The DIY Pandemic Mechanic

 

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.” Not a new adage by any means but, against the unattractive backdrop of COVID-19, these very words did serve as my save my own butt, call to action. After all, the alternative would be to go out in public. The consequences might include getting gravely ill and, eventually, dropping dead. Now, on to my story…

“The Problem” arose about ten days ago. Just as I was completing my weekly yard work, years worth of metal fatigue had finally weakened my electric weed whacker’s, built into the handle, connection prongs. On the plus side, I was damned lucky they hadn’t totally broken off and lodged within the extension cord’s outlet.

Essentially, this was a device, with an otherwise perfectly functional motor, which had been rendered utterly useless. Ordinarily, I’d have hopped into my car, headed over to the nearest home improvement store and blown about fifty of my hard-earned dollars to purchase a replacement.

But, seeing how the malfeasance, negligence and ignorance of my homeland’s infantile leader had rendered running life’s simplest errands arduous and perilous, I rapidly scuttled such an undertaking. On the plus side, I may’ve even avoided a much too soon meeting with the undertaker, too.

However, unlike said “leader”, I realized I could avoid COVID-19 by donning my thinking cap and getting down to work.

After all, this involved a repair task that any self-respecting electrician could do in her / his sleep. And, since I do have approximately 30, mid 1970s era, electrical engineering college credits under my belt, I felt qualified to get ‘er done.

True, sans a manufacturer’s schematic diagram, I’d need to pay particularly close attention during disassembly… i.e., mentally map out the details of this device’s inner-workings (e.g., wiring, polarity issues, how the trigger switch interfaced, etc.).

The very fact that I’d need my Allen wrench to remove the handle’s five screws, amply emphasized the manufacturer’s public safety concerns. This was their way of posting a KEEP OUT / NO USER SERVICEABLE PARTS WITHIN sign. I mean they certainly did not want DIY’ers getting electrocuted.

My game plan was to [1] sever the wires to the two prongs, remove and discard them, [2] strip off approximately two centimeters of each wire’s insulation, [3] splice on a short segment of similar grade wiring (with a preexisting attached plug) and [4] exit this wire out the old prongs’ preexisting apertures. My having two rolls of different color duct tape certainly did come in handy to address the wire polarity and new insulation issues.

Prior to reassembly I decided to run a test. To protect myself from potential electrocution, I donned a pair of insulating, plastic gloves (just in case I had, somehow, mucked this up). Triggering the motor, in an instant, it roared back to life (with absolutely no sparks flying / tripped circuit breaker). Tightening the five screws to secure the handle’s cover, it was Mission Accomplished!

Granted, I’d NEVER recommend repairs of a technical, potentially DANGEROUS nature to folks with no training. But, success such as mine, does demonstrate how, desperate times don’t necessarily require measures that are all that desperate. It is entirely possible for us to draw upon our own unique (sometimes latent) talents to work the problem… to reassert our DIY / can-do spirit.

Such an attitude will come in handy whenever a “leader’s” go-to-hell-you-are-on-your-own attitude is as good as it gets.

 

Stay Safe… Stay Home… Stay Healthy…