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If you were born in the 1970's then it's a possibility that you may have seen a Hoover Ranger kicking about. It was the upright cleaner that was used in the "Shake and Vac" TV adverts on British TV. Underneath the Ranger however lurked the body and motor componentry of the older Senior. The Hoover Senior was therefore THE upright Hoover that came directly from the United States of America and as such it was the only relic from the Hoover company that Hoover could use in later years as the basic chassis for other models such as the "Powerplus" model last sold in the early 1980's. We had a Hoover Ranger and I remember as a child being chased with it by the baby sitter – it took me a long time to get over the fear of the Hoover in general, never knowing twenty odd years later I’d collect most of Hoover’s vintage vacuums. My blue Senior 625 was purchased second hand in 2001 and I eventually sold it off in 2009 to a local school where it is still being used and where I still use it if I’m doing contract cleaning for the school in question!
This is a long review!
General Design & Quality
The Hoover Senior appeared in Europe around 1959 and two years earlier in the U.S which was known then as the "Convertible" and in Britain following a name change from Hoover "Deluxe" earlier in the Hoover portfolio to, "Senior," as it showed customers the difference in power and size compared to the much smaller and favoured Hoover Junior series. The Senior was designed primarily in America and its look was taken from influence around the time from automobiles rather than industrialisation. As such just like the Junior then, the Senior design is a smooth, curving machine with little design details such as a metal grille feature at the bottom of the handle hinge before the motor and "hood." This grille for example was supposed to mimic car grilles. As for its main design feature, the wrap around headlight just looks like cars of the same era and most models still retain the large Hoover red emblem (like a tail gate badge from cars?) located on the right hand side of the machine.
Of the models which largely exist nowadays, there are two to look out for; the 625C model which had the metallic grille fitted at the bottom of the main handle hinge and a side button located at the side of the cleaner, rather like an auto shift stick at the side of a steering wheel in a car from the U.S The 625e model has no metal hinge grille and like the metal Junior 1346 models have a red round push down button to activate the cleaner.
The 625 series has a bottom fill bag design. Unlike later models in the Powerplus range in the 1980's this means that dirt fills the bag from the bottom of the cleaner instead of dropping dirt into the bag at the top. Whilst this means to some extent that dirt capacity is shortened on the JUNIOR models at least, the Senior has a stronger push of air which means that bags seldom get clogged - unless they are really filled up.
I have always wanted to buy one of these upright cleaners, not just because it is one of very few uprights on the market that I know is easy to maintain, cost wise but because in general I know that parts are STILL available for this machine. It may also be due to the fact that the Hoover Senior is still one of the models that people in general remember for its excellent efficiency in cleaning. I have always wanted one because they look so cool!
Hoover's Senior won hands down way back in 1960 in the famed Which? magazine after it was decided that this model was the only vacuum cleaner which got 10/10 for cleaning carpets. To this day, many people who own this cleaner still have it to use in their homes - it simply is one of the better designs that Hoover made - this alongside the metal bodied Hoover Junior models seems to outlast everything including Hoover's own plastic based upright models currently on sale. Hoover also sold the Senior well into the 1990's even UK production stopped under the name of "Guardsman," which is a fitting tribute as it was one of Hoover's most trusted commercial upright vacuum cleaners.
A bonus that I consider of owning a Senior and Junior is that amongst the Junior models the Senior is the design archetypal example of a Hoover upright of the century. Others vacuum cleaner collectors would of course argue and say differently, but this upright was part of my generation even if I was born 14 years after it was brought to the market.
So in terms of construction and quality, the Senior can often outlast so many other vacuums including the plastic injected bodies that most mass brand products are made out of these days. The Hoover Senior has one of the toughest motor bodies around thanks to its all metal construction. Careful attention though must be applied to the plastic hood, which amongst the Junior series in the 1960's and 1970's Hoover made virtually every colour available such as pink, yellow, red, blue and green as well as other colours launched in a limited edition series. The hood I would say is the most fragile part of the machine as it covers the main motor and headlight assembly. Hoover chose to call the headlight,
"Dirtsearcher," and I would have to agree somewhat that this is a fitting name as it seeks out dirt in poorly lit areas of the house.
