I managed to fix a 400 dollar blender they were going to throw away at work

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Rolland B. Heiss, Apr 18, 2015.

  1. Rolland B. Heiss

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 4, 2015
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    Ok, I'm over at my station in the restaurant where I work and Jacob says, "This blender doesn't work!". I immediately said, "Bring it over here and leave it by the slicer!". He did. I was thinking perhaps scrap copper instead of merely throwing it into the dumpster but I was also thinking I could maybe fix it. Well, I asked the manager about it just to get proper approval to take it home and the manager said that I could try to fix it if I wished to but added that it would cost more for them to have it fixed then it would be to merely buy a new one. Anyway, I told him I'd give fixing it my best shot and took it home after work. At first I was thinking it was a bad switch or something but that wasn't the case. Since this happens to be a two speed commercial Vitamix Drink Machine with two of the same switches... one for power and one for changing speed I merely transposed the wiring and tested the unit on the other switch. Still nothing happened. Hmmmm... I thought to myself. Then I noticed a piece of copper near the motor that is supposed to make contact with the silver metal piece underneath and it had separated. I then grabbed a large piece of scrap plastic tube I had lying around (since it is non conductive) and plugged the thing in again. When I used the plastic to make contact between the copper and the aluminum (or whatever the other metal consists of) the blender zoomed into action! Therefore, I took some needle nosed pliers and bent the silver metal upward so it made contact with the copper and it now fires up each and every time. I'm thinking that if I saved them an extra 400 dollars the decent thing for them to do would be to compensate me for repairing the thing so I might ask them what my time was worth to them in order to have a working commercial blender again. Hey, maybe a bit of gas money or something? What do you all think I should do? Just go in pretending I'm the guy who saved the day and be content with that or seek compensation for what I managed to do after work hours? One way or the other I'm pretty happy that I was able to fix the unit given the fact that I still can't isolate the fullness of the problem with my DVD/VHS combo! I'm learning new things each and every day and with the help of so many nice people here I feel like I've progressed quite a bit but there is so much to learn and so little time.
     
  2. Hypatia's Protege

    Distinguished Member

    Mar 1, 2015
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    While I gather that the difficulty owed to a broken connection, I don't quite follow the description...:confused: Was the loose connection to a brush tab? Any possibility of posting an image (merely to satisfy my idle curiosity)?

    Well... That'd depend upon the 'politics and personalities aspect' of your employment --- IMO you deserve compensation, on the other hand it may (depending upon your situation) be inadvisable to insist upon same at risk of dismissal or 'friction' with your employer... --- But then I guess you know all that...:)

    Congrats & Best regards
    HP
     
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  3. Rolland B. Heiss

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 4, 2015
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    Thanks for once again reading and commenting HP! The time you take to do so is always appreciated by me. I could wander back out into the garage and take a photo of the problem but I'd have to take the unit apart again. Perhaps I will do so. Let me think about it some as I just settled into 'dormant mode'. ;)

    P.S. I decided to go take a couple of photos which can be viewed below HP.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2015
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  4. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    You need to be careful not to appear to be rubbing his nose in anything or to be expecting or demanding anything. If you think there is no risk of putting anyone on the defensive, you might try something like this:

    Hey, you know that blender. Well, I was just planning on getting whatever scrap parts out of it that I could get, but when I opened it up I saw a wire that was disconnected and so, with a bit of effort and luck, I was actually able to fix it. I'm thinking of selling it on E-Bay for $200 but thought I'd give you the chance to buy it for $100. I figure that would save you $300 over buying a new one and it saves me the hassle of dealing with E-Bay listings and customers. If nothing else, you can look at it as though you were able to get a no-risk repair service in that you only paid for the repair if it was successful. But, in full disclosure, keep in mind that I can't give you any kind of guarantee or warrantee, though of course you can test it all you want before you pay me for it. But, certainly, if you'd rather go with a sure thing and have a new item with a new warrantee, I certainly understand.
     
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  5. Rolland B. Heiss

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    Feb 4, 2015
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    The first image is of the unit and the second image depicts the problem area that was fixed.
     
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  6. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    I may have misread your initial post. If they gave you the blender to do with whatever you wanted, then my suggestion stands. But was the understanding between you and your manager that you WOULD attempt to repair it for them? If so, then unless you agreed up front what the compensation would be if you were successful, you've really painted yourself into a corner. You owe them the blender back and have no right to expect or demand any kind of compensation. You can ask, gently, if you could get something, but if they balk then you really don't have a leg to stand on. About the best you could do would be to play dumb and go back to your manager and say that you think you might be able to fix it and to agree on a level of compensation they are willing to give you if and only if you actually fix it.
     
