Leave the light on…

A Philips outdoor wall lamp with a major case of built-in obsolescence, gets a cheap fix.

A mate of mine mentioned that his outdoor wall light had given-up-the-ghost, despite not being more than three years old.  He’d put them up around his house as part of an extension and exterior restoration project.  The trouble was that despite only being a few years old, the product now seemed to be discontinued.  This meant that, should the lamp need to be replaced, he would need to replace all of them (three in this case) to keep them matching.  Annoying quite frankly.

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FixItWorkshop, March’19, Philips outdoor wall light, working.

He’d read that the bulb within the Philips lamp was not replaceable, in which case a faulty lamp would render the whole thing broken, which seemed very daft to me.  Items made in such a way that prevents even the most basic of repair get me very annoyed.  Sometimes an item is developed in such a way for safety reasons but I suspect that most of the time, the motive is just pure greed.  It’s such a shame.

At my mate’s house, over a cup of tea, I removed the lamp from the wall to take back to the workshop, to see what Philips had been getting up to.

Opening up the casing was straightforward, just a few simple screws and retaining nuts holding the casing together, before finally revealing the bulb itself, under a lamp diffuser.

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FixItWorkshop, March’19, Philips outdoor wall light, lamp unit.

The bulb/ lamp unit itself appeared to be a custom/ bespoke disc light, that wasn’t user serviceable.  It had blown and there was evidence of scorching on a few of the LEDs, linked in series, indicating the failure of the entire circuit.

I couldn’t find any replacement disc LEDs suitable for the lamp from any of the usual sources, which I expected.  It could be that Philips can supply a replacement disc, but this was not evident on their website.

Not wanting to be beaten by a bespoke part, I thought about what else might work, within the lamp’s enclosure, to have the same effect.  I had a spare GU9 LED bulb, about the same brightness, sitting on the shelf, left over from another project which was going spare, so I set about fitting it in the space.

The generic GU9 bulb, available from most hardware shops, fitted in the existing disc mounting bracket, with a small modification and once connected to the lamp’s circuitry, worked well, albeit with a slightly warmer glow.

In case anyone else has the same problem, I made a little video of the repair.  I hope it gives others inspiration if faced with a similar problem.

Cost of replacement (with something similar): £50.00.  Cost of repair:  £1.50 for the bulb and a couple of Belgian beers for my time.

 

A Challenge Circular Saw

A tool gets saved from the bin!

I had a slightly unusual request to do a ‘bit of soldering’ on a circular saw recently.  As I’m not one to say no to a broken item, I said “yes, I’ll have a look” as I was intrigued.

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FixItWorkshop, March’19, Challenge Xtreme Circular Saw.

This Challenge Xtreme Circular Saw was working fine, but the spring-loaded safety guard had split at one of the ends and was now dangerous to use.

I guess this saw was originally sold at the ‘budget’ end of the market and some of the materials used on it were light-weight to say the least.  But having said all that, for light use, this saw was a very good tool with features like a laser to guide cutting.

The guard was made of a ‘mazak’ style alloy, which would have been pressed together at the factory and therefore quite difficult to re-attach.  Definitely not for soldering, welding or brazing.

I could have used a chemical metal compound as a glue or even epoxy resin, but in the end, I opted for making a simple couple of neat drilled holes with a small cable tie to bring the separated halves together, a neat mechanical and cheap fix to get the tool usable once more.  Sometimes, simple is best.

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Cost of replacement: £40.00 Cost of repair:  One cable tie. One cup of tea.

 

The heat is on…

Dimplex DX300T heater gets repaired in the workshop.

I acquired this Dimplex heater as the previous owner had reported that it had tripped their electrics and smelled of burning, it was perfect material for the workshop.  The owner had given up on it and I felt like I could give it a second chance.  This is the usual way we end up with much of the stuff in our home.

Now, this heater is only a few years old and on the face of it, it looked in reasonable condition, with just a couple of scratches, so it would be a shame if I couldn’t get it working.

With electrical faults like this, I always check the basics; the condition of the flex and mains plug etc.  I then measure for resistance to earth from either live or neutral to see if there has been any electrical shorts, that would have triggered the reported fuse incident.  All clear.

Through the top heat vent, I had a quick look at the inside of the heater to see if any stray paperclips or other metallic item had found its way to the heating element or wiring creating an electrical problem, again, all clear.

Upon checking the mains plug again, something didn’t seem quite right.  It felt a little ‘warped’.  I’d already checked the fuse for continuity via the live and neutral (there was resistance), but it was time to take it out to have a proper look.  The plug on this heater was a ‘moulded-on’ type, with no screws and the fuse carrier was accessible from the outside, should it need replacing.  Upon levering the fuse holder out, the plastic carrier sheared off, revealing burned plastic and signs of melting.  The plug was toast.

I decided to break the plug cover off and see what was going on.  The plug had ‘run hot’ for some time causing the casing to melt and smoulder and the excess heat had probably caused excess resistance, exacerbating the problem, making the previous owners’ electrics to go pop.

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With the cover ‘broken off’ the plug, I was then able to cut back the internal connections and remove the cable from the mouldings, without sacrificing the cable length, which was a good job as the flex was quite short anyway.

I always keep a few replacement ‘quality’ mains plugs in the workshop for occasions like this, as not all moulded plugs are terribly well made and the melted one I had here was a good example of what can happen when the quality of the plug can’t match the potential current flow required.  The heater is rated at 3K Watts (max), which would mean a current of 12.5 Amps, which is close to the 13 Amps fuse fitted.  Poor quality materials and connectors would generate excess resistance and therefore heat.  The resistance was probably detected by the sophisticated minature circuit breaker in the previous owners’ electrics board, which was a good job as who knows what could have happend if the plug had been next to something flamable.

