Tag Archives: Fixing

Hot enough to fry an egg

Finding our hens panting in their nesting boxes on this sweltering day reminded me I was going to make a screen door for the henhouse. Kind of late to start today, so found this mysterious screen from heaven-knows-what and stuck it in the door with clamps.

The henhouse started life as a smelt shack about 60 years ago and was my playhouse from about 1968 until I was probably far too old to be playing. It has been a henhouse for the past four years. It is in remarkably good shape for something that was basically ignored for three decades, with only a tiny bit of rot in one corner that I easily fixed with my basic carpentry skills. It could use a fresh coat of paint. And it still needs a screen door.

Precious Plastic and Fixing#Fashion

Great episode of BBC World Service’s People Fixing The World podcast about the Precious Plastic movement. It’s been interesting watching founder Dave Hakkens create this international open source community, then step back recently to allow others to take the reins. When I think of open source, I think more of computer code than management styles, but there would be no way for Hakkens to have created this open community and then tried to control it from above. He is letting it evolve beyond him.

Precious Plastic is now under the umbrella of One Army, which includes their new initiative to fix fast fashion waste called, sensibly, Fixing Fashion. Their website is full of information on how to mend, care for, and repurpose your clothing, with the aim to have us think of old clothes as a resource and not waste, just as Precious Plastic did.

I have been mending my clothes again of late, so this comes at the perfect time to help me advance my skills. I have a 1970s sewing machine, but have been patching by hand: holes in jeans, the elbow of a hoodie, sewing up ripped seams on t-shirts. I’m using the thread I have on hand, and am not worrying about it all looking nice or matching. I can darn socks because my mother has always knit them and I watched her keep them wearable forever by mending holes toes and heels.

My only tip to pass on is to patch or mend before a hole emerges, when the fibres are just starting to look thin, then you are reinforcing what is already there and that is much easier. This requires examining your clothes regularly as you launder them, so having fewer clothes helps.

In two generations my family went from having a closet that was just a couple of hooks behind the door to a big walk-in room. Who do we think we are, and what would the ancestors think of who we have become?

Don’t Smash That Button

I’ve used this Instructable a few times to revive temperamental remote control buttons, and it is a very satisfying and easy job. Getting the plastic case apart is usually the most difficult part and just takes a bit of patience.

A bit of tinfoil from my hat.
Bonus tip: single use super glues can be used more than once, just stick some Blu Tack on the end and hack off when you want a little dab.

I fixed our DVD player remote yesterday and was surprised to see the original batteries from 2006 were still installed. They feel very light (7 grams less than a Duracell), and look like cheapies, but must be the best batteries ever made.

0% mercury, 100% magic.

∞-in-1

It used to be called a 5-in-1, and now some upgrade it to a 9-in-1, but the uses for the handy painter’s tool really are infinite. Cleaning a paint roller with it will change your life, I promise.

Yesterday I used mine as a handy edging guide while painting our boathouse, and also to nudge a little green bug away from wet paint.

Oven Timer

We bought new appliances when we built our house in 2002. They were plain white and as simple as I could find.

The simple part has (knock on wood) been a blessing as all are still working, with only one minor repair to our washer and a couple to our refrigerator (I replaced the freezer defrost thermostat myself last year!)

Our Maytag MGS 5770 propane range, though, has been another story. Pilot lights have replaced electric ignitors in modern stoves, which saves fuel and lessens the explosion risk, but they seem to wear out every 3-4 years.

The first couple of times the ignitors gave out I called a company from Charlottetown, which meant waiting until they were in our area. After watching them quickly install the $50 part and charging me nearly double that for the service call, I decided I could order the part and do it myself. As we have two ranges (my mother has an apartment attached to our house), this has been a big saving.

When the controller on our range stopped working in August 2016, I called a new appliance repair technician who had just moved to our area. Before he arrived, I did an internet search about either buying a new controller or getting the faulty one fixed. The price for a new controller wasn’t quite the price of a new range, but putting nearly $1,000 into a then 14-year-old appliance seemed a bit crazy.

Then I found ApplianceTimers.com, who repair mechanical and digital controls for ranges, washers, dryers and dishwashers. In addition to having an informative website, their testimonial section is helpfully organized by US state and Canadian province. There was only one testimonial from PEI at that time, and it was, of course, from someone I knew (I had taught her Sunday School a looooong time ago before I became a heathen), so I could easily confirm that ApplianceTimers.com weren’t going to take my money and run.

I contacted the company to see if they might have a rebuilt controller. They didn’t have one in stock, but said they had good success repairing the type from my range, so I waited to see what the technician would say.

The technician spent three minutes looking at the range and said I would need a new controller (thank you), but added it would be crazy to put that kind of money into an old appliance (hey, didn’t I just say that?!). I asked about getting the controller repaired and he said I would be wasting my money as it only worked 50% of the time.

50% seemed pretty good odds to me, so I carefully removed the controller, labelling the wires REALLY well as I went along, and shipped it off to their Quebec repair centre. They replaced a resistor, and in less than a week I had it back, wires reconnected, and the oven back in service. 

The repair plus shipping and taxes totalled $262.31, an investment I hoped would get me a couple of more years from the range.

I’m happy to report that the range is still working three years later. I have since had the spark module that controls the burners replaced (a repair I watched closely and feel I could now do myself) and I replaced the oven ignitor and the door gasket last year. The display might be a bit dimmer than when the range was new, but that’s ok. I’m pleased to have kept an appliance out of the waste stream and saved some money, too.