Posts Tagged Repairs

Kenmore Model 158 Sewing Machine: Bobbin Case Restoration

I picked up a spare sewing machine as a crash test dummy for modifications to Mary’s Kenmore Model 158. It’s in reasonably good condition, although the bobbin case showed a bit of rust:

Kenmore bobbin case - rusted overview

Kenmore bobbin case – rusted overview

Taking the tension spring off revealed more rust:

Kenmore bobbin case - rusted parts

Kenmore bobbin case – rusted parts

An overnight soak in Evapo-Rust got rid of the corrosion and left the pits behind:

Kenmore bobbin case - restored parts

Kenmore bobbin case – restored parts

Those imperfections on the tension spring are pits, not bumps, despite their appearance.

It doesn’t seem so bad from the outside:

Kenmore bobbin case - restored

Kenmore bobbin case – restored

It probably won’t work nearly as well as it should, this being one place where a smooth surface counts for a lot. Fortunately, it’s just a crash test dummy machine and good results aren’t critical.

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Makergear M2: Extruder Crash

Something Went Wrong during the elaborate dance my M2 goes through to home all three axes, resulting in the platform heater connector whacking the nozzle from the rear, the nozzle dragging off the platform to the right, and then jamming on the edge of the too-high platform on the way back. As nearly as I can tell, the command to lower the platform before doing anything else didn’t happen, after which things slid rapidly downhill.

There are disadvantages to having powerful motors and rigid machinery, but in this case the advantages outweigh them. You should browse Youtube’s collection of CNC mishaps to see what a real machine tool crash looks like.

I think that’s the second time the thing has misbehaved, so it’s doing OK. I have seen a few instances where the firmware doesn’t obey the acceleration limits, but I don’t have any way to verify what happened. If the Z-axis motor stalled while lowering the platform, that would explain everything; that same G-Code has worked flawlessly for nearly a year.

After realigning the extruder motor and checking that the hot end hadn’t gotten dislodged, I ran off a thinwall open box that showed the extruder was about 0.1 mm lower than before. That called for a tweak to the G92 setting in the startup G-Code that defines the offset between the two.

After that, I figured it would be a Good Idea to check the platform leveling, so I arranged five boxes on the platform:

M2 Platform Leveling - thinwall open box layout

M2 Platform Leveling – thinwall open box layout

About 8 minutes later, I had the five values at the top of this scratch paper:

M2 Platform Leveling Data

M2 Platform Leveling Data

Tweaking the three leveling screws under the platform and iterating with more boxes eventually got the platform aligned to about ±0.07 mm across the 200×250 mm platform diagonal; supper got in the way of repeating the last test. The bird’s nest failure of the left-front box in that test looked like an adhesion problem; in the heat of it all, I built four sets of thinwall boxes on exactly the same spots without renewing the hairspray coating.

Measuring the skirt and box heights suggested a bit of adjustment to the initial Z offset. A static measurement comes pretty close, but the actual results are what matters.

I’ll recheck the alignment at some point, but for now it’s back in operation…

Bonus: more tchotchkes to hand out at the next OpenSCAD class!

Thinwall Open Box - platform leveling

Thinwall Open Box – platform leveling

The current startup G-Code from Slic3r’s configuration:

;-- Slic3r Start G-Code for M2 starts --
;  Ed Nisley KE4NZU - 15 Nov 2013
;  28 Feb 2014 tweak Z offset
; Z-min switch at platform, must move nozzle to X=130 to clear
M140 S[first_layer_bed_temperature]	; start bed heating
G90				; absolute coordinates
G21				; millimeters
M83				; relative extrusion distance
G92 Z0			; set Z to zero, wherever it might be now
G1 Z10 F1000	; move platform downward to clear nozzle; may crash at bottom
G28 Y0			; home Y to be sure of clearing probe point
G92 Y-127 		; set origin so 0 = center of plate
G28 X0			; home X
G92 X-95		; set origin so 0 = center of plate
G1 X130 Y0 F30000	; move off platform to right side, center Y
G28 Z0			; home Z with switch near center of platform
G92 Z-4.40		; set origin to measured z offset
G0 Z2.0			; get air under switch
G0 Y-127 F10000	; set up for priming, zig around corner
G0 X0			;  center X
M109 S[first_layer_temperature]	; set extruder temperature and wait
M190 S[first_layer_bed_temperature]	; wait for bed to finish heating
G1 Z0.0 F500	; plug extruder on plate
G1 E25 F300		; prime to get pressure, generate blob
G1 Z5 F2000		; rise above blob
G1 X15 Y-125 F30000	; jerk away from blob, move over surface
G1 Z0.0 F1000	; dab nozzle to attach outer snot to platform
G4 P1			; pause to attach
G1 X35 F500		; slowly smear snot to clear nozzle
G1 Z1.0 F2000	; clear bed for travel
;-- Slic3r Start G-Code ends --



