scribbles tagged ‘fix it’


Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Original Light SwitchesSwitch malfunction.

Light SwitchesFlicking these white plastic switches had no effect on the lights they’re supposed to control. Unscrewing the faceplate showed that a small piece of plastic that acted as a ‘catch’ for the switch was broken. I needed to replace the faceplate and switch mechanism.

All the light switches in the Wendy House are the same style. Another one feels like it will break soon, frequently failing to work. I wanted to replace all of them with  switches that have a firm action, are well made mechanically, are good looking, compliment the House style. I took my design brief to a local retail DIY store.

The switches were displayed to show their faceplate, they were packaged in a way that prevented me seeing the mechanical action, materials and quality. Darn.

I chose flat, reflective-nickel, switches. Black to compliment the old oak beams in my ceiling and wrought Iron door furniture. Black to make the switches easier to see against the light walls in the dark when I’m fumbling to turn them on. Unfortunately, the behind the scenes mechanism is deeper than the back-fittings of my old plastic switches. Replacing them was not just a process of swapping the plates and re-wiring. The masonry drill came out and the wall hole had to be made deeper. A bigger job than anticipated. Why aren’t switch box sizes a standard? Pah!

Now I’m loving my new sleek nickel switches, they have a very pleasing action with a good ‘thunk’ when they fall.

2 votes rating 5

1 wonderful musing »

French doors

Sunday, December 29th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |


installing internal French doors

Installing internal French doors between the Wendy House Orangerie and front room

French doors? According to internet gossip, the French have a reputation for not being very good at keeping out invaders and these doors have big windows so invaders can see what to steal and they are easy for burglars to open, not very secure.

The cool air from the Orangerie, in the winter, is drawn around the heavy drapes by the warm air from the wood burner rising up the stairs to the hayloft in the North wing (bedrooms). A draught. On cold winter days the drapes stay closed to trap the warmth in the main living space where I lurk like  vampire afraid of daylight. This won’t do if Mum’s going to be visiting this winter. Costing on ugly UPVC doors were all rather expensive, especially given how ugly they are. I found a carpenter and briefed him with

‘simple, plain design consistent with Victorian period. Wrought iron hinges and door furniture, bevelled edge glass, that’s the one fancy thing I want’

His sketch captured the ethos well. True to French insecurity, no locks on these internal doors. It took a week for the carpenter to make the doors and 2 days full of sawdust to install them. It took me a day to put two coats of varnish on them and a day to buy new Voiles and hang them without the use of the irritatingly ineffective superglue and rod solution that the last owners of the Orangerie had installed.

The droughts have been subdued with a beautiful work of art. Daylight has found the front room in winter. Mum can visit.


French doors
2 votes rating 5

3 bits of fabulous banter »

building myths

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Boiler on fullPseudo Shakespearian, myth-making, coincidences emerge. For example, my boiler broke in

  • February 2013, the morning my mother had her first stroke. insurance fixed it by replacing the fan, mother recovered.
  • November 2013, the morning my father died. Insurance fixed it by replacing a valve.

Just in case the myth created by coincidence has any basis in reality I thought I’d head-off the proximity of the next boiler breakdown by paying for a thorough overhaul and upgrading a few elderly components. I didn’t replace the boiler because all the Heating Engineers I’ve seen have said that it is an excellent, well designed boiler that should last for decades yet. Evidently “they don’t make them like that anymore“. Like my parents.

building myths
3 votes rating 5

2 bits of fabulous banter »

bayonets are so ‘not in’

Saturday, October 5th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

used lightsWhile having a bath the last bulb in my light fitting blew. Darkness.

The next morning I fought procrastination and took a trip to buy some bulbs. At the store I realised that I didn’t know what size or fitting to buy. I plumped for the ‘common’ size and bayonet fitting.

I found a screwdriver to open the sealed bathroom light fitting and a bar stool to stand on, then started fiddling. I managed to open the fitting without breaking the glass cover, remove the blown bulbs, then notice the bulbs were the unusually small screw fittings – not what I’d bought. A quick scout around the house uncovered a couple of small screw fitting bulbs in my bedside table lamps. Phew. Easier to go to bed in the dark than bathe in the dark. Screw fit bulbs in place and bathroom light fitting reconstituted.

