Friday, 27 March 2015

Tooling up for repairs

This weekend see's the first Transition Stratford Repair Cafe take place.  For my sins I'm one of the volunteer "repairers".  The idea is pretty simple: there's going to be four or five repairers sitting in a room for a few hours, people come along with things that are broken that they would normally just throw into the landfill and the repairers try to show them how to repair them.  If they manage, everyone is happy: the person doesn't need to spend money on a new replacement, they've potentially learn a valuable new repair skill, the repairer has the good feeling of helping and the Transition group as a whole are helping cut down on waste and the use of resources.  If the repairer can't repair it we can point people at local professional repairers (thus helping the local economy), or the item gets taken away by the person who brought it and it goes in the bin anyway (which is where it was heading in the first place).  All done in a friendly social space, and for free, though people are encouraged to buy tea & cake whilst waiting or make a donation to help cover the room hire costs.

I've seen a Repair Cafe running at first hand Malvern when a couple of us went last year for a spot of industrial espionage (and tea and cake - it is a cafe after all).  The one thing that strikes you is the variety of things people bring in: knives that need sharpening, children's sit on battery cars, flat panel TVs, duff patio umbrellas, clothes that need a bit of stitching, etc, etc.  And that has lead me to this afternoon's quandary: what tools and equipment should I take?

I've just spent three hours in my workshop trying to guess what might be useful.  Its tricky, because I don't really know how many people we'll get, nor what they'll bring.  Its sort of exciting: will they bring stuff we can actually repair, or will it all be things that have designed obsolescence built into them in a way that makes it very hard, or impossible, to repair?  Is it going to be digital electronics that needs tiny specialist screw drivers and a fine soldering iron?  A lawn mower that needs it blades sharpening?  A chair that needs a leg gluing? Just to add to the sense of adventure, we'll only get 20-30 minutes to do each repair, as we might well have a queue of people waiting!

Anyway, here's a rough list of what I've finally decided to take.  I could immediately discount any decorating/building tools and heavy woodworking gear (I doubt I'd need the lathe or pillar drill for example!), so its mostly hand wood & metal working tools and simple electronics stuff. Thankfully one of the other repairers is doing the needle work, so I can also forget the sewing machines, threads, buttons, etc. Which means I'm currently taking:

  • Workmate (vital!)
  • Toolbox containing
    • variety of fixed bit screwdrivers,
    • junior hacksaw,
    • large hacksaw,
    • interchangable bladed tenon/rip saw,
    • some G-clamps,
    • multimeter,
    • hand drill,
    • wood & metal drill bits,
    • PTFE tape,
    • pipe cutter,
    • a couple of  hammers,
    • a variety of wood & metal files,
    • some pliers, 
    • some pipe wrenches,
    • masking tape,
    • pencils,
    • square,
  • A shopping trolley containing:
    • Box of various spanners,
    • Socket set,
    • iFixIt 54 bit electronics screwdriver set,
    • Set of general small screwdriver bits & driver,
    • Como mini drill,
    • Hand staple/nail gun,
    • Soldering iron, solder, etc,
    • Hand operated grinding wheel,
    • Small metal vice mounted on a workmate compatible base,
    • Wood glue,
    • 3-in-1 oil,
    • Superglue,
    • WD-40,
    • Component tray (for keeping screws, etc together when dismantling something),
    • Oil stone,
    • Needle files,
    • Sand and emery paper,
    • Some tins of nuts, screws, bolts, etc.

I'm umming and ahhing about taking my rechargeable drill/driver with me... it might be handy if something big with lots of screws turns up.  No oscilloscope or other electronics diagnostics tools, so it will limit any repairs to complex electronics (but that would probably take more than 20-30 minutes anyway... it can take that long to get in some cases!).  I should possibly have more glues, tapes and clamps: at Malvern they had loads of these available.  Not sure what other "consumables" might be needed... fuses perhaps?

So now we just have to wait and see what comes and thus what gets used that I've taken, and what I should have taken but didn't.  Hopefully with four or five repairers there we'll have a broad coverage of tools and consumables, so if I have forgotten something one of the others may have it (and vice versa). Fingers crossed, eh?