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Beth Stackpole
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Committed to the fix
Beth Stackpole   4/9/2012 8:18:47 AM
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Got to applaud your tenacity, Robert. I would have ditched that recycled Sunbeam for a new toaster in a heart beat. I suppose it's the thrill of the finding the fix no one else could or would have the patience to uncover. Is your Sunbeam still fixing your toast these mornings?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Committed to the fix
Rob Spiegel   4/9/2012 2:41:43 PM
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I understand your thoughts, Beth, except those old toasters are so cool. I grew up with one, and every toaster I've had since has worked, but they haven't been the same. No other toaster is so substantial.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Committed to the fix
Beth Stackpole   4/9/2012 3:12:09 PM
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There's a fine line between cool and functional <grin>!

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Committed to the fix
Rob Spiegel   4/9/2012 3:25:14 PM
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Yes, there certainly is a difference between cool and functional, Beth. I'm just saying, I can imagine myself holding that toaster at a 45 degree angle, hoping it will last just a little while longer. I've done the equivalent with cars that I've loved, keeping them past their useful life because, well, it's the car I love,

TJ McDermott
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User Manual?
TJ McDermott   4/9/2012 10:37:33 AM
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Mr. Nepper, are you telling us the toaster you purchased at a salvage store actually still had its user manual? (tongue in cheek)

deejayh
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Silver
User Manual?
deejayh   4/10/2012 9:49:51 AM
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The new age (lazy) problem solver, in absence of a manual, would do a GOOGLE search for the manual.  This was the link to show up at the top of the Google search; http://www.automaticbeyondbelief.org/fixing.htm This link tells all about the malfunction descibed in this thread and the adjustment dial.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: User Manual?
Ann R. Thryft   4/10/2012 1:02:17 PM
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I think it's awesome that we can find repair manuals online just by Googling. We've done that at my house several times and it's been a lifesaver.


Amclaussen
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Platinum
Re: User Manual?
Amclaussen   4/20/2012 12:48:29 PM
Well said Ann, internet has been extraordinarily helpful and mostly a benefit for everyone. I specially appreciate some notable tutorials that truly good people take the time and effort to publish to help comlete extrangers, without an economic benefit!  Thanks to those tutorials and "how to fix..." articles, I have been able to perform a lot of repairs.  Just to cite a few:

-A Dell LapTop with a badly designed charge jack, that usually overheats until it burns the motherboard. The fix is inexpensive but requires a COMPLETE disassembly of the entire LapTop, but thanks to the excellent photos of the tutorial, almost anybody can do it!

-An old Trinitron TV with a known and otherwise expensive repair.

-A CD Recorder-Player with a badly designed tray mechanism (Harman-Kardon).

-A badly designed and built USB and headphone jacks for an MP3 player repair (Creative Zen Micro).

-A way to fix a balky shutter on my oldie-but-goodie Canon A1 35 mm film camera (28 years old and still working!).

-A fix for a terrible "UTOC" error that had made my Sharp Minidisc recorder unusable.

-A great method for Flushing completely the ATF from an Automatic Transmission.

-A GRRREAT list of Diagnostic Trouble codes, that can be read in the Dash without any need for an expensive Scanner (for Chrysler vehicles).

-A Great site in Spain, that publishes a lot of complete Factory Manuals for many automobiles, that otherwise would be un-obtainable by common people, and free!

-a tutorial on how to use a PC power supply to provide 12 VDC at many amperes, to feed a battery charger, instead of having to buy an expensive DC power supply.

-Many truly good sites where a lot of repairs and fixes can be obtained, that show not only how to fix info, but some analysis on how the manufacturer caused the failure by poor design, poor chioce of materials, planned obsolescense or whatever!

-The oportunity to share comments with fellow engineers at places like this "Made by Monkeys", that allows us to enjoy viewpoints and experiences of other engineers in a friendly environment.

And many others too numerous to mention.

Good luck with your searches and your repairs.  When I find a way to overcome a defective or badly made design, I feel a kind of vindicative satisfaction, realizing I have saved a lot of money by repairing instead of buying a new item from them. Cheers! Amclaussen.