Casio EX-Z850 Backup Battery Replacement

When our Larval Engineer repaired the Casio EX-Z850 camera’s buttons, we noticed that the memory backup battery was on its last legs:

EX-Z850 internal battery corrosion

EX-Z850 internal battery corrosion

The camera has returned home, where I’ll put it to good use on the microscope, but I’m the type of guy who swaps batteries every now and again, soooo that needs fixing. Wikipedia says the battery isn’t replaceable, but you can’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia, right?

Removing the camera’s front cover (stick the screws to a length of masking tape!) reveals the backup battery hasn’t magically healed itself:

Casio EX-Z850 backup battery - corrosion

Casio EX-Z850 backup battery – corrosion

The main battery applies 3.2 V with the top terminal negative; it’s marked to help me remember that fact.

I snipped both legs of the top contact bracket, which promptly fell off, and then pushed the battery off its bottom contact. The condition of those two pads suggests a pair of cold solder joints (clicky for more dots):

Casio EX-Z850 backup battery - contact pads

Casio EX-Z850 backup battery – contact pads

I wanted to replace it with a polyacene supercap, but there’s just not enough room in there. The biggest cap that fit was a 33 μF 16 V SMD electrolytic cap, so I soldered one in place:

Casio EX-Z850 backup battery - capacitor replacement

Casio EX-Z850 backup battery – capacitor replacement

I had to flip the camera around to get the soldering iron in between the cap and what looks to be an intrusion monitoring switch just to its left. No lie, that shiny metal thing seems to be a tab that presses against the front cover; it could be a static discharge / grounding point, but the base looks more complex than that.

Now, a capacitor isn’t a battery, but memory backup doesn’t require much of a battery, either. I guesstimated the memory (or whatever) would draw a few microamps, at most, giving me a few seconds, at least, to swap batteries. A quick measurement shows that I’ll have plenty of time:

Casio EX-X850 backup capacitor - voltage vs time

Casio EX-X850 backup capacitor – voltage vs time

The camera started up fine after that adventure, so the memory stays valid with the backup voltage down around 1 V.

The cap measured 34 μF, so a voltage decline of 24 mV/s works out to:

IC = C (dV/dT) = 34 μF x 24 mV/s = 820 nA

So, at least at room temperature, the memory draws less than a microamp.

I love it when a plan comes together!

With any luck, that capacitor should outlast the rest of the camera. It’ll definitely outlast a lithium battery, even if I could find one to fit in that spot.

I did those measurements by sampling the capacitor, rather than holding the meter probes in place, because the 300 nA of current drawn by a 10 MΩ input resistance would cause a pretty large measurement error…



Radio Shack Sound Level Meter: Switch Repair

My trusty Radio Shack Sound Level Meter recently began misbehaving: switching to the most sensitive two ranges (-60 and -70 dB) caused it to turn off. Finessing the switch got it back in operation, so I completed the mission (a string quartet in Vassar’s Skinner Recital Hall topped out around 90 dB) and laid it out for repair:

Radio Shack Sound Level Meter - PCB solder side

Radio Shack Sound Level Meter – PCB solder side

After cleaning the already pristine gold-plated (!) contact pads and putting it back together, the switch failed the same way.

A bit more poking & prodding revealed that slightly loosening the upper case screw (in the boss just left of the switch pads) made it work perfectly.


