Repairing A Broken Salad Spinner

Behold [Quinn’s] broken salad spinner, and just when lettuce and other garden produce are hitting their peak. We were surprised to find out that she was able to get the mechanism apart to fix the broken cord. We’re sick and tired of ultrasonically welded plastic enclosures that lock out the most well-intentioned repairman. But in [Quinn’s] case there were a few plastic plugs hiding the screws that keep the two pieces of the case together.

After diagnosing that the cause of the broken cord was a gnarly metal grommet, she removed the offender and sought a replacement cord. The first material she tried was some dental floss but unsurprisingly it only lasted through a few spins. Next on the road to repair was a shoelace which did a bit better but also ended up broken. But the discovery of some parachute cord did the trick in the end and now it’s good as new if not better!

47 thoughts on “Repairing A Broken Salad Spinner

  1. iZsh:

    Well, how do you define a hack?

    To me, it’s modifying something for an unintended use, or improvising a fix for a problem when help with, or a repair is not readly avalible –

    Before you call it a non-hack, what have you dared to show here as a hack?

  2. OK, Kudos on fixing your salad spinner, I liked your write up and your documentation. Given that it looks like a cheap one, I am glad you are considering adding a motor. I can see the point iZsh was trying to make but I went and actually followed the link and read the article. you dug into something that broke and made it better than the original design, that’s hacking.

  3. @Everybody saying this is a new low/not a hack

    WHO defines what a hack is? Its just you picky people out there who have their own opinion of how the world should be and try to make everyone else fit that picture! Get over it!

    If your really that upset about it go stat your own blog and feature just the hacks you want, but dont criticise others for posting something that only 5% of us will be interested in. YES, im not really interested in this either, but I dont cry, I simply dont click on it and get on with my life in the outside world.

    So please leave HAD alone, stop the criticism and just enjoy what they sort and give you all for free or leave please :)

    1. A hack is not a straight repair of an item. A hack is a way around and existing system to make it do something different that you need it to do. Making something work again by just fixing it is just a repair. This is not a bad thing, but it is not a hack.

  4. Um… I don’t get it.. In the military we called that stuff “550” cord. It’s rated to hold 550lbs. so.. we tried some floss, then some shoestring, then 550 cord.. Trial and error, and killing ants with an atomic bomb FTW.

  5. @Adam: if she had said 550 cord on hand…why should she bother looking for some – in your mind – better suited cord in some shop? She had it and she used it. Because she could.
    I’d like to quote GlaDOS:
    “We do what we must, because we can”

  6. The definition of Hack that I have come to know is the following:

    “Taking an item and pushing it beyond it’s limits; or, adding new features and improvements to an item; or, modifying an item beyond it’s intended purpose; All in order to achieve an item that fits the need at hand.”

    Far too many people have the idea that ‘Hack’ = electronic, microchips, LEDs, wires, solder and hours of writing code. Sorry people, that’s just one way to look at it.

    Now look at the content of her article. It was well written, the changes and work was documented in an organized manner, ideas for future changes – INVOLVING ELECTRICITY – were noted. How many hacks these days do we get here with this sort of coverage? I’ve seen plenty that get linked that don’t even have write ups. Give the woman a break.

    If you’ve got better, by all means share it, so we the readers can slam you for poor grammar or a lack of documentation or what have you.

  7. @IZish I agree this is weak. I said the same thing 3 years ago when they put up an article about how to put new foam covers on you headphones. I wake up to read articles about hacking because I am a programmer. If I wanted to see kindergarten craft time I would go to instructables and learn how to “Bedazzle” my jeans.

  8. @aztraph yes I did read it. Also note that I’m not criticizing his work or even himself. But because he published stuff in the past that we could relate to hacking doesn’t mean that everything he does is hacking.I’m sorry but if we have to include this as a hack, we’ll have to include almost any home-repair in the world as well.

    Also, it’s “funny” how people in here have a tendency to easily try to throw ad-hominem or authority arguments. That remind me of the scientology methods (famous quote from them: “what are YOU afraid of?”). I dont see how it has anything to do with my point. but if you insist you can google my nickname + {iasign,nordumper,iunlock,anysym} for examples… But I re-iterate it’s a pretty stupid way of supporting an argument.

  9. @iZsh

    A) there are no girls on the internet

    B) guys don’t eat vegetables

    using these facts i conclude this post is an early April fools joke!

    btw nice hack Quinn. don’t listen to the people who down your hard work, they wouldn’t know hard work if it bit them in the derriere.

  10. the “Hack” element wansn`t justhe final product in my opinion, but the Mentality (and refusal to give up on getting what you want), that alone makes this a Hack if there was any doubt.
    now if you can sort a replacement for old tape decks whos bands have turned to black “bubble-gum” I`d be eternally grateful :)

    Nice work, and NEVER quit thinking Your way!

  11. Salt water fishing leader. Usually the same stuff of braided cable with teflon or plasticoat on it. You could probably get by with some Spectra freshwater line. Parachute cord rocks though! Used it all the time in my youth thanks to my military dad. Also used to love singeing the ends and watching the little flaming bubbles drop :)
    Good on you for beating the salad spinner :)

  12. Holy crap I’m sick of this ‘not a hack’ shit on Hack A Day.

    Just go into the definition of a hack. There’s the MIT model train club in the 50s, and the word was actually defined in the Jargon File:

    “hack has only one meaning, an extremely subtle and profound one which defies articulation…. Hacking might be characterized as ‘and appropriate application of ingenuity.'”

