A much-needed lift for a… Vax Airlift

A Vax gets airlifted to safety

Back in the 1980s, VAX were famous for making bright orange, usually very robust, carpet washers. The products were premium priced at the time, and the sort of thing that ‘someone else had’. It was the sort of thing you borrowed when someone had spilled wine or worse on the floor in a last ditch attempt before condemning the carpet. I’ve only used one a few times, but I can remember that very distinct carpet shampoo smell.

Fast-forward to now and it seems that the VAX badge is owned by someone else and the name is applied to many vacuum cleaner designs. In my own recent experience, the products are a bit flimsy and parts are not easy to obtain. Indeed, on a recent repair, I tried and failed to get hold of a replacement motor for an 18-month-old machine only to be told by VAX that they don’t supply it, but that’s another story. Such a shame.

Anyway, on with a more positive story I think. The owner of this vacuum cleaner (not carpet washer) got in touch to tell me that they would like me to repair their VAX Airlift. As the name suggests, the machine is lightweight and slim, which makes lifting and manoeuvrability easier. However, lightweight in this case meant limited lifespan.

Make and model: VAX Airlift

Fault reported: Split hose

Cost of replacement machine: £200

Manufacturer support: 0/10

Cost of parts (for this repair): £1.00

My time spent on the repair: 1 hour

Tools needed: Screw drivers, pliers, cutters

Sundry items: None

Cleaning materials: Silicone spray, damp cloth

Repair difficulty: 3/10

Beverages: 1 X tea

Biscuits consumed: None, 1 slice of cheese on toast instead, must have been lunchtime

This model carries all dust sucking tools, brushes and other ‘extendibles’ onboard, for convenience. It’s neat and tidy and considering the amount of stuff onboard, it’s still amazingly light, hence the name. To be frank, I wish that I’d weighed it, but that might be going a bit far…

The problem with this machine was that the flexible hose from the brush head to the main machine had split. This caused air to rush into the hose’s hole when the vacuum was in use, which in turn meant that the vacuum simply wouldn’t suck up. The owner had attempted several previous repairs with electrical tape. These repairs had worked for a while, but after several hoovering sessions, the tape repair had failed and the machine was back to square one.

I took on the job and realised quite quickly that VAX’s sporadic spares listings on various websites neglected our poor friend and only certain consumables like filters were still available. Terrible really as the machine was only a few years old. The part I needed certainly wasn’t anywhere and looked unique to this model. When a situation like this confronts me, I do what any other sensible person does. Put the kettle on.

It’s often situations like this that will condemn a machine to waste, even when the rest of it is in serviceable condition. I can see why some may simply throw in the towel.

It soon dawned on me that I’d saved various bits of hose from old Dyson and Numatic vacuum cleaner repairs and that maybe something I’d salvaged might do the trick. That’s the power of a strong cup of Yorkshire Tea.

This was turning out to be my lucky day as some old grey Dyson vacuum hose that I’d salvaged from a knackered Dyson DC25 (if memory serves) looked like it would do the job.

The first task was to remove the bespoke Airlift connectors from the old hose and peel off the metres of horrible hairy electrical tape. Yuk. I needed the old hose, so that I could measure the correct length to allow a good fit in every position the machine would be used in. The hose end connectors were screwed on and bonded with impact adhesive, which just needed brute force to remove.

The Dyson hose was a gnats-whisker wider, but it still fitted the old hose connectors OK, with a little impact adhesive applied. The new-old hose with old connectors simply fitted back on the machine and I think you’ll agree, the new/old part looks like original equipment.

While I had the machine, I took the liberty to clean the seals, dust container and drive belts to the brush head as these were all clogged up. As filters were readily available, I also replaced these as they were only a few quid.

So, for small beans and using some old salvaged parts I already had, this VAX was ready to see another day. Most satisfactory.

Wheezy Dyson DC19

Another Dyson not biting the dust, just yet.

A mate asked if it was worth saving his abused Dyson cylinder vacuum cleaner which has been residing in the garage for a couple of years, in the dark, unused. It had last seen service when clearing-up building dust and allsorts of non-domestic detritus and that abuse had now given the vacuum cleaner breathing difficulties. A vacuum with breathing issues means no suction.

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FixItWorkshop, Worthing, January 2020, Dyson DC19.

