Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chopping the Vac

Photo courtesy Flickr

One of the last individual vacuum cleaner dealers in the city does business a few blocks south of the house. The owner bought his section of a commercial building decades ago, and the late Sixties interior is a living museum of local boxing memorabilia.

Recently I realized the folly of having bought a cheap hand-held vacuum that can’t be fitted with HEPA filters. I stopped by the shop to pick up a new piece of gear after realizing it would be a labor cost. I might as well not vacuum at all as vacuum without an effective filter.

The owner shared his delight that the countless new residents of the countless new condos that now surround his vintage building really dig his operation. He’s quite a craftsman, and once we got the boring process of the sale out of the way, he shared a wealth of technical insight about his tools.

When I got the new gear home, I realized that I had clung to the ineffective unit because it has a dynamite hose, elegant and flexible. The new machine came with one that’s three times as long, stiffly plastic, and likely to menace wood finishes and small furnishings.

Himself had treated me to a description of hacking one set of accessories onto the working body of a machine one of his janitorial clients uses, so, muttering “It’s only money. He can just laugh if I blow this and have to go back for a part,” I chopped the new hose with a shop knife and wire cutters, grafting the old one onto the stub with gaffer’s tape and a couple of zip ties small enough to lash into the grooves. Works fine, and I left my partner a note not to be surprised by what he found. I would probably not have done this if we hadn’t moved the rolling tool cabinet into the kitchen corner just off the maple work top.

Now I have the best of both machines. The graft’s a little cobby, but I recited Picasso’s comment about the ones who make it pretty coming afterwards, rounded the edges of the zips with flame, and covered their latches with tape. I could get into this, and will probably detail the motor housing of the old upright with Simichrome and spend a moment or two deciding not to pinstripe it.

In a perfect universe, I would cover the body of the new machine with suede to protect surfaces and apply gaffer tape to the outer surfaces of the accessories-proper bristle brushes on them all.


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