Come to find out that the rear case presses on the PCB to hold it in place, which moves it slightly toward the front of the case. The switch rotor, being firmly attached to the stem in the middle of the pads, doesn’t move, which suggested that the bifurcated spring contacts on the rotor had take a bit of a set.

Un-bending them very, very gently to add a millimeter of springiness solved the problem.

A piano solo topped out in the high 80s…


Snowblower Muffler Replacement

What with all the snow this winter, I noticed that the muffler on the snowblower was rattling around something awful; eventually, the blue fire jetting directly from the engine block got to be distracting. Come to find out the bracket attached to the top of the block had ripped free from the muffler:

The two long bolts on the right explain why this particular anomaly didn’t get an immediate repair: they were firmly jammed, deep in the block, and resisted my gentle attempts to free them. For obvious reasons, you (well, I) don’t want to break off the end of a bolt in its tapped hole…

Snowblower muffler - failed bracket

Snowblower muffler – failed bracket

So, over the course of a few weeks, I applied a dose of PB B’laster to the bolts, down deep behind the muffler where they entered the block, and gingerly wiggled the bolts back-and-forth to their ever-increasing limits of travel. Doing that every time I went into the garage guaranteed plenty of excess oil to smoke off the engine during the first few minutes, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Two days before the next big storm, the block finally released the bolts. Whew!

Evidently, having the bracket tear loose wasn’t a rare failure and, perhaps, the situation attracted the attention of someone in accounting who pointed out the warranty repair costs (no, our blower wasn’t in warranty), because the new muffler has a different bracket:

Snowblower muffler - new bracket design

Snowblower muffler – new bracket design

Look at all those spot welds across that huge contact patch!

Yes, I used new bolts with a generous dollop of Never-Seez on each one…


Reversible Belt Buckle: Post Restaking

A reversible belt lets me look perfectly natty, regardless of whether I’m wearing my brown pants or my khaki pants. The post joining the buckle and the base worked loose, so the spring wasn’t holding the two parts together; obviously, something must be done.

Loosen the four screws that hold the leather belt in place to reveal what’s inside:

Reversible belt buckle - spring post

Reversible belt buckle – spring post

Then push the two parts together and give the post a few shots with a sharp punch:

Reversible belt buckle - staked post

Reversible belt buckle – staked post

Reassemble in reverse order: done!

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Can Opener Gear Rebuild

Cleaning up the wrecked gears on the can opener made it painfully obvious that I had to conjure at least one gear to get the poor thing working again:

Can opener - gears and cutters

Can opener – gears and cutters

Fortunately, those are more in the line of cogs, rather than real gears, so I decided a crude hack would suffice: drill a pattern of holes to define the openings between the teeth, file / grind the teeth reasonably smooth, and then tweak the shape to suit.

Fitting some small number-size drills between the remains of the teeth showed:

  • A #52 = 52.0 mil = 1.32 mm drill matched the root curvature
  • A #28 = 140.5 mil = 3.57 mm drill was tangent to the small drill and the tooth walls

Neither of those count as precision measurements, particularly given the ruined teeth, but they’re close enough for a first pass.

The OEM drive gear (on the right) has the teeth bent upward to mate with the cutter gear (on the left), but under normal gripping force, the teeth don’t mesh securely and tend to slide over / under / past each other. However, if I were to cut the drive gear from a metal sheet that’s thick enough to engage both the root and the crest of the cutter gear, that should prevent all the slipping & sliding. Some eyeballometric guesstimation suggested 2.5 mm would be about right and the Basement Laboratory Stockpile produced a small slab of 100 mil = 2.54 mm aluminum sheet.

However, the center part of the gear must have the same thickness as the OEM gear to keep the drive wheel at the same position relative to the cutter blade, which means a bit of pocket milling. I have some small ball burrs that seemed like they might come in handy.

