The Repair Manifesto

By , February 14, 2016

I recently learned from a reader about The Repair Manifesto, presented by the group IFIXIT.


The Repair Manifesto (

I believe strongly in the manifesto’s assertions, although I feel I fall far short of the ideals represented.

As a teenager, I took to heart the Easy Rider motto: “If you can’t fix ’em, don’t ride ’em,” expanding the concept from the motorcycles the motto referred to, applying it to the machines in my life (I didn’t get my own motorcycle until I was in my late 20s). Mostly, now, as then, I apply it to outboard motors. As a kid, I spent too much time rowing madly against currents while my dad or a friend struggled with a balky motor that chose precisely the wrong time to conk out. That’s largely why we choose to use human- and wind powered boats on our waters.

I don’t do much better with cars. My father loves to tinker with them, but I failed to catch the fever. I learned to perform minor maintenance, like changing the oil and tires. I can follow directions from repair manuals to replace and adjust headlamps, and other parts. I’ve replaced a wiper motor, starters, adjusted brakes, and recently installed a new seatbelt. A lot of it, though, I have to rely on mechanics for help.

The trend has long been toward making goods difficult or impossible to repair on one’s own. I especially dislike how often an item can be more cheaply replaced than repaired. I believe producers actively try to train consumers to replace rather than repair.

To fight against this, I often take apart tools and equipment that aren’t working as they should. I’ve replaced cords on power tools, cleaned VCRs and DVD players, and troubleshot a variety of malfunctions around the home. It helps to have a repair manual, but sometimes, patient examination and some common sense is really all that’s needed.

I particularly agree with the manifesto’s assertion that if you can’t fix it, you don’t really own it. I know that’s not true, but it sure feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it?

Since moving to the homestead, I’ve gained a lot more experience and confidence in repairing. After all, once I managed to pull a wind generator off its tower, open it up, and repair it, how hard could anything else be? Still, I’ve got a long way to go.

4 Responses to “The Repair Manifesto”

  1. John and Mary Helfrich says:

    Great comments!!!
    The big one for me was to repair a 25 year old dryer (stills working today). I decide to just have a go at it and pulled it completely apart to replace the belt that broke. One screw at a time and a notepad seemed to do the trick. Much to my surprise it actually worked when I turned it back on. Took me 4 hours to do and I decided that if I can’t get er done, we would just get a new one.
    For me it is mostly the fear that as I repair something, I will do more damage to something else. Well off to figure out how to shore up my shower curtain cross bar that is pulling out of the wall.
    Keep up the great blog and…..
    Rock ON!
    John and Mary

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    John and Mary, I think Kris Kristofferson/Janis Joplin said it best in that old rock’n’roll tribute to home repair: “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ less to lose!”

  3. LInn Hartman says:

    A couple of my favorite fixit experiences-
    TV repair – In the days of black & white tube TV and the drugstore tube tester I had to get the beast working. Made a map of tube location and marked each tube with a felt marker to matc the map. Put the tubes in a sack and off to the drugstore. Do you know what happens to felt marker on glass after you touch it as couple of times – it disappears. That is when the fun begins.
    Starter Repair
    Ever wondered what happened to the Kaiser-Fraser car – too many parts – Young married decided to be a hero and fix the starter on the car – Got it up on blocks – removed it – took it all apart – cleaned it and put it back together – looking good – even the handful of washers and shims that had no home – put it on – worked like a charm and never missed a start – working good when we traded the car a year later – little box of parts setting on the shelf just in case
    Life is good – have a great day

  4. Mark Zeiger says:

    Great stories, Linn! Reminds me of a high school teacher who, in the day, ran with a crowd of car enthusiasts. They routinely threw random parts into each others’ cleaning tubs during overhauls. Hilarity ensued.

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