“ Design: Upright / Dirt Capture: Cyclonic / Consumed Power: 2000 Watt / Filtration Technology: HEPA / Number of Tools: 3 / Cleaning Path: 12.6 in. / Upright Hose: With Hose / Cord reach: 22.97 ft. / Features: Rotating brushes / Color: Silver / Weight: 19.84 lb. „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Euphemistically speaking, I am not a house-proud person. A more honest evaluation would admit that I am just averse to housework for at least 48 weeks of the year. However during the two weeks preceding the biannual parental visits, I enter into a frenzy of domestic goddess activity, energetically clearing and cleansing every surface, nook and cranny in order to present a pristine and orderly establishment. It's not that my Mum would ever criticise an excess of dust and disarray. Quite the opposite! Past experience proves that, being the really caring and ever helpful soul she is, she would just roll up her sleeves and fling herself into a frenzy of tidying, dusting and polishing, delighting in being useful to her "overworked" daughter. Although very grateful for such assistance, after Mum's departure I would not only spend hours searching for items which had been spirited away but also find myself labouring under an excess burden of guilt! Hence a stint of Kim and Aggy activity prior to my guests' arrival rapidly assumed the status of a much preferred option.
Therefore imagine my chagrin when, a week before Christmas just five days before the family were due to arrive, my Dyson Pet Upright vacuum cleaner decided to die. Well it didn't actually die, it just decided to go on wild cat strikes at irregular but quite frequent intervals, with the motor failing to "fire" no matter how hard or how often I slammed the start button and "freezing" for an indeterminate number of hours before co-operating and springing into life once more. I had noticed for some time that the vacuum that "never lost suction ---- ever" sometimes lost its consuming interest in the debris of our domestic existence, leaving behind a veritable feast of cobwebs and dog hair. It was some six years old and not responding too well even after servicing. All in all, maybe it was time to pension it off.
And so I ventured into the virtual land of cost comparison seeking a replacement for my old stager but the best price I could find for a Dyson was just short of £300. However I noticed that the name Vax Turboforce Pet kept cropping up as an alternative. The few reviews I found delivered mixed opinions but all recommended its pet hair raising abilities! When I eventually arrived in Amazon land and found a new machine available for next day delivery for just £97.99 (including post and packing with Amazon Prime), it was an offer I couldn't refuse and a few clicks sealed the deal.
Vax was not a name which would have sprung immediately to my mind when choosing a vacuum cleaner. I associated the name with the original combined washer/cleaner which was the brainchild of one Alan Brazier whose background in industrial cleaning equipment led him to the conclusion that there was a need for a smaller model for domestic use. The first Vax was launched in 1979 and sold door to door but from 1982 they were made available in retail units. The company, now based in Droitwich, Cheshire now manufactures a range of upright, cylinder, steam and hard floor cleaners.
I was a little confused, when I checked on their website, www.vax.co.uk , that the 060, which is their Turboforce range, offers several different models (which only seem to vary in minor details and colour) but the 060P(Pet) does not appear in the list of machines available for online purchase. However it does appear in a linked table comparing the various models in the range. It could be that the 060P is being replaced by the four "pet" models in the 2009 Power range. However it is still available from many online suppliers and I recently noted with some annoyance that Amazon (which still seems to offer the best online deal) has now reduced the price to £74.99.
The Turboforce comparison table yielded some helpful information. In common with all the Turboforce models, the 060P is bagless with a "large 4.2 litre dust capacity", has the HEPA (High Efficient Particle Arrester) system which traps smaller dust and dirt particle and is better for allergy sufferers but, with 2000 watts, it has the highest power specification and is the only one to include an antibacterial filter. All are guaranteed for one year but there are variously priced options to extend this for up to five years. It might concern some potential purchasers that the Turboforce range does not carry the six year warranty offered with a number of other Vax upright models. I only realised this after I placed the order (I am so impulsive!) but it does not overly concern me as the purchase price was so reasonable.
I was quite breathless with anticipation as I ripped asunder the large carton, almost as breathless as the deliveryman who arrived, red faced and panting, after carting the heavy package down the twisting steps to my basement flat. It seemed to be quite a weighty machine but is actually less than one pound heavier than my old Dyson! Disappointment and trepidation quickly followed because it arrived in several pieces. Fortunately the accompanying booklet included clear assembly instructions with helpful illustrations. Most of the parts just required slotting or slotting and twisting into place but the handle and tool caddy were a little trickier being screw fixings for which a posidrive-type screwdriver was needed. I am a complete dunce when it comes to any DIY task but it only took me about 45 minutes even after a 'wrong turning' when I failed to register one of the finer points in the instructions! A normally competent person could easily complete the task in half an hour, probably less. The most difficult part was fitting the dirt carrier into the main body of the machine. The knack (which I discovered after some considerable frustration) is first to angle the dirt carrier so that the plastic lip at the bottom fits into the corresponding crevice on the machine. Once this is in place, the dirt carrier easily clicks back into place.
