Elna SP sewing machine… Totally stitched up.

A Sewing Machine Repair…

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On first impressions, this machine didn’t have a lot going for it.  It had been stored in a garden shed, never the best place to store a sewing machine, it was dirty, neglected and broken.  However, the weight of it indicated that this was a quality item and worth investigating.

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FixItWorkshop, Nov’17, Elna SP Sewing Machine in case.

This machine comes from a different time in manufacturing where the focus was on quality rather than on price-point in the market and as a result, it’s made to outlive most people.  In fact, many electric sewing machines made by Elna, Singer, Toyota, Janome, Brother and so on, built until the 1980s, are items of sheer mechanical excellence inside and should be cherished.  Anyway, on with the problem and repair.

The owner had stashed the machine away many years ago and as a result, it had seized.  Details of the fault were scant, I was just told that it didn’t work!  Upon powering it up and operating the foot pedal, the hand wheel turned slightly before making a horrible mains AC hum.  It was time to un-plug, rapidly.

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FixItWorkshop, Nov’17, Elna SP.

There are exposed oiling points on the Elna SP, a nice maintenance touch, but clearly these hadn’t been used in many a year.  Opening up the machine’s lid on top of the motor and bobbin transmission cover below revealed a lot of dirt and neglect which I first cleaned and then oiled lightly with special oil, in to all the moving parts.  Automotive brake cleaner was used to remove old dirt and grease from the needle area and gears.  New grease was then applied to the parts that needed it and more oil to other ‘metal on metal’ parts.  The trick here is to not apply so much oil that it ends up on the fabric being stitched.

Once the machine was running smoothly again, I noticed that the bobbin shuttle wasn’t turning, not even a little bit.  Not ideal.  Time to delve a little deeper and on this machine, it meant complete disassembly of the bobbin shuttle assembly, which then revealed a stripped worm-drive hook gear (part 403030).  This seems to be a fairly common issue on these machines as they get older.

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FixItWorkshop, Nov’17, part 403030 for Elna SP.

Obtaining a new hook gear was quite easy via eBay; BSK (Bedford Sewing Knitting Machines) supplied the part for a reasonable £15.99 including P&P within 24 hours.  Once fitted, it was a case of fine-tuning the bobbin/ hook timing to suit the needle.  It’s a similar principle to valve and ignition timing on a petrol engine car, a process that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever done any spannering on an old Mini or Escort for example.

With the timing complete, a few tests using old material revealed that the machine was working once again with no missed stitches.  I gave the machine a final polish with car wax before handing it back to the owner for my own satisfaction.

 

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FixItWorkshop, Nov’17, Elna SP Sewing machine repaired.

Thanks also to More Sewing in Worthing, West Sussex for their advice on machine oil.  www.moresewing.co.uk.

Cost of a new machine (of this quality): £500 plus.  Cost of repair:  £15.99, plus time, plus a little oil and patience.

Testing, testing, 1-2-what?

My Fairlady sings again…

When my wife isn’t looking after our daughter, she sings part-time in and around Sussex and uses a simple portable microphone and amplifier set for gigs. The amp and the rest of the kit lead a hard life, being transported between the car boot and venue and on one occasion, the microphone was dropped from a height.  I guess things could have been worse, it could have been the amp!

The microphone now rattled badly and seemed to cut out when connected up, even when turned up to 11.  Not a good sound when she was in the middle of ‘Moon River’.

The microphone actually came from a Lidl karaoke set and is made by Silvercrest, a Lidl brand.  It’s a heavy, metal bodied microphone with a decent quality feel and metal grilled top.

The rattle seemed to coincide with the cutting out, so it seemed sensible to open up the mic.  Three Phillips screws hold the casing together and upon opening it up, the problem quickly became apparent.  The metal weight inside had come away from the inside of the casing and was occasionally ‘shorting’ the connections on the back of the on/off switch.  Not good.

While in bits, I checked all the wiring for continuity, no problems there and decided to clean the switch with contact cleaner for good measure.  Once all the electrical side of the mic was proved, I reassembled the casing with the parts, adding a little hot-melt glue to the metal weight to prevent it coming in to contact with the back of the on/off switch.

This wasn’t the end of the song (sorry).

Upon hooking the mic up to the amp, it now worked again without cutting out, but I couldn’t help but notice that the lead connecting to the base of the mic seemed to be causing a slight crackle.  Not a nice sound effect.

