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View Full Version : Screw those screws! (and a manifesto)



Bruce Taylor
11-30-2010, 11:36 AM
My daughter's fan was malfunctioning. I started opening it up, to see if it was worth fixing. The plastic shell enclosing the switches was held together with two ordinary Phillips heads screws, and two of these "tamper proof" things:

http://i282.photobucket.com/albums/kk273/BruceDSTaylor/IMG_1123.jpg?t=1291134505

Very irritating. :mad: Am I so cheap and stubborn that I'll grind my own divided-slot screwdriver, just so I can attempt to rescue a crummy sixteen-dollar appliance? Well, yeah, I am. But most people probably aren't that cheap or that stubborn, and will just take that stupid, ugly, ill-designed thing and dropkick it to the curb on the next trash day.

Anyway, it just annoys me that I have to choose between making a special tool and sending another hunk of plastic to the landfill. So, count me in:

http://static.ifixit.net/static/images/manifesto/ifixit_manifesto_592.jpg

Bruce Taylor
11-30-2010, 11:40 AM
And for good measure:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-26tblpzL8&feature=related

S.V. Airlie
11-30-2010, 11:41 AM
Good luck. In general we are a "throw away society

switters
11-30-2010, 11:43 AM
Amen,

McMike
11-30-2010, 11:54 AM
I made a cheap electric stove last 3 years longer by spending $100 on parts, the same year the dryer went requiring another $100 in parts for me to fix. I have very little electrical background, very little. All it takes is a little reverse engineering and some reading up on the internet and poof!! My father was too lazy to teach me this basic stuff so I learned it myself and so can you.

As a continuation: we did end up having to replace the dryer last spring when the repairs were beyond my grasp and the stove will be replaced when the kitchen is done this month. I did buy myself 3 years on each and at the time ended up not having to spend money I didn't have. When we get rid of the stove I will free-cycle it as we did with the broken dryer.

BETTY-B
11-30-2010, 12:09 PM
Washer and dryers are a piece of cake. I have fixed my mothers a half dozen times in the last decade for her.

Ovens on the other hand. Actually, Wolf ovens specifically, are a real pain. The gas shock thing inside the door was messed up. There are no manuals or any help what so ever on the net about it. No obvious way to get in there to even see what's going on. They have contracts with appliance chain fixit companies that have set prices for whatever repairs are needed. The first $200 was to come and tell me the thing is broken. Then it cost another two hundred to come back when the parts came in to fix it. On top of the hundred for the part and another fifty for the secret way in! That secret way in is beneath the Wolf badge on the front! You have to buy a new one because it messes up the double sided tape! Errr!! Nearly $600 for far less than a half hour of actual work. Could of bought a new Hot Point for that.

Hunky Dory
11-30-2010, 12:16 PM
I love being a bandaid home mechanic. I fix cars for a living from a home shop so I have all the tools to take stuff apart. Even if I can't fix it nothing gets tossed till it is disected. My exaust fan for the shop stopped a yr. ago unless you give it a little push to get it started, a shot of lube once a week has kept it going

Breakaway
11-30-2010, 12:18 PM
I just rewired an electric range some months back and it cost me 150 in parts --switches, burners and a 1/2 days work. Now, one of the oven elements went--the bake one, "broil" still works. Dillemma: do I buck up for the new element ( $80 plus shipping) and another half-day? Or just replace? Ive got time and money in it, but to replace with brand new equivalent is about 400 since its not a high end job. And in January, appliances usually go on big sales.

What would you do?

Kevin

Paul Pless
11-30-2010, 12:25 PM
so I can attempt to rescue a crummy sixteen-dollar applianceSo, did you get the fan working?

Bruce Taylor
11-30-2010, 12:33 PM
So, did you get the fan working?

It was a quick fix, once I got in (just a sprung metal contact in the switch assembly that needed to be slightly bent & reseated).

I don't trust the fan for my daughter's room anymore, but it'll be good for the outside shop.

