Friday, May 05, 2023

The Joy of Fixing

Cartoon of somone fixing a fridge
I will attempt to fix most things. It is my default setting. If something breaks, my first thought is how can I fix it.

I took some time to fix our bathroom door lock the other night. It had stopped working and left a few unexpected visitors... Sorry, I didn't realize you were in here. 

It had been broken for quite a number of weeks, and I had just been putting it off, or more accurately, I would completely forget about it until the "Sorry, I didn't realize you were in here" incident happened again. So, with a few moments to spare, I set upon it. 

I removed the four screws on each side and the grub screw on the lock mechanism. It was basically a shaft with a cam. It was stiff, and the cam appeared to have bent out of the way. 

A bash with a hammer to straighten it and a spray of WD40 saw it being put back together. I closed the door and turned the lock. It was like new again. Smooth and firm in action, and the joy of having fixed something. Why didn't I fix it sooner?

The benefits of fixing are clear. Although the door lock would not have been expensive to replace, it did save time and money, and now I have an understanding of how it works. The same applies to bigger, more expensive things. Our fridge is one of those big American-looking things, now about 15 years old. Gradually over a few months, it started to make a noise that got louder and louder. Again, I should have looked at it earlier.

 The bearing in the fan on the cooler had worn out, and the fan was touching the shroud. It was intermittent, as the fan was only on some of the time based on a thermostat. Time to investigate. The bearing was a bush and had worn and become loose. My first attempt at repair was to change the bush using a small length of copper tube. It worked for a couple of weeks. I had the joy of fixing feelings, and all was good. Then the noise came back and turned into a rapid clunk. On investigation, the bearing had failed again, and one of the fan blades had snapped clear off. So now I had two problems: a dodgy bearing on the motor and a fan unbalanced and missing a blade. Time for some new parts. 

picture of fan repair

After some research, I found a new fan and motor on eBay. Great, but they would not arrive for a week. So I plastic-welded the fan back together and attempted a second repair on the bearing of the motor. The fridge limped through the next week until the new shiny parts arrived. The fridge is apart again, and thank the old motor and fan for their service. I stored them away in the shed in case they had salvageable parts. A new motor and fan were fitted, and we were back in business. I sat back and waited for the joy and satisfaction of a job well done. This was a couple of years ago.

picture of tubmble dryer pulley repair
Some problems that present are not as simple as changing parts. There are challenges to overcome. Our tumble dryer is an old friend that has been fixed a number of times. The heater element is on its 3rd assembly, and the thermistor cutout button switches have been thrown to the ground a number of times (this resets them and provides a temporary fix). It is on its 5th belt. The big challenge was the idler tension wheel on the belt. It seized, and the belt kept turning and gradually wore its way through the pulley. The fix here was to buy a replacement pulley and a new belt. This only lasted a couple of weeks before it seized again. The pulley turned on a bush, and I had oiled it, but for some reason, it didn't like it. The challenge was to find a way to stop it seizing. For this, I went off-piste and bought a part that was not for the model and brand of tumble dryer we had. I found another tensioning assembly that had an idler wheel with ball-bearing races. I ordered one, removed the assembly, took just the new pulley, and attached that in place of our one. I stood back and listened to the smooth-running tumble dryer. I'd say this was an improvement and should last longer than the original bush pulley.

So, I would encourage anyone to fix things rather than replace them. It saves time, saves money, and provides a great sense of achievement. However, there are some caveats to this. Don't attempt a fix unless you know exactly what you are getting into. Electricity is one thing not to mess with. And some things are just not designed to be fixed, probably for safety, but more likely they have been designed to fail after a certain period.