Old but still working

Submitted by chris on Thu, 07/07/2016 - 18:50

What have you got that's old but still working? I'm writing about stuff you've got at home or elsewhere that has lasted a long time. It might be a wooden spoon that your gran used, a treasured biscuit tin from your childhood or a train set you kept. What have you got that has lasted a long time - let me know please.

We've got a few such things around our house. I've found some useful things that are still working, sometimes with a bit of TLC. It may not look much, but I'm quite pleased to have the same bedside light that I had when I was growing up, let's say a few decades ago. I've had to fix it a couple of times: the bulb holder has become lose and I've had to buy a new switch on eBay for three quid.

My childhood bedside lamp that I'm still using
My childhood bedside lamp that I'm still using

So:

  • Are things not made as well as they were used to be?
  • Is it possible to fix newer things?
  • Are there enough resources left in the world to build new stuff all the time?
  • Or is it my duty to keep buying new stuff so as to keep everyone In a job?
  • Does it actually make sense to buy a more efficient fridge for example so that less electricity is used over its lifetime?
  • Do you always get what you pay for?

I'll try to answer some of these questions in the coming blogposts.

It's a dilemma - should I pay over £500 for a decent petrol lawnmower - or buy cheap and expect to replace it every year or two? Recently I've done the latter, buying second hand and cheap - my most recent petrol mower cost just £99 and it's is working OK on its second season. I did just break the blade, but I bought a £20 replacement.

Our old washing machine that's still working
Our old washing machine that's still working

We've had this washing machine for some time - it was bought around 1991 by my partner's mum and we inherited it when she died. We like it because it has "hot fill" which works well for us as we usually have plenty of hot water in the tank. I've had to fix the motor twice now. The last time I could not buy a spare part anywhere but I phoned a repairer and he took pity on me, rooting around in his ancient spares box for some motor brushes which he handed over for a couple of quid in a car park rendezvous in Carlisle. Ok - it wasn't a trivial fix, but very satisfying to bring the washer back to life - and avoid the complex decision making process of buying something new. Unfortunately there is now a slight leak from the drainage pump, but we've decided to live with that for the time being. The quality of some brands change over time, which may coincide with manufacture being outsourced. One brand of walking boots that I used to trust has probably gone downhill, so I opted for a slightly more expensive pair of boots last time round (as the previous ones started to leak after a year).

We also inherited our bread maker and that's still going strong. The non-stick surface inside the tin has largely gone so it's harder to turn the loaf out, but we're certainly keeping it for now.

Our inherited bread maker that's still in use
An old copy of Quizmaster that we still play

We have some old board games that are still in use, including Magnus Magnusson's Quizmaster from the early 1990s. It certainly gives us old fogies a head start when completing against our kids!

And the list goes on: window solid brass window stays reused, a tin opener (that's not really needed anymore), the kitchen table we had when I was growing up, an electric cooker that we got temporarily almost 20 years ago, the chest of drawers from my folks house, etc.

Working in IT as I do, it is common place for new devices to exceed the capabilities of something made just a year ago. However it is good to see people such as Fairphone making ethical phones that can be repaired easily - I have one. Make sure you hand your bust electronics for proper processing. And if you've upgraded your old phone is still working why not hand it on using Freegle.

Our old tin opener that's still working
Our old tin opener that's still working
Reused solid brass window stays
Reused solid brass window stays
An old copy of Quizmaster that we still play
An old copy of Quizmaster that we still play
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