Yard work: the new weed whipper: a study in psychology

Self-tutoring about yard work and improvisation: the tutor tells of a successful weed whipper “repair.”

I generally like to solve problems from a pragmatic point of view, perhaps somewhat like the farmers I lived around as a kid. To them, results were all that mattered.

I had a weed whipper from around 1980 – a hand-me-down – that finally gave up the ghost in maybe 2017. (Why I couldn’t fix the old weed whipper I guess I’ll mention in another post.) Therefore, a few years back, I bought a new one. It was more elegant, had analog speed control, and was much more appealing than the 37-year-old one it replaced. However, right out of the box, the new one didn’t work properly.

What everyone would have suggested was, “Take it back.” However, I didn’t immediately want to, for the following reasons:

  1. I’d just have to buy a replacement, and the next one up was twice as much.
  2. The problem wasn’t the motor; it was the filament feed, which fed too quickly. It was meant to be auto-feed (whereas the one from 1980 was manual feed, so worked perfectly for 37 years), but actually was more like constant-feed: the filament was constantly elongating.
  3. I didn’t want to spend two hours in town replacing the new weed whipper; I wanted to trim the yard pronto.

I decided to take it apart – maybe I could do something. (A lifetime ago I took a mechanics course.) Within five minutes I realized the problem: the filament would feed when a piece of plastic inside the rotor bent to a certain degree. However, that plastic piece was too thin, so bent much too easily.

That morning – the morning the weed whipper was new from the box, and 10 minutes after I first used it – I performed my first repair on it. Specifically, I cut off some rubber from an eraser and crammed it in beside the plastic piece to stiffen it.

I repacked the filament spool in the rotor, snapped the cover back on, and tried it out. Believe it or not, that fix worked – for three years.

At the end of last fall, my son was using the weed whipper when the filament reverted to constant-feed: the weed whipper was broken again. I took it apart to discover the plastic piece had cracked diagonally; reinforcement would no longer help. We finished the trimming by hand and forgot about it – until last Saturday.

Last Saturday I jury-rigged the whipper yet again. So far, so good. That fix is a story for another post.

BTW: I think the old one from 1980 was a Black and Decker.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

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