Things I didn't think I could fix, but I did...

With any luck we may have started to move past a disposable society and with the whole "right to fix" campaign gathering traction we may not bury ourselves in rubbish quite as soon as we thought.

The economics of fixing are always going to be a problem.

In my own work often "new" is a more practical way to spend hard earned money.

However, just because it is cheaper, it doesn't mean it has to be that way.

If you want to have a crack yourself, then there's a good chance you can fix pretty much whatever you want.

You may have to take some risks, but if the things was stuffed anyway, how much of a risk can trying to fix it really be?

People joke about us IT folk "just Googling" the answers to everything, and it is true to some extent. But we still have to know how to interpret the fix and make it happen.

Sometimes even the step by step IT instructions are unfathomable to a non-IT person, but not so if you are trying to fix less technical domestic appliances and goods.

I've had some unexpected successes in areas I would definitely NOT consider myself an expert by any stretch of the imagination.

Plus, I have extended my skills in areas that I thought I was reasonably capable in.

So with that in mind, I'll outline a couple of my surprise successes in the hope that you feel inspired enough to fix rather than just assume the game is over.

#1 The electric toothbrushes

It sounds kind of indulgent to me even now, but my wife and I have been using electric toothbrushes for quite some time.

I had sensitivity problems and I'd been advised an electric toothbrush could help with that, and it did.

However, getting good ones was not cheap and after only a few short years these things no longer wanted to hold a charge when recharged.

Looking into replacing the batteries via a repairer was fruitless. The cost of replacement was crazy considering their age and condition (battery aside), so I Googled how to replace the batteries.


I found a web site that listed every make and model of electric toothbrush, where to source batteries and how to replace the batteries step by step.

Check this shizzle out...

In a matter of days and a few dollars, new (better) batteries had arrived and I'd put them in our toothbrushes.

With slightly bigger and better batteries the toothbrushes stayed charged longer and go harder.

It was fiddly, don't get me wrong. And there was some soldering, which isn't for everyone, but it was eminently doable and a great success.

#2 Clothes Dryers x 2

I've now repaired two different problems in two different makes of clothes dryers.

There's really not much to the guts of a clothes dryer but they do run off mains electricity so be very, very careful before you go inside one.

That said, with due care, it is pretty easy to get to and replace most parts.

In my first dryer a repair man had come and failed to fix the machine properly.

I was annoyed and that was my prompt to look inside myself.

In the first case the machine just need a new wheel to guide the belt that rotated the drum.

Once again, knowing the part (part numbers are critical to a successful search) and having it shipped to me cost a relative small amount and in a few days the machine was like new.

The second machine was slightly trickier to repair.

The problem was that it didn't want to start rotating. We'd helped it along for a while. I'd opened it, cleaned it, lubricated it but it persisted in being lazy to start and I worried about overheating due to load and, of course, the thing then catching fire.

So I Googled the symptoms and the fix presented itself. A capacitor needed replacing.

Woohoo, I found one that could do the job, put it in and wowsers, the things was once again going good as new.

Check out this web site for all your appliance spare parts needs:


#3 Re-purposing PC transformers for model railroads

I have model railroads but don't judge me ;-)

One of the things such models need is DC power in a variety of voltages.

Some things need 12 volts DC, others need somewhat less e.g. LED lights and such.

With a garage full of old PC power supplies I figured there must be a way to re-use them for my modelling needs.

Buying a bespoke, purpose built unit retail is not cheap. So logically a bit of tinkering should get me what I want from what would otherwise become landfill.

In the video below you can see what my old, rather small and limited, model looked like before it was pulled down (read destroyed) when we moved house (yet to be re-built on a grander scale).

Things like the signals, the UFO lighting, house lights and the wind turbine are all run by an ex-PC power supply.

The beauty is that I can have a few of these supplies so that none get overwhelmed and, in the case of failure...which has happened once already...there's no great loss or drama...just strip the wires on another one and keep going! :-)

Here's how one person went about it:

There are some caveats and things to consider, but by and large it is really easy.

Of course, over the years I've solved a good many problems that I can't even remember now.

I've solved issues with my car - I'm not a mechanic in the slightest.

I've solved problems around my house - I'm handy but not a builder.

And I've helped others fix things rather than throw them out, just by showing the a Google "how to" search result.

Google is wonderful. You can find want with it.

The problem is anyone...ANYONE...can post any old crap. The truth or facts need not apply, so you still need a brain and some care.

I mean, despite all my best efforts none of these poxy time machines have ever worked ;-)

Have fun fixing, it is easier than any of us think!


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