A recent thread on the LinuxCNC mailing list announced Bertho Stultien’s gcmc, the G-Code Meta Compiler, and this looked like a golden opportunity to try it out. Basically, gcmc lets you write G-Code programs in a C-like language that eliminates nearly all the horrendous syntactic noise of raw G-Code. I like it a lot and you’ll be seeing more of it around here…

The gcmc source code, down below, include a function that handles automatic tool height probing, using that simple white-goods switch. The literal() function emits whatever you hand it as text for the G-Code file, which is how you mechanize esoteric commands that gcmc doesn’t include in its repertoire. It’s basically the same as my bare G-Code probe routine, but now maintains a state variable that eliminates the need for separate first-probe and subsequent-probe entry points.

One point that tripped me up, even though I should know better: because gcmc is a compiler, it can’t read G-Code parameters that exist only when LinuxCNC (or whatever) is interpreting the G-Code. You can write parameters with values computed at compile time, but you can’t read and process them in the gcmc program.

Anyhow, the first pass produced an array of holes that, as I fully expected, weren’t quite right:

Can opener gear - first hole pattern

Can opener gear – first hole pattern

The second pass got the root and middle holes tangent to each other:

Can opener gear - second hole pattern

Can opener gear – second hole pattern

It also ran a center drill pass for those tiny little holes to prevent their drill from wandering about. The other drills are about the same size as the center drill, so they’re on their own.

The rosette around the central hole comes from sweeping the burr in a dozen overlapping circles tangent to the outer diameter, then making a cleanup pass around the OD:

Can opener gear - 12 leaf rosette

Can opener gear – 12 leaf rosette

Incidentally, that stray hole between the two patterns came from the aluminum sheet’s previous life, whatever it may have been. There are three other holes, two of which had flat washers taped to them, so your guess is as good as mine. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

Introducing the sheet to Mr Bandsaw and cutting through the outer ring produced a bizarre snowflake:

Can opener gear - cut out

Can opener gear – cut out

Cutting off the outer ring of holes turned the incipient gear body into a ragged shuriken:

Can opener gear - isolated

Can opener gear – isolated

A few minutes of increasingly deft Dremel cutoff wheel work, poised on the bench vise over the shopvac nozzle to capture the dust, produced a credible gear shape:

Can opener gear - first pass

Can opener gear – first pass

Iterating through some trial fits, re-grinds, and general fiddling showed that the center pocket was too shallow. The cutter wheel should slightly clear the drive wheel, but it’s an interference fit:

Can opener gear - trial fit

Can opener gear – trial fit

Which, of course, meant that I had to clamp the [mumble] thing back in the Sherline and re-mill the pocket. The trick is to impale it on the wrong end of a suitable drill, clamp it down, and touch off that spot as the origin:

Can opener gear - re-centering

Can opener gear – re-centering

I took the opportunity to switch to a smaller ball and make 16 little circles to clear the pocket:

Can Opener Gear - 16 leaf rosette

Can Opener Gear – 16 leaf rosette

Now that’s better:

Can opener gear - deeper pocket

Can opener gear – deeper pocket

Another trial fit showed that everything ended up in the right place:

Can opener gear - final fit

Can opener gear – final fit

I gave it a few cranks, touched up any cogs that clashed with the (still misshapen) cutter gear, applied it to a randomly chosen can, and it worked perfectly:

  • Squeeze the levers to easily punch through the lid
  • Crankety crank on the handle, while experiencing none of the previous drama
  • The severed lid falls into the can

Which is exactly how it’s supposed to work. What’s so hard about that?

What you can’t see in that picture is the crest of the lowest cutter gear tooth fitting just above the bottom of the drive gear root. Similarly, the crest of the highest drive gear tooth remains slightly above the cutter root. That means the cutter gear teeth always engage the drive gear, there’s no slipping & sliding, and it’s all good.

Aluminum isn’t the right material for a gear-like object meshed with a steel counterpart, but it’s easy to machine on a Sherline. I’ll run off a few more for show-n-tell and, if when this one fails, I’ll have backup.

