ShopTalk: A General Troubleshooting Course

One of my favorite “toys” died Saturday.  A mysterious death:  the power would not cycle on for my (formerly) reliable Heathkit SB-220 linear amplifier.

Dead as the proverbial door nail.

Things like this usually happen when I’m planning something not in agreement with Universe.  Specifically, the Major and I had penciled in a 75-meter ham radio contact for around midnight local time.

Universe, however, clearly thought it was more important for me to sleep.  So, to prevent me from frittering-away Life on the ham bands, the linear amplifier was “put down” so I’d sleep.  (I got the hint, nabbed seven-hours, but now I’m pissed about the amplifier.

Don’t be pissed!  Write an article about General Troubleshooting.  Lot’s of people might benefit from that.  Then you can fix the amplifier…”

[I’m not sure where thoughts or directives like this come from, but they’re interesting to experience…]

Troubleshooting and iWAMP

OK, from the Top:  The Grand Directions for Life (if you composite all Great Religions) come down to only a couple of key Big Picture ideas:

  • When you Live, follow your heart toward what makes you happy.  It will fit nicely and make your Journey fun!
  • Always work on personal Perfection.  One of the tools is iWAMP.  The Practice of asking “Is What’s Around Me Perfect?”  If not, there is a project for you.
  • A Great Life is comprised of as many Great Projects as you can handle.  More are always out there.
  • And record in your mind’s lens every bit of it (the Film Maker’s view) so when you pass over, you’ll have a kick-ass Life Review…something you can enjoy watching and which will demonstrate your added Value and what you have Learned from Life.

Long intro to a “General Troubleshooting” Guide, huh?  But, being Sunday, having coffee, and too dark (did I mention cold, too?) I figure a nickel’s worth of Philosophizing would be fine…   Where were we?

Troubleshooting:  General

  1. Everything in Life malfunctions.  Over enough time, even a simple water glass goes “dust-to-dust.”  An auto (made in Detroit in the 1990’s) goes considerably faster.   People (and structured relationships (marriages, family) also malfunction.
  2. Understand the “Process Flow” of all things.  Trouble found?  How does a broken [fill-in the blank____] normally work.   How does that compare with its present state?  Who is Abby Normal?
  3. Flow chart proper operation We only come to know that a “thing”  (or people) are not working right by interacting with them.  Therefore, in order to troubleshoot, inspect the interaction and look for obvious iWAMP problems.  *(Like “Is it plugged in?  Is the circuit Live?  Is the water turned on?  Did you check ‘the switches’?  And so forth.  Look for block diagrams (especially in electronics).
  4. Isolate the general area of a Single Point of Failure: Reliability Engineers are my favorites among all the engineering disciplines.  Anyone, schooled in a few physics formulas can get you to the Moon.  Assuming they have time, resources, and are armed with the Russian art of TRIZ –  teoriya resheniya izobretatelskikh zadatch, literally: “theory of the resolution of invention-related tasks”) is “a problem-solving, analysis and forecasting tool derived from the study of patterns of invention in the global patent literature”.  Reliability Engineers won’t design the spacecraft.  They will, however, reduce risk by  designing something for several hundred thousand of operation-cycles that really only needs to work once.
  5. Isolate Through Measurement.  Once you have a general area where the failure is likely, then it’s time to make measurements to find the likely exact failure culprit.  In hydraulics, a simple piece of paper, waved around tubing under load, can find a pinhole leak.  In electronics, I’ve had much faster troubleshooting with an LCR (inductance (symbol ‘L’), capacitance (C), and resistance (R) meter, done power off that any number of spectrum analyzers and waveform generators.  The analog when troubleshooting a human body?  A $50 x-ray will often answer the same question as a $3,000 CAT scan.  Measuring blood alcohol, blood pressure, eye dilation, and a few simple questions (or what EMT’s call the history & Information (H&I) are standard troubleshooting baselines.
  6. Remember:  Motion-Involved Parts Fail Most.  Most failures come from motion.  In electronics, the “motion” may be from the electrons doing their thing.  Resistors can fail from doing too much work (overheating) and capacitors for a host of reasons.  Really passive components, like coils?  Less so.  Switches?  Knobs?  Plugs?  The more you touch, the more it breaks.  Same thing is true in mechanicals, as well.  Bearings, shafts, seals; the interface between motion and non is always most suspect.  Anything transmitting or modifying motion:  Brake calipers, CV-joints (which change angular direction), and shift linkages (comes from here, wanders off over there somewhere…) are all more suspect than a (passive) component like the right rear quarter panel…  Flex is a hex.  Or, trouble can hose you.   Troubleshooting enterprising resource systems is great fun (big, general, coding and rule sets.  I would die on something as confining as 32-bit assembler.  But, most people don’t realizing coding in small spaces is the modern analog to watchmaking of a hundred or two back.
  7. Inspect for Related Damage.  When one component in electronics fails, there is always the mystery “What caused this failure?”  Oftentimes, the answer is a nearby component out of spec.  In plumbing, seeing the water leak from the washer, the related damage would be water intrusion into floor materials.  In single engine aircraft repair specs, a prop-strike (ground or bird) is cause for a complete engine tear-down.  Because damage ripples.  Anywhere along the shaft where violent motion (sudden stop of sizeable mass) may have transferred stress).
  8. Do the Simple and Right Repairs.  People (up North) make a good bit of fun of Southern “red-necking a project.”  Thing is?  It’s often the quickest and most cost-effective solution.  No point on a million dollar fix for a nickel part, right?  On the other hand, if the washer overflowed, don’t just fix the failed (likely something that moves, a float, valve, switch), but also the related and consequential damage.  In our washer example:  Dry, inspect, and replace flooring, drywall, and whatever.
  9. Consider ‘Ripple’ Damage:  Finding and repairing any
    ripple damage really cleans up “failure chains.”  Plumbing just mentioned illustrates Ripple and iWAMP.

