Things we could 'fix' in the past

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fabindia
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Things we could 'fix' in the past

Post by fabindia »

I do despair at many modern innovations. Many of our kitchen appliances are made of plastic which is glued or snapped together in way that it makes them impossible to take apart. Recently we bought a new kitchen blender from Amazon which broke after a couple of uses. I raised an issue with the supplier and they immediately refunded my money - no need to send back just scrap. I had an idea what would be wrong and I'm pretty sure I could have fixed it I had been able to get it apart but there was no way I could do that without physically breaking the case.

That made me think about what we could fix in the past that today people wouldn't dream about attempting to fix today.

Here's a few off the top of my head. What comes to your mind that you or your parents would think twice about but would leave many today stumped?

Vacuum cleaners
When we were first married we were given an ancient vacuum cleaner. It worked fine but then started to smell a bit burned out. I had a look and it turns out that the brushes on the motor needed replacing. I went to our local hardware store (like a hardware version of Open All Hours) and they had the same ones in stock. So quickly replaced and the vacuum lasted another 10 years. Must have cost less than 50p in total at the time. Try that on a £499 Dyson today.

Electric Kettle Elements
Again an easy job in the past when kettles had a simple element in the bottom. Not so easy now.

Cars
There was a time when there wasn't a lot I would n'ttackle myself. I had learned a lot from my dad and I remember taking engines out of cars with him and doing them up before putting them back. Replacing brake pipes was a slightly worrying process at least until you had tested them out once or twice and were convinced you could stop OK. I had a very early mini which was a nightmare to work on simply because everything was cramped in the engine compartment. It was, to say the least a bit clapped out, and so I had to take the cylinder head off every couple of months and re-grind the valves in. Then when my kids were small I bought a Ford Transit crew bus and that was a joy to work on as it had a huge engine compartment and you could get everything.

Today, I look under the bonnet of a car and although the basic mechanics haven't changed, they just explode a mixture of petrol and air in a cylinder and push a piston down, there's so much electricals and computing packed under there you wouldn't dare touch it.
Michael
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Mo
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Re: Things we could 'fix' in the past

Post by Mo »

Yes to the kettle thing.
Even when kettles had elements it became impossible to buy a new one.
And electric plugs - you used to be able to replace a plug, now it's all moulded together and if something stops working no way of telling if it's the plug or the appliance. Not that I'm a DIY expert, once I might have had the theoretical knowledge, but after decades of leaving it to OH, plus a natural clumsiness added to aged feebleness there are things I wouldn't try.
What about power supplies - the wires that come out are so feeble, OH had to repair some but they aren't like normal plugs.
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Gwenoakes
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Re: Things we could 'fix' in the past

Post by Gwenoakes »

Totally agree, things are no longer made to last and no longer made for anyone to repair.
Another thing that really gets my goat is you buy a good rated, say washer and then in order for it to clean your clothes well it stays on for blooming ages. Now I get it that it may use less water, but what about the extra electricity it uses? Or am I just a dumb pensioner and have not yet figured out how to use it properly?
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Post by Gwenoakes »

Just remembered also that years ago we had a carpet that either needed replacing or repairing on the stairs. We found the most wonderful carpet fitter who actually took a piece of our carpet out and then he stitched another piece in and apart from the slight difference in colour you could not see the difference. Tell me where you can find a carpet fitter that can/would do that these days.
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lancashire lass
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Re: Things we could 'fix' in the past

Post by lancashire lass »

fabindia wrote: 17 Dec 2020, 05:55 any of our kitchen appliances are made of plastic which is glued or snapped together in way that it makes them impossible to take apart. Recently we bought a new kitchen blender from Amazon which broke after a couple of uses. I had an idea what would be wrong and I'm pretty sure I could have fixed it I had been able to get it apart but there was no way I could do that without physically breaking the case.
Mo wrote: 17 Dec 2020, 12:18 Yes to the kettle thing.
Even when kettles had elements it became impossible to buy a new one.
And electric plugs - you used to be able to replace a plug, now it's all moulded together and if something stops working no way of telling if it's the plug or the appliance.
This is probably deliberate to stop people electrocuting themselves or setting their house on fire. The EU implemented a lot of the rules we know today as part of safety - some people with no knowledge of electrics doing diy repairs had a habit of dying unnecessarily.

