Monday, August 12, 2013

Tales of the Toaster

It was a GE toaster that came into my family in the early 1950's.  It was a two slice toaster, replacing a one slice Toastmaster.  There were three of us children (me and two siblings) and a two slice toaster meant that two kids got a hot crisp slice of toast and only one kid had to wait for the second batch.  Breakfast became more eating and less waiting on the toaster.  Progress.
  In time, trusty GE went to my Grandmother in Montreal, replacing an antique toast incinerator, the real old fashioned kind that did not pop up.  It kept Grandmother from incinerating her toast until her death in 1962.  Then it came back to us, and from that day to this it toasted bread and English muffins at the Mittersill chalet.  All three of my children grew up doing ski morning breakfast with toast from the now elderly GE. 
   Last week, trusty antique toaster stopped working.  I should have just pitched it, after 60 years it didn't owe me anything, but it had been around long enough for me, and my children to become sentimental about it.  An appliance of love. 
   So, can it be fixed? The failure was straight forward, one of the heating elements had gone dark, resulting in three sided toast, three sides browned and one side white.  And it stopped popping up.  They built toasters right back then, it disassembled with nothing more than a Phillips screw driver and a couple of nut drivers.  Shop vac dealt with pounds and pounds of ancient toast crumbs. The failure was obvious to the eye,  the nichrome heater wire had burned in two on the dark heating element.
    Repair.  I used a piece of tiny brass tubing to make a butt splice.  Buffed the nichrome wire bright with a Dremel tool, slipped the brass butt splice on,  and crimped it with a pair of Vicegrip pliers.  Reassembled toaster, and lo and behold, it heated up.  Popped up too.  I  inserted a couple of pieces of test Italian bread and it toasted them nice and golden brown and popped them up automatically.
  We will see how long the butt splice continues to conduct electricity.

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