    1. Ripple;  Washer valve sticks (fail 1) due to water line clog (fail 2) causing water to dump on floor doing damage (consequential failure 1).  Which was then soaked up by drywall touching the floor (consequential failure 2).  In turn this got some insulation wet – black mold? (Consequential failure 3.)
    2. iWAMP:  How deep to go on any particular repair depends entirely on iWAMP.  “Is What’s Around Me Perfect?”  And the closely related “Is What’s Around Me Property?”  Or “Is What’s Around Me ‘Propriate?”  Obviously on the overloaded washer, “Is it Perfect?”  No?  Gotta fix.  “Is what’s broken personal property or, is this a “paid fix?”  If it’s a paid fix, and you put more time and money in than the customer is willing, you’re asking for trouble.  On the other hand, even if the washer disaster is your own home, don’t you think putting in 8-inch steel (rust-proofed and powder-coated) joists is kinda…oh, you know…diminishing returns?  On the other hand, if you’re just the repairperson fixing overflows, the ‘propriate thing to do would be mention  that “Your floor likely got wet…might want to call a water damage mediation firm before it soaks up into the walls and leads to a black mold problem…
  10. Repair, Replace, Resupply, Review: At the end of any troubleshooting (and repair) the  sequence should be:
    • Do a Remarkable Repair.
    • Replace all the tools used on the job, cleaning them.  (Pappy said he could get a good sense of a mechanic’s skill level by looking at his socket wrenches and seeing how clean his hands were.  “If his hands were clean, he took the time to clean the area before engaging repairs.  He’s more conscientious.  If the insides of socket wrenches aren’t clean and square, they don’t work as well.  Indicator of sloppy thinking and work as a result…”
    • Resupply:  Order or put on the shopping list replacements:  Washers, bolts, screws, paint, switches, doorknob, washer valve (on the theory “If it happened once, it will happen again….”  Unless you don’t get the part, in which case the new part just installed will failure instantly, guaranteed.  But this gets back to the Purpose of Living is to become a Co-Creator and this is a lesson.
    • Review:  What went great?  What was elusive?  How can I adjust my systematic thinking to make this even better/cheaper/faster next time?

Meanwhile, Back at the Radio

Ham radios – assuming a solid design – usually fail due to mechanical issues (I could have an on-off switch or a circuit breaker issue) – and as long as the unit will be opened for repair, an upgraded filter capacitor bank and metering will go in.  A malfunctioning meter switch will be replaced.  They also fail round capacitors and less often, resistors.

The SB-220 was introduced in 1975.  Sold originally for $370 back then.  Going price for one in good shape (especially with Eimac tubes) is around $1,000 to $1,300.

I use this amplifier a lot.  On  the theory “Life’s too short for QRP [low power].  1975 to 2021?   46-years of use several times per week.

