A friend of the family was very upset that her mantel clock had decided to stop and despite changing the battery, it refused to start ticking.
Now, this clock was not an expensive item, but it matched the décor of the room it was in and so the owner was very keen for it to be returned to its place above the fire.
Battery clocks like this are ubiquitous and often, like this one, don’t even carry a makers’ brand logo or name. I was thinking; if the clock’s motor was unsavable, I would replace it using a generic replacement from eBay.
I’ve fixed many battery powered quartz clock motors. They all work in a similar way. An electromagnet which is pulsed using a simple circuit, regulated by a quartz crystal. Add-in some gears and pointer hands and you’ve got yourself a clock.
After removing clock motor from the housing, just two screws, the motor comes apart by peeling back two plastic tangs. Care should be taken not to force anything at this stage as the parts are very small and delicate.
The motor gears and electromagnet out of the way, the printed circuit board popped out and the fault became clear. At some point in the past, I suspect that a battery had leaked just a little and the vapour from the leak had corroded the contacts. A little dab of contact cleaner on an old toothbrush and a little bit of scrubbing and the corrosion was gone.
A little bit of jiggery pokery again and the motor was back together and refitted to the clock’s frame. It just goes to show that something as simple as this can be fixed with basic tools and patience.
Cost of replacement: N/A. Cost of repair: Just 30 minutes tinker time and a cuppa.
A repair and top tips for keeping your Dyson DC34 running for longer.
Every home should have one of these hand held dust busters. Simple as that.
Why? Because they are easy to use, easy to clean and last ages on a charge.
Top tips for keeping your Dyson DC34 running for longer
Keep the filter cleaned (wash regularly)
Remove any build-up of hair from the roller beaters
Keep all electrical connections clean (use WD40 or similar)
This one was admitted to the workshop with one fault, but the diagnosis revealed two problems.
When in use, the roller beaters would stop frequently and not restart. The cure for this problem was to remove all the hair from the roller spindles and the internal motor belt drive, which was held together with a couple of screws. Once all the hair was removed, the rollers worked much better, but not perfect. A quick blast of air and a quick spray with contact cleaner into the motor and the rollers were once again, working as they should.
On a full charge, one of these Dysons should run for about 20 minutes, but this one didn’t. The battery wasn’t holding the charge, so after a quick look online, a new one was purchased for just under £20. Great value.
It felt really good to save another product on its way to the bin.
Cost of replacement: £200. Cost of repair: £20, plus one cuppa, ginger cake and ice cream.
Who doesn’t like a toy robot? I mean, everyone loves a toy robot, especially one with pop up eyes and one that eats coins. No? Well, you’re wrong if you don’t agree!
This is my own Tomy Mr. Money, which I’ve had since about 1988 ish, so it’s getting on a bit. Like me.
Back then, I wasn’t that diligent about leaving batteries in situ for long periods and when I dusted off this piece of retro cool for my daughter to play with, we discovered that the passing of time had not been kind to the old battery or insides. Which was a bit of a shame.
However, I wanted to show everyone that old toys are way cooler than new ones, so out with the screwdrivers, cleaning stuff and hammer (well, not the hammer) to see what could be done.
Luckily for me and Mr. Money, the battery compartment hadn’t fared too badly with just light corrosion to the battery terminals, which soon cleaned off with brake cleaner and some light filing to near good as new standard.
With a new AA battery installed, Mr. Money didn’t really respond that well to having money placed on his hand. In years gone by, a coin placed on his hand would trigger his eyes to open, the hand to raise to his mouth, the coin to be eaten and lips to be licked, as well as doing a little side to side dance. Mr.Money was now looking a bit arthritic. Could it be that new money is a lot lighter than the 1980s money he was designed for or was it just that the battery corrosion had run deeper than first appeared. I suspected the latter.
I took Mr. Money apart and found that the microswitch that triggers the mechanism was corroded and needed cleaning and that some of the moving parts also needed a quick brush up, all of which had Mr.Money back to rude health.
While doing the repair, I decided that it wasn’t obvious how the toy came apart and that some owners might decide to scrap theirs due to similar problems. So, I decided to make a little slide show of the dismantling, to help others. Enjoy.
Cost of replacement: £ priceless/ eBay if you’re lucky. Cost of repair: One IPA beer.