Bruce Taylor
11-30-2010, 12:35 PM
No obvious way to get in there to even see what's going on. They have contracts with appliance chain fixit companies that have set prices for whatever repairs are needed. The first $200 was to come and tell me the thing is broken. Then it cost another two hundred to come back when the parts came in to fix it. On top of the hundred for the part and another fifty for the secret way in! That secret way in is beneath the Wolf badge on the front! You have to buy a new one because it messes up the double sided tape! Errr!! Nearly $600 for far less than a half hour of actual work. Could of bought a new Hot Point for that.

That's what I'm talking about. ;)

mikefrommontana
11-30-2010, 12:43 PM
If you had a small grinding burr in a Dremel or some such, you could just mill out that center portion of the screw and use a regular screw driver. Royal pain that they don't build anything fixable and the motors nowadays are just junk. Probably worried about being sued if you actually fixed the fooled thing.

Uncle Duke
11-30-2010, 12:54 PM
I fix everything I can - washers, dryers, dishwashers, etc., etc., etc.
But the wife has a rule - I can fix something 3 times but the 4th time we get a new one.
I'm OK with that....

S.V. Airlie
11-30-2010, 12:58 PM
My neighbor next door has a relatively new TV with a broken socket in the TV. I think for cable. He went to a shop in Old Saybrook and could not get it fixed. He was told to go to Groton. Okay he did and yes the man could fix it but it would be more than a month to fix it and probably 1 and half times to fix it.. Now the most logical thing would be to go to Walmarts and buy another

Henning 4148
11-30-2010, 01:30 PM
The tamper proof screws are normally used for legal reasons. In Germany, product liability includes designed use and misuse that is to be expected - opening of standard screws could be seen as misuse that is to be expected. Opening of tamper proof screws could be seen as unexpected misuse, outside of product liability. Probably, the regulations in the US are similar.

If I want to open something, I tend to find ways. But the repairs then are entirely at my own risk.

bobbys
11-30-2010, 03:17 PM
I have old metal fans that wobble and lack much of a cage.

Something about a device that can cut ones fingers off or ignite causing a fire that adds a bit of danger to my otherwise mundane miserable little existence.

Keith Wilson
11-30-2010, 08:00 PM
For not much money you can buy a huge set of tamper-proof hex bits that will open just about anything. Look here (http://www.amazon.com/Security-Tamper-Proof-Ratcheting-Wrench/dp/B001PR6S2G) - or here (http://www.amazon.com/SE-pc-Security-Bit-Set/dp/B0009U6AB4/ref=pd_cp_hi_0) for examples.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51yk3%2BpeP9L._SL500_AA300_.jpg


http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51MuxfMUPUL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

I haven't paid anyone to fix anything in my house for a very long time now - well, with the exception of a clogged sewer line; a few things are better left to others.

Michael D. Storey
11-30-2010, 08:05 PM
W W Grainger sells a fine set of these things. Get with the system. People said the same thing the first time that they saw a phillips head, too, I reckon

yzer
11-30-2010, 08:55 PM
I want a copy of that ifixit poster.

I fix a lot, too. It's good to have this proclivity if you own an old wooden boat.

Some the recent achievements:

The Ford Ranger passed smog inspection after I replaced a $1.95 vacuum hose. The "diagnosis" available at the shop next door would have cost $100.

Replaced defective tail light circuit boards and connectors on the minivan. $225 in OEM parts.

A 2x4 was kicked up on the freeway by the truck ahead of my wife (in the same minivan.) Lucky she wasn't killed. The driver's side power mirror was sheared off. $200 in OEM parts. I don't like generic auto parts as a rule. We keep fairly high auto insurance deductibles.

Computer hard drive and DVD deck replacement. About 20 minutes to replace. Nice upgrades. It took most of the day to re-install the system, docs, programs and download all of the updates.

Sticky doorknob. Disassemble, clean and lubricate. Works like new.

Garage door opener died. Revived with factory rebuild kit.