 

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: User Manual?
Ann R. Thryft   4/25/2012 12:39:59 PM
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Amclaussen, that's an impressive list of repairs you've done using online instructions. Thanks especially for the tip about the Spanish site with factory repair manuals for cars. I know what you mean about the sense of accomplishment when figuring out how to fix something, or even just finding a workaround, instead of tossing it.


Zippy
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Platinum
Re: User Manual?
Zippy   4/10/2012 5:16:25 PM
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It appears this article was placed in the wrong blog; it seems to belong in "Made by geniuses but intended to be sold to monkeys..."   :)

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Waiting for bread to toast
Ann R. Thryft   4/9/2012 12:53:12 PM
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Your first couple of sentences give me an image of standing in my kitchen holding the toaster at a precise 45-degree angle, waiting for bread to toast while unable to do anything else. Normally I do a lot of multitasking during cooking and food prep, and this would drive me nuts. Like Beth, I would have tossed the darn thing and bought a new one.


cvandewater
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Gold
Re: Waiting for bread to toast
cvandewater   4/9/2012 3:44:38 PM
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Ann,

I was under the impression that the 45 deg is only required for the acceptance of the bread, the toasting should continue once the bread was detected and accepted so the 45 deg angle position only needed to be maintained for a few seconds.

You can still multi-task, but the adjustment screw is certainly easier - they don't make them any more like they used to!

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: Waiting for bread to toast
Ann R. Thryft   4/10/2012 1:01:20 PM
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cvandewater, the article says "accept and toast the bread if I tilted it over toward me at about a 45-degree angle." That says accept and toast, not accept and then place at a different angle for toasting. Besides, in a normal toaster, the toast is held toward the bottom of the slot during  toasting, presumably to keep it in contact with that sensor, and released when done, which release presumably also removes it from touching that sensor so the unit will turn its heat off (or connects to some other sensor that does so). In fact, the article clearly states "the return springs that lifted the toast had weakened a bit, so the bread presence sensing switch couldn't trigger the starting cycle."


cvandewater
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Gold
Re: Waiting for bread to toast
cvandewater   4/10/2012 1:37:47 PM
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Ann,

Good that you quoted the relevant text. "Trigger" tells me that it failed to *start* the process when not held at 45 deg. Definition of trigger has the embedded meaning that this is needed to kick the process in motion, so once triggered it will run its due course without needing a continuous input, in other words: put the bread in, tilt to 45 deg until the switch triggers the toasting cycle and place the toaster back on the counter during the toasting.... Probably the OP can confirm if this is the correct conclusion from the words he chose to describe the 45 deg trick.

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: Waiting for bread to toast
Ann R. Thryft   4/11/2012 12:43:27 PM
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cvandewater, I'm sure that toaster designs could vary, but also note that Dangela's comment below described fixing the toaster "to hold the bread down so it would toast", implying that more than just triggering is required.


Dangela
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Bronze
burned toast
Dangela   4/10/2012 9:28:56 AM
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My uncle fixed the toaster with a rubberband to hold the bread down so it would toast, thereby disabling the turn off mechanism. I awoke to the smell of smoke and ran into the kitchen which was full of smoke from about counter height to the ceiling. I bent down to look in and he was bent down looking at me with a big smile on his face. Burned it again. I had to laugh.

Gusman
User Rank
Iron
Broken Toaster
Gusman   4/10/2012 9:36:23 AM
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I suspect that adjustment provision was there to allow compensaton for the individual component tolerance stackup present upon assembly, facilitating end-of-production line adjustment to make the product functional prior to shipping to the customer.  Nevertheless, handy to have it there for subsequent field (or kitchen) adjustment when necessary.  Amazing how long some of these simple appliances can last with a little TLC

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Platinum
Aaaaaaaaaaah! The Good OL' Days!
OLD_CURMUDGEON   4/10/2012 10:40:16 AM
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The simple fact is that those appliances WERE manufactured to be adjusted & repaired.  I had an aunt who was married in 1922.  One of their wedding presents was a TOASTMASTER "Deluxe" bread toaster.  This toaster lasted & lasted until one day in the 1970s, someone tried to remove a slice of rye toast which had become lodged in the slot.  Removing the power, the person proceeded to use a standard butter knife to assist the removal.  Lo & behold, the filament on the MICA support sheet got snagged and broke.  My cousin brought the toaster to an appliance repair store.