There is however, a growing need for a more sustainable way of allowing our everyday goods to be repairable which is part of the climate change initiatives.
Gwenoakes wrote: 17 Dec 2020, 13:25 Now I get it that it may use less water, but what about the extra electricity it uses? Or am I just a dumb pensioner and have not yet figured out how to use it properly?
It might depend on the washing machine - mine is bog standard dials (deliberately chosen because (i) no fancy computerised programmes to go wrong and (2) cheaper) so I merely push the "half wash" and turn the dial to miss out the pre-wash.

I would agree about the cars - I can remember when my dad was so outraged about what a garage was charging to service the car, he bought a Haynes car repair manual and from then on would service and repair all the cars we had (he was a mechanic in a factory so he had skills and experience of working with big machinery) The only thing he wouldn't tackle was anything that involved electrics (except changing bulbs or fuses) If he was alive today, I very much doubt he would even attempt to service / repair a modern car. Then again, the advanced technology of modern cars has meant fewer road accidents and deaths, easier to drive (try going back to pre-power steering!), comfort and reduction in fuel consumption/emissions. It won't be long before cars won't be needing drivers and we become mere passengers .... now that's scary (imagine if the computer on that got hacked ... I can see a horror movie in the making LOL)
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Mo
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Re: Things we could 'fix' in the past

Post by Mo »

Yes , I agree that safety is needed. Though it is a balance, we were taught about plugs and what the coloured wires meant. Bit like safety & children, if you don't teach them how to take themselves to school safely and let them play they will never learn.

Agree about cars and other repair jobs too. 'If you want something doing well, do it yourself'. Our Morris van never ran perfectly, then it broke down years on, and OH decided to try a decoke. He found that one of the pistons was bent, and probably had been all the while.
The builder who did an extension was very scathing about Barry Bucknell (who had a DIY tv programme) and people who tried to DIY, but after he had cut our vinyl wrong to accommodate a new pipe he said 'this is the building trade not precision engineering' Used the wrong hammer to nail down our bannister too and dented the expensive wood we'd chosen.
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Meanqueen
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Re: Things we could 'fix' in the past

Post by Meanqueen »

My first vehicle was a Bedford Viva van. I went to car maintenance classes at the college, and was allowed to take my van in and fiddle with it. Spark plugs and points. I tried a body repair once, put some filler into a dent, sand it over and paint it.

ilona
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Re: Things we could 'fix' in the past

Post by Freeranger »

Yes, it's true that much of the things on here,like changing plugs, brushes and elements, were stopped by EU safety rules. And then there's the product liability insurance.
Now to do many things, you don't just need to be a qualified engineer, you need to have the right certification as well. Like this changes the laws of physics.
I suppose there are limits. Michael I can imagine you doing brain surgery with one hand and a manual in the other!
But we were taught to be self sufficient and resilient, I think. I learned a lot from Guides, helping with DIY at home and car maintenance classes even before starting my technical training. I knew how to change brushes on a washing machine and hoover, and could improvise a fuse if needed. I remember a friend driving home once with a nail in place of the headlight fuse and operating the throttle by hand with a string out of the window and under the bonnet. Happy days.
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Mo
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Re: Things we could 'fix' in the past

Post by Mo »

Technology has changed so much. Back in the days of water-power or steam you could look at a machine and see how it worked. The cogs and pistons. I spent a lot of time in the Science Museum as a child. And our children were brought up with home made kits of bulbs and batteries, could trace a simple circuit before starting school (so could some of the Playgroup children). Now it's all electronics and black-boxes. No doubt more efficient but mysterious.
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manda
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Re: Things we could 'fix' in the past

Post by manda »

Mo wrote: 17 Dec 2020, 12:18 Yes to the kettle thing.
Me too ....why I have a stove top kettle
...And electric plugs - you used to be able to replace a plug, now it's all moulded together and if something stops working no way of telling if it's the plug or the appliance.
Once it's out of the warranty period then that plug is getting chopped off and a new one goes on...mind you NZ plugs aren't the same as UK plugs - no fuse. We have surge protectors that you lug in first then into the wall - honestly can't stand them I do prefer a UK plug ...much more substantial ...Oh heck how sad when I'm lamenting a plug {rofwl}
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Don't get your knickers in a knot..it solves nothing ~ just makes you walk funny

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