Opening up the three-pin mic connector revealed a simple design, three poles soldered to the microphone’s wiring, one core and one screen.  A quick cut, strip and re-solder and the lead was ready to roll once again.  Before I did the cable crimp back up, I added another dab of hot melt glue between the cable outer and flex guard, to ensure the cable couldn’t twist, which might cause the connector to fail again.

Cost of a new microphone £20+.  Cost of repair; Time plus soldering and a bit of glue.

‘My Fairlady’ sings again…

 

 

 

 

Parrot BeBop Drone knocked off perch

Sadly, I couldn’t save this Parrot

I seem to be having a run of failed repairs at the moment and while it’s disappointing to write-up a repair that didn’t succeed, it’s important to learn from failure.

A colleague asked me to look at a Parrot camera drone recently as one of the drone’s motors wasn’t running correctly.  The fault developed after a visit to a lake where it got a little wet.  It turns out that this model isn’t water-proof, despite the £300.00 price tag!

After drying out, when powered back up, one of the four motors wouldn’t spin at full speed.  These motors seem to operate in several phased windings and it would appear that one of the motor’s phases was missing.

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FixItWorkshop, Aug’17, Parrot BeBop drone

Upon opening up the drone, I discovered that the PCB had indeed suffered water damage along its main processor.  However, three of the motors were fine and camera was working OK.

The double-sided printed circuit board (PCB) presented me with a dilemma.  This PCB was fitted with extra tiny components and multi-layered board technology, presumably to save weight and cost, so a repair using conventional soldering techniques was unlikely to get good results as the excessive heat would more than likely damage other components.  Located near the wiring connector that connects to the motor that wasn’t working properly, were several tiny surface mount fuses, one of which appeared to have failed.  Assuming I could locate the right component, attempting a repair on a PCB like this would more than likely yield a molten mess! At this stage I could have used a conductive glue to bond in a new component or temporarily bridge the fuse, but on the basis that I couldn’t guarantee a repair and the fact that there seemed to be water ingress to the whole PCB, I decided that a complete PCB replacement was probably needed.  Sadly, I had to return the drone back to the owner with the bad news.

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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Hillbilly Compact Light / lite Golf Trolley going nowhere (motor needs new brushes)

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.

20/08/17

The brushes arrived and fitted perfectly.  Time will tell if the brush material stands up to the tough punishment of lugging golf clubs across a green, but for £2.41, the repair was worth a try.  See video.

Here are a few photos of the motor refitted to the golf trolley.

Cost of a replacement golf trolley is circa £300+; The cost of the parts to repair this one; £2.41.

04/09/17

Well after some ‘light use’ the owner of the golf trolley contacted me to report that it had failed again, my heart sank!  After a few hundred yards, the trolley came to a halt, which caused some amusement on the fairway…

After testing all the wiring again, I suspected the motor once more.  After removing the motor, I saw that one of the brushes had stuck to the carrier, hmm, interesting.  It seemed that the brushes I’d fitted had run ‘hot’ and started to deteriorate prematurely, which was a shame.  When I ordered these to ‘fit’ this motor, there was always a risk that they wouldn’t last as long, since I didn’t know the exact specification for the motor- I took an educated guess, which turned out to be wrong!

I looked online again and discovered another set of brushes available for this Lemac motor, from http://www.lambeggolfshop.com, for a very reasonable £8.48, including delivery within 48 hours. I didn’t find these brushes the first time, so I must have used different search criteria, this time.

The motor now spins freely and it’s fitted back to the trolley and I hope this time, it makes a round to the 19th hole!

 

Slow Fisher-Price Mechanical Music Box Record Player

Repaired Fisher Price record player

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.

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 year old daughter can now play with the record player as her mum did – very cute.

Enjoy!

Kaput Bosch AL1450DV Drill Battery Charger

These chargers often lead a hard life, working in dusty, hot and noisy conditions, so I guess many of these fail in time.

This Bosch unit is fairly common among Bosch DIY drill sets and this one had died catastrophically.  With the power applied, this one refused to give the slightest charge to a drill battery, once plugged in.

After some basic testing, I decided to change four components which would have caused the other to fail in a ‘domino effect’.  The cost of the replacement parts was just shy of £10, but definitely worth saving since second-hand units seemed to be changing hands for £40 on eBay, with their condition largely unknown.  The parts (two resistors, MOSFET transistor and diode/ transistor) were readily available online.

I recorded a short video to help others who might have a similar problem with theirs…