This post is the first in our new ‘Restoration’ category. We here in LTVLand love old stuff, especially old technology. The Hoover constellation vacuum fits this mold perfectly.
I found this thing on the infamous ‘Magic Curb’ and immediately brought it home. How the hell could anyone put something so absolutely awesome looking in the trash? I plugged it in, saw it worked, and forgot about it for well over a year.
In a fit of cleaning rage I decided to finally ask the internet just how old this thing is. A quick search brought me to this wonderfully informative page. Further investigating brought me to Wikipedia (of course).
I never quite understood why this thing had no wheels What I learned is that later models of this model were designed to work as hovercrafts!
The Hoover Constellation, which is a canister type but lacks wheels. Instead, the vacuum cleaner floats on its exhaust, operating as a hovercraft, although this is not true of the earliest models. They had a swivel top hose with the intention being that the user would place the unit in the center of the room, and work around the cleaner.
Introduced in 1952, they are collectible, and are easily identified by the spherical shape of the canister. They tended to be loud, had poor cleaning power, and could not float over carpets. But they remain an interesting machine; restored, they work well in homes with lots of hardwood floors. As per Wikipedia:
The Constellations were changed and updated over the years until discontinued in 1975. These Constellations route all of the exhaust under the vacuum using a different airfoil. The updated design is quiet even by modern standards, particularly on carpet as it muffles the sound. These models float on carpet or bare floor—although on hard flooring, the exhaust air tends to scatter any fluff or debris around.
Notable also is that it was designed by industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, who was an NYC Native. Those wacky NYC Natives, always creating great stuff. Dreyfuss seemed to live a very honorable and productive life, and his book is online to boot. He and his wife committed suicide in 1972 when they learned she had incurable liver cancer. Hilariously, the IDSA page on Dreyfuss says he ‘designed’ their suicide. As noble and wonderful as I feel that is, I have to say… CO? Suicide Bags would have perhaps been more pleasant.
(As a footnote, sadly, I do know someone who used a Suicide Bag for lesser reasons, and perhaps ironically, some of the other stuff in my dwelling used to belong to this person. See the common thread of recycling other people’s unneeded stuff in my life?)
Back to the topic at hand: My Hoover sadly (?) seems to be one of the earlier models that does not hover (though did they every actually hover?). It IS pretty powerful for it’s age though (despite what Wiki says) and that it still runs just fine after 60 years is a testament to actual American craftsmanship (built in North Canton, Ohio). This is a serious reminder of how products used to be. Back in the 50s you could buy a vacuum like this one brand new and have it last a lifetime. Today? Nothing lasts a lifetime, and everything is built (very poorly) in China.<