Sunday, 6 June 2010

The art of mending

On Friday we had the first meeting of the Hethersett Circle and we were talking about how we could promote skills exchange at a local level. This reminded me of a photo that my daughter recently sent me of herself using a 1930s lawnmower that was once owned by her grandfather. Tamsin has recently bought a small cottage and the old lawnmower was ideal for her tiny lawn but first it needed an overhaul. My retired neighbour likes to tinker with lawnmowers, so he offered to do the job but disaster struck when a bearing broke as he was dismantling the machine. The bearing was an Imperial size and I first thought that this was going to be the end of the lawnmower. However a quick google revealed that Simply Bearings had one in stock and a replacement arrived in next day’s post. A bit of improvisation provided the tools needed to press the new bearing onto the shaft.

So the power of the Internet combined with some old Imperial spanners and assorted bits of metal from my own and my neighbour’s sheds got an eighty year old machine back in working order. The wooden handles have been triple varnished and the machine painted and it now looks very much at home in the garden of an old cottage. There is no reason why it should not go on to serve another three generations.

I think that cheap foreign labour and increased health and safety regulation have combined to make it very difficult to mend our own appliances. Instead we throw away things that are still 90% functional and then have to work harder to buy new ones. Freegle has a steady stream of CD players and ink jet printers that have minor faults but cost more to repair than new ones. (RecyclePC will refurbish old PCs).

I look forward to sharing practical skills and tools with people in the village so that more people can mend their own things.

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