Sunbeam 3035 Clothes Iron: Rusted Spring

Some weeks ago the Sunbeam clothes iron Mary uses for her quilting projects stopped retracting its cord and a few days ago the entire compartment holding the cord spool simply fell off:

Sunbeam 3035 Iron - detached cord compartment
Sunbeam 3035 Iron – detached cord compartment

One plastic stud and two thin plastic tabs held the compartment onto the rest of the iron. How they lasted this long I do not know, but they are neither replaceable nor fixable.

When you see badly rusted screws in an electrical device, you know the story cannot end well:

Sunbeam 3035 Iron - cord connections
Sunbeam 3035 Iron – cord connections

And, indeed, it hasn’t:

Sunbeam 3035 Iron - retraction spring rust
Sunbeam 3035 Iron – retraction spring rust

This being a steam iron, it has a water tank that gets filled through an awkward port with a sliding cover. Mary is as conscientious a person as you’ll ever meet, but the occasional spill has certainly happened and it is painfully obvious the iron’s designers anticipated no such events.

The coil spring had rusted into a solid mass:

Sunbeam 3035 Iron - spring rust - detail
Sunbeam 3035 Iron – spring rust – detail

I removed the spring, soaked it in Evapo-Rust for a few hours, then cleaned and oiled it:

Sunbeam 3035 Iron - relaxed spring
Sunbeam 3035 Iron – relaxed spring

Rewinding and reinstalling the spring showed it has lost its mojo and cannot retract more than a few feet of cord.

She’s in the middle of a quilting project and will replace the iron with whatever cheapnified piece of crap might be available these days. Similar irons have reviews reporting they begin spitting rust after a few months, which suggests the plastic tank or stainless steel hardware in this one have been cost-reduced with no regard for fitness-for-use.

Laser Imaging: Glass vs. Titanium Dioxide

A stack of glass shelves has long awaited this fate:

Glass engraving - front overview
Glass engraving – front overview

As with the paving tile, the image came from a grayscale photo run through a halftone filter. The leftmost four images were burned through a titanium dioxide layer poured / spread over the glass surface. The rightmost two were burned directly into the glass, serving as a reminder that glass absorbs infrared radiation. The power levels varied from 15% to 60%, although I wasn’t taking notes, with a 400 mm/s scan speed.

It looks much the same when viewed from the rear:

Glass engraving - back overview
Glass engraving – back overview

Although the process is often described as blasting chips out of the glass, there’s definitely melting going on. A closer look at the middle image in the top row, with darker gray patches from titanium fused into the glass:

Glass engraving - partial TiO2 fusion
Glass engraving – partial TiO2 fusion

Some pits have only a tiny dot of titanium, almost invisible against the glare from the glass around the rim:

Glass engraving - plain detail
Glass engraving – plain detail

A very close look shows damaged glass, with titanium in some of the pits:

Glass engraving - TiO2 detail
Glass engraving – TiO2 detail

Higher laser power fuses more titanium into contiguous areas that appear much darker, as in the middle bottom image:

Glass engraving - full TiO2 fusion
Glass engraving – full TiO2 fusion

This is loosely based on commentary in two LightBurn forum threads about variations on what’s known as the Norton White Tile Method, with more examples on the V1 Engineering forum. Just applying TiO₂ seems less awful than various paints / primers / whatever, with the additional benefit of eliminating the overhead of spraying / cleaning up.

The secret seems to be having enough power to chip the glass and decompose the TiO₂ into darker titanium, while not blasting the result entirely off the surface. Fairly obviously, this will require more experimentation than I’ve done so far.

Minimal assist air protects the laser focus lens from the debris and plenty of ventilation air carries the abrasive result out of the cabinet.

Not something I foresee doing a lot of, but at least I know what happens.

Laser Imaging: Paving Tile vs. Titanium Dioxide

Dump enough titanium dioxide powder into denatured alcohol to make a thin slurry, bloosh it onto a reasonably clean paving / floor / whatever tile, spread it out with a chip brush, let the alcohol evaporate, then try a few images with various laser power settings scanned at 400 mm/s:

Paving tile - TiO2 prep and engrave
Paving tile – TiO2 prep and engrave

Wash off the TiO₂ powder to leave the fused titanium behind:

Paving tile - TiO2 images
Paving tile – TiO2 images

A closer look at the middle eye:

Paving tile - TiO2 images - detail
Paving tile – TiO2 images – detail

The small granules spread across the surface are glass chips that probably improve traction, so this must have been a paving or floor tile intended for wet areas. A small stack of whole tiles and fragments Came With The House™, they’ve come in handy over the years, and that’s all we know.

The darkest image was at 40% power (maybe 24 W) and the lightest at 15%, although my notes are a bit fuzzy, and it started as a grayscale image dithered into on/off dots.

Obviously, my imaging hand is weak, but it does verify that TiO₂ powder will produce some sort of image without all the bother and solvents associated with paints / primers and the removal thereof.

Homage Tektronix Circuit Computer: Laser-Engraved Hairline Improvement

Entirely by accident, I discovered that engraving a hairline with LightBurn’s Dot Mode using 1 ms burns and 0.1 mm spacing produces a continuous trench, rather than the series of dots at 0.25 mm:

Tek CC - Cursor Hairline - 30pct 100u - oblique view
Tek CC – Cursor Hairline – 30pct 100u – oblique view

The left is at 20% power (12-ish W) and the right is at 30% (18-ish W), both filled with Pro Sharpie red ink.