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  7. Rolland B. Heiss

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    Feb 4, 2015
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    Painting myself into a corner reminded me of a Jimmie Dale Gilmore song in which he states: "I painted myself into a corner and footprints are just about to become part of my design". :) A great line in my estimation and I know you didn't mean to remind me of a song but I'm glad you unwittingly did because I haven't listened to Jimmie in a very long time! For fans of the movie, "The Big Lebowski" Jimmie played Smokie in that film and is the one Walter drew the gun on when he said, "OVER THE LINE!!!". By the way, here's the song if you are interested:

     
  8. Hypatia's Protege

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    Mar 1, 2015
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    The imaged device appears to be some manner of bi-metal (auto-reseting) OC/thermal cutout... The alloy in such devices often looses tension over time owing to heating secondary to dirty (resistive) contacts... It may be advisable to run the appliance at full power under load for a time to rule out 'over current' problems...

    Best regards
    HP
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2015
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  9. Reloadron

    Active Member

    Jan 15, 2015
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    Just a few comments. The small part you bent to make contact may have been a thermal switch type device which opened for a reason. Study it carefully as if it is a bi metal type thermal switch bending it to make contact may not have been a good idea as it may not open when it should open. Another possibility is many commercial blenders have a switch designed to remain open until the container is properly secured. This is part of a safety interlock system so make sure that bending that contact did not somehow defeat a thermal switch or safety interlock system. That little gizmo is obviously there for a reason whatever it is. Also. the commutator of the motor looks pretty black. Check the motor brushes and make sure they have length left and are secure. I would take some fine emery paper and clean up that commutator.
    As to a fee? My standard fee for things like that is ten bucks, a bottle of cheap wine and a hooker. :) Seriously, be kind and just get a feel for what your time was worth.

    <EDIT> I really need to type quicker. I agree with Hypatia's Protege. :) </EDIT>

    Ron
     
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  10. Rolland B. Heiss

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 4, 2015
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    I ran it for a darn long time and shook the thing and the vibrations from running were shaking it as well. It it good as gold now, so to speak! The copper had lifted away from the proper connection somehow is all. Common sense, even when one is unsure of what one is doing often works! I would however like to know exactly what this trouble area that I fixed is called so I can read up more about them and gain greater understanding apart from Thomas Paine sort of deductive reasoning also known as the aforementioned 'common sense'. o_O
     
  11. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    You may have fixed a blown fuse by putting a penny behind it. Take some time to try to learn what that part is, why it is there, and what modifying it may have done that perhaps shouldn't have been done.
     
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  12. Hypatia's Protege

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    Mar 1, 2015
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    The part appears to be a "bi-metal fuse" or merely "self [or auto] resetting fuse" :)

    Such devices react to overcurent and ambient or conducted heat...

    Best regards
    HP

    PS -- I concur with the posts recommending evaluation of continued safety compliance!
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2015
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  13. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    There is also a non-resettable thermal fuse used, these are spring contact that are held closed by a thermal material, on overheat the metal melts enough to allow the contact to spring open.
    Especially as you had to bend it to make contact?
    Also a com on most universal motors like that are black in colour in normal use, sanding the com can cause excessive brush wear.
    Max.
     
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  14. Reloadron

    Active Member

    Jan 15, 2015
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    Roland, one more time. The part looks to be a type or form of Bi Metallic switch:

    Bi Metalic Switch.png

    The contacts on switches like this are originally spaced the way they are for a good reason. when excessive current passes through the strip a thermal effect will open the contacts. In some designs as the strip cools the contacts will close again. Bending the contacts to remain closed may not always be a good "fix" as in the future when they should open they may not open. The best way to test the blender is to run it under a good load like filling the container with ice. Anyway, if that little device is what it looks like and is part of a safety interlock having bent the contacts to make it work may not have been a real good fix or we might say fixed, not to be confused with repaired.

    Max, as to my suggestion of using fine emery to clean the comm. On a large comm it is not unusual to to hold a stone to the rotating com, a fine stone. I was not advocating "sanding" the comm, merely cleaning it and checking the brushes. Before automobiles had alternators the early generator comm was often turned on a lathe. That kept the comm even. Anyway, I was not suggesting sanding the comm and yes, sanding the comm and leaving it rough or uneven will indeed eat the brushes.

