Virtual Repair Cafe SATURDAY 5th APRIL

We are pleased to be able to announce our first Virtual Repair Cafe will be taking place online this Saturday on the Zoom app between 11am and 12 noon. To join us you will need a computer, tablet or smartphone with the zoom app installed (get it at https://zoom.us). Once you have the app installed on your device simply enter the meeting number 8069994444. You don’t need to enter a password. You can connect to the event by voice only or can join us by video call. We hope to be able to record the event and make a video available afterwards on our website and both https://lbry.tv and https://youtube.com

The idea is that out team of fixers will be able to give you advice on doing your own repairs and teach new skills. We also hope it will be a great social event, so please feel free to join us even if you haven’t currently got anything that needs to be repaired.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us here.

See you on Saturday,

The Repair Cafe team

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January 2020 Repair Cafe Report

We were back at Heeley City Farm for our first Repair Cafe of 2020 and it turned out to be another bumper day. After a record number of Fixers turned out for our post-Christmas event at Strip The Willow in late December, this time it was a record number of customers who came along with aproximately 36 different items receiving attention throughout the day.

Our textile department has been enjoying a rapid growth recently, with both new volunteers and more customers than ever before. Here’s an action shot of the lost art of darning taking place.

We had all kinds of items in for repair, including a disproportionately large number of DAB digital radios. These always seem to give problems, with at least one being brought along to almost every Repair Cafe in recent years. They must be particularly badly made for such a high number to appear for attention. The faults seem to vary, but a common one is that people don’t always realise they sometimes need re-tuning in a similar way to how ‘Freeview’ TVs often need a re-scan to pick up the latest channels. Sometimes these radios can be fixed and sometimes they can’t. ‘Pure’ and ‘Roberts’ seem to be particularly troublesome brands.

Our next event is a last-minute extra Repair Cafe, which will see us return to Abbeyfield Park House on Saturday 1st February. Then we will be back to our normal calendar with an event at Strip The Willow on Sunday 16th February.

Fairy wings are a bit of a departure from the usual items brought in to be fixed. However I’m pleased to report that thanks to our magical team of Fixers, they are now set to continue flapping into the future.

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November Repair Cafe

The November Repair Cafe at Heeley City Farm was particularly busy, with lots of people bringing items along to be fixed.  As always, there were a lot of electrical appliances brought in. But there were some more interesting vintage items too.

John found himself transported back into the land of 90’s TV to do some emergency surgery on a pair of teletubies. Meanwhile Peter got to work on an old transistor radio.

Thanks to Emma for taking the photosand thanks to everyone who came to help fix things. The next Repair Cafe is later than usual because Christmas gets in the way. However we will be back, this time at Strip The Willow, on Sunday 29th December.

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Report from July Repair Cafe

We had a great Repair Cafe at Heeley City Farm yesterday. We were unable to use our normal room due to a power failure, so we moved across the farm site to  the Energy Centre.

As soon as we were set up in our new temporary home the repairs started rolling in. A steam mop, a kettle, a stick blender, a vintage record player, some fairy lights and a clockwork radio were just some of the items to come through the door.

We always like a vintage challenge at the Repair Cafe and one soon arrived in the form of a 90 year old telephone, complete with an even older bellset. Unfortunately the wooden bellset, which contains many of the components needed to make such an old telephone work, was not the correct one to be paired with this particular ‘candlestick’ phone. So it was a case of removing all the internal components and reusing some of them while fitting other genuine and equally old spare parts. After around 4 hours the bellset had been totally re-wired, an induction coil (a key missing component) fitted and this piece of communications history was fully working again ready for the next 90 years of service! Thanks to Phil and his wife for bringing it along and also for donating a brilliant PABX system, which is essentially a telephone exchange in a box, which will enable us to test other telephones in the future.

As always, thanks to all thevolunteers who came along to help, including a few new faces who were taking part in their first Repair Cafe.

We’ll be back, this time at Strip the Willow, on Sunday 18th August.

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Cold War Telephone

I’ve been having a trip backin time to the cold war era today, trying to fix a 1960’s pendant telephone, as seen in military installations and control rooms of that era.

The phone comes in three distict parts. The handset / mount, a dial and a bell set. I didn’t have the latter, so a bit of improvisation was called for, using some parts from the spares bin to build what the GPO would once have called a ‘bellset 50B’. This involved a lot of wiring as you can see from the photo above. However after 4 hours and one mistake later, the thing was working.

