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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 am referring to the inability to throw out something that is simply broken, because you are 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.]

A nearby boater tossed out this Attwood bilge pump. After cleaning and testing the unit I put it in Algae.


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 are 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 is time to clear the clutter.

Every one of us has a collection of good intentions. I am fortunate because in a 23' boat there is 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. I found that if I have not fixed it by now, why are should I still be keeping it? If it is not important enough to fix immediately, then I do not need it.

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


I discovered the whale gusher hand pump I had on my galley counter would require a $90 rebuild kit. OR I could buy a brand new Valterra hand pump for $30. Guess which option I chose?!?

Affiliate Link

Valterra RP800 Chrome Rocket Hand Pump

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 does not 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 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. This is totally icky. The wire is stiff. I have sworn to replace it at some point, but it works. So, it is still here and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. But I do not 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.

My fundamental mistake: I had not first checked the fuse. Always, and I know this, check the power source. I failed to do that. The fuse had blown. It was a simple matter to replace said fuse and reattach the cigarette lighter plug.

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

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

And no, at first my repairs were not successful. After nearly six years out here though more often than not I am able to revive things. When I am unsuccessful that is okay too.  Since the item is already broken I cannot break it more. Just maybe I might learn a bit for the next time something else breaks.

Daddy's vise grips are my most used tool. Practically every project requires them.


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 have 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 have 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.)

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2014, 2023

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

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

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