced it for some new-fangled red thing (Dirt Devil?) that lasted about a year, as I recall. It came to me with the service tag still in place. She just wanted it gone and I happily escorted it into my car. I wish I'd kept the tag. It was used when she got it, and I just can't remember when exactly I brought it home, only that it's been here for what feels like forever. Over the years the motor has weakened, and who can blame it around here, but otherwise it's in fantastic shape.

Since we moved in here it's been relegated to the sun room, a sort of retirement villa, if you will. I dust mop and sweep the rest of the house usually, since there's no carpet, and since the Oreck lacks that one little thing I need in a vacuum in a house full of dogs n' cat - cool upholstery attachments. There's awful indoor outdoor stuff in the sun room over a rough concrete floor. That rug is a repository for chicken shit, grass, bugs and dirt. It's where my boots get scraped clean on my way in from chores, and where I regularly spill everything from diatomaceous earth to garden fertilizer to pond-fish food.

I recently "upgraded" to a Shark Euro-Pro Navigator at Target, which I found on clearance for $125.00. It came in handy when I was sanding all those cabinet doors, drawers, and fronts before painting them - right before the contractor told us the recycled cabinets were not going to work. I spent forever in front of those vacuums that day in Target trying to decide what to get. Gerbil and Girl adore their Dyson, which was a wedding gift. I love the idea of Dyson, but that's not in my budget.

Anyway, I have nothing against the Navigator; in fact I rather like it. It does the job well, has good power, and came with a handy little special pet hair power brush attachment that did beautiful things on Mel's preferred sleeping spots. But the Oreck has a special place in my heart, and as the motor weakened and I knew it was getting to be time to let go, I grieved. I like having a second vacuum around, and I like having a separate one in the sun room, which often feels disconnected from the house.

The other day Mr. Wonderful asked me to swing by the dump, a thing he rarely does. As I rounded the corner of the Re-Use Room, I saw before me a thing of great beauty. An Oreck XL2540 with a big bag full of hypoallergenic CELOC bags - three full packages!

Now, Gene really tries to keep me away from the dump for just such reason. I will come home with 1970's kitchy red electric woks, used-once-at-Christmas-and-discarded hand-crank popcorn poppers "in case ours ever breaks " (we now have three back-ups and one in use), worn-out 1950's tinsel Christmas trees, and ANY slow cooker (as long as there's a cord and the crock isn't cracked). When I grabbed this Oreck, I knew there'd be trouble, but my only thought was for the bags - free bags! I had no idea what I would do with the vacuum itself, except that I figured if it worked, we could have a... a basement vac? I really didn't know.

I brought it home and stood them side by side. That's my old XL9000 on the left and the Oreck XL2540RH on the right. They looked pretty similar. The 9000 is a little more basic, I suppose. The on/off is in a different location, and the handle is less ergonomic.

From the back they looked pretty similar as well. I noticed a lot of dust on the 2540, but whether that was from age and lack of maintenance, I couldn't tell. I fired up the 2540, and was amazed by the sound of the motor. I gave it a push, and it sucked up anything in reach. It reminded me of the 9000, back in the day when it first came to live with me. Then I noticed the problem...

The bag attachment was damaged beyond repair. In the bag-full-of-bags was a note giving the location of a local Oreck repair shop. I briefly debated taking it in for an assessment, but then I had a better idea. Why not hack, or marry, them into one newer, stronger, better vac? I really didn't need two. I have the Shark for inside and the Oreck for the sun room, and Gene has a shop vac in the basement. I pondered. Analyzed. Briefly. And then I began disassembly.

Now, a fair amount of the time (ok, never) I don't think these projects through before I begin. I always figure that if I really thought about it for long, I'd see all the potential pitfalls and I'd wimp out and never get anywhere. So I just step forward in faith and begin shredding innocent machines, assuming that in the end I will either get my way, or not - in which case I reassemble and move on. This usually works. Never without some hitches, but generally more or less it works. And it did this time. With some hitches.

First, the on/off for the 2540 is on the handle as opposed to the 9000's foot-tap button on the motor housing. Second - and more importantly - the handles are not universal.

I used a utility knife to shave the plastic of one down just enough so I could slide the other over, and screw it into place - I pre-drilled holes to allow these screws to fit.

Then, too, the attachment from the base to the bag were not the same. Although they are the same size, and the new center tube slid easily into place, the hose clamp type fitting of the 2540 does not come close to working with the push-pin assembly of the 9000. But when I comes to a situation like this, there's always one handy tool I rely on, time and again, to save my butt from certain ruin.

Yup. Duct tape. You know the kind I mean - "if-it-can't-be-fixed-with-duct-tape-it-ain't-broke", handyman's secret weapon, primer gray, sticks to everything except what you want it to, duct tape. I love the stuff, as we've seen before...

Poor Yoshi. Anyway, once I got the 9000's  handle assembly married to the center hose of the 2540, I did what any rational person would do.

I taped it up. Really, really well. So now if I get a hose clog, I suppose there will be agony and whining, followed by removal and replacement of the tape. But really - it's a free motor for an old, dying vacuum that cost me nothing but time to make work. And the outcome?

Hopefully another 20 years of Oreck joy!

A little spit and polish with Simple Green purple (It's really called pro-something, but I can't resist the green-purple thing)...

A little practice on the icky sun room floor, and the proof is in the pudding! Good as new. Or, good as newly married anyway. Now the only trouble is... what do I do with this?


kmkat said...

So glad to know you watch Red Green. No need for me to give you a link to him.

I inherited my MIL's Oreck, but it didn't work for me. The two spinning brushes got so tangled with long hair shed from my head whenI used it that I had to de-tangled them every damned time. Said Oreck went to Goodwill. The Oreck hand vac that I also inherited, however, is one of my favorite appliances. Powerful suck and a shoulder strap so I can use both hands.

Charline said...

This is awesome!

Steve Wampler said...

great post I like it very much thanx for sharing this.