Pete's Log: Lunch Break Repair Shop

Entry #1907, Tue, March 23, 2021, 14:03 CDT (Repairs)
(posted when I was 42 years old.)

JB loves bubbles and especially loves this thing:


However, winter in the garage apparently wasn't kind to it. The fan that blows the bubbles still worked, but the arms with the bubble blowing openings no longer rotated. Jamie was out shopping this morning and came back with some bubble liquid, so I decided to spend my lunch break trying to fix it. A replacement would probably be all of $10, but it's the principle. Maybe we can keep it out of a landfill a little longer. Plus The Repair Shop has been my go-to comfort TV lately, so maybe that inspired me too.

Getting it apart was a pain, the screws were not easily accessible and one was even hidden by a subtle little plastic cover. But I got it apart. The thing consists of basically four components:

  • A reservoir for bubble liquid
  • A fan to blow bubbles
  • A bunch of arms that rotate around to move bubble liquid in front of the fan
  • A motor to spin the fans and the arms

Since the fan and the arms need to spin at significantly different speeds, there's also a gearbox to reduce the RPMs at which the arms spin. Since the fan worked and the output of the gearbox did not, it was the obvious culprit.

Here's where I still have a lot to learn: I took out the screws holding the gearbox together and pulled it apart. And all the gears (except one) came tumbling out. Luckily I was able to figure out how they all went back together:


The problem ended up being the gear that did not tumble out. Some corrosion had happened to the end of it, seen in the top right below:


This caused it to stick in its hole real tight — the reason both for it not tumbling out with the other gears and for the whole mechanism not working. I gave it a cleaning and then "borrowed" some lube for it from the other gears since I didn't have anything appropriate in stock.

It worked! I had a couple more issues during reassembly. When I had it half assembled, I decided to test it was still working and was dumb and didn't check the fan was clear before pushing the on button. So the fan lost a fan blade. It still moves enough air though (the picture at the top is a post-repair picture). I also finished up with one screw left over. Oops.

Anyway, it's working. With my mishaps I'm not sure for how long, but it was good practice at least. I feel like repair jobs like this should be part of my Dad repertoire.

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