A new capacitor bank and metering board?  Also overdue.

“Waiting On  Parts”

One of the most useful tools in any shop is a good quality label printer.  In the office I use an earlier (non wireless) version of the Brother QL-810W Ultra-Fast Label Printer with Wireless Networking.

Mentioned why?

Well, I run dozens of projects at any time.  Lots of the parts will be a month and sometimes several between Troubleshooting and the actual repair.  Which gets me to an area of old shipping boxes…

Ab out once a week, while I’m in the shop, I will mentally go through the boxes:  “Where are we on the parts for the upgraded ham radio Ground Bus project?”   “Did the larger square/U-bolts for Panel Rack 3 outside come in yet?”

Takes more room.

Summary, Then?

Bottom lining it for this morning?

First Point:  When you Master Troubleshooting, on most jobs the delay is for parts.

Second Point.  Pre-planned repairs and project go screamingly fast if you “line things up like ducks…”

Third Point:  Save some boxes and organize your parts flow.  A solution stumbled over when I discovered there was no room on the workbench to work because “parts in queue” were eating up all the room on the bench  for “projects in production.

“I’m not messy!  I’m waiting on parts!”  God, that was a good one to learn.

There was the “Aha!” moment for me cleaning the workbench.  I don’t have a mess on the bench.  I’ve got a sub-assembly and Parts Festival.  In manufacturing, projects go in boxes, bins, and tubs.  They come with documentation (“the traveler” with a subassembly, for example).

Same thing works at home quite well.

Sunday Breakfast Experiment

Easiest way for a little something different for Sunday breakfast?

Store bought, premade potato salad.  Heated to room temp, or just over, a couple of eggs, slice of ham, fresh croissant, hot chocolate, and an apple turnover….

Hell if I know if anything will get done today!  But that kind of carbie loading leads either to the absolute peak of human performance.  Or the pillow.

Have to get back to you on that one.

Write when you get rich,

40 thoughts on “ShopTalk: A General Troubleshooting Course”

  1. I have discovered over the years that when something breaks, the initial question should always be: “What was the last thing you touched?”

  2. Semantics

    Perfect versus Excellent

    My ears prick up and I pay particular (paranoid) attention to someone who frequently uses the word “perfect”. Years ago I was around two people who frequently talked about perfection. Both were mentally/emotionally “off their rocker”. In addition I have noticed that people in general use the term when in a state of anxiety.

    There is no such thing as perfect except in math.

    I have never noticed any such mental/emotional challenges when people use the word excellent. It means “possessing outstanding quality or superior merit”.

    • I use “perfect” advisedly.

      But to be clear: We I say I’m working on “Perfecting Myself” it’s sort-a-like ISO-903’ing yourself. Nice standard but even if you make it to ISO-9000, it’s still miles ahead of most.

      As for excellence? I think of that as a verb (always working on) as opposed to a noun (end point or goal).

      I tend to “noun” Perfection. And “verb” Excellence.

      Cosmologically: Universe is Perfection. Anything less is excellence.

    • “There is no such thing as”

      Oops.. not necessarily true CH….

      Three guys wake into a restaurant and order the family meal.. the waitress charges them 10 dollars a plate.. each hands here ten dollars.
      The manager comes out and tells her she overcharged them for a family price its 25 dollars.. he gives her five dollars and tells her to give it back.
      Not knowing how to separate five dollars between three people she puts 2 in her pocket. Giving each mana dollar back. Soeachmanhadpaid 9.00 three x 9 is 27 +2=29 where did the other dollar go.
      I think Congress budgets with that kind of math..

  3. Radome motor on a C130 Herc stopped working. No spare. 6 moth back order. Took to bench. Seized. Opened motor. Sprayed with WD-40. Reassembled. Bench tested ok. Put back on plane. Tested-worked fine. Logged it with note to install new motor when one arrived. Put plane back in service. Got in trouble for sending plane out with repaired part instead of new part.