    Oh, that definition is attributed to RMS, you know, the guy who started GNU. I think he knows a little bit about it than everyone else ITT.

    Everybody who complains can either put up or shut up. What have YOU done to get on Hack A Day?

  13. You have to be kidding me…

    I have seen these before, but never one with a pull string. They aren’t even willing to turn a crank to dry veggies anymore? What if they had to – god forbid – shake it in a strainer with a plate over it? Madness, I say!

    Fixing a frivolous unnecessary piece like this instead of coming up with a better and simpler way to dry lettuce is the antithesis of hacking. It certainly doesn’t belong on this site unless it’s driven by a PID-activated motorized turntable. At least make it slightly better than the original, not just exactly the same.

  14. @ haters/lovers

    I can really see both sides to the “is this a hack?” argument.

    While this is a pretty clever method of fixing something that broke due to cheap engineering, the repair job maintains the original functionality of the device without adding any new features.

    IMO, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a project such as this being featured on Hack-A-Day. However, at least in my case, whenever I find myself trying to explain to others what a “hack” is, it’s something along the lines of “modifying a device for a use that wasn’t intended by the manufacturer or adding additional features that increase the usability of said product”. For example, the DIY Table saw (I bet the motor OEM didn’t see THAT one coming!), using FPGAs in numerous applications, puncture-resistant tires using seat belts – hell, even a toaster modified to tweet via Arduino! (though we’ve seen too many of those to care)

    And for those that might say “ WELL WHAT HAVE YOU SUBMITTED TO HACKADAY???!?, please, feel free to check out my blog.

    Kudos to [Quinn]! Not sure I’d feature the project on this particular site, though.

  15. Come on, guys, forget all the pedantic moralizing about who’s the despotic designator of what’s a hack, and just look at it: it’s a salad spinner! Does that belong on H.a.D or not? Forget the bloody dictionary at home and just put your eyes on the prize, man, this is not electronics! Do I load this site to read about how to repair motor engines or learn Spanish? No. I come here for “the hacking,” for the inventions and the gadgets and the information leading to higher understanding of electronics. Shame on all of you silly gits for defending a principle that DOES NOT EVEN APPLY! As if it matters what the bloody guidebook says, you people are damn robots or something!

  16. What the f*^% people? What about the hacks a few days ago that repaired and didn’t improve on the functionality of microwave keypads? What about the guy who simply replaced his CCD in his Canon A70?

    Seriously, if you just search HAD for “repair” you find all sorts of hacks that did little to no “improvement” yet still get commented on in a congratulatory manner.

  17. @ Mr. Szczys; I’m one who approves of the entry.

    Anyone who has any experience with the rewind starters on small engines SHOULD understand why the cord eventually wore out, and broke. No not because of poor engineering. in time the cord wears away enough metal to create sharp edges in the metal that becomes damaging to the cord. The longer the cord lasts the more likely this is to occur. Ever noticed how a long lasting cord will eventually wear a slot in the the harder metal, a slot with sharp edges? The new cord is likely to not last as long because that same thing is going to happen with the plastic the grommet was protecting, but at a accelerated pace, but no matter how long the repair lasts it had that much more functionality. Those with more DIY experience would have looked for a replacement to use for the metal part, but that’s a moot point.

  18. With all of snarky comments above, it seems lost that Quinn actually does real stuff. She has “girly” stuff like a beating pendant but she also does “manly” stuff. I particularly liked her system to record video of herself doing hot laps in a Lotus Elise. A Lotus Elise!! Videos can be found on her website.

    It was rather classy of Quinn to take the snarky comments in stride

    Now let the blonde driving jokes begin. Just kidding.

  19. Seems as though there are more trolls than anyone else here on HAD anymore. At least those that comment.

    To Quinn: YES!! You rock! Keep doing what you are doing, the world needs more people like you willing to get their hands dirty to get what they want.

  20. Praise and props for sussing and repairing an item designed to be re-bought several times over the lifetime of a consumer. I think I’m not alone in having scads of consumer items that are constructed along these same design philosophies, and re-buying and re-buying items is frustrating (I know, it’s supposed to be soothing to a Western Consumer). To strengthen the weak parts in something and substantially prolong its life is good for the soul. “Shop class as soulcraft”, to cop a book title for a slogan.

  21. @ MACGYVER

    have you USED a pull-cord salad spinner? gods gift to those of who manage to get leaves into our gullets (eat plants, mostly leaves, as they say). And in what way could you possibly think that shaking wet leaves on top of each other is an elegant solution compared to a nearly effortless centrifuge? It may not be necessary for human existence, or even for salad eating, but its a damn good design…

  22. odd thing for this site but since it’s here I’ve always wanted to hook a drill up to a salad spinner to see how fast it would go before it shattered from centripetal force.

  23. This post is over seven years old and they’re still using the same type of cord with the easily frayed outer sheathing and thin-as-dental-floss core. Kudos on the parachute cord. I’m going to try that if I can find those plugs covering the screws to take the thing apart. Is there a video of this repair floating around somewhere?

  24. Love it – bought the same salad spinner because it was the cheapest I could find at $14 CAD. (ever seen a $300 salad spinner with a fancy push-button that runs as smooth as a well-balanced bicycle wheel? I have). Mine’s lasted for about 11 years and now it’s time to fix that cord! Thanks for the proof that it can be done! Now, if I can just get it apart.

  25. Ummm rude! I came here for THIS exact thing and surprisingly enough on this EXACT model! So THANK aYEWWW very much H.A.D. you have hacked my salad spinner into being useful again! Aces!!

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