The V-shaped groove is even more obvious when seen end-on:

Tek CC - Cursor Hairline - 30pct 100u - end view
Tek CC – Cursor Hairline – 30pct 100u – end view

In both cases, the travel speed seems to be about 10 mm/s regardless of the speed set in the cut layer parameters. The higher power level produces a slightly wider cut that doesn’t seem deeper, which I cannot explain.

Filled with red lacquer crayon, the hairline looks absolutely gorgeous:

Tek CC - Cursor Hairline - 30pct 100u - in place
Tek CC – Cursor Hairline – 30pct 100u – in place

Engraving the PETG sheet with the protective film in place produces a neat cut with the film edges fused to the plastic.

Cutting the outline and pivot hole in the same operation ensures everything remains perfectly aligned:

Tek CC - Cursor Laser Cutting
Tek CC – Cursor Laser Cutting

Scribble red crayon over the film, make sure the trench is completely filled, peel the film off with some attention to not smearing the pigment, and it’s about as good a hairline as you (well, I) could ask for:

Tek CC - Cursor Hairline - 30pct 100u - Width
Tek CC – Cursor Hairline – 30pct 100u – Width

The pigment in the trench is about 0.2 mm wide, with slight heat distortion along each side, and I’ll call it Plenty Good Enough.

Totally did not expect this!

Getting a good-looking hairline on a good-looking cursor turns out to be a major challenge, because there’s nowhere to hide the blunders. A few of the many dead ends along the way shows what’s involved:

https://softsolder.com/2020/05/06/tek-circuit-computer-cursor-hairline-scraping/

https://softsolder.com/2021/01/26/tek-circuit-computer-cursor-hairline/

https://softsolder.com/2021/02/16/tek-circuit-computer-sawed-hairline-fixture/

https://softsolder.com/2021/04/13/tek-cc-milled-cursor-vs-speed-vs-coolant/

https://softsolder.com/2021/04/15/tek-cc-milled-cursor-mvp/

Plenty of Quality Shop Time™ along the way, though …

Paracord Hot Knife

An upcoming project calls for cutting dozens of lengths from a spool of 550 (pound tensile strength) all-nylon paracord, which means I must also heat-seal the ends. Cold-cutting paracord always produces wildly fraying ends, so I got primal on an old soldering iron tip:

Paracord cutting - flattened soldering iron tip
Paracord cutting – flattened soldering iron tip

Bashed into a flattish blade, it does a Good Enough job of hot-cutting paracord and sealing the end in one operation:

Paracord cutting - results
Paracord cutting – results

Setting the iron to 425 °C = 800 °F quickly produces reasonably clean and thoroughly sealed cut ends.

Obviously, I need more practice.

Yes, I tried laser cutting the paracord. Yes, it works great, makes a perfectly flat cut, and heat-seals both ends, but it also makes no sense whatsoever without a fixture holding a dozen or so premeasured lengths in a straight line. No, I’m not doing that.

OMTech 60 W Laser: Kerf Sizing

The nominal 5.5 mm OD of the eyelet turns out to be 5.45 mm and fits neatly into a nominal 5.3 mm hole laser-cut into either PETG or laminated paper:

Laser cutter - hole size test
Laser cutter – hole size test

The holes are 5.1 mm on one end and increase by 0.1 mm.

The eyelet fits loosely into the 5.4 mm hole, snugly into 5.3 mm, and only into the 5.2 mm paper hole.

So the nominal 5.3 mm hole is really 5.45 mm, which means the beam adds 0.15 mm to the hole diameter, about 0.08 mm to each side.

Given that the eyelet isn’t quite round and the holes aren’t exactly glass-smooth, figuring a 0.2 mm kerf seems both reasonable and easier to remember.

Obviously, the results will differ depending on what’s being cut, how thick it is, and probably the phase of the moon.

Those are the easiest holes I’ve ever made …

Kenmore Gas Range Control: Solder Joint Failure

The entire control panel of our longsuffering Kenmore gas range became increasingly erratic, eventually reaching the condition where touching the upper right corner would blank the display, touching the lower right corner would restore it, and gently touching the temperature knob might elicit an F2 or F4 error code on the display. Given the symptoms, the old adage “It’s always the connectors” sprang unbidden to mind; I was pretty sure the oven temperature sensor had nothing to do with it.

Pulling the thing apart reveals the PCB across the back of the control panel:

Kenmore oven control - PCB overview
Kenmore oven control – PCB overview

Note that all of the external connections arrive on the white power supply PCB attached over the main PCB.

A closer look shows one of the two groups of wire interconnects between the two boards:

Kenmore gas range - rear PCB
Kenmore gas range – rear PCB

There’s a similar group hidden behind the hulking transformer.

Removing the two obvious screws and easing the PCB out of the red plastic latches made the problem instantly obvious:

Kenmore gas range - failed solder joint
Kenmore gas range – failed solder joint

Yeah, that broken solder joint would definitely be touch-sensitive!

The solder joints in the other group also show signs of fatigue:

Kenmore gas range - broken solder joints
Kenmore gas range – broken solder joints

It’s of interest only the upper joints on the power supply PCB have fractured. Perhaps those ends of the wires were hand-soldered separately from the other ends in the main PCB?

Resoldering both ends of all the wires restored perfect operation:

Kenmore gas range - resoldered joints
Kenmore gas range – resoldered joints

For the record, the Kapton tape I laid over the entire control panel 2-½ years ago continues to protect the slightly cracked membrane over the pushbutton switches:

Kenmore oven control - Kapton tape cover
Kenmore oven control – Kapton tape cover

Gotta love yet another zero-dollar appliance repair …