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Date: 31 March 2014. Project Proliferation. (Hella fan fixed)

There is a phenomenon in this country that affects mainly the older folks. I'm referring to the inability to throw out something that is simply broken -- because you're going to fix it and thus, save money.  I was raised by a man who fought in WWII and know that repair is the First choice when something breaks.

[This is the newest article in the Becoming Clutter-Free series.]

In this millennium many folks including my own daughter tend to throw away everything. She buys new when something breaks, which drives my thrifty brain into tizzy. Of course with the money she earns often it is less costly for her to work another hour than spend two hours trying to fix a $10 item.

So, if you're of the higher earning contingent you might not need my advice. However, if you have a basement or garage filled with broken appliances that are not repaired:  We need to talk!

It's time to clear the clutter.

Every one of us has a collection of good intentions. I'm fortunate because in a 23' boat there's not a lot of room for things undone.  The problem with projects easily becomes twofold:

  1. Where to store the items needing repair. This is the easiest to resolve when you live in a house with plenty of room for your projects. Out of sight quickly becomes out of mind and really, if you've not fixed it by now, why are you still keeping it? If it's not important enough to fix immediately, then you do not need it.

  2. Parts required to repair item. If you have determined the project needs to be finished, have you the knowledge to know what parts are required?  And do you have a source for those same parts that is economical? Can you buy a used item cheaper immediately?

This week as you go thru your home any item that needs repair should be set aside. Look at it realistically: Will you fix it or take it to a shop for repair?  If not, get rid of it now.

You work your whole life, and to provide shelter for broken items seems wrong to me. If you've got the makings for six bicycles but only one works, why are you keeping the spare parts?  There is a thing called Freecycle (multiple Yahoo Groups -- check for one near you) and for free you can get rid of all the good intentions ASAP.

This life afloat can be yours too -- but not if you keep all that doesn't work.

Hella fan fixed.

That said, I do take apart everything on this boat that breaks. I might not be able to fix it, but I do learn more about how things work. And sometimes I get lucky and actually fix stuff that's broken. Like earlier this week when one of my three Hella fans didn't turn on...

My Hella fan came with no connector (just the bare wires) and a couple years back I'd attached a cigarette lighter to make this one portable.  (The base is screwed to a large clip that the termite men use when tenting a house.)

The first thing I did was remove the knob to see if that was the trouble. It looked normal -- or at least nothing appeared broken.

Next I took off the cigarette lighter and direct connected the positive and ground wires via alligator clips.

Side Note: A few years back a battery charger gave up the ghost. I clipped off the wires and attached a cigarette lighter so I have a way to test stuff. It's totally icky -- the wire is stiff and I've sworn I'll replace it at some point, but it works. So, it's still here and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. But I don't like it much.

With the power to the unit I pushed on the part that moves when the knob is turned, and voila: the fan turned.

That told me all I needed to do was recheck the old plug.

I'd made a fundamental mistake: Had not checked the fuse first -- it was blown and so, replaced fuse and reattached the cigarette lighter.

One Hella fan fixed and life is again cool on Seaweed.

So my advice to you (ladies too!) is to take stuff apart. Don't do that until you have unplugged the gizmo from the wall outlet though. Electricity can be deadly -- so be safe.

And no, at first your repairs probably won't be successful. After nearly six years out here though more often than not I am able to revive things. And when I don't that's okay too.  Since it's already broken I can't break it more and just might learn a bit about how something works for the next item that breaks.

Also, start now to accumulate your tools chest with the items that you find useful and are comfortable using. Ladies, mine are smaller versions I've acquired over time. They fit my hands better than Man-sized tools, and yours might be similar.

Buy quality hand tools as it's better to spend $5 or even $10 now than repeatedly purchase knuckle-busters at a buck a piece. If you've small hands make sure the grip is comfortable -- not all are.

Do you try to repair stuff or are you a toss it and replace with new?
And, how handy were your parents? (Mine fixed stuff, so perhaps that's why I try to do the same.)


Categories: Becoming Clutter-Free, In the Bilges, Recommendations

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The Archive holds a running list with synopsis of published articles, and links to same.

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