Christmas wouldn’t be complete without having to fix last years’ tree lights and this year was no exception. It’s a tradition I look forward to and savour.
Gone are the days spending hours trying to find a faulty bulb, now due to the wide availability of cheap LED products, the thing that’s often likely to fail is the wiring, something which was much more unusual, a few years ago. Manufacturers must make savings somewhere and I often wonder how retailers can offer new decorative lights, so cheap. Compromises must be made somewhere I guess.
Being cheap, like a lot of things, makes them more disposable, which is a shame when things fail, often for trivial reasons. This year’s blackout was caused by a couple of broken wires on the control box, which didn’t appear to have any obvious way to get inside.
We don’t like to be beaten in the workshop and sealed units and tamper-proof items are just seen as a challenge, rather than a deterrent.
Like many multi-function sets, the lights are operated via a control box with a switch, mounted in a plastic enclosure which appears sealed. The fault was obvious here, just the main wire from the transformer had broken ‘flush’ with the control box, meaning that there was not enough wire either side of the break to re-join it.
The control box has no screws nor visible clips, holding it together, so it was time to break it open, using a small flat-bladed screwdriver. The small section covering the wires snapped off cleanly, revealing several terminals covered in hot melt glue, annoyingly. This meant that before any repair, the glue must be removed. Several minutes picking this off with the screwdriver, revealed some conventional post terminals. The fix was easy from there, just cut down the wire to make a new connection, remembering which way round they went, clean up the terminals and solder back together. A little bit of fresh hot-melt glue to seal the connection and a bit more on the surface to be stuck together, and the cover was refitted. I also fitted a little heat shrink to repair to reduce the chance of the cable from breaking again.
As I had the soldering iron out, I also did a small repair to the control box wire to transformer plug, which had also broken. It was a case of cutting back two sides of the break, soldering, isolating with a small amount of electrical tape and sealing with heat shrink.
Now that’s all done, Christmas can now officially start.
Cost of replacement: £ 5.00 up. Cost of repair: 1 cup of tea, heat shrink, tape and solder.