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QotW: When something breaks down, how do you deal with it?


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Hi folks, once again no questions in the QotW question pool, but I will attempt to raise another once again. I was making a list of parts I needed to repair my kiln the other day, and had taken off the switch panel of the L& L and taking a few pictures made determinations on the web site using the serial # of the kiln to choose replacement parts. I also had checked into areas of if this burns out, replace it, but also replace x, y. or z.  This got me to thinking about the types of things that have made me grow experience wise in the HS studio, and in the shop at home. . . making repairs!  I know that many out there have a handy better half that do repairs, others have friends or other potters nearby always handy to fix something or at least lead the way. Still others out there will call in a specialist to repair the kiln, fix the wheel or such. Over the years I have found that my understanding of the equipment is often better than some of the so called specialists that I have had looking at things. Not going further. . . 

QotW: When something breaks down, how do you deal with it?

best,

Pres

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To me, if I can understand a system, I can make it whole.  So as someone who is curious and skeptical, I don't accept that things work by magic, or that the way they work is unaccessible to the common person.  Everything can be understood, at least on a general level, which can be used to deduce a possible issue.

So I try to understand and fix everything, even if it's more expensive.

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  • Pres pinned and featured this topic

I fix it.  
Having a very blue collar youth, if ya didn’t fix it, you were likely walking instead of driving your old car. A lack of money is a great motivator to learn how to fix everything and anything.

I did learn one important lesson, well two maybe. Ordinary folks can learn most things and produce extraordinary results and my never give up level probably increased exponentially as a result of forced necessity.

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Step 1: Curse

Step 2: If the thing that needs repair came with a manual, I start looking for a solution in the manual. Most of the time, the problem turns out to be routine, and the solution is already spelled out.

Step 3: If I still can ‘t quite find the answer, I call the manufacturer of the thing that needs repair. Often they have personnel who can help troubleshoot. In the pottery world, people tend to be smart and nice.

Step 4: I’ve also had good success asking for equipment help on this forum! 

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I rarely ever pay someone to fix things, especially in the studio. At home I will hire someone only if it's an extreme situation that's beyond my ability as an accomplished DIY'er, like if I need a new roof. I enjoy fixing things, though, so it's not a problem. You either need to be handy or need to be able to write a check.

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Around the house or for ceramic equipment etc between my husband and myself we don’t ever hire anyone to do anything. It just goes against the grain to think of hiring someone to do work that we can do ourselves. I think it started when we lived in a very remote place where materials had to get either flown or barged in. if you needed something done you either did it yourself or chances were it didn’t get done. Same with making do with what you have, adapting scrap materials whenever possible to repurpose into something else.

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Since I joined the USAF back in '68 I was and am the person that people that can't fix it hired to take care of the problem. I found that I had an innate ability to analyze problems and solve them. All of the myriad jobs I had over the decades involved a position that enabled me to use my abilities culminating as a remodeling contractor which spanned 40 years. I'm still asked by friends for solutions to their various problems and if I can talk them through so they can do it themselves, so much the better.

So, to answer the question... I look at the problem, see the outcome, and proceed to fix it!

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If I can't fix it, the other half usually can.  The only thing he won't play with is the final stages of electricity.  He will rewire plugs, wired up everything in the conservatory when that was built, and got a sparky in to check and connect.  Metal wood is his domain, clay, ceramics and textiles is mine.  We did get  a builder in to convert a bathroom to a shower room, with all new fittings, tiles etc.  But that wasn't coz we couldn't do it.   We decided we could make better use of our time.

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I tend to fix everthing myself. A few exceptions-I sent my two oxyprobes away for platinum wire repair.

I wired our whole house and plumbed it and did the forced air system-solar water system-so when things need repair I learn about how they tick and fix them. I also did the roof install twice on the house-last time I put up 50 year singles and am done withg that as well as 25 year paint so thats also done for my lifetime now. I did hire the last of my foundaytion work (65feet) after my wrist surgery so I have to baby my wrist and working with concret is no babing your wrist. That 20k was the best wrist health I could buy. I do not like to work on cars but I can ( I have rebuilt a motor in my youth) but usually farm that out so I can make pots instead. I am replaceing a radiation in my 1989 restored Toyota small 4x4 pickup truck this week. Of course the truck has a brand new motor and transmisssion /clucth so the radiator (OEM) is the last topping .Its my personal local get around rig not connected to either of my businesses  so no write off there. Tax /account day was yesterday for me so I do farm that out as well.

