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Re: transmission not engaging
In Kirby vacuums with tech drive there is a part called Bracket cam (see it here) that is designed to disengage wheels from transmission. When it starts wearing out Kirby would make crackling noise when on neutral and eventually may not disengage at all. If there was no stage where it was noisy on neutral it may be something else - most likely the pedal assembly broken (see it here). It is not very hard to replace it.
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There could be a few reasons. Try a different power outlet and check the cord and belt. Next there are two safety switches on the Kirby that need to be engaged for the vacuum to start. One is on the mini-emptor to make sure an outer bag is engaged, the second is on the front nozzle to make sure the nozzle or hose is attached. You can see pictures here.
GoodVac.com Technician www.goodvac.com
so when u pull it back it's like it's not engaged at all? then it maybe the reverse is out....with the fwd soon to follow. remember the vac is 20yrs old; & working that long? it definately served it's purpose.
depending how much money you wanna spend on it buying a new or used trans. plus labor...or just an ebay used unit.
The transmission may be out of adjustment.Remove the top cover exposing the pivot handle assembly.On top of the pivot handle assembly,you should clearly see the adjustment screw along with the adjustment spring.Once the adjustment screw is loosened,the spring should automatically adjust the pivot handle to the factory setting.Just make sure the screw is tight
There are few things that may have gone wrong: First thing to check is if when pushing pedal it moves gears located on the rear axle (you will have to take cover shell off to see that) If that works fine then primary belt may be broken (see it here). Then just replace entire set to make sure that belt type matches gears Last - the most expensive problem - the main transmission belt within transmission is broken (then I would recommend replacing entire transmission)
Make sure the bag assembly and either the power nozzle, or hose attachment are correctly attached. The kirby has safety swithes that are only engaged when these components are correctly installed. They look like small resessed buttons on the base unit. if they are not engaged the vacuum will not turn on. Keeps curious fingers from getting into the "spinny" parts ;o)
PROBLEM: THE KIRBY WILL NOT TURN ON AT ALL POSSIBLE CAUSES:
Please note......The Kirby has TWO safety switches that need to be engaged before it will operate. One is on the fan case in the front. It is activated by having an attachment attached to the front. (hose, power nozzle, etc.)
The other switch is on the side of the Kirby where the cloth bag attaches and is engaged by the little tab that sticks out from the side of the hard plastic cloth bag "boot". The bag boot MUST be completely engaged to activate the safety switch and allow the Kirby to power on. If you are having trouble getting the bag to properly engage, (sometimes they are STUBBORN) simply lubricate the black gasket that the boot fits onto with gasket lubricator, VASELINE, or try a tiny drop of DISHWASHING DETERGENT or HAND CREAM. It doesn't take much, so use the smallest amount possible to get the desired effect. You should hear a slight "pop" when the bag completely engages.
If neither of these things are indicated, it is probably again, either the power cord, switch or the carbon brushes.
If your Kirby is sparking there are a few causes...
PROBABLE CAUSE (MOTOR): Worn out carbon brushes, bad armature or perhaps BOTH PROBABLE CAUSE (CORD): The cord has a short in it. Replace the power cord PROBABLE CAUSE (POWER NOZZLE): There is something metallic stuck in the fan or power nozzle
I think you have a problem with the carbon brushes and amature because of where you describe seeing the sparks. I would suggest taking it to an authorized dealer for repair if it is the motor that is going bad.