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Fix it yourself 2010 Published 01/01/2010

Fix it yourself

Thanks so much for all your stories. We received more than 1000 entries over the month and we read every single one of them. They provided some real insight into the minds and lives of those that have the 'fix it' attitude.

The stories ranged from simple mending jobs to extensive re-builds. Some were bizarre, some were simply unpublishable, all of them were inspiring. Here are the winners:

Winning stories

31 January

And finally we come to the star prize, the Weekend for 2 in Paris. We’ve awarded it to Keith Joy. His story epitomises all that eSpares is about. Well done Keith, have a top time in Paris:

After getting a quote for over £150 to fix the door lock on my washing machine I thought I'd be better off buying a new one than getting it repaired. Before splashing out I thought I'd surf the internet to see if anyone had any tips on repairing it myself. When I chanced upon eSpares and found that I could get hold of a new door catch for around £20 I figured I had nothing to lose by trying it out myself.

The part was easy to find by searching eSpares for my make and model and the order process quick and simple. The part arrived within a few days and I set about swapping it over. This is where I got stuck as I could not work out how to reach the door catch from the inside. I tried from the top and even laying the machine on its back to try from underneath but could never comfortably reach it.

This is where eSpares came to my rescue yet again. Through the use of one of the video tutorials posted on the website I was able to compare the machine used in the demonstration to my own and work out how to reach the catch by removing the door seal - easy when you know how!

So thank you eSpares, you saved me a fortune on having to repair or replace my washing machine and gave me a great sense of achievement. I have already passed on details of the eSpares website to friends and family who have successfully prolonged the life of their appliances and saved pounds they would otherwise have to spend out on repairing or replacing these.

Paris Trip
30 January

Replacement Dyson belts are one of our top sellers, so Laurence Bodiam’s story came as no surprise. And it’s usually an errant sock that’s to blame as well. The Kitchen Blowtorch is on its way to you, Laurence.

”Dyson Vac was a sucker for dust and dirt, and when little Lauren used him to clean her room he sucked up all the dirt on her bedroom carpet, including a very smelly sock hiding under her bed. Now this was too much even for Dyson. The sock fighting for its life wrapped itself around Dyson’s rotary brush and stopped it dead. Dyson fought back with his rubber belt, trying to drive the brush around and dislodge the sock, but the sock won. Dyson’s rubber belt had got so hot being rubbed by the drive shaft that it began to burn and then snapped. Smelling the burning rubber, little Lauren knew something had gone wrong so she pulled the plug out and called for Dad. Dad looked at Dyson and could see £ signs floating before his eyes, but Dad hated to throw out broken things and instead set about dismantling Dyson. Five screws removed, Dyson’s rotary brush and the smelly sock were free, but the poor old drive belt did not survive. Dad wondered if he could find a new drive belt for Dyson? So he decided to ask Internet Search who nearly always had the answer. Sure enough Internet Search came up with the goods… “E-Spares” it said. “E-Spares” thought Dad, “I’ve never heard of them before but let’s take a look”. Sure enough e-Spares had the part and at a very reasonable price too, so Dad ordered one right away. Several days later the post lady delivered a small brown package. Dad guessed what it was and eagerly opened the package to find a new drive belt for Dyson. A few minutes later the belt was in place and Dyson was put back together. Plug in, switch to on and Dyson Vac was sucking and brushing again as good as new. Three Cheers for E spares!”

29 January

Darrell Burnell from Lytham St Annes wins the iStation Speaker System, not just for fixing up a toy globe, but for setting such a great fix-it example for the kids. We love it!

”In a pre-Christmas tidy of the children’s play room it was time to throw out all the old broken toys in preparation for the new (soon to be broken) toys the children would receive for Christmas. It's no secret i am a hoarder, and would rather attempt to fix anything broken than throw it out, i think it's a trait i have passed down to the children.

Upon seeing the pile of toys to be thrown out, the children let out moans and groans of "but i love that toy" (even though it's likely they haven't even seen it for 6 months!) But one toy was a hit when it worked and that was a battery powered vtech world globe with a joystick for moving around the globe to identify famous places. Unfortunately the batteries had been left in, leaked and eroded the battery connections away. After hearing the protests and being given the opportunity, i claimed "we can fix that!".

Out came the soldering iron, we pulled apart another toy that was definitely being thrown out and then began to clean up and then solder on new battery connections. OK it wasn't pretty but it worked and the kids loved learning to use a soldering iron as well as getting to play with an old favourite toy for the afternoon.”

