Monday, January 6, 2014

Aestheticians Need Not Apply

Some items lend themselves to economical, durable repair if, and only if, one is prepared to abandon aesthetic considerations. I have an old Noma electric space heater that's a good example.

The heater's innards are still sound, and may last indefinitely, but the little rocker switches Noma used have proven to be flimsy junk. The fan switch was the first to expire, followed shortly by one of the two heating element switches. The third and last switch will no doubt follow suit given the opportunity.

Obtaining identical replacement switches is unlikely, and the compactness of the original switches makes it difficult to fit anything in place of them that's not an exact match for physical dimensions. The functionality of the switches is simple and straightforward, though, so a repair is not out of the question -- it's just that a repair won't be pretty or graceful. Here's what I came up with:

For the fan switch, I used a spare toggle switch I had on hand that I know to be a reliable type. There was enough room around the original fan switch to accommodate the bulkier replacement switch.

The two closely-spaced heating element switches weren't about to be replaced in similar fashion. I got around that by attaching a common electrical junction box to the rear of the heater, and installing two domestic-type toggle switches. Except for the near-useless little indicator lights that the original rocker switches had, I've gotten back the heater's full functionality at very low cost.

So there we are -- accept the occasional bit of aesthetic awkwardness, and some pieces of old gear can be kept going for a long time.

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