Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Toys and Tape Make Food Taste Great

Our microwave oven stopped working on Wednesday. Actually, it continued to work, but the door wouldn´t open. Something inside the door-latch mechanism seemed to be jammed or broken. I was more than a little perturbed. After all it´s only a little more than a year old.

I´m not sure about you, but I am a heavy user of the microwave. It´s primary purpose in my life is to warm the many forgotten mugs of coffee that I perpetually leave around the house. That´s enough of a blow in itself. Of course there are other tasks for which it is suited and, short of baking bread, it is part of virtually every meal I make.

Wendy began to get alarmed with how panicked I was becoming over the loss of this small appliance. I felt thrust back into a dark age of wood ovens and feudal servitude. I don´t mind daydreaming about such things, but not over a cold cup of coffee -- especially when the weather has been so dreary again. Rain about 4 or 5 days running and a high temperature today of 14 C. That´s 11 degrees below normal for anyone who is keeping score.

After 24 hours without microwave bombardment, I was climbing the walls (but, not in the good climbing way).

The solution... duct tape AND Lego. The holy-grail of home repairs. I have to admit that the Lego was Wendy´s idea (and yes, I´m bragging about her). Brad, if you´re concerned, I was very mindful of the capacitor inside. It was well shielded. If you were here, I would have enjoyed a trip to the source to pick up a 20,000 ohm resistor to discharge it safely. As it was, I did it my way and skipped that step.

Sadly, I had to take it apart two days later and add a couple of bolts because the tape was just too stretchy. I thought that would be the case, but I was nervous to drill into the existing plastic unless it was totally necessary. Seems very solid now.

-------More Detail for the Interested------

The pad that gets pressed on the outside of the microwave pushes the large black piece in the picture above. It rotates on a pin and an arm at the end of it toggles a switch that checks to make sure the microwave is off and then a second lever that opens the door. The arm in question, being the smallest piece, snapped off. The Lego was the perfect dimension to replace this arm and came in several lengths, allowing me to select a piece that could be adequately secured to the existing block. In the end, the tape was only functional as a method of holding the pieces together while I drilled through the original piece. I like to use bright colours of tape, to alert anyone who goes into the devices that I have worked on that things are no longer in factory condition. This is usually me -- and yes, >I need the reminders.