28 January

An unusual tale of OCD, oven door glass and cunning laziness. Laura White wins the Stainless Steel Milk Frother.

"I was having to leave my husband alone for a week while I visited my mother as she was moving home and I offered to help her. To ensure he didn’t sit on his bum for the whole week like any good wife I left a list of jobs that needed to be completed. I was very sneaky with this list, ensuring all the jobs I didn’t like were on it.

To do –

Bins out

Empty the cat litter tray

Clean the oven “He he he”


The thing was that I knew that the oven was extra manky as I have been putting it off for absolutely ages. So off I trotted for a week at my mums, phoning up every day to check that my husband was getting on with the jobs. “Yes love, you should see what a good job I have done with the oven” mmmmm he has never been that keen with doing jobs.

On my return I quickly went into the kitchen to check his handy work... there is was a gleaming oven, I could once again see inside it. I was well impressed. I asked him how long it took and what he did but all he said was it took a lot of elbow grease and 6 hours off and on. I was amazed as I never was able to get the door that clean and I have OCD.

Two month later I was scrolling through our e-mails trying to find the booking confirmation for our flights to Spain... and for whatever reason one e-mail particular caught my eye. It was an order confirmation from eSpares. I have never heard of them so was curious to find out what it was, I click on it and what did I see...

“New World Main Oven Inner Glass - £42.99”

OMG... The lazy so and so, never cleaned the oven he just replaced the glass in the door! I was going to kill him, but the oven looked so much better with the new glass. I was just glad it was on his credit card, so win win."

Stainless Steel Milk Frother
27 January

Ann Thornton made a hash of the evening meal, much to her husband’s relief. We do hope the Morphy Richards Slow Cooker we’re sending them will provide them with more meal options.

It would take more than Superglue to fix this one.

"Ready meals are all well and good but they cost a lot and don't really fill you up. I much prefer cooking. As he was leaving for work this morning, my husband asked what was for dinner later. I replied 'a quick corned beef hash'. He pulled a face and announced that he wasn't keen on that. Then, without offering any alternative suggestions, he left. There wasn't time to organise anything else so, like it or not, that was dinner.

I duly prepared the meal and once cooked, I opened the oven door to retrieve the 'hated hash' only to drop it on the slate tiled floor. It smashed - dinner, dish and glass all over the place. I truly believe that, through the power of his dinner dislike, my husband 'fixed it for himself' to have Chinese takeaway. However, I don't believe he expected the dish to smash the oven door on its way to the floor! Thank goodness for eSpares - we may not have to eat ready meals for too long!"

Morphy Richards Slow Cooker
26 January

Patricia Harrison’s pantry was built around her fridge freezer. When the freezer was damaged by her granddaughter she thought she would have to replace it and rebuild the pantry. Fortunately she didn’t, and so wins the Beatles Sgt Peppers mug.

"The house is very old. The doorways are narrow. The entrance to the pantry is not only very narrow it is also arched. It all looks fantastically quaint. Kevin, the joiner who was fitting out the kitchen and pantry, was a man mountain. He also relished a challenge. Five years ago he manoeuvred our large fridge freezer through the narrow arched doorway, moving it horizontally using all his considerable strength. Kevin then built the fixtures around the fridge freezer in the pantry. It looks great and it worked a dream. We loved using it and visitors admired it. UNTIL.......Emma our 5 year old granddaughter opened the freezer door, pulled out the top tray and it smashed on the floor. This meant one third of the freezer storage was out of action. We were not facing just the cost of a new freezer. We were also facing the cost of a pantry deconstruction. To make matters worse there is no one with the strength of a Kevin, so we were looking at hiring two men. I was resigned to major costs for replacing the fridge freezer and reconfiguring the pantry. Then I discovered ‘eSpares’. In no time my smashed drawer was replaced. My pantry looks great again and I’ve saved a small fortune. Oh yes, and Emma isn’t allowed to help get food from the freezer until she is at least 10!"

Beatles Sgt Peppers Mug
25 January

The Force was not strong in James Bell’s Dyson DC07. A few rubber seals and a HEPA filter later, it became more powerful than he could possibly have imagined. He wins an iPod Touch for his skills.

