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Repair It? Wossat Mean, Like?

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Nigel Graham 204/05/2021 10:32:46
1686 forum posts
20 photos

That's my take on the attitude being questioned by a short weekly series presently on BBC Radio Four.

In Dare To Repair, with Part 2 of 3 this morning (Tuesday) at 11.00, Mark Miodownik questions how and why manufacturers are so obstructive to repairing their products.

The common excuses are safety or security reasons, but the overall effect is of constant "up-grades" and replacements resulting in an appalling waste of materials and resources.

A lot of repairable or simply "out-dated" equipment ends up being buried in land-fill sites - perhaps from owners who might put a worn-out cell in the little tub in the supermarket but genuinely do not realise a broken 'phone or charger contains materials that can and should be salvaged . (Yes, the instruction leaflets do tell you that, but how many people take any notice of more than just the operating-instructions - and then if the equipment is lucky?)

This from today's Radio Times:

" Now people are fighting back. Mark talks to the fixers heading up [sic] the right-to-repair. "

In Part 1 last week he highlighted among things the manufacturers of a lot of household goods do write repair manuals and issue spares but keep very tight controls on them to limit repairs as much as they can.

.

There is a point that's occurred to me though, and I do not know if Dare To Repair will address it. We all know there are plenty of people who should never be allowed anywhere near even a screwdriver, but are there many who could be if school or other influences had not ensured they lack any practical skills?

'

If you miss it, the series might be on the BBC's on-line Sounds service.

Anthony Knights04/05/2021 11:44:21
556 forum posts
233 photos

Back in the 1980's we had a "Hotpoint" washing machine which had a wireing diagram on the inside of the top cover.

Some 20 years later I was trying to get service information about a washer with an Italian sounding name, only to find that they would only supply service information to their official agents.

Nowdays, most white goods are built down to a price, with paper thin panels and cheapest possible bearings etc. With a bit of luck they will last just beyond the warrentry period, at which point it is usually as cheap to buy a new machine as have the old one repaired.

I really hope the "Right to repair" movement really takes off as it sickens me to see some of the repairable stuff that gets scrapped.

Howard Lewis04/05/2021 12:39:13
5241 forum posts
13 photos

SWMBO wanted to water some newly seeded grass. As I wheeled the hosereel out, one plastic wheel collapsed. The other was about to follow it.

Bored out the wheel rims to clean up.

The rest of the reel looked in fair condition, so after a LOT of jig sawing a large piece of 1.125" Ali yielded two "squares" which were drilled and mounted on an about to become discs. Gripped in the 4 jaw and clocked (Probably needless precision for this job! ) and bored to suit the hub.

Pressed the discs into the wheel rims, lubricated the hubs and reassembled.

With alloy wheels all it needs now are "Go faster" stripes!

If my time had been charged, buying a new reel would probably been cheaper, but less satisfying or durable.

Howard

J Hancock04/05/2021 12:48:05
707 forum posts

Calculating the REAL running time of many of these items , cars included, can also bring on a heart attack.

One wash a day , is still only 365 hours in a year !

9,000 miles/yr in the car about 300 hours, etc !

Steve Neighbour04/05/2021 13:17:45
108 forum posts
1 photos
Posted by J Hancock on 04/05/2021 12:48:05:

Calculating the REAL running time of many of these items , cars included, can also bring on a heart attack.

One wash a day , is still only 365 hours in a year !

9,000 miles/yr in the car about 300 hours, etc !

Definitely cardiac zone !!

My car has 82,700 on the clock, and the trip function tells me I've averaged 35mph over that distance, so that equates to 2,262 hours of driving, if I add in 5% for engine run time while not driving (prob generous) that then gives 2,480 hours on the engine. that's approaching 298 million revolutions on the crankshaft (at a nominal 2,000 rpm)

Ok, I'll get my anorak crook

Steve

SillyOldDuffer04/05/2021 13:19:53
Moderator
7487 forum posts
1658 photos

Posted by Anthony Knights on 04/05/2021 11:44:21:

...

Nowdays, most white goods are built down to a price, with paper thin panels and cheapest possible bearings etc.

...

I really hope the "Right to repair" movement really takes off as it sickens me to see some of the repairable stuff that gets scrapped.

One of the suggestions on this morning's episode was encouraging more repair work by making it VAT free. Write to your MP!

Bearings came up too today. In many modern washing machines they can't be replaced because they're moulded into the plastic drum. The manufacturer's spokesman claimed this is because the main cause of bearing failure is misalignment, and reliability is improved on average by embedding them accurately in the factory. He would say that wouldn't he! However, it's a good point: I'm sure it's true making some things repairable will make them less reliable and more costly. Be careful what you wish for!

Nonetheless I'm sure the world will go back to designing equipment for long service life, including repair. Although making disposable items has major short term advantages it's sustainable as a system in the long run. Even if pollution wasn't an issue the world's natural resources are limited.

Change is always painful. Firms that profit by building in technological obsolescence will have to the stopped. Very naughty making mobile phones with a glued in battery so it can't be changed easily: even worse also programming the phone so it won't work with a replacement battery at all.

Dave

Richard S204/05/2021 14:10:58
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218 forum posts
129 photos

Being an individual who repairs, refurbishes, restores and use old machines up to 98 years old so far, I hate to see the situation in this throwaway society.

I am due to consider a replacement for my 24 year old Philco washing machine, which is still going well with only a motor control pcb failure which I replaced myself 9 years ago. but need to relocate it to ground floor and so will replace it. I will be buying a British made replacement with a 7 year parts and labour warranty. My Fridge/freezer is 21 years old (made in Britain) and hope to get more long service from it. The 30 yr old steam iron has been regularly fully cleaned and a new flex fitted 3 years ago...works perfectly.

It's a shame we are preaching to the converted here, but at least we care.

not done it yet04/05/2021 14:13:49
6285 forum posts
20 photos
Posted by J Hancock on 04/05/2021 12:48:05:

Calculating the REAL running time of many of these items , cars included, can also bring on a heart attack.

One wash a day , is still only 365 hours in a year !

9,000 miles/yr in the car about 300 hours, etc !

Most washing machines are ‘designed’ to last 2000 cycles. Cheap ones even fewer, I presume.

My last washing machine (AEG) lasted about 25 years with a few repairs (at least two scavenge pumps, new motor brushes, a heating element, water-fill solenoid valve and drum suspension dampers) all carried out by me. Yes it was showing its age - but it was still going (on some non-standard parts!) until the motor failed completely (when it finally became an uneconomic repair).

Somehow, I doubt the expensive replacement (favoured by my wife) will last as long as its predecessor.

J Hancock04/05/2021 14:18:25
707 forum posts

The year , 1938 , the launch of MV Gienearn , immediately requisitioned by the Royal Navy for heroic war service.

The year , 1968 , MV Glenearn still performing up with ' modern ' ships of this '68 era.

Now that is real, 24hr/day 'reliability', only achieved by rugged design and available spares.

Of course, we scrapped everything so as not to leave a trace of history of this legend.

V8Eng04/05/2021 14:38:42
1627 forum posts
32 photos

Having been in maintenance for a good proportion of my working life I was often asked to “have a quick look at something”.

I have seen numerous diy repairs by owners often scary ones and some were outright dangerous are they really suggesting it is a good idea for all and sundry to carry out repairs?

Edited By V8Eng on 04/05/2021 14:40:36

Edited By V8Eng on 04/05/2021 14:42:01

Ady104/05/2021 15:33:12
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4693 forum posts
713 photos

Deskilling society has been going on for a long time

Humans are merely capitalist components who make revenue expenditure decisions

HOWARDT04/05/2021 15:57:06
777 forum posts
28 photos

There are numerous videos on YouTube about the right to repair in the USA. Some videos are taken during actual local hearings, as I suppose they have to get it through local consent as well as government. Interesting one about one of the major tractor manufacturers getting shot down by the local repair shop that has to hack the software installed so he can get a tractor running again. Its a lot like the cost of printer ink for a twenty quid printer and you can only use the manufacturers chipped cartridge.

Bazyle04/05/2021 18:19:08
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6012 forum posts
220 photos
Posted by J Hancock on 04/05/2021 14:18:25:

Now that is real, 24hr/day 'reliability', only achieved by rugged design and available spares.

Indeed having and needing the spares. No menion of how much that repair and maintenance cost.

I remember some 20 years ago trying to explain to senior management that the product they had commisioned with a MTBF of 14 years did not mean it would run for that time before needing repair. In practice it is a mathematical expression that means half will have failed within 3 years and all will have failed by 14 years. The industry standard for MTBF is the military calculation that assumes everything is repaired over and over again each time it fails regardless of cost. Because of our being able to repair during one year we achieved 110% failure rate owing to a faulty bach of memory chips.

Anyway the real problem is not just production cost paring but the lawyers. For each new product we have to make the 12v power supply connector incompatible with all our other products or go to the expense of having each combination of interchange requalified at costs of around £50k per set.

noel shelley04/05/2021 18:50:53
723 forum posts
19 photos

JOHN DEERE ! And speed sensors on small electric vehicles ! £101.00 + VAT or £1.64 for a hall effect transistor. Washing machine control card £92 or £2 for a triac. Noel

not done it yet04/05/2021 19:05:06
6285 forum posts
20 photos
Posted by noel shelley on 04/05/2021 18:50:53:

JOHN DEERE ! And speed sensors on small electric vehicles ! £101.00 + VAT or £1.64 for a hall effect transistor. Washing machine control card £92 or £2 for a triac. Noel

Agreed! How about £450 (+VAT?) from a peugeot dealership for a drive shaft versus £2.30 (delivered) for the cracked reluctor ring! Labour for fitting extra.

Derek Lane04/05/2021 19:06:54
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508 forum posts
95 photos

Many moons ago when I was in London doing a course on machine repair(which I had already been repairing for the last 10 years) we had a tour of the factory and the guy giving the tour pointed out that the drill we saw being tested(DIY type) were designed to run between 1/2 hour to 1 hour work he explained that being a DIY tool the average DIY'er only ever used the tool for 2 to 5 minutes at any one time and it would take over a year for them to reach the time above. If they lasted longer it was a bonus for the owner

Dave Halford04/05/2021 19:08:44
1682 forum posts
19 photos
Posted by not done it yet on 04/05/2021 14:13:49:

My last washing machine (AEG) lasted about 25 years with a few repairs (at least two scavenge pumps, new motor brushes, a heating element, water-fill solenoid valve and drum suspension dampers) all carried out by me. Yes it was showing its age - but it was still going (on some non-standard parts!) until the motor failed completely (when it finally became an uneconomic repair).

Somehow, I doubt the expensive replacement (favoured by my wife) will last as long as its predecessor.

Like wise our AEG dishwasher lasted 18year with no spares till the lower plastic wash arm wore through the metal heater coil and shorted

These days AEG is part of Electrolux and no where near as good.

Samsaranda04/05/2021 19:24:37
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1193 forum posts
5 photos

Items that are manufactured today are by and large an assembly of bought in components with only minimal amount of components produced in house, outsourced components are for instance switches, motors, electronic boards, bearings, plastic mouldings etc. In order to build their product they source their components from the market place, seeking and accepting the lowest price offered for the items they want. So the product we buy is made from the cheapest components that the manufacturer could source, no wonder it only lasts just beyond when the warranty has expired. In 2001 I purchased and had installed an Ideal condensing gas boiler, it lasted two weeks until the main circuit board gave up. It was of course replaced under warranty, at that time the replacement board cost about £170, the replacement lasted I think about six weeks, again replaced under warranty, we had that boiler for nine years and in that time it consumed 8 main circuit boards, I didn’t pay a penny towards the costs as I complained bitterly to the manufacturers every time and they repaired the boiler each time. It transpired that the manufacturer had selected boards to be manufactured from the cheapest suppliers that tendered for the work, so they got the quality of component that was related to the price paid. The companies engineers that came each time to fix the boiler were embarrassed with the products poor performance. Dave W

old mart04/05/2021 19:39:55
3317 forum posts
203 photos

In the last 12 years, we have had three washing machines, a Candy, a Hotpoint and now a Samsung. The drum bearings failed on both of the first two, which had suspiciously identical drums, so I am hoping that the Korean designers have used a better bearing.

Nigel Graham 204/05/2021 20:10:21
1686 forum posts
20 photos

V8Eng -

No-one is advocating bad, or even dangerous, workmanship- just the ability to repair equipment, whether that be done by a business or oneself. I hinted at that in my OP.

Today's episode of Dare To Repair also focussed on the practice of wilful obsolescence by declaring a rigid time of only a few years after which spares will not be available, even for equipment which could be made to last 20 years and more.

'

My first washing-machine had been my sisters. Her husband is not very mechanically-minded and didn't think it could be repaired. So he went and bought a brand-new one - which my sister reckoned was not as good.

They offered me the old for free if I thought I could mend it. All that had happened was the pump had leaked and ruined its own motor

£25 for a new pump & motor set from a local, independent domestic-appliance repairer and spares stockist, about 3/4 hr work... I owned that machine for I think over 15 years before it next broke down, and this time my survey showed even if spares were still available the machine was pretty well all-done, with extensive corrosion setting in.

A trip to my local independent appliance shop, from whom I've also purchased a fridge, freezer and microwave; and on delivering the new they rook away the old.

''''

I think the trade is conditioned to believe in throw-away and replace even when it makes no difference to them, commercially.

The combination gas boiler in my previous home started to fail to deliver hot water to the shower, and the gos fitter thought after various tests it needed a new control board... at £350.

"How much?" I looked at the board and pointed to the ordinary transistor radio/cassette player on the worktop. "There's a lot more electronics in that wireless set for a fraction of the price!"

The gas fitter agreed, and added that although the boards are repairable the manufacturers won't allow even the trade to repair them. He succeeded in making some sort of repair but after a few months the problem started again. This time I carefully noted what was happening. I called the firm again.

Back to re-considering the pcb, but this time I gave him my notes and said innocently, "I don't know anything about gas boilers but I do have some background in electrical and mechanical engineering, and wondered if it's something to do with that unit up on the flue, perhaps? Just a guess from those symptoms..."

I forget if I told him I'd more than guessed, had tested it with a multi-meter and hence been using a rather elaborate routine involving the kitchen hot-tap and bridging the switch's terminals each time I wanted a shower!

It was the fail-safe diaphragm switch that verifies the air flow from the fan before switching the burner circuit on. The replacement cost only a few quid, too.

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