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Stockpiling replacement parts

 
gardener
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I don't know how many times now I've ran into this issue. Tons! I will be in need of a certain part to repair my 20, 30, 40....year old (stove, freezer, sink, television, washing machine, whatever) and I search everywhere for the part, only to be told many times, "They don't make that anymore"; "That company went out of business 20+ years ago"; "We now carry brand XYZ and those parts aren't compatible".

Knowing that this is my normal pattern, to buy something and use it until it literally falls apart, I think it may be money well spent to consider a new purchase's components with the thought of "what parts will I likely be replacing/repairing in the next 30 years". Then, I can stockpile several things to have on hand when they no longer exist.

The problems I see with my idea are:
  • stockpiles take up space until used
  • the ___ may never need replacing, therefore I spent money unnecessarily
  • assumed the ___ part would outlast the other parts and so I didn't stockpile one of those. Now I've got lots of other parts that I didn't ever need to replace before it was rendered obsolete
  • makes for a much bigger initial investment


  • I seem to have constant, on-going online searches in hopes that someone somewhere in the world may someday list the exact part(s) I've been trying to find. It drives me nuts! I don't want to buy a new product. I just want to find a part that would only cost a couple of dollars to fix the one I have.

    Does anyone else have the problem of finding older parts like I do? Do you stockpile parts for repair?
     
    pollinator
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    I'm working at becoming more open-source/modular/simplistic to help minimize this problem - I've had plans for making my own washing machine for awhile now.

    Also, some appliances are pretty pointless to begin with: driers and toasters I was able to stop using without much trouble.

    I'd say the level of knowledge to fix a lot of tech appliances(computers, TVs, etc) is too high for most people in general, though the good news at least is that the newer products get cheaper and cheaper every year. Probably in the next year or two I'll sell off my desktop computer and move to Single Board Computers, so that should help on one front anyways.

    ---

    When it is necessary though, I'll buy a single set of specific extra parts if I know a common problem occurs with the device. This is not only because of the availability factor though, but a lot of the time I'm buying via e-commerce sites, and to ship 2-3 parts is usually the same cost to ship 1 part. (or even better, buying enough to qualify for free shipping)
     
    Posts: 825
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    Talking of Desk top computers they are the ultimate in reusable and rebuildable.
    I find lap tops are not worth it by comparison, particley when you can upgrade just about any desktop with bits from the warehouse, sure it helps to know what you are doing, but plenty of nerds have been keen to guide me over the years.
     
    master steward & author
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    I've got four sewing machines from the 1910s and 20s as spare part machines in case my main one ever breaks.  The old sewing machines are so easy to repair but parts are few and far between.  

    Whenever I go to a garage sale, I try to buy the 'treasure chest' as I call them.  It's the hardware bin of unknown and unwanted tools and parts.  Found some amazingly useful things in those.  
     
    Jarret Hynd
    pollinator
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    John C Daley wrote:Talking of Desk top computers they are the ultimate in reusable and rebuildable.
    I find lap tops are not worth it by comparison, particley when you can upgrade just about any desktop with bits from the warehouse, sure it helps to know what you are doing, but plenty of nerds have been keen to guide me over the years.



    I was imagining having to solder parts, not the plug&play solutions which are fairly easy .

    And as far as consumer products are concerned, desktops are indeed long lasting and durable. But, I was considering the context of OP, who was looking 20 years into the future. I tried playing around with a dell from 2001 a couple years ago and there really isn't much the average person could do with it compared to modern, cheap tech solutions available.

    r ranson wrote:I've got four sewing machines from the 1910s and 20s as spare part machines in case my main one ever breaks.  The old sewing machines are so easy to repair but parts are few and far between.  



    Even in the 90's most of my friends had an old Singer somewhere in the basement that still worked. I wouldn't mind having a hand-crank model around. Are there certain parts of old models that are liable to break or need repair often?
     
    pollinator
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    Went to a farm auction couple of weeks ago. These are often treasure troves for people like us who reuse, refurbish, rebuild. There was a three section spring-tooth harrow that they couldn't get a bid on for a while. I saw all that spring steel and thought of my blacksmithing area in my shop and realized I'd NEVER be able to buy that much spring steel affordably from a materials store. I bought the implement for $25 and trailered it home and put it in the treeline where it will live out its days supplying me with mild steel and spring steel for a host of projects or repair jobs.

    Parts aren't always found in the form of a second "parts" version of the thing you want parts for. With a bit of imagination you can see things that can be fabricated out of other things. Thrift stores, garage sales, estate/farm auctions ... all are great sources where you can find your next part ... with a bit of modification.

    No, I'm not going to find a watch sprocket in a two-bottom plow. But, there is a lot out there that can be repurposed for what you may be trying to do or need.
     