One candelabra bulb on a nice brass entry light wouldn't stay lit last week. Shut off power to that circuit and bent the positive contact a little with needle-nosed pliers. It works now.

I've cleared my share of clogged drains and have replaced faucets, garbage disposals, etc. I despise every job that is plumbing related at home or on the boat.

Ron Williamson
11-30-2010, 09:18 PM
My wife only married me because I fix things.
Little did she know that I don't often throw things out if I know they can be fixed.
R

Ed Harrow
11-30-2010, 10:40 PM
My wife only married me because I fix things.
Little did she know that I don't often throw things out if I know they can be fixed.
R

Oh how we sucker them in...

paladin
11-30-2010, 10:41 PM
I'm pretty much stuck fixin' anything that breaks. Weenies come to the senior centers and prices double, if you complain, they come back tomorrow and raise the price more.

Ed Harrow
11-30-2010, 10:44 PM
Oh, and Bruce, next time you need a fan, check out Sallie's, or other 'recycle' stores for an old (All metal) fan. Much better. One of the scores from Mum's was the old (50 years?) Kenmore fan, complete with a thermostat. Not only can it be taken apart to clean, it's quiet and moves more air than what one can buy new today.

pipefitter
12-01-2010, 02:18 AM
I used to repair appliances for awhile. Outside of the refrigeration side of that trade, the rest are pretty basic. I used to be amazed on how they were built and were actually long term appliances. I still have a Maytag washing machine from 1965 and it still purrs and doesn't wobble on spin cycle. I buy a new belt maybe every 10 years, have had to buy new wheels for the motor carriage/belt tensioner and a water pump.

I typically buy the parts from used appliance places, who will usually have used parts at a bargain. Just seems somewhat proper to recycle with recycled parts. At least with the older, long term equipment, there's a very good chance that the used parts will be good for another life relative to the price. Seemingly, and expense wise, the timers seem to be the Achilles of appliance repair and also the rarest of the used part market.

C. Ross
12-01-2010, 08:04 AM
I'd like to get behind this idea wholeheartedly, I really would. I fix lots of stuff, and when I can't I'll pay someone to fix something rather than replace it. (Recently our gas dryer failed, and my wife ordered a replacement (!) I thought it was a thermocouple, but didn't have time to fix it. SWMBO bless her heart looked for a repair guy on Angie's List, called him and described the problem and gave the model number. Sure, that's a thermocouple problem, I've got one in my truck, can I come by this afternoon. SWMBO is then (temporarily) pleased with me.)

The reason why I can't get behind this 100% is that so much stuff is built with crappy materials and unrepairable designs. Some stuff really is "single use". You just can't buy new blades or sharpen the blades on a disposable razor.

Bill R
12-01-2010, 10:40 AM
I fix stuff for a living. Seems as if that is all I do between work and home.

Most of my shop equipment is older stuff. A lot of it was tossed by a previous owner who couldn't be bothered to fix it. A few dollars in parts and some elbow grease...

However, there comes a point where the fixing isn't worth it and the time comes when it will need to be retired.

McMike
12-01-2010, 12:33 PM
there comes a point where the fixing isn't worth it and the time comes when it will need to be retired.

Sometimes, for us weekend warriors, that's not such an easy line to see.

cs
12-01-2010, 12:54 PM
I am also a memeber of the iFixit club. Sometimes I waver and replace a tool without trying to fixit, but being as I am a cheap SOB I tend more on the fixit side. Just the other week I fixed that random orbital sander and it works great, just took a little bit of time and my time is fairly cheap.

Chad

yzer
12-01-2010, 01:04 PM
The entertainment value of these projects often makes the time invested seem worthwhile. As appliances go, computers can be very entertaining. I usually go a couple of years between bouts of home computer tech so the experience is completely different each time.

Older machines were designed to be repaired. It seems at times that my 56 year-old Chris-Craft can be repaired, rebuilt and maintained indefinitely. I have tube type radios that have have been working up to 80 years. Advances in electronics promote obsolescence but a larger factor is the transition in basic building materials. Products made during the steel age just lasted longer than their plastic successors. With care, steel and iron can last forever but plastics will break down from chemical instability.

