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Convert an old canister vac to a harness/backpack vac? Answered

Greetings Instructables Brethren!

I've been getting along with all hardwood and no vacuum cleaner for 7 years now, and now with kids, I am admitting defeat, but still can't take that dreaded step into the spiral of ever-shortening planned obsolescence cycles for ever-more-expensive and flimsy junk. I'm looking for a way to turn an old Electrolux or other simple, repairable, and reliable antique canister vac, into a backpack vac. I wanted to do this Instructable myself, but between the 3 kids and being only armed with a dustmop and broom, I haven't got the time to do all the project development!

Can someone out there with a few tools and a Monster Hacker / steampunk mentality, convert an old canister vac to a trusty Ghostbuster-style Backpack Duster? It will need a superlong cord, though most of those oldies-but-goodies did come with that. 

And if you do this successfully, and can see fit to sell it on the Instructables Store, you probably have your first customer, right here!

7 Replies

AriedeB (author)2012-03-20

Hmmm... do you need the complete vac to be fittet on to sometihing, or do you need a backpack thats completely steampunked and use able as a awsome looking vac?

im getting a great idea here in my head, the only thing is, i find it hard to explain without pictures...

I was thinking about putting a oldsyle vac motor ontop of a smal garbidge can.
placing some nylon strips on it, or leather belts, to put your arms trough.
Then spraypaint it with copper paint.

The only thing is, you need to find out how the old vac's work in general, so you can make it work on that garbige can.

You need an intake, an exhoust, a filter for dust and a fitting for a hose... the rest is all abracadabra for now.

I think im gonna try this for myself ;-)
Nice idea!

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caitlinsdad (author)2012-03-16

Easiest thing is to get a real camping backpack frame and lash the vac on it. Military surplus gear is designed for that. But you can always build some lightweight wooden frame to square up the vac and then just screw or fasten an old backpack to it. Use a hip belt to ease up the load or to make it more comfortable. Your jet pack would put out a hot exhuast so figure out which way to aim or deflect the blast. It might be a little noiser and vibrate if not mounted with padding. Once you have it fastened and rig up remote on-off switch, then you can steampunk it. Good luck.

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megmaine (author)caitlinsdad2012-03-16

Thanks! I had thought of the Army surplus backpack or Alice Pack idea, but was wishing someone with rivets and nylon strapping with buckles, would hack it out and show how. You are right of course, there's no need to be so fancy about it. I was looking at backpack vacs online and tempted to wonder whether the low-end $400 price-range could possibly beat the apparent modern paradigm of $100 per year of expected function.

But then I realized all over again, that all those are, are quieter vacuums that are suction-only canisters turned vertical and held onto the back of the operator....was that really worth that much money, considering they might be designed to fail in a few short years?

I'm tall, about 5'10" and would rather carry a canister in one hand than stoop to drag one ball-and-chain-style behind me.

A netting support with shoulder straps would also work well, especially if the whole thing could hang on the wall when not in use. I'll have to search out the canister vac to try it with and see what I can do, after all. Maybe even put a hole in the bottom of an old backpack for the exhaust end to poke out of, and see how that does. I can just see Red Green adding some sort of explosive and turning it into a flaming personal jetpack!

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caitlinsdad (author)megmaine2012-03-16

You might want to post a pic of your vac. If it is an electrolux, it may have an all metal casing that you can simple drill a few holes to put in some eyebolts with nuts and washers. Get a padded luggage shoulder strap and hook on to the eyebolts for a side-carried shoulder vac.

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megmaine (author)caitlinsdad2012-03-17

Haha, I don't actually have the vac yet...just keep realizing I need to break down and acquire one! But I love your ideas...was visualizing something like that. I just have to make sure the metal casing (if I can even find those elusive antique Electrolux canister vacs...wish I still had the one we had when i was growing up!) isn't the only thing between the bag and the air, or the holes could be a source of dust leakage.

You've encouraged me to go ahead and try to find one so I can attempt this myself. If I do, I will do an Instructable on it, why not?

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caitlinsdad (author)megmaine2012-03-17

golf-bag vac, get the butler to caddy...wait, doesn't everybody have one?

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