Over a cuppa, my mother in law mentioned that she was chucking out a dehumidifer this weekend and had already replaced it. This was a shock to me since it hadn’t started it’s journey to Worthing tip via my shed yet. Time to intervene.
Aparently it had overflowed water all over the floor and had cut out and not restarted. It had probably been left to its own devices in their cellar, totally neglected in the run up to its demise.
Before worrying my toolbox, I usually plug things in and press buttons to see what happens. When connecting this dehumidifier to the mains, it fired-up and seemed to run perfectly. Strange.
Looking at the device in more detail revealed three tell-tale LED lights (cooling, empty the tank and running). The tank was removable from the front and featured a small float operated level which married up to a small microswitch. The idea being that when the water rose to the top, the switch would be activated by the float and the machine would cut out safely, all being well.
The lever mechanism on the float seemed to be stiff and all that was required to restore service was a good clean with a brush and Fairy liquid and some silicone spray, once dried.
While giving the unit a general inspection, I noticed dirt in the units’ grille. Fortunately, the grille had a removable filter which had clearly never been cleaned, so in effect had been chocking the dehumidifer in normal operation. Bad news.
FixItWorkshop, Jan’18, GET Dehumidifier repair, dirty filter.
FixItWorkshop, Jan’18, GET Dehumidifier repair, clean filter.
Piecing the evidence together in my mind surrounding the causes of failure, I came up with the following theory. The float had failed, causing the unit to leak. The unit had then run hot, probably for a while and had probably tripped a thermal protection fuse. I have no evidence for the latter idea as I never opened up the unit fully, but the theory fits the sequence of events.
In any case, the dehimidifier now switches on and switches off when full and doesn’t seem to run hot. I was pleased with that. I wasn’t so pleased that my in-laws wanted the unit back.
Cost of replacement: Circa £100. Cost of repair; cleaning stuff.
A Fender Precision style Satellite P Bass guitar repair…
A friend of mine, who plays in a Portsmouth-based Psychedelic Garage Rock & Roll band, brought in a Satellite Bass Guitar with a few issues. Firstly the volume control was noisy and crackly and secondly, it was a little quiet. Not good for those moments where you need to go one higher, to eleven.
Opening up the compartment behind volume, tone and jack plug socket revealed messy wiring and dodgy connections. The owner had already supplied a replacement potentiometer for the volume control, so all I had to do was replace the one fitted, re-make the poor connections and give the wiring a general tidy-up.
The guitar has Dimarzio ‘Model P’ pick-ups which can be wired many different ways, depending on the application and musical taste. This particular guitar, circa 1976, is a Fender Precision style Satellite bass (P-Bass) and has a modified ‘through neck’.
Testing the guitar before commencing work revealed a slightly quiet, but mainly crackly output from the amplifier, the tone control was fine. The owner had also complained that the bass sometimes cut-out, mid song. Not ideal.
Removing the volume control was straightforward and only required a spanner to remove the nut, after pulling off the volume knob. The rest of the job just involved careful de-soldering, cutting out the poor wiring and replacing it with new wiring where needed and some heat shrink to tidy things up. Having not repaired an electric guitar before, I did make a quick wiring diagram for reference!
Once completed, I hooked it up to the amplifier again which revealed a much cleaner, crackle free note. Sadly, I can’t play the guitar, so I wasn’t able to test it properly!
Cost of a new bass: Name a price. Cost of the repair; about £2.00 plus tinker time.
Scalextric C8215 lap counter repaired in the workshop…
First off, I must confess, that this is part of my own Scalextric collection, not part of someone else’s. I’ve always enjoyed slot car racing and a lap counter is an essential addition to anyone who wants to prove that they’re the fastest around the track! Trust me, it can be very addictive, especially when racing against one’s better half.
Anyway, I wanted to share this little repair in the hope that others might benefit.
My once reliable lap counter started to miss laps on lane two at very crucial stages of a race. It started by only happening occasionally before completely missing several laps in a row, forcing a stewards’ enquiry to settle the race finish times. Lane one was fine.
Time to get out the screw driver and delve in to the workings of the timer. Once removed from the main track layout, the back of the unit has a cover which is held in place with six small self-tapping screws. These come undone easily and removing the back reveals two sets of electrical switch contacts, operated by a lever on each track, just under the slot car rails. The idea here is that the slot on the slot car operates the lever as the car passes the lap counter track piece, operating the switches contacts, completing a circuit, thus counting the laps.
