Mechanical sweepers were the next improvement in floor cleaning after the broom and dust pan. The latter combination would move dirt around the floor and stir up dust as it was corralled into the pan. But the carpet sweeper would capture and store the dust in a tray concealed inside its body.
One of the earliest carpet sweepers is the Union Sweeper patented in 1858. It used geared wheels on one side of its body to turn the brush roller. There were no wheels on the other side of the box.
Another type of mechanical cleaner was called the Sweeping Box. It did not have any wheels. The elongated sides of the dust collection box served as sled runners to allow it to glide along the floor. This machine utilized a hand crank and belt to turn a small pulley at the bottom of the machine that was connected to the brush. Of course, several variations existed.
This is an early sweeping box from 1873.
A third design evolved that continues to coexist with vacuum cleaners today. Two sets of wheels under the sweeper came into contact with the brush roller and turned it by friction as the sweeper was pushed back and forth across the floor. Light and easy to use, the sweeper was most effective on hard surfaces. Only surface litter would be collected from short pile carpeting. The Bissell Co. has promoted this type of sweeper since the late 1800’s and continues to sell it in today’s market.
This sweeper was used by salespeople to demonstrate the cleaning action of the brush. The glass top gives a clear view of the black and white bristles. Their colors easily allow the viewer to see the dirt that is picked up. The Bissell logo is actually etched into the beveled glass cover.
The final step in the evolution of mechanical carpet sweepers came when the element of suction was introduced into their design. To accomplish this, an extra set of wheels was added to the rear of the body. These wheels powered two or three bellows which, in turn, pulled air in through a front mounted nozzle. The original wheels still turned the brush as the machine was propelled acoss the floor. This hybrid became known as the Combination Sweeper or the Vacuum Sweeper. It worked best when it was pushed rapidly in a back and forth motion, but never could develop enough power to do a thorough cleaning job. It also was heavier and bulkier than a regular carpet sweeper.
Duntley Pneumatic Sweeper Co., Chicago
Williams Combination Sweeper
Manufactured by Frank W. Williams Co., Chicago
sweeper and how they operate the bellows and the brush roller.