Recently, our power went out. About ten seconds later the lights came back on when our standby generator fired up, so I went about my business working on The Kneeslider. Then a couple of minutes later, the lights went out again, but this time, they stayed out. That got my attention, because it meant the generator wasn’t running.
Hoping mice hadn't gotten inside and chewed through the wiring, I went out to take a look and found a “low oil pressure” error on the control panel as the reason for the shutdown, but the engine is not that complex and I maintain it pretty well, so what happened? A bit of troubleshooting and I discovered a faulty oil pressure sensor as the culprit. Luckily, the power came back on a few minutes later so my sidelined generator wasn’t a big problem and after a quick search online a new sensor was ordered and on its way.
Two days later it arrived and with a bit of penetrating oil and judicious persuasion I was able to unscrew the old one, install the new one, test run the generator and all was right with the world. The victory celebration was small since I was the only one there, 🙂 but I must admit, I was feeling pretty good.
Another opportunity to restore order in the universe
Fast forward a few weeks and we're washing a load of clothes in our trusty Speed Queen. Halfway through the cycle I hear a long beep, which is odd since the normal signal beeps are usually short, so I walk in to the laundry room and there's an "ED23" error code on the panel. (Why do washing machines need digital control panels, anyway?) A quick look at the code chart and no joy, the code isn't on the chart. So after a minute or two online I find I'm not the first to experience this mystery error which others have already found translates to a bad motor control board. I check eBay and there are about a half dozen available, but figuring I'll give the local guys some business, I call around and find only one in stock within 100 miles, unfortunately they want over $600!! for the part, so I order one on eBay for $149 and eagerly await its arrival.
A two day wait and I have it in hand and after about 30 minutes of lying on the floor contorting my body and arms into unpleasant positions while installing the replacement, and uttering several impolite words and phrases, I plugged the washer back in and it works just like it's supposed to. Again, I smile.
Simple repairs - great satisfaction - huge savings
Putting my tools away it struck me how satisfying simple repairs like these can be. There’s no need to call anyone and wait, no wondering what to do, I, like many of you, just grab my meter and a few tools, figure out what the problem is and fix it. As I finished cleaning up I also thought about the shrinking number of people that can make repairs like that as hands on work continues to get far less respect than it should and that’s sad.
On the washer repair alone, I saved $500 on the part, had no charges for a service call that may have been several days away after which a part would be ordered, more waiting and then a final repair. Probably a week with no washer and a $700 or $800 repair bill. You can buy a lot of washing machines for less and that's probably their intention. I spent $149 total and when the board is repaired, I have a spare.
Making the World Work Again
I really enjoy fixing things and I always have and I’m guessing many of you share the same feeling. Knowing how things work or figuring something out when the need arises is one of life’s most pleasant experiences and assuming you have the tools in your toolbox, mental as well as physical, you can get by with much less money and without dependence on someone else’s schedule. No waiting for the repairman, after all, you’re already there. (My wife, on the other hand, calls the repairman frequently, "Hey Paul, this thing isn't working.")
Motorcycle repair skills apply everywhere
Troubleshooting and repair is a cross functional skill, the more you know about mechanics, electricity, electronics and hydraulics, the more you'll be able to fix because the knowledge applies everywhere. Learning to repair motorcycles teaches you how to fix a great many other things and vice versa. If you already understand those basics from some other field, motorcycles become accessible, too.
Those of us who are long time members of the society of the ever ready wrench, can find pleasure in almost any day with a trip to the toolbox. There's always something to fix or adjust. For those of you who have yet to be inducted, there's no need to wait and you shouldn't. Today's a good day to inventory your mental and physical toolbox and see what you need. The world of the fixer is a good one, it's fun and you'll save a lot of money, too. Buy some good tools and you'll save you even more. Hey, there's broken stuff all over the place. C'mon, start fixing!
One more thing: Here's an article I wrote years ago about the golden age of parts. Check it out!