Photocopier Reincarnate: From Dumpster to Home Office

In the interest of continually growing the Linder Engineering Work's collection of tools and devices, I had a friend of mine point out a photocopier, presumed to be broken, sitting in a dumpster all alone. Out it came, to be rolled back to my apartment. This was several years ago, and after a repair and a new toner cartridge, this machine has now delivered all my 11x17 and 8.5x11 prints for over five years. It is very handy having a reasonably high-volume 11x17 printer here, for when I need to send printed drawing sets, or do redline editing on schematics and layout drawings.

Top of a dirty photocopier Here it is when new to me, or fresh out of the dumpster. Plugged it in, no power, means blown fuse or something similar. Performed some debugging, found the problem, fixed it, and went on with life. Dumpster stuff generally needs a bath, so I took the thing all apart and gave it a good bath, wiping off the inside and the outside. I find Formula 409 and a rag and water rinse afterwards to be effective in cleaning most gunk out of plastic and simple metal bits. Some people love using Windex, but I find 409 is a better cleaner for electronics-type plastics.

Front view of clean copier Here is a new picture of the cleaned copier. This machine has been in use for four years as of time of writing, and seems to be going along just fine. It is very handy to be able to do 11x17 prints with laser-printer quality. I've also used this to great benefit for redline sets, to scan them in and modify things. Having your own photocopier, and a history of doing clever things with copiers, makes life grand. Now that I am used to having this, if it ever does break in a way I cannot affordably fix, I may have to buy a new one, just to have a copier.

The problem: Broken surge arrestor The problem. This is a surge arrestor box that gave its life to save the copier. This unit was wired into the power input on the copier. Some kind of surge came that hit this surge arestor, and caused it to break. This failure caused the fuse in the main copier to go. The solution was to toss out the surge arrestor, replace the fuse in the copier, and give the thing a bath, and then we are off and running.

One of the most important lessons I have learned through a successful career in engineering is to always check what I call plugs-and-hoses issues first. This includes fuses, screw terminals, connector ends, pins to chips, wiggly and dirty connectors, and anything else that could conscievably be wiggly, loose, frayed, leaking, wet, bent, blown and replacable, or otherwise not obviously exploded, vaporized, or burned up. If I needed to do PCB-level repairs on this copier, for example, I would probably have scrapped it, as the time to fix it would have cost less than buying a new unit. My talents in the plugs-and-hoses check means that when I do send something in for repair, or start pulling out oscilloscopes to fix it, it is properly broken. For this thing, for the cost of twenty minutes of fixing, I have a new 11x17 copier that's done an extra toner cartridge and a half's worth of pages since being liberated from the trash.