Photo by Salt Water New England

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Repairability

Photos by Salt Water New England
Repairability is not an afterthought or an add-on service.  Making things repairable, from clothes to cars to furniture - takes a culture of planning and long term relationships.  

Leather bags that are meant to be repaired have handles that can be replaced.  With cars, it can mean leaving a bit of space around the engine to get at everything.  With electronics, it can mean screws, not glue. With chairs, it means a broken piece can be swapped out or seats that pop out easily to replace worn covers.   Some sweaters come with extra yarn or buttons.   

One of the most satisfying signs in a clothing shop is "Wear and Tear Repaired at a Reasonable Cost." For example. Le Tricoteur offers a mending service to repair worn Guernseys.  Companies that do their own repairing understand how their products wear out, and also how they are used.  In contrast, it was a bad omen at Beans when they began replacing products to fulfil the guarantee, not fixing them. 

From "right to repair" rules to the rejection of fast fashion, there are signs that the next generation is reappreciating what used to be assumed.  Perhaps the next decade will be a time to repair.

    
Barbour Repair Facility

Working on Sails

Plenty of Room Around this Engine to Work

18 comments:

  1. We've found a dependable conservator who repairs treasured books that have broken spines, etc.: Bridgeport National Bindery, Agawam, Massachusetts, info@bnbindery.com

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  2. i have been thinking for a long time that a sewing machine would make clothing and fabric repairs much better and easier. This post inspired me to look, and sewing machines are not expensive, much less than i thought. Might have to order one.

    i haven't used those mini-skeins from Arthur Beale, but I have mended snags and moth holes in knit sweaters - my mom knitted a trio of them for me years ago. the repairs tend to be more functional than visually appealing. On a 35 year old sweater, i can live with that.

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    1. I bought a sewing machine years ago to carry out my own repairs and alterations. Best thing I ever did!

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  3. I am a huge fan of repairing things, but let me assure you that there is no room to spare under the hood of that 2002.

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    1. Some older vehicles, especially those with straight-sixes, had room enough to sit inside the engine bay. But others were crowded. The V-8 Rover 3500 sedan, a very fast car, had the battery in the trunk (or boot, if you prefer).

      I'm not so sure about the repairability of many recent cars. Ironically, they tend to be pretty reliable, given the complex nature of the majority. They either work well or they don't work at all.

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  4. Blue Train, you're right in that many makers of cars and other devices wish to force all repairs into their own mechanics' shops, thus shutting down independant mechanics. This is currently a argument under review in the judicial system.

    We've been going to an indy mechanic for our cars for more than 35 years.

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    1. For about eighteen years, until I retired, I patronized an independent shop that was within walking distance of where I worked at the time. That was when we were running two Volvos. We now have a VW and a Ford. Neither have required any repairs. I do miss my V-40, though, but not as much as I miss my Land-Rover.

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  5. The Honda Civic and Hondas in general are tops in easy repairability. Ask any experienced mechanic.

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  6. Bimmer photo is disingenuous...allegedly working on vehicle with good clothes....give me a break. Helped my Dad work on family cars since I was a kid. Now qualify as a shade tree mechanic. Everything from a 1949 Chevy to a 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser. Sorriest was a 1984 Grand Wagoneer. Probably the easiest is my 1992 Volvo 240 Wagon. However, the best was a 1965 Pontiac Lemans w/the 326 V-8...you could put a body in the engine bay & 2 bodies in the trunk. I firmly believe that owners are not familiar & knowledgeable about their vehicles. Probably the best inventions have been electronic ignitions & disc brakes. Has anyone ever changed out drum brakes or set the timing on an old car ?

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    1. He's probably just re-filling the windscreen washer reservoir.

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    2. Either that or “checkin’ the ole”

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    3. I've never replaced drum brakes, but I have replaced disc brake pads, and that was on our first Volvo, the one we had for going on 18 years. I've never set the timing on anything.

      One reason some older vehicles, including the beloved Series II Land-Rovers, had spacious engine bays was because the engines were small. The one in the Land-Rover only produced around 70 horsepower. The transmission was 8-speed, high and low range but you had to double clutch going from first to second. The off-road (and back country road) performance was very good, but I doubt that many people make much use of that these days. Early Jeeps were just about the same, with a small engine. But there were few competitors in that class until the Land-Cruiser appeared and it had a six-cylinder engine. There were other Jeep models like the station wagon and pickup truck (and the Jeepster) as well as the older Dodge Power Wagon trucks , but the "SUV" concept probably appeared with the Chevy Suburban and IHC Travelall and Scout. Even the upscale Range Rover has been around for over fifty years. Where has the time gone?

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  7. tjamataa - I had exactly the same thought. The only time I ever look under my hood is to check my windscreen washer.
    I love the idea of repair - the old saying comes to mind "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without". I'm grateful for the cobbler just down the street, my handy sewing machine and decent sewing skills, and next week I plan to re-wax my Barbour.

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    1. Me too Melanie! I too love repairing stuff and I only buy shoes that can be repaired, I too own a sewing machine (even though I'm male) and very coincidentally I've set everything up to re wax my barbour tomorrow!

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  8. While I never learned how to do any car repair, I keep telling myself I'll get to it. I've owned cars as old as or older than me for more years than I've owned newer cars, but still never got around to learning those much more straightforward vintage mechanicals. When it comes to clothes purchases, I often ask myself, "is this something I'll want in 20 years?" I'm old enough now to appreciate what that timeline means and to know enough about my sense of style to be able to answer that question. Or at least to convince myself that I can answer that question...

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  9. It really does feel quite rewarding, to keep our vintage Land Rover, and MG on the road! Plus keeping the vintage garments still going! Thanks so very much!

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  10. One of the attractive things about my husband, when I first met him, was that he owned his own sewing machine and made sleeping bags, down booties, and vests from Frostline Kits (anyone remember those?). He rarely buys a new item of outdoor clothing without customizing it or altering it in some way, by his own design.

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  11. I cannot fix anything. All the males in my family going back to the Civil War years, according to family lore, had two hands that were all thumbs. If duct tape or a bungee can't do the job, then I start looking for help. In fact. my wife gave me a little button to pin on my current Murray's Nantucket Red baseball cap the says "Can't fix s**t".

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