Guess what????  The counterperson looked up the (1922) toaster, and said to him, "we'll have a new heater assembly for you in about a week!"  Not bad for a FIFTY year old kitchen appliance!

Although my aunt (& uncle) & cousin are now deceased, I'd be willing to bet that the toaster is STILL working in the family's house, just as it has for the better part of a century! 

This IS one reason why there wasn't a great demand for landfills in earler ages in the U.S.  

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Aaaaaaaaaaah! The Good OL' Days!
Ann R. Thryft   4/10/2012 1:03:03 PM
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OLD_CURMUDGEON made an excellent point--landfills? What landfills? They didn't really exist in the 50s and 60s: things lasted longer and people got them fixed instead of tossing them out.


kenish
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Platinum
Re: Aaaaaaaaaaah! The Good OL' Days!
kenish   4/10/2012 3:34:54 PM
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I have a Sanyo toaster oven from the early 80's that is still going strong.  It's a vertical format with 2 shelves instead of slots and takes up very little counter space.  It was made in Japan when they built stuff like a brick privvy and before they followed our lead and outsourced consumer goods manufacturing.  Now that I bragged, it will probably go up in flames next week!!

The lack of information on the tension adjustment screw is understandable. Engineers will figure it out...instructions will encourage everyone else to stick screwdrives into live electrical appliances.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Aaaaaaaaaaah! The Good OL' Days!
Rob Spiegel   4/10/2012 3:46:31 PM
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Good point on the screwdrivers near electrical products, Kenish. Products are much more disposable these days. Not sure that correlates with outsourcing. It may. Most of us don't expect appliances to last as long these days. The whole concept of service repair is gone. Part of the reason, I believe, is that electrical and electronic products are too inexpensive to warrant the labor costs to repair.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Aaaaaaaaaaah! The Good OL' Days!
Ann R. Thryft   4/11/2012 12:44:51 PM
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kenish, your description reminds me of a toaster oven, don't remember the brand, that lasted about 20 years. Those were the days!


William K.
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Platinum
Broken Toaster & Hidden fix.
William K.   4/10/2012 3:43:52 PM
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My guess is that the adjustment screw was not intended to be used for maintenance, but rather to compensate for production tolerances. Sheetmetal stampings are not always as precise as needed and so that was the alternative. It could be set during production and the calibration adjusted as each run of stampings was used. Just a daily or hourly check would be needed to find the current calibration setting. Even "back then" it was not always good to let all appliance users know where the adjustments were, because some folks twiddle without any understanding of what they are doing.

As for using Google to find service information, my luck has been poor. Usually I find lots of folks who want to sell me something that may or not be what I asked about, and half a dozen organizations that claim to have the item for sale when they don't. Plus some manufacturers even refuse to admit that they ever made the product. Sometimes it is clear why, such as a Kenwood brand amplifier that failed due to poor solder connections. That one will appear on Sherlock Ohms one day.

jhankwitz
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Platinum
The good old days
jhankwitz   4/10/2012 3:43:59 PM
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As a Quality/Reliability Engineer at Milwaukee's Sunbeam/Oster back in the late 60s, I'm well aware of how appliances were designed and made in comparison to today's products.

That adjustment screw served a dual purpose. It was initially used on the production line to adjust it's functionality in a new condition, and positioned to enable user adjustments as it ages. We used to monitor all products using SPC charts, created in pre-calculator days using only a slide-rule and hand drawn charts.  I still have and use a kitchen full of those appliances, all still working after 45 years of use.   Those were the days when products were built to last.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: The good old days
Rob Spiegel   4/10/2012 3:51:47 PM
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So, the question of the day, Jhankwitz, is whether the Sunbeam was sold with a manual that explained the adjustment screw at the bottom of the toaster. I can understand Robert not having the instructions, since he bought the toaster as a resale shop. But what about new owners? Did Sunbeam alert them?

jhankwitz
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Platinum
Re: The good old days
jhankwitz   4/10/2012 4:17:40 PM
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Ah, the years have been far kinder to those products than to my memory.  I don't recall any maintenance instructions included with any products other than the routine oiling of professional hair clipper bearings.  Truth is, my focus was 100% on component longevity, not product manuals.  Those were created by other Engineering teams and graphic artists.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: The good old days
Rob Spiegel   4/11/2012 8:06:56 AM
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Interesting, Jhankwitz. I wonder how many engineers are now in the position to focus 100% on component longevirty. Maybe a few in defense, aerospace, and medical devices. Maybe some in Detroit as well.

