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Diary of a tinkerer

I’ll be writing about the things I repair on this blog.  I’ll also write about the things I can’t fix or are just beyond economical help.  I hope this blog will at least inspire others to think twice before just accepting that something doesn’t work.  To those who doubt their own ability I say this:  If ‘that thing’ isn’t working, grab a screwdriver, take it apart and investigate.  What have you got to lose?

Within reason, I’ll try and repair most household items before condemning them to landfill and I hope there are many other shed-dwellers doing the same thing.

In our modern ‘throw it away culture’ one could be called ‘cheap’ for attempting to make-do-and-mend.  This is madness as often good quality items end up on the scrap heap with little required to get them back in working order.

While throwing things in the bin and buying new is good news for the economy, we live in a world where the strains on our environment are increasingly evident and repairing things that can be repaired usually makes economic and ecological sense.

My aim here is to promote the art of repair.  I also offer a local repair service in Worthing, West Sussex, UK, for a small fee.

Samsung S4 mini GT-i9195 -cracked screen

I take on a phone screen replacement

I’ve never replaced a phone screen before, but since there’s a wide range of spares at reasonable prices available out there, I decided to take on this repair for a friend.  The screens on these and other smart phones are fragile.  They are made of finely machined glass, made to extremely high tolerances and therefore susceptible to damage from knocks and scrapes.  At this point usually, I might whinge on about how manufacturers do this deliberately to some extent, to bolster built-in obsolescence, but on this occasion, the break was due to the owner falling off his bike (off-road) and the phone hitting the deck, while in his pocket.  I’m amazed the damage wasn’t worse.  No hospital treatment for the owner on this occasion, just bruising and a dent to his pride.

The repair kit for such damage came in at a reasonable £8.99 and the eBay vendor promises to have the kit within a couple of days.  I’m sure you’ll all be waiting with baited breath to know how the repair goes.  I will of course keep you all updated.

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FixItWorkshop, Aug’17, Samsung G4 screen replacement.

Stay tuned.

17/08/17

The repair kit has arrived and there are lots of components in the box.  After watching a few (very good) YouTube videos on the S4, I think I’ll need a clear evening to repair the phone…

Duff CDA Microwave WD900DSL23

I couldn’t repair this one…

I don’t normally take on microwave repairs.  I don’t have reasonable means of testing, even if I managed to get something working.  However, a friend asked me to look at this one to see if ‘something simple’ had failed.  This particular model also fitted nicely in her kitchen on existing wall brackets and the thought of refitting all the brackets for another machine seemed daunting!

The microwave was doing something strange:  With microwave plugged in, the turntable turned slowly on its own, the display and control buttons completely unresponsive.  Disconnecting the power first, it was time to completely ignore the ‘do not remove cover’ sticker and remove the cover.  Hey, someone must have assembled it to start with?

A quick look at the control board revealed no obvious faults and all the thermistors and micro-switches seemed to work OK.  Since there was no other item controlling the components in the oven, it was off with the control panel PCB.  After basic testing of the surface components, I decided to run the soldering iron over the connections, in the hope that I might clear a dry joint.

This was not to be.  With the PCB reconnected, the oven powered up, the same thing happened, the turntable operated by itself.  The board was duff!

Sadly, this microwave is heading for the great scrapyard in the sky since control boards for these ovens are outrageously expensive with the cost of replacement far outweighing the cost of a complete machine.  This is such a great shame.

I doubt that many parts vendors sell many of these PCBs as most owners wouldn’t bother to order at the prices I’ve seen.

Still, we tried to save it.

Repair club in Worthing? A good idea?

An new idea for Worthing?

I enjoy repairing stuff.  Anything within reason.  Even if I don’t fully understand how something works when it comes in to the workshop, I enjoy the learning process, getting to know how and why something works.  Am I the only one? No.

There are existing groups that meet around the UK with the aim of promoting the ‘art of repair’, re-kindling the idea that things can be mended. This ultimately enriches skills while getting more life and enjoyment from every day items we often take for granted.

I’ll bet that 70% of vacuum cleaners alone that get dumped at Worthing’s Amenity Tip could be repaired and therefore saved from landfill.  I have no actual evidence for this statistic, I just made it up based only on my experience of the things I see for repair with minor faults.

Organisations like the Restart Project https://therestartproject.org hold meetings to promote electrical repair and waste reduction at various locations around the country.  I haven’t met the organisers yet, but it looks like a great scheme that’s doing really well.

Do you think a regular ‘FixIt’ meeting in Worthing would work?  Perhaps a ‘pub meet’ where people can share knowledge, tools and a drink over an appliance repair. That probably sounds like a weird idea, but many households have items that need repair or fettling every week, so there must be a demand of some sorts.

Could this work?  If you think I’m mad, get in touch.  If you think it’s a good idea, definately get in touch!

Email me…

Matt.

