If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Sharp Stuff

Today, we kicked out an old friend. This is a Sharp D6120 microwave oven. The interior light had failed, and replacing it would involve taking the casing off and grubbing about in the workings. I wouldn't have minded that, but we had a newer microwave, bought for the caravan but never used, and we decided to install that one and get rid of the old.

The Sharp pre-dated my involvement with Anna by a long way. She bought it in 1978, and it has been in constant use ever since. For a number of years, she did all the catering for a local yacht club, and took the oven in the back of her car every day during summer, to help with the preparation of meals for hordes of hungry sailors. It certainly saw some work. And, apart from the blown bulb, it has never failed.

It's quite a museum piece. It's very big and heavy, and the timer is a proper electro-mechanical device that ratchets when you turn it round, and does a nice 'ping' when the time is up. The 'ping' is a proper 'ping', too. Something hits something metallic and makes a 'ping'. It's not a bleep or a buzzer. It has seen internal fires, explosions and volcanic milk eruptions. It has never failed to do what it was asked. And now it's sitting in the trailer, waiting to go to the tip. I feel a bit guilty about this. I hate to throw away things that are in good working order. But we already had another one cluttering up another part of the house, and as new microwaves are cheap and easily available, I can't see anyone buying it or even taking it as a gift. It's old technology now - it doesn't do anything fancy, just heats things up for a specified time and then goes 'ping'. Who wants that these days?

It was bought just when microwaves were becoming popular, and cost a lot of money - Anna thinks it was between £200 and £250 in 1978. But it was obviously built to last. 32 years of service from any machine is good going: most cars would have been scrapped long before that.

I won't shed a tear when I take it to the tip later this week, but I will give it a small and unobtrusive salute.


  1. the timer is a proper electro-mechanical device that ratchets when you turn it round, and does a nice 'ping' when the time is up.

    At the lab in which I spent a pleasant final year's study, there was an experiment that required a source of microwaves. When designing it, they had looked up the price of a lab microwave source (£££££s) and decided instead to buy a bog-standard microwave oven (££s), take it apart, and use that.

    The problem was that it still had the original timer. As the experiment ran for several hours at a time, this meant that someone had to keep going back to wind up the timer. If the failed, the "bing" noise would sound and the experiment would stop.

    Needless to say, someone attached a sign to the experiment:

    "Ah! You have the machine that goes 'BING'!..."

  2. Excellent! I suppose it was beyond the wit of the 'scientists' to bypass the timer? Ah no, that would have taken an 'engineer' :)

  3. Here in Cranford we have an active freecycle scheme that means someone else takes stuff the tip for you (if you are lucky). Simply post on the yahoo site "Offered: superb variable timer ping machine - suit starting out student",and someone will be bound to want it.

    I managed to give away the stick insect sanctuary aka aquarium and the old rat's cage.

  4. Damn, never throught of Freecycle. Good point.

    "someone else takes stuff the tip for you" reminds me of a mate who took all his dirty T-shirts to a charity shop and bought them back, freshly laundered, two days later for 50p each. He reckoned it was easier and cheaper than the launderette.


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