Here’s a blast from the past: A mechanical toy, that’s really cool. One that brings fond memories from my childhood… I’m 38 as I write this (I’m 40 as I edit this- time goes so fast).
Strictly speaking, this is not a customer’s toy, but a family heirloom which had been festering in the shed for over 20 years. Consequently, it now wasn’t in great shape.
After dusting it down, we realised that records were playing intermittently and slowly at best and the problem seemed related to the rather cool winding mechanism within.
After dismantling the unit and giving the mechanicals a light service, the turntable platter turned freely once again. Our two (now three) year old daughter can now play with the record player as her mum did – very cute.
This cheap and quite frankly nasty DVD player came in as a dud unit. No lights on, nothing. To be frank, not even I thought it would cost in to repair it, since the owner told me it didn’t cost more than £20 in the first place.
Never mind, off with the cover and a quick poke around with the multi-meter revealed no power coming from the transformer within the unit. This converts high voltage from the mains to lower, safer voltages for the player. On this DVD player and many others I’m sure, the internal processes are broken up in to ‘cards’. On this unit, there’s a power card, a logic card for the motor drive and a video card for the picture. Closer inspection of the (cheap and horrible) power card revealed several faulty components, which had failed catastrophically. At first glance, I suspected that the cost of replacing individual components wouldn’t cost in and that sadly, this DVD player might be headed for the bin.
Fear not! With the power of Amazon, I was able to find a generic suitable DVD power card via China that fitted, with a small amount of wiring for £5, delivered. Job done.
I quite like the idea of this vacuum cleaner in that it’s lightweight, easy to use, highly portable and easy to maintain. All things that make a great product.
The particular vacuum cleaner came in to the workshop, just outside of its warranty period and had been looked after well. However, it had developed a nasty intermittent cutting-out problem when in use. I also noticed that the charger’s flex had also cracked near the wall plug, making it dangerous while charging.
First things first and it was off with the rollers and filters to clean any obstructions that might make a device like this overheat. Nothing obvious there, but all items cleaned and washed as a precaution to allow the roller to move freely and the vacuum to breathe easily.
Closer inspection of the handle area revealed a weakness in the design which had meant that the quick-release mechanism had caused an electrical connection to degrade, causing the cutting out.
The only remedy was to address the handle’s weak point with a mechanical fix and make good the electrical contact.
I hope Bosch take note and make an improvement in this area on an otherwise nicely engineered item.
I also did a small repair to the damaged flex on the charger.
Cost of a new vacuum cleaner, circa £250. Cost of screw… less than 50p (without my time of course!)
This asthmatic car tyre pump came in to the workshop with little going for it. The owner had been very close to throwing it away when he came across my website.
This AirMan pump is designed to be plugged in to a car’s cigarette lighter socket and provide quick and convenient car tyre inflation. This one was dead.
On first inspection, the fuse was OK, the switch seemed to work and all connections seemed sound, when tested with a multi-meter.
Off with the cover…
When the motor was removed from the cam driving the piston, the bit that drives the pump, it spun freely when power was applied, using a battery in the workshop.
Seemingly, the centre spindle was protruding far beyond it’s specified reach, causing the pump connection rod to it it during rotation. Why? To be frank, I wasn’t sure. I can only surmise that the vibration and heat had caused the flywheel/ toothed drive to slide outside of specification.
There appeared to be room for a small washer to take up the excess space, so I fitted one I had lying around.
The washer, once fitted, allowed the flywheel/ toothed drive to sit ‘square’ in-line with the pump.
Once resembled, the pump ran freely and was ready to inflate, once more.
Cost of a new pump, circa £20. Cost of the washer, circa 5p.
A friend of mine had long been complaining about a leaking tap in his kitchen for some time, so it was a long overdue job for me to tackle.
A quick look online revealed lots of videos and help, but nothing covering the actual problem in this instance.
The tap spout was leaking from the swivel joint where the spout body is allowed to move approximately 180 degrees to move from sink to sink, in this case. This is a fairly common problem for taps (faucet if you’re in America) of this design and sooner or later they all seem to suffer.
I was interested to know if the parts were available, but Internet searches revealed nothing. An email to Reginox UK was answered very quickly and I was referred to Mayfair Brassware Ltd, the manufacturers of the tap in this instance. The parts were quickly identified and delivered next day. Both companies were very helpful and efficient, useful for a non-plumber, like myself.
The cost of replacing the tap was about £50, so the £5 spent on replacement seals was well worth it. The whole job was done in 10 minutes using basic tools.
For those wondering what an ‘inverter’ is, let me give a quick explanation: It allows one to use a mains operated device on the move, using a power supply from a motor-home, car or boat, as an example. An inverter ‘inverts’ a smaller voltage to a larger one, usually for most applications. Most inverters sold turn either 12 or 24VDC to 240VAC or 110VAC.
The owner of this one had accidentally connected the input wires the wrong way around, effectively reversing the polarity. Not good. Upon hearing a little ‘pop’ the owner quickly disconnected the power!
Having never worked on an inverter before, I turned to the manufacturer for advice. Sterling Power (UK) were not able to supply any product information on the phone nor via email and were generally not very helpful at all. They did offer a very reasonable 25% discount on a replacement, but were not able to offer much else to save the one I had in the workshop. Never mind.
Back to the problem. Checking the basics, the ‘accident’ had appeared to knocked-out three 25A soldered PCB fuses. Temporarily by-passing the fuses revealed a working unit, so replacing the defective fuses was a good idea at a very reasonable £1.50.
The fuses are mini-blade 25A automotive fuses. Once removed and the new ones soldered in place, the unit worked once more.
Cost of parts, £1.50, cost of replacement unit, circa £160.00.
GHD hair straighteners are a premium product which retail for a minimum of £100 in the UK. However, over time they suffer from common annoying faults which cause owners to condemn the set they have.
This set of straighteners presented ‘as working’ when first switched on. After warming up, hair straightening temperature was reached within the normal time. However, after 5 minutes of use, the temperature reduced and failed to re-heat in a reasonable time. Leaving the straighteners to cool completely would effectively reset the problem, only for the cycle to repeat again.
GHD faults are well documented on YouTube and the fault turned out to be a faulty thermocouple or thermofuse, which should regulate the temperature and cut power in the event of a fault. They do however wear out and this set of straighteners was no exception.
After dismantling, the thermal fuse was replaced for £2.70. The whole job took half an hour and saved the owner nearly £100 on a replacement.