    Karen Donnachaidh
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    I'm really enjoying all of the varied responses here!

    To add further details on my situation, I live in a house that's 138 years old. The contents of the house are far from modern. So much of what we have was given to us by people now long gone. Things made many years ago were built to last. There would be, occasionally, the random part that needed to be replaced to keep it functioning, but otherwise it is still solid. There in lies the problem. So many of those "random parts" are near impossible to find. We do keep tons of scraps for their possible future purposes, but some things I am unable to fashion out of scraps. I hate having to store things in the shed or attic, waiting for a part to appear at an auction or online, but I do it; because I hate even worse, to throw away something that needed only a small part. So, for what items purchased new would this stockpile idea make sense? I wonder.

    Just two weeks ago, our water went out. We have, through the years, bought replacement parts (when we could find them) for the Jacuzzi brand pump control box for the well pump. Capacitors were easy enough to find, but relays were harder. This time, of course, it was the relay. (I had an extra capacitor, brand new.) I had four old relays, but all were shot. Had to end up buying a whole new control box.

    Our Frigidaire freezer (model UFP-157) needs a new defrost timer and a door locking mechanism. Can't find those anymore. For locking it, I have cord wrapped around the freezer and secured with a padlock just in case if something ever fell over and bumped the door open.

    Our kitchen sink has a Sterling wall mount faucet. Sterling was bought out by Kohler, but Kohler doesn't carry replacement parts for Sterling products. I've been trying to piece together parts that don't exactly fit just to make do.

    Those are just a few on my headache list. The washing machine was my husband's grandma's and is over 30 years old; the kitchen stove is about the same age;  the two sewing machines - one is over 50 and the other was purchased in 1976; the television, which I could live happily without, is just over 20 now, but we just had to replace the converter box......

    On and on. I feel like I'm living in a house of cards, if I fix something over here then something over there breaks.

     
    r ranson
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    Jarret Hynd wrote:Even in the 90's most of my friends had an old Singer somewhere in the basement that still worked. I wouldn't mind having a hand-crank model around. Are there certain parts of old models that are liable to break or need repair often?



    The machines I use have no plastic, so there's not much to break.  Follow the manual and keep it well oiled and it should last for another hundred years or so.  

    Storing them in the garage or outbuilding, misusing them, not oiling them, stuff like that breaks them.  The tension device seems to be the first thing to go, but those are easy to fix or make parts for.  

    But sometimes a big part goes due to metal fatigue.  I keep a stockpile of spare parts around just in case.  
     
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    I feel your pain.

    Strategies:

    1.  Buy 2nd hand, and buy 2 of them.

    This increases the storage volume problem, but is often much cheaper.  It's also usually easier to find the part if it's still in the original machine.

    2.  Whenever I have to make a trip to town to buy a part, I buy two.  Figure if it broke once, it is more likely to break again.  If I need nuts or bolts, I buy a box, or a bag full.

    3.  Modern machines often aren't economical to repair.  I spilled water and thought we'd have to replace the touch pad on our stove.  Well that was a non-starter.  The part when it was in stock (10 years ago) was more than we paid for the stove.

    4.  Stick with one brand.   You have a better chance of having interchangable parts.  E.g. if all of your engines are Honda engines, you have a better chance.

    5.  Follow the community..  I know of a northern community where the whole town only buys Evinrude 9.9 hp outboards.  Because they know their neighbour down the lake has a sparkplug or shearpin even if they don't.

    6.  Check brands for reputation for reliability, and parts availability.  Honda is my preference for engines.  Or Subaru.  Speed queen for washing machines.    Grasshopper for mowers. (Kohler engines...)
     
    master steward
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    What we do is stockpile things that we might need and don't want to drive to get them when we need them.

    Like printer ink.
    Toilet repair kits.
    Faucet washers.

    What I hate is when we go to town and can't find a part for something we need.  Like when the clerk says that they don't have pruning paint or heat sink putty.
     
    Sherwood Botsford
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    I recently ran into this:

    We have Ikea butcher block countertops on either side of the stove.  I'm thinking about putting a second sink in the kitchen for initial processing when you come in the door. Probably use a big stationary laundry sink with a counter on either side.  Ikea no longer makes solid wood countertops.  This is the third time that I've gone back to Ikea a few years after buying something and found that they no longer stock it.  That's fine for movable stuff, but not fine for stuff that you use for a couple of decades.  (BTW:  Lee Valley Tools is good that way.  If it isn't a 'special purchase' they tend to have stuff for years.)

    I inquired with other places.  A wood counter top would be custom made and cost me a thousand bucks.  Well, for a thousand bucks, I'll go to Habitat for Humanity's Re-Store buy a bunch of hardwood floor remnants and make my own.
     
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