The gcmc source code:

// Can opener drive gears
//	Ed Nisley KE4ZNU - February 2014
//	Sherline CNC mill with tool height probe
//	XYZ touchoff origin at center on fixture surface


// Overall dimensions

GearThick = 2.54;			// overall gear thickness
GearCenterThick = 1.75;		// thickness of gear center

GearTeeth = 12;				// number of teeth!
ToothAngle = 360deg/GearTeeth;
GearOD = 22.0;				// tooth tip
GearID = 13.25;				// tooth root

SafeZ = 20.0;				// guaranteed to clear clamps
TravelZ = GearThick + 1.0;	// guaranteed to clear plate

// Tool height probe
//	Sets G43.1 tool offset in G-Code, so our Z=0 coordinate always indicates the touchoff position

ProbeInit = 0;					// 0 = not initialized, 1 = initialized
ProbeSpeed = 400.0mm;
ProbeRetract = 1.0mm;

PROBE_STAY = 0;					// remain at probe station
PROBE_RESTORE = 1;				// return to previous location after probe

function ProbeTool(RestorePos) {

local WhereWasI;

	WhereWasI = position();

	if (ProbeInit == 0) {		// probe with existing tool to set Z=0 as touched off
		literal("#<_Probe_Speed> = ",to_none(ProbeSpeed),"\n");
		literal("#<_Probe_Retract> = ",to_none(ProbeRetract),"\n");
		literal("#<_ToolRefZ> = 0.0 \t; prepare for first probe\n");
		literal("#<_ToolRefZ> = #5063 \t; save touchoff probe point\n");
		literal("G43.1 Z0.0 \t; set zero offset = initial touchoff\n");
	elif (ProbeInit == 1) {		// probe with new tool, adjust offset accordingly
		literal("G49 \t; clear tool length comp\n");
		literal("G30 \t; move over probe switch\n");
		literal("G59.3 \t; use coord system 9\n");
		literal("G38.2 Z0 F#<_Probe_Speed> \t; trip switch on the way down\n");
		literal("G0 Z[#5063 + #<_Probe_Retract>] \t; back off the switch\n");
		literal("G38.2 Z0 F[#<_Probe_Speed> / 10] \t; trip switch slowly\n");
		literal("#<_ToolZ> = #5063 \t; save new tool length\n");
		literal("G43.1 Z[#<_ToolZ> - #<_ToolRefZ>] \t; set new length\n");
		literal("G54 \t; return to coord system 0\n");
		literal("G30 \t; return to safe level\n");
	else {
		error("*** ProbeTool sees invalid ProbeInit: ",ProbeInit);
		comment("debug,*** ProbeTool sees invalid ProbeInit: ",ProbeInit);
		ProbeInit = 0;

	if (RestorePos == PROBE_RESTORE) {


// Utility functions

function WaitForContinue(MsgStr) {

function CueToolChange(MsgStr) {
	literal("G0 Z" + SafeZ + "\n");

function ToolChange(Info,Name) {
	CueToolChange("msg,Insert " + to_mm(Info[TOOL_DIA]) + " = " + to_in(Info[TOOL_DIA]) + " " + Name);

	WaitForContinue("msg,Set spindle to " + Info[TOOL_SPEED] + " rpm");

function GetAir() {

//-- compute drill speeds & feeds based on diameter
//		rule of thumb is 100 x diameter at 3000 rpm for real milling machines
//		my little Sherline's Z axis can't produce enough thrust for that!

MaxZFeed = 600.0mm;				// fastest possible Z feed

TOOL_DIA = 0;					// Indexes into DrillParam() result
TOOL_SPEED = 1;					//  spindle RPM
TOOL_FEED = 2;					//	linear feed
TOOL_TIP = 3;					//	length of 118 degreee drill tip

function DrillParam(Dia) {
local RPM,Feed,Tip,Data,Derating;

	Derating = 0.25;			// derate from (100 x diameter) max feed

	RPM = 3000.0;				// default 3 k rpm

	Feed = Derating * (100.0 * Dia);
	if (Feed > MaxZFeed) {
		RPM *= (MaxZFeed / Feed);	//  scale speed downward to fit
		Feed = MaxZFeed;

	Tip = (Dia/2) * tan(90deg - 118deg/2);
	Data = [Dia,RPM,Feed,Tip];

	message("DrillParam: ",Data);
	return Data;