It's difficult to avoid comparisons of Vax and Dyson so I will not try! Overall it has to be said that if the Dyson is a racehorse the Vax most approximately equates to a cart horse! The Vax is a no frills, utilitarian design, more sturdy than streamlined in appearance, with a large heavy square base (some 14 ins x 14ins) and robust body. Although others in the Turboforce range come in brighter colours, the 060Pet only comes in silver with black trims and this tends to add to its somewhat old fashioned image. To further illustrate this point, the Vax dirt carrier is larger than the Dyson because it accommodates a sizeable and rather ugly conical filter. It opens with an unrefined, manual technique known as unscrewing! But its Dyson counterpart, whilst comparable in capacity, is far less bulky, its filter being a smaller, circular disk which fits separately beneath the dirt carrier in a far neater arrangement and it is emptied by pulling a dinky little lever which causes the bottom to swing open!
The Vax and Dyson offer all the same attachments; the crevice for corners edges and cracks, the dusting brush for delicate areas and skirting boards and the turbo tool. I do not understand the niceties of the latter but apparently it is "air driven" meaning that "the brushbar revolves at high speed" and this "combined with the bristles make it ideal for picking up pet hairs and other dust and debris from stairs, upholstery and car interiors" . I can vouch for the fact it works quite well on upholstery but, having no stairs and no car, I can't comment on its other alleged virtues! Attaching the Dyson tools is a more complicated procedure (involving unslotting, dismantling and re-slotting the hose parts), than with the Vax where tools can be attached after one simple (unslot) operation. This does mean that the Dyson hose, when assembled to take attachments, stretches further than the Vax but the length of the latter should be adequate for all but those with very high ceilings! Still on the tool theme, the Vax accommodates ALL the attachments 'on board' whilst the Dyson accommodates all but the turbo tool. The latter, which is quite bulky, has to be stored separately and it can be quite a nuisance carting it with the machine or retrieving it as and when required! However the Dyson scores hands down on its length of cord which at 35 feet is some 6 feet longer than the Vax! This is particularly annoying as my hall, stretches some 34 feet and can't be covered in one hit! Unfortunately Undfortunately it does not have automatic cable rewind but neither does the Dyson! The cord has to be wound manually and stored externally.
Moving on from consideration of the aesthetics, fixtures and fittings I had a good initial test ready for my new Vax Pet, carpets, tiles and laminates all with an excess of dust and dog hairs! It proved to be reasonably manoeuvrable benefitting from two swivel wheels at the back making curves and corners more negotiable than the fixed set of my old "pet". The on/off pedals is foot operated and conveniently located (bottom left back of the machine) as is the handle release. Depressions of the latter allows the usual positions upright (storage), medium (normal use) and low (for cleaning under furniture, beds etc). It's worth noting that, in my experience, with many vacuums (the Dyson included) the handle at its lowest setting is still at an angle to the rest of the machine but the Vax does actually collapse to floor level.
The adjustments for floor types are impressive and easy to adjust by a simple sliding action on the base. There are five settings (my Dyson only had two) and they range from long (shag!)-pile to uncarpeted surfaces. Moreover the settings REALLY DO make a difference. I know this because I made the mistake of leaving the machine on a low pile option when whizzing over a new, long/medium-pile rug. My Vax sucked out so many of its "excess" shreds it filled to the brim and almost expired in seconds! But I can forgive such excesses because it performs so well, even very close up to all the edges, if I give due attention to its responsive settings. It is a joy to see it make tracks through the black dog hairs embedded in my cream carpet and working equally well on the tiles and laminates. I admit that by the time I put my Dyson out to pasture it was well past its best but I don't think it ever achieved such remarkable clearances so quickly.
But such impressive results come at a price and, in this case, it was not just the original outlay. The machine is so "greedy" that its consumption must be very closely monitored. Not only does it devour unwanted debris, it also has an appetite for forbidden fruit such as the fringes on my throws but such items are usually retrieved by a gentle tug which will extricate them from the roller. But its worst misdemeanour to date was when a favourite pashmina, which was hanging from a coat hook in the hall, well out of its normal floor-side range, started to disappear not under the machine but into a small vent/aperture on one side of the monster. It all happened so quickly that I did not realise what was going on until I smelt burning! I could not extricate the pashmina as the end was well and truly embedded causing the whole machine to fail. Not only was the pashmina ruined, the machine had to be sent to the local repair centre and the bill for removing all the tangled threads and reconditioning the damaged motor came to £40!
The 060P is also incredibly noisy, by far the noisiest machine I have ever owned and so loud that is can quickly become a veritable stress inducer. Fortunately the shortness of the cord ensures that I have to break regularly to reconnect to another socket. It also acts as a great deterrent if I am tempted to vacuum too often!
I haven't yet had to replace parts myself or to clear any blockages but the instruction manual makes all such operations look very simple. Indeed the filter, which apparently should be replaced each year, is certainly very accessible. Spares parts, filters and accessories are apparently available from Vax although their online store does not seem to offer an exhaustive range of these.
Potential purchasers of the 060P would be well advised to act without delay because, judging by its absence from the Vax website, it might have been discontinued. (This should not affect the availability of spares and accessories as they are appear to be standard to all 060 Turboforce machines and there are four versions which are still listed as current models on the Vax site). The 060P is still available from a number of online retailers but shopping around is essential because, although the RRP seems to be £149, the prices for new machines which I surveyed ranged from £74.99 (Amazon) to £217.87 (UK Office Online).
Despite some reservations, I am really very pleased with my Vax Turboforce 060P. It may not be the choice for those with "designer" preferences or those with a heightened aversion to noise and should be used with caution around hanging and trailing 'bits and bobs'! But I can't fault its performance and consider that even at my purchase price of £97.99, it is excellent value for money.
Short name: Vax V-060P