Repair Café 2024-01-28

The event was held at the Museum of American Heritage from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

First, I worked on a Technics SL-MC7 CD changer. It had a magazine into which up to 60 CDs were loaded and a sliding carriage to select and play discs. When plugged in, the machine showed “checking discs” on its display and made various mechanical noises as it attempted unsuccessfully to move the carriage. The problem (as with many old CD players) was that the belt driving the carriage was loose and had to be replaced. Fortunately, there were plenty of spare belts on hand and we were able to find a suitable one to fix the player with.

In addition, there was a toaster with a snapped nichrome wire causing one side to become inoperable. It was likely caused by the owner sticking something sharp into the toaster to dislodge some bread, accidentally breaking the wire.

As many bread-eating folk have no doubt learned the hard way, YOU SHOULD NEVER STICK SHARP METAL OBJECTS INTO A TOASTER, ESPECIALLY IF IT’S PLUGGED IN. Many toasters allow you to push the lever up above its resting position to grab smaller slices of toast. Failing that, use soft wooden, rubber, or plastic implements to remove stuck toast. Funnily enough, chopsticks, a common Asian utensil, seem ideal for this purpose, but most Asians don’t use toasters. (Note: this advice is given by someone who does not often use toasters but has just witnessed the horror of using them incorrectly)

Anyhow, we took apart the toaster and identified the location of the wire breakage. Next, we cut a slot into the mica board holding the wire in place to create some slack. Since nichrome wire gets very hot, soldering or brazing the broken ends was not an option, so we hooked the snapped ends onto each other, using pliers to “crimp” them together. We were offered the option of using a proper connecter but decided against it since our solution already worked fine.

Finally, I attempted to fix a Mr. Coffee All-In-One Occasions coffee machine that failed to heat the water. The heating element in question was always connected to line voltage, explaining why a non-contact tester would go off when brought near its wires even when no current was flowing. A relay in the control board was supposed to complete the circuit by connecting it to neutral but failed to do so.

Like all previous coffee makers I had attempted to repair, this one was very difficult to take apart, a sure sign that the coffee machine companies are conspiring to waste our time and take over the world. In this case, it might have been a good thing — by making us test easy-to-test rather than obvious things first, we diagnosed the problem, although I don’t understand why the manufacturers chose to switch the neutral line instead of the hot.