//-- peck drilling cycle

function PeckDrill(Endpt,Retract,Peck) {
	literal("G83 X",to_none(Endpt[0])," Y",to_none(Endpt[1])," Z",to_none(Endpt[2]),
			" R",to_none(Retract)," Q",to_none(Peck),"\n");

// Make it happen

literal("G99\t;  retract to R level, not previous Z\n");

WaitForContinue("msg,Verify: G30 position in G54 above tool change switch?");

WaitForContinue("msg,Verify: fixture origin XY touched off at center of gear?");

WaitForContinue("msg,Verify: Z touched off on top surface at " + GearThick + "?");

//-- Drill center hole


	DrillData = DrillParam(5.0mm);




//-- Drill inner ring


	DrillData = DrillParam(1.32mm);

	RingRadius = GearID/2.0 + DrillData[TOOL_DIA]/2.0;		// center of inner ring holes
	HolePosition = [RingRadius,0mm,-1.5*DrillData[TOOL_TIP]];

//	but first, center-drill to prevent drifting

	CDData = DrillParam(1.00mm);			// pretend it's a little drill
	CDData[TOOL_FEED] = 100mm;				//  ... use faster feed

	CDPosition = HolePosition;				// use center drill coordinates
	CDPosition[2] = GearThick - 0.25mm;		//  ... just below surface

	ToolChange(CDData,"center drill");


	for (Tooth = 0 ; Tooth < GearTeeth ; Tooth++) {
		drill(CDPosition,TravelZ,2*TravelZ);		// large increment ensures one stroke
		CDPosition = rotate_xy(CDPosition,ToothAngle);

//	now drill the holes



	for (Tooth = 0 ; Tooth < GearTeeth ; Tooth++) {
		HolePosition = rotate_xy(HolePosition,ToothAngle);



//-- Mill center recess


	MillData = [4.50mm,3000,250.0mm,0.0mm];			// spherical ball burr

	Delta = GearThick - GearCenterThick;							// depth to be milled away
	Inset = sqrt(2.0*Delta*(MillData[TOOL_DIA]/2) - pow(Delta,2));	// toll axis to milled edge

	ToolChange(MillData,"ball burr");

	goto([0,0,-]);							// above central hole
	goto([0,0,GearThick]);					// vertically down to flush with surface
	move([0,0,GearCenterThick]);			// into gear blank

	for (Angle = 0.0deg; Angle < 360.0deg; Angle+=360.0deg/16) {	// clear interior
		circle_cw((GearID/2 - Inset)/2,Angle);

	move_r([(GearID/2 - Inset),0.0,0.0]);							// clean rim



//-- Drill outer ring


	RingRadius += DrillData[TOOL_DIA]/2;		// at OD of inner ring holes

	DrillData = DrillParam(3.18mm);
	RingRadius += DrillData[TOOL_DIA]/2.0;		// center of outer ring holes
	HolePosition = [RingRadius,0mm,-1.5*DrillData[TOOL_TIP]];


	for (Tooth = 0 ; Tooth < GearTeeth ; Tooth++) {
		HolePosition = rotate_xy(HolePosition,ToothAngle);



//-- Drill to locate gear tooth tip end


	DrillData = DrillParam(4.22mm);

	RingRadius = GearOD/2.0 + DrillData[TOOL_DIA]/2.0;		// tangent to gear tooth tip
	HolePosition = [RingRadius,0mm,-1.5*DrillData[TOOL_TIP]];
	HolePosition = rotate_xy(HolePosition,ToothAngle/2);	// align to tooth


	for (Tooth = 0 ; Tooth < GearTeeth ; Tooth++) {
		HolePosition = rotate_xy(HolePosition,ToothAngle);




The original doodle that suggested the possibility:

Can Opener Gears - Doodle 1

Can Opener Gears – Doodle 1

The chord equation at the bottom shows how to calculate the offset for the ball burr, although it turns out there’s no good way to measure the cutting diameter of the burr and it’s not really spherical anyway.

A more detailed doodle with the key line at a totally bogus angle:

Can Opener Gears - Doodle 2

Can Opener Gears – Doodle 2

The diagram in the lower right corner shows how you figure the length of the tip on a 118° drill point, which you add to the thickness of the plate in order to get a clean hole.

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