The Case of the Busted Belt

Technology.  It renders itself in a myriad of forms.  Many are notably more high-tech than others, capable of calculations or visual stimuli that just boggle the mind.  Then there are the less intelligent forms of tech that are still, none-the-less, technologically advanced in their field.

Today, I invite you along on my adventure of replacing the belt of a Hoover Twin-Chamber Bagless vacuum cleaner.  Do try to contain yourself through this journey of misplaced manuals, generic replacement belts, and the elusive search for the appropriate .PDF to fix my wounded floor cleaner without injuring it further.

Monday morning arrives along with the realization that my bedroom carpet felt dirty beneath my feet.  Since it frequently doubles as a race track for two of our house cats, it has a bit more traffic, especially coming off a hardwood floor.  Nothing quite like paws and claws switching terrain at high speed.  I pull my Hoover from the closet.  Time to clean the ‘track’.

Cord unbound and plugged in?  Check.
Chambers clean?  Check.
Handle unlocked?  Check.
Floor height confirmed? Check.

Let’s do this.  Flipping the On switch, the motor starts humming.  I push forward from the hardwood to the carpet expecting the traditional low mechanical growl of my beast removing the dirt, debris, and ‘whatevers’ from my carpet.  Instead, I’m greeted with the sensation of pushing a tricycle through ankle-deep sand.  This was NOT how I wanted my Monday to begin.

I turned off the beast, locked the handle upright again, and laid it back to see underneath.  No obstructions.  I flipped the On switch again while looking.  Well, crap.  No beater-bar movement.  This usually means a broken belt.  Good thing I was going to the local Wal-Mart the next day.  I’d just get a replacement belt then.

Tuesday came.  The Wal-Mart section of common replacement vacuum cleaner parts made it fairly easy to pick out a simple belt for what I thought was my machine.  Like most people, I did not check for my particular model number Hoover before leaving home.  I felt confident in my choice of belts… mostly.  The remainder of my Tuesday didn’t accommodate the Hoover.  Let’s add that to the top of Wednesday’s Do-List.

Wednesday morning.  Rising from bed reminded me of the morning’s goal… clean the ‘cat track’.  After getting dressed, I grab the belts in their package.  I flip it over.  No convenient how-to instructions printed.  Just an obscure ‘refer to your owner’s manual‘ statement.  Insert a short quick sigh here, followed by a muttering of guttural vocals.

We all know we should keep those wonderfully well-written (yes, sarcasm here) owner’s manuals handy for the odd chance that we may need some guidance later on repairing our injured mechanical servant.  But what we should do and what we actually do are two very different things, aren’t they?  Yep.  I had lost the owner’s manual to my dear vacuum cleaner.

Ok, not a problem.  I’ll just hop on the net and scoot over to Hoover’s website for a quick bit of insight to make sure I don’t break something that shouldn’t get broken while fixing the broken belt.  Hahaha.  It wasn’t going to be that simple.

“Parts and Accessories.”  Yes.  “Belts.”  Yes.  “200+ results.”  What!?!  I toil around for a bit on the Hoover site.  I pull my beast from the closet again.  Model number.  Where might this secret code be hiding?  I find one sticker with three languages on it but no model numbers.  I find another sticker with numbers on it.  I laugh.  One of the listed numbers was the proper belt part number.  Ok, I do a search on the Hoover site of this belt number.  Maybe it will return a list of models that use that part.  Good idea, murky results.  Back to my beast.  Nothing stands out.  An idea smacks me.  I lay the beast fully back on the floor and peak underneath this time looking for a sticker or tag or something with numbers on it.  To my chagrin, there was the dang metal tag.  This was not the Wednesday I had envisioned.

Back to my computer, keying in the model number in Hoover’s search box for owner’s manuals in .PDF formats.  Boom!  My beast’s manual.  Now maybe this could move along a bit quicker.  Downloaded and opened.  Scroll.  Scroll.  Scroll.  Ah-ha.  Pictures with words.  No special tools, just a Phillips screw driver.  Remove four screws and a plate cover.  Replace belt and slip ‘agitator bar’ (some of us call that a beater bar) back into place.  Put plate back on and re-screw.  Simple enough.

I grab a Phillips and remove the screws.  I take off the plate, and good golly at the dust-bunnied fuzzies hidden in the crevices and nooks under the plate!!!  I clean those out.  I pull the broken belt out and slip the new belt unto the motor pulley.  So far, so good.  The next picture states to “slide the agitator bar through the new belt”, which is nothing more than an industrial quality rubber band.  Easy enough.  The following picture and instructions took liberty with the use of the word ‘snug’ concerning putting the bar back into place.  The bar wasn’t just going to be ‘snug’.  It was tight as hell, nor was it just a two-hand job.

Imagine this for a moment:  my right hand on the right end of the agitator with the last two fingers holding to the right-hand side of the machine, the left hand holding the left side of the agitator ready to pull down into place, the left foot bracing against the left bottom corner of the beast, and the right foot perched against the top of the machine ready to hold it down… all on my hardwood floor where there is no friction to keep the slip-slide motion to a minimal.  I pull, tug, brace, and push on various points at the same time, muttering more vocalizations.  The beast is moving and flailing about as if it were possessed by entities unknown.  One last groan from me and the belt is stretched with the agitator bar locked in place.  Good freaking grief!  I laugh out loud.  Whoever creates the manuals must have a wicked sense of humor… or no sense of actual hands-on practice!

The bottom plate gets replaced.  I clean up the crazy dust-bunny fuzzies from my floor.  I plug in the beast.  The track gets cleaned VERY well!

I hope you got a giggle or two from my dealing with the lower end of technology for the home.  It sure as hell beats using a broom to clean the carpet.

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