Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Philips 5890 restoration – Part 1 of 2

I have a Philips 5890 rechargeable shaver which I tried to restore to operation a few years ago, after the original NiMh cells expired. While I thought this (relatively) simple task had gone well, it didn’t take long for things to go wrong, and I fell out with the designer of its guts. Not least because this moron had used a microcontroller, programmed such that the shaver would not simply work from mains alone if the cells died – when they died… the shaver died! This even had a switch to detect if you removed the head (the display said when to clean it), but I ignored it (I cleaned it sooner).

While the rotary shaver is not my choice (unlike foil shavers, they don’t do edges, or just under the nose), I’ve come to respect it because the heads are robust and, if not abused, apparently last forever.

This is in stark contrast to the linear foil shaver, which has now become so fragile and delicate (as each manufacturer tries to make theirs the thinnest) its foil heads quickly develop fatigue cracks in the fine mesh the form over the cutters, and can begin to fall apart in little over a year, regardless of how well they are nursed.

That said, I recently resurrected a decades old, mains only, Remington foil shaver. This comes from the time when the foil was thicker than a mere few molecules and did not self-destruct after a year or so. In fact, after inspecting this original foil closely, I’ve found it actually has a single crack (probably more waiting), but has continued to work smoothly. This is in marked contrast to current examples of the same type, where the appearance of such a single crack signals imminent failure of the foil during the next few shaves (which hurts!).

Foil replacement becomes expensive (especially compared to the zero cost of rotary heads), and I have gone through two expensive Braun foil shavers (each of which has eaten 2 sets of foils at around £20 each), and more recently 2 Aldi foil shavers. The latter were bought in sales, and while they were cheap enough, I was still appalled to see that Aldi Service wanted almost £20 for a set of cutters and foils for each –  more than I paid for each shaver! Bear in mind each shaver came with a charger plus accessories – for LESS than the cost of a head replacement set.

Sad to say, despite being ultra careful with both of these (to make sure they lasted, and the foils were not even bumped), each only lasted about 18 months before the foils began to crack up all on their own, fatigue cracks appeared, and bits began to fall out, rendering them useless.

Back to the Philips and its ‘everlasting’ heads.

Although one of the Braun foil shavers had a case designed to allow the user to replace the rechargeable cells, the short-lived heads meant that never happened. It’s still in use years later (with the original cells), thanks to its excellent trimmer,

The Philips is not so quite so friendly, although the case is at least secured by screws, and not clipped or glued shut.

Inside, I found a pair of AA NiMh cells, irritatingly spot-welded together and soldered into a PCB.

Since I don’t have a mini spot welder, I had to solder two single AA NiMhs together, plus leads to connect them to the PCB.

This appeared to be fine at first, the display even showed more shaves per charge (cell capacity had increased over the years), while the rest of the clever things the microcontroller looked after all worked as before.


After a few weeks, cell capacity began to fall off, the number of shaves per charge shown in the display began to show silly numbers, and the thing would reportedly charge fully (taking the usual time) but would then just go from full to zero when the button was pressed. Mains operation also stopped, even though the indicator showed power was connected.

I couldn’t be bothered doing anything else with it at the time, and wished they hadn’t tried to be so clever and, rather than using the silly microcontroller and digital display, had simply fitted two AA cells and a switch, which would have lasted as long as the rotary heads – by simply fitting two new cells when the old ones died. Obviously too simple, and not worth the £150 retail price charged for this shaver when new. RELAX, I paid nothing like that when I bought mine in a sale. Never would have either.

I put it away, thinking I’d fix it ‘properly’ one day, ditching the guts totally, and fitting those two cells and switch.

Fast-forward some years, and now I have TWO Aldi foil shavers with disintegrating foil heads, but nice new, fully functional electronics with relatively new Li-Ion cells.

Yup – you KNOW what’s coming (but that will be Part 2)

I decided, at best, to either use the guts from the Aldi shavers to get the Philips working or, at worst, to empty the body and fit two cells and plain old switch.

In opening the shaver, I was fairly shocked to see the state of the (fairly new) AA NiMhs I’d fitted.

Admittedly it had lain for a year (or maybe two) since I fitted them (after it died again), but I was amazed to see how rusty they were. They looked as if they had lain outdoors for years.