    Cleaned my workbench at home last week. Found parts for a compressor I was working on 2 years ago. Fixed compressor. + while cleaning bench found $60 worth of parts I ordered for a blower that was non repairable. Was able to return parts for credit.
    `write when you get rich“ does $60 qualify

    I like your idea of tubs-boxes for repairs in progress. Would have prevented messy bench and lost parts situation.

    ps-you seem to have a lot of amazon boxes :)

      • On a totally different topic…..have you thought about Succession planning for Urban-People.
        I think more people than you realize depend on you for daily inspiration.
        Maybe you could do an article on what it`s like to do what Ure doing. Might inspire someone (don`t look at me-I could never do what Ure doing)

      • What’s funny is at the store potato chip companies quit selling potato products..well they cut it way back.. filled the space with corn products because cornish cheaper.. we use individual one ounce bags won’t find a one for barbecue.. on amazon it Walmart you can purchase them free shipping ffg or 2.00 less than the price was before they quit stocking them at the store..

  4. George

    ” Look for block diagrams (especially in electronics).”

    YES YES YES! Been there done that a thousand times in my military and civilian career. In the military we didn’t have time to use a schematic. We had trouble analysis diagrams which lead you by the nose to find the specific item stopping a launch. We trained in intimate detail on how the systems worked but with time the most critical item we used the diagrams in a robotic fashion and got the problem fixed with jumper wires, bailing wire, duct tape, whatever. We had a special tool kit just for that work and a detailed manual on how to do it. We only had a 30 minute window at best to effect a repair before enemy action might put us out of business permanently!

    In civilian life you usually have more time to deal with a problem. Most of the time I was dealing with equipment from the big names in electronic and industrial controls. Outfits like Hewlett Packard and Allen Bradley. Their documentation was the best and they always had a Tech Rep available if you could not isolate the problem. Unfortunately we can not say that about what passes for Owners Manuals in today’s world. Even some high end equipment only comes with a manual that’s a page or two long and usually written by someone with a limited understanding of the English language. Hey, if it stopped working just buy a new one, right!

    Good documentation and a good understanding of how a piece of equipment works is the key to effective trouble shooting!

    • “Even some high end equipment only comes with a manual that’s a page or two long”

      Or 16 pages long, of which the first 13 are “cautions,” “warnings,” and “importants,” placed there as “anti-litigation clauses” by the company’s legal department as CYAs for a stupid, and often litigious society…

    • “Or 16 pages long, of which the first 13 are “cautions,”

      I will never forget when it became necessary to list them..
      We made pesticide and herbicides and cleaning chemicals.
      Everyone joked..
      If it stinks don’t smell it
      If it tastes bad don’t eat it
      If it hurts dont do it

      What is funny is on the fishing lure package theresone not fo tdd human consumption… and I’m pretty sure on gorilla glue therewillbe one not to be used for a hair product.

  5. Probably a power transitor/tube went and blew the power supply fuse. Could be the ac/dc rectifier circuit. Diodes go bad once in a while.

      • “Geo: “Now, who unplugged that amplifier?” :) ”

        A favorite story is a sibling that’s an electrical engineer was called to fix a strategic defense system lol lol lol..he flew thousands of Miles got there and the problem was it was turned off.. lol lol lol flipped the circuit breaker ( the joke is just plugged it in )and back home he went lol lol lol ..

  6. George,

    A Clothes Washer repairman once told me to unplug the washer for at least 15 minutes now and then.

    He said that when you pull the plug from the wall for that time period, the electronics,etc, reset to manufacturers settings.

    Does that make any sense to you?


  7. A few tips from the Radio Ranch:

    If you know the word, “Floobydust,” and
    who popularized it, stop reading — you already
    know everything that follows. Save tine,
    and move on to your next adventure.

    In no particular order:

    1) Most failures are electro-mechanical, and
    not deep or complex. Not all: most.

    2) The simple fault is probably the one that
    has happened.

    3) Amazingly often, simply disassembling and
    reassembling an item will mysteriously fix it.
    Twice a year, in the transition into winter and the
    transistion into summer, “things” happen as the
    long-term temperature and humidity cycle annually.

    4) Have manuals. Get them off the ‘net, and also
    keep electronic versions when possible because
    they are word-searchable more easily than paper.

    5) Be open to serendipity as you diagnose. Don’t
    be stubbornly proving your theory is right.

    6) Measure and save data BEFORE a failure.
    It’s useful to have recorded what the SWR on
    that antenna WAS when it was first put up.

    7) Treat all outside experts’ opinions with
    suspicion. Hear their ideas, but hold to your
    own — you’re closer to the problem.

    8) Have spares and tools in advance where
    reasonable. If a part pops, buy two: it’ll
    probably pop again some day.

