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February 21, 2016

Repair of a Food Saver model V845

I had a great time doing some interesting repairs at the Repair Cafe event in Campbell River yesterday. One of the most interesting and challenging repairs was that of a Food Saver plastic bag vacuum sealer, for which the heat sealing wasn’t functioning, but the vacuum function was apparently OK. In this case, the problem was not apparently common heat strip failure, but rather a failed vacuum activated switch. Here’s what I did to diagnose and repair it.

the patient

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November 14, 2015

Repair of a Traynor YGL3 Mark 3 Guitar Amplifier and Accusonic Reverb Tank

This post is about a fun, relatively easy repair/restoration project on a classic piece of electric guitar/music gear: a Traynor YGL3 Mark 3 amplifier. The YGL3 is a vacuum tube -based piece of rock/music history. This project grew out of the Repair Cafe event in the Campbell River Sportsplex last month that I was a volunteer repair person for. A new friend,¬†Joedy W, had brought this amp in to the Repair Cafe, but I didn’t have the time or the parts during that busy day to do the full repair. After I got back from some travels, we were able to re-connect yesterday and I could get to work on the amp. The whole repair/restore operation had four distinct elements to it. This was a pretty interesting project for me because I had never worked on a musical instrument amp before (that I can recall), but the repairs needed were fairly easy, requiring diagnosis mainly by observation with ears and eyes and ultimately just one test instrument, an ohmmeter.

Traynor YGL3 Mark 3 amplifier

The Patient: Traynor YGL3 Mark 3 amplifier

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September 13, 2015

Fixing a Hamilton-Beach Coffee Grinder

Our coffee grinder had stopped working. Now that for me is a near-emergency situation demanding repair. This is the grinder, brand “Hamilton Beach”

the dead grinder

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January 13, 2013

How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a 1996 Dodge Caravan / Plymouth Vogager 3.8L V6

Recently I had to replace the serpentine belt in my 1996 Plymouth Grand Voyager LE. These belts used to be called “fan belts” in olden times when they used to mainly drive the fan, and sometimes are also called “accessory belts”. This same van. Pretty much the same vehicle as a Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Grand Caravan of the same era. Mine has the 3.8L V6 engine. Belt replacement procedure is apparently similar to what is needed for the 3.0L but the 2.4L version will be different due to a different belt tensioner and different accessory pulley layout. “Serpentine” is a good adjective for the belt in the 3.8L since it takes a tortuous path around no less than 7 pulleys. And yes, the first three people aware of this repair all immediately thought of this great flick, re Serpentine! Serpentine!. (more…)

September 17, 2012

Harvesting and Re-using Lithium Cells from Laptop Batteries

For more than a decade, I’ve been using a series of HP and Compaq laptops and as a result, I had accumulated a pile of expired, apparently dead batteries composed of lithium-based cells. I decided to resuscitate a couple of the old laptops for a project in Campbell River, and needed a couple of working batteries. Rather than buy new ones, I decided to crack open a few of the old ones to see if they still had any working cells that I could re-use. (more…)

March 23, 2012

Innovative Kite Repair by Greg Knowles

Filed under: re-use,recycle,repair,Uncategorized — Tags: — admin @ 11:03 am

I like to see the innovations that come from people who tinker with repairing things. Here’s one great example that I’m particularly happy to cite: My old friend Greg Knowles has recently launched his new kite repair business, Comox Kite Repair. Greg is a master at repairing plastics and fabrics, as I’ve witnessed from his years of windsurfing sail and board repair, and he has developed some great techniques for fixing torn kites and kite bladders. Go Greg! Kiteboarders should take note of his site http://comoxkiterepair.ca!

Kite Bladder repair by Greg Knowles

Kite Bladder repair by Greg Knowles

December 16, 2011

In Praise Of Programmable Thermostats

Programmable Thermostat

Programmable Thermostat

About 2 years ago, I installed programmable thermostats throughout our house, which has electric baseboard heaters. Now I have enough data to see the savings from that effort. Overall, I’ve been able to cut our electric usage by 30% to 50% during the cold months of the year in Vancouver (the larger number in the coldest months, November-February essentially). Compare the usage shown in the graph before and after fall 2009 when the programmable units were installed to see this. (Thanks BC Hydro for the graph!)

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November 19, 2011

How to rejuvenate rechargeable NiCd batteries

NiCd battery pack, assembled

NiCd battery pack

This post is about a method to restore (rejuvenate) NiCd (NiCad) battery packs that are failing to charge. I have 2 sets of cordless tools (drill, circular saw, reciprocating saw and more) that use rechargeable NiCd battery packs. Three of the battery packs were failing to charge. Having had some previous success with rejuvenating apparently expired NiCd cells, I decided to do some tinkering, and I was able to restore the packs such that they will now charge to a usable level. I’ve previously used the same procedure, at lower current, to rejuvenate NiCd cells for cordless phones.

These tool sets and battery packs are very common. Mine were MasterCraft brand purchased from Canadian Tire, but there are many similar ones on the market with other branding. I’d guess millions of similar cordless sets have been sold, so maybe someone else can benefit from this post and save a few $ on new batteries. Perhaps more significantly, maybe this will save some battery packs and even the tools themselves from adding to our garbage output; the Cd in the cells is very toxic, so the less of it we put into use and the less that goes into the waste stream, the better. (more…)

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