“Sounding like a technical problem for Star Wars clone troopers, DC07 was in serious need of repair. Suction was poor, the exhaust was faulty and the HEPA filter had seriously impaired DC’s dust blasting abilities. Until further notice DC07’s mission was suspended until eSpares could get parts from the outer reaches of the Galactic Republic and help fix its labouring wooing noise. The ARC trooper captains convened a meeting and were pleased with eSpares part knowledge, perhaps they were a Jedi master as many in the Empire had always suspected. Even those as far away as Dagobah would learn that the refurbished DC07 had taken up its mission once more. Dust clones in the outer reaches of the beige planet were no longer a problem much to the annoyance of the Dark Jedi from Bpfassh."

iPod Touch
24 January

When Caroline Richmond and her partner brought Bob home they knew he would be full of fun and joy, but they didn’t expect him to eat the television remote control. We think the Dyson Handheld Cleaner will come in handy for them.

"It was such a special time when my partner and I brought our gorgeous Dalmatian puppy Bob home. He was full of fun and mischief and we knew that we would be enjoying more nights at home watching our wonderful 42 inch plasma television.

Soon after we came home after a shopping trip and found hundreds of pieces of grey plastic all over the floor and to our dismay we realised our gorgeous puppy had demolished the 42 inch plasma television remote!

To our horror without the remote we could not access any digital channels and were left with only 4 terrestrial channels which we watched through the obligatory snow storm! Quick thinking from myself, I raced to my friend’s house who had the same make of television to borrow her remote, relieved we had not lost all our entertainment for our long evenings of puppy training. However to our second horrifying surprise this remote was not compatible!

After a restless night, tossing and turning through digital TV deprivation we awoke early and scoured electrical stores all over the city to find a replacement remote but to no avail.

We were in a dark place until we came across a bright shining light that was eSpares. After seconds of browsing we found the elusive remote control. Following a few simple steps our remote control was ordered and within a few days we had our precious item and rejoined the wonderful world of digital TV.

As for Bob, it was touch and go but we kept him, he now enjoys 'The Dog Whisperer' and 'Dog Borstal' and has learned to respect the remote control!"

 Dyson Handheld Cleaner
23 January

A cracker of an FIY today from Jeff Dobson. Not only did he replace a dryer element, he hacked the pump using a pencil eraser to get it working again. Sterling work Jeff. This top quality pressure washer, which has been donated by the lovely people at Kärcher UK, is all yours.

"Yesterday I fixed my nephew's condenser tumble dryer. The element had burnt out so I replaced it but the condenser was not collecting water. On investigation the rubber 'propeller' on the pump had split and come off. I couldn't get this part without buying a whole new pump, so I made a replacement. I took a slice of a rubber pencil eraser, made a slot in the centre and shaped it with a razor blade. The slot was made by slitting the slice between two holes burnt with a hot wire (to stop the slit spreading). This worked beautifully, and as they have a family of 6 they were very glad to get the tumbler going again!"

 Kärcher  Pressure Washer
22 January

This winning story comes from Joan Comerford, who impressed us with her willpower (and sneakiness in keeping it all a secret). Jamie's America Cookbook is all yours.

”I was a smoker, smoking 60 cigarettes a day, when one day out of the blue I decided to give them up completely. I suffered for a few weeks but persevered and saved all the money that I would have spent on cigarettes over 3 years amounting to roughly €15,000. With this money (which I kept secret), I was able to fix it so that myself and my husband (after rearing 4 children on little money) was able to book a holiday of a lifetime to the U.S. for our 25th wedding anniversary. My husband nearly fell off his feet when I produced the tickets, I nearly had to call the Doctor. But all was fine with him and had the best time of our lives, a holiday we will take with us to old age."

 Jamie’s America
21 January

Well done Mark Fincham. He’s now a hero in the eyes of his seven year old daughter. Enjoy your flight on the London Eye guys (all three of you).

Daddy Can Fix It!

"I think the time has come to change the dishwasher" my wife said. I assumed she meant our Zanussi rather than us getting a divorce so, I had a look at it with the 'help' of my seven year old daughter.

Wheels loose, top rack falling off the runners and it was all looking a little tired and emotional. I found two of the missing runner wheels inside but alas they had fallen to the bottom of the machine and melted to the heater element.....what to do now I thought when my daughter announced to my wife that "Daddy can fix it!”. Not wishing to destroy her illusion I made a call to a local repairer who said he would repair any machine for an all inclusive price, including the call out charge for £150.00. Cheaper than a new machine but still a substantial fee I thought. I pondered for a while and thought to myself, with a cleanup and a few new parts I could get this back up and complicated could it be? I dived onto the computer and looked at the eSpares! All I needed was there, easy to find, easy to order and at sensible prices. Within a few days my package arrived with all I needed to bring the machine back into useful service and all for under £50.