With a new plug fitted, the old fuse re-fitted, the heater sprung to life and didn’t seem to draw excess current when checked.  A nice cheap fix and I didn’t even have to take the heater apart.

Cost of a replacement heater:  £50 (circa)  Cost of repair:  One cup of tea.

Morphy Richards smoky heater

A heater with a broken motor gets a clean up…

I like the classic, function-over-form design of this heater.  Simple, clear, chunky controls and nothing included that isn’t needed.  Less is usually more.

This 1980s heater, although very well made and clearly designed with longevity and repair in mind was a little bit, er smoky.

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Fixitworkshop, February’19, Morphy Richards fan heater.

It appeared that the fan wasn’t running and the smoke was coming from old dust which had settled inside the machine.  I don’t think that the heater had been used in many years.

The heater came apart very easily, just three self-tapping screws holding the sides together to the main shell.

On first examination that the shell was out of shape and that it had come in to contact with the fan itself, forcing it to far down the motor shaft on to the motor body.  So, all that would be needed would be reposition the fan and re-shape the outer heater shell, a simple fix then.  Not quite.

The motor did not spin easily and even with a little penetrating oil on it, it was turning slowly, with the mains applied.

The motor was an induction type, with no brushes and didn’t obviously have anything restricting the motor’s spin.  I know that even apparently clean motor parts can have deposits of unseen oil and muck that can stop an otherwise good motor from working properly.  In situations like this, I tend to use brake cleaner or similar to break down the dirt.  Once cleaned, just a couple of drops of sewing machine oil on the moving parts and that usually cures things.  I was in luck and after performing a mild service on the motor, it was spinning at full speed once again.  Quite literally warming.

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With the parts all back together, the heater was ready to run for many years to come.

Cost of replacement:  £15.00    Cost of repair:  £0.00, one cup of tea and a Bourbon.

Very leaky Renault Clio

A Clio gets it’s drains cleared

I’ve owned my fair share of banger material motors, but I’ve never known one as rain intolerant as my latest car.  I bought a ‘one owner’ Clio for not a lot of money, as a hack to get to work.  The car was very honest.  It honestly told me that not much in the way of maintenance had been done- in recent times.

Anyway, £60 or so on service and maintenance parts later and the 120K mile machine responded well, trouble was, that I needed a brolley and wellington boots to drive it, it leaked so much.  My 1983 Austin Mini was more water resistant, it was that bad.

After doing a bit of Googling, I found that the classic Renault fault with the sunroof seals had plagued my car, but that wasn’t the end of my problems.  Both door card gasket (the gasket between the door card and metal) had failed.  A reel of £6.99 mastic tape fixed both sunroof and door card leaks, happy days.

However, when it rained hard, I still needed wellies to drive.  This leak was eventually traced to a hidden drain hole, buried deep within the bulkhead/ scuttle area.  A few videos on YouTube mention this, but I thought it was still video worthy to cover again with the wiper mechanism and heater blower removed to see the drain more clearly, in the hope it might help fellow Clio Mk2 owners with perpetual Athletes foot.

Enjoy!

Aldi Bauhn Radio with no power

A cheap radio gets a cheap fix.

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.

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FixItWorkshop, Worthing, February’19, Bauhn DAB Radio.

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.

 

Happy fixing!

Cost of a new radio:  £10.  Cost of repair:  One cuppa and a bit of tinker time.

Explosive Chef

Another Kenwood Chef A901 gets the Workshop treatment…

There’s been a steady flow of poorly Kenwood Chefs through the workshop of late and the new year started off with yet another.  A customer got in touch with reports of smoke coming from her Chef A901, a machine which had given years of faithful service to her family.  As a result, she was very keen to see what could be done.

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FixItWorkshop, Worthing, Jan’19, Kenwood Chef A901.

As usual with Chefs of this age, the 5 machine feet had deteriorated and now resembled squashed dry Blu-Tac, so had to be replaced.  I replace the feet to most Chefs that come in.  Not only do the feet prevent the machine from moving all over the place when in use, they provide a gap for air to be drawn in to the motor for cooling, so it’s essential the feet are in good condition.

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FixItWorkshop, Worthing, Jan’19, replacing the feet on a Chef A901 (others similar).

The feet are inexpensive and are easy to fit.  If you decide to replace yours, consider coating the existing ones with something like WD-40, a few days before you try to extract the centre pin or you risk snapping it off in the machine base, as it will likely be ceased.

On with the repair.  The speed control circuitry had failed, specifically a capacitor and resistor, a common problem on older machines, had gone pop.  As usual, the correct repair kit was bought and fitted. With careful soldering and a dab of heat transfer gel on the new triac and the job was complete.  Nice.

With any Kenwood Chef, I always check the motor end-float, the allowable spindle movement north and south.  The end float in this case was a little lose and required adjustment.  A small grub screw with Allen key head allows this adjustment and with a bit of trial and error, the end float was now spot-on.  Poor end float on these machines usually makes the speed control ‘wobbly’, especially at lower speeds.  With this one adjusted correctly, the motor now ran smoothly through all speeds.

Job done.  The owner of the machine was so pleased with my work, she even bought me a new packet of Custard Creams.  Fab.

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Cost of replacement: £400 and up.  Cost of repair: £11.24, plus my time and Custard Creams!