I have a small vacuum cleaner motor, single-phase, AC commutator motor, 120V, 4 A Max., series wired (all coils, brushes connected in series), no start capacitor, two-pole field stator, with thermal fuse in series with circuit and taped against one of the field coils.

My issue is this: Originally not working/no power. I tracked down the problem to a blown thermal fuse. In the process of removal, I damaged one of the stator pole coils (they are apparently aluminum wire, so more fragile than copper). I decided to remove all the aluminum coil wiring and rewind both field stator coils with enameled copper magnet wire. After re-winding the coils and putting the armature/stator assembly back together, I tested it before complete re-assembly by using wired jumper/test clips to join unconnected wiring points.

It started and ran well--running it for 2 hours as a test. When I went to re-assemble, and soldering the wires to connect, I energized the motor again, but it moved only a small fraction of a rotation, then froze in place and sat there humming. There was no physical restriction on rotation-- it always turned smoothly by hand. I checked and rechecked various aspects of the motor a number times, such as brushes, commutator, connections but could find no obvious reason or change from when it ran upon first trial.

Can anyone offer any possible reasons why motor not now working when worked on first power up? What am I missing?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ During your two hour test, what was the load on the motor? \$\endgroup\$
    – user133493
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 3:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you make sure that on your final assembly that pole phasing is correct? Does it have a start capacitor or a phase-shift copper insert? Btw I cleaned up your question a bit and broke it into paragraphs by their context. \$\endgroup\$
    – user105652
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 4:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sparky256, he says in the first paragraph that it is a brushed motor with no start capacitor. \$\endgroup\$
    – user133493
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 4:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @replete. That means there is a copper insert in the rotor that creates a phase shift so the motor will rotate, assuming the winding's are phased correctly. A reversed winding will stop the rotation cold. It will likely overheat as it cannot rotate to move air through it. \$\endgroup\$
    – user105652
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 4:06
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Sparky256 A universal motor needs no copper insert, but the two stator windings do need to be phased correctly with respect to each other. \$\endgroup\$
    – user80875
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 4:55

1 Answer 1


When you permanently connected the field coils, you must have reversed one with respect to the other. In conjunction with the armature, one field coil is trying to make the motor turn in one direction and the other is trying to make it turn in the opposite direction. The result is a "frozen" rotor.

If the problem is the two field coils magnetically opposing each other, the correction would be to transpose the two wires of one field winding.

I think that a reversed field winding connection the most likely problem, but it is possible that there is some looseness in the mechanical construction that allows the rotor to move and mechanically bind up when energized.

Note that reversing the armature connection with respect to the field will reverse the direction of rotation.

Failure Due to Excess Speed

It has been suggested that a universal motor that is tested without a load might fail because of excess speed. The speed of a universal increases drastically when the load is reduced. With a vacuum cleaner, blocking the air flow stops the air flow and reduces the load to nearly zero because the blower is stirring the air internally rather than moving a mass of air. You can hear the sound of the motor increasing in volume and pitch when that happens. That accelerates the wear in the motor bearings and commutator. It also increases the stress on the rotor parts.

When the motor is removed from the driven machine, there is a danger that the speed will be excessive, but the speed is still limited by the commutator and bearing friction plus the aerodynamic drag of the rotor parts, often including small fan blades on the rotor provided for internal cooling.

If a motor fails due to excess speed, it is unlikely to die quickly or quietly without leaving evidence of failure. If anyone wants to see and hear what that kind of failure looks and sounds like, demonstrations can be found on you-tube. If you want to experience the smell, I recommend that you burn something that is unlikely to fly apart and hurt someone.


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