    Avoid distraction and interruptions. They only
    de-rail your train of thought.

    Read Sherlock Holmes.


    • Fluke 87, good antenna meter, LCR meter – all worth of fortune in time saved.
      New hint from this morning: Elaine’s yoga mat is a perfect make-do electrical safety mat. Shsshhh!

    • Theres also the probability that in manufacturing account down circuit.was put in place.many televisions have those in place.
      I learned that the hard way..
      AED batteries have them installed. Requiring you to purchase new batteries. Manufacturing companies for AED’s change the case slightly every five years. That way your required to purchase a new one..

  8. Minneapolis has the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting.

    It doesn’t advertise it, but it has lots of electronic parts to sell, from tubes to testing equipment.

    Items are frequently are donated to the Museum.

    The museum sees if they have the item, and if not may add to the collection. Only the best of items

    OTH, if it’s they don’t need but something with consumer interests, it is added to the store room. When time permits, it is checked by the professional staff.

    Sometimes refurbed by a pro.

    It can be sold.

    The Museum has an Ebay site where items are sold.

    They have lots of stuff in the warehouse that are not listed.

    Stop by the websites occasionally; ask about items you could be interested in.

    Ham radio is not a direct part of it, but the many of the parts and equipment would be.

  9. Used to be when something electronic broke I would go back half way and check. All good the go back another half. Saved me a lot of time instead of following the ‘official’ troubleshooting procedures. I also made a lot of flow charts about various disciplines. Loved troubleshooting as it was so intriguing.
    Just built a fireplace and it works great! Nice to sit with the Lady and take the chill off at coffee or happy hour. Sometimes BOTH!
    Life, if you are in sync with the Universe or Spiritual Energy, flows so smoothly.

  10. Yes, I have begun collecting cardboard boxes for projects “in progress” also. Now the problem is where to keep them. I’m on overload with parts and tool boxes while trying to keep the workbench clear. The problem involves a chain-of-events to correct. I need to get a truckload of drainage rock for the driveway and a base in the backyard for a shed. Then obtain a plastic 8×10 lawn shed to house the lawnmowers and gasoline and string trimmer. Then I will have space to clean out the tool shed where there are shelves… and I can store more boxes!
    Critical path methodology at work… or at least planning.

    Did you plug the amplifier in? “Primary side wiring issue?” Hah!
    I have pulled #10-3 romex thru the attic to above my radio room, and installed the conduit and outlets down the wall. Final section is to thread the wire down thru the ceiling, into the conduit and down to wire the outlets so I will have 240vac to power my Ameritron 1306 amp. But then I need to replace the antenna coax with a higher power version also. It’s always something.

    • “Yes, I have begun collecting cardboard boxes for projects “in progress” also. Now the problem is where to keep them.”

      So has my grandson… he’s filling his parents garage and…
      you know 3m strapping tape was originally designed for balloon construction for a govt.project…
      I have been curious just how strong nylon fibers would make cardboard construction materials.
      The mini bar is holding up very well..

  11. ‘Environment, making, news’ above the Sweet but crooked lies of MMT.

    I love the tags.

    Really good article today Mister Mister. Left ya Vm couple days ago OTW to Idaho. It’s over between the SHG and me. I’m done, and when I’m done, I’m done. I’m good with that. Love everything about her but her follow through sucks. Integrity is lacking. Say what ya mean and mean what ya say. A little less talk and alot more action.

    Ya know George, sometimes life isnt all Rainbows, Unicorns and Blow Jobs. And sometimes it is, since she convinces me to stay the night after I got there andrealized, I’m just here to get my guns and 4 cups, wearing a t-shirt with unicorn on it and rainbow, with no brah on standing there in her sea threws. Once she started snoring after a hellova wind storm at the root chakra? I bounced.

    I havent done that sort thing in a while. I can tell ya, after I left, it was like the weight world fell off my shoulders. No hard feelings. Just doesn’t work for me. All good. Can’t say a bad thing. Dont need a scape goat for my feelings. Just not working for me. Long distance relationships are not my gig. I need presence.

    Plan plan plan. A man with a can with a plan. Favorite cooking book.

    Spontaneous movement is good sometimes. As my grandfather said to me when I was child because i didnt want to go to the 7th grade dance in my parachute pants because I was really nervous about a girl there,

    ” take a chance my boy! Your Mom did and look what she got.”

