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.
Another Kenwood Chef gets the treatment in the Workshop
How about another Kenwood Chef story? I know I’ve covered this machine a few times now, but I’ll try and make it as interesting as I can. I just LOVE Kenwood Chefs.
A customer got in touch with me via the FixItWorkshop ‘contact us’ link asking if I could fix his family’s much beloved Chef. While last in-use, it started smoking and smelling terminal. How could I refuse. I’m located in Worthing, but the customer was based in North London, quite a distance for a repair and would have been usually cost prohibitive using the Royal Mail. However, using local drop-off points, carriers such as Hermes and DPD offer (slightly slower) courier services for about £7.00 one way, which starts to make more fiscal sense. This is what we did.
I wish I’d taken a photo of the box the Chef came in, because the customer had clearly gone to a lot of effort to make sure it was well protected!
On with the repair.
The Chef has been in production many years and although they can often appear similar on the outside, they do vary on the inside, depending on the year of manufacture as small tweaks and improvements are made. Evolution, rather than revolution, usually the backbone of any successful design.
The A901E is different from the previous A901 as it features an electronic speed controller, rather than a centrifugal affair. While the later design is an improvement, it wouldn’t deter me from buying an earlier model; the improvement is small.
The A901E still features similar components to previous models which can and do fail, especially with age. The subject here is about 30 years old, give or take.
The motor on the A901E comes out quite easily; first remove the motor cover, remove the mains cable (disconnect first of course), remove the top cover, belt, then the four screws holding the motor in. The motor then pulls down from inside, out through the gap left by the hinge. Easy.
The motor circuit board showed traces of component catastrophe with dust and dirt left by exploding components. Nasty. Pre-empting the fault, I ordered a repair kit before I’d taken the machine apart, together with replacement feet as the ones on this machine were knackered. The kit includes capacitors, resistor and triac as these are the main components that tend to fail.
These kits are available on eBay and are worth the money as they are often cheaper than buying the components separately and they contain instructions for newbies. Here’s a little slide show showing the process.
With the kit fitted, the motor re-installed, mains reconnected, the Chef ran well again, this time without burning or smoking. However, all was not well as the speed control was a bit wobbly at lower speeds, which was just plain wrong. Having worked on a good few Chefs, this problem is usually down to excess end-float on the motor spindle. Working with the motor still in situ, the motor fan, which controls end-float could be adjusted with an Allen key. Sorted.
Just the replacement feet to fit and after a quick clean-up, the Chef was reassembled, ready to go home.
A top tip for you. If you intend to replace the feet on your machine and you probably should if they are old as they go hard or fall apart, then soak the area around the feet recesses with WD-40 or similar a day or so before as this will make getting the remnants of the old feet out, much easier.
Cost of a replacement: £400 up. Cost of repair: £12.65 plus my time and tea.
Strange noises from machines play on my mind. None more so than when that niggling noise starts to get worse. Noises like that usually mean two things. Catastrophic failure and expense.
Time to disconnect from the mains and fetch the tool box.
The patient in the surgery this week is our own Hotpoint tumble dryer. We avoid using it at all costs, but with miserable English weather and two children, getting washing turned around efficiently, ready for use is mandatory. To be frank, I’d noticed the excess whinning bearing noise coming from the dryer for a few uses, but it was getting to the point where it was hard to ignore.
Electric hot air tumble dryers are pretty simple things. They work by sucking cool air in, heating it up under thermostatic control and then blowing it in to a rotating drum. The moist air is then expelled via a filter and then hose, to atmosphere. Tumble dryer models of this kind will have the following: A motor, heater, thermostat circuitry, timer and a drum. There isn’t much to go wrong and many parts for UK tumble dryers are available, cheaply from places like eSpares.co.uk. Usually, no special tools are required if you want to have a go at fixing your machine and I recommend you do of course.
After opening up the cabinet, access to the drum and motor was available by the side panel which was held in position with several self-tapping screws and hooks. Care must be taken if you attempt something similar on your machine since there are plenty of sharp edges to watch out for. This dryer features an AC induction motor (which has no motor brushes). It has a spindle which runs through the motor with a pully one side to drive the drum via the belt and a fan the other to blow the hot air. Removing the belt and spinning the motor by hand revealed the problem. The spindle spun OK, but sounded rough.
Replacement motors are available at a reasonable £90 or so, but you know me by now, I don’t like spending that kind of money, unless I have to.
The motor is attached to the appliance with simple bolts and is removed easily. The motor is held together with self-tapping screws, which are easily accessible. Just two bearings feature in this motor; one at each end to support the load. Both bearings sounded rough, but seemed not to be worn too much. The bearings are standard items and it would be easy to find exact replacements from a bearing supplier (rather than replacing the whole motor), for under £20. However, as this was my own machine, I went for cheaper fix, to squeeze more life out of what I already had. With the dust cover popped off from both bearings, I cleaned both with isopropyl alcohol cleaner and then re-greased with quality high-melt point bearing grease. Much better.
