Cephus' Corner

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Needlessly Complex Repairs - Cephus' Corner

Needlessly Complex Repairs

August 25th, 2015

Plasti-DipYeah, in retrospect, this was a mistake and I should have known better, but I recently noticed that on our vacuum cleaner, there was a slight nick in the outer insulation layer on the power cord.  Just a little one, it doesn’t even break through the cotton wrap between the outer insulation and the inner wires. There were complications, of course, I wanted to repair it but I didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money on something, nor did I just want to do an easy fix that would fall apart almost immediately.  So I asked on a forum and, as I should have expected, it turned into a shitstorm.

Why does this always happen to me.

First, I laid out the facts. I’ve got a Bissell vacuum cleaner with an automatically retracting reel for the cord.  I have no idea how the cord got split but, as I said, it’s an extremely minor cosmetic thing, a few millimeters long at best.  I said I didn’t want to use electrical tape because it would just fall off, especially given that the tape would be forced to flex and stretch repeatedly when it retracts into the reel.  Although I would have preferred to use heat shrink tube, clearly you can’t get it over the factory plug and I couldn’t source heat shrink tape in the correct color locally.  I suggested that my best idea in that case was black Plasti-Dip spray, a spray rubber in a can that can fill the void and, I assume, would be quite wear resistant.    I presented my question exactly like this and said that I wanted to know if anyone had any other ideas that maybe I had missed before I went ahead with the Plasti-Dip solution.

Let loose the shitstorm of stupidity.

Apparently, the overwhelming majority of people didn’t even bother to read what I had written, the few short sentences that it had ended up being.  I had a ton of people saying that I needed to replace the entire reel and electrical cord  because any break in the insulation means the whole thing has to be thrown out and started over.  I turned around and said that Bissell doesn’t sell the reel and cord, they insist that you have to take your vacuum to an authorized service center and let them do the work, which I think is asinine, but there it is. Besides,, we’re talking about a minuscule cut in a non-critical piece of rubber.

So then they started insisting that I had to hack off the factory plug so I could get heat-shrink tube on there, which is absurd overkill.  Sure, I could easily cut the plug off, get a new plug and replace it, but why? The fact is that replacement plugs are inferior to the original factory plug in every way.  In an original plug, the plastic coating protects the wires from stress when the cord is being pulled out and retracted, plus if it ever gets pulled accidentally while plugged in.  On replacement plugs, all of the stress is on the wires themselves, especially at the screw connections, making it more likely to rip the wires out, potentially causing shorts.  More industrial plugs will let you clamp onto the original external coating, making it a little less likely, but it’s still inferior to the original plug.  Why replace something with an inferior version for a minor cosmetic repair?  When I explained why these were unreasonable repairs to make, I had people getting genuinely mad at me, saying I should just go buy a whole new vacuum cleaner because I refused to do what they told me to do.  It was about then that I just walked away from my own thread shaking my head.  I ran out in the garage, grabbed a can of black Plasti-Dip and covered the minor split.  I gave it an hour to dry and it was good as new.  I shouldn’t have bothered asking.

However, this isn’t an isolated incident, I’ve seen people asking really simple questions and getting absurdly complex, expensive and ridiculous answers. Someone said they had some deep scratches on the wing of their tablesaw and half the people who responded told them to go buy a whole new replacement wing, costing hundreds of dollars.  It’s a scratch!  That’s like saying you get a minor scratch on your bumper, you have to go an get the whole car factor repainted, end-to-end.  That’s ridiculous.  I guess there are a lot of people with more dollars than sense.

So has that ever happened to you?  Have you asked some really easy questions, only to get really absurd answers?  Let me know in the comments.

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Cephus' Corner

A Place to Share my Geeky Side With the World. Comics, movies, TV, collecting, you name it, I indulge in it.