A child’s set of keys gets repaired in the workshop
It makes a nice change to repair something like a childs’ toy. I know that if the repair works out, it’ll usually make someone very happy. However, having just said that, the repair I’m about to discuss, didn’t bring joy for all…
First off, I’ll get a moan out-of-the-way. Too many kids toys take too many batteries – it’s been like that since I was a kid. This does two things; makes the toy expensive to own and damaging for the environment when the batteries expire. Now, I know there are some very cool kids toys that rely on sophisticated electronics to make them work, but manufacturers: Please try to think harder about the toy’s overall impact on the environment and it’s in-life running costs.
OK, rant over.
On with the repair. This kids-chew-musical-keys is supposed to mimic an adults’ set of car keys. It doubles up as a teething chewy thing as well as an imitation car alarm blipper remote fob thing, that plays a tune. Delightful.
This set of keys had stopped playing a tune, when any button was pressed. To some, that might have been a good thing.
The battery compartment contained two LR44 coin batteries. These are found in many items and are readily available, if you know where to look, but are not commonly stocked in supermarkets, where I suspect most people buy batteries.
Taking the batteries out revealed some light corrosion on one cell, but no dramas. The other one was corrosion free. However, a quick test with the multimeter revealed that both batteries were kaput.
I usually keep a pack of LR44s (as one does) in case of toy key emergencies like this and luckily on this occasion, I had two shiny new ones to fit. But, upon installing them, replacing the cover and pressing one of the buttons for the first time there was still no sound. How odd. What I thought would be a quick battery change had escalated in to a full toolkit situation.
Whipping the back of the key fob apart revealed a simple integrated circuit with the battery terminals, all in good condition. The small piezo speaker was held behind the main circuit board and on closer inspection, I saw that one of the soldered connections had broken away from the speaker.
Solder repair jobs like this are difficult as excess heat can quickly transfer from the joint being operated on, to the whole component, causing damage if too much heat is conducted. I had to be careful.
After some careful soldering, the broken wire was reconnected, circuit board re-installed, casing screwed back together and batteries re-fitted. A quick tap of one of the buttons then revealed musical joy. After a couple of presses I then began to regret the repair…
Cost of replacement: Not sure, £5 ish? Cost of repair: A bit of soldering.
I love a good radio. I used to collect them as a kid, working or not, do them up, get them working and I eventually ended up with, er… lots. I’ve since scaled my collection back a bit these days to around 10 or so, quite frankly more than is healthy really.
So when someone got in touch recently with a broken DAB radio to fix, I got quite excited.
These Bauhn DAB radios (available from Aldi or Lidl in the UK, I think) were on the market for about £10 and at that price they represent great value when compared to more expensive devices.
However, the one in the workshop appeared to have a problem power connector, which when wobbled, made the radio work intermittently. Suspicious.
Having already repaired a similar radio with a similar fault before, I decided to video the repair to encourage others to check theirs, if something similar happens. I hope you find it useful.
Cost of a new radio: £10. Cost of repair: One cuppa and a bit of tinker time.
My in-laws have an ornament on their drive, in the shape of a 2001 MGF roadster. I say ornament because it’s fairly stationery, all of the time. Even so, it’s battery gets topped up once in a while and the engine turned over when the urge presents itself. Because the car isn’t used, the battery’s only means of charge is via a plug-in charger, my father-in-law occasionally hooks up.
The battery charger in question is an Ultimate Speed (Lidl brand) universal battery charger. They’ve been on sale in the UK for a number of years at the £15 (approx.) mark. They’re really good value as they allow ‘smart charging’ of car and motorcycle batteries without the risk of damage at a fraction of the price of the ‘big brands’ or a replacement battery.
However, this charger decided that it wasn’t playing anymore and refused to offer it’s charging services when recently connected to the MG’s flat battery. On it’s way to the great bin in the sky, I managed to divert the charger via the workshop.
Once connected to the mains, the standby light illuminated, indicating something was actually happening, but upon connecting the low voltage side to a battery, making a charge selection via the single push-button switch, nothing changed and the whole unit remained on standby. Pretty annoying.
Luckily, I have the triangular screwdriver required to undo the six screws that hold the (IP) ingress protected casing together. Triangular screw heads are annoying and pointless as they prevent, in my opinion, people with a basic tool set having a go at a repair like this. If you do fancy getting one of these tools, they are easily available on Amazon and eBay.