I'm now a hero to my daughter and have a grateful wife with a working dishwasher!!

Two days ago our fan oven gave up the ghost and yes you've guessed it eSpares once again have provided an affordable solution. Thank you eSpares from Daddy and Olivia (aged seven).

London Eye Tickets
20 January

Adrian Bailey didn’t fancy strimming his girlfriend’s overgrown lawn so he took a shortcut..and broke the mower. In order to avoid a belting, he fixed it himself. Have a Banana (Guard) Adrian.

Flymo Fiasco

"It was early spring and the grass was green, maybe a little too lush and long to cut in hindsight. I considered this and, although the strimmer was available, I thought no I'll take my chances with the Flymo hover mower, what’s the worst that can happen. I thought maybe it might bung up with wet grass and I'd just clear the blades occasionally when this happened and just carry on. Better to do that than have to strim away endlessly for hours with the strimmer. The first few strips of grass with the mower went well enough, with only a bit of moaning and groaning from the Flymo. Then came a thick patch that I thought I'd take it easy through, nice and gently easing the mower onwards. Then came the dreaded high pitched whirring and crunching sound of a mower in peril. Burning smells followed the strips of rubber that threw themselves in surrender at my feet. Disaster…….lawn 1 - girlfriends mower nil, my relationship looked as shredded as the rubber belt at my feet!?!

Visions of vast expense and new mowers filled my mind. Luckily I found after a quick search for Flymo spares online I located eSpares. The website allowed me to find the correct product for my mower type and model easily and even supplied the Flymo specific spanner required to fit it. eSpares saved me time, money and a lot of earache. Thanks."

Banana Guard
19 January

Mark McFetridge’s life just got better and better after he fixed his tumble dryer. The ‘just do it’ attitude helped him realise his full potential. The Friends DVD Boxset is on its way to him.

Fixing our dryer changed my life!

"Fortysome year old deskjob writes: Last year ago our aging dryer lost its confidence to do the job. I was ready to stump up the cash for a new machine but as an afterthought I would check the price of a new heating element at eSpares.

I secretly hoped it would be far more expensive than the £34 tag that popped up, taunting my competence. It was time to see how good the internetto really was - what were the chances that it was another component? How easy was it to fit said element? Everything was conspiring to see if I was really up to the job.

eSpares had the element to me before I could change my mind and unfortunately it was the right one too. Pen down sleeves up, my other half out of position (from looking over my shoulder). An hour later we had our new arrival, and amazingly it was flinging out hot air like a good'un. I felt my manliness inflate with it - I had FIXED something! My wife was (I like to think) genuinely impressed, and the next day I told my male colleagues at work, casually.

I got a pay rise in 2009 against the tide of the credit crunch, and I’m sure it was down to the far reaching psychological consequences of that bit of DIY. Since then I have fixed a laptop and developed a pile of things worth repairing. Just need to fix the "get on with it" switch now - got one of those eSpares?"

Friends Boxset
18 January

Havard Thomas put his purchase of a new dishwasher on hold while he examined the basket wheel problem. It saved him a fortune and won him a Nikon camera.

A true story of pride and presence (of mind)

Last year we were getting fed up with our dishwasher's lower rack being derailed each time we pushed it back into the machine. At least one of the plastic wheels would fall off and would need to be replaced.

Eventually my wife, who I think may be allergic to money (as she needs to spend it all), declares that a new dishwasher is needed. In exasperation I agreed but first I took a closer look at the problem. It appeared that a couple of the wheel axles were broken. Such a shame, I thought, such little mouldings deteriorating would cost us a new machine. This niggled away for a few minutes then I suddenly thought "I wonder if I could buy a new rack?" so I googled away until I got to eSpares site (and a few others) and was amazed to find that I could not only buy a new rack but new wheel and axle sets for the rack! After finding out how cheap they were and comparing prices I decided to buy a complete set of wheels for the tray and when they arrived found that changing them all took only a few minutes and was so easy.

So, for around £18, virtually a new dishwasher...much pride!

Nikon Camera
17 January

David Rose disconnected his son from his Xbox to do some chores, then regretted it. I expect the 58 Piece Screwdriver & Socket Bit Set we’re sending him will come in handy.

