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Shop Vac Flaws Grind Use to a Halt

DN Staff

May 15, 2012

3 Min Read
Shop Vac Flaws Grind Use to a Halt

I have a Genie shop vacuum that is more than 25 years old. It has been beat up, dropped, and otherwise abused, and except for the fact that its suction is not phenomenal, it has performed well for years. It has a hose outlet which is great for blowing dust out of stuff, and I've only had to tear it down once to clean and lube the motor. I've connected it to sanders to keep the dust down, balanced it on ladders, and generally banged it around.

About five years ago, I was given a more modern shop vac as a gift. It was a sleek-looking thing, and it had more suction than the Genie, so I relegated the Genie to the back corner. The new vacuum didn't have an attachable outlet so I kept the Genie in service as a blower.

Soon after using the new one, it started making a grinding noise when I shut it off. I decided to check the motor for oil. That's when I discovered the vacuum's poor design. The first thing I noticed was that one of the screws had never been installed. This was not a problem as the plastic fit well, but it revealed poor workmanship.

Then I discovered the impeller was a flimsy aluminum thing held onto the shaft with a spring clip that was not very reusable without some hammering. Past that, the motor was indeed dry. I lubed it up, put the vacuum back together, and it worked fine -- for a while at least. Then one of the casters broke off the tank because the plastic boss it pressed into was not reinforced with ribs. I was able to repair that.

A few months later, the noise returned. I again stripped it down to lubricate the motor and I noticed that the motor bearings had no oil storage in the form of felt pads or sintered bronze. That meant tearing down the vacuum would probably be an ongoing chore. Sure enough, about every six months I had to strip it down to relubricate the motor. Each time I also noticed the impeller was looser on the shaft. It was held by a slotted disc on the impeller which engaged a shaft pin on the motor, and as I mentioned earlier, held down by a spring clip.

Finally, after all the disassembly, as well as the torque of starting the motor, I could tell that the impeller was rubbing and there would be no further repair. It unceremoniously ended up in the trash.

After looking for a new shop vac and being underwhelmed by the selection and quality, we decided that the Genie with less suction was still a superior product compared to the new offerings.

This entry was submitted by Dave Nason and edited by Rob Spiegel.

Tell us your experiences with Monkey-designed products. Send stories to Rob Spiegel for Made by Monkeys.

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