My Heath Robinson vac attachment

For some time I have wanted a portable vacuum cleaner, rather like the kind used for car interiors. I have a USB mixer for streaming my sound to the internet at my shows and this has lots of little knobs on it which provide numerous spaces that attract thick layers of dust over time. I also find that the keys on my pianos get very dusty. Yesterday, I went to a store that sold household electrical goods and found one of these machines at a ridiculously low price in a stock clearance sale. My hand went to my pocket and a twenty pound note was passed to the sales assistant. A minute later I was the proud owner of a dustbuster.

Vac lacking a bristle nozzle

Back home I subjected the machine to close examination and found that the mouth of the vacuum was a solid plastic slit. What I really wanted was something more flexible, such as the circular brush attachment that comes with most full size vacs. I rummaged in the cupboard under the stairs and, to my delight, found one that had belonged to one our our previous vacs. This left me with a problem to solve. Somehow, I needed to connect the brush head to the solid body of the portable vac. This needed to be done in a way that would be air tight, since otherwise the vacuum would be lost. At first I improvised with a highly flexible plastic A4 document folder and a few bits of sticky tape. The prototype passed with flying colours as it sucked a nice clean line through a very dusty shelf in my studio. I then addressed the problem of how to arrive at a more permanent solution, using a material that was similarly flexible but more robust than the plastic document file.

The old brush attachment is joined to the rubber glove

The answer came to me in a flash: I needed to adapt a rubber glove to the purpose. In the kitchen I found a new pair of yellow washing up gloves and decided to sacrifice one of them at the altar of Piano Key Cleanliness. I cut off the fingers just below the wrist and eased the glove over the brush attachment, securing it firmly with duct tape. Duct tape is sometimes called ‘gaffer’ tape and it is a strong waterproof cloth tape that is very sticky on one side. For many years I thought it was called ‘duck’ tape because of the fact that it was waterproof. Be that as it may, I am happy to report that this journey into the world of Heath Robinson invention has been entirely successful.

My finished Heath Robinson brush attachment

3 Responses to “My Heath Robinson vac attachment”

  1. Toby Lancaster Says:


  2. Djai Says:

    Have you ever worked for NASA? If you watch the movie Apollo 13 you’ll understand why I ask! 🙂

  3. enigmaticpencil Says:

    lol, Djai – I missed my vocation 🙂

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