”We would all like to get our offspring involved in doing “practical jobs about the house” particularly the boys instead of spending “practically all their time on an Xbox”!! But it comes at a price. So it was that after much cajoling and nagging that I persuaded my 16 year-old lad to wash the car but he agreed only if he could use the new Karcher pressure washer – big mistake. The result, after an inordinate length of time was:

1. A very wet and still grubby car

2. A soaked boy who’s entire clothes had to go into the wash

3. A soaked driveway, front of house, windows and mud bath of garden

4. A pressure washer with a hose wound into the body of the machine, bypassing the reel made for this purpose

5. ...and lastly a pressure washer which actually generated no pressure as the inlet pipe inside the machine was now broken with water simply flooding out of the bottom the machine.

So all this effort with the result of a ruined pressure washer, hundreds of pounds down the drain...... or so I thought. “It’ll be available on the web somewhere” my wife said which I didn’t believe, but with a quick google up popped eSpares with the exact part and what’s more it only cost £2.49! A few days later and a bit of disassembly and re-assembly and hey presto – hose untangled, simple little pipe replaced and a Karcher washer as good as new. ....but was it still worth it to get a boy off his Xbox? Only time will tell..”

58 Piece Screwdriver & Socket Bit Set
16 January

Neil Hardy wasn’t put off when the local appliance repairer did a runner. He just got on with it and fixed it himself. The Olive Wood Pestle and Mortar is your prize.

“A couple of years ago our built-in Hotpoint dishwasher decided to stop emptying its dirty water out. So I got on the phone to our local domestic appliance repairer. After a day or so a chap popped round to have a look at the poorly machine. He had a look, scratched his head a bit and said "I've not seen one like this before", seemingly stumped by the fact that it was built-in. He excused himself for a moment while he went outside to his van to "get his phone to ring for a part". After 20 minutes I had a growing concern as to his whereabouts, so I took a look out of the window only to find an empty space where his van once stood! Needless to say, I heard no more from him. What is it with some tradesmen? Anyway, with the washing-up piling up I decided to get my tools out and investigate the fault myself. In no time I'd got the dishwasher pulled out and tilted back to reveal a drain pump with burnt out windings. In just a few days the machine was repaired and washing our dishes as before and saved from the white goods graveyard to give a few more years loyal service. It just goes to show that you can "fix it yourself" even when the "experts" can't!!”

 Olive Wood Pestle and Mortar Set
15 January

We really like Iain and Finn Macdonald’s story. The set of cheese knives is on its way up to Nairn. Well deserved.

”Just after Christmas the grill element on our Creda Cooker decided to give up the ghost. My 9 year old son was adamant that we needed a new cooker and could we get one as soon as possible as he wanted some cheese on toast. I explained to him what a new cooker would cost compared to what a new grill element would cost and how easy I reckoned the element would be to replace. We ordered the element and a couple of days later it arrived, which was pretty impressive considering we live in the North of Scotland and the amount of snow that there is at the moment. I got my son to help me change the element, though his role was mainly observing the task being done. The job took about ten minutes and I reckon he learned a valuable lesson about the possibilities of repairing things rather than just throwing things away. As soon as the grill was working again we made some cheese on toast and got back to the more important subject of talking about Dr Who."

 Cheese Knives
14 January

Paul Tye almost fell over when he heard the quote for his fridge repair, so he fixed it himself and sent us a poem. It wins him Schott's Almanac 2010.

A Poem About Doing it Myself

I noticed our fridge was getting way too cold

Why could this be as it wasn’t that old?

The milk was icy and the butter was hard

Even my honey roast ham was like card

So I called an appliance shop to get some advice

But nearly collapsed when they quoted their price

I worked out myself that it could be the stat

So I had a quick look and knew it was that

I looked online to see who did repairs

And came across a company called eSpares

They had the part I needed at a really good price

Now all my drinks are free from ice

My fridge is fine it’s working OK

So FIX IT YOURSELF and save the day!

Schott's Almanac 2010
13 January

The HD TV goes to Jane Webb. We were extremely impressed with Mr. Webb’s re-evaluation of what was clearly an awkward situation.

How my husband fixed it (in more ways than one!)

