Posts Tagged With: fixing

Mend it Monday: Bog Standard



This is a short Mend it Monday about a toilet so there will be no sniggering at the back…*

A day or two ago, one of the hinges on the toilet seat broke. I believe that this is the toilet seat that the house was built with (well, I think they used the usual gamut of tools to actually build the house but you know what I mean), making it 30 years old. Although I can’t complain, I will, because it meant some DIY for me.

I wasn’t about to replace the whole seat, or toilet, or indeed house, so looked for toilet seat hinges online. Someone asked the perfectly sage question: “Are they a standard size?” The answer? “Yes, probably, unless there’re not, in which case no, not at all.”


Finding a set of hinges that looked like they might fit, I took the plunge (not something I would normally do in relation to a toilet, but there we are) and ordered them. A day later, I was ready for a mend that really should be straightforward, right?

This new seat is rubbish, it seems to be missing something.... actually, it is an old shelf to ensure I end up with the same number of screwdrivers as I started with

This new seat is rubbish, it seems to be missing something…. actually, it is an old shelf to ensure I end up with the same number of screwdrivers as I started with

Undo eight screws. Well, seven unscrewed. The eighth no longer seemed to have a screwhead that conformed to the normal laws of screwdrivers, or indeed physics in general. Eventually, after ten minutes of potty-mouthed poetry, I ended up prising the thing out, leaving the hole the screw used to occupy a bit larger.

There's always one

There’s always one

Now remove the two bolts that hold the hinges onto the toilet itself. Ah, well, there’s only one as the other became brittle and shattered about six months ago. I could not find a sensible way of obtaining another bolt of the same size (without buying a whole set of hinges) and so improvised: I used sugru (pink, no less!) to hold the fixing on. Now, I had to gouge away at the self-same sugru to remove it. It felt like the god of toilet hinge bolts was laughing hard at me.

Finally, after all that, I could attach new hinges. Guess what?


Ooh! Shiny new hinges!

Ooh! Shiny new hinges!

The screw going into the enlarged hole went in at an angle but seems to be holding OK.

I’ve even ended up with a replacement bolt thing in case one of the replacements shatters (in about 30 years’ time).

You could say I’m flus… but you’re not going to.

Even the Ducktor seems happy with the leftovers (well, there's always something with DIY, isn't there?)

Even the Ducktor seems happy with the leftovers (well, there’s always something with DIY, isn’t there?)


* Yeah, there will be, I just know it. It’ll be me.

Categories: repair, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , | 11 Comments

ScrapHappy May 2019: Heap O’ Scrap


Believe me, the pictures in this blog don’t get any more exciting than this

So where so you acquire your scrap from then? I guess soft scrappers end up with lots of leftovers – certainly, the Snail does. For us hard scrappers, well, we find our bits and pieces in a variety of places – often on the road or in skips, but often just around the house.

This is a light fitting. It holds the bulb in place while magic fairies sit in the glass envelope lighting cigarettes. Probably. Annoyingly, when a tiny piece of plastic breaks off it, usually because the fitting is only 30 years old and has become brittle from the heat of all those fairies’ nicotine-induced behaviour, it renders the whole thing unusable, presumably because the magic fairies are all lopsided and keep dropping their ciggies so leave for more horizontal climes. Or it may just be that the bulb doesn’t sit straight in the fitting.

This is what one has inside it (a light fitting, not a magic fairy. A picture of that would be disturbing.):


The insides of a light fitting. I know, contain yourselves, it really is SO thrilling

So what can you do with these bits? Well, the springs and metal pins are useful for all kinds of things, including mending other light fittings where they have corroded but the plastic bit is still OK. The plastic bits can be used for, well, I have no idea so they may well end up in the recycling, but you never know. The connector things can be reused as connector things. Even the plastic box the replacement came in can be used as a housing for a Raspberry Pi project.

So, a small repair job has yielded a small heap o’ scrap that may, in time, go towards helping to keep the fairies in another light bulb happy.

Or simply live a peaceful existence along with all the other bits of scrap around the place.


These ScrapHappy posts are curated by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month. I have sneaked a non-fabric-based ScrapHappy in when no one was looking!

Lots of other happy scrappers contribute too, so check them out: KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon (me), HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie and Bekki

P.S. Couldn’t think what to use for the banner picture, so I used an egg I drew on to try to make it look like a Stormtrooper for May 4th. Sorry for the obvious distress this will cause, but it was that, or the one of the egg that is supposed to be Princess Leia, or Princess Lay-an-egg, as I called it.

Categories: repair, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

ScrapHappy October 2018


One part of this box is fine – but this bit, well..