Interestingly, the reason the Dyson was being called out of retirement was due to a lack of performance from the family’s more recently purchased battery machine. Hopefully I’ll get to see that in the workshop soon as well. I’m getting ahead of myself already.

Make and model: Dyson DC19 (grey and purple)

Fault reported: 70% reduction in suck

Cost of replacement: About £200

Cost of parts: £9.54

Hours spent on repair: 1

Tools needed: Cleaning tools

Sundry items: Silicone spray

Repair difficulty: 1/10

Cups of tea: 1

Biscuits: 2 (M&S Belgium Selection)

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Like many abandoned vacuum cleaners I see in the workshop or at the tip, there really wasn’t much wrong or really broken, yet its owner was considering its future. What to do. I’ll write about readiness to repair and repair inertia another time!

The repair in stages:

  • Remove, clean (and replace) filters and refit once dry (48 hours)
  • Remove collection cylinder and clean thoroughly and refit once dry (48 hours)
  • Clean all seals with soap and water, dress with silicone to revive
  • Check by-pass valve and clean as needed
  • Check power cable (clean to improve flex rewind system)
  • Check and clean roller brush head
  • Test!

The filters on this machine were so dirty that I decided to invest in a new set which, at under £10, seemed good value and will certainly extend the life of the DC19.

After giving the main unit a good polish the Dyson DC19 was ready to go home to clean-up. Another Dyson not biting the dust, just yet.

Dyson DC14 with no vacuum

Another Dyson repair…

As covered a few times on my blog already, I do like Dyson products.  They’re engineer and tinker-friendly.

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Fixitworkshop, March’19, Dyson DC14 (PS, I did clean the old paint off later).

A colleague got in touch with a poorly DC14 which had worked well.  She’d kept the filters clean and generally looked after the appliance with care, which makes a nice change. However, despite all this, nothing was being collected with the floor beaters.  The hose worked OK, but that was it.

Time to do some screwdriver wealding.  Despite the filters being in good condition, I washed and dried them anyway, just in case.

Up ending the vacuum cleaner revealed the problem straight away.  The bottom foot hose had become disconnected from the interference fit compression joint and was flapping in the breeze.  Usually when this happens, it’s because the hose has split, but this one was in good condition.  What seemed to have happened was that the hose had become untwisted from the joint, so all that was required was careful reassembly.

While the cleaner was in pieces, I gave it a thorough service, paying attention to all of the machine’s seals and moving parts, especially where the cylinder joins the vacuum pipes from the motor as these can leak with age.

Once spruced-up, the cleaner was back to full health once again.  Another Dyson saved from the tip.

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Cost of replacement:  £150 and up.  Cost of repair: Time, tea and biscuits and silicone spray, a bit of washing-up liquid.

SEG DVB Digital TV box

It went bang, ooops!

It’s important to talk about failure as we can often learn from it and this brief write-up is all about something which left the workshop, ready for recycling.  I made it go bang, sadly.

Remember TVs before the networks ‘went digital’? They had analogue tuners built-in, which received the signals.  With so many old TVs out there, manufacturers sold digital set-top boxes, which allowed an older TV to work with the new digital TV stations from about 2007.  Since then, manufacturers include a digital receiver within their TVs of course and this particular device now seems a bit of a museum piece.

This SEG DVB Digital TV box had failed completely, so off with the lid.  Once open, the printed circuit board (PCB) was revealed.  The PCB on this device was made in two halves; one for the TV reception stuff and one for the power, the conversion of mains electricity to lower DC working voltages.  The power part of the board had some visible damage and it appeared that a smoothing capacitor had gone pop.

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FixItWorkshop, Worthing, November’18, SEG Digital TV box
FixItWorkshop, Worthing, November’18, SEG Digital TV box

As it happened, I had a similar device on the shelf I was gradually stripping for spares and was able to quickly identify a suitable replacement.  Once re-soldered in and powered-up, nothing happened!

Then I spotted an on-board fuse which had also failed, but I didn’t have one of these, so I decided to temporarily short the fuse connections to make a connection.  That’s when things got smoky.

I’d missed the fact that a small transformer on the PCB had a winding short on it, which had impacted on the rest of the components.  Bang.

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Never mind.  Digital boxes are still available online and that’s what I did, I ordered a new one.

Although I didn’t win this one, it’s important to have a go and that’s the whole point.  If it’s not working to begin with, what’s the worst that can happen?

Cost of repair:  A new DVB box at about £20.