"In a moment of madness, for Christmas 2008 my husband bought me (ladies of a nervous disposition, please look away now) a vacuum cleaner. Yes, I did say a VACUUM CLEANER! Now I admit I had admired this particular new model a few weeks previously, pointing out that our old one was on its last legs, but did that mean I wanted it for Christmas? After telling our children of his purchase (Dad, you bought her a WHAT??) he was clearly having second thoughts by the time the big day came around. However he produced the thing with a slightly shamefaced air and I did my best to appear grateful. He wasn’t fooled though. On Boxing Day his FIY mentality, which had obviously deserted him in the frantic run-up to Christmas, reasserted itself. He instructed me to leave the new vacuum in its packaging, went on-line to order a new flex, filter, bags and accessories for the old one, cleaned and reconditioned it when these parts arrived, took the new vacuum back to the shop for a refund, and took me out to choose a new outfit with the money. Marital harmony restored, along with old vacuum cleaner!"

12 January

Nothing gets in the way of Gemma Huffey. Her inspiring story thoroughly deserves a pair of Onion Goggles.

I built a bungalow for our baby

In 2004 me and my partner bought our first property a one bedroom bungalow £88,000. A week before moving in I found out I was pregnant. Oh my god one bedroom what we gonna do. List as follows:

1) Moved in

2) I designed an extension (no experience of this before)

3) Had the drawing professionally completed

4) I applied for planning

5) Granted

6) Arranged extension on mortgage £25,000

7) I arranged all quotes for materials and builders

8) Had baby (beautiful boy)

9) 2 Weeks later I’m project manager baby in tow

10) I was on site every step of the way with no experience

11) Foundations dug, cement in walls built, roof on, electrics in, plumbing in, plastering done, designed kitchen, windows in time to decorate

12) Complete I fixed it myself

13) Sold for £187,000

I made that happen and I worked hard and learnt an awful lot of DIY and fix it yourself jobs on the way. Never did I think I would spend my maternity leave doing that. I'm glad I done it though.

Onion Goggles
11 January

Thanks to Peter Thomas from Aylesbury for this winning story. Sounds like a pretty rubbish birthday for Mrs Thomas. It would have been serendipitous had the weekend for 2 in Paris been drawn as the prize. But sadly it wasn’t. You can however treat her to a West End Show. Thanks Peter.

"Christmas looming. House decorating. Shopping nearly completed. Planned eurostar trip to surprise wife’s birthday on 21.12. But horror...oven goes down week before. Presume element gone. Christmas spend makes me think about saving money, callout charge let alone cost of product etc. Trusty Reflection cooker such a great workhorse and convenient so don’t want to replace. So quick internet search finds espares and... delighted, find compatible part within about 30 seconds. Order up, praying for christmas delivery. Then go on eurostar trip. Correction...go to St Pancras FOR eurostar trip to Paris only to get involved in the one weekend that eurostar gets cancelled (and we got up at 5.30am to catch it!) on Sat 19th! Arrived home disappointed (but at least not stuck in tunnel like some). But on wife’s birthday, cooker part arrives. Fitted perfectly in 10 minutes and relief upon relief, xmas dinner can be cooked after all...and all for just £12.99. Great stuff espares. Thank you for rescuing 2009's Christmas. You have NO idea how much trouble you saved us!"

West End Show
10 January

This story comes from Stewart White who shows that blindness needn’t stand in the way of a bit of FIY. The Cordless Screwdriver is on its way to you. Thanks for the story Stewart.

”I always enjoyed making and fixing things. Then, a couple of years ago, I became very ill and lost my sight. I also lost my confidence to fix things until the constant sound of a dripping kitchen tap became like torture and I just had to do something. I knew how to fix it, so I told myself 'screws still turn the same way, water is still wet, I can do this.' I ordered the spare parts I needed, turned the water off and after some perseverance the job was done. Now I am confident that I can fix things again and it feels good. Actually it feels great!”

Cordless Screwdriver
09 January

After a day playing in the snow my kids, this was an easy one to call. Today’s winning story comes from Matthew Lawson, who has bagged himself the fondue set. Nice work.

Snow White and her little dwarfs

Last week when the first beautiful snow fell I nipped out to the shop and in the car park I saw my neighbours building a snowman, with their two girls. It was quite amusing to see that their Dad was taking it very seriously, ensuring that the girls didn’t get in the way of the Snowman’s equivalent of Michelangelo’s David.

On returning from the shops the masterpiece has been completed and the girls were in the middle of dressing the Snowman in what I could only describe as a cape. I asked the girls if it the snowman was Superman which the youngest replied “No silly, can’t you see it’s Snow White!” putting me quite quickly in my place. I have never seen them so happy in the three year’s I lived here.