 

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June Repair Cafe Update

Thanks to everyone who came along to our Repair Cafe at Strip the Willow last Sunday. After a bit of a slow start things picked up in the late morning with lots of visitors bringing stuff to fix, including this vintage electric clock shown above.

When the clock arrived it had a very plain paper dial. However once we started to dismantle it we found the much more ornate original painted dial beneath, which revealed the clock to be an advertising piece for Royal Typewriters. The story goes that the current owner’s father found it in a junk shop in the USA and gave it to his daughter as a gift. When she married she came to live in the UK and brought the clock with her, never knowing about it’s secret second dial. That is until last weekend, when the original dial was revealed for the first time in more than a quarter of a century! We are now doing some research on the clock to enable more work to take place on it at our next event at Heeley City Farm.

As always, a big thankyou to all the fixers who came to help, with special mention going to new faces Kath and Simon, who came along to do sewing and knife sharpening respectively.

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Toolbank Relaunch Report

A big Thankyou to everyone who came along to our extra Repair Cafe at Abbeyfield Park House to celebrate the re-launch of the Toolbank there, which is operated by our friends at Green City Action. An excellent day was had by all and it was a great oportunity to bring the Repair Cafe concept to a totally different area of Sheffield.

After a slow start we eventually got into the swing of things as a steady  stream of items were brought in for our fixers to look at. We even found a couple of broken chairs around the building which Alan and Gordon managed to repair quite easily.

Also a big thankyou to Emma, who has only recently joined us. This was her first full Repair Cafe. Despite claiming to have no repairing skills she still managed to diagnose and fix a table lamp with a little help, which is exactly the type of knowledge sharing Repair Cafes are all about.

Gareth took a break from his usual computer repairs to fix ‘big ben’. The Bluetooth speaker, not the bell from London.

Our next event will be at Strip The Willow on April 14th.

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Pictures from Heeley

We had another great Repair Cafe at Heeley City Farm yesterday. Lots of different items were brought along by their owners to be fixed, including a beautiful antique Singer sewing machine, an old wall clock, modern clockwork Radio, a mirror, an electric massager and lots more.

Our next Repair Cafe is a special one-off event at Abbeyfield Park House to celebrate the re-launch of Green City Action’s Community Toolbank which is based there.

Click here for more details.

Our Radio expert Peter, working on an unusual clockwork and solar powered example.

Gordon gets to grips with an electric massager.

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Repair Cafe at Abbeyfield Park House

Our friends over at Green City Action, based in Abbeyfield Park House in Burngreave, are holding a special event on Saturday 23rd March to celebrate the relaunch of their Toolbank project after a major re-vamp. As well as the Toolbank itself, varous other local organisations will be in attendance including Gareth and the team from BitFixIt, who often attend our Repair Cafes to offer repairs and advice on all things tech related.

Repair Sheffield will be holding a special Repair Cafe as part of the event, which brings out activities to an area of the city where we have not perviously operated. So if you live in the Burngreave area (or even if you don’t but can travel) why not come along and see how making and repairing can be a cost effective and environment friendly alternative to buying things new. As with all our Repair Cafes, the repairs are free unless parts are required. However a donation is much appreciated.

If you would like more information please see the link to the poster (.PDF file) below or get in touch via our contact us page here.

community toolbank event poster.pdf

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Oil lamp repair

Vintage oil lamp after repair to hole

One of the more unusual items to come into a Repair Cafe recently was this vintage oil lamp, which had been picked up by myself from an auction as part of a job lot of oil lamp spares. The problem with this one was that it had been converted to electricity and in the process someone had cut a hole in the brass font for the cable to pass through.

I hate the practice of converting vintage items into electric lamps. It devalues the item and often looks incredibly silly. I also have a 100 year old candle stick telephone that had the lamp treatment which I’m in the process of converting back into a phone.

Obviously this hole would need to be patched up before the lamp could hold oil again, so using a bit of scrap brass,  Gordon set about a solder repair. It’s not the prettiest fix ever. But I was more concerned about practicality and it not leaking than aesthetics.

I’m pleased to say the Repair was a complete success and the lamp is now awaiting the sourcing of a genuine vintage burner, glass chimney and shade.

 

 

 

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