I am installing a  5/8 baltic birch subfloor in our office this week over the fir subfloor to stiffen it as well but hired a pro flooring person to install and finish the wide plank maple. I could do it but I would rather make pots. This was our last carpeted space which now the whole house is hardwood and tile floors.Its also the last remodel on the interior we will do-YA.I'm having a cherry writing/comuter desk made for this new space as well from a talented wood worker -Yes I could do that but would rather make pots.

Having skills as a potter has severed me well.Electrical and plumbing and mechanical and woodworking -hey jack of all trades -its dying art these days with so many just skipping thru life on their phones.

Edited by Mark C.
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My Mom used to say that if my Dad couldn’t fix it, it couldn’t be fixed, so I grew up thinking figuring out how to do stuff yourself was just what people did. Like Liam, and Mea I like figuring it out. My default is to look up how to do it myself, and if it’s more of a can of worms than I can handle (like hefting a hot water tank so loaded with scale it can’t be drained out of the basement) I’ll call someone. If it’s a one person job, I am on it. I can tackle simple electric and plumbing, and I’ll insulate walls and mud drywall, but someone else can hang it.

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23 hours ago, GEP said:

Step 1: Curse

Step 2: If the thing that needs repair came with a manual, I start looking for a solution in the manual. Most of the time, the problem turns out to be routine, and the solution is already spelled out.

Step 3: If I still can ‘t quite find the answer, I call the manufacturer of the thing that needs repair. Often they have personnel who can help troubleshoot. In the pottery world, people tend to be smart and nice.

Step 4: I’ve also had good success asking for equipment help on this forum! 

For the most part, those are my steps as well.  Including the first one.  Usually that first swear word seems to be the motivator to start working!  My husband is able to repair, analyze, rebuild  just about anything.  I have learned his methods of detection when it comes to my pottery equipment.  After replacing the elements the first time, I realized it was something I could do.  We also live remote, so we have had to repair, replace, maintain all of our equipment, pottery or otherwise.  I have been very grateful for the forum when it comes to analyzing and repairing all kinds of problems.  Thanks friends!

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Handiness is a secondary benefit to having gone through college ceramics programs. We never had much of a budget, so if we needed something like table or shelving, we built our own. When things needed fixing, we did it ourselves. In grad school we even ran our own plumbing for the gas kilns to save money. It drove the facilities guys nuts, but we always passed inspection.

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I would take my kilns into my local ceramic shops to have them repaired, new elements ect.   My husband could of done it,  if he wanted to but he was always too tired and stressed  from work  and would only repair what was necessary around the house.   Now that he has retired he has worked on all three of my kilns,  and practically rebuilt our refrigerator and wonders why he wouldn't tackle these jobs when he was working.  He wrote technical manuals on buses, amusement rides,  and airplanes so he had the knowledge to repair anything.   His hobby is rebuild and restore old muscle cars, I  always understood  how he wanted to spend what little free time he had working on them.      Denice

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Handy folks up thar ^!

Tinkerin', design, fabrication, repair, maintenance, building, allat runs in the family, somewhat. Our folks provided examples and supported our curiosity as well. Pop should have known not to bother assembling our new bikes for xmas (oh dear, that was 'bout '65 or so); first, err, second thing I did was tear it down to to axles and crank, clean all, then re-assemble with proper (pasty white lithium may be ok for you pal) lubrications, tensions, torque, and all, ahem. The cables and their housings were all wrong, the wheels weren't true, and the brake blocks were backward.

When breakdowns occur, typically looking to effect repairs - even if "it ain' worth it" - mostly ...at least determine causation. Where an improvement can be made, so much the better.  

Still, there are those cases where we don't have proper tools and/or inclination (e.g. our new "hot tub" ...err, septic tank and leach field). Some work gets farmed out, likely that's true for just about everyone.

 

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