I can only guess that the need to remove the nickel plating on the steel casing had left them vulnerable.

Over the years I’ve fitted quite a few rechargeable cells that had to be soldered in place and, not having easy access to tagged cells had prepared them in exactly the same way, removing the nickel plating and soldering to the steel below. But I’ve NEVER seen such a repair rust as totally as these cells. In fact, I’ve never even seen them show rust when revisited years later.

This chapter ends with the pic below (there aren’t any earlier pics), which shows what’s left of the original Philips guts.

Philips 5890 guts

Philips 5890 guts

The original LCD lies at top right – all I’ll be keeping from that is the zebra strip, a special flexible edge connector, can come in handy for other fixes.

The PCB on the left was for the display and silly, overly complicated controller.

To its right is the power PCB which carried the cells and mains dropper/regulating circuitry for the charger, and motor control/switching (useful parts already removed).

Some assorted hardware and screws lie to the right, such as the trimmer drive, evicted from the gearbox since I never used it.

One surprise came out of this – the service manual, complete with exploded views of the mechanical parts AND a circuit diagram, is available for free download online.

Found on this Hungarian web site which I have not come across before, but seems to contain quite a lot of goodies…

ElektroTanya – E-Waste Recycling – Consumer Electronics Repair Platform (2005-2020)

(Oops – hope Part 2 is shorter 🙂 ).

19/09/2020 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t forget PS Waverley

The Waverley may not be paddling up and down the Clyde, but is currently berthed at the Science Centre so you can at least go along and have a look.

I was passing that way last night, so grabbed a quick shot while I could.

Repair/restoration appeal

Sorry about the ladder – I didn’t have my cutting gear in my back pocket!

PS Waverley berthed at Science Centre

PS Waverley berthed at Science Centre

22/05/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Maritime, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove rooflight repair complete – stairs reopened

Looks like my previous post was right – the repair was completed and passed inspection.

Got to use the stairs in Kelvingrove that have been closed for weeks since the cornice in one of the rooflights failed.

Kelvingrove stairs reopened

Kelvingrove stairs reopened

Oddly, I’ve really missed access to this staircase, as it seems to be one I always head for when leaving the Argyle Street side of the building.

As can be seen, the building is so dark that the daylight flooding into the rooflight means it just hits peak white, so nothing can be seen.

A second pic fixes that little problem, and you can see how the repaired area looks now.

Kelvingrove rooflight cornice repiar complete

Kelvingrove rooflight cornice repair complete

A reminder of how it looked a few weeks ago.

Kelvingrove Rooflight Failure

Kelvingrove Rooflight Failure

16/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove cornice repair – almost done

It looks as if the closed set of stairs in Kelvingrove will be back in service soon.

The appearance of a gloved hand checking the quality of the work, and a paintbrush making it look good suggests the work is almost done.

Kelvingrove Cornice Repair Almost Done

Kelvingrove Cornice Repair Almost Done

15/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Pity the Forge – created a Waverley display before this year’s bad news arrived

Spare a thought for the creative folk at Parkhead’s Forge Shopping centre.

A few weeks ago I noticed that they’d installed a display featuring the Waverley just inside the Gallowgate entrance, and recalling the custom of going “Doon the Watter”.

That was before we learned that expensive boiler repairs would see the Waverley withdrawn from service for the 2019 season, and wouldn’t sail at all during the year.

Don’t miss the cotton wool smoke added to the funnels, or the way the water was extended by showing it on the floor in front of the display case.

Parkhead Forge Waverley feature

Parkhead Forge Waverley feature

15/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove repairs continue – and an unusual bonus view

The size of the repair job for Kelvingrove’s failed cornice is growing.

There’s more stuff there now, and the previous view is obscured by plastic sheeting.

Probably won’t be much to see until the job is done, and the screening is removed.

Kelvingrove Cornice Repair

Kelvingrove Cornice Repair

An unusual view was noted

I noticed something I haven’t seen for weeks.

The visitors standing in the central hall were nearly ALL watching the organist.

Since Dippy occupied the hall, the seating that was laid out for visitors was removed, as was the café (temporarily relocated upstairs).