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Nice customer feedback: Bosch Athlet

A customer got in touch to say thanks. Always appreciated.

It’s always good to get feedback on the stuff I write here and produce for YouTube.  I welcome it all, good and bad.

Here’s a nice one, relating to my Bosch Athlet repair, I received recently.  Makes it all worthwhile.  https://fixitworkshopblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/flimsy-bosch-athlet-25-2v-cordless-vacuum-cleaner.

From a chap who’s repaired his Athlet using my video.

Just a thank you.
I went looking for a solution to the intermittent cut-out on my Bosch Athlet and found your solution. It took all of about 2 minutes once I’d found a suitable length screw and works perfectly. Like it was designed that way.

In your video you thought maybe the handle was removable to allow the attachment of some accessory. It isn’t. It’s just a way of making the box smaller for shipping.

Which means if Bosch put the hole in, and supplied a screw, it would be a much better product. (But of course, then they could sell it as no assembly required:)

But seriously, thank you. I love the Athlet, but that bloody intermittent cutting-out was really beginning to bug me. If I’m ever in Worthing I’ll buy you a pint.

Name supplied.

Well, I know a few good pubs in Worthing!

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FixItWorkshop Aug’17, Bosch Athlet repair

Happy repairs.

Faulty Sun Solar Systems 1500W Pure Sine Wave Inverter (20/07/17)

I couldn’t save the Sun Solar Systems Inverter…

On the back of my Sterling Power Products inverter repair (https://fixitworkshopblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/sterling-power-products-pure-sine-wave-inverter-repaired/) a customer enquired to see if I could repair his faulty inverter.

The customer’s inverter had been connected up properly but had been severely overloaded and  it would appear that the protection modules within the inverter had not operated correctly.  Therefore a burning smell had been reported, just before final failure.

This was going to be a difficult repair as I had no schematic diagram for the main PCB and I was effectively going to be testing components in isolation using rudimentary methods.

A quick look around the inside of the unit revealed no obvious damage, but upon testing the IBGT transistors on the units’ high voltage output and several Zenner diodes in line with them, revealed serious damage to that part of the circuit.

These components are not cheap and collectively, the cost in parts alone would have been over £50, without my time factored in and without the guarantee that the unit would work again.  On that basis, sadly, I had to inform the customer that the unit was beyond my help and probably beyond economical repair.  It will therefore be disposed of responsibly at our local amenity tip.

 

Hillbilly Compact Light Golf Trolley going nowhere

A frustrated customer brought this ‘stationary’ mobile golf trolley in to the workshop recently.  He’d replaced the control unit along with the hand controller.  The battery was also new, but the trolley wouldn’t respond to the controls.

A systematic test of the wiring revealed no problems and power was getting to the motor OK.  However, with the unit switched on, every now and then, the motor would make a noise, a faint hum.

This indicated that the motor, a Lemac 65178-101, was trying to do something.  A few searches online revealed that the Hillbilly Compact is no longer made and parts, including the motor, are hard to obtain for reasonable money, this is a shame as the unit is only just over 10 years old.

The customer likes this particular model due to its lightweight and compact folding ability.  New ones are several hundred pounds and usually heavier.

Since the rest of this trolley is serviceable, it seemed sensible to have a go at a repair.  With the motor removed, the cause of the fault became clear.  The commutator was heavily blackened and scored and one of the brushes had burned away, probably due to the heavy weight the trolley had lugged around a golf course.

Being realistic about spend on parts, I thought it would be a good idea to order some replacement brushes from Amazon.  These brushes will come from Hong Kong via Sourcingmap (an excellent source of hard to get parts) and I will let you all know how I get on with the repair.  The motor’s back-plate is available online for just over £15 plus P&P, but I like to repair the problem, rather than waste components that still work.

More to come… I expect you can’t wait.

One the new brushes are fitted and the commutator cleaned, I hope the motor will spin once again.

Porsche Boxster leaky window seal

A little water leak repair on a Boxster.

Not strictly a FixItWorkshop blog article really, but hey!  It’s a cheap fix.

My beloved 2003 Boxster developed puddles in the umbrella holder on the passenger side (RHD car) when it rained hard.

The window was adjusted correctly and the door aligned properly, but when it rained, water ran down near the door mirror, under the seal, down the door card and in to the umbrella holder area.  Water leaks like this, especially on the passenger side (RHD car) are a real problem on the Boxster, since the cars’ ECU is mounted on the floor on that side and is big £££ to replace/ repair if it fails.

Seemingly, the door seal rubber on the car adjacent to the door mirror area had worn and become slightly porous and was allowing water to get in between the glass and seal.

New door seals are very expensive and to prove the issue, I applied a small trace of tap (faucet) silicone grease to the area to restore the wax-like finish, the seal should have to seal properly.

This has fixed the problem for now.  The door seal is worn and will need replacing in the long-term, but for now, this is a very cheap fix.