As my own children have begun to get a little older and have become more interested in, quite frankly more interesting toys, I’ve occasionally had to repair them as they’ve suffered the odd mishap.
I enjoy repairing toys and sharing the repair experience with the owner. Looking after things and learning how stuff works from a young age will help nurture the beginnings of the engineers and scientists of tomorrow, so it’s vital that children start wielding screwdrivers as soon as they show an interest.
Through a local Worthing-based dads and children’s play group called Dad La Soul/ Don’t Believe The Hype, I’ve recently begun offering a broken toy repair surgery. Children can bring in broken toys and together we can work out what the problems are and how to fix them.
This 4×4 push-along toy had suffered a road traffic incident which had left it missing one of its front wheels. With only three wheels, it wasn’t going far.
Luckily, the axel and wheel stub were only push fitted on, so after taking the axel off, it was just a matter of applying some strong glue to the broken parts and leaving the wheel somewhere still and safe, while the glue set.
FixItWorkshop, Worthing, May’19, toy 4×4, wheel glueing.
FixItWorkshop, Worthing, May’19, toy 4×4, base.
For light ABS plastic like this, I like using Gorilla glue, which seems to work well. It won’t work for all plastic types, but it’s non-toxic and will be safe and strong for this application.
After the glue was set and dry, the wheel just simply pushed back on, ready for more ‘ragging’ around the floor.
Cost of replacement: £any. Cost of repair: 1 x dab of glue.
Time taken to repair: 20 minutes (plus glueing time).
It’s been a while since I wrote anything on my blog and for that I apologise. The lack of writing doesn’t mean that the workshop has been gathering dust, far from it.
Ages ago, a former colleage of mine asked me to look at a Concorde Child Seat, which seemed to be automatically adjusting to it’s maxmimum height setting, in an ‘ejector’ seat style. This kind of action is OK for 007, but no good for a family trip to the seaside.
Child seat repairs are not my usual thing, but since this one was unusable, what did I have to lose? These seats are normally well over £140.00 too, so it seemed like a good idea to have a go.
The Concord Transformer-T features a neat trick in that it can adjust it’s height to suit the growing child, with the touch of a button. This is especially handy when different children share the same seat. Up and down height settings are achieved by a ‘Transformer’ (the toys) style of action, controlled by a gas damped srump strut, similar to that used on hatch back tail gates.
This seat’s gas strut seemed to go to maximum height, without warning, extending seat in an ejector seat style. Time to dig out some tools.
The seat’s cover came off easily, thanks to to some hook and loops around the plastic backing. Lucky as the cover on this seat had some dubious stains.
Once off, several T20 Torx screws removed and a cable operated plunger to a button on a gas strut was revealed. This seemed like a good place to start. Despite the premium price tag, the inner workings of the seat seemed quite flimsy, I assume to minimise weight and to comply with safety standards. The moving headrest, back support and centre arms all moved on a scissor action mechanism, which seemed to working fine.
Disconnecting the cable/ button/ lever involved a T20 Torx screwdriver and 10mm spanner. Once removed, there was good access to the button on the end of the gas strut. It appeared that the button was working just fine and one could manually adjust the size of the seat with a finger. Interesting. Time to inspect the adjustment of the cable and lever mechanism. Luckily, there was adjustment on the cable and lever and after a little fetling, the mechanism was restored.
Price when new: £140.00ish. Cost to repair, 30 minutes tinker time, 1 cuppa and a ginger nut biscuit.
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.
This asthmatic car tyre pump came in to the workshop with little going for it. The owner had been very close to throwing it away when he came across my website.
This AirMan pump is designed to be plugged in to a car’s cigarette lighter socket and provide quick and convenient car tyre inflation. This one was dead.
On first inspection, the fuse was OK, the switch seemed to work and all connections seemed sound, when tested with a multi-meter.
Off with the cover…
When the motor was removed from the cam driving the piston, the bit that drives the pump, it spun freely when power was applied, using a battery in the workshop.
Seemingly, the centre spindle was protruding far beyond it’s specified reach, causing the pump connection rod to it it during rotation. Why? To be frank, I wasn’t sure. I can only surmise that the vibration and heat had caused the flywheel/ toothed drive to slide outside of specification.
There appeared to be room for a small washer to take up the excess space, so I fitted one I had lying around.
The washer, once fitted, allowed the flywheel/ toothed drive to sit ‘square’ in-line with the pump.
Once resembled, the pump ran freely and was ready to inflate, once more.
Cost of a new pump, circa £20. Cost of the washer, circa 5p.