Just call me capable. Even without the aid of power tools.

bayonets are so ‘not in’
1 vote rating 4

6 bits of fabulous banter »


Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

mysterious error - ok?One of the many Apple fanboy’s in my life really enjoys showing me every error message that his ancient PC produces.

Todays example is a classic.

We tried a few technical fix it things and managed to find a little more information.

Somehow this extra information failed to de-confuse the situation or make OK a decision that we wanted to make.
less mysterious error - ok?

2 votes rating 4

1 wonderful musing »

troubleshooters – for hiding original design laziness

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

Office 360 discussion - rejected!Grumble mumble


foot stomp

For goodness sake Microsoft if you’re still going to fail after decades of practice providing services then at least give me empathetic failure message not this ARCHAIC SHITE!

That’s empathetic with the emphasis on PATHETIC

I’m getting so annoyed that I’m getting all SHOUTY

If you effing bothered to test properly so you get the design right in the first place then I wouldn’t have to suffer your error messages and troubleshooters.

Grumble mumble

Bad mood

troubleshooters – for hiding original design laziness
2 votes rating 4

1 wonderful musing »

black screen of death – suicide computers

Saturday, October 20th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

Black screen of deathWhen I got to work I found the door kicked-in and half a dozen laptops stolen. Booo!

The desktop computer I was planning to use wasn’t stolen. Phew!

When I turned it on this frustrating black message showed-up.  Disbelievingly I rebooted the computer 3 x. Just incase. It didn’t make any difference.  Poo!taking the hard drive out to fix it

Our IT department had a super-hero taking-out the hard drive and getting my stuff on a working (Apple) hard drive, in less than 30 minutes.  Though I suspect that actually having an external boot disc for the computer would have been much quicker.  But who uses external boot CD’s these days?!temporary replacement computer

After such a dramatic ‘where’s my computer gone’ day at work I was relieved to be home.  The Cupboard had other ideas. She was considering a sympathy suicide. She leapt to the floor. Bollocks. She may have shown me a blue screen of death, but all I can remember was this monochrome thing when I attempted a reboot to fix it.   She’s defintiely passed away.

Dad has always claimed that I have special powers over electrical equipment. He’s an electrician, he knows these things. He says I can break electrical goods by merely looking at them.  I was never allowed to go near electrical equipment as a child.  At least it was for a good reason, not like –  ‘you can’t do that you’re a girl’. My life experience suggests that dad was onto something.

Cupboard bites the dustI need a new computer….. oooooeererrr.

Hooray!  New toy!

What should I get? ipad? Chrome thingy? Surface thingy?

black screen of death – suicide computers
2 votes rating 4

9 bits of fabulous banter »

cistern valve spigots

Thursday, April 7th, 2011 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

The Wendy House toilet has a high wall-mounted cistern. Fabulous water pressure flushes the toilet with a gravity induced whoooooosh.

Piping to toilet cisternBut the cistern has always filled slowly with a noisy trickle of water. The whole arrangement is reminiscent of Victorian school washrooms. While waiting 15 minutes for the cistern to fill is not a problem when I am alone, for guests  it introduces a timing problem at peak use times.

With an imminent Wendy House party, home improvements are on the menu. Replacing the limescale clogged cistern valve. Yay. No problem. Or so I thought. A quick trip to the DIY shop where the sales assistant didn’t even know what a valve that controls the waterflow into the tank above the toilet was. Sigh. I picked the valve that looked most like the one already installed and toddled off home. So far so good. I switched off the water supply to the house then climbed on a tall bar stool to reach the cistern, remove the lid and start trying to unscrew the current valve.

Things started going wrong. A bit of the old valve broke off in my hand. A close inspection of the instructions for the new valve revealed that despite diagrams I could now work out what this meant

fit ballvalve using backnut(s) provided and ensure that the spigot(s) are used to centralise the tail of the hose

The backnut, spigots, tail nor hose were labelled in any of the 4 diagrams. Quickly I resoted to visual matching, make the new one look like the old one currently looks (without the limescale or broken bit). Then I realised that I would probably have to take part of the wall away to access the pipes.

