this forum has been incredibly useful in the last week for me, and major thanks to beko1987 for his teardown thread. Thought I'd share some notes on my own experience.
As a preface to the story: Longtime Dyson fan and user (as we all are), but I've had a Miele S2 for nearly the last decade. This month, my brother, my better half and myself all moved to new apartments, which led to a strange game of musical vacuum cleaners. The turbo nozzle wasn't cutting it in my new place with stiff short-pile carpeting (black, of course) and cats, and with a motor head upgrade costing more than a new cleaner (and the C3 being far out of budget), I went back to Dyson with a well-priced Big Ball canister. Never happier. My brother took the Miele, our mother took his old Dyson stick cleaner, and then my SO, having not owned a vacuum, decided she wanted in, and asked if I could use my eBay smarts to find her a gently used canister vac off eBay. Budget: $100.
After a lot of searching, I came across a too-good-to-be-true listing for a DC26, described as gently used and recently wiped down, and they'd throw in a like-new parquet brush for $50 shipped. At least the parquet brush part was true.
The unit came in a trash bag inside the shipping box. It was dripping wet. Maybe it's condensation, I thought. Popped open the filter door and what was left of a filter oozed out, with an unholy stench. A quarter cup of mud came out of the hose. The turbine nozzle was completely packed with coins and paper receipts. For whatever reason, the cyclones were filled with polyester stuffing. Correspondence with the seller revealed that their garage had flooded, and they hosed off the unit before selling. Not really worth the hassle of returning despite the principle of the matter. Local Dyson service center quoted me $150, and local vacuum dealer $95 to take a crack at it, with the caveat that they probably couldn't get individual spares (just big things, like the entire base unit or dustbin assembly); no thanks. Figured I'd make a project out of it.
Since I wasn't sure if this was biohazard-level contamination (was it flooded with sewage? Didn't smell like that so much as wet dog, but whatever) I armed myself with gloves, a respirator, a vapor steam cleaner, and a gallon of Clorox and set to work on my porch, where I had a handful of neighborhood looky-loos and even a passerby suggest I just buy a Shark (!!!). I wish I had taken photos, but here are my notes to augment beko's teardown steps.
First, find the factory service manual! Manualslib.com has it, and shows the appropriate order of operations for disassembly of most of the outside. Particularly important is the advice on cord reel tension: de-tension it before removing the springs by removing the cord collar and letting it wind down. On that note, removing the tensioner is simply pulling off the clear bit with the spring coils on it: it's a square drive shaft, so it might be a bit tight. For my unit, the tensioner was almost impossibly tight, so I tried prying off the black bit on the reel itself, mangling the sheet metal in the process. Don't do that. That's not meant to come off. (I don't think any of this is unique to the 26 in particular, but still.)
I didn't remove the switch and brake buttons, but pulling the power switch would allow you to get the wires leading to the motor bucket totally free from the body. I managed to get the motor out of the bucket, but the bucket and the cord reel back were dangling while trying to clean it out. There's no PCB in the 120v models, so I just blasted everything with the steamer with abandon—it worked amazingly well getting much out of various molded nooks and orfices. Getting the little gasket that separates the reel side from the motor side was a pain with limited freedom of motion.
As for the motor unit itself, it was mentioned that it's not screwed into anything: it's held in by three non-captive rubber pads on the perimeter and a fourth on the axle end. After scratching the hell out of the insides with a pair of screwdrivers, I figured it seems that the best way is to pry out the rubber pads themselves, rather than the plastic housing. Take note of their orientation, including that axial pad, which if not oriented correctly won't allow you to get the whole piece in.
The US models don't have a PCB, just a sealed filter capacitor, so no special care needed there, but I steamed and scrubbed the interior of the bucket. The motor's housing itself was horribly pitted and rusted, but the windings looked okay and the brushes had a lot of life left. Here's hoping it won't go out soon, since replacements are hard to come by and I don't think the machine will survive another transplant.
On reassembly of the motor, soap is your friend. I lubed up the pads with a little dish detergent and they slid right in with some pressure from a screwdriver. Tweezers/needlenose pliers helped with getting the exhaust seal in place.
Back to the cord reel: I lubed up the spindle just to ease getting the spring assembly on and off. It needs to be screwed down tight, or as I found, the springs will slide about and get jammed. Give it a few counterclockwise spins to preload the springs, then wrap your cord up and fit the plug retainer.
The cyclone/bin: not as complex as it looks. Tore it down to the pieces, soaked in the bleach solution, and let dry overnight; I used some canned air to blow out any remaining water. I didn't want to risk taking off the shroud, so the steamer really shone here on breaking up caked dust where I couldn't reach. The black and white inserts look like a puzzle, but they're keyed differently and won't give you too much trouble. The gasket could probably have used replacing, but I didn't want to seek out a source for that, since it seemed pliable enough. Again, on reassembly, soap is a great tool for getting the handle back on without resorting to the hammer. Some liberal use of a Magic Eraser pad and some automotive polish got the bin shiny, and the steam cleaner got anything hiding in the seal lips.
Wand and hose were simple enough to clean, but the turbine head really stymied me. There were receipts and coins compacted into a congealed mass, a coin stuck in the turbine power switch, and the flexible hose detached from head inlet. The whole thing disassembled easily enough, and got the bleach-steamer treatment, but a lot of chipping away at the receipt fossil was required. The hose was reseated with a firm tug from a pair of bent needle nose pliers. Good luck getting regular pliers in there.
Everything was left in front of the heater to dry for another night before I finally powered it on. The motor has enough starting torque to flip the unit over if the hose isn't attached! New filters were ordered, and while it fills the room with the aroma of the local swimming pool, there's still a piquant undertone of wet dog, likely coming from the motor and the turbine head. My jury-rigged solution was to cut an activated charcoal filter from a pet water fountain and fit it before the HEPA exhaust filter. Sprayed some enzymatic cleaner (Nature's Miracle here in the US, works wonders on pet accidents) on the head's velvet strips, since I can't find a replacement source. For the motor, running some dried Dyson Zorb through the machine and letting it sit running for a while freshened things up.
All in all, I've grown a bit attached to it and its cute size. I was tempted to keep it and give her the CY23, since I'm really the one strapped for space, but again I have wall-to-wall black carpets and pets, which it really doesn't make the grade on, at least not any better than the turbohead Miele I parted ways with. The articulated parquet tool works amazingly on hardwood, and the older and very narrow turbo tool will be fine for area rugs and her carpeted stairs. It's a nice little machine with real wheels (unlike the Big Ball, which bears most weight on tiny casters) but very low capacity. I'm curious to see how the later compacts like the DC47 fare.
Total money spent: $20USD on aftermarket filters from Crucial, $3 on bleach, $1.50 on a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (works wonders on paint scuffs), $50 for the machine + shipping. Total time: 2 afternoons, plus time still getting the stink out of my bathtub and patio. Considering Dyson dropped the compacts in the US in favor of the handheld models, totally worth it. I mentioned this story to me local vac shop, and they got a laugh out of it; I have immense appreciation for what they do (I used to be a bicycle mechanic, but generally potential bodily fluids aren't an common occurrence there). As a designer, I really appreciate
the engineering and and manufacturing efficiency in these machines, but not their serviceability. They're built to last, not to be repaired.
Sorry about the lack of pictures, but i just didn't want to touch a camera or phone with grimy hands during the process; I really wanted to add some written assistance to the great pictoral teardown. But here's a parting shot with my cleaner: