General ramblings

Festival of Repair-Top 5 Fixes

Amidst the excitement of the No New Clothes Challenge, and articles in the Huffington Post (eeeek!), the Festival of Repair continues!
And today we have a guest post from my very lovely, long suffering, Mr Fix-it of a hubby 🙂
This is quite a long post. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, please scroll down to the last paragraph and hubby’s words about our much mended laundry basket.
Over to hubby.

I thought it was about time I got in on the act and did a bit of blogging, as I haven’t contributed anything lately. So I started thinking about what my contribution to our Make Do and Mend Life is….. Fixing.
I love tinkering with things and great a tremendous amount of satisfaction from resurrecting something that we may otherwise have replaced, so this got me to thinking about the top five fixes that I have done since we started on this journey.

5: The Toaster

Since we have had our own house we have had 2 toasters. Toaster number one strangely stopped working after I had emptied out a load of crumbs, and as this was pre Make Do and Mend we got a new one. When toaster number two did exactly the same thing-the toast lever would not lock down to keep the toast in, it was time to investigate.
Fortunately I was able to unscrew the base of the toaster and have a look inside, after a bit of poking and prodding I noticed a large crumb wedged on top of the electromagnetic switch which locks the toast arm in place. I used an air puffer thing we have to clean the camera with, reassembled it and it was toast for tea!
Thinking about it, this must happen to loads of people it may have even happened to you?
All I needed was a screwdriver and a bit of puff!

4: The Washing Machine

As with the toaster we have had two washing machines since we met.
Number one packed up and we were advised it was not worth repairing, it was a cheap Hotpoint. So we bought a Bosch one, as again this was pre Make Do and Mend.
Around Christmas last year it came up with an error message on the display and consulting the handbook we found this was a “motor fault”. Best get in there and check it out…..
First I turned off the supply tap and disconnected the water feed, drain and plug then with the help of my glamorous assistant carefully laid it on its side.
This is where I had to delve in the tool box for my torx/star drive keys!
With these I removed the back cover, before slipping the drive belt off and then used them to remove the motor. A visual inspection revealed a lot of carbon dust from the motor brushes so I blew it all out and put it all back together and it just worked again.



Feeling a bit smug I said I’d order up some new brushes from the eSpares website, so if it did it again I could replace them. Inevitably this didn’t happen so when it did conk out again we were without our washing machine for 5 days while we waited for new brushes to arrive (there’s a lesson in there somewhere!).
Replacing the brushes was a little fiddly but not too hard, and it wasn’t long before the washing machine was plumbed back in and back under its worktop after some shoving and grunting. Time for a test, water in, lights on but no motor noise….hmmm this wasn’t supposed to happen. It was then that I realised I hadn’t plugged the wires back onto the motor…..!
Cue more grunting and shoving and disconnecting and reconnecting of water pipes before pushing the motor plug home. That was about 6 weeks ago and so far so good it’s still chomping through its daily hammering of dirty small boy wear.
One thing I did have to do was to reset the fault memory but this info was easily obtained with a bit of Googling of the model number.

3: Sugru

Now we have both mentioned this fantastic substance before but it bears repeating it is truly awesome! Wrapped in a little silver packet is a little blob of mouldable rubber compound which you can work and form very much like blu tac. Left to cure over night it sets to a hard rubber consistency and will bond to almost anything. The packs come in black, white, blue, red and yellow and can be mixed. I try to save up a few fixes to do at once as I am yet to find a way of stopping it going off once opened. Here are some of my favourite Sugru fixes:

The measuring jug had a crack in the bottom, no problem and dishwasher safe too:


The fish trinket holder, is now the tropical fish trinket holder, with a very visible mend, having been smashed to pieces and recovered from the bin:


Don’t forget the butter dish lid either, the green Sugru was created by kneading blue and yellow together (although you can get a really wide range of colours now!):
Butter dish-b4

Butter dish-after

The iPhone holder for my bike, this I broke twice in different places and both times have made it better than new with some Sugru:

Mobile phone

The quarter light window on my classic Triumph had very worn and aged rubber seals which were rejuvenated with black Sugru and now there is a lot less wind noise.

The zip on my jacket sheared off you’ve guessed it Sugru to the rescue.

I have also fixed a support on a computer keyboard,  and fixed the kid’s wooden railway track.

flannels and fixes6

I love it!!

(There are more of our Sugru fixes here!)

2: The Microwave

Our microwave just stopped working. The lights were on but no one was home. Buoyed by previous successes it was off with the top to have a look (Torx keys used again here). I will confess to some slight trepidation at the prospect of opening up a microwave, because of well, the micro-wave things…
After a bit of poking about I couldn’t really see anything wrong, not knowing what I was looking for wasn’t really helping here I must admit. I had decided I would not do anything that would have compromised the safety of it;s operation and wasn’t just going to start randomly unplugging stuff. I was about to give up when I found a small piece of snapped plastic floating around in there.

A thorough search ensued and I found that it had come from one of the door catches and must have snapped off after one too many door slams. The catches operate safety switches so the oven will not work if the door is not fully closed. I put the catch back on its pivot and shut the door, the contact was made again and I felt sure this would mean the oven would now work. Trying not to feel too smug I opened and closed the door a few times with all the covers still off. After a few closes the catch fell off again. That snapped off piece must have been holding it in place. Unfortunately the snapped off piece was beyond gluing or even sugruing, so what to do?

I was attempting this fix on the floor in front of the TV one evening and was inevitably surrounded by the debris of the day’s playing (the kids, not us!).
Amongst the toys strewn around me was a three wheeled toy car and this gave me an idea….. I removed one of the remaining wheels and took its tyre off, I then found that it fitted perfectly onto the end of the pivot for the broken door catch, still allowing it to move freely.


I figured that super glue might not have been good enough to hold the wheel in place so I very carefully drilled the centre of the wheel out and used a small self tapping screw to hold it in place. Two years down the line this fix is still in place and porridge is always ready in 1 minute!

Day 7

1: The Laundry Basket

My all time favourite fix and the epitome of our Make Do and Mend lifestyle-Our Laundry basket!

Washing basket-pic 3
It’s been duct taped, it’s been super glued, it’s been Sugred, it’s been Q bonded, it’s been fixed with putty, it’s been siliconed and it’s even had a bit of tree grafted to it.

I’ve said it before but this thing will outlast us all, it has become a legend in our our family and rightly so. Why throw it out? It still works and a bit of tape here and there every once in a while just adds to the story.

“I have carried my kids about in it when they were babies, it was once regularly full of nappies and babygros, it is now loaded with school uniforms and sports kit. This may sound silly but it’s a constant daily reminder of what can be done to reduce the excessive and unnecessary consumption that can sometimes too easily take hold.
It may not be the prettiest but it’s part of the family.”

I love this so much, thankyou hubby 🙂

And for all the fixing fans, we have a super special Festival of Repair #makedoandmendhour tonight with The Rubbish Diet tonight. We have special guests Martine Postma, founder of The Repair Cafe, and Ugo Vallauri, do-founder of The Restart Project. They will be on hand to answer any questions that you have about community repair events, and how to set one up. Come and join us on Twitter 8-9pm BST tonight (Thursday 24th Sept) and use the #makedoandmendhour hashtag to make sure we can find your tweets!

#mdamh repair event

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