Recycle.IT – From Canon printer to Ryobi Craftline 3.6V Handy Tool Kit

Many, many years ago, I obtained for myself a Ryobi Craftline 3.6V Handy Tool Kit. This tool kit comprised of a handle which contained 3 Nicad batteries in series, giving 3.6 Volts, and a very simple charging circuit. The charging circuit was very simple, a series resistor to limit the current. This worked for many years, and over the years needed replacement of the batteries since they die after a while.

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You might think, ok – I should be able to get better equipment now, surely? The tool kit had a number of heads that could be attached to the handle, a torch, drill, screwdriver and last but not least a soldering iron. I don’t think there is anything like it now. Certainly the torch, screwdriver and drill is available but no soldering iron. Anyway, the batteries had died some time ago and I hadn’t felt the need to buy expensive Nickel Cadmium cells to make the battery pack.

Just a few days ago, while sorting out the years of accumulation that happens in any man-cave, I came across a number of Canon NB-150 batteries, still new in box. I don’t know if anyone remembers the old Canon BJ-10e bubble jet printer. It was very common, and was one of the first bubble jet printers produced by Canon, preceded only by the BJ-5. It can be upgraded with a sheet feeder which I had, and also by adding a battery, the NB-150 – it would be a portable printer. Quite handy if you felt the need to do some work at the beach, but that is another story.

Ok, the Canon NB-150 batteries – I had bought some during an auction, those many years ago, and I had used a couple and still had a number of them left. I had a look on eBay, and sure enough, someone is still selling them. New in box, they sell for around US$10 however I doubt that they are working after so long a period of time. I took one apart, then connected my battery charger/exerciser to it to check which cells are working.

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Here is a photo of the box, an intact battery and the one I took apart. In this one, only the right-hand three cells were working, the others were shorted. Nickel cadmium batteries after a period of non-use grow whiskers which short out the battery eventually. One way to fix those is to burn them out, by putting a high current through them. I remember in my previous laboratory days, I would connect a cell to a power supply and put 10 Amps through it, at a low voltage of course. There was a current limited variable power supply that could supply up to 30 Amps – I just had to increase the current until the short circuit disappeared. Or if you are unlucky, until the cell explodes – but that never happened for me since I am generally very careful.

Now, it so happens that I only need three cells, which meant that the working cells that are joined together are just right to fix my Ryobi. That is what I did, cut those working cells out and installed into the handle of the Ryobi, now I have a working handy tool kit again!

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Recycle.IT, Repair.IT – Black & Decker GL570 Line Trimmer

Our local councils have regular clean-up days for disposal of household goods – that can often be good working items or be just plain rubbish. Anyway, I scrounge around for interesting things that can be recycled – and sometime last year, I came across a Black & Decker GL570 electric line trimmer. Knowing that electric line trimmers like this basically consist of a switch and motor – chances are that they can be easily fixed, as long as the motor itself hasn’t failed. The motor can also be reused for other purposes – this would allow me to “recycle.it“.

I grabbed it and once I was home, I checked it – it would spin very slowly but with a loud rattling noise – ok, not good. Anyway, it was put aside for a while, and when I had some time, I opened up the motor housing – the end bearing of the motor had come adrift and was loose inside the housing. That explained the slow spinning – it was a matter of a minute to push the bearing back on, then reassemble the motor housing. Testing it again, gave a good spinning line – fantastic – another item saved from the trash heap. Do you know that households generate tons and tons of rubbish that include lots of things that can be fixed, just like this?

Ok – this is not the end of this post, far from it. The line trimmer would work and would cut well, and then sometimes the line would not advance. This occurred occasionally then more frequently until a few days ago when the line would break after cutting a foot or so of lawn edge. Not good! I took the spool out, then saw that the actuator has a pin that allows the spool to advance the line – this pin was worn, such that it was likely to be the cause of the problem. You can see the end of it which should have this round pin but is very flattened.

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So, what to do? Buy a new one, of course – checking the manufacturer spare parts gave me a part number – 806474 – good. I rang the nearest service agent at Clyde, ring ring, ring ring – no answer. Ok, try the next one at Lidcombe – they answered, and was put through to spare parts. Are you sure that is the part number? – I am asked, it should have a dash 01 or something similar. I explained that the part number came from Black & Decker’s website from the parts listing for this line trimmer. Anyway, they got my mobile number so will get back to me. By the way, eBay shows that I could get a pair of these from the UK for about $14 – and if I order now, it should arrive by January 2, 2015.

Now what? I have a machine shop in my garage, so maybe I should just “repair.it“? I could cut the pin out, drill a small hole then make another piece that would fit in place. I have some nylon sitting around and some HDPE – anyway, I made a pin out of nylon – it is slightly longer so that it will engage with the spool a bit better, which will help with the wear, but it it will be slightly heavier.

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The extra weight might cause problems, but it is worth a try. All I need to do now, is to mill the pin off, then drill a 2.5mm hole dead centre of where it should be and just push the new pin in. I could glue it, but it would be best to try it out first.