FixItWorkshop, March’18, Ultimate Speed (Lidl) Battery Charger, all components cleaned before reassembly.
On with the fix. With the casing opened up, my first port of call was with the switch itself. Past experience has taught me to 1; start with the easy stuff and 2; these push to make switches fail all the time. They’re in everything from door bells to cookers at the moment and when faulty, make the most expensive item and expensive paper weight in the blink of an eye.
To test the switch, I connected the charger to the mains and hooked up the low voltage end to a battery and simulated the button push switch by shorting out the switches connections on the circuit board. Hey presto, the charger worked perfectly, every time. The switch either needed repairing or replacing.
Because I’m a skin-flint, I opted to see what could be done with the present switch. With care, these switches can be prised apart, using a sharp knife and the insides cleaned. I took the switch apart which revealed nothing more than slightly corroded switch surfaces. I can only assume that the product’s bold IP rated claim is a little over exaggerated and that some damp had wriggled its way to the switch and mucked it up. With a cotton bud and switch cleaner, the switch surfaces scrubbed up like new and I re-assembled the switch lever and securing plat using a soldering iron to re-melt the plastic nubs holding the switch together. No one would ever know it had been in bits.
With the circuit board returned to the housing, all six screws done up, the charger was back to rude health once more and ready to tend to the stranded MGF.
Readers of this blog (I know there are millions of you) will recognise this golf trolley and I’m pleased to report that my first repair, the one to the motor, is still working perfectly. However, the owner of the trolley contacted me with a (funny) problem. Whilst recently enjoying a round of golf on the local fairway, the trolley decided to, by itself, begin to edge away from the second tee and then with some speed, head off in to the distance, without any operation of the dial switch, situated on the handle. Whilst this seemed funny at first, I remembered that the motor on this trolley had the kind of torque that, coupled to small gearbox and wheels on a heavy frame, could do some serious damage, left unchecked.
Original photo taken in Aug’17, below.
Unlike many modern electric golf trolleys, it doesn’t feature GPS guidance, remote control or amazingly, a dead-man’s switch, which seems like a major safety oversight to me. I’d have expected either a kill switch or dead-man’s switch* fitted to the handle on a trolley like this as the runaway scenario could never occur due to fail-safe nature of the switch being operated. With one, the trolley would only run when the operators’ hand was on the handle or cut out when the kill switch is activated, as with the saftety cord mechanism, on a jet ski for example. Perhaps the Mk2 Hillbilly Compact featured this.
*For example, a dead-man’s switch is usually fitted to something like an electric saw where the operator must old a handle-type switch to make it run. Once the operator lets go of the handle, the motor automatically fails-safe and cuts-out.
On with the repair. The trolley features some exposed connectors and cabling and it seemed sensible to check the continuity of the cables running up and down the handle shaft, as repeated trolley folding might have caused a problem with the wiring. Fortunately, the cabling was OK.
The owner had mentioned that the handle, where the speed control switch is located, had got wet in the past, which made my alarm bells ring.
Opening up the handle, which only required a basic tool kit, revealed evidence of water damage and corrosion to the speed control terminals. Luckily the owner of the trolley had stocked up on spare switches!
FixItWorkshop, Feb’18, Hillbilly Compact handle.
FixItWorkshop, Feb’18, Hillbilly Compact switch.
Removing the existing switch revealed intermittent continuity and varying amounts of resistance, which was not good. A fault most likely to have been caused by water ingress or excessive shock. The owner had supplied two ‘new old stock’ (NOS) switches. Which one to fit?
From time to time, it’s downright sensible to either fit NOS or second-parts as they’re usually cost-effective and are more likely to fit over pattern parts. But time can also affect apparently shiny parts. This was a case in point. I knew that the switch should vary resistance from open circuit to 10KOhms in either direction from COMM. The old one didn’t and one of the ‘new’ parts only went to 2KOhms, so was not in specification. Luckily, the remaining NOS switch worked fine and once refitted, and the handle reassembled, the golf trolley was ready to make the job of carrying clubs easier, once again.
Cost of replacement trolley: ££££ Cost of repair; £10 plus time. Moral of the story; don’t assume NOS parts will work. Test them first.