The doorbell rang

Hello I’m Rob White and I’m canvassing for the Green party in May’s election. Can I ask you if you know whether you are going to vote in the election


I can ask you, you know if you’re going to vote, or you are going to vote?

errr…, I am going to vote

Are you going to vote for the Green party?

Valve in hand, I look at the two young perky faced boys on my doorstep

Have either of you ever changed a cistern valve?

Oh no, that’s very complicated, I’d call a plumber, you’re a brave person

They start backing away slowly as if I’m holding a loaded weapon. I’ve replaced cistern valves before. Normally its a couple of minutes, an easy job. Their lack of willingness and skill is a tad disappointing. I reassure them about my vote and non-violent intentions then call Kevin.

Wonderful Kevin sorts out my cistern with Canadian calm

Cistern refill time has sucessfully been upgraded from a 15 minute trickle to a 30 second flow. Result! Almost grounds for a proposal.

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3 bits of fabulous banter »

putting the boot in

Saturday, January 8th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

The internet stopped working…

  • I rebooted the wireless modem – nothing changed…
  • I rebooted the other thing BT gave me – nothing changed…
  • I rebooted the cupboard – and the file check police took-over…

A lot of booting fixed the problem. Such is the way of things.
I think we’ve been passed as having consistent files…
Spontaneous File Check

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1 wonderful musing »

bleeding radiators

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

with a bleed screw and radiator key.

gas-heated hot water radiates from this little beautyThis is something that I do every year. It happened this week – bleed my radiators. Many of my US friends will not have heard of this charming old country annual tradition. Most houses I visited in the US were relatively new and had hot-air circulation systems providing the heating, not radiators.

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6 bits of fabulous banter »

doorbell fix

Monday, September 21st, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

The Wendy House has a novel coil-spring doorbell circa 1960’s. For some reason  it isn’t working.   WD-40 and a bit of fiddling hasn’t yet fixed it.  I do enjoy a personally relevant, memorable, chorus delivered with passion.   Ring my bell!

White Stripes sang Doorbell

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1 wonderful musing »

Sniffing sockets

Thursday, August 20th, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

The TV remote isn’t working….

No, Wait.    it’s the  TV that isn’t working…

Oh,   actually its the socket that isn’t working….

Hang on,   its the ring-ciruit that isn’t working.  

Ah,   the fuse flipped while I was out.   Probably some freak lightening storm over the Wendy House.   Wish I’d seen that!  

During the diagnostic process I discover that the Wendy House has at least two separate electric rings in the front room alone!    

BANG!   the fuse flips again.   No lightening storm in range.   Odd.    I flip the fuse  back on  

BANG the fuse flips again.    Darn, its clearly broken and not fixing itself.   I call dad who walks me through a cunning diagnostic process that includes sniffing sockets and plugs,   switching various things on and off.   Using dad’s excellent problem-sourcing strategy I find the wiring of one socket is causing the banging.  

With  a message left on an electricians answer machine I’m about to discover the joys of having my sockets seen to.   I’m rather looking forward to it,   aren’t you?

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2 bits of fabulous banter »

problem reports and solutions

Friday, June 5th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

169 problems!Windows Vista provides problem reports and solutions. That  is helpful for people who want to try and fix something now, cheaply.   We don’t have to  pay for a service specialist or spend hours fiddling in the depths of the control panel.  This  is quite nice of them.   Or is it?

All Neverland’s 169 reported problems are atribbuted to Windows rather than other applications.   Should I be alarmed by Windows?  Or, iIs this because other programs don’t use the Windows  problem reporting system or is it because Windows has an infinitely  higher problem rate?

On planet wendy there are no problem reportsbecause the program causing the problem would receive the report, fix it then make me a cup of tea and compliment me on my choice of frock.

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3 bits of fabulous banter »

my very own set of rods

Thursday, November 20th, 2008 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Blocked drainKevin the Canadian wonder plumber stopped by.   Some people have implied that my unreserved praise of Kevin  may not be motivated by plumming necessities.    Heres a summary of our November rendezvous at The Wendy House:

1) 2 weeks ago to fix the hot water hose on my washing machine.

2) 1 week ago to fix the leaking bathroom sink plughole pipe.

3) this week to unblock the bathroom drain.

