Dyson DC14

With an impending first home on the horizon, the marriage of interests between all things tech/elec and housey has come about. What could be more iconic an item then than a vacuum cleaner, the home owners equivalent of a Jedi knight’s lightsaber. Not content with buying one, I wanted to build my own so-to-speak.

Dyson is quality, at it’s core is the commercial realisation of heavily designed/re-engineered everyday products. The Dyson DC14 is a much loved long standing model, and unlike most companies, Dyson refuse to integrate deprecation features that mean the unit becomes junk in a couple of years. Not only will the original product last for many years (our family vacuum is a DC14, 11 years old and still going strong), the spares market is huge. Unlike a product which has reached the point of ‘tack-on’ improvements, making the item very difficult to work on (common in all arenas: computing, cars, etc.), the Dyson is designed from the ground up. This might sound like an ethereal pointless concept, but it translates into the very real practicality of a machine that fits together like Duplo Lego bricks.

Along with the excellent availability of parts from the internet (Ebay & Amazon) second hand units can be found in abundance ‘he just said they are great, why people selling em cheap?’ They get sold for various reasons, the most common being that people decide they don’t work well any more or they know something is broken, due to the initial high price, the ‘broken’ item still seems to have some worth. Also there’s a sizeable industry of people buying units and turning them around with varying amounts of work. Enterprising souls will hoover up anything and re-sell jay-cloth wiped units and job-lot anything more problematic to more experienced traders.

When buying a second hand unit to repair as per this blog post, look for the following in order:

  1. Good plastics – the overall body isn’t as easy or cheap to replace, so you want a sound unit, this is the bit hiding between the bin and the cable loop – analogous to a spine.
  2. Decide if you want clutched (all floors) or un-clutched (original). The difference being that the brush bar will always rotate, potentially scratching hard floors, the clutched model is slightly harder to work on, but a better unit. If the listing is unclear, look for the control foot knob as shown in orange on the base of the unit.
  3. Preferably find a unit with a good brush bar housing (the bit with Dyson written on it), it’s the more expensive of the easily replaced items.
  4. Look for rusting and signs of workshop use, it’s a stalwart but not a wet/dry or hard debris machine.
  5. Make sure they’ll post it, a tank or two of petrol negates the exercise, most are collection only. That said, if there’s one local to you bonus!
  6. Don’t worry about filters, attachments (a common non-genuine part being a straight crevice tool, doesn’t fit flush to the body), hoses, brushes, electrical cord, switch as they can be bought easily.

The best (cost/condition) unit I found was £50 + £8 courier. Was looking at spending ~£80 for a new basic model from another manufacturer. The seller on eBay listed the item as cleaned/serviced with cleaned filters… Complete bollocks, the bin came with a free inch of dirt, the cyclone had matted hair and fluff one of the brush-bar rollers wasn’t, the whole thing was unloved and filthy. Starting it up, was ok when upright, awful sound and smell when used for carpet cleaning. The eBay purchase can be seen here (until it’s removed).

dc14_dirty_1

dc14_dirty_2

dc14_dirty_3 dc14_dirty_4

So full strip to clean & check everything, knowledge on how to disassemble the less obvious parts can be found on YouTube. T10 and T15 long-handled drivers are required to remove screws set deep within the body (eBay/Amazon few quid each). If removing the brush-bar, please get a Dyson belt change tool, it costs about £5 and you’ll be happy to pay twice that if you try levering off with a screwdriver (this is pretty dangerous). Success the first time round using a bit of string to manoeuvre the belt, and while no blood or tears, I did level-up patience. Picture taken after starting rebuild, the motor is back in housing and base fixed to spine. The Cyclone is reassembled into the bin along with gasket, cyclone plate and lid separate.

dc14_Rebuild

I’ve not gone into much detail, as the videos found on YouTube are great. In addition to basic cleaning, the plastic responds well to light use of wet&dry paper on any heavily scratched areas and rubbing compound (automotive paint prep, think toothpaste++) for persistent marks. As shown in the final pictures the unit is vastly improved.

dc14_clean

Learn from my mistake: Dyson don’t support the idea of opening the clutch to change belts, so they don’t sell clutch belts. If you see belts for sale, they’re main belts for non-clutched units. As it is, a new genuine Dyson clutch with belts already fitted costs £15, not much more than the belts, so while bonus points can be earned (if you have c-clip pliers, ball-bearings, washers, seals and three hands), it’s just not worth the hassle.

Filters as mentioned are readily available and cheap, for £5 a set of pre and post filters are available. Look for a pre-filter, blue one in the top lid, with the yellow plastic housing, because this also has an integral mesh filter. The white pad is the post motor filter it hides in the less accessible lug-clipped housing under the bin.

dc14_rusty_rollbar

The previous owner had left/used the unit in wet conditions, evidenced by a couple of rusted roller pins. The main problem was a rusted spindle and bushes in the brush-bar. Fitted to the unit the brush should roll by the force of your thumb, out of the unit it should freely rotate. As pictured the brush had seized up due to corrosion, fortunately a replacement can be had for £10. The sized bar caused the motor to strain and the clutch to burn out, damaging the belts, if left running for long it would likely have damaged the motor. Though a new motor can be had for around £35, it was nice to avoid the spend. Shown rebuilt with clean carpet post test.

dc14_tested

DC14 + P&P: £58
Tools & spares: £35
Total project cost £93

Could have bought a brand new inferior vacuum complete with 2 year warranty, instead have a tried and tested unit that I fully understand and can repair. Housekeeper rank already at Jedi Knight, and don’t even have a house.

Peugeot 306 Spark Plugs

Due to a feeling of poor performance, skipping a beat and just feeling like it wasn’t firing on all cylinders – actually – thought I’d change the plugs. For some reason it’s one of the things I should have at least looked at, but never bothered with.

At £16 for a set of originals, it’s cheap worthwhile maintenance. The only annoyance is that an extra long spark socket had to be purchased as the two I had from sets were the wrong size, still just a couple of quid extra. Fortunately the HT leads were all in good condition, just a quick clean with a wire brush, some WD-40 and ready to be refitted. In all the job took about 30mins and the car is running much smoother and has more power.

Taking a look at the old plugs is important as it yields useful info about what’s happening in the engine. These plugs, laid out in the order they were removed, show cylinder 3 was suffering from a bad connection to the HT lead. The rusting of the protruding connector likely happened due to water getting behind the HT lead/engine block seal and resultant arcing. Unfortunately the design on the engine block funnels water to cylinder 2 & 3 when the engine is being cleaned. The NGK plugs here are performance, not going by the ‘R’ which might furtively suggest ‘race’ but that there are two electrodes to the side. The standard is one over the top, this alternative configuration can be better for increasing life of the plug by providing more ignition surface. I consider it pointless, as there are other things that’ll kill the spark plugs, and the diagnostic info from checking them is more useful for addressing other issues (oil burning, fuel mixture, etc.).

spark_plugs

Anywhere from £60 to over £100 done at a garage, sorted at home for £16.