When things fail, always troubleshoot the simple stuff first!

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Forum topic by Tennessee posted 07-06-2013 11:37 AM 909 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2861 posts in 2480 days

07-06-2013 11:37 AM

Topic tags/keywords: humor

Back in 2002, my wifey asked me what my dream lathe would be. Being kind of frugal in those days, I showed her pictures of small Novas, Jet, etc.
“No”, she said, “I want to see the picture of the dream lathe.”
So I pulled out two pictures from my magazines: A Powermatic 3520, and a Oneway 2036. Both of these beasts were crazy expensive, but then she pulled a rabbit out of her hat and asked which one I wanted. I chose the Powermatic.
She bought it, and a fair amount of accessories. It’s been a great machine, has been moved three times, sat idle coated with grease for 18 months while I was in Shanghai, and although it is the early series, with no readout on the front, no tailstock storage, no fancy gooseneck lamp, it has been just an outstanding piece of equipment…..until yesterday.

Last summer I got some maple logs, with spalting here and there, so I finally got around to cutting them up to make some nice bowls. Had my first one just about ready to do the last step, finish sand and then finish the foot when I pulled out the on/off button, and….....nothing. My heart jumped and I thought – “I cannot afford this…”

First I checked the spindle to make sure all was free. Then I looked inside the belt chamber to see if the belt had finally broke. Nope. Then I looked at the back on the readout to see if any funny codes were on the screen. Nope, just the percentage and the word “STOP” which is always there when it is not running.

By then I had settled down a little and went into troubleshooting mode. What usually breaks? Usually the things that are used the most, like switches and speed knobs, things like that. I used to tell my technicians in the factories, forget the VSD’s, check the buttons first!

I unplugged the lathe, and removed the plate holding the start/stop button and speed control. Clean as a whistle in there. Hmmm. Got out my multimeter and checked the one single NC contact on the start/stop button. It was not working. I breathed a big sigh of relief since I knew a electrical supply house was just down the road, and they carry that brand. Maybe ten bucks.
So I took off the contact from the button, went to my bench and sprayed the heck out of it with plastic safe contact cleaner, engaging it a number of times. Put the multimeter back on it and it worked! Put it all back together and finished my bowl.
Usually, it’s the simple stuff. Almost always…

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

10 replies so far

View JoeinGa's profile


7735 posts in 1973 days

#1 posted 07-06-2013 12:13 PM

If you worked in factory, then you know that old adage… K.I.S.S.

Worked in your factory, and it works at home too!

Glad you got it solved, and it didn’t even cost you a dime! (insert applauding smiley face here)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1835 days

#2 posted 07-06-2013 12:51 PM

I love a story with a happy ending!

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Bill White's profile (online now)

Bill White

4904 posts in 3926 days

#3 posted 07-06-2013 02:42 PM

“When in doubt, check the obvious”.
Sometimes I wish I had that tattooed on my forehead.


View Handtooler's profile


1543 posts in 2098 days

#4 posted 07-06-2013 02:50 PM

Your systematic approach and patience is what led to your successful troubleshooting and repair. Glad for you that it’s fixed.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View DocSavage45's profile


8519 posts in 2808 days

#5 posted 07-06-2013 04:45 PM

Wow, nice present! Way back when Zenith was a name in TV, my friend, an engineer was called to a commercial being shoot for selling TV’s. Two engineers and an hour of their time. He looked around, then plugged it into the outlet! LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View MrRon's profile


4718 posts in 3209 days

#6 posted 07-06-2013 07:31 PM

Ever replace a starter on a vehicle only to find out the battery was dead? At least I ended up with a spare starter.

View Bill White's profile (online now)

Bill White

4904 posts in 3926 days

#7 posted 07-06-2013 07:45 PM

Did the starter/battery trick on a Jag. only to find that the brushes in the original starter were stuck in the brush holders. Ever tried to change a starter on a 1968 XKE? Redefines the need to learn how to cuss/curse/swear/bloviate/utter foul words/talk about somebody’s mama.


View Handtooler's profile


1543 posts in 2098 days

#8 posted 07-06-2013 08:46 PM

Bill, Yes my wife and I did in about 1980. Successfully. I have small hands and was able to get it done with a minimum of foul language. The Austin-Healy 3000 MK III was easier though.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2927 days

#9 posted 07-06-2013 10:24 PM

A friend of mine tried to start his car. He called a mechanic friend. The mechanic started the car. My friend had left it in drive!

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3614 days

#10 posted 07-06-2013 10:42 PM

nice turn around. priceless moments that you usually hope will never happen, but they do when you least expect them.

any way to dust seal the area of the contacts to keep this from repeats?

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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