Today I learned

Or at least I read, on social media so you know that it’s gospel, that ripple switches are still installed in New Zealand and parts of Australia. In NZ, AIUI, you sign up for a ripple switch, the utility installs it, and you get a preferential tariff.

Of course with this being social media, there was a comment along the lines of “over my dead body does the thieving government tell me how to use my electricity.”

That it is so much easier to use the hammer drill setting when drilling into walls…

“Today” I learned three things and tomorrow I will hopefully learn to post shorter anecdotes (or none at all) :slightly_smiling_face:

Things learned:

  1. I have no potential as an electronic repair tech but possibly as an aircraft mechanic.
  2. A single phase fan motor has close to no torque.
  3. Do not underestimate the importance of lube…

Wall mounted fan in bedroom started acting up. Over the past three weeks it would at times slow down while running and more importantly would not start easily on the lowest setting, requiring cranking it up to highest before the blades would start spinning. This progressed to where I would have to manually spin the blades to get it going (“Contact!”). Finally, it decided nothing will get it going - motor just hums (I did not recognise the tune). Time to play repair tech.

From previous experience I assumed the start capacitor was the culprit. It tested fine but who knows maybe it is one of those intermittent issues? So ordered some replacement caps but could not match the capacitance (old one was 1.2uF and I could only find 1.5uF). Replaced the cap - motor only turns on the highest setting, and very slowly.

Then I think well, the shaft seems to not rotate as freely as I think it should, so maybe have a look at the bearings. Open it up to find, no ball bearings just some rudimentary “plain bearings”. Being mechanically challenged, and lazy to research lubricants, I decide to wing it and dab on some Castrol bearing grease. Result? NO movement, even on highest setting. Okay, so maybe the grease is too “thick”? Open up the fan again, clean off grease. Next I try some “HHS Dry Lubricant”. Success! Sort of. Motor will now start again if selecting the highest setting and apparently then be happy on the lower settings. Being out of time for the day I decide that it will have to do. Have the fan running during the night and by the next morning realise it has slowed down a lot.

Maybe time to look at the control board (it is a fancy fan…it has a remote). Nothing obvious, but a diode and a capacitor seemed to fail when checked with a multimeter, so I desolder and check again, the capacitor definitely does not test correct but diode seems fine. So I replace the 100uF 16V cap with a 100uF 50V cap (all I had) and put back the diode. I also top-up the dry lube on the motor shaft. Success! motor now starts on low mode.

I decide to let the fan run for more than a hour on the lowest setting to confirm it is now happy. All seems fine so I decide to increase the speed setting to the medium setting. After 30 minutes the fan starts slowing down and then returns to normal speed, a minute or so later this happens again and the pattern repeats. I stop the motor and try starting it again. No movement. Maybe I just need to nudge it into movement again. No amount of manually spinning the blades will start it. After a couple of attempts I also realise the motor is now so upset that it does not even hum!

day 3… connect AC directly to the motor to rule out some voodoo in the small unmarked chips and components of the control board. Nothing. After consulting more than one youtube video I discover the thermal cut-out placed on the motor windings. Bypass the thermal cut-out, and yes, motor spins with power directly connected. Reassemble and again top-up the lube (more is better, right?).

Time for another test. Let the fan run and check the motor temperature as there is obviously now no thermal cut-out for protection. Over an hour the temperature appears to be slowly climbing and finally gets to around 102°C and the fan starts slowing down, getting slower and slower. It does restart but is much slower on all settings.

Take shaft out again and notice discolouration where it sits on the bearings. Check the lubricant can - max use temp 100°C. Well fine, try some grease again. NO movement.

Finally remember about another can of spray lube (PTFE) - can indicates good to 260°C. Clean off grease, apply PTFE. Immediately realise the shaft rotates much more freely than with any of the other lubes.

Start the fan. Success. It starts on the lowest setting without hesitation - just one problem… it now spins so fast that it sounds like a P51 Mustang ready for take-off, and this on the lowest setting! But for now, decide to first check temps and it does not go higher than ~85°C even after a number of hours.

Day 4… Fan made it through the night but it really now is a bit too loud. Maybe that 0.3uF bigger capacitor makes a much bigger difference to the motor rotation speed? Replace the old capacitor - finally success! Motor starts, keeps running, temps do not reach too silly level and it no longer sounds like a Mustang!

So, the only problem with the fan at the start was most likely a lubrication issue… :flushed:

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You have more patience than I could ever hope for.

I once had such a sticky fan. Just lubed the shaft with Q20 and it was good for several months at a time then. I would never have thought about all the other potential issues it could be.

But well done! Aanhouer wen.

In my geval, aanhouer strip sy moer en smyt die fan weg.

When I started to read, I thought, I’ve had this before, it is a lubrication issue. :rofl:

There were many a moment when the fan nearly went for a fast short flight coming to a dead stop against an immoveable object (read “wall”). Problem is, when it works this fan is an important contributor to quality of life, but currently seem basically impossible to find a replacement.

You don’t say so I’ll ask: Have you counted your fingers lately?

after reading that sorry tale it should be clear that counting fingers will likely not yield much useful information but my ability to grip and manipulate objects seem unaffected, so I suspect all is good :laughing:

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I’ve thrown complete fans away and replaced them because it is cheaper than the time I’d normally waste on trying to fix it. Also figured it is a lubrication issue, as you can clearly feel the shaft sticking. If you grab the axle by hand and give it a quick twist, it should continue to run under the residual momentum for several seconds, which at this age they never do. Because I am in no mood to disassemble a motor, the only thing I’ve tried was good old Q20, but it doesn’t seem to be a long term solution. Anyway, now that I’ve heard your own story, next time I will maybe try a bit harder to get to the bearings and put the right lube in.

Of course, I was sniggering when I got to point 3. I remember when I got married, that was probably the sole bit of advice my dad gave me. Don’t be in too much of a hurry… :slight_smile:

the ellipsis at the end of point 3 was not due to a sticky key or finger trouble… :wink: (hope we didn’t just circle back to finger counting!).

I will see myself out now.