    I stood there and blinked then it hit me like wave of joy and laughter.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Them fckin old dudes and their wisdom. Priceless!

    • G2 (Leavenworth) just broke another heart last week – another she with integrity issues. He’s doing the “Hell no I don’t want to get together again” dance.
      “Women are like cigars,” advised Pappy. “The only go out once. If they do, they’re no good anymore and you throw ’em out.”
      But, that was from a time when both sexes were able to be monog…and them days are long in the rearview. Dman shame. Country back there a ways, too.

      • Ya, she was batting 9 for 9 and strike outs on doing what she says was gonna do. Then when I went over to get my guns, found another dudes bow tie and few things a miss, like an outfit I hadn’t seen before.

        As I was walking out to the 300 at 230am, there was a fella in a big dodge truck sitting out of her house on the phone. As ya know,, I have a realy keen ear, I over heard him saying, did you friend get his stuff? I want to see you.

        So walked back and in took the bow tie as I walked back out to my car I stopped by his truck that had the window cracked and said, she been busy tonight, she is gonna have to sleep that one off and shower before ya come over tomorrow. I got my guns and had a good time. He just stared at me. I said best advice I can give ya mister is, “Wear the world like a loose garment.” Good luck to yah. Im good now. He rolled up his window and sped off.

        He never said a word, but as I was talking to him, he looked down at that red bow tie in my hand a few times. Most men, wont step up to bat with me. Im a big mother fcker.

        I love monogamy. I doo so so so much better in a relationship. Om balanced and well, im spend less time talking panties off nuns and get more shit done.

        Me thinks her looks were enough. And I reminded her, I bang super models. Lol. If it was just looks honey? I’d with the playboy centerfold, she would love to have me back. The thing about trophies, eventually they sit on a shelf and get dust on them. Plus, we don’t rest on our Laurels. We are inching our way one step closer to world domination. Because if we don’t? It will become world damnation.

        Sorry to hear about that for G2. It’s never easy. One things for sure. I now am able and willing to be emotionally available. And I haven’t for 4 years. So, im grateful for that.

        Im not over the Hill Pistol peat looking for Sally brown because any man can lay her down.

        Plus, I found my vision board that 99% of it has come true and she wasn’t the girl on it. I hadn’t looked at it in 6 months. It’s in my safe. Every single thing has manifested in some form even the car im driving now, except 3 things. Im sure they will happen soon enough.

        Happy Hunting G2! Im sure she will be along when she is along. They always are and we are as I often have said, Right on Schedule.

        Hope that wasn’t you in Silver Dodge Truck. Lol would be too much of a coincidence. I couldn’t quite see the guy’s face. it was dark. Thanks for the bow tie. Glad I got the physical manifestation of the 4 cups back together. Coffee cups, that I hold while doing my morning ritual.

        Giving and receiving.

        My 4 cups. Post a picture Monyana. I have a 5th cup, but it hardly ever used. On rare occasions.

  12. Unless you’re an absolute wizard, don’t try to out-think the flow chart. Condiment cups are handy for tiny radio screws. Understanding how things work is *sometimes better than how to fix them. Doubly so with people. Thanks for the tips on the case of paper towels (lasted a year), structured water and earthing, (although the earthing has affected dreaming). Best wishes to Elaine.

  13. I been using on one cup for about 3 months now. The love cup. So I look forward to its manifestation shortly. I think I will put it in the cup spot with the other 4 and use the Wealth cup for the next 3 months.

    Being pretty is not enough. Lol

    Im a simple man in relationships. I only need really 6 basic things. Beyond physical attraction and chemisty.
    #1 Feed me well
    #2. Fck me well
    #3. Trust and respect me
    #4. Be faithful and own your shit and change your behaviors
    #5. Be genuine and authentic. Be who you say you are..
    #6. Do what you say your gonna do. Have integrity and your word has value and worth. Keep your commitments. Unless its an act of God.

    If she can do that? I will bend over backwards to give her the world.

    Ohhh im sure the next batter is warming up. Hope she hits a home run. Lol

  14. If it is mechanical, it is either dirty, worn, or broken (in that order.) If it is electronic, it is always the weakest link… or the power cord ;-)

    The issue is often not obvious.