Two days later after the snow had subsided and began to melt unfortunately so had Michelangelo’s Snow White. I bumped into the family later that day to see the youngest girl being comforted by her mum as the snowman was not much more than a crumbling mound of ice and cape. It was a sad sad day.

That night someone else other than me felt sorry for the girls, the snow started to fall once again. My wife was already upstairs putting my newly born baby boy to bed and I thought, should I... Yeah why not, so I grabbed my boots, woolly gloves and while I was trying to squeeze a pair for marigolds over the top of them my wife caught me shouting “What the hell are you doing?” at which I replied “Playing out”. 

I scraped up the remains of the original snowman to make the base and rolled out two additional balls of snow to make the body and head. It was getting quite cold being 2:30am but I was determined to get it finished. I could barely feel the tips of my finger while trying to tie what it still believed to look like a superman’s cape round the neck of the Quasimodo of snowmen.

It was nowhere near its former glory but I couldn’t help to think... “How can we explain this minor miracle, so I brushed my foot prints away with my foot and grabbed a pair of booties that baby Oliver had received as a gift. I made foot prints running to and from Super Quasimodo, and went to bed proud as punch knowing I fixed a snowman.

Weary eyed while making a coffee the following morning I heard the high pitched squeal of a 3 year girl, “She’s back, she’s back!” I went outside to wish their parents a good morning to be bombarded with questions “Have you seen, Look Look, She is back...” I pointed out the foot prints and said that the seven dwarfs must have brought her back for her Superman Cape. ;)

 Fondue Set
08 January

Well done to Jan Nicklin from Burton-on-Trent for today’s winning story. The digital photo frame is on its way to you Jan. Great story.

”I have a Black & Decker strimmer to keep parts of my large garden neat and tidy, but it stopped strimming last Autumn just when I needed to do underneath the apple trees. My husband, who died in 2008, always dealt with mechanical equipment in the home and garden so I had no idea what to do. Sitting and wishing he was with me was no good. I thought perhaps I needed another reel so I Googled and found eSpares. I ordered a spare reel which arrived promptly and came with clear instructions on how to fit it to the strimmer - I would never have worked out how to do it without these. Sitting on the grass in the sunshine, wishing I had 3 hands instead of 2, within a short time I'd fitted the replacement reel and felt very proud of myself for being able to mend the strimmer on my own. This has given me the confidence to mend or replace items that decide to stop working.”

 Digital Photo Frame
07 January

This story from Sean Goan goes a bit melancholy in the middle, but stay with it. It all turns out just fine in the end. We like it. A pineapple slicer is your prize, Sean. (I know what you’re thinking, but it’s one of the coolest kitchen gadgets around – seriously.)

”I once had a shiny new house. In my shiny new house, I had a shiny new kitchen. In my shiny new kitchen I had a shiny new cooker. I loved to use it. However, after a while, two shiny new babies came followed by another shiny new baby. They wanted food, they wanted lots of it, they ate and ate and ate and I cooked and cooked and cooked on my shiny cooker. After a while the knobs on my shiny cooker melted, they were full of grease and the shiny part came off in little pieces. My cooker wasn't shiny anymore, my kitchen looked dull and it took the fun out of cooking. A grey cloud came over my house. I didn't want to cook but the children still wanted to eat. I decided that my cooker worked very hard and needed a makeover so I went on line and bought new knobs for my cooker. My old cooker looks like new, my kitchen looks brighter and my children (still shiny but much, much bigger) are happy again. Everyone deserves a makeover every now and then. Cookers have feelings too! Brighten up your kitchen”.

Pineapple Slicer
06 January

A nice timeline for you today from Trevor Newman. Given the circumstances, I think he did pretty well in an hour 14 minutes. The case of wine is all yours.


18.32 Vacated arm chair and proceeded into kitchen to put the kettle on.
18.33 Splashing noises coming from under feet, closely followed by a wet sensation to my socks.
18.35 Realised something was wrong.
18.36 Detected water freely flowing from under the dishwasher. Twelve for dinner tomorrow. Panic!
18.40 Deep breaths. Check for leak under sink. No luck. Check for leak in water supply. No luck. Pull out machine. Water everywhere. Twelve for dinner tomorrow. Panic!
18.50 Get tools.
18.52 Machine on its side. Screws removed from base and back plate. Inspection underway. Twelve for dinner tomorrow. Panic!
19.11 EUREKA! Split drain hose. Remove offending item. Reassemble machine. Push back in recess. Twelve for dinner tomorrow. Panic!
19.35 Log on espares web site. Order new hose. Order confirmed. Thank you.
19.45 Log off. Phew! 12 for dinner tomorrow. PANIC!
19.46 Go to Pub.