DScott
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Iron
Re: The good old days
DScott   4/10/2012 6:24:11 PM
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Thanks for your good work! I use a Sunbeam Radiant Toaster, a CoffeeMaster vacuum coffee maker, an Oster Snowflake ice crusher and a blender of a similar age. I know people who regularly use Mixmasters.

I push these thrift store finds on my friends who are amazed that at one time appliances were made to be serviced and last several lifetimes. The quality of the industrial design still impresses me. Anyone who considers classic cars worth collecting should also look into classic appliances.

You might look at the "automatic beyond belief" or the other vintage appliance websites. A real engineer from the Chicago Flexible Shaft Company would be valued source of information.

Nancy Golden
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Platinum
Re: The good old days
Nancy Golden   4/10/2012 8:02:27 PM
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Those were indeed the good old days. My kids just can't understand why I get aggravated when an electronic product or an appliance doesn't last longer than three years - they have grown up in a disposable society and its hard for them to comprehend something built with longevity in mind - anything older than three years is "old" to them and should be replaced anyway...

Rob Spiegel
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Re: The good old days
Rob Spiegel   4/11/2012 12:49:32 PM
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Yes, Nancy, my kids are the same way. After three years, the product has so many new features, the old product has little value. Pretty clever of the electronics industry to create early obsolescence.

WA4DOU
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Silver
Re: The good old days
WA4DOU   4/11/2012 3:56:19 PM
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In all fairness, decades ago folks weren't as prosperous as today. Things had to be made to last as long as possible in order to get real long term value out of every expenditure. I'll bet an appliance then constituted a larger share of a worker's earnings than many of them today. I remember a toaster my parents had that must have lasted 40 years or more. It also weighed a bit more than modern toasters. In the late '50's, an author named Vance Packard wrote several very interesting books called, "The Waste Makers", "The Decision Makers", etc. He revealed that planned obsolescence was becoming the new normal.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: The good old days
Rob Spiegel   4/11/2012 4:01:51 PM
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Good points, WA4DOU. You're correct about appliances costing a larger portion of discretionary spending 50 years ago. Repair was the rule with all appliances. When I was a kid, Detroit Edison would repair small appliances for free. They would also give you free light bulbs if you brought in your dead ones.

naperlou
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A good laugh
naperlou   4/11/2012 10:26:41 AM
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Robert, I just had to comment.  I read your first paragraph and I just had to laugh.  It was great.  I was visualizing you tilting the toaster to get it to work.  My wife would have been telling me to get rid of the thing (and she's and engineer).

Tool_maker
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Platinum
Not all so good.
Tool_maker   4/11/2012 12:55:22 PM
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I concur with most of the comments about repairable appliances, but not all was so good back in the day. Do you remember the period of time when appliances came with "Safety Cords"? They averaged about a foot long and worked just dandy if the toaster, waffle iron, mixer or whatever was used exclusively on a countertop, but at they table we had to put the toaster on the floor because the cord was not long enough to reach the wall receptical from table height.

Then again if you went inside a heat making appliance to repair you probably encountered asbestos which would require a hazmat team today. Also many old electric cords were insulated with a product that age hardened and cracked leaving exposed copper wire. Do not misunderstand me, I prefer many old appiances and enjoy fixing what I can, but every era produced its share of junk, although an old Emerson Electric fan lasts forever once that brittle wire was replaced.

DGTom
User Rank
Iron
Radiant Control Toaster
DGTom   4/12/2012 3:58:53 PM
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I spent a good deal of my life at Sunbeam, testing new products.  I have always seen the Radiant Control toaster as one of the best small appliances produced during that time when companies were able to put much more quality into their products.

