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Collecting Dust

In 1936, the Air-Way Appliance Company of Toledo, OH launched a vacuum 50 years ahead of its time. The Air-Way Super Chief was a twin-motor upright vacuum cleaner loaded with game-changing features.

Air-Way's "Sanitary System" upright vacuums had, since 1920, the world's only disposable 14-layer cellulose disposable dust bag (the Filter Queen filter cone is only 2 layers of cellulose). As the world's first sanitary method of dust disposal, there was NO dust leakage. It would be the only disposable bag on the market until 1929 when Hoover copied it (and quickly removed it due to a patent infringement lawsuit). 

The Air-Way already featured the swivel nozzle decades and decades before anyone else thought to use it for an upright cleaner. Air-Way also presented a spring-loaded carpet height adjustment as well as the ability to use both ends of the machine: the handle was hollow, which became a suction tube at the turn of a dial well before any other "on board" hose of an upright cleaner.

The Air-Way's attachments were also many years ahead of their competition. A Floor Polisher attach-ment came standard. A Feather Pillow Renovator attachment was an option, as was the Moth Crystal Dispenser for keeping clothing free of moths and their larva. The Air-Way also became the world's first home hair dryer, using the warm air of the gas oven and blowing it through the hose and crevice tool.

However, it was the Air-Way Super Chief's new attachment nozzle that made it so special. A second motor in the nozzle drove the rotating beater bar brush; the beater bars were made of flexible rubber with smooth steel tips. These bars would beat the carpet far more gently than the Hoover of the time. There was also a brush roller shut-off switch for bare floor-friendly cleaning, which stopped the brush for above-the-floor cleaning.

Air-Way combined all their "years-ahead" patented features with their all new "power nozzle" and had one of the best cleaning, most innovative vacuum cleaners EVER built. The Super Chief stood at the top of cleaning ability in 1936. I dare say, it probably is still at the top today. 

The Vacuum Cleaner Museum is very proud to have two Air-Way Super Chief cleaners, one from the collection of famed vacuum collector Stan Kann. Both are in perfect working condition. Stop by the Vacuum Cleaner Museum any time for a test drive.

About the Author: Tom's passion for vintage vacuum designs goes all the way back to pre-school days. He sold Rainbow vacuum cleaners in high school and owned his own vacuum repair/sales business for more than 22 years. Tacony Corporation built a Museum to house Tom's vast collection of vintage cleaners, numbering more than 700 and growing. As the Curator of The Vacuum Cleaner Museum, Tom brings a wealth of knowledge as well as skill in the display and maintenance of more than 100 years of vacuum cleaner history.

Reprinted from Floor Care & Central Vac Professional, February 2017