    Back in the ’70s I became expert at tuning SU and Solex carbretters (Learnt it from a wrench who was trained at University Motors, the UK worldwide distributor for MG and I believe Austin Healey.) The big secret that the few remaining folks who can tune ’em don’t tell, is the throttle shaft is brass, the old carb bodies aren’t bushed and the newer, bushed with brass bushings, so the brass shaft wallows out the bores in the body. Once this happens, the body “leaks” air, screwing up the A/F ratio and rendering the carb impossible to tune, and multiple carbs impossible to sync. I cozied up to a machine shop owner who owned an adjustable reamer/hone/borer, and would have him mill the bodies, then I’d install Oilite bearings, line-bore, then hand-scrape them to shaft-size. Everyone else replaced the carbs (then ~$400, now over $1000, plus core) — mine worked better and lasted much longer.

    When I stopped building computers, I still repaired others’ systems. The name-brand manufacturers all used power supplies which were barely adequate to power the stuff in the box, and used junk Chinese caps. The “consumer” systems would shit themselves like clockwork, two months (plus or minus 6wks) before the expiration of their warranty period. Add a network card or upgraded modem or vid card and the system would go south sooner. They would invariably start throwing random errors like HD read errors, memory errors, or CPU stack overflows. When a computer throws a BSOD after a few minutes of no-load bench-use, and errors are not the same, the cause is not the part which throws the errcode, but the system itself, ergo it MUST be either the motherboard or the power supply. I had a PCPC 750W power supply as my bench supply, so it didn’t take much substitution to isolate the cause, and after a few dead Co***qs and D***s crossed my desk, I deduced the BigBoys were saving a few cents by using junk power supplies. I _also_ didn’t tell anyone at the time, because it was good business, having a reputation for being able to “fix the impossible” (and, BTW making more $$$/repair than I made from building & selling a complete computer…)

  15. I learned a tip from my master cabinet colleague. He builds high end cabinets for kitchens, dens , etc. If he goes out for a repair or refinish of say a drawer or door, he repairs it. If said drawer or door is one of many of the the exact same size, a common occurrence, he switches drawers or doors with the repaired/ refinished one. He’s always complimented on how good his repairs are!

  16. Jumping in here, late this evening, likely very off topic. Been reading your blog off and on for probably 15 or more years, also previously as a subscriber. I admire your amazing mind, your ability to combine fact and fiction, your woo-woo, your mechanical abilities, your brain capacity to store facts and figures and to be able to spew them out on a daily basis, word by word. Admittedly, my mind, getting older by the day (75) intuits more than having the ability to spew facts and figures.

    But, just had the need to say, although I understand your need to make a living, we are all being fucked, royally. No matter the charts, they are all manipulated and controlled. No matter whether to short or long, we have little say. I also remember you and Elaine talking about selling out your tree farm to travel closer to your children? Now you are glad you have stayed where you are.

    You have written little about this “scamdemic” and I am calling you out on this. You were all in on all the draconian measures and mandates for a virus with a now proven 99.7+ survival rate and encouraging your readers to mask up, and sanitize even your deliveries from fucking Bezos?

    Either you are not as smart as I thought you are, or you are totally without a soul, and just covering your ass for the money?

    • What is 0.3% dead?

      Is it worth 50-cents when we rarely go out?

      We have ended Cloroxing everything. We still mask.

      Will the killer variant next phase be released in the public or the press? Stay tuned.

      • The next killer phase is likely to be the lethal effects of the mRNA vaccines, which appear to be engineered to continually depress immune systems so the next [man-made] covid variant released will enter bodies unopposed. It looks to me like this is the phase where all those alleged huge plastic coffins stashed away in various parts of the country will finally be filled. Here is one of the best descriptions of what the vaccines actually do and their long-term lethality:

    • Lois, I don’t think anyone here (save some of the left-coasters) ever favored draconian “mask mandates” &c. We favor “mask common sense” because the onus for our personal protection lies with us, or with our County Health Department, not anyone, anywhere higher on the government food chain. When Abbott unlocks Texas, there will be nothing which tells individuals they can’t wear masks. George chooses to mask-up in public places (FTM so do I) because it is his Right to do so… And as he said: “What is 0.3% dead?”

      It’s all statistics. By eliminating a few tenths here and a few tenths there, chances are I won’t live a day longer, but the journey may be more pleasant, and CV-19 infection is still a crapshoot WRT long-term complications…

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