During recitals, the hall has generally been taken over by mobs of schoolkids (large and small varieties), and people ogling Dippy.

During one of the breaks in the recital I happened to look down, and suffered a “What’w wrong with this pic (or view)” moment,

There were no kids rolling around on the floor, or thronged masses of schoolchildren milling around the dinosaur.

Just people standing and watching the organist.

This was such a break from the usual scene I didn’t realise it at first, so I didn’t think to take a pic until later, when there were fewer people.

This was as wide a shot I could take, and missed all those standing at the entrance to the right. Sorry, but I wasn’t wandering off to one of the ends of the hall during what was a very good recital.

Kelvingrove Adult Visitors

Kelvingrove Adult Visitors

Recently, this would have been the more likely view.

It’s interesting – I noticed that last year, if parents and children did this then, staff would approach and gently shoo them off the central area and into the side. There was no hassle or confrontation, and nobody seemed to object.

That seems to have ended, and this sort of ‘picnic view’ is now common.

Kelvingrove Family Visitors

Kelvingrove Family Visitors

I was wondering if there was maybe a midget secreted in that pushchair, casually left against the ‘Donation’ box.

These days, I wouldn’t put it past someone to organise something like that, and be using a piece of bent wire to fish out fivers and tenners (or a magnet for coins, since they became ferrous) whenever attention was diverted elsewhere 🙂

04/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

At last… Kelvingrove repairs are underway

I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever get back onto these stairs, beneath the failed section of cornice I spotted a few weeks ago.

I thought it would have been fixed sooner, on the other hand, I don’t know what things are like behind what can be seen, and they’ll have looked deeper.

Surprisingly noisy repair work too.

Even noisier than the FOUR mobs of school kids that were visiting at the time.

Kelvingrove repairs

Kelvingrove repairs

Since the glare killed the rooflight detail… a month ago.

Kelvingrove Rooflight Failure

Kelvingrove Rooflight Failure

03/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

LNT – Russell Hobbs flat element kettle revisited

I covered what I THEN thought was the repair of an ancient Russell Hobbs Millennium kettle I had owned from new out-of-the-box, but which had never worked reliably from day one.

Why my new kettle NEVER worked properly

Once I rewired it and replaced the offending ‘boil switch’ I though the job was done.

But, I still thought it didn’t work ‘First Time, Every Time’, however, I attributed this to imagination.

I was wrong!

Despite the obvious failure of the ‘boil switch’, it seems this kettle held a second, equally destructive deeper fault.

Like most expensive kettles, this Russell Hobbs was fitted with over-temperature switches to kill the power if it boiled dry, or some idiot turned it on with no water in it. Unusually, it has TWO.

While I did make the filling/empty mistake a few times, I usually caught the slip (as this noisy kettle didn’t make the usual noises), and got into the habit of checking.

I assumed I had ‘Got it wrong’ one day when it didn’t boil, and I found very little water inside. Normally, the thermal switches reset when they cool, and you just carry on, but on this occasion it was completely dead. I assumed (wrongly) one or both switches had tripped and not reset.

I didn’t have any similar switches lying around, so just bought the cheapest kettle from Asda, assuming I could pull the part from that (at around £5 this is cheaper than buying just a switch online!).

That didn’t actually work out as planned – these supermarket plastic kettles are now so cheap they don’t have any safety features. Look at these pics…

First, just looking inside, plastic kettle should really have a metal plate at the bottom, to help dissipate heat if the automatic switch fails and they boil dry.

I was amazed to see this is no longer fitted. You can guess what happens if this boils dry, or you don’t fill it.

Asda Kettle Inside - no metal plate below element

Asda Kettle Inside – no metal plate below element

Things got worse when I went to dismantle it and collect the thermal switch I expected to find.

There wasn’t one – or apparently any sort of thermal cut-out to disconnect the power in the event of overheating.

I stopped short of dismantling the element, which connects directly to the power in the corded base, as it might have a thermal fuse inside, but since I wasn’t going to be cannibalising this new kettle after all, I wasn’t going to ruin it either.

There could well be a fusible link in there – I just don’t know. I have my doubts, as I’ve dismantled some very similar element bases, and they just go straight from those contacts to the element.