Michael D. Storey
12-02-2010, 06:04 PM
My wife only married me because I fix things.
Little did she know that I don't often throw things out if I know they can be fixed.
R
Remember that scene in Norma Rae where his final comment in his efforts to reel her in was, 'And I can fix nearly anything'?

John P Lebens
12-30-2010, 06:43 AM
A little slice with a dremel cutting disk would turn that into a slot screw and avoid the need for a custom screwdriver.

Tylerdurden
12-30-2010, 07:52 AM
When you fix stuff for a living sometimes you don't want to come home to fix them too. It's much easier now that I have two apprentices around and every broken thing becomes a training exercise. :)

I like the idea that people can become self reliant except most haven't a clue and make a mess of it. Nothing drives me nuts more to enter an establishment where some yokel thinks he is an engineer. I have to fix what they did before I can look for the original problem. That and if I am woking on live controls don't be hovering over my shoulder or messing with things. Neophytes have a talent in getting us hurt.
Since the Home Depot generation more time, materiel's and money have been wasted by those who think they can but cannot. It has dilluted the trades and now most everything is crap and runs like crap because of it.

botebum
12-30-2010, 08:05 AM
I attempt to fix everything except my vehicle. I'd fix that too if I had a spare for when I run into trouble and the repair gets held up or I need parts to finish.
That said, I'm (literally) off to the garage down the road to have the water pump replaced.

Doug

cs
12-30-2010, 08:12 AM
I've gotten to the stage in my life that if I can afford it I will pay a mechanic to work on my vehicles. I will still do the simple stuff like brake jobs and tune ups, but stuff like ball joints I have a mechanic work on it. Big thing is time and my back hurts as I bend over those smaller hoods. But if need be I can do the complicated.

Chad

Nicholas Scheuer
12-30-2010, 08:13 AM
A more ordianry alternative to using a Dremel to slot the screw head is simply an old-fashioned hack saw. In the old days before Phillips heads blanked the fastener market, I occasionally would to cut the slots a bit deeper in slotted screws for better engagement with the screwdriver.

BTW, Phillips suck! Square or Torx drive is WAY'mo'better.

Moby Nick

Milo Christensen
12-30-2010, 09:31 AM
The entertainment value of these projects often makes the time invested seem worthwhile. . . .

I find the educational value to be as important as the entertainment value. You learn so much about the "way things work", even if you don't get a chance to fix it. I've also found a great deal of entertainment value in meeting the old guys - why are they always old guys, they've always been older than me and I'm old now - in the repair parts stores. The respect I earn from these guys when I take in a part - Jeez o pete willya look at this, I haven't sold one of these for 10 years - is also worth paying the exorbitant price they're going to have to charge me for the part.

Bruce Taylor
12-30-2010, 09:40 AM
A little slice with a dremel cutting disk would turn that into a slot screw and avoid the need for a custom screwdriver.

The same Dremel disk can put a slot in a flathead screwdriver...and I only had to do that once. ;)

Ian McColgin
12-30-2010, 09:56 AM
Dad has a big low-slung van with wheel chair lift and going over a wee bump it really ripped up the plastic molding at the bottom of the ramp's sliding door. Any body shop would slap on a new skirt for beaucoupbucks. Broken plastic and miserable strange screws to nothing and all. So over Christmas I went into a hardware store down near the farm and asked a guy to point me to the epoxy - PC 17 or whatever - and the duct tape. Those products were thoughtfully next to each other.

As I approached the counter, the clerk asked if I needed anything else.

The fellow who'd directed me jumped in: "The man has duct tape and epoxy. What else could he possibly need?"

Which was true. I used nice black duct tape that went well in the spot and looks . . . well, this was not a Red Green job. Rather, a proper job.

Paul Pless
12-30-2010, 09:58 AM
nice black duct tape > :D