The handle of the body and infact main pole on the machine is all metal and has that curvy rubber Hoover handle that a lot of people remember. Even now when I still use this machine this kind of handle doesn't allow much hand stress unlike my Junior U1104 model which had a harder, squarer handle which caused strain. The foot pedal has a similar rubber fob as the height adjuster and this is very well made too, much better infact than the metal bodied Junior pedal releases. 2 step in design like something you are used to, the machine releases the handle after you step once, step twice to swing the handle all the way down to the floor - and this machine does lie flat when the handle is lowered all the way down.
The Hoover bag is an original Hoover bag fitted to the machine, made of cloth which is perforated to let out some of those bad emissions that Dyson went on and on about for years to come. True the Hoover doesn't save all the nasties but it saves some - more about this later in the Filtration aspect in this review. The bag is a zipped bag that is hand washable and removable thanks to a screw in clip which sits at the bottom of the cleaner. Simply like the Junior range, it is stuck to the main handle via a rising sprung hook and unless you have a cleaner which looks like it has seen more Wars than it should have, this is one of many mechanisms which don't normally fail during time and use.
One of the Senior's advantages is that it can still groom carpet surfaces rather than just cleaning the dirt off surfaces; a fact that I found with a recent bagless Panasonic model. Thanks to its "beats as it sweeps as it cleans," principle, i.e. full metal bars located on the beater brush bar (as it was so-called) this model ensures that large acres of carpet get clean and therefore speed up cleaning time. Hardly the last word in technology but lets not forget that Hoover at the time of launch way back in the 1960's were at the fore front of simple design and ease of use. Hoover back then as a company were much more professional than they are today.
My model for example has the same height adjustment flick bar located on the back wheels as opposed to the front wheels on Junior models. This is so much easier to use and the back wheels adjust simply to height depending on the carpet pile ensuring that the brush bar always sits flat on the carpet surface. Also in use, you can feel as if the main part of the machine is sprung as it gently flows over the carpet. Compared to the Junior, the 625 models do make their weight feel apparent as there is more diameter to the machine than the smaller and more compact Junior. However it terms of gliding, the Senior does well thanks to added springs in the back wheels which allow the cleaner to move up and down - as long as you don't have the height adjustment set too low. With the selector flip up, flip down bar at the back of the rear wheels, I can use my foot rather than having to bend down to adjust the carpet adjustment. On Junior models however this can be a bind as the plastic flicker used on metal bodied models seems to be harder to adjust - here on the Senior you shouldn't have any bother at all.
When it is switched on, that soft bag flares up with air and the vroom sound from the motor can be clearly heard. It's not as loud as say America's Oreck upright but it still has a loudness which is due in part to the beater bars - never use this cleaner on Lino as it will cut it up! Having said that there is a sound of air escaping that sits around the motor noise and this is because the main fan sits just above the floor on the soleplate vertically rather than the horizontal angled way the fan would sit in Junior models.
Cleaning carpets is therefore something that the Senior excels at. It is very easy to push and pull around carpets but its best advantage is that compared to the smaller Junior, the Senior feels lighter to direct on the floor - a lot to do with the springs underneath where the wheels are located.
From time to time the nature of the headlight goes on and off, and this is due to the dirt that sometimes the fan can't handle. There are no independent switches to activate this headlight - it simply comes on when you switch the machine on. Having used many vacuum cleaners over the years WITHOUT a headlight, one can see the differences immediately as the light is bright enough to seek out areas of dirt. It is not though, essential to this machine whether the light works or not. It is not unheard that the Ranger series based on the Senior had a quirk of working at "half mast" whenever the headlight refused to work.
The Senior is quite capable of picking up heavy matter such as small stones since it has an all metal fan but be warned, if the machine chucks it out, it increases a power surge which means that the headlamp blows. This however doesn't mean, unlike my parent's experience of their Ranger in the 1980's that the cleaner will refuse to pick up or stay to its normal power output. The Senior gets on with the job regardless of whether the headlight works or not. Another simple idea that doesn't deter its performance here. The machine isn't that noisy easy and its use shouldn't detract you from using it. Set the height of the floor head and the cleaner will vibrate its bars and brushes correctly - too much height will result in too much "Vroom" caused by those metal bars.
