More power please

Does your toy have enough energy?

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FixItWorkshop, Worthing, March’20, testing a battery (featuring my retro BT multimeter).

I’m not a fan of batteries. They run out and always when you least expect it.

You know that anything with a battery, will need attention at some point.

Batteries either need to be replaced or better, recharged.

But often, replacement batteries are the only option for toys, which can mean high running costs. Especially when the toy is played with continually by an enthusiastic child owner!

Trouble is, a mixture of built-in obsolescence and poor design means that it’s just not obvious how one replaces duff batteries meaning that, I suspect, lots of toys get thrown away needlessly, but it’s not the owners fault necessarily.

Sadly, some replacement batteries cost more than the toy itself, which is just mad.

Make and model: toy radio control car (no brand or model)

Fault reported: Not working

Cost of replacement: £10ish

Manufacturer support:  0/10

Cost of parts: £5 (batteries)

Hours spent on repair: 30 minutes

Tools needed: Screwdrivers, test meter etc

Sundry items: None

Repair difficulty: 0/10

Cups of tea: 1/2 cup

Biscuits: None

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The owner of this toy had played with it non-stop wearing the batteries out.  Mum and dad had replaced some of the batteries in the car part of this toy, but still the toy didn’t work.  It wasn’t clear to the parents, which batteries in what part of the toy needed to be replaced, which meant that an email asking for help, popped in to my inbox.

At first glance, the car part of the toy had no battery cover or compartment, but on closer inspection, the car separated in to two halves, allowing access to the 4 X AA (1.5V) batteries.  Not a straightforward task for everyone.  Testing each battery revealed that they were all worn with an average of 1.3 volts (much lower under load) each.  I replaced these with fresh ones and put the car back together.  The car’s casing was simply held together with a clip and a couple of small screws.

However, the toy still wasn’t working, time to test the radio controller.  Again, a screwdriver was needed to open the battery compartment to access the battery.  Not all households have screwdrivers (even though I believe they should!).

Testing the 9V PP3/ 6LR61 battery revealed around 3 volts, 6 volts too low.  Again, a new battery got the radio controller working once more.

Doing this ‘repair’ got me thinking.  Batteries can be tricky things to manage.  New ones can go flat when not in use and old ones that have been kicking around in a drawer for a while can be fine to use.  One can replace batteries with ‘new’ ones which are no better than the ones fitted, leading a user to believe that the ‘thing’ must be faulty.  A false positive.

With a little basic training on multimeter use, hours and cash can be saved by testing pesky batteries.  At under £5 for a basic multimeter, it could be money well saved for any household.  Just a thought.

With both car and radio controller switched on, the toy sprung to life.  Of course, I had to test the car thoroughly before handing it back(!).

 

JD Bug Scooter gets a light service

A bit of TLC to bring a scooter back from the brink.

We were very lucky to be given a ‘micro style’ JD Bug scooter for one of the kids, by a kind neighbour.  It features mini wheels, a solid metal foldable frame, which makes for easy portability and height adjustable handles.  It’s easy to see why loads of kids have these scooters as they’re easy to ride and very manoeuvrable.

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FixItWorkshop, March’19, JD Bug Scooter.

This one had been well used, but had been kept clean and tidy.  However, before issuing it to the child concerned, it needed a few ‘bugs’ addressing.

First and foremost was the wheels.  Both wheels are fitted with standard skateboard bearings (a total of four).  Both wheels were noisy and tight when spun, which would affect speed and handling of the scooter.  Now, I might eventually change the bearings as they’re pretty cheap and easy to obtain, but for now, I just removed the wheels, popped out the bearings and regreased them, once I’d removed the dust cover.  Refitted, they sounded much better.

Next was the frame and the locking mechanism.  It was rattly and weighward which again would have affected handling.  After a light application of spray white grease and a small adjustment to the lock, the frame was much more rigid.

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The last thing was the headstock, which is similar to those found on a bicycle.  This one sounded hideous and clearly had no lubrication whatsoever.  Again, access was straightforward and just involved basic tools, although I did have to dig out my 36mm spanner- serious stuff.  Just a couple of pinch clamps and two locking nuts held the headstock together and after a clean up with penetrating oil, an oily rag and some new grease, it was as good as new.

So after some light TLC, this scooter was ready for another child to enjoy, for little cash.

Cost of replacement:  £40.00  Cost of repair:  Some oil, grease and a bit of fettling, one cuppa.