I've been Too busy driving to stop for gas but it's time to re-group and provide some background info on this project. (note..yep...a long read..needs some pictures or something, right? I'll get it fixed...)
We're 4 years old!! It's been 4 years since I've repaired my Dad's Model 18 sharpener. I gave up on finding a replacement part online. I didn't "get" why he wanted fix his sharpener so badly. After catching him trying to cut his own gear from scratch (no pun intended) using a surplus scalpel (where in the world did he get that???) I resolved to figure something out.
The costs involved were technically "not worth it", but circumstances pushed me into becoming an accidental maker to prevent Pop from making an accident. Until this was completed, he didn't approve of me "wasting money" on the prototyping for this. I think he meant to be considerate and didn't want to cause me any inconvenience.
Don't get me wrong though, apart from the stunt I caught him in, Pop knew his stuff. More formally put, he was an engineer and had strong materials expertise. Though this was initially one of my "secret projects" (as in...I didn't want him bugging while I was trying to figure this out), I depended greatly on his input for some of the key decisions and revisions that were made in the materials selection and production process.
Whyyyy?? I didn't get it either at first. Why not just buy another sharpener? After getting a hold of these sharpeners (I have test units for each Model we support) it didn't take me long to figure out they just don't make 'em like they used to. So does that mean new products are no good? Anything that's comparable that I've found, cost in the range of 50 to over 100 dollars.
Cheaper units have been reported not to last very well and be of lower quality. Most folks that have contacted me simply would rather repair it than have it go entirely to waste. Some have even more sentimental reasons (believe it or not) for keeping these going. Providing these parts for do-it-yourselfers makes more economic sense than setting up a "repair service" and shipping the entire unit back and forth.
Was it worth it? From a cost standpoint, it wasn't worth it to do the tooling make one single unit and complete a repair. To get it ultimately fixed, that's just what it took. To recoup my costs, I decided to make this option available to the many other folks out there that I had found were also looking for this part. If you have a unit that needs repair, you can get one without having to invest in the tooling and materials it takes to produce one.
When can I get one?
June is historically a slow month for production. Family celebrations and vacation / travel have taken some time out of production these past two weeks, but future support (and continued support for past customers) for these items has not ended. Listings for these parts on eBay will resume by 6/16/13.
Here is a repost of the instructions link:
It has been brought to my attention that some of these photos are too dark to see. A redo of the photos is on my to do list.
Spring Cleaning - um...is it still Spring??
Not soon enough, but better than "never", the spring cleaning on support for these electric pencil sharpeners continues. I am still making the large shaft-drive gears for these sharpeners.
I'm making time to improve my production setup to keep inventory that has been tested and ready to ship in steady supply. Here are some of the other improvements that have taken place over time for production, delivery, and support of these parts:
1) Production time is being reduced by increase in the setup tooling. This is being yet again doubled, so that the time required to build up a tested supply of stock is less and will prevent or reduce downtime between listings.
2) Photos of which sharpener is supported have been added to each listing. This will also prevent folks from ordering the wrong part.
3) Packing Envelopes and USPS Tracking has actually been in effect for a long time. All orders are packed in bubble-wrap envelopes (or boxed if quantity order requires it) and shipped via USPS First Class mail, with tracking included. Typically, this takes 2 - 5 business days for delivery. This is included with the purchase price for US domestic destinations. Expedited or International delivery options are available at the buyer's expense.
Also included is the 5"16 retainer clip that I have found works to keep the gear in place. This has also been a standard part of the purchase and the listings will be updated to clarify that you don't have to ask for one, or pay extra for it.
4) Incidental changes in cost for production, online commerce fees, mailing and mailing materials costs, have been kept in-check and going on the 4th year of this support, the product price has been kept the same.
Future changes - Just the FAQs
Though the ebay listings have been amended to help answer some common questions, A FAQ will also be added to these listings to provide info that will help prevent repair or ordering delays.
Later, I'll be adding another blog to provide some tips on how to get started in various making processes for hobby and other uses. My original title was to be "The Accidental Maker" but that almost implies "the one" when I really mean only one of increasingly many. Stay tuned for "An Accidental Maker" and even if you don't know it yet, you may be one too.