Disposing with the fix-it guys

Disposing with the fix-it guys

Images-124 Interesting article about the death of the fix it economy. Remember the old ad about the lonely washing machine technician? Well, he’s no longer lonely — he’s dying away. In this disposable age, the neighborhood appliance technician is disappearing. Link.

0 thoughts on “Disposing with the fix-it guys

  1. Johnath says:

    This is precisely the trend that makes Make: so valuable to me. The disempowerment that comes with disposable tech is stunning. My friends and coworkers, many of them engineers or otherwise technically educated, won’t touch a screwdriver when something breaks, and would never think of running a new circuit in their home. Everything is a black box and an unassailable one at that. It’s no good. It’s not how you build a culture of innovation, and it’s not how I want my kids to look at the world.

    Make, to me, is all about undoing that mindset where it has taken up residence, and celebrating those who haven’t been defeated.

    johnath at johnath dot com

  2. philliptorrone says:

    what a wonderful comment, thank you so much johnath.

  3. kaden says:

    Make Magazine promotes Cultural Darwinism of the highest order by revitalizing Improvisational Technology in a post-Millennial society.

    Disposable technology speeds the process along.

    No Babylon.

    If it were not for the existence of prematurely discarded technology, I would have no technology. Nor would I have the Alladin’s cave of reclaimed components I use in the pieces I sell or the tools I build. 100% of the Makers I know achieve the stunning levels of technical achievement and true innovation we’re seeing worldwide using reclaimed components in full or in part. Lacking ‘Enterprise Level R&D/Fabrication Solutions’, we’re teaching ourselves how to build our own shit from stuff we find in dumpsters. Not many of us are Engineers®. Most of our stuff works better.

    And we’re getting better at it.

    Survival skills, gang…collect the whole set.

    It strengthens the gene pool.


  4. Johnath says:

    My pleasure Phillip; it’s why I subscribe, why I foist it on family & friends, and why (now) I write for it as well. But after posting I had some of the same thoughts that kaden has now mentioned, namely that while disposable tech can disempower, it is also a vast resource. It’s a sentiment best captured by the way I yell at my windshield on the drive home with my wife, as I pass the houses of people throwing out dishwashers and clothes dryers, “There are perfectly good pumps and motors in there! Are you guys crazy?”

  5. NickCarter says:

    Recently my dear wife put a poorly secured plastic chopstick in the dishwasher. When I opened up the dishwasher I found 1/2 a chopstick and the dishwasher started to make bad noises. The noises stopped after a few washes, and I thought it had been chewed up by the integrated disposal. Unfortunately the dishwasher stopped washing about two weeks later. So I gave it the old college try. Often in situations like this I establish a time budget, 4 hours in this case, to try and fix the machine.
    I removed all the internal guards that I could see and found the main pump impeller was spinning looses on the shaft. I pulled off the impeller and impeller coupling and found that the culprit was a stripped coupling (it threaded onto the motor shaft.) I ran into the shop, drilled and threaded the coupler for a slightly larger thread on the lathe and made a threaded sleeve with the new thread on the OD and the old one on the ID. I re-instaled the impeller and the pump now worked. Huzzah! Then I found that there was a secondary pump that drained the water from the dishwasher, and it too was fubar. I couldn’t logically determine how to remove the pump without comepletely disassembling the machine and I had run out of time.

    At that point I called our local (well we live semi rurally, so local is 15 miles away) appliance store, where we had bought the machine. They informed me the machine (Maytag) was still in warranty for parts and it would most likely cost $100 to fix it (the machine cost about $300). I had the service guy come to fix it.

    He came out, determined the cause and ordered the parts in. The previously mentioned impeller couling wasn’t available individually and had to be ordered with the main motor, impeller assembly. He ordered the main motor assembly, the new pump motor and some parts for the door latch which had broken previously. A week later he came out and replaced all the parts. I watched him like a hawk and was able to understand all the components of the machine and their inter-related functions. There was no “core charge” so I got to keep the old main pump (which I had fixed and still worked) and the drain pump (which as it turned out had a 1/2 a plastic chopstick jamming the impeller)both of which would be repairable until the motors actually burned out. We had a long (off the clock) chat, I showed him my home machine shop, he reminisced about his time as a machinist on a navy sub.

    Because the parts were still in warranty I was able to get the machine fixed for about 1/3 of new price, learned a lot about dishwasher repair, have replacement parts sitting on a shelf (well ok, not new parts, but they do work). If the parts had not been in warranty it would have been cheaper to just buy a new machine.

    The lesson? Make sure your appliances break before the parts warranty is up, have a good local “old school” appliance store, have a home machine shop, and never, ever, ever put an unfettered chopstick in the dishwasher…

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