Hoover paper dust bags for the Junior & Senior must be the only type of bags that can be purchased virtually anywhere these days! Not just genuine Hoover bags, but fakes which do the same job in my mind, but sometimes the extra genuine aspect from Hoover means that you are prolonging the longevity of the cleaner as well as the bag itself. Nowadays the general public must still have Hoover Junior, Senior and Ranger models in existence for these bags to still circulate. For example Hoover bags in general can cost as cheaply as £2-00 to £4-00 for a bag or box of 5 bags. Other fakes of course come around the same price or slightly more. Bags for the Hoover Junior are the same for the Senior and Ranger models.
The only downside to the paper bags is a minor one. Genuine Hoover tagged paper bags for example seem to last a lot longer, not just because they are made to be reused a second time, but close attention at the neck means that every time the bag is removed and refitted, the folds on the bag don't rip. Upon recently I've had the joy of having to remove another manufactured paper bag as its reusable claim could not be followed through. At the top of this bag the collar had become weak and through use, dust was allowed to escape. Hoover bags however can be a second time once the collected dust has been poured out but it is not entirely possible not to cut the bag or rip it if you get it caught in the zip at the back of the outer bag!
Hoover drive belts for this model cost in the region of £2-50 to £3-50 - a pack of 2 from Hoover costs around £2-50 and they are easy to get from shops as well as online. EBay for example sell drive belts and bags and these are reasonably cheap to obtain.
The headlamp for the Senior is a bayonet 15watt small type lamp that is available from most good hardware shops. My replacement bulb for example cost me £2-99 and fitting it to the model was easy peasy! Other prices if you are really lucky are as low as 75p for this type of clear bayonet bulb but it depends on the type of stockists you go to. Private DIY shops are surprisingly good value from time to time and sometimes have these bulbs in mass supply as they are similarly fitted to cookers and cooker hoods.
Due to the age of the Hoover Senior, filtration is therefore restricted purely by means of the paper bag and it's the fake bags that are the worst for escaping dust. Those of course who suffer from allergies would dislike this cleaner. To be fair though, if you buy and use genuine paper bags made by Hoover, (the extra cost won't break the bank) I believe the filtration is slightly better as the quality of paper is different and usually yellow in colour with pictures of the models and code numbers which the bags are made for.
The outer Hoover bag is a mix of cloth and vinyl, more so cloth I'd say. It is damp cloth washable if say the dirt bag opens up inside and dirt starts to fly out. This is one of the main disadvantages of having a soft bag cleaner from Hoover. Hoover isn't like Oreck because Hoover never made high filtration bags for the Senior made up of several layers with the promise of removing bad odour. The paper bag does hold back several particles of viewable dirt but as soon as you start up the machine, at times you can see dirt flying into the air off the bag and this is purely because of any dirt that has escaped from the paper bag inside has settled in the fabric of the outer soft bag.
Changing The Headlamp or Drive Belt
10 out of 10 here for drive belt change and 8/10 for headlamp removal. There are no screws to muddle about with the drive belt removal - infact the only screws you need to undo are two if you want to change the headlamp. When you do remove the hood to get to the headlamp you don't even have to remove the soleplate or worry about touching the drive belt. It's simple to locate the bulb and screw fit another bayonet style in. Then on with the hood again * (you can actually take out the complete headlamp lens cover out with the hood if say, it is brown with dirt or age) and refit with the two Phillips screw heads.
The drive belt is located behind the all-metal soleplate and there are two handy flick locks that flip to the side when you want to take the soleplate off. This then reveals the main motor fan, the drive belt pulley and the heavy metal beater bar. Grab the beater bar and the drive belt comes away from the pulley. Slip a new belt onto the pulley (as with most Hoover uprights even from the 1960's there is a handy diagram set onto the metal to show the owner how to put the belt on), push the beater bar back into its sides and fit the soleplate, which
Pictures of Hoover Senior 6252/625e
The Junior Dirtsearcher and Senior in blue. Budget model meets bigger model.
has two additional teeth that meet hooks set into the front bumper. Lock the sides in by flipping the locks in and you can start cleaning again. No wonder this machine was used in the commercial market. Hoover would have done well to fit this design in all their uprights to the present day instead of faffing around with screwdrivers and poor design.