FixItWorkshop, Dec’17, Scalextric Lap Counter C8215, gap to big.
FixItWorkshop, Dec’17, Scalextric Lap Counter C8215, gap closed.
FixItWorkshop, Dec’17, Scalextric Lap Counter C8215, screws on back.
Comparing the switch contact clearances, lane one’s was considerably closer than lane two’s. This means that the ‘dwell’ time on lane two’s switch would be less that the switch on lane one, which was working ok, meaning a possible cause of the problem. To anyone who’s adjusted contact breaker points on an old car, you’ll know what I mean here.
I had no idea what the correct clearance should be, so took an educated guess and closed the gap to about 0.5mm, done by eyesight alone. I made sure that both sets of switches were the same (see photos). While I had the counter in pieces, I cleaned the contact surfaces with a little electrical contact cleaner, just for good measure.
After re-assembly and re-fitting to the track, a few test laps with my fastest race Mini, proved that the counter was working as it should once again.
Cost of a replacement counter (second hand) circa £12. Cost of the repair; 10 minutes tinker-time.
A noisy Kenwood Chef A701a gets a gearbox rebuild.
This Chef had been sleeping quietly in a kitchen cupboard for some time before being woken up to make cake mixtures once again. The owner had owned the mixer for many years from new and was sentimentally attached to it. I fully sympathise, they’re great machines. It had been used many times in the past and then packed away as new machines came and went. Having decided that there was still a place for the A701a, it was fired up.
The owner didn’t remember it being quite as noisy and wondered if something was wrong with it. She got in touch and brought it in to the workshop. After listening to the mixer at varying speeds, we agreed that perhaps it was a bit noisy and that further investigation was required.
At this stage I must confess at this repair has been on the bench for a long while..!
I think the A701 is my favourite Kenwood Chef product as it’s very elegant, beautifully proportioned and almost over-engineered. It comes from a time where built-in obsolescence was a swear word.
On with the problem. After disconnecting the gearbox by removing the drive belt, I checked the motor for general wear and tear, the brushes and speed control mechanism and I concluded that it all seemed OK and working smoothly. The gearbox however did seem a bit noisy when turned manually, nothing hideously graunchy, but a little rough. To be honest, it would have probably survived, but I wanted to open up the gearbox to make sure that it was as it should be.
Whilst removing the Chef’s casing around the gearbox, I’d noticed traces of grease around the joints and various power take-offs. All models seem to do this to an extent, but this one seemed to be quite bad. Closer inspection revealed that some of the grease had escaped out of the seal between the two halves of the gearbox casing. Opening up the casing revealed that the grease that was left had been pushed to the corners of the space within the gearbox and that the gears were a bit dry, this was probably the root cause of the noise. The planet wheel that drives the beater was also bone dry.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, gearbox before cleaning.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, before cleaning- dirty sticky grease.
Luckily, there are plenty of suppliers who can supply rebuild kits for Kenwood Chef gearboxes, including new gears and grease. The gears in this seemed serviceable, but it seemed very sensible to replace the lubricant with the correct 130g of Kenwood gearbox grease, which is food safe. I used ‘Kenwood Chef Restore’, an eBay seller and the kit was a reasonable £10.99, including P&P. The kit included the main gearbox grease, white grease for the planet gear and sealant for the gearbox casing.
Before replacing anything, the first job was to clean out all traces of the original grease which had gone very sticky and was contaminated with general wear. The first pass clean involved using paper toweling, followed by water and detergent, before a final clean with brake cleaner, which removed the last few traces of grease and dirt.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, adding new gearbox grease.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, adding new gearbox grease- note spacers.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, showing idle gear.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, new grease.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, before grease.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, planet wheel grease.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, parts before reassembly to the main body.
With the gearbox refilled and resealed making sure the spacers were re-fitted to the correct parts, the drive belt re-fitted with just enough slack, the gears sounded much sweeter with the final parts of the casing reassembled. One last point to note is that I used silicone sealant on the blender attachment power take-off plate in replacement to the one fitted, since the original seal was well past it (see below).