A long time ago, the world was young(ish) and Maplin still existed for all those essentials such as 741 operational amplifier chips and boxes of nails and screws. Over the years, I availed myself of both these retail opportunities, the latter lasting more years than I care to remember or indeed dwell on.

Over those years, as we all do, the box itself became battered and held together with sticky tape until one particularly rubbish day when not only was pretty much everything going wrong, but the tape gave out, covering the bottom of my makeshift box of tools and camera bits (I was attempting to install a nest box camera at Denmark Farm at the time) with the aforementioned nails and screws. They stayed at the bottom of that box for well over a year.

Last month, I decided to do what all good therapists eventually recommend and “get over it”. I collected all the loose bits and put them in a different, more intact, box. Then I came over all ScrapHappy and decided to try to repurpose this box as a, well, a box but this time for holding my Raspberry pi bits.

All I needed were new hinges and a way of building up the missing bits of lid onto which said hinges would be attached. the answer was obvious – some Sugru* which was a birthday present, and the old heating element from a defunct soldering iron. Obviously.


Any old iron? Well, a bit of one.


If it wasn’t broken before…

The iron heater is a metal tube in which there sits a now broken ceramic element. A quick hacksaw later and the tube could be removed and cut in half. Eh voilà! Two hinges.

Sugru was added to hold the metal in place and to replace the missing plastic.


ScrapHappied hinges


In theory, these bits of Sugru would hold the hinges in place. In practice, not so much.

And it was done! I waited a week for the Sugru to completely set and then tested it.

And it fell apart. The Sugru did not attach firmly to the plastic.

So now it is a box that I have used to hold a couple of ScrapHappy hinges and some (now) useless pieces of Sugru.

Back to the drawing board!!


Well, that didn’t work. At least the box is still, you know, a box.

These ScrapHappy posts are curated by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month. I have sneaked another non-fabric-based Scraphappy in when no one was looking!


* Sugru is mouldable glue. Honest.

Categories: recycling, repair, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , | 13 Comments

Radio Ga Ga

The English Patient... before

The English Patient… before

Followers of thesnailofhappiness will have read about our wind-up radio and know that I have, over the years tried to keep it going as it succumbs to the ravages of entropy (that is, it falls apart).

Some while ago, it became apparent that the solar cell mounted on the top didn’t seem to be charging the batteries, now brazenly displayed for all to see on the side. As the daily routine of winding it up for a minute was a joy rather than a chore, I never worried about that particular oddity. However, tuning the radio was becoming increasingly difficult. The tuning dial seemed to jam right near where we wanted it to go.

Thing is, we never untune the radio from the station it is on – BBC Radio 2 is our companion, mostly for the Popmaster quiz at 10:30 every morning. Nevertheless, the tuning does has a habit, much like myself, of drifting from time to time. I think it was moving the radio that was the culprit – the dial seemed capable of turning with little provocation.

And so it was, last weekend, when I returned from my other life, that there was a task awaiting my attention. First, the patient had to be prepped for surgery – that is, taken apart:

The Operating Theatre is ready for you now

The Operating Theatre is ready for you now… oh, you’ve started

People of a delicate disposition look away now... too late

People of a delicate disposition look away now… too late

It fell off in me 'and, guv!

It fell off in me ‘and, guv!

Then, the solar cell was removed for testing. Turns out, the previous surgery had left the solar cell connected the wrong way round – good job I’m not an actual surgeon, eh? No really, I faint at the thought of bloo… ooh, feeling woozy, I’ll just have some wine (for medicinal purposes, of course). That’s better. Then I reconnected the speaker wire that falls off every time I open the radio up.

Tuning string thing removed

Tuning string thing removed

Finally, I could fix the real issue here – the tuning dial. A bit of string wrapped around other plastic bits and – well, it’s better out than in. Problem then was how to tweak the tuning if it drifts again. Answer – remove a bit of the plastic casing to allow a nimble (and thin) finger to reach the tuning wheel inside the radio. It’s not pretty, but it’ll do the job. Right, who said “Like Mr Snail?”

Just need to saw a bit off - it won't hurt (me), I promise

Just need to saw a bit off – it won’t hurt (me), I promise

See? Painless...

See? Painless…

The Offending er, bit of string

The Offending, er, bit of string

Voila! One fixed radio, solar cell connected the right way round(possibly) and with a sun roof that lifts up to harness the, er, well the sun. And all in time for National Recycle Week.

And so our wind-up radio lives for another day!

Restored to Health

The English Patient…after


Categories: General silliness, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Bolshy Pallet or how a neighbour’s rasp saved the day

Everybody, meet…

Our old, slightly dangerous Garden Bench

Our old, slightly dangerous Garden Bench

Our old, slightly dangerous Garden Bench…everybody. Good, now we all know one another, we can start.

