I particularly enjoy receiving something to fix that I’ve never come across before. Indeed, I’d never used an electric rice cooker, let alone heard of Tulip, the manufacturer of this example. To be frank, I haven’t often thought about the popularity of electric rice cookers in general as an additional labour-saving device in the kitchen. Clearly, I must be slipping.
This actual machine was a family treasure, which had moved around a bit and had originally been purchased in Holland and had since been converted from using a standard Euro plug to IEC/ kettle UK mains plug at some point. All very interesting you say (maybe), but how did it end up in my workshop?
Make and model: Tulip A350T Electric Rice Cooker
Fault reported: Not working
Cost of replacement: £30
Manufacturer support: 0/10
Cost of parts: £2.00
Hours spent on repair: 1 hour
Tools needed: Screwdrivers, test meter, heat shrink, looped crimps etc
Sundry items: Cleaning materials
Repair difficulty: 3/10
Cups of tea: 2
Biscuits: Custard Cream X 2
After many years of reliable service, poor old ‘Tulip’ decided it had had enough of boiling up pilau rice and assorted vegetables and conked out. When the owner tried to switch the cooker on, nothing happened, no light, no heat, no hope.
Most people would then usually have thrown in the towel, reached for their phone and within a couple of clicks, bought a new one on Amazon to be delivered the next day.
Perhaps it was the thought of poor old Tulip being crushed in the scrap metal pile at the tip which made the owner go online and find my website of strange domestic appliance tales instead of Amazon*… But I’m glad they did. *other online electrical retailers are available!
The machine is basically a large kettle with a removable bowl that holds whatever you wish to cook. It has a thermostat for temperature regulation, a switch to change modes (cook/warm) and a safety cut-out mechanism, should something go wrong. It was this safety system which had operated and caused the machine to fail-safe.
The design of the machine is quite simple, dare I say crude in places. Within a few minutes, I had removed the base, exposing the wiring, switch, thermostat and other gubbins.
The earth bonding cable had melted which was the first alarm bell to ring. Digging a little closer, the main issue revealed itself. The heat-proof insulation on the ‘over heat’ one-shot thermal fuse had shorted out via a cracked piece of wiring on the metal casing of the unit. Surprisingly, this had not overloaded the main plug fuse, but had heated the thermal fuse and had blown that instead. Flash-bang, kaput.
The cooker’s switch, thermostat, element and other wiring checked out OK, so it was now worth fixing the failed system.
After purchasing a suitable replacement thermal fuse for a couple of quid, I set about installing this in place of the failed one, taking the time to upgrade the wiring harness with heat shrink to avoid a short again in future. I removed the damaged earth and replaced it with fresh wire, securing it on to a better earth-bonded location and after some careful wire re-routing and fettling, the base of the machine was ready to be re-attached, ready for testing. With the cooking bowl full of water and power applied, the ‘cook’ light lit up and the machine started to work. Utter joy. After a few cycles of heating and warming, I was satisfied that my work was done.
Even though this device wasn’t marked as such, it’s a metal bodied Class One device here in the UK and ideally required a thorough integrety test of the safety system. Using my newly-acquired Megger PAT150 tester, I was able to prove that the machine was compliant with current UK legislation for Portable Appliance Testing. Ricely done.