I’m amazed UK regulations allow this. It’s the sort of omission I expect to find inside Chinese home market goods, not export items.

Maybe the mains fuse (in the plug) is expected to blow if the element overheats with no water cooling it?

The two yellow wires go to power indicator fitted to the switch.

Asda Kettle Wiring - no obvious thermal cur-out

Asda Kettle Wiring – no obvious thermal cur-out

Oh well – back to the old Russell Hobbs, which I decided to investigate as I had started dismantling it in anticipation of repair.

This turned out to show my thoughts were ENTIRELY wrong, and it revealed the second ‘out-of-the-box’ failure it had come with.

I pulled the base of the kettle, and quickly found BOTH of the thermal cut-outs were perfect fine, as was the switch I’d fitted last time.

I checked all the wiring, which was fine, leaving only the flat element as the only part that could have been at fault and open circuit, but it looked perfect, as it was completely visible and I could see all the tracks were perfect, with no ‘blown’ or damaged spots to be seen.

I was puzzled now…

The element looked OK.

The wiring had checked out as continuous from the mains input to where it met the element, and all the switches were working perfectly on test.

That left only ONE possibility – was the wiring actually connecting to the element?

A plastic moulding covered the actual interface.

Stripping that out and removing the element revealed the cause.

The wiring did not connect directly to the element, but was terminated in a spring-loaded contact that was forced against the metal surface of the element.

A totally daft idea for a relative high current connection, with the inevitable result that one of them had failed, probably from the first time the kettle was ever used! Recall my first post noted that this kettle only worked two or three times before becoming intermittent and unreliable.

This is inevitable if there is any dirt, a poor or oxidised surface, or the spring fails for any reason to press the contact points together securely.

You can see from this pic that while one contact is still good, the other had completely burnt away, and it’s a wonder it ever worked.

Russell Hobbs Millennium Flat Element Burnt Connector

Russell Hobbs Millennium Flat Element Burnt Connector

Obviously, I can’t even attempt a repair – there’s nothing left to repair.

As everything else is fine, I will try permanently fixing the wire. Soldering should work in this case as the base can’t get about 100°C (unless the kettle is boiled dry or empty), but that substrate below the printed element track is at least 1 mm steel, so heating to make the connection will need care.

Another job for when I get around to it.

13/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh no! Kelvingrove’s falling apart too

Locals will (should) be aware of the problems which have caught up with the glasshouse of the Winter Garden at the People’s Palace.

Let’s hope MP Paul Sweeney doesn’t notice a little blip in the condition of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – or there might be ANOTHER petition rushing out of his office. He’d probably want to raise at least one, if not two, million to fix this (while he poses for a new media pic) and prevent the council from closing the place forever, and dumping the old exhibits in the nearest skip.

I forgot I’d spotted this recent little hiccup there recently.

In fact, with Easter on my mind, I thought the bright yellow fencing was something to do with that, until I got closer and saw the detail.

If you look through the opening just to the left of the sign you’ll see a clue – those white bits should really be on the ceiling above.

Kelvingrove No Access To Stairs

Kelvingrove No Access To Stairs

The decorative cornice, probably more accurately the plain coving part has come away from the line where the horizontal glazing meets the vertical wall.

Not sure what it is made of as I can’t get close enough, but it’s a little odd that it’s flexible enough to stay attached at the point where it is hanging. If it was just a plaster moulding, it should have snapped and fallen under its own weight. Unless, it’s just occurred to me the moulding may be mounted on a fabric carrier, to make it easier to handle. That could then fail at the end of section, but stay together with a section.

I thought the shape was odd, then realised they had just used regularly spaced gobs of plaster to stick the moulding to the joint line.

Kelvingrove Rooflight Failure

Kelvingrove Rooflight Failure

Closer look at the gobs and gap.

Kelvingrove Plaster Detail

Kelvingrove Plaster Detail

That’s not a crummy zoom – it’s just a crummy crop from the larger image.

09/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

People’s Palace looks set to reopen as planned during Easter 2019

Having done a lot of jumping up and down when closure of the People’s Palace (temporary, while works were carried out to provide emergency exits), and Winter Garden (effectively permanent until something in the order of £7 million can be raised for restoration) was first announced, the media and those looking for some free publicity by making a lot of noise about the closure, but not actually doing anything to help other than make stupid, time-wasting claims/comments, seemed to dry up and disappear.

