Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fixing The Coffee Grinder: Why Not?

The Once and Future
Coffee Grinder
Yesterday the coffee grinder stopped working. This was a small crisis because, you know: COFFEE!
Coffee grinding by
the complete idiot!
I got by in the short run by using a hammer (see right)  but I immediately assumed that the the long-run solution was to get another grinder.
Then I realized: since the one I had was broken, I couldn't make it worse by trying to fix it!
This turned out to be really easy. As I describe the process, I'm leaving out the many times I unplugged the gadget. I just don't think it's smart to tinker with something that's plugged in, but it's hard to test when it's not.
At the bottom, remove screws. For this, I used my handy cordless drill, although a hand screwdriver would've worked too. After I removed the 1st screw completely, I realized it might be easier to keep the other one slightly threaded in the baseplate.
That screw in the middle? I spun it around a lot, to now effect; it's merely connected to the motor shaft and it turned out not to be part of the disassembly I needed.
Taking it apart was easy.
Look over the gadget. Nothing was obviously wrong (there were no apparently broken parts) so I had to figure out how the switch worked. Tracing the way the electricity flowed, I saw the flat plunger, when depressed against the force of a spring, would bring the copper ends of the circuits into touching. I plugged it in, brought the contacts to touch, and the motor spun! I could now grind coffee by holding it in two hands - not optimal - but at least had confidence that the motor was o.k. - there was probably just a switch issue.
Inside is not that complicated...
I wasted some time misunderstanding which bits of coppery alloy were actually the contacts, buy eventually I notices that one of them was slightly bent - probably by years of my mashing the button. I bent it a little in the right way, and then put the parts loosely into place. It worked!
Reassembly was the most complicated part. Trying to get all the bits to line up so nothing runs into anything else took a while, as anyone who's done a puzzle will appreciate - it's a 3-D puzzle with strange shapes! Eventually I got the baseplate screwed back on and ran another test. Success!
 Now, we could have just thrown this item out and bought a new one. I see
...reassembly: not so simple!
these for sale at about $25. Repairing saved me a bit of money and also gave me the good feeling of not having been wasteful.
The next time a little gadget of yours stops working, think about repair instead of repurchase. It's a little bit of money saved, and it's a fun challenge.

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