VacHunter – Restoration Barn

When a person accumulates hundreds of vacuum cleaners that are dirty, time worn and in disrepair, it makes sense that a place needs to be provided to store and repair them. In my case, the perfect place happens to be a one hundred sixty year old barn. The Pennsylvania German bank barn was on the property when I bought it. It needed lots of work, but it is a piece of Americana that I wanted to save. The work paid off. After repairing the beams, doors, floors, roof, and replacing the wooden siding, and re-pointing the stone; I ended up with a nice three story structure that has been a comfortable workplace to do a lot of heavy duty grime removal. The restoration barn is like a second home for me and I enjoy spending countless hours fixing and restoring the unfortunate victims of time and neglect, one by one, until they emerge from the barn good as new. Get ready to take a little tour. I hope you don’t mind climbing ladders.

Pa. German Bank Barn

Vacuum Hunter barn

This monument to Americana serves as my workshop. I will describe it for barn fans. It was built in the 1850’s. It is constructed of field stone and rough cut wood. It also has a “queen’s pin” roof design with slate shingles.

The “Blaster”

Vacuum BlasterThe shop is well equipped to handle many repair and restoration tasks. This air powered machine allows me to use a variety of media to clean and remove dirt, paint, and rust from any object. It does this in a self-contained environment without the use of materials that are harmful to the cleaners or the environment. Anything that fits into the cabinet can be cleaned like new.

The shop is capable of handling electrical and mechanical repairs. A commercial buffer brings back the original luster of the cast aluminum parts. There is a paint booth with a dust and lint eliminator in the shop. I was lucky to find an original Hoover Bag Cleaner. It works very well to clean the inside of old cloth bags. Wood repair and fabricaton is another facet of the shop. This area comes in handy when working on the old machines mounted on boards or platforms. I built a little electro-plating machine to do nickel plating, however, it can only handle small parts. I recently acquired a small foundry. It still has to be set up. But, in the future, even castings will be possible.

The Machine Lathe

vacuum latheThe lathe has been described as the “king of tools”. Along with its milling attachment, many operations are possible. Sleeve bearings, bushings, pulleys, and armature work are just a few applications related to vacuum repair. The photo shows that wheel fabrication is today’s project.

Wall of Vacuums

vacuum wall
Another level of the barn houses tank and cannister cleaners. Some are waiting to be restored, some are doubles, and others are parts machines. Can you name the make and model of all the machines in the picture?


You successfully managed to climb your way to the upper loft of the barn. The pictures above give you an idea of the many rows of machines waiting for their turn to be restored. I devised a neat way to store, organize, and display my upright vacuums. I use 1”x12″ boards for vertical legs and 2″ open frames to hold the vacuum bodies. This arrangement is strong, lightweight, and allows me to store the cleaners without them resting on their wheels. This means no flat spots or damage to the already time worn hard rubber parts. Precious space is also saved with this system. I can store 72 vacuums in a floor space of 12 inches by 12 feet. I do remove the handles and bags and store them separately in a dry, rodent proof area. Of course, everything must be labeled so that no parts get mixed up. If you are handy with tools, feel free to try out my system…’ll thank me later!