This bench was given to thesnailofhappiness by her parents, probably about 20 years ago. Since then, it has done sterling service in the Welsh weather and, save one treatment with Ballistol pine oil, has had little TLC (Timber Looking-after Care).

It, like me, started to sag in the middle a few years back and I fashioned it an extra leg (there are a whole host of reasons why we won’t dwell on that particular terminology) and, you know what? It was almost completely useless…

The third man, er, leg, er stop sniggering at the back

The third man, er, leg, er, stop sniggering at the back

What was needed, said the SOH one day last week, was a support that could be obtained from a piece of pallet, suitably placed under the bench to shore it up and thus allow us to drink wine outside without the nagging fear that any creaking sound might not be from my knees but from the bench about to give up once and for all.

Like the man who just LOVES such things, I accepted this new DIY challenge with alacrity, that bordered on sheer stupidity. The first thing was to find a suitable pallet, like those I picked up from the wonderful Felin Ganol Mill – flour and pallets, what can you ask for?* – this blue one was just right (and the one on the top of the pile, too).

Full Wooden Pallet

BEFORE: Full Wooden Pallet

AFTER: mini-pallet

AFTER: mini-pallet










In theory, I would only have to cut a groove in the middle leg to fit it over the, er, middle strutty thing on the bench and then shave a few millimetres off the legs of the mini-pallet and hey presto! A bench, as good as one that was safe to sit on.

Have a look at the picture I started this post with. Look at the tools. A saw, for slicing the pallet with; a hammer, for putting a couple of nails to hold the structure together; a box with some nails in; the previous middle leg (I won’t say it again:stop your sniggering) to get in the way of things. Ah, the naivety of it! The sheer foolish optimism that guides the idiot male-snail on his journey of sustainability and planet-saving.

Groovy baby!

Groovy baby!

Not-so-groovy-more-a-bit-of-a-mess baby!

Not-so-groovy-more-a-bit-of-a-mess baby!










My idea was simple (as you might expect) – the wood is that sort that is layered so should split nicely down the grain. Indeed, the two end bits were and required just a small chisel and a hammer to remove them. The problem with the main chunk of wood in the middle was that it wasn’t orientated in such a friendly way. The grain runs vertically, as in the right hand picture. This meant the the chisel approach wasn’t going to work.

It took me about two hours to realise this. Without the groove, the whole thing would be useless. I needed it to support the planks on the bench you sit on – it was them that were flexing the most each time anyone sat down. The cross-piece (and I was cross with it) in the middle helped to spread the weight to the back of the bench so needed to stay. Having a bench to sit on come wine o’clock was looking like a distant dream, up there with personal jet packs and politicians with common sense (or indeed, common sense politicians with personal jet packs).

After lunch and a trip to the local hardware store to buy a plane and/or wood file that they didn’t have (well, it was a cheap shopping trip if nothing else), I realised that I should be neighbourly and see if our wonderful next door neighbours might have something of use. They had a rasp which, quite by chance, fitted exactly into the groove (was this what Madonna meant in her song? I am guessing not.). So, if I could remove most of the wood in the middle, I should be able to rasp the rest away, if that is indeed a verb.

One of our dogs, Sam, came to “help”. She couldn’t be bothered to bark, so wore a cap saying “Woof” for effect.

Sam helping by holding my cap

Sam helping by holding my cap

It took another twenty minutes to rasp out the groove but eventually it was done. I fitted the pallet under the bench – the groove worked perfectly.

It was just a shame that the back legs of the pallet support were too long and so the whole bench now rocked in an even more precariously way than before (in that before, it didn’t actually rock at all).

Taking stock, I realised that I would have to remove one of the slats on the back of the pallet in order to reduce the height of the legs. The offending leg was about 2 millimetres too long – I thought it was too good to be true when, at the beginning of this ordeal, er, project, the height needed under the bench exactly lined up with the bottom of a slat.

I removed the slat, and reduced the height by exactly 2 millimetres. OK, I guessed and removed “a bit”. This time, it worked and the bench was once again, safe to sit on.

I used the wood so preciously rasped and cut from the pallet to boil the Kelly Kettle and make a cup of tea.

The fixed bench - just in time for wine o'clock!

The fixed bench – just in time for wine o’clock!

The groove doing its groovy thing

The groove thing doing its groovy thang










Later, thesnailofhappiness and I sat out, in the evening sun, supping a very nice Chardonnay; the only thing creaking was my knees. And my arms. And my hands. And my back.


* Don’t answer that.



Categories: Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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