The motor re-assembled, re-installed back in the machine and it was time to switch on. It now sounded as sweat as a nut.
If and when the bearings get noisy again (and they will eventually), I’ll replace the bearings with new ones.
Cost of replacement: circa £200. Cost of repair: My time, two cups of tea, one custard cream, a bit of grease. Not in that order.
Who wouldn’t love a new DAB radio for your birthday? Well, that’s what I had this year and I was thrilled to receive this Pure Evoke H2. After choosing a suitable location on my desk, I quickly unpacked it, plugged it in and…nothing. Booooooo!
The display backlight appeared to glow a little, but that was it and I was missing Today on Radio 4.
To save a quite frankly dull story, the returns and replacement process offered by the company who supplied the radio was hopeless. But, after 2 months, I ended up with a replacement radio, in addition to the one I already had. The second radio worked, albeit with some fettling required to the speaker to make it sound ok (another story).
Time to dig out the screw drivers as I had nothing to lose.
Just 6 screws hold the back on and with these removed, the radio’s innards were exposed. Now, I’ve made radios from kits in the past using components I can hold with my fingers, but with this radio, the circuitry was teeny-weeny and I would have to have some luck to fix it.
I was in luck. The radio is made up like a sandwich. The front fascia is screwed to the cabinet and the back, that I’d removed, was screwed to the cabinet, from the other side. There are data-style cables between the two halves and one of them appeared to be loose. I carefully pushed the connector ‘home’ and then re-applied the power lead and wouldn’t you know it, the display lit up and it burst in to life. Now we’re talking.
Thinking I’d sussed it out, I screwed the radio back together and had about a week or two of unbroken service, until the screen froze and then nothing. Oh no.
Re-opening the back of the radio, I suspected that the tiny soldered pins on the back of the multi-way connectors on the data-style cables, had been dislodged. I have average sized hands for a bloke, but I needed tweezers to get the connectors on during assembly. I wonder how much it would have cost to add an inch or so to each cable, to make manufacture easy. As a consumer, I would have gladly paid the extra penny. I suspected that this is how the original fault came to be as it wouldn’t have taken much more than a shove in the wrong direction to break the delicate connectors, due to the short length of the internal cables.
Since this circuit board is a tiny stamped component affair, I had to be quick and neat with my re-soldering. Each pin to PCB connector re-soldered, cables re-attached, back screwed back on and the radio worked once more.
Pure have a reputation for easy to use, excellent sounding products. It’s just a shame they have seemingly penny-pinched on some of the internal gubbins on this model. If yours develops similar symptoms, don’t give up, take the back off and have a look.
Cost of a new radio: £40-90. Cost of repair: 5 mins tinker time, one cup of tea.
A neighbour of mine is a talented musician in a local band and also teaches school children various instruments. Some of his students learn the drums, which is most parent’s nightmare as any notion of a peaceful evening is shattered. Luckily, electronic drum kits are an excellent way to learn with headphones, while keeping happy parents and neighbours.
This kit was missing several beats and was hampering learning, so time for a visit to the workshop. I’m no musical instrument repair specialist, but I thought that the drum kit must use electrical contacts, switches and rudimentary electrical components and I was right.
Two faults were reported; The kick/ foot pedal was intermittently not working and one of the drum pads was hardly working at all, unless you hit it with a sledge-hammer. Time to see what was going wrong.
First up was the faulty drum pad. Opening up the back of the pad was simplicity itself, just a few screws held the back to the pad. Sandwiched between two halves was a sensor, a bit like a piezo flat speaker, similar to the type found in many toys with sounds. I guess the principle here is that vibration detected by the piezo sensor is converted to analogue variable voltages by the drum kit’s circuitry. While apart, I noticed that some of the copper detail tracks on the printed circuit board which had a standard 3.5mm jack socket (to allow a connection back to the rest of the kit) had cracked. Looking again through my magnifying glass revealed quite a bit of damage, probably as a result of many Keith Moon wannabes. Testing these tracks with my meter confirmed an intermittent fault, so out with the soldering iron, to repair the connection. Plugging the pad back in, it was ready once again for more drum solos.
Next up was the dodgy kick/foot pedal. As the with the drum pad, the pedal would cut out intermittently. A few screws held the pedal together, so only basic tools required. See the slide show below for an idea of the construction.
The fault with the pedal was similar to the drum pad. Some of the copper detailing around the 3.5mm jack socket had failed and required some careful soldering. I say careful, as applying too much heat at once would, likely as not, melt the casing of the socket. One had to take care.
Once soldered, the pedal was much better. I didn’t get a full 10/10 repair with the pedal since I think there was wear on the kick sensor, but it was an improvement none the less.
Cost of replacement: £lots. Cost of repair, my time, two cups of tea and some solder.