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, belt in situ.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, adjustment.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, cover fitted.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, Kenwood Chef A701a, silicone sealant.
As a finishing touch, I replaced the existing machine feet which had turned to mush with replacements from Sussex Spares (eBay shop) for a very reasonable £2.70, delivered.
The Chef was now ready to prepare cake mixtures again.
Cost of new machine: £300 and up. Cost of replacement parts: £13.69 (plus my time).
If your Kenwood Chef A901 starts to smell of burning, don’t despair, it can usually be saved.
I had an enquiry via this site from a fisherman who was very upset that his trusty Kenwood Chef A901 had given up the ghost. Rather than using the Chef to make Victoria sponges, it had been used to prepare fishing bait. It just demonstrates how versatile these machines are.
Whilst it was in use, the owner witnessed a bang then the smell of burning before the machine came to a halt. The plug was quickly pulled!
Whilst discussing the fault on the phone, I suspected that the fault was probably due to the failure of the motor speed control circuitry, which is known to fail with age. I had carried out similar repairs to other machines, including my own (in this blog) so agreed to take a look.
I received the machine quickly and upon inspection, the machine had obviously been cared for and considering its age, was in good condition. The smell of burned-out components was clear, lifting it out of the box.
Dismantling the machine and removing the motor on the A901 is fairly straightforward, providing you allow time and make notes on where things go. The components that need to be replaced are very accessible and anyone with moderate soldering skills would be OK with this task.
Luckily, the Chef is very well supported by long-term aftermarket suppliers and I bought an off-the-shelf spares kit at £14.10 delivered, from KAParts (www.kaparts.co.uk) via eBay, featuring upgraded components. This kit is a little dearer, but component technology has moved on since this machine was first on the market, so fitting anything else is a false economy in my opinion.
With the old components removed and replacements fitted, the motor ran smoothly and fully reassembled, the machine is now ready to mix bait mixtures once again. Lovely.
Cost of a new machine: Circa £300 and up. Cost of repair: £44.10 (kit plus my time).
A colleague of mine came in with a broken microphone, which is part of a Lucky Voice karaoke set and retails for about £60.00 on Amazon. The microphone had worked pretty well, but recently had lost its ‘X-Factor’ somewhat.
The microphone is fairly standard fare and connects to a standard XLR plug and socket arrangement. As this part is usually under the most stress as the singer moves about, it seemed sensible to have a look at that first. Upon connection to my amp, there was a huge amount of crackling which seemed to coincide with cable movements at the microphone end. Swapping the lead for a known good one I had proved that the microphone was fine, but the lead not so fine.
Only one screw holds the plug together and straightaway, the problem presented itself.
The main core had detached from the connector, as the outer cable sheathing has come away from the XLR connector body clamp. Not ideal.
A quick strip back and solder job and the wires were connected back where they needed to be. A little dab of hot-melt glue on the cable grip and a re-tighten and the cable was not going to move anyway.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, X-Factor Microphone.
FixItWorkshop, Oct’17, X-Factor Microphone, XLR.
With the plug re-assembled and the screw put back, the microphone tested perfectly on the amp, ready for karaoke once more.
Cost of a new similar lead: £10, Cost of repair: 15 minutes, dab of glue and solder. Nice.
Someone got in touch regarding a family heirloom clock that wasn’t running. The Bentima clock itself was in good overall condition and considering its age, had been in the same family for a couple of generations or so. The owner really missed the clock ticking and chimes on the hour.
Access to the clock’s mechanism is pretty straightforward on this type of clock as there’s a simple wooden door on the back with a catch. Opening up that door reveals a weighted pendulum with escapement above. It was clear that someone, at some point, had replaced the pendulum spring and that all that was probably required was a minor adjustment to make the ‘tick match the tock’, or in other words, get the clock back ‘in beat’…tick-tock-tick-tock-tick-tock… evenly spread.
On this mechanism, all that was needed was a level surface and a small flat-bladed screwdriver to slightly move the pendulum pivot point. Once running, a small adjustment to slow-down the running was needed (time was too fast), but this was easily adjusted using the knurled screw on the pendulum. I recommended that if a flat level surface at home couldn’t be found, 1 penny pieces could be used under the clock’s feet to restore balance. A nice little repair.
Cost of a clock like this: Check eBay. Cost of repair; my time.