After unblocking the drain Kevin gave me, for free, his spare set of rods and tuition on how to unblock the drain myself.   Awesome,   with Kevins thoughtful tution I am gradually learning the basics of how to look after my home.   Kevins outstanding full service cost less than the basic call-out charge of any of the online drainage services.

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5 bits of fabulous banter »

hunt the valve

Monday, January 21st, 2008 | tags: ,  |


After bleeding the bedroom radiator the heating system lost pressure.    The boiler safety system switched it, and all my hot water, off.      

January.   No Heating.   No Hot Water.

In a moment of stinky-armpit panic I resorted to the boiler ‘user manual’ looking for ways to top up the heating system pressure by adding water from the mains.   I know this because I’m a sharp cookie,   or so I thought…

Which valve do I use? The red, yellow or one of the blue valves?
After an hour of reading puzzling diagrams and mystifying text I
– gave up
– washed in cold water
– called the plumber
– relayed my tale

Wendy: I’ve read the user manual, almost all of it.

Plumber: (raucous laughter) that’s no use! There are half a dozen copper pipes under the boiler, some thick, some thin, between two of the pipes is a silver pipe, turn the valve on this one to add water to the system, you’ll hear the water flowing. Watch the pressure dial until it reaches 1.5 then turn off the valve.

I pulled-away the wooden surround beneath the boiler and low and behold, a silver pipe with a valve. Fixed in less than a minute with no plumbers call-out charge and the added bonus of now knowing several of my land-lady’s, and neighbours’, wine-induced DIY emergency plumber call-out stories.

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fiddlers fix-it list didn’t (fix it)

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006 | tags: ,  |

fourteenth post in  a Wednesday series  of the shocking truth about “why wendy’s single“.    

Reason # 14:   Fiddlers fix-it list didn’t (fix it)

I followed the Fiddlers fix-it list.  It normally works.    It didn’t work this time.   Actually threatening boys with screwdrivers seems to have the opposite of the desired effect.  The wiggling and squeezing stage appears to be fairly well recieved,   if the screwdriver hasn’t already scared them out of the building.  

I’ll try and keep my screwdriver well and truely under wraps on subsequent dates.  

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fiddlers fix-it list

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006 | tags:  |

Follow this well-tested fiddlers-fix-it  list whenever an appliance starts  playing up,  being darn rude, or completely refuses to play at all:

  1. wiggling.   try wiggling all the cables,   if this doesn’t work
  2. off-on.   turn it off,   wait 30 seconds,   turn it on again.  Repeat this process up to 3 times.   If it still doesn’t work then
  3. off-plug-on. turn it off,   unplug all the cables,   plug them back in, then turn it on again.   If it’s still being finnicky then try
  4. off-ignore-on. turn it off and leave it for 24 hours to see if it recovers on it’s own, turn it on again.   If it’s still having a strop…
  5. threaten.   threaten it with a screwdirver.   If that doesn’t get a rise,   a whirrr, or even a phut then try…
  6. squeeze, wiggle & twist.   turn it off,   put on rubber-soled shoes, marigold gloves,  and unscrew bits then squeeze and wiggle every squeezable and wiggle-able part.   If some parts can  turn around then gently encourage them to turn with your hand (be careful).   Put everything back together,  turn it on.   Avoid crying,   this can cause untold damage to exposed electic parts.   If it is still behaving in a highly objectionable manner,   even igonoring you then…  
  7. phone a friend. phone a friend or two and interview them about their experiences with equivalent mechanisms.   Try to avoid crying because youe friend may have difficulty understanding you.   If friends are perplexed by the whole situation then try…    
  8. consult professionals. First, improvise living without it,   work out how much a replacement costs then find a repair service and get some repair cost quotes.   Don’t book them,   wait 24hrs for the shock of the potential cost to wear off and work out if you really can live without the mardy malfunctioning thingy.   Is it really worth the cost?   Excel can provide powerful insights at this point.
  9. Fix it. Finally either live without it,   get it repaired, or replace it.

Hope that helps.   Feedback and suggestions for refining this list welcomed.

This public broadcast service has been bought to you by Dr. Wendy and copious cups of black tea (with milk).    Dr. Wendy cannot be held responsible for any injuries sustained as a result of following this advice  or the moodiness of your  appliances.

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