The Dirty Fan Suction System
Hoover Turbopower models 2 and 3 and their current Pure Power bagged uprights have "Clean Air" fan suction systems. This means that dirt is sucked and kept separate from the main motor fan system and therefore reduces damage. Or so Hoover would have liked to have promised - because this was not always realistic as Hoover fitted plastic fans in later years on some upright models and damage was always inevitable when harder dust was made to be sucked up by the machine.
I prefer this 1960's cleaner to have no tools because simply the suction produced will inevitably hit the metal fan. Whilst this is okay in operation, it means larger particles of dust will go through the fan and sometimes get trapped or cut up. This is therefore considered to have a dirty fan system as the fan comes into direct contact with any dirt the floor brush throws up. All Senior models had metal fans which is one of the reasons why this and its better build quality has lasted for so long.
The Senior used a tool attachment which slid into the bottom of the cleaner which meant that the machine could be used with a hose and smaller tools such as crevice and brush tool. The suction here increases automatically as there is a connection switch that gives the Senior extra oomph whenever the convertor is fitted for cleaning with tools. The hose can also be connected to the main bag inner dirt exhaust channel tube which turns the machine into an excellent blower. Tools are hard to find these days though and I don't rate their use high enough to try bidding on EBay whenever this set appears as it often means the Senior becomes more bulky than it should do and doesn't really offer much stretch when the hose is attached.
Is The Hoover Senior Worthwhile To Keep?
If you were to buy a Hoover Senior these days, it would most certainly be a pre-owned second hand model that has either been kept by a collector (like me and others) or someone who prides on a retro designed home with fair use applied to it. Thus, if you have carpets on a single level property and have no stairs, the Hoover Senior makes a lot of sense, or as an alternative to a more modern cylinder vacuum that lacks a moving brush roll and a larger dust bag or bin capacity.
Secondly if you don't suffer from allergies in the home, the Hoover Senior makes a lot of sense for low cost budget cleaning. The Hoover Senior still exists in hotels and large premises even if their headlamps don't work. I know of some primary schools which use the Senior because of its metal beater brush bars which manage to scrape out trodden in chewing gum and plasticine - something which the marvel of Henry, the canister cleaner - can't always remove. They are heavy uprights around 6kg to 8kg, but not as heavy as Kirby's uprights that are a lot bigger and thus have bigger dirt capacity cleaning abilities as well as extra filtration fitted to the bag.
The Senior is everything the original Hoover Junior is, albeit a bit bigger. The power of the motor is between 400 watts minimum to literally 625 watts maximum, hence the model number in this instance. My model only cost me £2-00 from the local second hand shop in 2001 and it had also been electrically tested. For such a low price I kept it on for a number of years before selling it to local primary school that were desperate for well built machines to cope.
Generally Hoover Senior models can be found on EBay auction sites but also check second hand shops, car boot sales are not unheard of either but these days the Senior 625 is now a relic; a Vintage Hoover that only sees service from loyal owners and crazy vacuum cleaner collectors such as me! However don’t feel obliged to pay over the top for prices above £100. Hoover Senior models may be a vintage relic, but in some seller’s eyes, they’re an investment and hype up the price according to how well they’ve maintained the machine and its condition. A good price for a Hoover Senior even in 2012’s cash strapped recession should be £50 to £75 and be prepared to put up with scratches to the main body. What you should do is to check with the seller that the motor is intact, the outer dust bag is in a good condition with no tears and that the machine functions excellently. Anything less and you may find out a major repair has to be done before the actual machine can be used.
I think this machine can last another 20 years, or even more if the parts still remain in circulation. Thanks to sales of the machine and the Ranger that is still kicking about, there will always be parts available. The Senior is a Vintage vacuum cleaner at best that does have excellent efficiency at cleaning dirt from carpets but for any other applications, forget it