    Ron
     
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  15. Rolland B. Heiss

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 4, 2015
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    Ok, you wish me to learn and explore further on my own. I get that. But if I read between the lines you seem to intimate that I may have done something wrong and instead of telling me what the part is (which you must surely know being a moderator) how is it you don't take the time to reach down and pick up a struggling and drowning man in the realm of electronics (in the estimation I perceive you have of me) and save him and guide him as opposed to the subtle hints? The unit works now when it didn't do jack before and I may not know much about electronics like you seem to (or how I assume you do) but I do know that it is bad to put a penny in an old fuse box and I darn sure know what a fuse looks like and how they work. Seems to me the damn connection was bent somehow and when I reconnected it everything worked properly. So wise sage, tell me then for all to hear in a clear and concise manner... wherein have I 'supposedly screwed up'? Details please... starting with a full description of the part in question that you 'pretend' you are unsure of. I am tired of games in life and I don't do these things to other people when they ask me something I can readily answer. If I know the answer I tell them freely instead of hiding behind some coy disguise as if I were somehow above them in an elite fashion. We are all children of the Living God so let us try and emulate our creator and act accordingly instead of perpetuating something elitist and snobby shall we? If not then I'll cease being here and look elsewhere for guidance where people help people freely which seems all to hard to find these days. Just look at the world around us where people burn people to death in a cage for example. I don't get it. Perhaps I am an idiot.
     
  16. Rolland B. Heiss

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    Feb 4, 2015
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    Thank you! This was helpful and informative as opposed to something someone else posted that wasn't. I appreciate the information and your time.
     
  17. Hypatia's Protege

    Distinguished Member

    Mar 1, 2015
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    Of course this is none of my business, however I must say I feel WBahn was genuinely attempting to aquatint you with the safety repercussions attendant to modification of interrupters... I see no evidence of disparagement...:confused:

    Sincerely
    HP
     
  18. Reloadron

    Active Member

    Jan 15, 2015
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    Roland, all any of us can do is guess what that part actually is. Sometimes we (any of us) might see a part and a little bell rings and we know what it is, we have seen it before, maybe used it in a design, but we know without a doubt what it is. Sometimes we see a part and might say "it looks to be" or "it resembles" and other times my phrase is I don't have a clue. WBahn wasn't really being mean. Possibly you saw my comment to the effect of fixed, not to be confused with repaired. A now deceased and former friend of mine was a hell of a good engineer. Herman also had a great sense of humor. I got that phrase from him years ago. Before I retired it was not unusual to get late night phone calls from our 2nd or 3rd shift with a problem. Equipment loved to fail or things go wrong during must run critical hot test. More than once I went in and used a band aid or as was mentioned, in a sense put a penny behind a fuse. :) Eventually a department manager would call me and ask if it was fixed and running? My reply was yeah, it's fixed, not to be confused with repaired. Then the fix was baby sat for maybe 72 or 96 hours till the hot test was complete and a normal repair could be initiated. Believe me WBahn is looking out for your best interest and has that at heart.

    Ron
     
  19. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    Why does being a moderator mean that I know what every part in every appliance is. All I'm saying is that you may have inadvertently bypassed a symptom of a more important problem and, yes, may be making matters worse. That part is there for a reason. Perhaps you fixed it, or perhaps you just put a penny behind the fuse by bending it upward to force it to make contact all the time. After all, the person that is pulling 30A from a 15A circuit and puts a physical penny behind the Edison fuse (or a screw across a Buss fuse or whatever) could say the exact same thing, couldn't they: "The unit works now when it didn't do jack before."

    As others have said, it is probably a thermal breaker of some kind and you have just defeated it. If it was open because it broke the circuit doing what it was intended to do, then you have not fixed a damn thing, but only masked the symptom so that the real problem can continue without that breaker being able to protect it in the future.
     
  20. sdowney717

    Member

    Jul 18, 2012
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    If the thermal breaker is now in questionable condition, then replace the thermal breaker with another one wired into the supply wires for the motor circuit.
    If it is a little less than 15 amp motor, likely use 15 amp thermal breaker with auto reset. Mostly such a breaker will open circuit if the motor stalls since stalled motors the current rises a lot, then the breaker will open letting the user clear the jam. You can get 10, 12, 15 amp thermal breakers. Or you can use a manual reset push button breaker.
    I would just wire the new breaker in series with the current thermal breaker, if the old thermal breaker seems to be allowing sufficient power flow for the motor to work normally.

    Also it could be the breaker you fixed can not handle enough current and will open too soon, if the motor is tripping off on normal loads without overheating, then you will have to cut it out of the circuit.

    I think your old breaker simply overheated one to many times and failed and your bending - adjusting it has challenged its ability to regulate the current flowing into the motor.
    If it was a 15 amp breaker, maybe now it is a 20 amp or it could be even a 10 amp breaker, no way to know without running measured amp flow through it in tests to see where it trips open.

    The amp flow into the motor will vary a lot with changing loads on the motor.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015
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