Case of Wine
05 January

Today’s winning story was sent in by Paul Boyden. Although we send spares all over the world, we never knew that they ended up on the high seas as well. Thanks Paul; the Hitchcock DVD Box Set is on its way to you.

"I am a purchaser for an international ship management company. An oil tanker said it had a broken washing machine. As cash at the end of the year was tight, a new washing machine was out of the question, and besides, they had one working unit onboard. As a matter of course, I asked the crew questions on what spares they needed, taking details of the machine, and any part numbers. After 1 week of cross checking, I ordered the spares and they were delivered onboard a few days later. One year on, and the washing machine is still in good working order, and the ship’s crew are happy that they don’t have to worry about a breakdown and having no laundry cleaned and the owners are happy that the budget was adhered to. eSpares is the one-stop-eShop for commercial as well as domestic appliances. Well done."

Hitchcock Boxset
04 January

A rather unusual winning story today. This was sent in by Mr V G Mansell from Dorking. This very useful Black & Decker AutoWrench is your prize for sticking with the fix-it spirit. This is called How I fixed my wheelbarrow with a tumble dryer!

"My ancient wheelbarrow had seen better days and I was looking through catalogues to find a suitable replacement, when my daughter phoned me to say that her tumble dryer would not work and could I have a look at it. Having first checked that it was plugged in and switched on, I said that I would collect it and check it out in my shed.

A quick look showed that the drive belt was broken and so I ordered a replacement on line (much easier than trying to find a spares shop). This looked an easy job and when the belt arrived I put it on, but the drum did not seem to be in the right place and would certainly not turn. A more detailed investigation showed that the main bearing was broken and the drum shaft had sheared (most probably causing the belt to break). I reported the bad news to my daughter who decided to by a new machine and could I get rid off the old one. (I couldn’t ask her to pay for the new belt, could I!)

Rather than take the whole machine to the tip, I could see that it had potential so I stripped it down. The drum is ideal for growing new potatoes in, the cable, wheels and switches are waiting for a use to be found for them and part of the casing, bent to the right shape, has been riveted over a large hole in my wheelbarrow."

Black & Decker Autowrench
03 January

We just loved this story from Mr Edward Kortens. The only shame is that he didn’t have footage of this happening. Thanks for sharing, Mr Kortens. A pair of chrome electric salt and pepper mills is on its way to you.

"Moss on North side of bungalow roof blown into gutter during recent gales, down pipe to soak-away blocked. Could not be freed by rodding or removing UPVC guttering/ down pipe, latter due to large bush in front of down pipe eliminating use of ladder. (83 year old dodderer not allowed to use ladders by order of her indoors)


15mm hole drilled in down-pipe 25 cm above ground level. 15cm length of old 1/2" copper pipe bent at right angles, inserted in hole with piece inside pipe vertical, marked with indelible marker. 20cm length of plastic hose-pipe jubilee clipped to pipe and nozzle end of very old Karcher pressure washer. Whole contrivance locked in place with Black & Decker Workmate.

After retiring to safe distance, Karcher switched on and off when cloud of gunge erupted from guttering. Washer then used to clear down-pipe completely. Top of downspout then blocked with old gauze vegetable strainer and remaining moss cleared with pressure jet. Gutters cleared using old plastic dustpan, cut down to exact size but leaving handle intact. Modern ideas may be better but not always available to old hands."

Salt and Pepper Mills
02 January

Well done to Alison Flynn, who is our first winner. We loved your story about fixing your dishwasher. Lucky you - the PlayStation3 was the first prize out of the hat! It's on its way.

"Once upon a time there was a friendly dishwasher. He did his work quietly and efficiently, without complaint. Sadly he started to feel neglected and unloved and began to have serious thoughts about his self worth. He was in danger of a complete breakdown and was close to losing the wheels off his (crockery) trolley and becoming a (cutlery) basket case. He feared the men in white coats were going to have to take him away. Fortunately, after a particularly wobbly episode, his family came to his rescue. They contacted e-spares and ordered replacements for his wonky wheels and holey basket. Once they'd treated him with a little tlc his recovery was amazing and he was back to work in no time washing the dishes. His whole family was delighted and they all lived happily ever after."



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