It has now been announced that the People’s Palace will reopen during the Easter holidays, with some £350,000 of work being carried out to make it safe, and replace facilities that were previously located in the Winter Garden.

Following a £350,000 programme of works, the city’s social history museum will open independently of the Winter Gardens during the school holidays.

The Winter Gardens requires window replacement costing up to £7m.

The People’s Palace has seen several alterations during the works, including the addition of a new cafe and shop on its ground floor, access to public toilets and a new fire escape, which was previously located within the Winter Gardens.

School groups will be able to access a new purpose-built packed lunch area on the top floor of the museum, replacing the former space available within the glasshouse.

The museum reopens with a new photography exhibition, which captures daily life in the city in 1955.

Recent view of the Winter Gardens open while work was being carried out.

Peoples Palace Winter Garden

Peoples Palace Winter Garden

Councillor David McDonald, chairman of Glasgow Life, said: ‘The People’s Palace is just that; it’s the official residence of the stories, the images, and the memories of the people of our great city, entertaining and informing Glaswegians with displays of how we lived, worked and played in years gone by.

“There was an understandably strong reaction to the suggestions of the possible closure of the People’s Palace, a clear demonstrations of its affection amongst the Glasgow public. So I’m pleased that it is now scheduled to reopen and vindicates our pledge that we would undertake the work to allow it to remain open while a long term solution is found to the challenges of the Winter Gardens. The People’s Palace collection belongs to Glaswegians and we’re glad they will continue to enjoy access to it.”
‘End of its life cycle’

The Winter Gardens will remain closed indefinitely.

The structure is in need of repairs.

The sealant used to secure thousands of windows in the glasshouse has reached the end of its life cycle and requires wholesale replacement.

Glasgow’s People’s Palace prepares to reopen after works

Winter Gardens’ future unclear as People’s Palace reopens

People’s Palace set to reopen after £350k repair works

I took a run past at the weekend, and the place was tight shut, with no new notices attached.

But the Doulton Fountain, in front, was back on and in full flow.

People's Palace and Doulton Fountain

People’s Palace and Doulton Fountain

Obviously not a current pic, as the lights are on!

01/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Broken and lost streetlight – repaired

Starting with the ‘Fat Birds’ post back on 19 February, we’ve had a nice new streetlight fitted to replace the broken one that did a disappearing act during Storm Gareth.

Not sure exactly when it was replaced as I missed the event, but since I had been wandering back and forth, and it had not been replaced earlier, I can say it happened during a two hour window.

Pity, I wouldn’t have minded so much if I’d been out all day and missed this, but being in all day and STILL not seeing any of the show is just irritating.

The good news is that this the first LED streetlight to arrive in my street.

While we have had three white light fitted in recent years, these have all been the old fluorescent legacy type, which I’m sure the council lighting department was trawling up from old stock, to avoid buying any low pressure sodium replacements before the LED changeover was underway, and new stock was all of that type.

While it would probably be very hard to photograph, to the eye at least, the single new LED light in the sea of yellow murk is impressive to say the least.

There’s obviously NO upward light pollution as LED fittings only emit light from one side anyway.

Side spill is controlled by the lens and fitting, and is very low, just enough to provide useful illumination outside the main light pool.

Probably the most impressive aspect is the clearly defined main illumination pool, which can be clearly seen with only this single light in the midst of the sodium yellow surrounding. Being able to compare the brightness of the two is impressive, with the gloomy yellow being in stark contrast to the clearly illuminated white area, where a lot more detail can be seen.

By eye, I can see how it illuminates a rectangular area of the road, extending far enough to eventually merge with the lights on either side, but seems to be shaped to avoid the footpath. I’m not aware if that is intended, or just an incidental effect of how it is mounted. Poor or careless mounting could influence this, and there are some of these lights in nearby streets which have been very badly installed and aligned (they may actually have been disturbed after fitting). Regardless, the illuminated area is a near perfect match for the width of the road.

Broken Streetlight Repaired

Broken Streetlight Repaired

A little better than before.

Broken Ligh tNight

Broken Light Night

30/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

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