I really had no idea that Micro Scooters have been a ‘thing’ for the last few years and as a result, there are lots to choose from on the second-hand market. We picked up a ‘bargain’ for our oldest daughter for a princely sum of £5.00 via a local Facebook For Sale page. With hindsight, it was overpriced.
Just about every part of the scooter was either nasty or plain broken. The handle bar grips were missing, the wheel bearings were all shot to pieces, the steering mechanism seized and the rear brake was missing. The back brake on this scooter type, I’ve since found out, have a habit of snapping off with hard use, so that should have been the clue to the low, low price. But if you read these pages, you know me, I like a challenge.
First step was to address the static wheels. An Allen key holds the wheels on to the stub-axels at the front of the scooter and there’s something similar on the trailing wheel. The bearings on our wheels were beyond a re-grease as they’d appeared to have spent their entire life at the bottom of The Channel.
Luckily, the bearings are easy to replace and good-quality generic items are available on eBay for under £5.00 for a whole set (6 bearings, 2 per wheel).
Next came the handlebar grips. Ours were missing and again, generic ‘copy’ grips are available on eBay which are perfect for the job and are half the price of the original equipment. While I was shopping on eBay, I also found an original Micro Scooter bell. Just the job.
The steering mechanism was next and all it needed was a good clean up and light lubrication with some plastic-friendly white PTFE grease, readily available from Toolstation.
The shabby foot plate area was once baby-blue but had since faded and had evidence of scrapes. It looked a bit sorry for itself. I decided to address this by giving surfaces a good clean up and then key with wire wool. A couple of coats of good quality plastic primer and then a couple of coats of vinyl black paint, which now gave the scooter quite a ‘presence’. I then decided to improve the foot plate ‘grippy-ness’ by applying a custom grip tape design.
Before re-attaching the foot plate back to the chassis, the brake needed to be replaced. As with some of the other fixings on the scooter, the brake’s fixings were so rusty, they needed to be drilled out and replaced. Luckily the new original equipment brake came with new improved fixings which fitted perfectly.
I know what you’re thinking… for £40 more, I could have bought a brand-new scooter and saved myself the bother. At times, I did question my own sanity. But what we now have is a perfectly serviceable, one-off that no one else will have. Can you put a price on that?!
A neglected DC24 gets some badly needed maintenance…
I really enjoy working on Dyson products as they’re so well thought out. The designers seem to take great care factoring-in easy maintenance for longevity. There’s also a great sense of theatre when using Dyson products. Take the roller ball on this design for example, a throwback to the earlier Dyson Ball Barrow which allows better manoeuvrability when combined with an upright vacuum cleaner. There’s also the exposed mechanism which automatically switches suction between the roller pick-up and hose when using the foot pedal to select the desired mode. Genius. All of these design touches encourage the user to care for and enjoy using the product.
Sadly though, sometimes these touches are a bit lost on people and the design flares that appeal to some become misunderstood and neglected to others.
This DC24 had two problems. It didn’t stand up properly when left and it didn’t really pick anything up that well either, failing as a vacuum cleaner on two fundamental points.
The first job was to find out why the DC24 was a little unsteady. It seemed that all of the mechanism was intact and that nothing had snapped off. Strange. The red foot pedal operated lever that releases the latching system to move the main body from its locked position was stuck. It seemed to be linked to a lever which operates the diverter valve, which switches suction from the roller beater foot to the flexible hose. On closer inspection the lever on the diverter valve had come off its pin, probably by force. The mechanism itself was also dirty which made operation rough. The red lever is spring loaded with guides and pins which were also dirty and a little rusty. I suspect this vacuum cleaner had been left somewhere damp.
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24 diverter lever and valve.
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24, red foot lever.
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24, cleaning the lever mechanism.
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24, cleaning a lubricating the mechanism springs.
After re-attaching the diverter valve leaver back on and giving all mechanisms a good clean-up with a light coating of silicone spray, it was as good as new again.
Once the mechanism was working, it was time to assess the vacuum’s performance. It wasn’t that good. As with most Dyson vacuum products, there are two filters. One processes blow-by air from the motor and the other controls dust particles from the cylinder. These filters can usually be cleaned with mild soap and water, but this set was well past it, requiring replacement and for under a tenner, it’s rude not to. Dyson have made filter replacement very easy on the DC24 with good access to the motor filter via a small door on the roller ball itself and the lid on top of the cylinder. I think there should be a massive sticker on these vacuum cleaners that says ‘don’t forget to clean the filters’ as I suspect that many of these products are chucked away by owners who forget to do the necessary. Bag-less cleaner doesn’t mean maintenance-free!
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24, cleaned up rubber seals.
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24, motor filter cover.
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24, motor filter cover.
FixItWorkshop, April’18, Dyson DC24, cleaned up rubber seals.
With a couple of new filters, a clean-up of all of the rubber seals with silicone cleaner and this DC24 was fighting fit, ready to clean another carpet.
Cost of a replacement Dyson product: £000’s. Cost of new parts: Under £10 plus my time.