A slight departure from my usual ramblings about white goods and other domestic appliances in this entry. Outside of The Workshop, I’m a keen petrol head who loves to tinker with cars and motorbikes and my own car was suffering from a recent bout of coolant incontinence.
Like me, most owners of these cars dread anything like this happening as it usually means big money.
The leak only happened when the car cooled after it was was run up to temperature and was evident in the area under the oil filter housing. Luckily, the leak wasn’t serious and was repairable with a 10mm spanner, washing-up bowl and 4000 grit sandpaper.
Here’s a little video which I hope will help other Boxtser owners.
This Dyson DC14 came into the workshop with a couple of problems. The first was a lack of suction power and the second was a horrible noise from the front of the vacuum cleaner. It got to the workshop just in time.
A bypass valve is fitted to most vacuum cleaners without a bag and is there to prevent damage if a blockage exists somewhere in the airways or the owner has neglected to empty the collection bin. In this case, the valve seemed to be stuck open, causing suction power to be lost.
The valve on the DC14 (other Dyson models are similar) is a small device situated near the exhaust filter. the valve itself is a clear tube with a rubber sealed cap controlled by a spring. In normal operation, the cap seals a hole to the outside world, but if there’s a blockage, the pressure of the spring is overcome and air is allowed past the cap.
In this case, the valve was dirty and stuck. Repair required dismantling with normal household tools (small screwdriver and pliers) and cleaning using a damp cloth. A small squirt of silicone spray on the rubber seal ensured a smooth operation upon reassembly.
The noise was traced to the front of the vacuum cleaner. The roller/ beaters were making a horrible noise when in use and it wouldn’t have been too long before complete failure would have occurred.
Spare roller/ beaters are readily available from Dyson directly and from many aftermarket suppliers at reasonable prices. Since the beaters were in good condition, it seemed reasonable to have a go at a repair. The small ball bearing races at each end of the beater are easily removed and upon inspection, both were very stiff in operation. Fortunately, the bearings used by Dyson were of good quality and as the dust covers were easily removed, all that was required was a clean with solvent cleaner and a re-grease. Once refitted, the roller/ beaters sounded as they should again.
Cost of a replacement Dyson vacuum cleaner, circa £250, cost of repair £1 (bit of cleaner, grease, silicone spray.
For those wondering what an ‘inverter’ is, let me give a quick explanation: It allows one to use a mains operated device on the move, using a power supply from a motor-home, car or boat, as an example. An inverter ‘inverts’ a smaller voltage to a larger one, usually for most applications. Most inverters sold turn either 12 or 24VDC to 240VAC or 110VAC.
The owner of this one had accidentally connected the input wires the wrong way around, effectively reversing the polarity. Not good. Upon hearing a little ‘pop’ the owner quickly disconnected the power!
Having never worked on an inverter before, I turned to the manufacturer for advice. Sterling Power (UK) were not able to supply any product information on the phone nor via email and were generally not very helpful at all. They did offer a very reasonable 25% discount on a replacement, but were not able to offer much else to save the one I had in the workshop. Never mind.
Back to the problem. Checking the basics, the ‘accident’ had appeared to knocked-out three 25A soldered PCB fuses. Temporarily by-passing the fuses revealed a working unit, so replacing the defective fuses was a good idea at a very reasonable £1.50.
The fuses are mini-blade 25A automotive fuses. Once removed and the new ones soldered in place, the unit worked once more.
Cost of parts, £1.50, cost of replacement unit, circa £160.00.
The owner of this drill complained that it work perfectly one minute and then stopped the next. It was making DIY a very slow process.
As this was a cut-out problem rather than a slowing down issue, power problems were a likely suspect.
On test, the cable flex near the base of the handle seemed to be the issue as giving it a good wiggle seemed to reproduce the fault.
Opening up the drill (several self-tapping screws) revealed a fairly straightforward layout with cord, mechanical connector, smoothing circuit (mains splash) and switch. Having suspected the culprit to be cable flex near the handle, I cut the cable down and re-made the connection, removing the suspect part of the cable.
Despite cutting the cable flex down by about 8″, the owner was pleased with this fix since no spare parts were required and no real issues will be noticed since it will be mainly used with an extension lead.
GHD hair straighteners are a premium product which retail for a minimum of £100 in the UK. However, over time they suffer from common annoying faults which cause owners to condemn the set they have.
This set of straighteners presented ‘as working’ when first switched on. After warming up, hair straightening temperature was reached within the normal time. However, after 5 minutes of use, the temperature reduced and failed to re-heat in a reasonable time. Leaving the straighteners to cool completely would effectively reset the problem, only for the cycle to repeat again.
GHD faults are well documented on YouTube and the fault turned out to be a faulty thermocouple or thermofuse, which should regulate the temperature and cut power in the event of a fault. They do however wear out and this set of straighteners was no exception.
After dismantling, the thermal fuse was replaced for £2.70. The whole job took half an hour and saved the owner nearly £100 on a replacement.
This Dyson presented with a pretty terminal case of ‘no go’. The owner had run this relatively new machine in to the ground with little maintenance so it was little wonder what happened next.
Whilst in use, the machine spectacularly went bang and tripped the main fuse board of the house. The noise and following smell was quite something I was told.
The owner had nearly rushed out and bought a new machine and was budgeting between £300 and £400 for a replacement.
I was glad I could help since I was fairly certain I knew what the problem was without seeing it. After giving the cable, switches and casing a visual inspection, it was time to delve deeper. The filters were in poor condition and the general smell of it indicated that overheating had been an issue, probably leading to premature wear on the motor.
With the motor out, the true extent of the damage became apparent. Both motor bushes had worn away to nothing and part of the brush holder had broken up inside the motor, probably while it was running, causing the noise.
I suspect that the owner had ignored the warning signs of burning smells and occasional cutting out (as the thermal overload circuitry performed its fail-safe role).
Being only a few years old, the owner had a couple of options; either replacing the faulty part with a genuine Dyson replacement (a very reasonable £40) or pattern motor kit with filter pack for under £25. The owner chose the latter on the basis of the machine’s age and the fact that both filters in the machine were also ruined.
The job took an hour, including testing before the machine was back performing its cleaning duties once more.
A note to all vacuum cleaner owners (that don’t take bags): Keep your filters cleaned every couple of months or so. Your machine will last much longer if you do.
Sadly, I’ve seen loads of these older Dyson machines at the tip in recent years. I suspect, with a bit of fettling and cleaning, they could be brought back to rude health.
This one was one a high-mileage example and needed some tinker-time to get it back to a serviceable condition.
It was working of sorts, but failing to ‘pick-up’ as well as it used to. It turned out that the roller had two problems. The main bearings were worn, making a squealing noise and the brushes had worn low. This part used to be available from Dyson, but due to the age of the machine, they quite reasonably, stopped selling them. However, the net is awash with reasonable pattern parts for Dyson machines and while I tend to stick to original equipment wherever possible, a replacement roller from ebay for under £10 was a reasonable choice for this 15 year old vacuum cleaner. A replacement Dyson vacuum cleaner would be at least £250 for a basic model at time of writing.
Just a note on Dyson machines: Having studied the company at school and following their progress for a number of years, they seem to be a firm believer in providing accessible and affordable parts to keep their products alive. They’re an excellent example of a company that truly believes in product sustainability.