Profit from refurbishment

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Since the recession took hold we have had an increase in rental business, relating to new and used equipment; and in sales of second-hand TV and video gear, coming in as ex-rental and part-exchanged units. Apart from the obligatory electrical safety check, some of this is in dire need of refurbishment to maximise its appeal, even to impecunious customers.

Sprucing up

Very often, and particularly where the previous users smoked indoors, the cabinet and screen have greasy stains, while general grime and black finger-marking on and near the control keys is common. The best way to tackle that is with foam cleanser, available under four brand names and from several trade suppliers at around £2 for a 400ml aerosol. This excellent cleaner foams up on contact then gradually collapses to a liquid, having dissolved the grease and dirt. Wiped away with something like an old towel, it leaves glass and plastic surfaces clean and ready for polishing. Nooks and crannies can be reached with an old toothbrush and/or a foam-loaded cotton bud.

For LCD screens – which are not glass – there’s a range of special cleaners in several forms. CPC has a wide range of these, listed on pages 267 and 271 of its 2009 catalogue. I’ve found kit A12426 inexpensive and effective, and I always keep a protective cardboard sheet taped to any LCD screen which is not actually on display.

For refurbishing dark plastic surfaces, various conditioners can be bought from motor accessory stores. CPC has a product, Refurb 140, which does a good job at about £3.50 per 400ml. For white goods with surface damage you can get gloss white aerosol paint from CPC and others: for touching in spots it can be sprayed onto a paper and then quickly dabbed as necessary with a small paint brush or a cotton bud. Unfortunately there’s generally only one shade of white available from electrical wholesalers, while kitchen appliances’ ‘whites’ range from cream to an almost bluish hue: a solution can again be found amongst motor accessories, where lots of specific makers’ whites are on offer.

Plastic surgery

Sometimes the treatment needed goes beyond mere cosmetics. It’s increasingly difficult to obtain from manufacturers replacement flaps and control doors, especially as the equipment ages, and problems with either can make the difference between scrapping and re-selling or renting a TV or video recorder. Very often the piece is not missing, merely having a broken spigot which can, with care, be repaired using a metal shaft of copper or steel. Sources of this can be 27/30A ring-main cable, or just a paper-clip, depending on the original spigot size. Taking 27 amp copper wire (18mm dia.) as an example, clamp the flap, door or whatever between soft surfaces then using a small (<1mm) drill or a sharp watchmaker's screwdriver rotated between the fingers, make a pilot hole in the middle of the scar where the spigot broke.

File the copper wire to a point and then push it gently, held by pliers, into the hole while heating it with a soldering iron near the point of entry. Remove the heat as soon as the wire has gone fully home; with a steel paper-clip – whose shaft thickness is just under 1mm – there’s no need to drill a hole first, and in either case if the adhesion of the new spigot is not good it can be glued in place with epoxy or cyanoacrylate adhesive. Trim the new spigot to length with side cutters. To make a good fit into the eye of the plastic cabinet’s front moulding it may be necessary to fit a length of sleeving, see the picture above.

…. and cobbling

Using the same sort of technique it’s often possible to repair broken plastic hinge-eyes. Here the favourite resource is again a steel paper clip, which can be fashioned into a double loop (like two letter Ps standing parallel and linked at the bottom) with slim pointed pliers, then melted into the rear surface of the broken plastic flap or door. Having thus made the impression, to about the 1mm thickness of the metal, the improvised hinge eye can be cemented in place with a good adhesive.

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