Not only would the toaster automatically lower the toast, then raise it when done, but the toast was always done to the same degree of doneness no matter if it was the first slice or the fifth, nor whether it was the thinnest slice or a bagel half, nor whether it started out at room temperature or frozen.  To the best of my knowledge, this performance has not been equaled since the line was discontinued.

I tell anyone who is in the market for a toaster to find a used Radiant Control toaster on the web (eBay is my favorite source.)  My personal feeling is that this would be their best choice for a foolproof, high quality machine that will last their lifetime.  (No, I wasn't in Sales, I just liked that device.)

 

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Radiant Control Toaster
Rob Spiegel   4/13/2012 1:50:25 PM
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I had the same experience, DGTom. I grew up with one of these toasters, and I still remember the even toasting. It's something I haven't seen in my adult life. It was actually reassuring to learn there was an adjustment on the bottom that would bring it back to health after it experienced inevitable wear.

Amclaussen
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Platinum
Re: Radiant Control Toaster
Amclaussen   4/20/2012 2:28:56 PM
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It happened to me, but with another old appliance: an extraordinarily well built "Rainbow" vacuum cleaner, made around 1960, and that continues to work today almost as new.  In fact, I was persuaded to assist to one of those awful product "demonstrations" they play in order to sell this brand (normally NOT available in stores).

Well, I made the effort to carry my old 1960 vintage Rainbow vacuum to the demo, in order to compare it to the latest one, which I believe is the fifth version of the one left to me by my late parents.

I took a 5 ft long plexiglass tube with me, and a jumbo size garbage bag, and was able to properly compare both suction strenght (by lifting a water column height) and airflow (by timing the bag filling)... Guess what: the old one was able to pull the same vacuum level, and a little HIGHER airflow than the latest model, albeit at an slightly higher noise level.  Mine has required at least three bearing changes, several internal cleanings, and two sets of electrical motor brushes, a new power cord and a new hose, but otherwise, it is almost the same that left the factory more than 50 years ago.

The Rainbow was made by "Rexair" and used the then quite novel way of "washing the air" with water instead of filtering it with a paper or cloth bag. It came with a full complement of accesories to perform many tasks other than vacuuming, like a sprayer that was capable of achieving an acceptable paint job (in fact, it was one of the earliest "HVLP" spray paint setup concepts) with a foam nozzle to clean furniture or car ; a hair drier based on a kind of skullcap, all kind of adaptors to inflate air matresses, beach balls and other toys.

The Vacuum was made of metal and durable plastics, and it is so durable that there are several stores that still service it in Mexico City today, and you can find most parts and components to repair and restore it to "as new" condition. It is so rugged and strong that I use it occasionally to drive a home made centrifugal dust collector for my home shop, to suck  sawdust and debris when I use my router, saw or sanders.   The addition of a recent model "HEPA" filter as a second stage allows me to avoid dust hazards and breath clean air. Last time it stopped working (due to worn motor brushes), me and my wife went shopping for a new vacuum, but found none as capable as the old one, so I took it to one repair shop that changed the brushes and cleaned it. In this case, older was definitely better. Amclaussen.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Radiant Control Toaster
Rob Spiegel   4/20/2012 3:21:47 PM
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Hey, Amclaussen, I used to own one of those Rainbow vacuums. It was a great contraption. In the middle of a rainy night a friend's roof started leaking. He called and I ran over with the Rainbow and sucked up the water before it could do any real damage. One cool vacuum cleaner.

Bob43
User Rank
Iron
Re: Radiant Control Toaster
Bob43   5/8/2012 5:09:52 PM
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I own one of those toasters!  Thanx for the info on the adjustment, although I don't need it yet.  I mean, after all, I've only had it for twenty years.  Oh, did I mention that I inherited it from my grandmother after she died.  Who knows how long she owned it before me?  And it still drops the bread at the touch of a button, toasts perfectly everytime, and slowly raises the toast when done.  The darkness settings still work perfectly!  Some company should reverse engineer this thing and start selling them again.  I'd be glad to be a spokesman! 



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